1. When did you start writing?
I’ve always written stories for fun, but I started out on my first novel when I was about seventeen, I think. It was awful. 2. Where do you write?
I’ve set my desk up so that I can stare out my window into my garden whenever I’m at a loss for words or ideas, which happens far too often. Sadly, all I’ve seen recently is rain. 3. What are the pros and cons of being a writer?
The best thing about being a writer is the freedom it gives you, and I don’t just mean to choose your own hours. You can pick a subject that intrigues you, then spend a whole year reading and daydreaming and writing about it. Then you can forget about it altogether and move onto something new. For most people, I think the solitude of writing is the hardest thing to deal with, but for me that’s actually a bonus. So I guess the hardest thing is something I’ve now thankfully put behind me (for the moment, at least), which is all the rejection you have to deal with before you get a success. 4. What writers have inspired you?
I loved the Greek myths when I was a child, and adventure stories too, which I think shows in the kind of books I write. As for specific writers, my life would be great deal drabber without PG Wodehouse and Robertson Davies, who both – in very different ways – seem to make the world more magical.
5. How important is a sense of place in your writing?
Very important. Books like mine depend heavily on building the right kind of atmosphere, with mystique and danger and the possibility of undiscovered tombs at every turning. Fortunately, my task is made a great deal easier by setting the books in Egypt and other such exotic places, rather than more everyday locations.
6. Do you spend a lot of time researching your novels?
Yes. I think I owe it to my readers to get the historical landscape in which I set my books as accurate as possible, so I do a great deal of background reading before I even start thinking about plot specifics. I also travel at least twice to the places in which the book is set, once at the beginning to get a sense of possible locations, and to see what kind of action could take place upon them, and then again after I’ve finished my first draft, to make sure I’ve got the details as accurate as possible (though if I have to shift things around a little to help the story, I’m quite prepared to do that). 7. Do your characters ever surprise you?
They rarely surprise me, but they constantly annoy me by flat-out refusing to do the things I need them to do, thus forcing me to rewrite my plots. If only they were more compliant, I could finish my books in half the time. 8. How much of your life and the people around you do you put into your books?
Sadly, my life is far too dull to make useful fodder for my books, although I do love to travel, and I suspect that comes across. As for using the people around me, I try to limit myself to the odd quirk or two that hopefully they won’t notice. That said, I have put people I know in my books. I’m just not saying who. 9. How did it feel when you saw your book in print for the first time?
I’ve had a fair bit published in my time, including some non-fiction books, so I wasn’t expecting it to be a big deal; but actually it was, it made me feel really proud. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing now? I don’t know, but I strongly suspect I’d be bad at it.