I honestly don’t remember the first time I sat down to write a story. I know I must have been fairly young, because lately I came across my primary seven workbook, which contains an interesting piece entitled ‘A Pastime of Mine’. It begins ‘A pastime of mine is writing stories. Every notebook is full of them,’ and then details the complicated and unrealistic plot of a book called The Easter Mystery. Needless to say, I read a lot of Enid Blyton back then!
My biggest inspiration is actually other books – the more I read, especially fiction, the greater the urge to write. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I used to think that everyone who loved reading also loved writing! There are other influences – people-watching and observing human nature, stumbling across amazing true stories that you couldn’t actually make up, and imagining how people used to live when I visit museums – which make me want to sit down and begin a new book.
I have a bright and sunny upstairs room, and my desk sits in front of the window, overlooking green fields. The room is furnished with my childhood bedroom furniture and it doubles as a second guest bedroom if necessary. I also have a plaque which my mum gave me before I had any books published, which says, ‘Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel.’ I’m tempted to hang it downstairs for any guests to see, but they might suddenly become very quiet and well-behaved!
I like to read a variety of genres and authors, but I especially love coming across a well-researched novel about some other culture, occupation or a little-known historical period. Some of my favourite authors are Jeanette Windle, Irene Hannon, Sarah Sundin and Tamera Alexander. I also love reading books written by a male author, for a different perspective on life, especially books by Dale Cramer and Shawn Grady.
In non-fiction, I choose books based on the subject rather than the author, but I love books by Warren Wiersbe, and I find Elisabeth Elliot’s writings inspiring and thought-provoking.
There are many Bible verses I enjoy, but one passage I often turn to is Isaiah 26:3&4 – ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.’ What could be better than perfect peace?
I love many gospel hymns, but one which will always be special to me is the hymn that pointed me to Christ. It was while I was reading the third verse that I realised that the Lord Jesus Christ had taken the punishment for me – a sinner, and I could go free. I trusted in His finished work. It reads:
Adore Him! Adore Him! The glorious work is done;
The Father will not punish me, ’twas laid upon His Son,
’Tis finished, cried His suffering soul, and I my title see;
I was a guilty sinner, but Jesus died for me.
This is such a difficult question! How could I ever pick just one place? I really enjoy travelling and I always imagine what it would be like to live in the places we visit. Although I love to spend time sightseeing in cities and can’t get enough of Edinburgh, my ideal place to live would be somewhere isolated and scenic, near water – either the sea or a lake, and preferably with a view of rugged mountains and hills. I do like sunshine, so it would have to be somewhere with a year-round sunny climate. The scenery of the north Antrim coast or the Scottish Highlands with the climate of the Canary Islands, perhaps?!