WHO AM I?
I’m a proud Yorkshire woman, tennis nut and tea drinker and believe a walk on the beach will cure most ills. Unlike Rose Haldane, the identity detective in my novels, I’m not adopted. But an over-active imagination as a child gave me a fascination with identity – how we become who we are, are we shaped by our families or our experiences – and what happens if your family is unknown?
After 35+ years as a journalist writing news and features about business, interior design and furnishing, travelling the world in search of the perfect sofa, I started writing fiction. Over the years I’ve interviewed chief executives, politicians, designers, retailers and members of the public and as well as writing copy I also designed magazine pages, managed teams of journalists, balanced budgets and presented an annual awards event to 1000 guests. Now I write every day and blog regularly at my website about the books I read, authors I admire and the process of writing.
MY ‘IDENTITY DETECTIVE’ NOVELS
Rose Haldane, journalist and identity detective, reunites the people lost through adoption. She is an identity detective. She researches the stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases. The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever.
In Ignoring Gravity, the first of the ‘Identity Detective’ series, journalist Rose is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it. Finding her mother’s lost diaries, Rose begins to understand why she has always seemed the outsider in her family. Then just when she thinks there can’t be any more secrets…
Reader comments about Ignoring Gravity:-
“Ignoring Gravity is a very enjoyable read from beginning to end. The warm story will tear at your heart strings one moment, and make you smile the next.” Wendy Percival, author of the Esme Quentin series, Blood-Tied, The Indelible Stain and The Malice of Angels
“This book genuinely surprised me. Reading the first couple of pages I almost put it down but I am really glad I didn’t make that mistake because as it drew me in I found it increasingly difficult to stop reading. I love books about secrets and this was no exception. Solving this puzzle was literally like peeling layers off an onion. A chance discovery of an old diary turns Rose’s world upside down causing her to question her identity and initiate her search for her other family.” Michelle de Haan, Shellyback Books
Connectedness is the second book in the 'Identity Detective' series. Artist Justine Tree sells her art around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.
Reader comments about Connectedness:-
“This is a novel that I found hard to put down as it swept me along on a roller-coaster of an emotional ride. I had to pull myself together not to burst into tears. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy a very well-written story about a family saga.” Isabell Homfeld, Germany
“I really enjoyed this book and I need to go back and read the first one in this series. It was so well written that I felt all of Justine’s emotions throughout the book. I enjoyed learning about the art world also. It was a wonderful book on so many levels.” Lisa Garrett, USA
My current writing projects include writing ‘Sweet Joy’, third in the series, and the development of the Writer’ BLOCKbuster writing prompts series of ebooks.
My teaching speciality focusses on creativity and inspiration, how to find the spark to start writing again when your brain has stopped working and feels full of mush.
In my ‘Busting Writers’ Block’ workshops, I combine friendly collaborative class exercises with the tricks I have learned throughout my writing career. Many enthusiastic writers suffer with writers’ block but there are quick and easy ways to help yourself start writing again from visual prompts, using sound, the senses, music and everyday objects. An exercise may be a gateway to writing again, or the beginning of a story. Workshop participants are encouraged to try something new rather than rely on the familiar.
I can offer a one-off ‘Busting Writers’ Block’ workshop or a series of events designed to explore the wide variety of prompts available to writers. Some people are inspired by the visual, others by sound, words or experience. My ‘Busting Writers’ Block’ workshops encourage participants to explore the options and find what works best for them.
“Nice pace, well informed writer. Really useful ideas”
“Really great fun”
“I liked the fact that it was interactive with enough pointers to stimulate creativity”
“Great event. Useful and applicable. Good use of work pieces”
“Easy going & very varied”
Free PDF handouts are given to students at the end of the workshop featuring writing prompts to try at home.
My one-hour Author Talks, with PowerPoint presentations featuring graphics and personal photographs, include:-
‘The Spanish Connection’
For ten years I lived and wrote in Andalucía, blogging about our rural life in Spain, the people we met, the nature, the beauty, the food, the experiences. Although it wasn’t planned, Spain featured as a location in my second novel ‘Connectedness’ which was largely written there. I tell the story of our ten years in Spain, sharing memories, photographs and exploring the locations, how I was inspired to transform real places into the fictional world of ‘Connectedness’. This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain. My experience as a stranger in Spain – the challenges of the language, the customs, the food – found their way into the novel.
I recently talked to the Costa Press Club in Marbella, Spain, about my life in Andalucía and how I included this knowledge in ‘Connectedness’.
‘A Question of Identity’
A personal reflection on the nature of identity. Each of us has their own notion of identity. I became curious about it as an over-imaginative child when I had a sense of not fitting in. I was imaginative, I played lots of games involving adventures and pirates, sea journeys and exploring. And in these games I played different characters. I never played a dairy farmer’s daughter from a small village on the eastern edge of Yorkshire, which is what I was. I am. What fascinates me is how adoption affects a person’s sense of who they are and the questions that arise from that – so many questions. What makes us who we are is deeply personal, and unique.
As a novelist, I find the role of adoption and its effect on an individual’s sense of identity and belonging to be creative gold dust. I discuss my own family history research, shared family memories and secrets, and how my family and childhood sneak into my novels without me being aware of it.
I have done TV and radio interviews many times throughout my career talking about design trends and retail business. Most recently, I have been interviewed by Hannah Murray on ‘The Book Show’ [Talk Radio Europe] about my novels. Listen to the interviews here – Ignoring Gravity, and Connectedness.
I love meeting readers and am always amazed at their enthusiasm for my books and the willingness to share their own family stories, adoption experiences and genealogy research. Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction. At a meeting with the Cómpeta Book Group in Spain I was asked particularly about the tree imagery which features throughout the ‘Identity Detective’ books, and I’m always happy to answer any questions readers may have about my books.
It’s always nice to do book signings at the end of an event. If I drive to the event I can bring my own stock of books as well as roll-up banners that set the theme nicely for the event and help to create ambience.
I live in West Sussex and am happy to travel to other parts of the UK.
I have written two novels and am now writing my third. My 'Identity Detective' series novels cross genres covering romance, family secrets, family history and adoption. I regularly blog and tweet about the writing process and also review the books I read. My short stories and flash fiction have won awards and been published in magazines and anthologies. I worked as a journalist for +35 years and taught journalism at adult education level. Qualifications:- 2004 City & Guilds 7307 Stage 1 Microteaching 2002-2004 Certificate in Creative Writing, Birkbeck College, London 1983 NCTJ Certificate [National Council for the Training of Journalists] 1982 BA Hons English Literature – Goldsmiths College, University of London