I am interested in reading – and writing – books that have some meaning, some impact; that do not just entertain, but make us into better people. Fiction has great power to change us: we take the hero’s journey with them, and so stories can lead us deeper into the truth of who we are.
I have always loved fantasy, but as a born cynic I would ask myself, ‘Isn’t this unrealistic? Why does good always triumph over evil?’ But I have learnt to find this truth in fantasy: good always triumphs over evil because this is an inevitability. The story follows our inner journey, the one each of us must take over our lifetime: a journey from darkness and struggle that always holds the potential for light. Each one of us has that potential to conquer our inner demons and find our own enlightenment; that potential is indestructible, and the darkness within our mind is only a temporary obstruction. So, good will always triumph over evil, in the end.
The novels I write will, I hope, be one little spark to illuminate and encourage that inner journey.
I live in a Buddhist community in the middle of nowhere. I walk in the woods every day, and would probably be happy never to go into a city again (as long as I have access to Wi-Fi).
There is a lot of insight in my writing that I have gained through meditation – but my books aren’t Buddhist books. I just try to inspire everyone to be good and kind and happy.
An interview with the author
interview by Kailee from Hazel’s Book Tours
Congratulations on the recent release of Dreamwalker! What inspired you to write this series?
The inspiration was one of my favourite quotes from an ancient Chinese philosopher: ‘Each night I dream I am a butterfly, and when I wake, I do not know: am I a man who dreams he is a butterfly, or a butterfly who dreams he is a man?’
I wanted to explore themes of identity and subjective reality and the Buddhist idea that all things are ultimately appearances to mind… and then the story got away from me a bit! I’m not sure I quite managed to address the concept of ultimate truth, but I had fun trying.
What kind of challenges did you come up against while you were writing this book?
Not knowing how to edit! I finished the first draft during lockdown, while the whole world was in a fervour of baking banana bread and doing online yoga classes. Since I don’t like bananas and I’m allergic to exercise, I took some writing courses and realised just how far my book was from finished. It took nearly another year to lick it into shape.
What comes first for you—the characters or the plot and why?
I tend to begin with a theme, but from there it’s the characters who drive the plot forward. I flailed around for quite a while trying to pin down my main character, but as soon as they came into focus then the plot took off.
Speaking of characters…Who is your favourite character in this book?
Shocking! Would you ask a parent to choose a favourite child? Well, okay, just promise not to tell my characters what I say. I think my favourite is Lily, Luca’s little sister. I put her through hell in this book, and her dark sense of humour brought so much light to the story.
What was your favourite scene to write in Dreamwalker?
Definitely the grindylow in the well—it was just so much fun. I usually write really slowly, but that all came pouring out in one session.
Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
Of course. I write everything whilst standing on my head. (Kidding. I’m just trying to make myself sound interesting when I’m really not. I write. Then I rewrite. Then I rewrite again.)
How many unpublished/ half-finished books do you have?
Believe it or not—none. I’m one of those annoying people who work on one thing until it’s finished before moving on to the next. I self-published my first three books, and Dreamwalker was the first one I sent out to agents and publishers.
When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?
When I was about ten, I think. Then I worked out how hard it is to write an entire book, and I gave up. But the ideas wouldn’t let me go. After holding a story in my head for fifteen years, I eventually wrote it down just to get rid of it. Then another one came along. The pesky things won’t shut up, and I love ‘em all.
What do you want your readers to know about you?
I’m about half as messy as my characters and one hundredth as awesome.
Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kind?
No, I prefer quiet. Although I recently wrote a short story about a ghost who’s haunting a mix-tape and I had to listen to a lot of 90s grunge to develop her character. I had Nirvana stuck in my head for weeks.
Any tips for an aspiring writer?
Take your time. Write a first draft at your own speed—months for some people, years for others, that’s okay—and then be prepared to spend more time editing. Be forgiving of all your mistakes in the first draft (and probably in the second and third as well) but keep reworking it until there is no longer anything that needs forgiving. You’ll get there.
Less profound but probably more useful: give yourself a refresher course on the basic rules of grammar and punctuation before you start, especially things you might be less familiar with like the conventions for punctuating dialogue. It will save you soooo much time when it comes to line-editing your work.
And don’t take anyone else’s writing tips as Gospel!