Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been in the industry for?
I've been writing as long as I can remember. I wrote poems and stories from 4 onwards, and my first novel when I was 7. I was 16 when I first tried to get published, and 30 when I managed it. This year is my 22nd year of being a published author, and my 44th book will be published in July.
Describe your typical work desk.
I have a study at home. It's looks out on to the garden, is painted pale green, and is lined with book and art. My desk usually has a cup of tea, my diary, the notebook for whatever book I am writing, my glasses, assorted pens and pencils, and a pile of books. I also keep a collection of poetry books on my desk, to browse through whenever I am stuck or waiting for my computer to power up.
What first chapter of a book hooked you the most?
Any book that I've actually read. If the first chapter fails to hook me, I put it down and find a better book.
What makes a good first chapter?
A powerful first line. Instant immersion into the story. An engaging and believable voice.
How do you go about writing a first chapter? Do you usually write it first or last?
I always write it first - but I don't begin writing until I have a strong sense of my story's shape and voice, and my characters have come to life in my imagination. And it will be rewritten many times.
How important is the first chapter when submitting a manuscript to a publisher?
Describe your Wombat Books Conference workshop.
It's a full day workshop, with the morning spent discussing what makes a brilliant first chapter and then the afternoon working on your manuscript. Everyone will get 10 minutes one-on-one time with me to talk about their project and what problems they are having. Everyone needs to bring their fist chapter, plus coloured pens and highlighters. Hopefully it will be a really interesting & informative day!