I began writing fiction in 2005 as a direct result of watching Richard Armitage smouldering irresistibly in the BBC’s adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. My first effort was a North and South ‘fanfic’ after which, having limbered up using someone else’s characters, I went on to have a shot at inventing my own. I had only ever written academic legal articles and monographs before, so fiction came as a huge relief – no footnotes, and you are just allowed to make it up.
My first novel, More Than Love Letters, was published by Headline Review in 2006, followed by Hearts and Minds in 2007. A third novel, Crossed Wires, was released in hardback in December 2008 followed by paperback in April 2009. Having got 1850s cotton mills out of my system with the fanfic, I started to write contemporary fiction of a type which you might either call romantic comedy with a hint of satire, or else social satire with a hint of romance. 'Women's fiction', basically.
My fourth novel - The Tapestry of Love - was about a woman who moves to the mountains of the Cevennes to set up a new life stitching tapestries. Less funny than my previous books - more thoughtful, more lyrical - it was published in 2010. My latest, entitled Ninepins and published in April 2012, is the darkest book so far; set against the bleak backdrop of the Cambridgeshire fens, it explores the volatile relationships between mothers and daughters, parental anxiety, and what it is which turns a group of individuals into a family.
In my real existence I am a lecturer at Cambridge University, where I try to be grown-up now and again. At home putting up with my writing obsession are my partner and spaniels Treacle and W.G. Snuffy Walden. I am also the mother of two daughters.
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