1 - Tell me about your Mirabelle Bevan mysteries
Mirabelle is Miss Marple with an edge - the books are set in Brighton in the 1950s. It was an amazing time - the whole country was recovering from WWII and Mirabelle is no exception. Now retired, she was a back room girl in the wartime secret service and like many women of that era she is bereaved, damaged and feels as if her skills are no longer required. When takes a job at a debt collection agency she soon discovers there is plenty of undercover work she's ideally suited for. The books are cosy crime but also have a shade of noir. I like looking at the shocking part of the era - the sexism, racism and the poverty. And of course have fun with the story - it was a different world, both elegant and dangerous.
2 - What is your favourite part of the writing process?
I am a huge swot so I enjoy research a lot. I spend time in the archive and the library which for me is like treasure hunting. I also love speaking at events which is a huge part of a writers' job - it's fascinating to meet readers and find out what they did and didn't like.
3 - Do you believe in writer's block?
Not really. Or at least I don't think that not feeling like writing is insurmountable. Usually a good night's sleep and a think sorts it out. You need space to do the job so if you give yourself time and exercise your brain you usually get back into the story. I feel privileged to be in the job and it's busy right now so I look forward to curling up and writing. It's a treat!
4 - How important is an online presence to a writer?
Different writers are different but what social media has done is made writers more accessible to readers and I think that's a good thing. It allows a lot of communication and I'm a writer so I'm in favour if that. It has wrest some of the curatorial control away from traditional gatekeepers like publishers and journalists and has allowed writers to speak for themselves.
5 - Any advice for aspiring writers?
Eyes down, specs on, roll up those sleeves and get down to it! Would that do?
Paragraph Planet is a creative writing website which has been publishing one 75-word paragraph every day since November 2008. Famous authors, aspiring writers and occasional dabblers have all got involved, submitting a mixture of twist-in-the-tale flash fiction, evocative short, short fiction, openings of published novels or brief moments captured. Get involved here. You can read over 1400 examples in the archive section. There are also interviews with some of the published authors who have submitted to the site, as well as an authors in which you can read an example paragraph from all authors who've submitted, and also link to dedicated pages with more info about regular contributors. Finally, I've started compiling a writing group map to help you find a writing group near you. And if you're still reading, and want to know what else I do apart from Paragraph Planet, here's my own website. All words and images (c)Paragraph Planet 2008-2013