Frequently Asked Questions
Inspiration, at least so far, hasn’t been a problem. I want to write all the time. When I have a story in mind, I have this tremendous need to get it all down, and then relive the scenes repeatedly during edits. I should probably take more time away from the laptop as I tend to write through the week and straight through my weekends, but I love it.
One tool I do use for inspiration is music. I create playlists for my stories and characters. I find that I can get into a character’s headspace pretty easily with the right song.
And if I ever get stuck, a walk with my dog, exercise, or even taking a shower let my mind wander and find new ways to tackle the roadblocks.
When I was plotting LONDON BELONGS TO ME, I decided to make Alex Sinclair a panic attack sufferer in the hopes of informing others about anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve always felt that there should be more representation of mental health in novels. And when I say more representation, I mean realistically and empathetically portrayed mental health. I’ve seen many novels where mental health issues are treated like a character trait and nothing appears on the page to show its reality. Anxiety and depression aren’t disorders you can try on like a trendy pair of jeans. So, who would be better equipped to show anxiety and depression in a true-to-life way than someone WITH those very challenges? I have battled anxiety, panic attacks, and depression my entire life. My “research”…well, I came by it honestly from the wealth of my own experiences, but like many fellow sufferers, very few family members or friends knew about it. I hid it—very well.
Writing LONDON BELONGS TO ME, I felt somewhat liberated. I also felt like a bit of a fraud. How could I expose Alex’s anxiety and panic attacks without exposing myself? So I crept out of the shadows and shared my life-long secret. I also wrote two articles about my own experiences with anxiety and panic attacks (including a cringeworthy fainting spell in Toronto’s largest department store) for Psychology Today and Women Writers, Women’s Books—links to both pieces can be found under “Extras—Freelance Writing.” Readers of LONDON BELONGS TO ME and LONDON, CAN YOU WAIT? might remember references in the books about Alex fainting—yep, all based on me! That’s the great thing about being a writer. The worst experiences can make for fantastic fodder for an author.
It felt good to be honest with friends and strangers, but most of all, it felt good to be honest with myself.
In my third book, UNTIL THE LAST STAR FADES, Riley has smiling depression (also known as high-functioning depression, or walking depression), and I have it, too. I’m really pleased that I have this platform to inform people about this misunderstood affliction. With SAY HELLO, KISS GOODBYE, Tarquin deals with undiagnosed depression. My goal is to entertain AND bust the stigma—one book at a time. If one person with anxiety or depression comes away after reading my books and feels understood and not alone, I’ve done my job.
I have been fortunate to visit London over thirty times, so as a result, I have many favourite parts! I’ve walked in the footsteps of my characters so many times, so the geographical settings are incredibly accurate. I love Covent Garden, Pimlico, Islington, the South Bank (where you’ll find the National Theatre, a major setting for LONDON BELONGS TO ME), and the area around Tower Bridge, Shad Thames, and Bermondsey.
One location that I have fallen in love with is London Fields, a place that’s at the heart of LONDON BELONGS TO ME. It’s in the borough of Hackney in London’s east end. It’s a vibrant neighbourhood, centred around a wonderful park called, you guessed it, London Fields. It boasts many cultures, young families, and plenty of dogs: seriously, visit London Fields on the weekends and you’ll see so many breeds frolicking in the grass. It’s brilliant. London Fields is also home to the fantastic Saturday street market, Broadway Market. Not to be too confusing, but this bustling market is held on a street that is actually called Broadway Market. They sell everything from antiques and artisan foods (Cupcakes! Scotch Eggs!) to crafts and jewellery. My favourite vendor: Crosstown Donuts—sugary delights from the heavens. Yum.
Two more London markets I consider a must-visit are Borough Market and Maltby Street Market. Borough Market is just south of London Bridge and it has EVERYTHING—baked goods, spices, hot food of every description and ethnicity, fresh fish, cheese, fudge—and the world’s best brownies in my opinion! Borough Market shows up in LONDON, CAN YOU WAIT?.
Maltby Street Market is another top pick for me. Hidden in the shadows of 19th-century railway arches in Bermondsey, Maltby offers fresh produce, burgers, bangers, wickedly sinful brownies, and much more. You can get a taste of the Maltby Street Market in UNTIL THE LAST STAR FADES.
SAY HELLO, KISS GOODBYE unfolds (mostly) in London and readers will get to explore the area around Tower Bridge where Tarquin lives as well as Fortnum & Mason.
THE CERTAINTY OF CHANCE is all London, all the time! And at Christmas, too! This beautiful book takes readers to many areas of London I haven’t written about before including Coal Drops Yard and South Kensington. Add in more pubs, the most London-esque tea ever, and you’ve got a wonderful London trip in 300 pages!
If you have plans to visit London, by all means pay your respects to Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Oxford Street, but also stray off the usual path and check out places like London Fields, and see the real every day London. You won’t be disappointed.
Growing up, I was a huge Star Wars fan, and I wore my Luke and C3PO t-shirt until the transfer peeled off (a sad day). But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve drifted somewhat from the crazed Star Wars fan that I once was. That said, I did meet Mark Hamill at FanExpo in Toronto, and it was an incredible moment. He hugged me. I crumpled. I fell in love all over again.
I have been a fan of ‘something or other’ my entire life. I love music, and stay pretty loyal to the bands and performers that I adore. LONDON BELONGS TO ME is named after a song by my favourite band, Saint Etienne. I’ve always been a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey fan (I ran their official booster club for four years and spent tons of time answering their fan mail), and Manchester United is my favourite football team.
Proper fandom-wise, I am a devout Sherlockian and Whovian … so the BBC’s Sherlock, and Doctor Who are my two favourites. In the last few years, we’ve done pretty well at meeting many of the cast members of both. On the home front, my apartment is being taken over by Sherlock and Doctor Who Titan figures (and 5″ DW figures). I can’t stop buying them, and an intervention might be required. I’m also a devoted member of the Outlander and Poldark fandoms (Ross and Demelza!). And I LOVE the British series, Humans. I really hope there will be a season four! I need more people to watch so I can dish about that one. Niska and Leo are the best.
I do! It’s on Facebook and it’s the perfect hangout for readers to dish about my books! It’s called Keeganites United and all fans are welcome! It’s a private group, so when you ask to join, you’ll be asked to answer a few questions (fyi, there are no wrong answers), and then you’ll be approved by a moderator. From there, you can chat and post to your heart’s content! Keeganites United is also home to my book club where our members vote on the books we read.
LONDON, CAN YOU WAIT? – anxiety disorder, panic attacks, coarse language, heartbreak, death of a loved one (backstory), therapy, open- and closed-door sex scenes.
UNTIL THE LAST STAR FADES – smiling depression, parent with cancer, anticipatory grief, dyslexia, coarse language, open- and closed-door sex scenes.
SAY HELLO, KISS GOODBYE – coarse language, depression, anxiety, cheating spouse (backstory), alcoholism (parental backstory), therapy, open- and closed-door sex scenes.
THE CERTAINTY OF CHANCE – coarse language, disenfranchised grief, unexpected death of a loved one (backstory), cheating partner (backstory), therapy, closed-door sex scenes.