I grew up in a house filled with books, both my parents are keen readers. Back then I didn’t know young adult existed as a genre, in fact, I’m not sure it really, truly did; so I read Jane Austen, P.G.Wodehouse, Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope, to name a few. This meant that I went through a phase in my early teens of wishing I lived in the regency era and daydreaming about balls and dresses and snubbing men with the flick of my fan. And daydreaming leads to writing.
I don’t remember when I started writing but I remember the first full length story I wrote as a teenager, about a girl called Emerald who could defend herself without the help of a man, going against all the damsel in distress tropes I got so frustrated with at the time. It was a terrible story but it was the beginning of my love of writing strong female characters.
For years I would start stories, write tragic poetry but it never really went anywhere. I went to university and studied politics, because I thought it would set me up well. It was a mistake, I didn’t enjoy my course and barely made it through my second year. I stayed on and managed to get what is known as the drinkers degree, a 2:2. University was fun but it didn’t help me figure out what I wanted to do. And still I started stories that were never finished.
After working in PR for 18 months I decided I wanted to work in creative advertising and so applied for an MA at Falmouth University in Cornwall. It was the best decision I could have made. I loved my course and the people I was studying with, suddenly I felt more like myself; I felt like I was in my comfort zone and not trying to force anything. It was there, towards the end of my course, that I had my first full novel idea. A story that had enough in it to become an entire book. So I had to sit down with my parents after I’d graduated and confess that I didn’t want to work in advertising afterall, instead I wanted to be an author. I am still surprised by how well they took it.
Growing up in the Middle East didn’t always suit my pale complexion. As you can see here, I was struuuuggling.
I know, my mum is ridiculously gorgeous.
Me (right) and my friend Emma. As you can clearly see, I had the bigger belly and Emma was cheating.
The first book was called More Than Human and I was convinced that it would be published instantly. Alas, it was not and honestly, the idea was great but the writing was not. So, I took a part-time job ‘for a year’ and began writing my first young adult novel, Rebellion. I went to a London Writer’s meeting in 2015 and at the end asked the agent giving the talk if publishers were looking for young adult dystopian novels, they were not. So, I decided it was time to take things into my own hands and I began my self-publishing journey. I published Rebellion the following year (2016), completely re-wrote More Than Human so that it’s now a comedy (much better) and I finished the first draft of Resistance, the second book in the Rebellion series. So, 2016 was pretty busy!
So that’s the long version of how I became a writer. The short version is, I just had to. I really didn’t have a choice.
If you have any questions about writing or self-publishing please feel free to ask. I am always happy to help.