I’m writing full time these days, so there’s an awful lot of time spent alone with a computer. That looks very boring, but sometimes very exciting things are happening inside my head. The first draft of a book is the most fun, but that’s only a small part of the work. Once you’ve hacked out a rough piece of stone, you have to carve and polish it. My relaxation is country walks and painting watercolour landscapes very badly. Whenever I mention painting, I feel I have to point out there is a real artist called Janet Edwards. I am not her.
As you know, I really enjoyed reading Earth Girl. Where did the idea for the novel come from?
Dyslexia wasn’t a problem until people invented writing. New technology keeps entering our lives. Hundreds of years in the future, there could be a new technology that some of us can’t use. A new disability that keeps some people confined to Earth, excluded from a society that spans a thousand planets.
All of the characters in the book, particularly Jarra, are really distinct and strong personalities. Did you base any of your characters on people you know in real life?
I’m happy to say Jarra only exists in the 28th century, so the world is safe. I never base characters on real people because I suffer from a wildly overactive imagination. My head has a lot of characters walking around in it, and I have to write about them to get some peace. Believe me, having someone like Jarra storming around in your head can get very uncomfortable.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? What made you finally put Pen to Paper?
I scribbled a bit occasionally as a child. Five years ago, I finally had free time and decided to give writing a serious try. This involved doing scary things like letting other people see what I’d written.
Are we ever going to see more from Jarra and Fian, or from this world? And/or do you have something entirely new up your sleeve?
Earth Girl is supposed to be a book that stands alone, but it’s also the first part in a trilogy. The other two books should be published in 2013 and 2014. Jarra and Fian have a lot of excitement ahead of them.
Which authors would you say are your biggest influences?
I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett, but I’m not sure I can say he’s an influence. I don’t think there’s much of a resemblance between my writing and his. I write some things that are supposed to be funny, but...
When you're working on a writing project, do you set yourself a schedule? And do you have a special place you like to go to, to write?
I don’t have a schedule of writing a given number of words, or revising a chapter, each day. I have goals of wanting to finish the first draft or revision by a certain date. That sometimes gives me an obvious weekly target of new words or revision, but I find taking it down as far as a daily schedule simply doesn’t work for me. Some scenes take a lot more mental preparation and writing than others. Over a week things usually average out, but individual days vary wildly.
I don’t really need a special place to write, but it has to be quiet, without too many distractions. I’m not one of the writers who likes working in a coffee shop.
I’d have to pick the chunkiest three books in the world so they’d last me as long as possible. I’m going to wander totally off subject here, because this question started something that might amuse you. Last year I wrote a first draft of a book where the main character is facing a similar situation. She isn’t allowed to take books with her, but the instant I read your question I was back with that character and she was deciding which books she’d like to take. Her answers are:- SAS Survival Guide: How to survive in the Wild, on Land or Sea. Flintnapping: Making and Understanding Stone Tools. Hedgerow Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies. I now have to get those books.
This tells you something about how weird writers can be. This one at least.
If you were given £1 million, what would you do with it?
I saw a house last year that was for sale. Not a sprawling stately home, something far smaller, but one of those houses that isn’t just several centuries old but oozing character and history. I could imagine living there, being aware of all the people who’d walked those floors before me, each with their own joyful moments and dark depressions.
If you could do anything in the world - money not being an issue - what would you choose to do?
I hear Russia may run some space tourist flights again in 2013, so I’d book myself a ride to see the world from orbit.
If you could go back in time, and relive a moment in your life, what moment would this be?
Now that really depends on whether I could change events or not. If I can change them, there was a boyfriend I should never have wasted time on.
And finally ... Do you have any odd or quirky habits (that you don't mind telling us about)?
I found this a bit of a difficult question, so I headed over to the lake and chatted to the ducks about it. As always with my writing problems, they were very helpful. They say I should tell you that I have absolutely no quirky habits.
Earth Girl is now available from HarperVoyager, both in paperback and eBook formats.
Click on the links below to purchase from the various sites:
Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones
Click here to read my review
Also, to learn more about Janet, head over to her website here, or to her Goodreads author profile here.