Closing off the reading relay on this particular route is Estelle Maskame, author of the Did I Mention I Love You? trilogy. Eden’s parents are divorced, her dad having walked out, and he asks her to spend the summer in LA. She goes and meets her step-family, and across the summer the initial dislike of step-brother Tyler develops into something more. She wanted to explore that kind of relationship: it’s not illegal, but it’s frowned upon and uncommon. She also got to discover New York, LA and Portland in the process by researching them for the book.
Estelle has always been writing. Every week at primary school they’d do story writing for an hour – she enjoyed it so much she started doing it at home. It became her hobby; she then moved to posting her work online, and has since turned it into her job.
She’s not a huge fan of planning – she goes with the flow and lets the story write itself, following what feels right for the characters. It spawned from books she found herself reading: the ‘forbidden’ romance was just a popular boy going out with a not-so-popular girl. It was that basic. She started to wonder what more serious restrictions on teens dating could be, and then the story came from there. What happens when you’ve not grown up together, but are stuck with a family label?
The books are set in America as she’s fascinated with there, and likes to get away from reality as she writes. It’s more enjoyable to learn about a place through writing, than to just write where you’re from. The USA is definitely more interesting than Peterhead in that sense.
So why start posting online? It was easier to show her work to strangers than to friends. It felt embarrassing at times to admit she was writing, but she wanted people to be able to read her work and give feedback. Readers help you finish the story through motivation, they’re supportive. It’s a nice way to get your work out there and, as she shows, you never know what can happen.