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I was asked by a magazine some time ago for tips for would-be writers. Here they are!

Why do you write?

I enjoy it.

How did you become a writer?

I was a journalist first until I thought of a plot. Basically I used my job as inspiration – it was a very improbable job on a glossy magazine and as Oscar Wilde said, one should always try to be a little improbable.

What is your writing routine? Are you very disciplined?

I start at about 9 and end at about 4. But I am not very disciplined I am always making cups of earl grey and going to the loo (there is an obvious connection here).

Do you eat well? Do you worry about getting Writers Bottom? What steps do you take, if any, to avoid it.

I view writing as an Olympic sport and train accordingly. When I am writing I swim 50 lengths daily and eat soup and smoked mackerel. I also cover myself from head to foot in lard (that bit's not true).

Have you ever had RSI from writing? Any tips to help avoid it?


>Do you have any interesting superstitions/peculiar little foibles that help you write?

Just the peculiar foible that if I don't write a book I'll lose my contract and have to find a real job. I expect everyone says this!

Do you plan or just start writing? If you plan, how do you do it?

Yes I plan. I think of one main character, think of someone who contrasts with them to amusing effect, and go from there.

Where do your ideas come from?

Everywhere. But a lot come from newspapers.

What is the secret of a good plot?

Good characters.

>Do you ever get "Writers Block"? If so, what do you do about it?

No. See foibles answer!

Have you any book-signing nightmares/anecdotes you'd be willing to share?

No. Like any sensible author I value my connections in the book trade far too much to risk them here.

What has been your most joyful moment as a writer?

Being a No1 bestseller.

And your worst?

Losing stuff on the computer.

Have you ever written about someone/used them in a book as revenge?

I would never dream of doing such an awful thing.

What is your one hot tip for writing success?

Just do it

What would you say to someone who told you "I wannabe a writer?"

Get on with it then (I'm very bad at following my own advice, by the way!)

Anything else in the writing game you'd like to give a view on?

Having a good agent is crucial.


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The Business of Writing