- What book from your childhood still has a place in your heart today?
I was given a copy of The Rose And The Ring by Thackeray when I was about six, and it remains the best-loved book of my childhood (with Wind In The Willows a close second). I loved Thackeray’s writing so much that I read just about everything he wrote, and from Thackeray, it was a natural progression to Dickens, and to the great teeming treasure-house of nineteenth-century literature. Novels of that century are still my favourite comfort reading.
- Which fictional character stayed with you long after you finished the book?
Probably Becky Sharpe from Vanity Fair. I had never come across an anti-heroine before and I loved her independent spirit and determination look out for number one. She’s a complex character, and I’m not sure Thackeray intended us to admire her, but I think she’s been inspirational for lots of women.
- Can you tell us a little about your journey with your new release?
Summer Of Love is the sequel to last years’ release, The Summer House Party – that book left me feeling I wanted to carry on the story, and feedback from readers galvanised me to write a follow-up. The first book opens in the summer of 1936 and follows the lives of guests at a country house party, where fateful events occur that change their lives through the years of the Second World War. I realised that those events would continue to haunt the lives of characters who were only children in the first book, so Summer Of Loves focuses on those characters as they grow up during the 1950s and ‘60s. It was enormous fun to write, and I think readers love having a story that continues down generations.
- Do you get an emotional connection to your characters?
Yes – and I think it’s absolutely vital for a writer to have that connection, and to be able to put themselves in the skin of a character and feel what they feel and imagine how they would respond to given situations. Of course, it’s easier to identify with some characters than others.
- Can you please, share a photo with us that tells a story.
This isn’t exactly a photo – it’s a picture by a brilliant cartoonist, Ruby Etc (https://twitter.com/rubyetc)
and my daughter gave me a framed copy for Christmas because she knew I liked it so much – it perfectly encapsulates the frustrations of any creative person hoping for divine inspiration for new and original ideas…. (see
- What was your favourite read of 2017?
A Visit From The Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan. It came out in 2010, but I only read it last year. It’s a series of connected stories centring on an ageing punk rocker-turned-music producer and covers the decades between 1970 and 2020. It has a chapter in the form of a power-point presentation, which is a bold experiment, but one that Egan manages to pull off. I enjoy seeing people experiment with the traditional novelistic format.
- If your book came with a theme song what would it be?
The first half of Summer of Love is set mainly in the 1950s, and certain key scenes occur in Soho jazz Clubs; one of the main characters in the book is Ellis Candy, a jazz saxophonist, so the haunting sax solo by Stan Getz from the song Corcodavo, would be perfect. The second half of the book is set at the beginning of the Swinging Sixties, and to illustrate the liberating journey of Laura, another central character of the book, I’d pick Georgie Girl, by The Seekers – it evokes perfectly the exhilaration of being young and female in those exciting times.
- Is the genre you write your favourite to read?
I write in different genres – The Summer House Party and Summer Of Love are a distinct departure from the series of Caper Court novels for which I’m best known – so the question doesn’t really apply. My favourite genre is nineteenth-century literature – I love the leisurely pace and detailed description that present-day writers can’t afford to indulge in.
- If you could ask your readers anything, what would you want to know?
I’d love to know if they’d be interested in reading a follow-up to Summer Of Love! I’ve ended the book at a point where I hope it has a satisfying conclusion, but still with great potential for the story to carry on through the next generation into the ‘70s and 80s.
- What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on the ninth novel in my series of Caper Court legal novels. It’s so nice to be reunited with characters such as the devilishly charismatic QC, Leo Davies, and working out what pitfalls and successes await him as he tries to juggle his amoral private life with the stresses of his professional one. Symptomatic of the fact that I just can’t bear to end a series!