…and thank you for visiting. This is a personal website about my obsessions, which currently include creativity, history and reincarnation. Apart from all the usual things, there are two blog strands. The first is about writing – not so surprising from the editor of a writing magazine. The second is about the paranormal – perhaps a bit less predictable. This is because my latest novel, Herring Girl, explores the evidence for and against reincarnation, and having worked as a research psychologist (in another life) I became fascinated by the debate. So much so that I decided to do a little research of my own. 2,541 took part in my paranormal survey, which closed on 31 July 2014. Scroll down for a series of short reports about the results.

Herring Girl is now out in paperback

So if you’ve been resisting the lure of the hardback (deliciously bound in purple cloth, with a map of 19th Century North Shields printed on the endpapers), a chunky budget version with a completely different cover, should now be available at a bookshop or library near you. (If you’re interested [...]

If any of these events are happening near you, do please come along

A blog about writing...

I don’t talk much about my personal writing in the pages of Mslexia magazine – it feels a bit unseemly to bang on about my own work in a that magazine I edit. So this is the place where I’ll talk about the issues that challenge and intrigue me in my creative life. I hope they interest you too.

Why historical fiction is like science fiction

October 5th, 2014|Comments Off on Why historical fiction is like science fiction

This blog first appeared at the beginning of September as a guest blog on the History Girls website, a lively writerly forum created by women historical novelists. We history girls often like to wax lyrical about the amount of research we do to source the details of the era and characters [...]

  • A Voice from the Cliffs by Winslow Homer


June 18th, 2014|2 Comments

(You will find a much longer and less solipsistic feature about book covers in the September issue of Mslexia) Here is what real North Shields herring girls looked like in 1898, painted from life by the artist Winslow Homer at that time: wind-scuffed and bundled up in ungainly layers – dressed [...]

  • Herring Girls

Them or em?

June 5th, 2014|6 Comments

A longer feature on on the challenges of conveying regional dialect without alienating readers appeared in the Guardian Review on 4 October, sparking 120 comments – and counting. You can add your three ha’p’orth here, and/or below. Do readers need as much molly-coddling as publishers think? In the course of writing [...]

Read more of my writing blog

A blog about paranormal research...

This is where you’ll find my synopses and reviews of (mainly) sensible publications on reincarnation, the afterlife and paranormal experiences. If you are an author, researcher or publisher in this field and you would like me to feature your work, do please get in touch.

Atheists have fewer paranormal experiences

September 3rd, 2014|Comments Off on Atheists have fewer paranormal experiences

(This is the second in a series of short reports looking at the results of a Paranormal Survey I conducted in July 2014.) Questioned about their belief in a deity associated with an organised religion, the 2,524 people who took part in the survey fell into three main groups: believers, [...]

Paranormal experience posts are on their way

September 2nd, 2014|Comments Off on Paranormal experience posts are on their way

I’m putting the final touches to a series of blog posts recounting people’s weird experiences, which I have gleaned from my recent paranormal survey. Watch this space.

Paranormal survey results

August 4th, 2014|Comments Off on Paranormal survey results

If you're one of the 2,541 people who took part in the survey, thank you so much. And special thank you to those who took the trouble to describe your paranormal experiences in detail. Over the coming weeks I'll be writing a series of short reports looking more closely at [...]

Read more of my Paranormal blog


Mslexia cover - June 2014

I am the founder and Editorial Director of Mslexia, the magazine for women writers.

The June issue is out now, guest edited by the multi-faceted Janey Fraser, and featuring Jane Rogers, Danuta Kean, Katy Guest, Margaret Wilkinson, Penny Vincenzi and more.

In this issue you’ll also find my regular How to Write a Bestseller feature, the results of our survey into the causes of writer’s block – and details of our inaugural Women’s Memoir Competition, first prize £5,000.

Read more about Mslexia

Herring Girl

A time-slip novel investigating a century-old murder and the possibility of reincarnation

‘Wonderful – conjures up the past with visceral intensity’ Sarah Dunant

‘A vividly imaginative, sensuous and atmospheric novel’ Helen Dunmore

Hungry Ghosts

Hungry Ghosts by Debbie Taylor

An infertile woman becomes obsessed with the troubled young builder to renovate her derelict cottage in Crete.

‘sensuous, absorbing, evocative’ Hilary Mantel

‘weird and compelling’ Daily Mail

The Fourth Queen

The Fourth Queen by Debbie Taylor

En route to the Colonies in 1769, Helen Gloag is kidnapped by pirates and sold into the harem of the Emperor of Morocco – based on a true story.

‘literary Viagra’ Amanda Craig

‘a novel of impressive energy and boldness: a weird and sumptuous historical hybrid’ Independent

My Children, My Gold

My Children, My Gold cover artwork

Seven days spent with each of seven single mothers in seven countries around the world, documenting life in the ‘fourth world’.

‘one of the most important books I’ve read in years’ Scotland on Sunday

‘seven beautifully-written and absorbing testimonies of courage’ Independent