We loved the way you brought Mamma Mia references into your book, is it a favourite film of yours?
It took me a while to fall in love with Mamma Mia. When it first came out I really didn’t get it but then, after several years, I was re-introduced to it and I began to see it differently. Now I can’t get enough of its energy and joy. I’ll be first in the queue when Here We Go Again is released!
Your descriptions of the island are so vivid, that as a reader, you feel utterly transported there, how did you research this?
Sadly I haven’t been to Skopelos. I looked into arranging a quick trip during the writing of the book but it was off season and the logistics of getting there were quite complicated. Because I have a young son I couldn’t travel for the time needed and so, in the end, I relied upon parts of the film, Google streetview, and various websites and image searches. The setting was probably the hardest and most time-consuming part of writing the book so it’s great to hear that the descriptions feel vivid.
Of all the characters in the book which one would you have liked to be?
Definitely Athena. I love writing older characters. Age, a bit like childhood, seems to bring a lack of inhibitions so it was fun to write a character who pretty much said and did as she felt. I hope when I’m a little older I’ll be as carefree as Athena – my husband thinks I’m most of the way there already!
You achieved a distinction in your MA in Creative Writing, how did the course help you with your writing?
The MA helped enormously with my writing but probably the biggest thing it taught me was learning to develop a thick skin to feedback/criticism. Working in a workshop environment exposes you to the sort of feedback agents and editors throw at you all the time. But of course there was a lot of technical advice too, which six years later I still hear when I’m working.
There is a feeling in the book of the importance of following your dream, what has been your experience of this, and what advice do you have for others?
Throughout my twenties I wanted to write (with my film music background I thought I might be a lyricist or screen writer, and before writing my first novel I had planned to write children’s books) but I found it really difficult to take the leap of faith and quit work to pursue my ambition. In the end fate leant a hand – I hurt my back and couldn’t work, which left me lots of time to follow my dream. I don’t regret any of my twenties, all that experience feeds into my writing. My advice would be take your time, explore your options, and when you’re ready, jump in. My contentment comes from being creative on a daily basis. Find what makes you content and build your life around it.
What is your favourite type of holiday?
I’m not great at doing nothing so city breaks are best for me – cramming lots of things into a short period of time. I’m obsessed with Richard Ayoade’s, Travel Man on Channel 4. Now that’s a dream job.
See the review of My Mamma Mia Summer