Isabella writes mystery/crime on the cozy end of the spectrum. All of her books are available wide of the major platforms and in books stores and libraries. She also has audio books available. If you sign up for her newsletter, there is a free novella available.
Have you ever been to the United States and if so where?
No, I have never been to the US—although looking at pictures of New England in the fall has always tempted me to venture there to capture what looks like the very best of nature.
What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US and what does it mean?
‘I’m banjacksed!’ I’m guessing this is a British word—although you might well know it in the US? It means ‘destroyed’ or ‘ruined’. It seems to have derived from Irish slang—so I’m not sure if that counts!
Where would you take a US visitor to your country to first and why?
I’m so lucky that I live in the countryside beside the sea! So, within ten minutes I can be walking along a deserted beach, or around the most beautiful boat marina, or along a woodland pathway, listening to birdsong. So, I would take a US visitor along with me and hope they would enjoy the simplicity as much as I do.
When did you start writing?
I entered my first writing competition at the age of eight! I’ve been writing in one form or another ever since and love it just as much now as I did then. But in terms of novel writing, I started that in earnest about six years ago and have since published six novels, three novellas and two short story anthologies.
What, in your opinion, are the essential elements of good writing?
Of course, grammar, punctuation and spelling are pretty critical, as is breadth of vocabulary—but as writers we are lucky enough to escape into another world as we write. So, I guess the best writing is when readers really feel they are in that world, walking alongside us. Everything that goes to make up a story—intriguing plot, depth of characters, descriptive setting, pacing that creates emotion in the reader—all of those things are important. Also, regardless of genre, I think readers need to feel that the ending is satisfying, that all loose ends are neatly tied off—even if some lead to a sequel!
Describe your writing space.
In my garden I have the most beautiful log cabin, which is my ‘woman cave’! I escape there every day—sometimes for hours—sometimes for a short respite. The view from my writing chair looks out onto bird feeders, so that I can watch blue tits, woodpeckers, thrushes and all manner of other delights, as they grab what’s on offer. Around the walls of the cabin are my bookshelves, filled with much-loved novels that I have read and read again, as well as books I’ve delved into for research and my all-important dictionaries and thesaurus. I have a snuggly burnt orange throw that I can wrap around my knees when it’s a bit chilly and to top it all off I have my gorgeous Scottish terrier, Bonnie, lying at my feet. I consider myself very blessed.
Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart?
This is so difficult to answer! I feel as though I have met all my characters—they have become my friends, so choosing one over another is tricky. Probably—in terms of emotional tugs on my heart—it would be Emily Carpenter—the main character of my standalone novel—The Forgotten Children.
Struggling with the demons of her past, Emily is a children’s author with a dark secret, and a guilt that threatens to consume her. For twenty years she has lived in Brighton, England, trying to forget the day they took her baby from her, just hours after he was born. In the summer of 1987, she decides to begin the search for her son.
As the story unfolds, the emotional journey that Emily goes on really stayed with me and still affects me now whenever I re-read the book, and it’s made more emotional because the story is based on true events.
Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences or purely all imagination?
All my books are set in Sussex, England, which was where I was born and brought up and where I still live. So, my descriptions of setting and place are based on real-life experience. Also, my novels are all set in the 1960s—an era I have a great passion for. It was a time of great social and political change—in the UK, but in the US too — with the explosion of ‘pop’ music, radical changes in fashion, as well as the beginnings of greater independence for young people—especially women. I was just a child during the sixties, but I have older brothers and sisters who were teenagers in the sixties, and many of their anecdotes about that ‘swinging’ time have found their way into my stories.
Ok, I’ll be the first one to admit it; I’m jealous of Isabella! Her very own log cabin? What more could a writer want? And the simplistic walk along the beach or woodland path sounds perfect for plotting out a story. Be sure to sign up for Isabella’s newsletter and check out all her books.
Isabella made a good point. Most wide authors have their books available in libraries. Did you know this is something an author who is in the Kindle Select Program on Amazon can not offer? To me, having my books on the library shelf or data-base is so important. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to read any book they want, regardless of their income. And this is something our local libraries provide. So support your favorite author and your local library.