I am the author of 14 bestselling novels including my debut Sally (1996), Pillow Talk (2008 – winner of the RNA award) and The Turning Point (2016). My newest novel Little Wing will launch on 20th January 2022. A sense of place is central to my writing and previous novels have featured Derbyshire, Teesside, North Norfolk, the Scottish Highlands, Vermont, France and British Columbia. A passionate reader, I founded and ran the Hertford Children’s Book Festival, have judged the Costa Book Awards and am a patron of the Society of Women Writers & Journalists. I’m proud to be an Ambassador for Bowel Cancer UK and patron of Pointers In Need. I have degrees in Art History from the University of Manchester and the Courtauld Institute, London and love teaching at writing workshops. Currently, I’m beavering away on my 16th novel and two screenplays.
I love books. Books have defined and shaped all the key stages of my life. A A Milne taught me about rhyme – and reason; Barbara Sleigh fired my imagination and my playtimes with the Carbonel stories. Black Beauty was the first book that made me cry, while Ruby Ferguson’s Jill books transported the pony-mad girl in me away from the city.
In my teenage years, I found solace in Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Judy Blume’s novels, while To Kill A Mockingbird and Flowers for Algernon opened my eyes to justice, humanity and judging people. At University, I turned to Jilly Cooper for respite during exams and Mary Wesley’s books introduced me to characters whose shoes I wanted to step in to. When I gave up my PhD to write my first novel, the works of Mary Wesley, Rose Tremain, Jane Gardam and Barbara Trapido inspired me to write fiction with strong female leads and original, sometimes eccentric characters
I grew up surrounded by books and loved weekly visits to the library to choose something new – or an outing to the bookshop to spend a book voucher! Whether my childhood home or student digs in Manchester or various flat-shares and then my own home, books have always filled my space. I don’t own an ebook reader – I’m happy to continue to decorate my home with my book collection. Every book I own is a treasured possession of mine, an essential part of my history. Every book I own, quite literally, tells a story.
Since 2009 I have lived on a small farm in East Hertfordshire with my family – my offspring Felix and Georgia, my dogs Milo and Bee, my horses Nathan and Jack and my sheeps Brontë, Catkin, Emily, Eliza, Lovely and Willow. In my spare time, I enjoy ceramics classes (I’ve been going for years and basically make the same bowl over and over again, plus little porcelain sheep) or invariably I can be found in one saddle or other. I’ve ridden horses since I was little but I took up road biking after my back surgery in 2017 – and have become somewhat obsessed…