shari low
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Fabulously funny author, Shari Low, whose bestselling novels include Why Not? and What If? gives an insight into her writing life. Her third novel, Double Trouble, is out in October.

What inspires you to write?
Past experiences! I worked for years in the hospitality/entertainment industry where I met every variation of the human species - I'm a magnet for weirdos, immoral decadents and people with unbelievable lives... If there's a drunk man at the bus stop he'll be my best mate by the time the bus comes.

How do you go about structuring your novels?
I don't! I plan absolutely nothing. With my last two books I had no idea how they would end until I sat down to write the final chapter. Unorthodox, but I like surprises and I find that the comedy comes easier if it's spontaneous.

How long do you spend planning your novels?
Ooops, that planning stuff again. Creative writing teachers will be having palpitations at this, but again I just go with whatever comes into my head when I'm sitting at the keyboard. I get so involved with the characters that they become real people and take on a life of their own.

How long does it take you to complete a novel?
About three months.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?
I have two babies, so I write when they go down at 8pm until I fall asleep over my laptop in the early hours. Then my long suffering husband takes the kids out on a Saturday and Sunday to let me do another couple of shifts. By the time a book is finished I look like a bag lady...

Is it harder to start or finish a novel?
Definitely the start! I put it off for as long as I can using every excuse I can think of, whilst buckling under the guilt that I haven't written a word.

How did you go about finding an agent and do you think it's necessary to have an agent?
I sent away the first four chapters and synopsis of my first novel to six publishers and three of them asked to see the finished manuscript. A friend of a friend who is a writer heard about this (probably because there was no one in this hemisphere that I didn't tell!) and told his agent about me. She asked to see my work, then offered to represent me. It's been invaluable to me, especially as I'm now based in a little village in Scotland so light years away from the publishing industry.

How do you cure writer's block?
20 Silk Cut and the biggest packet of Revels I can find. Every book adds ten inches to my rear and takes five years off the life expectancy of my lungs.

What is your all-time desert island book?
Tai-Pan by James Clavell, closely followed by Noble House by the same author. The added bonus is that they're so thick I could use them to weigh down my tent in a storm.

What's the biggest myth about being a writer?
That it's a cushy, stress free job that has us all living in the lap of luxury. I'm permanently deranged and skint.

What advice would you give budding authors?
Let friends you can trust to be brutally honest read the first four chapters, take on board their advice. Often their feedback alone can be a guide to what is working and what is not. When I finish my books, a team of my girlfriends come over and we sit in my lounge reading it from start to finish. They make any corrections required, tell me if anything doesn't read well (of course I never speak to them again if they criticise anything) and laugh at the good bits. Then they eat everything in my fridge and drink the wine rack dry but it's a small price to pay...

What can readers expect from you in the future?
My third novel, Double Trouble will be published by Piatkus on the 2nd of October this year. I'm hugely excited about it as it's a bit of a departure from the previous two 'girly' books - a bit edgier and far more immoral. I've just finished my fourth book and it went off to my agent last week. Unfortunately, getting rid of the girlfriends who came to read it for me wasn't as easy - two a
re still parked on my sofas....