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. Travelled to Australia, Africa, Europe. Laughed, loved, adventured. Gained a PhD, two lecturing jobs and a baby in the same year. Wrote academic stuff. Migrated to the hills, started writing fiction. Wrote one novel, then another, plays and short stories.  

And (because I’m 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  That resulted in my first (as yet unpublished) novel, ‘Small Acts of Love.’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.  I’ve written award-winning short stories.  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. I worked with Déjà Vu Ensemble to adapt August Strindberg’s A Dream Play, which was staged at Manchester Fringe Festival and won us the award for Most Innovative Use of Space.

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.  I’ve been a writer in residence for the educational charity, for First Storyand still retain strong links with them, running events and occasional workshops in partnership with them.

I’ve been a reader and editor for the consultancy Cornerstones and run my own editorial and creativity consultancy ‘Wordplay’, providing day long and half-day technique workshops, as well as regular writing and ‘creativity kickstarter’ sessions.

These days, I juggle my creative practice with higher education teaching. I am the Course Director for Creative Writing at Leeds Beckett University and have designed and developed a range of degree courses, including a new Masters course.

I’m a passionate creative collaborator.  So 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