I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. I’ve also long been haunted by the sea, even before I knew the full story of my grandad who inspired How to be Brave, the novel that finally got me my book deal. I live with my husband on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – where from my bedroom window I can almost see the waters of the River Humber, an estuary that inspired The Mountain in my Shoe. My children have grown up and left home, so I fill that void with writing. It’s filled many voids over the years.
I remember sitting as a child in my father’s lap while he tried to show me guitar chords. He was a musician. But my small fingers couldn’t do it. I was three. His music sheets fascinated me though – such strange language that translated into music.
My mother taught languages, French and English; I probably inherited her fluency with words. I knew from being small that I wanted to write, to make magic as I felt it was.
I love all forms of writing. My short stories have won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. My first play, Afloat, was performed at Hull Truck Theatre. My Hull Daily Mail colmuns garnered love/hate criticism.
My debut novel, How to be Brave, was released in 2015. It got to No 4 in the Amazon UK chart, and was a Guardian Readers’ Pick.
My second novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, was released in 2016 and was inspired by my time with children in care. It explores what family truly means, and how far we’ll go for those we love. It longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize.
Maria in the Moon was released in 2017, and was a Must Read in Prima, Red, and the Sunday Mirror, as well as being widely reviewed by the press. It was compared to the early works of Maggie O’Farrell.
The Lion Tamer Who Lost was released in 2018, and described by the Daily Express as ‘captivating and engrossing’ and by Good Housekeeping as ‘heartbreaking and uplifting.’ It was a Love Reading Star Book, longlisted for the Polari Prize 2019, and shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year 2019.
My fifth novel, Call Me Star Girl, was released in April 2019, and is quite a departure for me, in that it’s a psychological thriller. It won Best magazine’s Book of the year and longlisted for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize.
I Am Dust came out during the lockdown of 2020 and was a Crime Monthly magazine pick. I also wrote my memoir, Daffodils, during the 2020 lockdown, and End of Story, a dystopian look at a future world where books are banned, which got me my agent Emily Glenister. This Is How We Are Human came out in 2021 and was a Clare Mackintosh August Book of the Month pick.