How many books do you have out, and do you have a favourite?
16 titles in my Shadows from the Past series have already been published, and I’m currently working on book number 17. My personal favourite in the series so far is The Shadow of the Tudor Rose, set in Elizabethan England in the year 1588 when the threat of the Spanish Armada was imminent. My young time-travellers join forces with one of Queen Elizabeth’s spies, a playwright by the name of Christopher Marlowe, with whom Max (the talking Tonkinese cat) develops a touching friendship. Packed with history and including some famous figures from that era, the story is also an exciting adventure, steeped in mystery and intrigue.
How do you come up with character names?
Some of the people in my books are real historical figures, but when it comes to choosing names for my fictional characters I go to my family tree. I have several hundred years’ worth of names to choose from there, having done some fairly extensive research on my family history. For example, my young heroine Jemima Lancelot was named after my 5-x great-grandmother.
Do you have a favourite author?
I couldn’t pin it down to just one. I read so many different genres; from the classics to thrillers, to historical fiction, to detective fiction and even to rom-com, from the favourite books of my childhood to more recent books for young readers, fiction or non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. I admire any author who can hold me spellbound, lost in their narrative and unable to stop turning the pages.
What is your favourite or some memorable books that you’ve read?
There are many books that I could happily re-read endless times. When I was asked to list my 10 favourite books, I had real trouble limiting myself to only 10 – if it had been my 100 favourite books, I would have found it much easier! However, I really enjoyed The Ghost, by Robert Harris, a brilliantly atmospheric thriller, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, and To Catch a King, a recent historical non-fiction work by Earl Charles Spencer. I also found Adam Kay’s This is going to hurt a fun read.
What is one piece of advice you could give to a new author that you wish someone had passed to you?
Revise, revise, revise! When you’ve finished writing your masterpiece, you’re so eager to see it in print that it’s tempting to speed up the process and skimp on the editing, but you can never be thorough enough.
What is the best Holiday you ever went on?
Two spring to mind. One was less of a holiday, as I was taking a group of my students on a tour of Classical Greece, taking in some of my favourite sites from the ancient world, including Athens, Delphi, Olympia and Mycenae. I hope they found it as wonderful as I did! The second was a proper holiday with my husband. We spent 2 weeks on a Gulet (a traditional Turkish boat), sailing down the coast of Turkey from Bodrum to Fethiye, visiting archaeological sites, mooring in quiet coves or small harbours and enjoying the beautiful Aegean coastline. Being a true Cancerian, I love being on the water and with my passion for ancient history and archaeology this was my idea of holiday perfection!