What is one book everyone should read? The Power of Now. I’m not necessarily someone who sings the praises of self-help books or anything like that, but it’s such an enriching and life-changing read. I don’t believe in all of the principles, but it’s a fantastic way to reframe your life and the way you live it. Once you break down that illusion of the past and the future, the present becomes all the more important to you.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Something in the Cellar is a creepy couple of short stories, the title story focusing on a woman who has murdered her husband and left him to rot in the cellar, unbeknownst to her young child.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? Sure–I have my debut novel, What We Saw, launching in just a few weeks. It’s a nostalgic mystery novel about a couple of kids on a caravan site who witness something truly shocking in the woods. I’m working on a new first draft at the moment, too. It’s kind of a ballsy thriller about a contract killer (poetic, I know). I don’t want to talk about it too much yet, but it should be out some time next year. I find talking too far in advance takes the energy away from a project. As for goals: keep on writing. Get my name spread all over that digital shelfspace. It’s the best way to market one’s self, that’s for sure. Not that I’m rushing — just eager to stay focused.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. Every time someone tweets me, comments on my blog, or leaves a review, positive or negative. Seeing my work and effort recognised — that’s the biggest buzz of all.
What is your dream cast for your book? Sometimes when I’m writing, I have clear actors and actresses in my head, however in Something in the Cellar it didn’t really work like that. If I were to help in a cast selection process though, I’d love to see someone like Tilda Swinton in the lead role of Sandra. She proved in We Need To Talk About Kevin that she can capture that tough-but-mortified mother role perfectly. The imagery at the start of the accompanying story, The Runaway, is inspired by a French film called Martyrs, so I’d have Mylène Jampanoï in the lead role.
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen? I was mad for Lord of the Rings as a young-teen. I’d buy the figures and paint them, pick up basically any magazine covering it. I remember being really aggrieved at a certain scene not being included in Return of the King from the book. Probably the first time I got annoyed at an adaptation, as brilliant a piece of cinema as it is.
Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters? YES. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. It’s dark, dirty, and totally captures the mood of Something in the Cellar.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? Stop calling yourself an aspiring author. The sooner you can rid yourself of that dreaded ‘aspiring author’ tag, the better. Seriously. By calling yourself an aspiring author, you’re committing yourself to a stasis that you’ll find it very difficult to break out from. You need to stop aspiring and start being — that, I would argue, is the greatest piece of advice I can give.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”? I actually wanted to be a binman/trash collector. I used to enjoy playing with those toy bin-wagons. Funnily enough, I’ve mentioned said toy bin-wagons to friends and they’ve all given me a strange look. You know which ones I mean, right? Still, it could have been worse: one of my male friends aspired to be a ‘mummy’ when he grew up.
If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why? Ryan Gosling, because he’s called Ryan and because I’d love to think I’m anywhere near as cool as him…
Can you see yourself in any of your characters? Oh, totally. You see, I have a problem that all writers encounter whereby people who read my books see themselves in the pages. That’s just natural, I think — we project our reality into our fantasy worlds. However, I kind of see fragments of myself in each of my characters, because those characters are a part of my imagination, right? I guess it helps to be a little unstable as writer in that respect.
What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had? Crazy ideas are just the best. I honestly believe that the crazy ideas are the ones that we should just run with. I tend to turn the craziest ones into shorter works, as with Something in the Cellar/The Runaway. What We Saw–my debut novel–is something of a breather from the craziness of those. But we’ll just have to see what the future holds on that front!
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? There’s so much good advice out there, I can’t even begin to narrow it down. However, a piece of advice that will always stick with me is to use criticism constructively. It’s so easy to get bogged down when somebody says they don’t like something or other, but it’s important to weigh up what the person actually says before immediately dismissing it. They could just be making the most important writing tip of your career.
How do you react to a bad review? Take it on the chin and accept that no piece of work can please everyone. I do my damnedest to make sure the writing quality of my books is as good as it can be, so after that, it’s simply a matter of personal preference than anything. That said, I did receive a review for Something in the Cellar saying that the reader wasn’t a ‘fan of short stories and didn’t like open endings.’ That kind of baffles me a little — if you aren’t a fan of open-ended short stories, then why are you reading one? But still, I bit my tongue and carried on writing.
If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be? The Not-So-Accidental Zillionaire (I wish).
What’s your favorite season/weather? Summer when it’s winter, and winter when it’s summer.
Who or what inspired you to become an author? I know it’s the age old cliché but I’ve wanted to write stories ever since I was a little kid. I always remember being in the first year of school aged, like, five, and writing a 50-ish word epic about a girl who fell down the stairs and woke up on the loo to find it was all a dream, then fell down the stairs in reality. I guess that’s pretty deep for a five-year-old, but I knew right at that moment that writing was my calling.
How did you celebrate the sale of your first book? It was pretty surreal, actually. Me and my friend were having a few drinks and watching some film or another when I saw Something in the Cellar had gone live on Amazon at like, 2am. The funny thing is, it made two sales instantly. It was a pretty amazing feeling, and although it didn’t necessarily maintain such a pace throughout the rest of launch day, it was so cool seeing those two purchases. I wish I could find those buyers and thank them.
Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is…. The Dead Zone by Stephen King.
In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with? Chuck Palahniuk. I think we’d throw some awesome ideas together. I reckon working with somebody like that could actually be very liberating too. Otherwise, Stephen King. He’s a master at creating worlds, and I’d very much love to be a part of that world-building process.