When I was about 4 my mum took me to the beach for the first time and, while she was busy setting out the towels and picnic items, I tootled off and plonked myself down with a more interesting-looking family. I’ve been a bit that way ever since – always straying off to some foreign shore looking for adventure.
My other great childhood passion was reading. Books first then I got into teen magazines (primarily for the popstars). My mum said it was a terrible waste of pocket money, I told her it was ‘an investment’. I went on to work as a magazine journalist for 10 years – first on Postman Pat then Just 17, New Woman and Empire, though more! was the highlight – giving me that ‘I’ve had the time of my life!’ feeling for 4 years straight.
I went freelance after more! (well, there’s only so many half-naked male model shoots a girl can take) and was repeatedly sent to LA to interview Baywatch cast members. When I moved there I ended up sharing a pad with tattooed-bad-boy Jaason Simmons (aka Logan). I know. Ridiculous. In the California sunshine anything seemed possible and I decided to pursue a dream of writing a road trip book and becoming a female Bill Bryson. The UK publishers had other ideas. They wanted fiction. I said I wouldn’t know how – I was a journalist and only wrote from first-hand experience. But my friend James persuaded me to give it a shot: ‘Just write about what you and your pal Emily get up to in Vegas but call it fiction.’ And so DIVAS LAS VEGAS was born.
Writing chick lit turned out to be the best of both worlds – I get to travel for the inspiration and then let my imagination run wild. I’ve just completed Book 12 and Arrow even published that travel memoir ON THE ROAD TO MR RIGHT, which I dedicated to my dad – even thought it’s pretty much ‘everything you’d rather not know about your daughter’.
HAPPY NEWS: After 15 years of wooing, I now have a US publisher! Lovely Penguin/Berkley published THE TRAVELING TEA SHOP (with one ‘l’) in March this year. Yippee!
NEXT UP: BODIE ON THE ROAD – The Dogged Pursuit of Happiness + THE JAPANESE TEA GARDEN (Finding Green Tea Zen in a Coffee-Crazed World)!