Where did the idea come for “In Full Swing”?
A few years ago, my husband and I ambitiously tried a swing dance class, thinking it would be a romantic way to get fit and have a boogie.
However, as soon as we completed one shaky run through of the complicated routine, everyone had to switch partners. We spent the grand total of 5 minutes dancing together, and the rest of the time being scolded by very advanced swing dancers.
How important was it to show the fun side of dancing?
I think it’s incredibly important not to take yourself too seriously when dancing. That’s when you start to look and feel a bit silly (much like the vain villain in my story). Although my husband and I were utterly rubbish at the swing dance class, we still laugh at the memory, and remember the routine . . . or at least our version of it.
As well as being a writer, you are an accomplished illustrator. Is it easy to balance the two creative practices?
In terms of balance, it’s impossible for me to sit still, as I’m always drawing, or thinking about stories. But I’ve actually found that writing refreshes me after a hectic few days of illustrating. It’s like a treat, as I get to draw in a different format: with words.
With your background in art, are you a visual type of writer?
Absolutely! I love to travel and try new things, and I take lots of photos. So, when I sit to write a story, it’s usually inspired by something I’ve seen or done. I like to revisit photos, or have a giggle at silly memories. I try to capture in words some variation of the wonderful, weird adventures I’ve had.
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
I do my best brainstorming whilst walking in the woods with my Golden Retriever, Atlas. When it’s just the two of us, Atlas carries the biggest branch he can find and I flesh out stories in my head. Then I have to hurry home to write it all down before I forget. I like to write the actual story in my office, on my computer, usually with a tired Atlas by my feet.
P.S., What’s your one top tip for aspiring writers?
Starting to write a story can be overwhelming, but just get that pesky first sentence down. It doesn’t have to be perfect; you can even remove it entirely later. A rough starting point helps get me moving into the main story, rather than fussing over a single sentence, and makes the whole task seem less daunting.