On graduating with distinction from Royal Holloway’s Creative Writing MA I was approached by two literary agents and one independent publisher, all expressing enthusiastic interest in the novel I was writing. Inexperience and an urge to write an overly personal first book resulted in my allowing its plot to become watery and ultimately it was not picked up. However, the agents in communication with me gave invaluable feedback that I am drawing on as I work on my second novel.
In addition to my love of long-form prose I have a passion for both reading and writing short stories. My first published piece, a 2000-word story called ‘It’s Not The First Time I’ve Seen Him’, appears in Issue 6 of the excellent online journal all the sins. My second short to be published is the 5000-word ‘The Park But From The Other Side’, appearing in Confingo 10. Confingo is a gorgeous, intelligent, biannual print journal whose editor plans to publish another story of mine, ‘Destination’.
I have worked as a third assistant director on BBC dramas, delivered photography workshops in young offenders institutions, and edited scripts for Film London productions – which experience I put to good use when I and fellow RHUL alumni workshop one another’s writing once a month.
There is, however, of course, more to me than that…
There are many types of writer and forms the compulsion to write takes. For some reason, I have an irrepressible need to blend my lived experiences with fictitious ones, in order to beat them into story shapes. Perhaps it is easier to derive meaning from the incidents of my life once I’ve placed them against the backdrop of the wider world. Through fictionalizing the personal I hope to raise open questions.
Nevertheless, it is my feeling that attempting to discern what percentage of a narrative is autobiography and what fabricated will never provide a precise answer. All authors fuse experience and fiction. Storytellers are observers. Whether a writer studies herself or others as a source for creativity, and no matter how far invention travels from reality, it is still her reflections, herself, going into her work.
Undoubtedly though, many of the greats frequently draw heavily upon lived experiences, such as Ernest Hemingway, Alice Munro and Aryn Kyle.
Forgive my evasiveness, I am clearly wriggling out of providing you with a proper biography. The reason being, as for my influences my life is often the genesis of my ideas, and my ‘background’ has been assigned to the bank of novels and short stories percolating in my head. I worry a summarised account would amount to a paragraph of spoilers. I will instead add to my comments on where I find my inspiration by mentioning a point regarding my literary style:
I spent a period of my youth lost in hedonism. Cornwall, where I grew up, being the land of free spirits is conducive to dropping out. For a time I was, for want of a better term, a hippy. All I cared about were the brilliant, talented raconteurs and ‘teuses I was lucky enough to call friends – so much creative energy poured into nothing more ambitious than entertaining one another. It is possible to see those years as directionless. However, I didn’t spend them drifting for I was observing, tuning in to the rhythms, dynamics and nuances of conversation. I love writing dialogue and realistic conversation is my favourite thing to read. My characters’ authentic dialogue distinguishes my work and my ear for it grew from the close attention I have paid to real-world banter. This is something I will keep developing, continually finesse.
There is a second way in which those hedonistic years influenced me. The natural entertainers I refer to came from a broad range of socioeconomic backgrounds. I have encountered remarkable gifts in people hindered by terrible obstacles and lack of opportunity. This has shaped my artistic moral intent and philosophy. One of the many difficulties facing the protagonist of the novel I’m writing is gentrification slowly forcing her from the area she was born and brought up. I hope I haven’t given the impression, though, that my fiction therefore consists of overlapping, overstated polemics. My genre-crossing, slow burning, intelligent thriller’s heroine is wry and sardonic, and so her experiences must be portrayed in a dry, light manner. Therein lies my creative goal – to entertain, to grip, to fascinate, to carry the reader away and in so doing tease open taboos and confront that which is difficult.
Thank you for your interest in my nature as a writer.