Archive for the ‘Published Work’ Category

This year, I was lucky enough to be invited to contribute to the Hull Freedom Festival, which is quite possibly one of the most excellent things that can happen to any writer with connections to the city. I was asked to write a short story to accompany a series of sculptures placed around the Festival, to the prompt “Knowledge Is Freedom”, and to facilitate a Creative Writing workshop for local people to create their own work to the same prompt. The work we created would then be displayed at Hull Central Library, and visitors would be invited to add their own contributions.

That’s me, trying to describe in words this astoundingly cool piece of sculpture:


My story was called “The Girl Who Grew Books From Her Head”. And there she is! In the flesh! And growing from her head are the poems and short stories we all created in the workshops.

Look at her wild, beautiful, bookish hair:


This is me standing with her and trying not to drip water all over her (it was pouring with rain that day and we’d walked right round the Festival before finding her).

The Girl Who Grew Books From Her Head

I added a little thank-you on the day to the creator of The Girl:


A massive, massive thank you to everyone who took part in the workshops – it was a privilege to create work alongside you. If you’d like to read some of the brilliant poems and micro-fictions that were written in the workshops, take a look at the Freedom Festival twitter feed or drop by Hull’s Central Library where they’re on display in the Girl’s hair.

I’ve also had a few requests from people wanting to read my short story, so here it is.

The Girl Who Grew Books From Her Head

Once there was a girl who grew books from her head like hair. Whenever she thought of a question, a book would grow with the answer. Her parents, frightened she would never find a husband, sold their daughter to a man with sharp white teeth and a long wolfskin coat.

The man locked the girl in a tower with no door and no windows. He surrounded her with quicksilver mirrors and cut the books from her scalp and burned them, crowning her with a lustrous golden wig, and whispered to her, See how lovely you are when you’re not thinking.

Each midnight, the girl stole silver scissors from beneath his pillow, cut free a book and hid it behind the mirrors. She grew books about physics and engineering, architecture, demolition, and wild tales of escape, until the man woke to find the mirrors replaced with books that together spelled FREEDOM.

The man pursued her to an ocean, but she plucked a sailing manual from her scalp and sailed over. He followed her to the mountains, but she plucked another book and climbed. She came to a beautiful city with wide streets and green gardens, and knew she had found home.

When the city’s leaders heard what the girl could do, they said, This girl is precious and should be locked away! But the girl laughed, and replied, Knowledge must be no-one’s prisoner. So she planted her feet and became a tree, and passers-by picked books like fruit from her branches.

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Fuck my Noguchi coffee table

This is the most poncey, self-indulgent, fuck-your-Noguchi-coffee-table hipster-crap thing I have ever done. AND YET I DO NOT CARE, because it makes me happy, damn it, and it was my birthday yesterday and I felt like I was allowed.

My favourite bit of my birthday was the books I got (Crafting With Cat Hair by Kaori Tsutaya from my husband, and The Wastewater Plant by Dodge Winston from my brother). My second favourite bit of my birthday was installing our new bookshelf / tchotchke-display area, and filling the best, most visible shelf with the following items:

To the left, books representing the writers and artists whose work has influenced me the most, plus a little model of a beach hut from my mum.

To the right, my author copies of my books, plus a seashell and an antique perfume bottle.

And in the centre, my beautiful retro typewriter (which, come to think of it, I still need to pay my friend for). This beautiful retro typewriter closely resembles the typewriter (at the time not beautiful and retro, but simply what there was) that I wrote my first novel on, when I was fifteen. The text on the paper is the first sentence of my first published novel, The Summer We All Ran Away.

No, I didn’t actually write “The Summer We All Ran Away” on a beautiful retro typewriter. I used a laptop like everyone else. Yes, I am aware this makes the whole thing even more pretentious than it was before. And I am not in the least little bit sorry. In fact I am rather proud of myself.

