Write with me from anywhere in the world – new online MA Creative Writing course

Quick video filmed in my kitchen about the new MA Creative Writing by Distance Learning at Teesside University.


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Relaunch of my poetry collection, Refugee

RefugeeCoverDelighted to announce that my poetry collection, Refugee, inspired by my work with the wonderful writers of the Write to Life group at Freedom from Torture, has been relaunched in a brand new edition on Amazon Kindle. I am donating all my proceeds to Freedom from Torture. That currently means that approximately £1.71 of each book sold will go to help the work of this incredible organisation.

I never  think of the Refugee poems as my poems. They tell some of the stories that I was privileged to witness during my time as a writing mentor at Write to Life. They are also my own reflections on what home means to me, and how we each strive to find our home in the world.

The poems were originally published by Salt Publishing and I’m very grateful to them for their kindness in allowing me to produce this new version independently.

I hope that you will buy the book so that Write to Life and Freedom can continue its crucial work, helping people to tell their stories and have them witnessed and heard by a wider world; and helping us all to make new meaning out of those aspects of our world that so often make no sense at all. Thank you so much for your support.


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The Glass launches today

Is it really launch day? Thank you so much to everyone who pre-ordered. You can buy The Glass – the final book in the Everyday Magic Trilogy – here and here.

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There’s a definite scent of autumn in the air and a crispness to these past few mornings that leaves me in no doubt. It’s the end of summer.

I love the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ that is always so beautiful in this part of the world.  But it always makes me feel a little melancholy too. I’m a summer person at heart. I thrive on sunshine. And autumn always reminds me that another summer – and another year – is over.

Since having a child, this bitter sweetness seems even sharper. The marking of the years, the feeling of things slipping irrevocably away from me, the sense that there will never be another summer when my little girl is full of a two-year-old’s wonder at the world, is something  that Lindsey has always written about so movingly on her beautiful blog here. Now I know exactly what she means.

But September is always full of a sense of possibility too. It’s a new school year and that means a new term beginning at Teesside, where I’ve now taught for nine months. We’ll be welcoming lots of new students this week and beginning new Creative Writing classes.

I’m also about to launch The Glass, the third book in the Everyday Magic Trilogy that began with the crazy ride that was The Dress. You can pre-order The Glass here. Again, I have a deep sense of sadness at saying goodbye to beloved characters but I’m also very excited to be moving on to new projects. I have a notebook bursting with ideas – and four new chapters of my next novel.

So goodbye summer of ice cream and sandcastles, summer when Violetta splashed in fountains and wore ‘lellow’ sandals and upside-down sunglasses. Hello autumn. I wonder what you have in store for me?




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Mediterranean Yorkshire and everyday magic

It really was, for a brief few days…

We went to sunny Saltburn-by-the-Sea, a short drive from where we live in North Yorkshire. It’s a wonderful place, perhaps my all-time favourite place to go for that English seaside experience.  And it has a funicular, a special kind of water balanced cliff lift that transports visitors up the 71% incline from the beach to the cliff top. You can read more about its history here.


I love the cliff lift. I love the painted cream and red cabins with their polished wooden seats. Here’s Violetta checking out the brakeman’s hut at the top.


And here’s the sun setting last weekend. We’re already past the mid-point of the year and I find myself savouring these moments, wanting to hang on to them, remember them.


I have a little secret project brewing for next month so please do look out for details here on the blog if, like me, you want to practise noticing this ‘everyday magic,’ being in the now with it as much as possible, seeing it, tasting it, perhaps even recording it, sucking more of the juice out of it. Remembering…

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The Dress launches in Italy – 26 June

I’m very excited about this bit of news…

The Dress has been translated into Italian and will launch in hardback and Kindle edition in Italy tomorrow. You can pre-order it right now here. I think my Italian publishers have done a wonderful job with the title and beautiful cover, don’t you? (Always interesting to see how a title translates to different countries and readerships.)

Un vestito color del vento_Sovra.indd The Italian launch is particularly special for me because Italy is a place that is very close to my heart. I lived and studied there for two years in a little place called Duino, at an amazing college where I met people from around the world who are still among my closest friends today. I fell in love with Italy as a sixteen-year-old and the magic has never faded for me. Of course, this is why I enjoyed giving The Dress a flavour of Italy with the story of Fabia and Enzo. (I also got to completely indulge my passion for Italy in another of my novels, 37 Photographs.)

So I’m over the moon that the Italian translation will be published tomorrow. And in another Fabia-esque piece of serendipity, I’m just finishing work on the third book in the Everyday Magic Trilogy, The Glass, which just so happens to be set in Venice.  I’m immersed in details of glass-making and reliving memories of winding cobbled streets, glittering canals, delicious gelato and cool, shady cafes. Ah, to be there right now…


Finally, what fun to be featured in the very glamorous TUStyle magazine this week, with a lovely interview by Carlotta Vissani. Here’s the article on my iPad this morning. My friend and utterly brilliant photographer Jim Poyner took the photo of me – and I think he actually managed to make me look as if I’d not been awake with a toddler for half of the previous night. Thanks, Jim.

IMG_5196OK, enough of all these fabulous distractions. Back to writing…

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Around here lately…

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Ruby slippers

ruby slippers

‘Their magic must be very powerful or she wouldn’t want them so badly.’
                          – The Wizard of Oz, Original motion picture screenplay. (1939)

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Why write?

Sometimes I sit at my kitchen table, laptop open, mind flicking from one thing to another, one open document to another and I ask myself that very question.

Why not just give up and go and do something else – tarot reading, bareback horse riding, busking on a street corner, running for Parliament? Anything at all rather than sitting here worrying over the next few sentences whilst secretly suspecting that every word I write is terrible and that very soon I’ll have to stop and pick my daughter up from play group.

And of course then there’ll be no more time to write at all. Not today or possibly this week. And I’ll wish I’d used this time much more productively, slayed my demons, got something done. Stopped wasting time. Been more focused. Tried harder.

And then I let go for a few sweet sentences, forget to listen to my own circling thoughts, lose myself in words.

I look up and everything is somehow different.

And I remember that this is why I write. Because ultimately, the page is my safe space, the place where I forget who I am for a while, unencumbered by expectations and worries, shoulds and oughts.

Yes, it’s also the place where I challenge myself, limber up like an athlete in training, wonder if I’m good enough.

But for brief moments, when I stop holding my breath, it’s where I let go, slip into another space entirely, fly.


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Worlds, real and imagined

Museum Gardens

I’m so enjoying this last phase of finishing the Everyday Magic trilogy. The Glass is almost there – just one final push and it will be ready for editing and proofing. I’ve had to take more time away from this book than I would have liked and each time I’ve returned to the world of Fabbia and Ella, I’ve enjoyed it so much. The books really have become like a parallel universe for me – a place to which I can escape – and I hope it’s the same for anyone who reads them.

Here’s a photo of York’s beautiful Museum Gardens taken just last week. I love imagining Fabbia, Ella and Grace walking and playing here. It really is a place filled with ‘everyday magic.’

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