Posted by : Kinsey Book Reviewer 8.27.2015
1) So, first, tell us about your book.
I have published five books so far. My latest one is entitled The Gentlemen Go By. It is an historical novel - partly romance, partly suspense and is set at the time of the French Revolution but in England, not in France, although the fact that the Revolution is happening is completely relevant to the story! It is based on the doings of a real-life character - a smuggler - who lived and worked on the Isle of Wight. However, apart from making sure of the historical accuracies and references at the time, that is all that is real! The rest is very much my own imagination!
2) What began the process for this book? Why did you have to write it?
I have always been very fond of Kipling's poem, A Smuggler's Song. My mother used to read it to me when I was a little girl. The title of the book comes from the refrain in that poem. I had discovered the doings of the real-life smuggler and on re-reading the poem one day, it got me thinking I could tie the two together and I did. Once I have an idea for a story, I simply have to write it. It is an absolute compulsion!
3) Did you always think you were going to be an author?
No, but I always loved writing. I started writing plays as a child as I wanted to be an actor, and indeed became one and still am to this day. I went to one of the top London drama schools and I have worked in the theatre always. Some years ago I formed my own theatre company and wrote plays for us to perform. Later, I turned to writing novels as well and I love it.
4) What books/authors have influenced you the most?
The writing of Daphne du Maurier undoubtedly influenced me most. She is a genius. She also didn't stick to one genre, either and neither do I. I have found the courage to dodge between different genres because of her particular example in this regard. Some of her books are set in her own time, some in the past and some in the future. She also wrote wonderful short stories some of which became full-length films ('The Birds', 'Don't Look Now' etc). Some of her full length novels have also been made into films or for television, notably 'Rebecca' and 'Jamaica Inn'. She was the daughter of an actor/director and all her stuff is very visual too and I like that. I very much try to make people "see" my novels in their mind's eye as well as read them. Another writer I admire is John Galsworthy. His ' Forsyte Saga' is a stunning piece of writing. I also like CP Snow, Philip Pullman, C J Sansom and best of all, William Shakespeare - the greatest writer of all time! Several of my novels could be turned into films or plays. This has been noted by many people who read them, not just me!
5) What is your typical day like?
Currently I am living in Dubai most of the time as my husband is on an assignment out here. I write every day, sitting by the pool when it is not too hot, or indoors when it is! This is an extraordinary luxury for me, because living in Dubai, which for wives is simply a modern version of living in the Raj, I have very little to do with running a household. It is done for me! I have made, though a few really special and good friends, which is lovely - mostly ex-pats. There is a lot of nightlife and social happenings of the extravagant kind in Dubai and I engage in that in the evenings after I put down my iPad. It does not inspire me to write anything set out here, though. I have to have a reason to set books where they are and the only things I have written that "belong" in the Middle East are short stories in a kind of Arabian Nights way. They are fun and I enjoy doing that, but nothing of a full length novel comes to me at present set here.
6) What do you enjoy doing when you aren't writing or promoting a current book?
Going to the theatre (but that can only happen when I go home to the UK as I do fairly regularly as there is no quality theatre in Dubai at all), dining in good restaurants, having dinner parties with my friends and their families and, most of all, seeing my family and have friends coming to stay with us from home.
7) Now's where you can share your social media links (blog, website, facebook, twitter, etc).
I am on Facebook (both as a writer and a personal page, too), Twitter and Linked In. I also have an Author Page with Amazon.
Now just a bit of fun stuff:
8) People might be surprised to know I like....
Snakes! I love them but no, I wouldn't have one as a pet. I think that would be cruel.
9) What is the last book you read?
The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir (research for another book!)
10) What is the last movie you've watched? Was it at the movies or at home?
Some Like it Hot (for the umpteenth time!) I watched it on a plane.
11) If you could be any fictional character from any book, who would you be and why?
I would like to be the heroine of my latest novel, The Gentlemen Go By. He name is Lady Sophia Catesby and she falls for the hero who is the die for - handsome, charismatic, sexy, naughty, dangerous and he... Well, you read it and find out what he's like!
12) What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
There is something I would have done differently in my life but it's too important to me to share with anyone except the tiny handful of people who already know it.
13) Anything else you'd like to include/mention?
I have looked like Elizabeth Taylor all my life, although of course she was a generation, nearly, older than myself. Several times I've been thought to be her. Once, while I was shopping in Harrods, I left the swimwear department and went down to the Food Hall. I stood beside someone in a queue, two women, in fact, who excitedly told the salesman that Elizabeth Taylor had been spotted in the store buying swimsuits, they had been told. He glanced at me and looked suddenly surprised. I quietly put my finger on my lips and walked out into Knightsbridge! What he said to the two ladies, I'll never know but I knew I could not spoil an occasion for them! I was also mistaken for her on a plane once, as I was flying, alone, to meet my husband in Barbados. Several people thought they recognised me and one of the stewardesses as she came up to me said, "Elizabeth..." I turned and said, "Yes?" After all it is my name and I didn't realise anything about the rumour at that point. She told me it was believed Elizabeth Taylor was on the plane (I have to say I was flying in the front of the plane. I don't think anyone would have thought I was her if I'd been at the back, to be honest any more than anyone would have thought I was Elizabeth Taylor if I'd been spotted in Woolworth's). I said I wasn't her but it was too late. Someone had radioed on to Air Traffic Control in Barbados and I was met by a reception committee of girls singing me a welcome to the island. I stuck dark glasses on my nose, smiled politely as I descended the steps to the tarmac and said nothing and disappeared into the In Transit lounge in as dignified a manner as possible! Once again, it was too embarrassing not to enlighten those who thought they'd recognized me. It doesn't happen any more, of course, as bless her heart, she is no longer with us though people often remark I look like she did.
I was born in Kent but at a very early age we moved to the Isle of Wight where I grew up. I went to a drama school in London and I have worked in the theatre all my life in some capacity or other. I also taught drama for 12 years at Bedales School in Hampshire. I loved it and am still in touch with a huge number of my pupils today.
I formed my own theatre company 14 years ago and we perform anywhere where theatre might be needed. I started a programme for young people called Shakespeare in a Weekend which has, I'm glad to say, proved inspirational to dozens and dozens of young people who have taken part in the plays we have introduced them to.
I started writing some 25 years ago, firstly plays but going on to novels a year or two later. My play for children was selected by the BBC's Big Arts Week as one of the best nine events out of 1,400 entries and the only piece of drama chosen. The play, 'The Jade King and the Animals of
Destiny', has been, and continues to be, performed all over the world. I now write novels for adults and children. The five novels I have had published so far are all for adults but the children's books will appear next year. They are all available on Amazon Kindle Store.
I am married to Michael, who is an international banker and we currently are living most of the time in Dubai. Home in England is in Petersfield, Hampshire. Between us we have four children, two sons and two daughters, all of whom are married and I have 6 grandchildren, 2 girls and 4 boys.