The kernel for this book was hearing one of my son’s friends who was visiting from Thailand talking about learning to make it from the internet. I’ve always loved perfume and will wear two sorts at once to get a new scent so the thought that you could just learn how to make it fascinated me although I don’t feel you can really learn it digitally unless you’re a lot more clued up than I am. I thought I had to put it in a book but knew it had to be my male character who did it.
Doing research is often my favourite part of writing and so took my friend Jo Thomas off to a perfume course in London. (The Experimental Perfume Club – absolutely fascinating.) The research always affects the story but a story needs to have more than one strand. So I began with a secret desire of mine to apply to one of the amazing sounding jobs advertised in The Lady.
I think the greatest joy of being a writer is that you can satisfy your curiosity about different worlds without actually having to get your hands dirty. You can have a job as a stable girl if you want even though you can’t ride and are over retirement age. I always want to apply for almost every job I see advertised (except those involving accountancy, even my overactive imagination stops me thinking I could do that) and in my fictional world I can do those things – without any of the necessary skills to hold that job down.
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