I write character-led fiction. For me, it is the characters tht make the plot memorable.
Writing became important when I retired from my work as a psychologist. That professional life, though satisfying, was very different from what I’d have chosen. At sixteen, I gained a place at RADA, but academic life took over. I gained two degrees and a PhD, worked as a psychologist, and through this met a huge range of interesting adults and children. Studying how individuals of any age think, learn, feel, understand and behave was the centre of my psychological work.
Psychological fiction has become highly popular because the why approach is fascinating. It may be used to illuminate a set of events or just one person’s problem. However disordered or bizarre a person’s behaviour might be, they have a story and a wish to move forward. Finding that way draws on the creative skills of the psychologist, and equally for the writer.
For the last 14 years of my pre-writing working life I was an expert witness reporting upon my assessments of people in some kind of trouble. How narrow is the margin, sometimes, between functioning well and landing in disaster. To write a comprehensive report for the Court I needed to enter the individuals’ worlds to discover their story. Not infrequently, that was one they hadn’t accepted or unfolded for themselves. Involvement in a fictional person’s story is what I enjoy now: reading it, writing it. I love developing characters and hearing their voices, whether adults or children, or the genre dramatic or humorous. My background helps me sense how a character may feel or react but I write from imagination, never biographically.
Early in life, I trained as a dancer, but by my early teens, I preferred acting. I am grateful for the time at school(s), universities, and the shorter courses, workshops in psychology, creative writing and various forms of Art. All have been enriching. Learning is life-enhancing and reminds us how little we know.
To me, characterisation is key. It’s been said everything I write has a dark undertow or back-kick. It’s probably true, I can’t seem to help that, and I don’t really care. The story has to be true to my pen.
Outside of writing, apart from all-important family, I enjoy theatre, sculpture, fine art, architecture, landscapes and seascapes. I much prefer a warm climate, but I’m British, so often have to go without that pleasure!