Welcome to my website.  I’m a novelist, dramatist and prize-winning short story writer.  My novel Sisterwives is published by Crocus Books and also available on Kindle.  My debut radio drama The Cloistered Soul was broadcast by BBC Radio 4  as part of the ‘Original British Dramatists’ series.  You can read my prize-winning short story (winner of the Linen Press Shorts competition) here.  I was the winner of the international Storgy short story competition and my short story ‘How to Curate a Life’ was published in the anthology EXIT EARTH by Storgy Books.

On this site you can find out more about me and the books I’ve written.  I’m the Course Director of  Creative Writing at Leeds Beckett University.  I also work freelance as a workshop facilitator, editor and mentor (I worked for three years for the leading consultancy Cornerstones).  I’m contactable here via Twitter.

These days, I am increasingly interested in embodiment, movement and dance and how they can be integrated into the writing process.  My blog contains random musings on creativity, my writing life, Sisterwives and other things I’m working on just now.  I also publish regular posts in the Literary Sisters series, which showcases the work of a broad range of contemporary women writers.

For several years now, I’ve embraced the habit of choosing three words for the year, to help me shape and define how that year might unfold.  And this year? One of those words is stillness.  I have felt it gathering, that need to be still, for the past few months. This year is a time to make that need more explicit, and the practice of it more conscious.

Finding stillness has always been a big challenge for me.  In a busy life that involves juggling writing with an academic career and the things I’m passionate about – creative cooking, dancing, deep connections with those I love – across three different towns and cities, there isn’t much time to be still. I know I need it. It’s a crucial component of the Five Rhythms dance practice that I’ve loved for so long. Yet it remains a challenge.

At this point in the calendar, I associate stillness with darkness. I’ve just returned from rural Scotland, where I celebrated the turning of the year.  Transitioning from 2018 to 2019 involved not just stillness but darkness, in a place away from the glare of too much artificial light, a place where the dark has its own illumination – that of the soul.  Over that holiday, in which I slept in a beautiful, beamed barn in total blackness and where the silence was punctuated only by the call of the owls, I read Clark Strand’s Waking Up to The Dark.  His book is a beautiful meditation on the significance of darkness on our lives and our consciousness as a planet.  I’d urge you to read it, if you want to make space for contemplation in your life. Strand says this:

I have not described how darkness feels against the skin. Everyone has felt it, but in an age where consciousness itself is no longer consciousness, but only a by-product of watt-age, most people have forgotten the feeling of the dark.

The darkness fits the body so well that we might as well be entering the water when we wear it.  It flows everywhere the light is not – across every bone and sinew, surrounding every hair. It hugs the shadow within a shadow and, when we are ready, lets down a milky richness white with stars. 

We come from the dark, and we return to the dark.  We are not merely in it but of it.  The darkness does our thinking when we let it, and it is in the darkness in which we move.

Here’s to allowing stillness – and moving in the darkness – to nurture our thinking and creativity in 2019.

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Words for busy and creative people: clarity

January 16, 2017

My last post was about setting intentions for the new year, inspired by my recent reading, and the practice of choosing three words to help focus those intentions. Here, I reflect on the first word in the list of three: clarity. What role does it play in creativity, and how do we achieve it in […]

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Three little words: suggested reading for 2017

January 4, 2017

I love January, don’t you?  Crisp, sharp mornings and cosy nights by the fire.  I realise I’m in a minority as a fan of winter. But, at this time of year, I relish that feeling of emerging, mole-like, blinking in the dark.  It’s a time when we can reclaim and rediscover ourselves.  Everything can feel […]

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3 words for 2016

January 17, 2016

There’s something special for me about winter: the stillness; the turning inward and time for reflection.  At the turn of the year I always try to reflect on the twelve months just gone and the ones still to come. I’ve never really been big on goal-orientated new year’s resolutions.  But recently, inspired by Chris Brogan, […]

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Literary Sisters: interview with Deirdre Quiery

August 11, 2015

This week sees the publication of another exciting debut by an author with whom I’ve worked closely as mentor and structural editor.  It was a pleasure to work with Deirdre Quiery on Eden Burning.  Set in 1970s Belfast, it traces the story of two families riven by conflict and yet, in the end, brought to […]

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A comic, cross-cultural road trip: Tying Down the Lion by Joanna Campbell

June 9, 2015

Continental road trips – at least for a family like the Bishops, who live in a semi in Audette Gardens – are rare in 1967.  But Jacqueline’s mother, Birgit, is half-German and has long yearned to find her two lost sisters who live either side of the Berlin wall.  So her father, Roy, packs the […]

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Literary Sisters: interview with Joanna Campbell

April 30, 2015

Occasionally, as an editor, you come across a novel that really shines.  Joanna Campbell’s debut, Tying Down the Lion (published on 15 June by Brick Lane Publishing) is one such novel.  It came to me through Cornerstones (the consultancy for whom I freelance) and, from the very first page, the characters reeled me in.  I […]

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Literary Sisters: interview with Antonia Honeywell

February 17, 2015

I’ve interviewed several writers on this blog over the years, but today’s interview is particularly significant for me.  Antonia Honeywell and I met on the MA in Novel Writing course in Manchester over ten years ago.  We’ve remained friends and writing partners ever since.  We’ve kept each other going by being mutual cheerleaders, critique partners […]

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‘I Have a Dream….’

January 14, 2015

What do these words mean to you? 

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Is prewriting like pre-cooking?

January 9, 2015

Sometimes when we’re making dinner, we need to do some pre-cooking.  This  involves an element of preparation that has to happen before the dish can be assembled.  So how is prewriting like pre-cooking?  Here’s an excellent 15 minute podcast which looks at the process of prewriting.  There are some great ideas here about how to […]

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