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Latest Book: Her Royal Bodyguard
Where did the inspiration for the book come from?
I used to work as a bodyguard and the story was actually inspired by a fellow bodyguard who was in a secret intimate relationship with their client.
Why was the story so important to you?
The extremely wealthy (princesses, celebrities etc) are often so envied for their money and their lifestyle. What I saw, when I did that job, was the absolute loneliness that they often felt. How trapped they often felt. How they couldn't go anywhere alone and how utterly intrusive it is to have a security team and an entourage with you wherever you go. As a bodyguard, you end up being so much more to them than just their protection. I wouldn't have traded places with any of my clients for all the money and the privilege that they had. It was never a life that I envied.
I wanted to show the side to a Princess that people don't usually see- that there is a real person underneath the image the media show us. I wanted to show that the real life of a bodyguard mostly isn't about taking kidnap attempts and getting in shootouts.
I wanted to show that authenticity of self is all that we can all strive for, whatever expectations are put upon us.
Tell us about the characters
The first main character is Princess Alexandra- heir to the British throne who is pressured by family expectation to marry a man and have children. Her journey is that of self discovery and also authenticity- she has so much strength in so many ways but can she find the strength to be herself and be true to herself?
The second main character is Sergeant Erin Kennedy, the bodyguard assigned to the Princess. Erin's journey is that of being thrust into a role that perhaps you don't feel ready for and finding a way to swim rather than sink. As is true of many women working in traditionally male dominated fields, Erin is always having to be better than the men to fight to be respected. The pressure she puts on herself to achieve and the career choices she has made have left her lonely and seeking something else, something more, that she thinks she might have found in Alexandra.
As a writer...
What can you tell us about your work in progress?
I am currently working on a sequel to Her Royal Bodyguard. It will have 3 parts so I am currently working on Book 2 looking at how their relationship develops and grows, how Erin adapts to being the Princess's girlfriend and the struggles that come alongside that and how the Princess copes with the events from the end of the first book.I am also working on a standalone age gap romance which looks at my main character's dissatisfaction with life, throwing everything away that she has worked for and starting again. I've seen so many of my friends hit their 30s and realise they are dissatisfied and unhappy with their lives, only often they don't feel brave enough to change it. This story is about the brave one who makes the difficult choices and makes big changes seeking her own happiness.
What are you reading now?
I've just finished reading Finding Jessica Lambert by Clare Ashton. It is my first book by her and, honestly, I was blown away. She is such an incredibly gifted writer, I was so utterly absorbed in the characters and the world she created. The book had a beautiful depth to it, layer upon layer of beauty and intensity and realism. I absolutely adored it and would highly recommend it to anyone. It is the book I have most enjoyed in years.
What is your favourite author?
Stella Duffy, Val McDermid and Sarah Waters are my all time favourites. Stella Duffy's book Calendar Girl was my first introduction to lesfic many years ago when I was growing up back in the 90s. I must have read it a hundred times. I could probably quote large sections of it! I love crime and thriller books and Val McDermid is my absolute undisputed Queen of the thriller. She writes so beautifully which I find is rare in the thriller writers. She writes incredible stories but she never sacrifices her quality of writing and I love that. Sarah Waters, I'm sure you don't need me to tell you why she is amazing. She creates such rich worlds and characters it is so easy to get lost in her work. I have so much admiration for a writer so good that she has taken Lesbian fiction mainstream and had her work made into TV. I'll never forget my mum walking in halfway through the TV version of Tipping the Velvet right on that scene with Nan and the leather strap on....
What was your favourite book as a child?
I loved anything by Enid Blyton particularly the Famous Five- I loved that George dressed like a boy. I also really loved CS Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia. I read avidly as a child. I read whatever I could get my hands on. I grew up in an old farmhouse surrounded by grown ups books. (I have no idea whose they were as my parents never read. ) I used to read them too. I used to get books from wherever I could and read everything I could.
What is the best feedback you have ever had from a reader?
Honestly, every positive feedback I receive is the best. Every time one of my books has touched someone it makes me feel warm inside. It is easy to get down when people don't like a book but you'll never please everyone all the time. I love getting positive feedback, it really inspires me to keep writing.
As a person...
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
'Whether you think you can do it or you think you can't, you are right.'This was from a coach many years ago but it has always stuck with me. We are, each one of us, more powerful than we can imagine and self belief coupled with hard work will allow us to achieve almost anything.
What’s your favourite quote?
'You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.' A lot of people wish for many things in life. But if they don't ever take the shots, then they will never know if they could have achieved it. I have a big sports background and a lot of lessons we take from sport are so applicable in so many areas of life. I'd rather just get on with things and take the shots. Do the things I want to do in life, believe in myself and give them my best shot. As with sports, I won't always win, but at least I can say I went after everything I wanted and I don't have any regrets. Writing books being my latest thing. I'm at the beginning of my journey here, I'm learning with each book I write and I'm going away and learning more about the craft of writing as I go. I love to learn from reading other authors work, but ultimately, my competition is always with myself. Nobody else will ever put the same level of pressure on as I put on myself.
What would be your spirit animal?
A Lion. Big, brave, noble, nobody messes with them, capable of great things, lazy, awesome hair.
What did you want to be before you grew up?
I wanted to be a vet or a writer or a pro horse rider. The vet thing never worked out, turns out I don't really like surgery. I did a stint with the horses when I was younger but its a tough life with many long hard hours. I'm trying out the writer thing now.
What is the favourite thing you own?
My home and my dogs and cats. Thats multiple things, sorry. My home gives me stability and a sense of peace. The animals give me stress at times but when I look at their little faces all I feel is love.