-Can you please tell us about you? Where do you live and how is your daily life?
I live in Windsor with my husband and three sons - Josh, Ben and Freddie - and a Westie pup called Bertie. Luckily my job as a journalist keeps me writing most days and working freelance means I have to be self-motivated and disciplined in meeting deadlines, and creative in pitching ideas. Writing fiction is something that I fit in around my busy work and home life and I have no particular time of day when I’m more productive, just whenever the mood takes me. The groundwork for much of my fiction prose is carried out while walking Bertie in Windsor Great Park, and it’s here that I often work out plot twists for whatever I’m working on and muse on ideas for new stories. - When did you start writing? We want to learn all about your writing life! If I’m not writing, I’m not me! Making up stories (usually for my own amusement) has been a compulsion for as long as I can remember. I’m a magpie - collecting snippets of conversations from people on trains; jotting down impressions of places; writing down ideas as and when they come - often in surprising places. I have been a journalist and travel writer for twenty years and specialise in travel, food and culture features for many British and international publications, including (among many) The Telegraph, The i, The Scotsman, The Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Australian, Suitcase, Lodestars Anthology & The Globe & Mail. I write for numerous airline and cruise magazines and have contributed to a Rough Guide special, Women Travel with a chapter on the Inca Trail, Peru. My travel features are included on the module ‘Best Contemporary Travel Writing’ at the University of Virginia. I’ve recently finished my first novel , which I began while studying for an MA at Kingston University, London. - How did you feel when you learned that you won The London Independent Story Prize? Of course I was absolutely thrilled to win. I recognise that I was in the company of many talented writers, which makes the prize extra special, and I’ll be reading all the short-listed entries.
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Short story? Short story is an immensely challenging, but hugely satisfying genre, that I’m keen to explore more. Sticking to word count has to be the hardest thing! - How did you come up with the idea for your LISP selected story? I love Dubrovnik - it’s a dreamy city, best approached from the water, but with a chequered, often brutal, history. I’d previously written travel features on Croatia, and the scars, such as bullet holes, serve as a reminder that the people and place haven’t always enjoyed such peace.The Idea had been simmering for a while, so when I came to write the prose was quick to flow. When I write a story I always let it settle, then go back to edit later. - Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Short story? My advice for anyone writing their first story is to go with the flow. That blank page can be daunting so don’t get too caught up in the quest for a big idea, as themes often come once you’ve created a compelling character and have started writing. One of the things I love about creating fiction is that moment when the characters are rounded enough to take over and lead you to places that you hadn’t previously thought of taking them, and it’s important to stay true to them. Ask yourself often - would they really do or say this? If you’ve written a lovely piece of prose but your character is behaving in a way that doesn’t ring true and you’ve lost some of his or her voice, then be brave enough to edit. You’ll end up with something more convincing and compelling for the reader in the end. - What's the best thing about writing competitions? Writing competitions give you an opportunity to connect with other writers and it’s wonderful to have your work recognised. I’d definitely encourage others writers to submit to LISP.