About Rachel

Sometimes, when I run a writing workshop, I set participants the task of writing a brief autobiography in a limited number of words.  Here’s my (micro-fiction, fifty word) version:

Raised in Teesside, craved the city; studied hard, played harder. Embarked on world tour: Australia, Africa, Europe. Laughed, loved, adventured. In one year gained a PhD, two lecturing jobs and a baby. Wrote lots of academic stuff. Migrated to the hills, married, started writing fiction. Wrote a novel. Then another.

And (because I’m really a novelist at heart), here’s the longer one:

I was brought up in the north east of England and educated at the Universities of Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester.   In my 20s, I had stints of driving around northern France in a Renault Clio, supervising people putting up tents for a camping holiday company.  I’ve cleaned hotel bedrooms in Australia and contributed to a zoological project on dik-dik (pint sized antelopes) in northern Kenya.  For some reason I’ve never written about any of these things.  But then I’ve always taken issue with the careworn phrase ‘write what you know.’

After completing a PhD, I lectured in English and American literature and creative writing at a number of Universities (latterly Salford and Glasgow).  Feeling the need to develop my own creative practice, I embarked on a MA in Novel Writing in 2004.  That resulted in my first (as yet unpublished) novel, ‘Small Acts of Love.’  I then went on to publish my second novel, Sisterwives, and begin experimenting with writing radio drama.  My first play for radio, The Cloistered Soul, was broadcast on Radio 4 in 2014 and my stage play, Synchronous, had its debut at the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival in 2014.

Current work in progress includes another novel and a collection of short stories themed around the concept of coup de foudre (‘love at first sight’).  I’m also collaborating on another drama project: an adaptation of August Strindberg’s A Dream Play.

I’ve been an invited speaker at numerous festivals, readers’ days and spoken word events.  I’ve worked in adult and community education, having taught creative writing to adults for the Workers’ Educational Association.  For three years I worked for Arvon, the leading charity which runs residential courses for writers in rural locations.  It was a privilege to witness the transformational experiences of so many writers in realising their own creativity.  It was also incredibly rewarding to work with inner city school kids and hard-to-reach groups, who wouldn’t normally have access to a residential writing experience.

These days, I juggle my creative practice with teaching (in Higher Education and as a writer in residence for First Story), workshop facilitation, mentoring and structural editing.  I have been a reader and editor for the consultancy Cornerstones since 2011.  In 2009 I founded my own consultancy ‘Wordplay’, providing day long and half-day technique workshops, as well as regular writing and ‘creativity kickstarter’ sessions.  You can read more about my teaching and consultancy work here.

Please do get in touch by email (address on the home page) or by twitter (@rachel_novelist) if you would be interested in working with me on an event or a project.

Photo credit: Sarah Mason of Sarah Mason Photography