My personal narrative
2005 I received my five year ‘all clear’ after treatment for grade 3 breast cancer. A month later I was back in the oncologist’s office, having found a lump in the other breast.
One year on – after a further six months of chemo, thirty sessions of radiotherapy, another five operations and third scare – I decided it was time I started enjoying life again. I eloped to Venice with my partner, signed up for a part-time art degree and returned to creative writing.
I explored my illness through my art, creating ceramics, scar jewellery and installations. My creative work has featured in a text book on post-traumatic growth and as a case study in Ten Keys for Happier Living by Vanessa King. I have also given talks to breast cancer survivors at the Royal Free and my portrait was used for publicity for Uncovered, a photographic exhibition in London, supported by Katie Piper.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, as with my art work. Some things are better explored in words, others in abstract form. I keep every quote, photo, or article that has sparked a creative thought. When I start developing a theme, my first move is to create an image bank or collage for my characters and their world. I need to see them, to visualise their environment in order to understand them. Coming from a psychology background, I am interested in behavioural ticks, habits, thought patterns and ways of seeing the world. I often draw up a psychological profile for the main characters. Each new idea for a novel gets its own notebook which is soon densely packed with outline ideas, sketches, mind maps, scribbles and midnight thoughts.
Since attending the Faber Academy in 2017, I have been focusing my energies on writing novels. My choosen genres are women’s fiction and psychological suspense.
The Women’s Fiction Writers Association defines women’s fiction as “A story where the plot is driven by the main character’s emotional journey… an adult character’s struggle with world issues.” Another definition suggests women’s fiction is about “understanding the female psyche. The heroine is the central focus of the novel. Readers learn that they are not alone.”
Character is at the heart of this genre. Whilst there may be a physical threat there could instead by a danger to the mind, identity or values of the lead character. Typically the novel may include themes of reality, perception, identity, existence or purpose.
In December 2018 I was proud to win Blue Pencil Agency's First Novel Award for an unpublished work with my manuscript, My Poor Deluded Girl. I have since been offered representation by Madeleine Milburn, head of Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV and Film Agency.
The novel is psychological suspense, exploring obsession and pretence, and should appeal to a reading group.
After a stranger dies falling from a bridge onto her car, reclusive fifty year old Janice fantasises a connection between them. She adopts a false persona to pursue relationships with the dead woman's friends and family, becoming enmeshed in her web of lies. The novel explores the blurring between truth, embellishment, fiction and outright deceit, and how they can lead to unforeseen consquences.
In my professional career I regularly write articles and communication materials for clients.
I have been commissioned to write the following professional publications. Whilst not creative writing, it’s been a great way to experience the steps to publication.
As part of the Professional Coaching Series for Karnac:
Group Dynamics in Coaching Family Businesses, with Manfusa Shams,
in the academic text book Supporting the Family Business
For the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development:
Coaching Toolkit, with Lise Lewis
Coaching Skills for Line Managers (DVD script and training materials)
Dealing with Difficult Communication (DVD script and training materials)
For Ryland, Peters and Small publishers:
Communicating Love – Part two of The Book of Love and Happiness
I regularly attend writing events in London and am part of a writing group (Faber alumni). We submit 2,000 words to each other for review each fortnight and meet up to discuss writing related issues.
2018 Jericho Festival of Writing
2018 Evening talks run by The London Writers’ Café and The Guardian Masterclasses
2017 Writing a Novel, Faber Academy six months programme
2017 Creating your Author Platform, CityLit, one day workshop
2009 Poetry and short story writing, Birkbeck, eight week evening course
2009 Screen Writing, CityLit, ten week evening course
2008 Weekly one-to-one script writing tuition from Cambell Graham as an elective degree module during my Fine Art BA
2007 Feature film script writing courses, Euroscript, three weekends
2018 Winner of Blue Pencil Agency's First Novel Award for My Poor Deluded Girl
2018 Shortlisted for Best First Chapter at Jericho Festical for My Poor Deluded Girl
2009 Shortlisted for the Euroscript Screen Story Competition for The Falls Guy
2009 Shortlisted for the London Fringe Short Fiction Award for London Glamour and Grime
2004 Shortlisted for Fresh Talent Competition for my unfinished novel Camouflage