1. Tell me a little bit about your most recent publication…
The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom is a novel (Bookouture, 2019) about a young woman who leaves the restricted world of Orthodox Judaism she has grown up in, and attempts to make a new life in the secular world. But she finds it’s not as easy as she thought to leave her past behind…
2. What type of research (if any) do you do before sitting down to write a first draft?
None. I start writing first, and decide what I need to research later. I usually don’t do much research at all until I’ve finished the first draft, unless I’m looking for an excuse to procrastinate. I don’t know what I need to research until I know what the story’s about.
3. What do you think is the hardest thing about writing?
Making a living at it. It used to be a bit easier; it’s almost impossible now. You need another job (part-time, ideally).
4. Do you also teach or mentor writers?
Yes, both. I teach on the Creative Writing Programme in Brighton, which I love. I’m also running an Arvon course this year. And I offer one-to-one coaching with writers at all stages of their writing life.
5. How do you come up with names for your characters?
Randomly, and at different stages of the process. I am in the middle of edits on my fourth novel, and my editor has just asked me to change three of the main characters’ names because they are ‘too posh.’ I suggested to my editor that my character Julia could become Karen, but she said I was going too far the other way. What’s a good classless name for someone born in 1966? I could do with some suggestions. I often use handy lists of baby names which were popular at the times the characters would have been born, and I pinch my friends’ names quite often.