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Invite me2018-09-17T10:34:45+00:00

Literature events

I enjoy leading and/or taking part in literary events, either as a novelist or as Editor of Mslexia – or both. If you’re running a festival I’d welcome the chance to set up a Mslexia stall and chat to writers about submitting their work. (You can also commission me to write for you)

Workshops and surgeries

For well over a decade 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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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 – or any other aspect of my work. You can view a typical reading here.

Issues raised in Herring Girl 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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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.

The photo at the top of the page shows a riotous discussion I chaired about women and crime, with (from the left) Anne Cleeves, Sally Wainwright, former Detective Inspector Diane Taylor and Val McDermid at the Durham Book Festival.

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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.

Interviewing authors

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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