I grew up in Orkney, attended Aberdeen University and now live in Glasgow. My working life has combined an interest in literature and creative writing with a commitment to challenging social inequalities. For ten years I worked in Castlemilk for the WEA (Workers Educational Association), running writers workshops and other classes. An interest in mental health led me to a job developing and managing the counselling and group work service in the Centre for Women’s Health. I am a graduate of the Creative Writing Masters degree, run jointly at the time by Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities. My first novel, Demo, was published in 2005 by Penguin. It follows the fortunes of a sixteen year old working class Glasgow girl, who becomes involved in the in the anti-war movement in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. It sets the dynamics of her relationships - sexual, family, school, friendship - against the backdrop of the wider political picture of globalisation, class, gender and race. My novel-in-progress, working title, Coming Back, is set in Orkney, where the main character returns to live after years of exile; it depicts the changing nature of island life and the dynamics of a small community over three generations.
About writer's work
In my published novel, Demo, and my work in progress, one of my preoccupations is place, the sense of belonging and its opposite, outsiderhood. I'm fascinated by group dynamics and the way they're manifested in all human relations. Class, gender, race and the way they impact on the lives of individuals is another theme of mine. I'm interested in language too, the relationship between Standard English and various dialects spoken in Scotland, and in finding appropriate orthographies for the non-standard Englishes my characters speak. Demo was shortlisted for the Saltire First Book award in 2006; and longlisted for World Book Day, Spread the Word, 2007.
Current events and projects
I am available to do readings and workshops. I can offer workshops on characterisation; first/third person narrative; the novel. I'm happy to tackle most aspects of writing groups are interested in. I'm also interested in any suitable residencies.