As soon as I learnt to write. Probably about the age of five.
What was your first book?
Well, when I was about five, as soon as I realised I wanted to write a book, I had a go. It was about eight pages long, mostly pictures in crayon with a few words underneath. It was called Across the Desot. (My spelling has improved since then.) It might still be in the attic somewhere 🙂
What makes you stand out as an author?
I hope it is my style of writing and my enthusiasm for my subjects.
Do you have any writing rituals – time, place, tools, etc?
I use a laptop at home and a netbook when I am out and about. My handwriting is terrible, even I can’t read it. That’s why I type. I try to force myself to write at least a bit each week even if I am busy or don’t feel in the mood. I find that belonging to a writing group helps a lot because I have the incentive to get more written before the next meeting.
Who or what inspires you?
Inspiration can come from anything and anywhere, but I find going for a walk helps if I am stuck for ideas. I also do a lot of research, so reading other books is a big inspiration.
Who are your books for?
That varies depending on the book. My early published books were for roleplaying games – mostly supplements and scenarios for Call of Cthulhu, so they were written for that audience. My recent books – Pagan Portals: Candle Magic and Every Day Magic: A Pagan Book of Days – are written for pagans and witches.
What do you do when you aren’t writing?
I do freelance editorial work for a living and I write A Bad Witch’s Blog at www.badwitch.co.uk. Over the past year I have started running workshops in candle magic and scrying by candlelight at Treadwell’s and The Atlantis Bookshop in London. I also enjoy going to talks on esoteric subjects. My other hobbies include walking, reading, photography and playing games.
If you could write full time, would you?
I enjoy variety in my work. A mixture of editing, teaching and writing suits me perfectly.
How long does it take you to create a book?
It takes me between eight months and a year to write a short book.
Do you plan meticulously before you start, or go with the inspiration of the moment, or some combination thereof?
It is a mixture of planning and inspiration throughout the process.
Do you like working collaboratively?
Very much so, but it has to be with someone I can work well with. My Call of Cthulhu writing was nearly all done in collaboration with my partner at the time. We were a great writing team. At the moment I tend to write on my own though.
Where can people find you?
If you could change something about the publishing industry, what would it be?
The publishing industry should pay writers more.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given about writing?
It was advice from my parents – they told me not to be a writer. They said it was a romantic daydream and I would never earn a living at it. When I left university I intended to spend a year writing a book, but my parents stopped me and insisted I took a job. Under pressure from my parents, I worked at WHSmith for a year as a trainee department manager, then I tried teacher training, then I spent a year working as a camera operator at the BBC. Eventually I decided that I really did want to get into publishing. I got a job working as an editorial assistant at the free magazine Girl About Town and took evening classes in journalism at the London College of Printing. My only regret is not taking that year off and writing that book when I was 21.
Do you review books? What kinds of things do you look for in a book?
Yes, I review a lot of books on my blog at www.badwitch.co.uk. I mainly review non-fiction books about witchcraft, paganism, folklore, history and mind, body, spirit subjects.
What annoys you?
People expecting me to write for free. It is my job and I have to earn enough money to eat and pay the bills.
What makes you happy?
I’m generally a happy person. The things I enjoy most are being with friends, going for walks, playing games and being creative.
What do you worry about?
Money. Being freelance is feast or famine. Sometimes it really is famine. I remember a few years ago having to search through my pockets, bags and down the back of the sofa to find loose change just so I could buy food to eat that day. I managed to find a fiver – I was over the moon with it 🙂
Hardbacks, paperbacks or ebooks?
All of them 🙂
How do you feel about illustrations in books for adults?
In non-fiction books, illustrations and photographs are extremely helpful if they show the things the writer is describing.
Are there any types of writing you know you’d never try?
Sports journalism and war journalism. I know very little about sports and I couldn’t face writing about the tragedies of war.