Literature events

Some of my best inspiration comes on the train to or from Newcastle, so I welcome the chance to take part in literary events. (You can also commission me to write for you)

Readings

If you’re prepared to listen, I’m prepared to talk about my work until the cows come home – both as a novelist and as Editor of Mslexia. I also enjoy sharing a platform with another author, devising joint readings and discussions on a set theme.

However large or small your venue, feel free to invite me to discuss issues raised in my latest novel Herring Girl.

Issues raised in the book include:

  • researching historical fiction
  • using dialect in fiction
  • reincarnation – evidence and arguments for and against
  • transvestism and transsexuality
  • fishing, overfishing and marine pollution

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Interviews

I have interviewed many of the UK’s top women writers for festival audiences, including: Hilary Mantel at the Hay on Wye Festival and Sarah Waters at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. Other interviewees include: Jane Smiley, Lionel Shriver, Helen Dunmore, Fay Weldon, Val McDermid, Selima Hill, Maggie Gee, Julie Myerson, Wendy Cope, Joanne Harris.

‘Debbie’s sensitive and illuminating interview with Wendy Cope was one of the best literary events I have ever attended’ Claire Malcolm, Durham Book Festival

‘It was a refreshing change to have an established high-profile writer and a knowledgeable sensitive interviewer together. The style of the interviewer enabled a very fruitful back and forth between the writer and the audience’ Naomi Wilds, The Voice Box, Derby

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Talks and panel discussions

Being the Editor of Mslexia magazine means I’m often invited to talk about women’s writing, getting published, or developments in the publishing industry. I have also been asked to chair literary debates at many literary festivals as part of the Mslexia Roadshow touring programme.

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Workshops and surgeries

For the last 12 years I’ve led writing workshops at many literary festivals, conferences, universities and other venues, mainly
on the following creative themes:

  • writing historical fiction
  • turning your life into literature
  • erotic writing
  • travel writing
  • creating a character

I specialise in practical and ‘getting published’ workshops, including:

  • pitching your novel
  • writing a synopsis
  • writing a first paragraph
  • time management for writers
  • editing your novel

I have also chaired or taken part in many public question-and-answer sessions about getting published, and conducted one-to-one surgeries for writers.

‘Last week I sent out the first of my submissions with the revised cover letter. Today I have had an interesting telephone conversation with an agent’ Debbie Watkins, Northampton

‘It’s surprising how inspirational just knowing how to pitch the project is – thank you so much’ Shirley Ponting, Swindon

‘It was an informative and lively interview. And we had great feedback from the workshops’ Emma Hewett, Spreadtheword, London

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Book groups

If you can scrape together the money for my travel and (if necessary) overnight accommodation, and if you promise faithfully to buy and read copies of Herring Girl, I’m happy to try to fit in a physical visit, blog visit or Skype discussion with your book group. With physical visits, please bear in mind that I will be travelling from Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Herring Girl: Book group questions
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