Posted by Heidi Blakey on 12th September 2017
1. Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?
I was born in Wales near Cardiff, where The Matchmaker as well as some of my other stories, is set. I’ve lived in the north of England for over thirty years, but am still passionate about being Welsh and supporting my national teams. I’m retired after teaching for thirty years, which means I don’t have an evil day job.
I started writing in 2009 when my favourite character was killed in Torchwood, my favourite show. By 2012 I’d written over a million words of fanfiction. With prompting from a few friends, I decided to try to write something original, and as I’d written m/m stories in fanfics, kept to that genre with my first novel, Sporting Chance which was published in 2014. The Matchmaker will be my thirteenth published story, and I have to pinch myself when I write that because it’s hard to believe it’s real.
2. What inspired you to write The Matchmaker?
I’d seen the call for contemporary short stories, but being in the middle of writing another story, I decided not to start something new. Then I received an email and the first line came to me. The story evolved very quickly from there. I needed an idea that allowed me to get these two people, Josh and Simon, together after they’d known each other for a while. The matchmaker is Tom, Simon’s adopted son, and this is a fluffy tale of how he brings the two people in his life together.
3. Do you prefer writing short stories or full novels?
I like writing both. Writing a short story isn’t easy, especially when you have to get your MCs together in under 15,000 words. In Matchmaker, I deliberately chose to have characters who had known each other for a while, although I’m not adverse to instant love, I’m a big fan of friends to lovers stories. As I come from a fanfiction background, I’ve written many short pieces before. The biggest difference I’ve found is that I do need to do more planning for a short story rather than just let the ideas come out as they want.
4. Do you write by the seat of your pants or do you carefully plot your stories? Has that changed at any point in your career or maybe it changes depending on the book?
I am definitely a pantster. As a teacher, I planned lessons, but I didn’t always follow that plan. I loved those lessons when the students asked a question which took us all in a different direction, so, maybe, my pantster tendencies come from winging things occasionally, and letting a lesson go off at a tangent.
I usually start a story with my characters meeting and see where it goes. I like to flesh out the people before I start, and give them family and friends, maybe even write a scene or two, but then I start writing and let the story reveal itself. This can lead to all sorts of situations and people doing things I didn’t expect. For me, not knowing everything in advance is half the fun of writing, because I don’t know how it is going to turn out, except for the happy ending.
5. Can you tell me about three books that have inspired you in any way?
The first influential book in my life is a strange one. When I was twelve I read a book called The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes. I’d always been interested in kings and queens, but this book set me on the road to my love of historical novels and I gobbled them up from then onwards leading to me studying history and becoming a history teacher.
The second book is The African Queen by C. S. Forster. I was fourteen when I read it. That year I read many great classics, but I loved this sweet love story between two older characters. I wish there were more m/m romances with older MCs.
The third book inspired my love of fantasy. I have several bookcases filled with such books. Of course, this book is Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkein. I’ve read it so many times. I have such admiration for authors who can build worlds that take me away and pull me in.
6. What are you working on at the moment?
Currently, I have two WIPs on the go. Meeting on a Bus, set in Yorkshire, is about two very different men who meet on a bus and start talking. From there, they become friends, but can there be more between them? The other is simply named Car Story, as I haven’t come up with a title yet. This is a May/December story, set in Lancashire which might end up being a Christmas story if I get it finished. Both are now around 20K words.
I’m also editing the first two books in a trilogy about the same characters. I’ve done the first, Half Full, which is with betas and am on the second, Half Time. This will be the first time I’ve written three stories about the same MCs, but Jonah and Owen are such interesting characters I couldn’t stop writing and have notes and ideas ready for the third one.
7. Quick answers
Right or left handed = right
Cats or dogs = cats
Tea or Coffee = tea
Star Trek or Star Wars = both
Seaside or countryside = seaside
The Matchmaker is part of the Right Here, Right Now Anthology which can be purchased here.