Northern Writers’ Award 2018 – Winner!


Fiction winners

Northern Writers’ Awards   Fiction winners 2018

I am so pleased to have been awarded a Northern Writers’ Award 2018 for my novel-in-progress The Song of Annie Chapman. Over 1400 writers applied for the Awards; my novel was one of three fiction titles to have been selected by judges Jonathan Ruppin and Kerry Hudson.

Ruppin describes the book as ‘a hugely immersive piece of writing that really captures the emotional rollercoaster of teenage life, with a claustrophobic and antagonistic friendship at its heart. It confronts the feelings of shame and exclusion forced upon children who grow up in poverty and the yearning to escape that this brings.’

I will now be developing the book with an editor and spending some time away to focus on the redraft, as well as taking advantage of ongoing guidance, networking and advice offered through New Writing North.

For full details of winners and more information, please click here:

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My editor looked nothing like either of these men


I’ve reached that point in my novel. You know the one. 30 thousand words and still no title.

Titles have been waking me up in the night when I’m otherwise engaged with Gary Barlow.

How about ‘Introducing Mrs Callery’? No, wait, Miss Callery.

‘Losing Miss Callery’. (Too negative).

Finding Miss Callery’! (Too Nemo?)

Hang on, Miss Callery used to hang out with Picasso, right? She was an artist, RIGHT?! How about a Picasso-esque, artistic designation? Wait for it:

‘Study of Woman, Standing’.

But would you choose that book when you have titles like ‘The 100 year-old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared’ winking at you from the shelf in a bid to be your next read? Me neither.

The title of my last book ‘Me After You’ became the most wrestled-over element of the entire publication process. My editor and I were like Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks over the email, hoisting up our spandex fight suits and pummelling titles back and forth until they just got silly. (‘Big Boozy Bender’ was one notable suggestion. It was at that point I conceded that the battle was over. And in the event, my editor – as always – was right. I now love ‘Me After You’ and tell everyone it was my idea.)

So I’m hoping for divine inspiration for this next title. Not least so that I can get back to Gary in peace.






Me after Me After You

It’s mid-November and my memoir ME AFTER YOU is published, reviewed and gathering dust on bookshelves across the country.

I now find myself shuffling awkwardly on my cheap leatherette office chair doing anything but knuckle down to my next book. (I’m grappling with a structural issue which is so complex that I am regularly forced to abandon it in order to go out and spend money I haven’t got on items I don’t need.)

There is a distinct sense of deflation after finishing any piece of writing, especially one as gruelling and emotionally challenging as ME AFTER YOU. It has been part of my everyday life for so long, now that it is gone I am bereft. I look for it in bookshops, and find it, nestling in a mind-boggling miscellany of sections, from self-help to biography and beyond. I gaze upon it lovingly, sometimes plucking it from the shelf and stroking its beautiful, peaceful cover (the one we tussled over, my publisher and I, because it seemed so at odds with the chaos depicted within.)

Realigning and disciplining the writerly mind feels now to be a Sisyphean task, so I’m blogging about it in an attempt to clear the log-jam. And then I’m off to the shops.