What's Interesting to Me
The old advice that you should "write what you know" often gets people chattering. Some argue that it's fatally flawed advice - after all, unless there are dragons hiding away and secret spaceships circling the planet, writers of fantasy and sci-fi are undeniably making a few things up. For me, though, "writing what you know" is more about delving into the emotions you know and the things that interest you.
If you look at the subjects of the novels I've published so far, you could probably hazard a guess at the things I find interesting.
Politics is the backdrop to the Valerie Series, appearing in its more manipulative forms in Amy, the second novel in the series. I'm hugely engaged with politics, reading plenty of books from across the political spectrum for research and pleasure. I like to understand the procedures and how things work behind the scenes, partly on the basis that you have to understand something to critique it. Nor do I want to lay down a political path in my novels that's necessarily reflective of my world view, but it's interesting to me to delve in other people's motivations and reasons for believing the things they do. That's why there's plenty more politics to come from me in the future, both within the Valerie Series and in standalone novels.
Office politics interests me, especially the way some people use it for their own gain. There's a character in But By Degrees who fits that bill perfectly, although you're going to see it more in the future too. Having worked in a few offices, I find them to be complex powder kegs. People are at the heart of my fiction, and people of all varieties get thrown together in offices.
Such Crooked Wood is a trickier novel to compartmentalise as I don't have a particular interest in either upcycling furniture or bars, although I'm interested in the interpersonal dynamics of the latter. That might explain the importance of friendship in that novel, in the same way that Max's relationship with her business partner is an important subplot in the Valerie Series.
What interests me most, of course, are the relationships between women. Whether they're romantic, platonic or familial, I like exploring the dynamics between women and seeing how they evolve through the writing of a novel. This isn't to say men don't feature in my novels, but they're friends, family members, colleagues or boyfriends of other characters - in the same way that women often don't feature prominently in male novels, I don't feel compelled to put them at the centre of my universes either.
Do I like the male characters in my novels? Definitely! While there are bad guys dotted around the place, I've got soft spots for Ed and Drew in the Valerie Series who are adorable and dimwitted respectively. In Such Crooked Wood, Clark is a guy I'd love to have a beer with, and the same goes for Matt in But By Degrees.
I suppose my point is that I don't situate all men as unworthy of positive attention in the same way I don't centre all women as the pinnacle of morality. Life's complex and people are grey, but I'm going to continue exploring the complexity of women in my novels. It's what I do.