Frequently asked questions

Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes. I grew up in a book-loving family and have written stories since I was a child. Some of my writing has helped me to make sense of traumatic events I’ve witnessed as a journalist. It is wonderful to reach a wider audience by being published but I write because I love it.

Where do you get ideas for your books?

It is important to find characters and a story that will keep me intrigued for several years, through the process of writing and re-writing a novel. I have been a BBC journalist for decades now and spent many years overseas. My reporting has plunged me into many dramatic situations and allowed me to meet remarkable people and also given me endless ideas for stories.

Are any of your characters based on real people?

No. I have met many extraordinary people, especially women, who may inspire me and I draw on my knowledge of other places and cultures. But the characters are always my own.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Do you actually enjoy sitting down and writing? And not just the idea of writing? Would you feel incomplete if you stopped? If so, choose settings and issues you know well and feel passionate about. And never give up.

Do you have a writing routine?

Like many people, I fit in writing round work and family. If I have a whole day to write, I start early and settle somewhere comfortable and quiet without distractions, often the local library.