I was raised in the seaside resort of Skegness, Lincolnshire, which is where I became a bookworm and lover of the written word. It's also where I cut my teeth as a cub reporter, learning that the best way to get a story was to get to know people and build up a trusting relationship. That ethos is what I stuck with when I started writing for national publications such as the Daily Mail and the Guardian, Woman and Real People.
When interviewing, I really loved getting under the skin of the people whose story I was telling, and understanding the motivations behind their actions. As I moved up the career ladder, though, I no longer had the chance to interview or write. I was too busy being the deputy editor of Pick Me Up, helping create what Press Gazette described as "one of the best launches issues ever seen." Or being put in charge of redesigning and relaunching Full House! (which recorded a massive 43% ABC increase that year, as a result). When I was special projects editor at Pep Publishing I created a ground-breaking monthly real life magazine, That's Amazing!, of which I was editor. I was also editor of all the specials for Full House! and Love It! The jobs I held were incredible...but I started to miss writing so much it became an ache.
Taking a gamble
I had an idea growing that wouldn't go away, based on something that had occurred to me years earlier when I'd worked in a men's prison. There was a story I was desperate to tell, and I was unlikely to ever get it as a journalist. It refused to be ignored - I was going to have to write a novel.
I bought a cheap laptop, the smallest I could find, and started writing during my commute and lunch breaks. Writing again was wonderful - but it became increasingly obvious that stolen moments weren't enough for me...
When I was just two weeks away from my 40th birthday, I took voluntary redundancy - and become an author.
The pay off
My first novel, INVISIBLE, was self-published in April 2014 and became an Amazon bestseller (reaching number 6 in Kindle Murder). It has received high praise from critics on various national magazines and review blogs.
Critics have also loved my second crime thriller, FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD. It was published on 21 September 2015, and became an instant bestseller, going straight into the Top 20 on three of Amazon's lists, and hitting number 24 in the entire Kindle paid for store.
I also reached number 1 on Amazon's Movers & Shakers, and number 3 in their Hot New Reads.
Over my 20-year journalism career I'd been very privileged to have met people from all walks of life, who had experienced all manner of things happen to them. This depth of experience lends my novels psychological insight, and a feeling of reality for the storyline. There is nothing I love more than writing gritty fiction with heart - and that's what I believe I owe my success to.
Onwards and upwards
In December 2016 I took another step on my author journey when I signed a four-book deal with my publisher, Bookouture, an imprint of Hachette.
THE DARKEST LIES, was my first novel with Bookouture. It became an Amazon bestseller in the UK, US, Canada and Australia, and hit a coveted spot on the USA Today bestseller list!
Similar success has followed the publication of HER LAST SECRET and THE PERFECT FRIEND. Both have hit Number 1 on Kobo, as well as being Amazon bestsellers in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia. In addition, The Perfect Friend was No 1 in Italy on Amazon.
A bump in the road
After five years of hard work, I felt like it had all paid off and my dreams had come true. But like all good stories, there was a twist I didn't see coming. I suddenly fell ill when my immune system suddenly crashed and I developed chronic fatigue. It took me two years to get the strength back to publish a new book. In the meantime, Bookouture acquired the rights for Flowers For The Dead, before finally my sixth psychological thriller, THE GIRL IN THE MISSING POSTER came out. That book became the No 1 Psychological Thriller audiobook on Audible US.
An exciting new challenge
Although I was full of ideas for psychological thrillers, there was something else that kept pushing itself to the forefront of my mind and demanding attention. It was an idea for an historical fiction, and it was refusing to be ignored. There was a little girl being raised in darkness by a mother who urged her daily to 'never love, never trust', and encouraged to be cruel to others. The psychological damage that must have inflicted on her! What on earth would she be like as an adult...? The logical part of me was firm: I needed to write more psychological thrillers and rebuild my career following my absence. My heart said: later - right now, you need to change direction and work on this instead.
Of course I listened to my heart.
For two years I immersed myself in the world of the early 1800s, and this young girl - Estella Havisham. She was created by Charles Dickens as the enigmatic, cold-hearted love interest to Pip in Great Expectations. I was utterly fascinated by her, and telling her dark, gothic story felt so right. Luckily, Hera felt the same and leapt at the chance to publish her tale. ESTELLA'S EXPECTATIONS will be coming out in hardback and ebook in Spring 2024, with paperback in Autumn 2024.
Now, I'm working on my second historical fiction, as well as my seventh contemporary psychological thriller. I can't wait to see what life holds for me next.
* For more information on THE GIRL IN THE MISSING POSTER, click here
* For more information on THE PERFECT FRIEND, click here
* For more information on HER LAST SECRET, click here
* For more information on THE DARKEST LIES, click here
* For more information on INVISIBLE, click here
* For more information on FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD, click here