Who are you? Tell us a little bit about yourself...
I am an eternal optimist, glass half-full kind of person. I was born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1966 in the month of June hence the name! A fitting name for a sunny individual. As a child I loved walking barefoot in our large garden, especially after the rain. There is no better feeling than lush grass on bare feet! Climbing the loquat tree at the back of our home was another favourite pastime. The joy of eating those juicy fruit hidden from the world in the leafy branches.
My first job at the age of 17, was at the prestigious Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi. Walking through the beautiful courtyard every morning made me feel like Karen Blixen. Even to this day I only have to shut my eyes to evoke the delicious scent of the jasmine hedges and the squawking parrots in the aviaries.
I have since travelled vastly with my family in Africa and the Middle East. After over thirty years of travelling, my husband and I have now called it a day with removal companies, and home is a small village not far from Montpellier in the South of France.
Any excuse is a good excuse to entertain friends, with recipes that I adjust constantly to suit what I have in my kitchen cupboards.
So far no one has complained!
What first inspired you to start writing?
An amazing English teacher. The last ten minutes of every class ended with a story that she would make up. Her imagination had no limit. I would explore this world in the evenings writing down my own stories dotted with fairies, cowboys, pharaohs, unicorns, astronauts and sword wielding medieval warriors.
What made you want to work with Rowanvale and be published?
I had published two children’s books several years back with two different companies. Staff were unprofessional, bordering on rude. Both experiences left a bitter taste and a feeling that I was robbed of hard-earned money.
I found Rowanvale through a newsletter that I subscribe to – Authors Publish. There were raving reviews. After an in-depth web search, I couldn’t find any bad ratings and I was satisfied with my findings. Obviously, I have not been disappointed. The entire publishing process was handled professionally but with a friendly touch. Designing the cover was exciting and I couldn’t wait to see the finished result. A special shout out to the editing team.
When you're not writing, what are you reading?
Everything and anything. I love reading whether it’s the newspapers, magazines, thrillers, crime novels, love stories, history, autobiographies even sports magazines, and that’s saying a lot as I am not a sports person. Whatever I can lay my hands on. My favourite place is the library. Oh the smell of all those books and the imaginings of the previous reader’s thoughts.
Which work are you most proud of?
This novel - You Raised Me Up. It has taken me many years to complete. I have worked hard on it and I hope my readers will enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
What's the best advice for handling writer's block?
Take a break. Walk in the woods. Breathe in fresh air. Clear your mind. The outdoors is always a positive way of changing one’s ideas. Another great way for me is sitting quietly for 15-20 minutes in a bustling environment like a train station or busy shopping mall, a coffee shop or an airport. Watching and/or eavesdropping on people is a good way of getting the imagination going again.
What’s the one thing you always have with you when you're writing?
A notebook and two sharpened pencils. Nothing is worse than writing with a blunt point. I have been an insomniac for years so my best ideas come at night when I can’t fall asleep. The more I jot down the further sleep evades me. A vicious circle but one I am used to.
As nothing is written in stone, it’s easier to change an idea with a pencil then crossing out with a pen. And always always music in the background.
What is the one book you would take with you if you were stuck on a desert island?
This is a tough question which I honestly cannot answer without a few titles. I would need at least a suitcase (if suitcases are allowed) as there are far too many good books to choose from. Please allow me this small list. Little Women by Louise May Alcott. River God by Wilbur Smith. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
However if there was a gun to my head and a foot on the suitcase, then I would have to reach quickly for East of Eden by John Steinbeck.
What’s the best part about being an independently published author?
The freedom that comes with it. Being in charge on all stages of the publishing process.
What’s next for you?
I have started on another novel about a young man’s journey with substance abuse and self-harm. I feel that this generation is having it harder than my generation and even though they are sometimes addicted to social media it’s not very kind to them, which made me want to explore the vulnerability of youth in the age of the internet.