Furthermore, in a few weeks I will compound my ponceyness by adding my author copies of The Beach Hut, and switching up the first sentence on the typewriter. I can’t be 100% sure, but I don’t think I’ll be sorry then either.

What can I say? Sometimes you just have to do this stuff, in the full knowledge that you’re being ridiculous. But then you blog about it in a vaguely self-deprecating manner that you imagine gets you off the hook for doing these things. So that makes it okay. Maybe.

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The Summer We All Ran Away

Lovely people! “The Summer We All Ran Away” is on the Kindle Daily Deal today (14th September) – so if you have a Kindle and would like to buy my book, this is your moment…

If you’d like to read more about my book (or about any of the other books from my brilliant publishers Legend Press), you can visit the Legend Press blog to read more.

2PM UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who’s taken advantage of the Kindle Daily Deal price – “The Summer We All Ran Away” is currently in the Kindle Top 100, hooray! If you haven’t already bought and you’d like to, the Daily Deal Price will last until Midnight tonight.

5PM UPDATE: I am at Number 5!

Since it’s quite conceivable this will never happen to me again, I’ve taken a screenshot to record the moment –

The Summer We All Ran Away Top 5 Kindle store

Huge, giant thank you to all the lovely people who’ve bought my book today. I really hope you enjoy it.

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The Last In A Three-Part Series Of Excellent August Happenings. (Although It’s Only Noon On 31st. So – You Know – There’s Still Time)

Lovely Thing Number Three

I’m very thrilled and honoured to be one of the panel members at Mumsnet Blogfest. I’ll be on the panel talking about better story-telling, along with Sarah Crown, A L Kennedy and Lionel Shriver.

Or, as I am persistently hearing it in my head, I’ll be on the panel talking about better story-telling, along with SARAH CROWN, A L KENNEDY and LIONEL SHRIVER.

confused cat 2


Mumsnet Blogfest takes place on 9th November in King’s Place, near Kings Cross, London, and the speaker line-up is absolutely stellar. It’s going to be a sell-out (not because of me, obviously, but it definitely will) – so get your ticket quick before they all go.

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Part Two Of A Three-Part Series Of Excellent August Happenings

Lovely thing Number Two

…is that “The Summer We All Ran Away” has been picked for the 2013 Amazon Rising Stars programme. Previous authors include Erin Morgenstern for “The Night Circus”, SJ Watson for “Before I Go To Sleep” and Elizabeth Haynes for “Into The Darkest Corner” – all of which I own, and love, and am now feeling slightly starstruck about.

smiling cat

The final winner is chosen partly on the basis of customer reviews – so if you have read “The Summer We All Ran Away”, a review on Amazon would be simply fab!

“The Summer We All Ran Away” is available from Amazon, in Kindle and Paperback editions.

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A Short Series Of Posts Where I Insist On Sharing All My News (With Added Photo Goodness)

Lovely Thing Number One
“The Summer We All Ran Away”, published by the brilliant Legend Press, has been launched and is out in the world, doing its thing. The official launch party was at the Falmouth Bookseller. My brother said it would be funny to go in during the day and do a Stealth Signing of a copy just for him, so that’s what we did:


(In defence of my utterly ungroomed condition, I had just got out of the sea about half an hour before.)

One of the many reasons why the Falmouth Bookseller is ace and you should go there is because they do brilliant things like this for visiting authors:


There just couldn’t be a nicer way to see your books displayed. Thank you!

Here’s me signing copies for the lovely, lovely people who came to buy it:


Here’s me trying to look all serious and writerly and stuff:


Here’s one of my mum – my chief rounder-upper of potential customers:


And here’s me with my nose in a glass of wine. Ahem.


Thank you again to the Falmouth Bookseller for hosting the evening and for making it such a success. And thank you to my lovely husband, who isn’t in any of the photos because he was taking all of the photos, including papping me in the street and making people think I might be some sort of celebrity. That was brilliant. As are you.


