Tell us a bit about what got you into writing. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I've always loved to read and write stories, even as a little girl I loved to read. The writing went out the window when I left school and started work, but I used to read on the train into London every day. When I had children, I always found time to read, but never to write. Anyway, a few years ago our lives as a family were turned on their heads with some bad news and by way of coping, I started to write. I suddenly had more time on my hands than I'd probably had in my life, which left me too much time to think, so I wrote. I was spending a lot of time at various hospitals so I wrote on my phone. I would write in notes on my iPhone and as I finished each chapter, I would email it to myself. Once I got home, I would copy and paste it into Word and work on it from there.
When I'd written about eight chapters, I sent it out to some friends I'd made on FB and Twitter, who I knew liked the same kind of books as me and completely lied to them. I told them it had been written by a friend and what did they think... They loved it and wanted more, so I confessed that it was my work, finished the book and published it. Five of them are still my beta readers now and have been a massive support for every book.
Your first book was Saviour, a wonderful love story about a woman who finds the courage to move forward from a very difficult place straight into the arms of Gabriel Wilde. Tell us about Saviour and what inspired it.
Saviour was inspired by events that happened to me when I was very young and things that have happened to friends of mine. It's the story of Lauren; she's a wife of twenty five years and the mother of two grown up sons. Her marriage has always been passionate and explosive, but as the years have gone on, what used to be fiery arguments and hot make up sex with her husband are now turning more violent and abusive on his part and the make-up sex is becoming nonexistent. The abuse, both physical and mental, gets to a stage where she knows she needs to leave the marital home as she's now actually scared of her husband. She confesses everything to her mates on a girl’s night out, they have no idea and are under the illusion she has a perfect marriage. The girls rally, offering any help they can to find her somewhere to live and support in starting over. In the same bar as Lauren that night is Gabe, thirty five, single, serial shagging commitment phobe, who doesn't 'do' relationships. He takes one look at Lauren and has no idea what’s hit him. They are introduced by a mutual friend and Gabe's totally confused by what he's feeling, but Lauren refuses point blank to go home with him. Circumstances end up throwing the two together and Gabe steps in as a good Samaritan and helps Lauren out after an horrific experience at the hands of her husband leaves her homeless and owning just the clothes on her back. Because of the way they have been thrown together, their relationship develops at lightning speed and leaves them both somewhat dazed and confused. Gabe's never been in love and has no idea how to express his feelings, Lauren doesn't want to be in love so soon after walking away from her marriage, they both have trust issues and Lauren has a shed load of insecurities made worse by being in relationship with a younger man. Their story is one of two broken people, let down by those they should have been able to trust, learning to let go of their pasts and build a future together. Lauren has a smart mouth and defiant nature. Gabe is sweet, sexy, but totally clueless when it comes to relationships, I dare anyone NOT to fall in love with him.
As I mentioned, a friend introduced me to Saviour by telling me, I would see Henry Cavill as Gabe. What do you think?
Absolutely... Henry is just my No1, so I took Henry and Aussiefied him. I just made his hair longer and blonder, Gabe surfs, so the sun has bleached it, but the eyes, the jaw line, the dimple in the chin, the tilt of the head when he smiles- ALL Henry! The problem is I picture Henry as every leading man, in every book I read and every book I write. (Editors note: We don’t see that as a problem at all here at HenryCavill.org. Henry is always our book boyfriend. :) )
Carnage is a coming of age story, telling the tale of Georgia and Sean from preteen years to their early 30's. It's filled with all the emotion, trials and tribulations that young lovers face. What inspired you to tell their story.
Looking through some old photo's put the idea in my head. Then, I saw a news story and combined it with some events that happened in my own life. They all got twisted and turned in my brain and the end result was Carnage. The emotions involved were what I dug deep and found. Remember your ‘first love’? Oh my God, how painful was that shit, that feeling that the world would end was, that you would simply die if he didn't look at you today, yeah, I remember it well.
There is a love triangle in this book. Georgia takes a fancy to Mr. Cameron King or TDH (tall, dark and handsome). His description of being TDH with broad shoulders and strong features brought Henry to mind for me. Could you envision Henry Cavill in the role of Cam?
Of course, Henry, Henry or erm, Henry, that's how I choose my male characters. If you read my books, you will notice a bit of Henry in every one of my leading men. I just have to mix it up a little bit, darken the hair, change the eye colour, but the prototype is always Henry. I just have to try and not make it so obvious... There are also lots of Henry's in the follow up book to Carnage.
You've been honest that your book is not a fairy tale happily ever after story. Tell us a bit about the readers response to your book overall.
I was terrified before I published Carnage of what the readers’ reactions would be. I truly expected an almighty backlash, but I was determined to publish it and come what may. I'm a massive reader, as well as a writer, and I am so bored by the same HEA (happily ever after) endings. They all merge into each other. The problem was- I got the idea in my head before I even wrote Resolution. And, all the while I was writing the beautiful, but emotional conclusion to Lauren and Gabe's story, Carnage remained in my brain, getting more twisted, the story getting more intense. Then, just as I was reaching the conclusion, a number of awful events happened around me that just made me realise - you know what? Sometimes in life, we don't get what we want, things do fall apart, and bad things happen to good people... and all of that just sealed the deal. I struggled for two weeks to write the ending, I rewrote the epilogue four times and sent it off to my betas and my editor and got the same response from all of them... WOW
The response from readers has since blown me away. I wake up to messages from readers every single day regarding the ending of the book. I would say 95% love it; one described it as 'Finally, the book that needed to be written'. I didn't end the book just to get that kind of response, from the instant the story got in my head that was always the way it was going to end, I just wasn't quite sure how it was going to happen... But yeah, the response has pretty much overwhelmed me.
What's next for Georgia? You are working on a book two as a follow up to Carnage. Can you give us any hints about what we have to look forward to? Will we get a bit more of TDH Cameron King?
Carnage was written and can be read as a stand-alone. I never intended writing a follow up, but within two days of the ARC's (Advanced Readers Copy) going out to bloggers, I was getting messages wanting to know if there would be more. When I said no, some bloggers actually begged, some openly wept and others just threatened physical violence... So, I added Book 1 to the title and started writing Book 2.
I refuse point blank to reveal whether there will be more TDH, you will have to read it and find out.
As for Georgia, she's lost for a while, but she has her family and her friends and they get her to a place where she begins to live again. Book 2 will start as emotionally as Book 1 ended, but there will be the same love and humour involved, some smoking hot sex and an eventual conclusion to her story, with the book coming right up to the present day.
How does social media play a role in you reaching your readers?
Social media is vital to me as an indie author. I seriously wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for blogs, Facebook and Twitter. The bloggers who read and review my work, the readers who promote and pimp, they are all vital. As an Indie, everything you do is off your own back. I pay for my cover and my editor, I have NO advertising budget and rely completely on word of mouth via social media to promote my work. I wouldn't survive without it.
Thank you, Lesley Jones for your insightful interview. Here are her social media links and her link to Amazon so you can buy and read her books.