I’d like to say I was born a writer but that sounds terribly clichéd, doesn’t it? I’ve always written but the thought of trying to get published never actually entered my head, it was always for others whose writing was adored by the masses, then a switch went on in my head and I realised that they weren’t a special group of individuals, it wasn’t a closed club and anyone, even me, could push myself forward.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on the sequel to The Biggest Lie. It is set in 2015 and most of the characters are living completely separate lives and no longer in contact with each other but the events of their past is unearthed by devious methods and we learn that certain things which happened in TBL were not what they seemed at the time. In the quest to find out what has become of the characters it backfires for some and causes distress when, really, it would have been better not to have delved into those old friendships, it would have been better to let them be. Secrets are revealed and some are still kept silently, in the past.
Do you plan your novels? How do you prepare?
I have notebooks, one for each book and one in my bag. I find that my plans are more often than not discarded as I write and the story decides its own twists and turns. Then the majority of my “plans” are set aside for another book…
What is the best thing about being a writer?
I can create lives, people and stories, and if I don’t like it I can go back and change it. The characters become so real – that sounds a worrying doesn’t it? All I know is that when I’m writing, either in my notebook or on my computer I fell I am doing what I was meant to be doing all my life.
What do you get up to when you're not writing?
I’d like to tell you that I fill my life with useful and energetic past times, but the truth is I don’t have any spare time. Maybe I should plan everything a bit better? My partner lives in the US and we speak each day on the phone for an hour or so, I work, my family love close by and the days just whizz by in a flash.
What advice would you give to anyone starting out?
If you feel it in your heart and soul then do it, and don’t listen to anyone who isn’t 100% behind you, always believe that if others can do it – so can you. Do your research well and once it is finished revise, edit, revise and slash those pointless sentences and words until you can’t bear to read your own book any more. But if it’s truly what you want, then give up.
If your book was made into a film, who would you want to play the main characters?
I would like Lynda Bellingham to play the older Lana - she’s great isn’t she, Lynda Bellingham? And George Clooney for the older Joe? No? Oh well, Ewan McGregor would make a perfect older Joe.
The younger versions; perhaps Lily Allen for Lana, she’s got the attitude - I’m sure she’d be good at acting – and I’m sure make-up could knock the years off Ewan.
I received an email from a lady who had read my book and she said she could see it being made in to a film “…with the likes of Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, or others of their ilk…”
Tell us about your current book.
The Biggest Lie. This is the tale of Lana Milton’s life from the age of 23 to 60, it tells the story of friendships, death, love and moving on. How a 23 year old still has so much growing up to do, it shows how easy situations can turn your life around in an instant. I wanted the story to come across to show that even when you’re older, when you think that your world is comfy and this is how it will be from now on you can be shaken out of that comfort zone and thrown into a new adventure which takes over your life and gives you a brand new start – no matter what your age is. No-one is ever too old for fate to come knocking.
Tell us how you settled on the title.
It was an easy decision, as Lana told a huge lie, she didn’t even plan it, it just came out in a telephone call, it was something for her to say to get a situation across but that one sentence changed the course of her life and that of others too.
What do you enjoy about being a writer?
I’m not sure what it is but it does something to me, when I’m writing I am aware that I am doing something which makes my soul feel perfectly at home, and it’s where I want to be.
What are you reading at the moment?
One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, it’s the tale of nine very different people who are trapped inside the US Consulate after an earthquake, they have to pull together to survive and through the book you get to know each character and the life which has led them to where they are at that moment. I’m reading this in paperback.
Waiting in the wings of my Kindle is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
Can you share a school memory with us?
I was born in York and went to a catholic school, a convent. My English teacher was called Sister Margaret Mary, she loved literature. The Hobbit was one of the books we had to read but she insisted on reading it aloud to us because she loved taking on the characters and their voices so much. I told her that I wanted to be a writer and she told me then that is what I should do. It took a hell of a long time didn’t it? When the Harry Potter books came out I thought about Sister Margaret Mary, I knew she would love them. A few years ago there was a documentary on TV, my school had been turned in to a museum and the nuns were living next door, they went to interview them and there was Sister Margaret Mary sat in a chair holding a copy of Harry Potter, I whooped and I yelled at the TV!
And Just for fun can I ask you these quickies?
Sweet or sour? Sweet
City or Countryside? Countryside (actually I’d prefer seaside…Pacific facing…)
Icecream or Sorbet? Ice cream, vanilla
Tea or Coffee? Coffee
Fact or Fiction? Fiction
Facebook or Twitter? Facebook
Dogs or Cats? Can’t comment (All animals)
eReader or paperback? Paperback
Summer or Winter? Winter
Concert or theatre? Theatre
The Hague, Holland 1976
After a procession of hapless relationships, 23 year-old Lana Milton finds herself recklessly falling for a man who should be out of bounds, but despite fighting with her emotions the affair begins, an affair which can only cause pain and heartache; not only to Lana but - more importantly - to the innocent party.