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Invite Falmouth - The Summer We All Ran Away

The Falmouth launch party for “The Summer We All Ran Away” will be at the Falmouth Bookseller on 14th August, 6.30pm to 8.30pm. If you’re in the area, please do come along – it would be lovely to see you!

The Summer We All Ran Away is available from Amazon in Paperback and Kindle editions, and from all good bookshops – including my kind hosts, the wonderful Falmouth Bookseller.

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Invite Hull - The Summer We All Ran Away

On Saturday 3rd August at 2pm, I’ll be celebrating the launch of “The Summer We All Ran Away” at Waterstones, Hull. If you’d like to come along and join in, please do! RSVP to info@legendpress.co.uk. Hope to see you there!

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Okay, I know it’s a long time till 1st August, which is when my novel “The Summer We All Ran Away” will be published by the brilliant Legend Press, but I’ve had a glass of Morgan’s Spiced Rum and I’m feeling reckless. Best caption for this entirely predictable and totally reasonable outcome of my Friday night will win a signed copy of “The Summer We All Ran Away”, just as soon as I get my sticky little mitts on my author copies.

Here you go:

Caption Competition

This promise is definitely being made while under the influence of alcohol, but we all know that everything lives for ever in cyberspace, so you can totally hold me to it in the morning. And let’s face it, if this is the worst thing I ever post that comes back to haunt me later, I’ll probably be doing okay.

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The lovely and very talented AJ Ashworth has tagged me in “The Next Big Thing” blog meme, which invites writers to answer some questions about a recent or forthcoming book. My novel, “The Summer We All Ran Away”, will be published by Legend Press next August. Here are my answers to the compulsory “Next Big Thing” questions…

Where did the idea come from for the book?
This sounds dopey, but it’s the truth – it came from a recurring childhood dream about a particular road in Falmouth which leads straight downwards into the harbour. The dream was very simple – just standing at the top of the hill, looking out across the harbour, seeing a house on the other side, and wondering what would happen if I tried to cross the harbour to reach it. My fascination with this dream-house and the people who might have lived there was the inspiration for a novel about runaways past and present, and the price of following your dreams.

What genre does your book fall under?
I’d say it’s probably Posh Escapism. Is that a thing, or have I just made it up?

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
If I could pick absolutely anyone to be involved, it would be the Japanese anime director Hayao Miyazaki. So I’d be choosing the actors more for their voices than their appearance.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
It’s a story about love, murder, redemption and running away.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published in August 2013 by the brilliant Legend Press.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About eighteen months, I think. It got interrupted at various points along the way by “New World Fairy Tales” winning the Scott Prize, my Fifty Shades book review going a bit viral and landing me the deal to write the “Lighter Shades” trilogy, and being chosen as one of New Writing North’s 2012 Read Regional authors.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Probably sheer bloody-mindedness! After a fairly relentless two-year focus on short stories, taking on a novel was a bit of a shock. The shape of the story also changed several times, with the final solution to the mystery only falling into place right at the last minute.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Fellow Forteans will be pleased to know that an Alien Big Cat is an important part of the story.

And that’s me! I’m handing over the baton to the following five writers, who will hopefully be posting their “Next Big Thing” updates in the next week or so:

Carys Bray, whose beautiful short-story collection “Sweet Home” was the very worthy winner of the 2012 Scott Prize.

Jonathan Pinnock, a fellow 2011 Scott Prize winner who wrote the good Regency Steampunk Jane Austen monster mash-up (that’s “Mrs Darcy vs the Aliens”, and not “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”) and whose short story collection “Dot, Dash” is next on my reading-list.

Sophie Duffy, whose novel “The Generation Game” is published by Legend Press.

Joseph D’lacey, author of “Blood Fugue” from Proxima Press – a brilliant / horrific vampire novel that restored my faith in the Immortal Undead.

AJ Kirby – author of many horror novels, my favourite being “Bully”, which actually made me feel like I had to take a bath after finishing it.

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