About my writing

As a child I was always writing, and even from aged four I longed to be an ‘arthur’ of storybooks. But it took the shock of my 40th birthday to make me start writing fiction seriously. I took the Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck, graduated with Distinction in 2016 and was rewarded with their 2017 Sophie Warne Fellowship for an Emerging Writer: a fully paid residency at Cove Park, an artists’ retreat in Scotland.

During the residency I finished the first draft of my novel SUMATRA. It’s a contemporary fable about modern women and misadventure set in Indonesia and London. Later that year, my gothic short story A Real Keeper, set during the New York blackout of 2004, won runner-up in a Daphne du Maurier-themed competition run by Stylist magazine and Virago.

Visualising a scene set in a particular place is usually my way into a new story. In my twenties and thirties I was fairly intinerant, living and working in Paris, Bologna, Sydney, New York and Edinburgh. Now I’m a mother and have settled in London, I feed off those past years moving from city to city and I write to travel in my head.

While SUMATRA is with my agent, I have started work on a second novel, a revenge drama with working title THE BULLY, set in Devon. It feels a bit Du Maurier in setting, a bit Patricia Highsmith/Hitchcock in premise and plot, so I’m working hard at building the suspense and being much stricter with myself on planning this time as the first novel grew organically. (Am having fun re-reading Du Maurier’s novels, reading Highsmith’s Plotting & Writing Suspense, and working through all Hitchcock’s films.)

I find the themes that surface when I write tend to be gender politics and power, sexuality, shame and guilt, sisterhood, female friendships and motherhood. Among the many living writers I admire are (in no particular order): Elena Ferrante, Elizabeth McCracken, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, Curtis Sittenfeld, Lawrence Osborne, Claire Fuller, Edward St Aubyn, Jhumpa Lahiri, Helen Simpson and the hilarious and brilliant Lorrie Moore. My degree was in modern languages and medieval literature so I also have a love of European literature old and new (particularly French and Italian) and have been developing an idea for a YA novel based on Dante’s Inferno.