What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
Digging into painful memories of past experiences is for me probably the most challenging part of writing all of my books. It hurts – sometimes excruciatingly so – but that’s necessary for creating authentic and relatable characters and storylines, which will hopefully connect readers at a deep level.
Does the creative process get easier for you with each book?
While each book has its own quirks and challenges, for me the creative process tends to remain the same – so gets neither easier nor harder each time. I’ve always found writing to be the easy part of the business of being an author and think being naturally very disciplined, focussed, organised and routine- and deadline-obsessed help enormously.
What is something that has influenced you as a writer?
My love and respect for animals of all shapes and sizes, inherited from my dad. I was raised on a farm and some of my earliest and fondest memories are of being surrounded by all sorts of creatures. It’s important for me to include animals in my stories because they’ve enriched my life and I think the intelligence and healing power of companion animals, in particular, has been underestimated by too many humans for far too long.
What’s the easiest and most difficult parts of your job as a writer?
For me the easiest parts are: having discipline, staying focussed, sticking to a routine, being solitary, working from home, storytelling and creating characters – all those things come naturally to me. The most difficult parts have arisen out of being published and consistently releasing one title a year. I don’t have a problem with deadlines – rather, thankfully, I thrive on them. But the most difficult and least enjoyable part of my career is the mentally-taxing cycle of writing, editing, publication and promotion that sees me always having to be immersed in at least two, usually three, storylines and sets of characters at the same time.
Most people outside the industry might think I’ve been working on the one book right up until it comes out. But all the steps towards publication take time. For example, at this moment, I’ve already written and done much of the editing for my title for next year and am in the planning phase for my publication the year after that…
I once had a funny and slightly embarrassing incident when I was asked during a live radio interview what one of my series from a few years before was about and came up empty. When the pause was going on too long, I confessed something like, “You know, I have no idea!” It sparked an interesting conversation about how hard being creative can be on the brain, so that was good. Thankfully I’m happy to have a laugh at myself!
What’s some great advice you’ve received that has helped you as a writer?
Just before I began working with my editor on my first book, a friend at the time, who was a scriptwriter, said, “Embrace the collaborative nature of editing and trust in the process. Don’t fight it.” It’s advice that’s served me very well. I hear of a lot of writers referring to hating the editing process. But I find I actually quite enjoy it. It’s the only way you can make sure the book is the very best it can be. Also, I don’t share my work with anyone prior to submitting to my publisher, so working with an editor provides a wonderful opportunity for me to collaborate that I don’t normally have.