I discovered the fictional world of romance while at school. Given that it was an all-girls' boarding school, and real romance was extremely thin on the ground, I devoured every romance novel I could lay my hands on. I became so addicted to the sparkling heroines, the gorgeous heroes and the magic of falling in love that frankly it was a wonder I passed any exams at all! However I did, and armed with a degree in Arabic and Spanish from Edinburgh University I eventually meandered through a variety of jobs in fund management, corporate fraud investigation and teaching English as a foreign language.
Then one September I found myself with the whole month off, and, unable to ignore the nagging voice in my head that had been telling me to try and write a romance of my own for years any longer, I sat down and typed 'Chapter One'.
I'd like to be able to say that that was it. That thirty days and fifty thousand words later, and hey presto, I had a glittering and illustrious career as a romantic novelist. Strangely enough though things didn't turn out quite like that. The story came back with a very polite rejection letter and my next two submissions didn't fare much better.
But never one to give up, I entered the Harlequin Mills & Boon 'Feel the Heat' contest in 2008 and, to my utter astonishment, won. The completed novel, Bought: Damsel in Distress was published in October 2009 and went on to win the RNA's Joan Hessayon New Writers' Award in 2010. So now I get to dream up my own sparkling heroines and gorgeous heroes on a regular basis, which is pretty much my idea of the perfect job!
Although born and brought up in London, I now live in southern Spain with my husband and young son, where I spend what free time I have reading, failing to finish cryptic crosswords and trying to convince myself that the beach really is the best place to work.
Charade. I guess strictly speaking it isn't a romantic film (although there is romance in it), but it's wonderful. The dialogue between Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn sparkles.
Anything as long as it's something I haven't cooked and there isn't a mushroom in sight. My husband, candles and white wine would have to be there, and my son would be sleeping soundly somewhere nearby. Alfresco would be nice, so a warm breeze is a must. If I didn't think it might be a bit demanding, I'd also love a sunset and fairy lights.
Not long ago I was feeling fluey and lamenting the fact that I didn't have a hot water bottle. The next thing I knew, my husband had filled an empty wine bottle with boiling water, stuck the cork back in, wrapped it in his (clean) rugby socks and smuggled it under the duvet. Very unexpected and all the more wonderful for being frankly rather uncharacteristic.
The Convento de Sao Saturnino at Cabo da Roca on Portugal's Atlantic coast, where my husband and I spent the first few days of our honeymoon. It's a restored convent which nestles in the hills and overlooks the sea. Totally isolated and littered with nooks and crannies, it's heavenly.