What gave you the idea of this story?
I was inspired by my own travels around the world. Over the years, I’ve visited various sacred sites and have always loved to travel and experience different cultures. It has opened my eyes to so many things and life has been richer for it; I hope the story reflects this.
How long did it take you to turn your idea into a book?
A long time! I first had the idea back in 2002 and jotted some notes down in a journal. The story developed during my regular daydreaming sessions over the years until eventually, the characters grew so real they demanded that I commit to the completion of their adventure. The first draft was way too long and needed plenty of work. More drafts followed, until here we are 10 years later and the book is finished. I have two more to go to complete the trilogy!
There is a lot of adventurous travel in your books, what is the most magical or extreme place you have ever been to?
Oh dear, I knew you were going to ask me this! I have been to all the places that Salmek visits in book one, and they are all magical in their own way. Being in Varanasi during Diwali, the festival of light, where everyone sets fireworks off all over the place, is pretty magical… and scary! I trekked to Machu Picchu in Peru a few years ago and when I arrived very early in the morning, the site was shrouded in mist and I couldn’t see a thing; I wondered if I had walked all that way for nothing. Suddenly, the mists cleared, the sun came out and I saw the ancient city for the first time. That was VERY magical.
Will you write another book about Salmek? What can we expect?
I’m already writing it and hope to be finished – well – that’s hard to say as I’m going to Vietnam with my backpack for a few weeks and have other things on the go, but I hope to have it completed by the end of this year. Salmek is currently in California staying with some Native Americans at the base of Mount Shasta and then… well… you’ll have to read the book when it’s finished to find out.
Chewy, the Welsh collie dog, is Salmek’s pet in the story. Do you have a pet?
Yes, I have a ginger and white fluffy cat called Moxie who is quite a character. He plays fetch like a dog and is rather charming. Everyone loves “The Mox”!
Who was your favourite author/what was your favourite book when you were a child?
I’ve always been an avid reader and was fortunate as my older sister would regularly feed me with books. It’s hard for me to pick a favourite anything, as I love so many things, but my passion was adventure stories, so Swallows and Amazons, Robinson Crusoe and all those kind of books were appealing to me. Naturally, I have the whole collection of Famous Five books by Enid Blyton as there was a never-ending supply of adventure, ginger beer and cake – and you can’t beat that combination in my eyes. Like I said… I can’t pick one thing!
And what do you like to read now you are an adult?
I still adore adventure books and have quite a collection written by explorers such as Ranulph Fiennes, Benedict Allen and Bruce Parry. I admire characters that are able to overcome great adversity to achieve their goals, like climbing mountains, walking the length of the Amazon and those that live with tribes and immerse themselves in an authentic experience. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman is another favourite. I also have quite a number of books about yoga, meditation and that kind of thing. I’m curious about a lot of things – and rather partial to funny books.
What tips would you give to anyone who wants to write (adult or children)?
I’m certainly no expert as this is my first book, but I would say that the essence is: do what you love. This is the most simple and heartfelt tip I can give. Don’t follow what others are writing or doing just because it’s popular or supposedly the “next big thing”. Listen to your own inner voice and write the story that gives you joy and that you believe in, that way, when the going gets tough, your passion for the project will keep you moving forwards with fire in your belly. Anything creative can’t be rushed, so take it one step at a time. I would say that goes for anything in life – do what makes you happy and you can’t go wrong.