Author Biography

I am the author of ten novels, most recently the Radio 2 Book Club pick One Moment.

I was born in North London in 1970 and brought up in Hertfordshire. I wrote my first novella, the Time Machine, aged eight, but unfortunately the pony-based time travel thriller genre never caught on. Shortly after which I declared in my school memory book that my ambition was to have a novel published (I could have been easy on myself and just said ‘to write a novel’ but no, I had to consign myself to years of torture and rejections). I was frequently asked to copy out my stories for the classroom wall (probably because my handwriting was so awful no one could read my first draft), and received lots of encouragement from my teachers Mr Roberts, Mrs Chandler (who added yet more pressure by writing in my autograph book when I left primary school that she looked forward to reading my first published novel!) and Mr Bird (who taught most of Spandau Ballet English).

My first publication came when I was thirteen and my Ode to Gary Mabbutt won second prize in the Tottenham Weekly Herald ‘My Favourite Player’ competition. At fifteen I won the Junior Spurs Football Reporter of the Year Competition and got to report on a first division football match from the press box at White Hart Lane (I got lots of funny looks and none of the male journalists spoke to me.)

At sixteen I embarked on ‘A’ levels and a journalism course at De Havilland College, Hertfordshire, and my college magazine interview about football hooliganism with local MP and football club chairman David Evans made a double page spread in Shoot! magazine (he denied everything he said and they never paid me) and back page headlines in several national newspapers.

I joined my local newspaper, the Enfield Gazette, as a trainee reporter at eighteen. During a ten year career in regional journalism I worked as a reporter on the Birmingham Daily News, news editor on the Birmingham Metro News and feature writer/chief feature writer on the Coventry Evening Telegraph, winning Highly Commended in the Feature Writer of the Year category of the 1997 Press Gazette Regional Press Awards.

I loved working on regional newspapers but by 1998 my features were getting too long and the urge to write a novel had become too great so I left my staff job to write my first novel and work as a freelance journalist. I have written for The Guardian, The Independent on Sunday, The Times Educational Supplement, The Big Issue, Wanderlust and Community Care Magazine.

I found working from home a very solitary process so also worked as co-ordinator of the Birmingham Bureau of Children’s Express, a national charity which ran a learning through journalism programme (they’re now called Headliners) for young people and taught journalism to schoolchildren for the National Academy of Writing. After I moved north in 2001, I qualified as an adult education tutor and taught creative writing classes to students aged between 18 and 82 for the Workers Educational Association across Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

After more than a hundred rejections from agents for my first novel (and more rewrites than I care to remember) I finally got an agent but still couldn’t get a publisher. I started work on my second novel I DID A BAD THING in 2003, finished the first draft and gave birth to my son (two days later) in 2004, rewrote the novel and got a new agent in 2005, obtained a two-book deal with Headline Review in 2006.

I Did a Bad Thing was published in paperback in 2007, made no 22 in the official fiction bestsellers list and has sold more than 80,000 copies. 10 Reasons Not to Fall in Love was published in paperback in 2009, reached no 16 in the official fiction bestseller charts and has sold more than 77,000 copies. Both novels were also long-listed for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

Following the success of my first two novels I got another two-book deal from Headline Review, with Things I Wish I’d Known was published in 2010, made the official UK top thirty fiction chart and has sold more than 40,000 copies. And Then It Happened was published in 2011 and made the official top forty fiction chart.

I then moved to my current publisher Quercus, who published The Mummyfesto in 2013. The idea of three mums setting up their own political party caught the media’s attention and I was interviewed on Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour. In 2014 my sixth novel The Marriage Mender was published, followed in 2016 by my first psychological thriller, While My Eyes Were Closed. It was a number one bestseller on Amazon kindle and was the fourth bestselling ebook on Amazon in 2016, selling more than 400,000 copies.

My next novel, After I’ve Gone, made it to the top 10 on Amazon Kindle. It was followed by The Last Thing She Told Me, which was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club in 2019 and got to no 11 in the paperback bestsellers chart. My tenth novel One Moment was selected for the Radio 2 Book Club and I was interviewed about it by Jo Whiley.

I live in West Yorkshire (which is great, especially when it stops raining), have a really weird accent which means I can do Yorkshire, London and the Midlands in the same sentence without realizing it, am married to Ian, a photographer and videographer (which comes in very handy for the book trailers!), and have a teenage son who doubles as my technical adviser and is also very useful!

I enjoy travelling (though I haven’t been anywhere more exotic than Lyme Regis since I became a mum) and have trekked after wild orang-utans in Borneo, been to the edge of the Arctic Circle to see polar bears and as far south as Tierra del Fuego to photograph penguins (yes, I know it would have been easier and cheaper to go to Chester zoo!).

And here are a few of my favourite things:
Novel: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Author: Margaret Atwood.
Music: Florence and the Machine, Blondie, Beth Orton, Joni Mitchell, Jack Savoretti and Tom Odell.
Films: The Shawshank Redemption, Dead Poets’ Society, Truly, Madly, Deeply.
TV: Newsnight, Channel 4 News, W1A, Have I Got News for You (former journalists die hard!)
Food: Red peppers, mangos, toasted pine nuts, pesto sauce, Booja Booja chocolates, strawberries, houmous and slow-roasted tomatoes (not all eaten at the same time!).
Places in the world: Pokhara, Nepal; Tanjung Puting National Park, Borneo; Churchill, Canada; Homer, Alaska, Hebden Bridge, England, Edinburgh, Scotland.

And a few of my least favourite things.
If I was on Room 101 my selections would be:

Unsuitable footwear (eg: white stilettos for muddy canal towpaths)
Tights (the 15-denier American tan variety)
Thomas the Tank Engine stories (those engines are so mean and miserable)
Candyfloss (I don’t do pink and sweet)
The notice on pay and display machines which says ‘overpayments accepted’ (big of them!).