Get to Know You Questions
1. What is your favorite food? Chocolate, doughnuts and curry. Not at the same time, obviously.
2. Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla ice cream? Chocolate – the more exotic the better. Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked, for example.
3. What is one food you despise? Peas and grapes. Anything small, round, squishy and healthy.
4. Where did you grow up? Essex, about 30 miles East of London. I moved to Wales for University and moved back to the village where I grew up 17 years later.
5. What was your favorite childhood picture book? I had all the Ladybird fairy tale books, but the one I recently rediscovered is A Child’s Garden of Verses.
6. Is there a book that changed your life? The Farthest Away Mountain by Lynne Reid Banks. It’s one I read when I was about ten and it’s what made me realize how powerful and absorbing a well-told story could be.
7. What is your favorite sport? Quidditch. It’s the only sport I will ever watch.
8. What is your favorite kind of music? I love rock music. My favourite band – to the point of obsession – is Queen, but I have recently got into Muse, and I also like Def Leppard and Magnum.
9. What one place would you like to visit that you haven’t? I’d like to see the Northern Lights someday, probably from Iceland or Lapland or somewhere in Scandinavia.
10. What is your favorite thing about yourself? Being naturally blonde. It has so many advantages, such as the fact that I’m going grey but no one can tell, and I can get away with shaving my legs very infrequently.
12. What is the strangest thing you ever did? As a Vicar’s wife and anti-Mormon campaigner, I actually converted to Mormonism.
12. What is the strangest food you ever ate? Pancakes with weird shaped sausages and maple syrup. You Americans have the craziest eating habits. But I have also eaten Ostrich and Kangaroo.
13. Have you ever met a famous person? John McCarthy –who recognised me! – and Clarissa Dickson-Wright. They were guest speakers at a works event I organised. I also knew Lord Aberconwy, Dafydd Elis-Thomas, quite well at one stage and he is my eldest daughter’s godfather. He took my husband and I to dinner at the House of Lords where we met the Archbishop of Canterbury. Oh, and I was interviewed for baptism by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and have met President Monson.
15. What was a favorite childhood memory? I have such a bad memory I can’t remember much that isn’t on film somewhere. But I went to see Queen in concert when I was 16 and according to my mother I was on cloud nine for weeks.
16. What are your hobbies? I like cross-stitch, but actually writing is my main hobby. I also play Dungeons and Dragons.
17. What countries have you visited? America several times, Majorca and Ibiza (Spain) several times, Portugal, France, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, and I lived in Germany briefly as a child and Wales for 17 years as an adult. I speak fluent Welsh.
18. Are you a 'morning' or 'night' person? Morning, definitely. I start slowing down after lunch and am good for very little after 4 p.m.
19. If you could have 3 wishes granted, what would they be? I’ve worked this out very carefully. First, I would wish that every child born into the world would be born to married parents who would love and cherish and nurture that child. I think within a generation that would put paid to lots of the crime and violence and family breakdown. Then I would wish for no illness or premature death. Then I’d probably wish for lots of money for myself. Or world peace. Haven’t decided yet.
20. Were you named after anyone? My middle names are Margaret, after my mother, and Katharine, which begins with the same letter as my Dad’s name, so my middle initials are my parents. My Dad also tells me I was named after Anna Karenina, his favourite book, although I’m not sure I believe him.
21. What are you favorite smells? Hot tar and woodsmoke.
22. What book are you reading now? I’m reading Twilight to my daughter, and I’m reading Alfreda Abbot’s Lost Voice for my book club.
23. If you could have a dinner with three people (real or fictitious, dead or alive), who would you choose and why? Robert Pattinson, Kerry Blair and Stephenie Meyer. Rob and I live near London, and Kerry and Stephenie live in Arizona, but I think Rob and I would fly to Arizona together for the dinner. First class, naturally, in adjacent seats.
24. What is the best gift anyone has ever given you? When I was sixteen my parents gave me a perfume set. It was L’Aimant by Coty. I absolutely loved it, and I still buy that perfume because one smell of it and I’m sixteen again and sublimely happy.
25. What was the best decision you’ve ever made? Sadly, it was probably to divorce my ex-husband and move back to England. I know that’s controversial, but even now, six years later, I find myself filled with joy when I think of how wonderful it is to be free of all that fear, loneliness and sadness.
27. What is one item that you really should throw away, but probably never will? I have hundreds of teddy bears and soft toys, some of them mine, some of them the children’s, but I could never throw them away. As a child I once discovered a much-loved cuddly lion in the dustbin and was traumatized and seeing something I loved disposed of. I rescued that lion, and I have never been able to part with anything that can look me in the eye ever since.
Why I Write
I wrote my first novel -about squirrels- when I was nine. I always loved books, and as soon as I realised that someone actually created these amazing stories that was all I wanted to do. I love writing. I love the creative process, and the wonder of putting across what is in my mind and imparting something I want others to feel.
I joined the LDS church in my twenties and was surprised to discover (somehow I came across an Anita Stansfield novel) that there was a whole genre of, and market for, LDS fiction. I admit that my first thought was that this might be a chance to get "a foot in the door". It would be easier to get published in such a small niche market, I reasoned, and I could then write a "real" novel and have a "real" publisher accept it because I would be taken more seriously. I was, of course, entirely wrong in my assumptions. LDS publishers expect just as high a standard as national market publishers.
I wrote a book about a sister missionary who falls in love with a man she is teaching, and sent it to a publisher. Obviously it was unacceptable, but the editor told me she liked my writing style and gave me some suggestions regarding things I might write about. I picked up on one of those, and Haven was published in 2000. I hadn't intended writing a sequel, but Haven was successful and my editor suggested I do so to cash in on that success. A World Away, published the following year, also enjoyed moderate success. I loved getting fan mail - still do!
To my surprise, though, the third in the series was turned down. I wrote two further novels, but both were rejected. Finally, Easterfield was published by Leatherwood Press in 2008. I have recently had another novel accepted which will hit the shelves in February 2011. Two more are currently under consideration, with another two in the pipeline.
I haven't entirely abandoned my dream of writing books for the national market. But LDS literature is, in many ways, something I feel more comfortable with for now. I know I couldn't write certain explicit scenes which are expected in the national market, and I refuse to write anything I wouldn't want my children, or my parents, to read. Besides which, LDS literature is as good as anything else out there, and much better than plenty of other books I have read. I think in Stephanie Black, Kerry Blair and others, the LDS market can hold its head high. And LDS publishers are just beginning to carve their way into the general readership with books which are not specifically LDS but do not have objectionable content either. I want to be part of that move to bring good, clean literature to the world. And in the meantime, I want to inspire and entertain the LDS people I love.