How did you first get published? 

Writing started as a hobby while I was bringing up my two daughters. My first sales were of children’s stories and articles. After that I wrote over fifty short stories and articles for women’s magazines. I followed these with five historical romances for Mills & Boon, my first being Madeiran Legacy, before breaking into mainstream fiction with Lakeland regional sagas. I’ve now written over 45 books, many of them bestselling historicals and women's fiction.

Where do you get your ideas? 
From life is the simple answer, but really I don’t quite know. From people, from things that have happened to me or my family. Details change of course, get turned upside down, and I constantly use a writer’s favourite two words ‘what if’. For instance, in ‘Polly's Pride’ Polly sells all the family furniture in order to finance a second hand carpet business when her husband can’t find work during the depression. My great aunt Hannah did exactly the same thing, although the outcome was entirely different. So I asked - what if her husband objected?

Do you use real places for your settings? 
My characters sometimes live in a fictitious village or street, which allows some scope for my imagination, but it is placed in as accurate a setting as I possible. I enjoy research and spend a great deal of time seeking out those little details to create a true sense of place. This might include which hills my heroine might walk over, the birds or flowers she might see at any given time of year as well as national and global events. I take a great many photographs, draw maps and talk to people who have been involved in the type of industry or lifestyle that I am trying to recreate. A strong sense of place is essential for the kind of sagas I write, as it is a form of social history.

How long does it take you to write a novel? 
When I first started it usually took about nine or ten months. Now I can write a saga in four months, but the more complex books I write for Amazon publishing take well over a year. This naturally demands long hours at the computer, plus many months of research. But I don’t mind as I love research, and am never happier than when I am weaving stories in my head or on screen.

How do you relax? 
By reading, of course. I also enjoy my Spanish garden and walking in the countryside, or campo as it is called here. In England I love going to the theatre as I’ve been greatly involved in amateur dramatics over the years.

What do you enjoy reading? 
I love historical fiction. As a young girl I read everything published by Anya Seton, Jean Plaidy and Norah Loft. Now that historical fiction is back in fashion I indulge myself when not writing by reading my favourite authors: Elizabeth Chadwick, Philippa Gregory, Susanna Kearsley, Kate Morton, Rachel Hore, Anne O´Brien and many more.

Where were born, and where have you lived since? 
I was born in Lancashire, and brought up behind my parent’s shoe shop. I still remember my first pair of clogs, made by my father. Writing was always a dream, but considered rather exotic so I qualified and worked as a teacher until moving to the Lake District in the early years of my marriage. While my children were young I opened a book shop and became far too busy reading catalogues and being a mum to find time to write.

 After nine years of this I moved out onto the Lakeland fells for a ‘rest’ and became thoroughly involved in rural life, keeping sheep and hens, various orphaned cats and dogs, built drystone walls, planted a small wood and even learned how to make jam. The Good Life was on TV at the time. Fortunately the weather was so bad I was forced to stay indoors a good deal, which gave me ample time to write.

We then moved to Fowey in Cornwall where we lived for a number of years, and loved it, using it for the setting of some of my books. Now I’ve abandoned my thermals, built a house in an olive grove and spend the winters in Spain, although I still like to spend the rainy summers in the north-west of England.

What are your plans for the future? 
To keep on writing.
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