Coming face to face with the one person she is hurting the most, Lana has to make a decision which breaks her heart. She knows that she is the only one to make the choice, something she can only do by lying, a lie which betrays the truth. Lana’s distortion of the truth closes the door on the only real love she has known.
In life’s ups and downs even her best friend Tess, is not what she seems. Tess turns on her, leaving her and their friendship in tatters.
From Holland, Lana moves on to a new start in London where she meets rich, tormented Howard Marshall. Howard is frustratingly aware that his love for Lana is not reciprocated. Slowly, over-time his attempts to control her with his furtive mind-games and calculated derisory tactics only serve to curtail the chance of her ever loving him back in return.
After nearly 20 years of manipulation, Howard’s desperate struggle to break the woman he loves finally backfires when Lana, now middle-aged and fuelled with the still-burning embers of her long-ago love, confronts Howard. She stands up to his bullying and devious malicious ways, her anger fills her with a renewed strength in which she finds the courage to leave him to start her life yet again.
Now in her late fifties and living in a calm, non-disruptive world close to her family, Lana is content and yearns for nothing more in life.
But fate has other ideas as it smashes through the door to bring her life around, full circle.
The Biggest Lie – a tale of love, friendship, hope and strength is set in the era of glitter-ball discos which grows to maturity in the 21st century. Proof, that it’s never too late for anything...
Lana played with the front door key in her hand; did she really want to go in? No, she felt ill at ease going in to her own home. How silly, she thought to herself as she mechanically unlocked the door and went in to the small hallway. She bent down to pick up a pile of free newspapers and flyers which no-one else had bothered to clear up. As she turned her body sideways to get up the stairs, passing the bikes suspended from the walls, she stuffed them in to a brightly painted basket hanging on the front of one of the bikes. She could hear the television coming from the ground floor flat, they had it easy, lugging heavy shopping up these stairs had become a dreaded task; Lana would have loved to have a flat at street level. The smell of something delicious bubbling on the hob came closer as she got to the first floor, obviously not wafting down from her flat, if only she could make a detour through that door… The stairs became steeper and narrower as she began the climb up to the attic. She could hear the muffled sound of men’s voices mingled with the sound of Simon & Garfunkel coming from the stereo on the other side of the door. Lana threw her coat over the bannister and went in to the bathroom. A dash of lipstick and swish of mascara magically wiped away the tired end of the day look, she fluffed her short hair with her fingers trying to replicate that Farrah Fawcett bounce, but today, her hair flicked up and stuck out waywardly of its own accord, it couldn’t be tamed into a sophisticated aura of splendour, so she shrugged her shoulders and let it be. Lana took a deep breath before opening the door and entering the living room. ‘Hi,’ she smiled at the three of them, each with a bottle of Amstel lager in their hand, she moved quickly through into the kitchen before they could respond or include her in their dreary chitchat. No roasting meaty smells emitted from their kitchen. ‘I thought you said you’d done the cooking…‘ Lana could feel her heart thumping, she raised her hand and placed it on her chest, the tremors banging against her palm, it must be from climbing those stairs… ‘I have!’ Tess replied resentfully, ‘there’s no way you could have made that roast in time,’ she glanced up at the clock, silently blaming Lana for not being there to help but feeling relieved and more confident in the situation now that her friend was now at home, ‘you’ll have to do it tomorrow though, before the meat spoils.’ Lana ignored her comment, sometimes, actually, more times than she cared to think about, she held her tongue when Tess spoke to her like that, demanding that she jump and dance to her tune. ‘I’ve made the trifle and here,’ Tess lifted the lid from a pan to reveal tinned tomato soup which had been bubbling on the stove for so long the edges around the pan had become thick and dark in colour. ‘I don’t like tomato soup,’ Lana said as Tess replaced the lid. ‘I know you don’t but you’re going to have to eat it or go without.’ ‘I’ll go without.’ She said happily. ‘So, is that it? Is that dinner? Over-cooked tomato soup and lumpy sugared trifle?’ ‘Of course not, I knew you wouldn’t want the starter so, whilst we are having our soup I thought that you could cook the dinner, which is…cheese omelette, chips and salad, it won’t take you long. I’ve whisked the eggs for you,’ Tess raised a tea towel from the large mixing bowl to show her work. Lana felt pissed off with the; for you bit Tess had tagged on to the end but that was Tess and she had learned not to respond to such comments, she wouldn’t see her viewpoint on the matter, so, most of the time Lana said nothing. ‘I’ve also peeled the potatoes,’ another tea towel was raised to show raw potatoes in a bowl of water. ‘Can you go and ask them to come to the table and I’ll start to dish the soup up.’ Tess thought she had it all in hand and that the perfect dinner party was about to take place. Lana went in to the living room feeling flustered and slightly awkward, the three of them stopped talking as she went through, she caught the eye of Joe and felt as though a vacuous planet swirled in her head, it dissipated all the words in the universe and zapped the language from her memory. If she closed her eyes she couldn’t even tell you what colour hair or eyes he had…the shape of his nose…she wouldn’t be able to describe him to the police if he burgled their flat. Lana’s subconsciousness would not allow any form or image of him to register his existence within her, he had shot her senses to bits, her co-ordination and entity were in smithereens and the breath had been sucked out of her. Nearly two hours of drinking and she was now completely sober. The one thing Lana knew for certain was; that she was completely out of her depth with the situation and didn’t have the foggiest idea how to act, or react, to it. Sean spoke first as he heard the clanking of metal on pot as Tess dished up the “home cooked” starter, ‘it smells good,’ he said, being polite. ‘Tomato soup.’ Lana said, her mouth now running away with itself, ‘I’m not sure what you were expecting,’ she couldn’t help but chuckle at the situation, ‘but a home-cooked full roast dinner with Yorkshire’s it ain’t!’ ‘It doesn’t matter…’ ‘Whatever it is will be great… I’m sure...’ ‘It’s nice to be out of those pokey rooms we are in…’ All three of them spoke at once as they followed her through into the kitchen, they eyed the bedside table with its floral cushion and their relief was visible as Tess directed each of them to a chair, leaving Lana with the cupboard to sit on. The best way, Lana decided, to cook such a huge omelette would be in the wok and, as she had no intention of putting on a pan of oil to fry chips; the smell and the noise would be a hazard to her sanity, she decided on an alternative. She put the eggs on a low heat, ‘I’m just going out. Will you keep an eye on the omelette please?’ Lana asked, hoping that at least one of them would have better culinary skills than Tess. She thought she heard someone utter “omelette?” in disbelief as she left the kitchen. She did though; quite clearly hear Joe say to Tess, ‘Where’s she going? Will she be back?’ To which Tess replied, ‘God only knows. Now eat up whilst it’s still hot.’
The omelette turned out to be somewhat better than you’d imagine it would be; granted, it was a bit tough and dry on the outside but the middle was fluffy and light and, once it had been tipped out of the wok on to the large serving platter it looked like a splendid, anaemic Christmas pudding covered with bits of spam, onion, cheese, chopped tomato and crispy brown bits. Lana proudly held it aloft and with a loud fanfare from their guests she placed it in the middle of the dining table; it took all of five seconds before it began to slowly deflate before their eyes; the mock fanfare faded away as their voices sighed in unison with a big “Aww!” they watched as the omelette spread itself out to accommodate all the available space on the platter. ‘Never mind…’everyone uttered jovially as she tipped the oversized bag of French fries into the largest mixing bowl they had in the house. Lana had bought far too many chips from the corner caff but at least they would become bloated from the starch and feel that they had done a good job of filling them up, give them enough booze and they will think they’ve dined at the Ritz.
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I'm the author of two fictional novels; The Biggest Lie and Luca.
I was born in York, England in the early 1950s and lived there until the 70s when I took off to go travelling around Europe. I spent the decade living and working in Paris - France, Spain and many years in Holland before returning to England in 1983 where I settled in London before moving to Cambridgeshire where I now live; close to my niece and her family. I believe that there's still another location or two I have yet to move on to...
I’m a nomadic-hippy at heart; my experiences have been a big influence contributing to the colourful characters and incidents in my books.
JC, my OH lives in the States, we’re still working out how we will be together but as I’m a great believer in fate, I don’t worry. After all that we’ve been through, I know that the time will come. It’s not a problem for us being so far apart, we’re both secure in our love and I feel him with me constantly. Picking up the phone to each other is so easy these days with Skype – it’s as simple as calling your friend in the next town. The miles between us hold no intrusion into our relationship.
I like other people cooking for me, JC’s a much better cook than me and I love being in the kitchen with him, I wash up and make a salad as he cooks the dinner.
I get emotional at the most obscure things; when I see horses frollicking around a field, I well up with emotion…I look at pictures of our beautiful planet and I feel a strange kind of homesickness...I don’t like vacuuming though, the noise and the way that tube thing bangs against your leg, how it jams itself behind doors; I really cannot stand the things.
Gardening’s another thing I despise, despite my love of nature – I feel that all that weeding is a waste of time.
I look forward to the day when I pack up, move to be with JC and I can say, ‘Well, that’s no more mowing for me…’
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