1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? Ross & I have been friends since we were teenagers, and over recent years we’d occasionally chatted about writing a book, but we thought it would be a biography of his eventful life. It was only during a phone conversation last January that he raised the idea of a novel. The following week we met up to discuss it and after several cups of tea and copious muffins, we had the whole storyline, characters and settings mapped out for Taking Hollywood. Combining our names for the pseudonym Shari King was the idea of our publisher, but other than that, the finished book is exactly as we envisaged it that day.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? I drop my children at school, then write until they come home. I take a break to do all the family stuff and take them to their hectic schedule of sporting activities, then start writing again around 9pm. I’m frequently to be found snoozing with my forehead on the keyboard at 4am.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I do. And sadly, there’s no way around it other than to just write and hope some flash of inspiration kicks in. It usually does. Eventually.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I’m afraid not. I’m fifteen books down the line (I also write as Shari Low, Shari King, Ronni Cooper and Millie Conway) and I have no idea what I’m going to write until the day I’m writing it. Planning just doesn’t work for me at all. I like to be as surprised as the reader. Apologies to creative writing teachers who are horrified by this approach!
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I was incredibly lucky to get a publishing deal with the first 10 000 words I ever wrote. It was back in 2000, and my manuscript hit the right desk at the right time, just as the chick-lit genre was taking off. Since then, my publishing history has been peppered with 14 years of highs and lows (but mostly highs!). Now I write relationship comedies and thrillers so I’ve switched genres and styles along the way. I just feel incredibly grateful to still be writing, published and selling books. My only advice to aspiring authors is to stick in at it and don’t get disheartened – and never take rejection to heart.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? It was probably the phone call to tell me about that very first deal. After years of trying to have a family, and a lifetime of dreaming about becoming a writer, I got a book deal and then twenty minutes later, found out I was pregnant. My whole life changed in one day. Thankfully, the book deal/pregnancy synergy didn’t continue or 15 books later we’d have had to find a much bigger house.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. Right now I’m working on Breaking Hollywood – the sequel to Taking Hollywood. It opens on the night that Taking Hollywood ends and it’s just as dark, sexy and scandalous.
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I’d love to come up with something impressively highbrow, but the truth is I’m official social secretary, entertainment co-ordinator and taxi driver for my teenagers. Oh, and I drink tea with my pals around our kitchen table and sort out the world. And then there’s the high-grade writing-avoidance ebay habit…
9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.)
Just keep on blogging, posting on facebook, tweeting… but most of all, keep writing and putting out new material.
10.Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about. The fantastic team at Macmillan came up with the cover for Taking Hollywood and we loved it on sight. It’s exactly how we imagined it!