Highly Commended

Spoiler Alert!

Will you write a sequel to Ready or Not?

There isn't one planned. If you'd like one, tell the publisher! My book The Rules came about because readers wanted to know what happened to Amber who'd appeared in a short story in the I'll be Home for Christmas anthology. That short story sits at the beginning of The Rules. Reader power!

Did the other teenagers find out the truth?

What do you think?


When you wrote the book did you have the plot thought out beforehand?

I always write the very beginning chapter and the end when I suggest the book to my publisher. So in Ready or Not I wrote that final section in the railway station right from the start. I knew why I wanted her to be called Kat (do you know why?) and then I worked towards that tone and sense of an ending. 

Was your idea to turn Millie more against Kat the more she discovered? 

I hinted very early on that Millie is an unreliable narrator about their relationship. And have a look at how Millie signs the letters to her. I had a long list which showed the decline in how she feels about her whether she's using lots of love Millie Moo xxx or from Amelia.

As the saying goes- ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’.  Obviously, many people do!  We would like to know what artistic influence (if any) you had over the design of the book jacket. Do you like the cover that was selected? What would you change?

I have zero say in the book cover but luckily I like it because it's eye-catching - especially in a bookshop window and it works as a thumbnail for all those who order online. I think the designer at the publisher said it was to represent the fracturing of her teen life. I went to see Ready or Not printed at the massive printing press in Kent and it was great to see the bright orange heading round the conveyor belts.The publisher has rejacketed The Truth About Lies along the same lines (see pic below) and there's one in the pipeline for the next print run of The Rules. They'll look great together. 


If the book was adapted for Netflix, which actors would you like to play the characters?

Wouldn't that be great? But here's the thing - I don't know what my characters look like. I'm always in their head looking out. I add the absolute bare minimum of description at the edit stage. So you'll have to tell me who you think would be good in the roles.


What was the inspiration for the book?

I had a very clear image of a girl standing by a tree counting. Obviously she was playing hide-and-seek but it felt unsettling. Then I started to play around with the idea of what if when she opened her eyes she couldn't find everyone - and I was hooked. The game of hide and seek gave me scope for everybody hiding something, whether they were ready to find out the truth or ready for the next stages of growing up and for everyone to be playing games. 


How would you feel if your book was analysed in the future in an English class, like we do with Shakespeare?

Hmm, not quite in the same league on the language front. But I think it'd be fun to see someone try to find all the clues and hints - and red herrings - that I enjoyed planting. 


What have been your writing influences?

I loved E. Lockhart's We were liars and that made me want to write intelligent thrillers for this age group. 


Do you have any fun little facts about your characters that were not revealed? (Taking inspiration here from when JK Rowling revealed Dumbledore was gay) I suppose I leave open the nature of Millie's feelings for Kat.  Pippin the sniffer dog was my neighbour's lovely dog. One of my kids' inspirational teachers, Mr Bull, is there on the trip to Cambridge when she sees the strange clock. Sgt Harris is the actual police officer who advised on the police interview and procedures and he wanted to be in the book so I changed the name of the police officer to his as well as paying him in chocolate oranges...

What can we look forward to reading next?  Can you reveal any secrets about your work in progress?

Nope. But I have just published a children's picture book called My Brother is an Avocado with Simon & Schuster which is a whole different experience.