Would you mind telling us a bit about yourself first?
I’m a 23-year-old author from Ripon in North Yorkshire and I have spent the last four years writing and publishing my debut novel, Running With Wolves. I’d write all day every day if I could, but unfortunately that isn't a very sustainable way to live at the moment. I attended the Northern Film School, where I achieved my Bachelor's in Filmmaking and where I realised that I didn't want to be a film-maker but a film-writer, which brings us to now: where I’m working hard to make that dream come true.
How long have you been writing?
I've always had an intense love for writing. I started with short stories when I wasn't very old, all very cringe-worthy to look back on now, but I've realised recently that they were the beginning of a dream, the beginning of me honing a craft I didn’t even understand at the time. I have kept many of those short stories with appalling spelling in a box where I can look back on them fondly.
Can you tell us about your experience writing Running With Wolves?
As the first novel I have ever written, it was more trial and error than anything else. I didn't have a dedicated time frame where I would sit down and write; sometimes I would go months without looking at the manuscript, and then I would spend three weeks not looking up from the computer. What I found trickiest with Running With Wolves was the first editing process and understanding that some things just had to go. I had to axe bits that didn't add anything, side plots and characters that weren't benefiting the story – it sounds brutal, but I found there was no better way to do it than to just grit my teeth and chop!
Who are some of your literary inspirations?
The CHERUB series, written by Robert Muchamore, was one of my biggest literary inspirations growing up, and while writing Running With Wolves. When I was 14, we went on holiday to Italy and my auntie passed me the first book in the series – I'd finished it by the end of the day, and by the end of the holiday I was pining to get home to buy the fourth in the series. Ransom Riggs, who wrote the Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children series, also got me excited about a secret project that I’ve recently started working on.
What's your favourite book?
I have three favourite books that I can never choose between. Love Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur, Maximum Security by Robert Muchamore, and the classic The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I could read any of those three books on repeat and not get fed up of them.
Do you have any other books in the pipeline?
I have a few different ideas on the go at the moment, each one exceedingly different from the other. One is a horror novel that may be turned into a script and is yet to be named. Another is a script based around mental health, which I have been working on with a few friends, but my favourite thing I'm writing currently is a TV series which revolves around two sisters caught up in an accidental murder. Then, of course, the second instalment of Running With Wolves, which is proving to be quite a challenge – writing a sequel is hard!
You're from Ripon – what's your favourite thing about the area?
My favourite thing about living in Ripon is what's on the doorstep. Just 20 minutes in one direction is the wonder of the Yorkshire Moors and Paradise Farm, sitting right at the top of Sutton Bank. Or 10 minutes in the other direction is Brimham Rocks, my all-time favourite place to go since I was a kid. Ripon is a gorgeous historic market town, and I wouldn't have wanted to grow up anywhere else. I also take pride in the fact that the original Secret Garden movie was filmed just down the road at Allerton Castle.
Describe your ideal Sunday.
When I'm not working at Grantley Hall, my favourite thing to do on a Sunday morning (after a lengthy lie in), is go to Oliver's Pantry with my friends. We sit there all morning sipping coffee before walking back home, where I attempt some writing (but at the moment I almost always end up listening to music while scrolling through Pinterest). After applying myself and getting at least some work done, I'll sit down in front of the fire with a glass of mulled wine. Bliss.
What are you currently reading, watching and listening to?
I’m currently watching the second season of Anne With an E on Netflix, which is giving me 'much scope for the imagination,' and have today just watched The War with Elijah Wood – an excellent film from 1994. When I'm writing, I usually listen to soundtracks without words, but occasionally I drift back to Ed Sheeran, Passenger or Gabrielle Aplin, whatever is feeding me the most inspiration. I won't lie to you, right now I am re-reading one of the CHERUB books, Guardian Angel. It's a little bit dog-eared and has got a bit soggy when I accidentally dropped it in the bath, but I love it all the same.