I’ve been a lawyer, an academic psychologist and a research professor. I gave up the day job in 2007. I first studied Creative Writing at Moniack Mhor in 2008. Since then I have studied MA modules and short courses at Edinburgh and Newcastle Universities and done masterclasses with some amazing writers. Jackie Kay was my tutor in Newcastle and she’s given me copious supplies of magic dust, enough to last until I’ve mastered the art of making my own. I’ve fund-raised for charities including RNLI, Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid. The highlight of my writing life: being named a Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature ‘Emerging Writer,’ in 2013 and reading at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Writing is so solitary, my spare time is best spent just relaxing with friends and family. I like walking, and reading, and art galleries and Nordic Noir box sets. I love Paris and New York, and Patti Smith and Louise Bourgeois. I go often to Norway where my partner has roots. We spend lots of time on the Rhinns of Galloway. My dream is to do a reading at Shakespeare&Co in Paris. I think of myself as European, and regard Brexit as a major mistake.
About writer's work
My major work is a debut novel, The Confession of Stella Moon (Saraband, July 2016). It launched to audiences of 90+ in both Edinburgh and Newcastle. The novel won the Andrea Badenoch Award in 2011 and was shortlisted for the UEA Charles Pick Fellowship when it was still work-in-progress. It was subsequently long-listed for the Bath Novel Award and short-listed for the Dundee International Book Prize. It is represented by Edinburgh agent, Jenny Brown, and comes highly endorsed by A.L. Kennedy and Jackie Kay.
The story opens as self-confessed killer, Stella Moon, is released from prison. She returns ‘home’ to a decaying, abandoned boarding house choked with memories. Strange rituals, dark secrets and shame hang heavy in the air, exerting a brooding power over young Stella Moon. She just wants to restart her life, but must first confront the ghosts of her own macabre past and her own shocking crime. Gulit, paranoia and manipulation have woven a tangled web. Of only one thing is she certain … Stella Moon killed her own mother.
It’s a ‘Crime’ novel - not a ‘whodunnit’ but a ‘whydunnit,’ an in-depth look at the psychology behind the crime. It’s Psychological / Domestic Noir, is concerned with trauma, memory, family secrets, and how difficult it is to know yourself, to forge your own life story.
I am interested in the deep psychology of people and relationships, and how fiction can convey fundamental truths about what it is to be human through richly textured stories. My work is character-driven; if I am sufficiently tuned to a character, they hand me the plot on a plate. With cake.
My work-in-progress includes a sequel to the Stella book - Muriel's Story by Stella Moon (Muriel was Stella’s mother). Its theme is disappointment, and explores mothers and daughters and what it means to ‘write a life.’
I have another novel on hold for when Muriel is finished. Provisionally entitled Clara Says, set in Paris and Oslo, it features a psychotherapist with issues who decides to write a biography of a disciple of Freud’s.
I’m also working on a short story collection, A Policy of Constant Improvement, due out with Red Squirrel press in 2017. I won a Northern Writer’s Award (Louise Welsh was the judge) in 2015 and have been mentored by Carys Davies. My stories are not easily categorised because they cross boundaries. Like my longer fiction, they are closely observed and psychological, and often dealing with the ordinarily hidden underbelly of people, places and situations. They work a lot with metaphor and symbolism and in the realm of what might be termed ‘the irreal.’
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Current events and projects
I am available to participate in a wide range of events with adult audiences – readings, signings, panels, book festivals, workshops, book-groups, Q&A, Meet-the-Author, blog posts, freelance writing, reviews, seminars, residencies (I have applied for Hawthornden this year).
Themes include: Crime, Psychology, Domestic Noir, Psychological Noir, the Uncanny, Family Stories, Family Secrets, Creative Writing, The Short Story, The Novel, Life Writing, Memoir, Creating Authentic Characters, Writing Bad Characters, Truth & Fiction.
Recent Public Readings I have done include EIBF StoryShop2013, misc live events at the Lit&Phil, Newcastle, the National Library of Scotland ‘New Voices’ event on 21.06.16. Two major book launches in Edinburgh and Newcastle July 2016 (90+ people).
As a former academic, I have extensive experience in leading seminars and workshops and tutoring and mentoring in small groups and one-to-one. I am also a confident and highly experienced public speaker.
I also have extensive experience as a student of Creative Writing, having studied on numerous short courses at Edinburgh University and Newcastle University, and participated in many workshops and masterclasses.
I have slots at 7 literary festivals confirmed for this year, as well as 7 other public readings so far (including 2 libraries in Dumfries & Galloway during Book Week Scotland).
My short fiction has appeared in numerous places since I began publishing in 2008. Here is a selection:
2011) ‘The Winkles,’ The Journal 21 May 2011, Features section, pp31-32 (inaugurating Saturday Short Story series)
(2011)‘Last Christmas,’ The Journal, 17 December 2011
(2012) ‘The Lilliput,’ The Journal, 14 April 2012
(2012) ‘Trapezium’, Inkapture, June 2012
(2012) ‘Picnicking with my father,’ The Journal, 21 July 2012
(2013) ‘A Brief Biography,’ New Writing Scotland, 31
(2013) ‘Cleaning the Herring,’ Harbour Anthology, (Winner), Dunbar’s Wee Festival
of Words 2013
(2013) Extract from The Confession of Stella Moon in Shortlist: Dundee
International Book Prize Finalists 2013, Dundee: Discovery Press
(2013) ‘Waiting,’ in inaugural issue of Dactyl
(2013) ‘Far away and somewhere else,’ (Commended), Book Week Scotland 2013, Aberdeen University Special Collections Flash Fiction
(2014) ‘The Purple,’ in Iron Press/Red Squirrel Press Anthology Short not Sweet, (eds. Peter Mortimer and Sheila Wakefield)
(2014) ‘Dolores and the Slick Men,’ (Winner), Appletree Writers, Dunbar, SPEAK Anthology
(2015) ‘The Birthday’ New Writing Dundee 8, 2015
(2015) ‘The Memory Box,’ New Writing Scotland 33
Phone: 0131 225 9376 or 07591 664 181