I am a creative writer living in Leigh-on-Sea. I’ve always written but got side-tracked into training as a mathematics teacher after losing confidence in my writing at school. On becoming disillusioned with teaching maths, I moved into the charity sector as a support and advice worker, and helped write charity publications, such as leaflets and websites, before editing a charity journal. The journal role involved interviewing people and writing up their stories, and boom, my passion was rekindled! A few years later, I decided to embark on an MA in Creative Writing to pursue my dream of becoming a full-time writer.
My published work includes fiction, poetry, life writing and academic writing. Much of my writing explores recurring themes of difference, identity and belonging. My debut novel, Marilyn and Me (Cinnamon Press, 2007), developed during my MA, is narrated by a young woman with a learning disability who models herself on Marilyn Monroe. Although a work of fiction, the book was heavily inspired by my experience as a support worker. My short story, ‘Hang Up’, shortlisted for the Bridport prize, was inspired by my work on telephone helplines. I diversified into writing young adult novels, with XY, set in a dystopian world where humans are born intersex with gender assigned at birth, winning the Red Telephone Books YA Novel Competition in 2014.
I was awarded an MA with Distinction in Creative Writing (novel) from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2006, and a PhD Creative Writing (life writing) with The Open University in 2022. My doctoral thesis, Other Mothers, inspired by my experience as a biological and adoptive mother, will be published in book form as Another Mother: Curating and Creating Voices of Adoption, Surrogacy and Egg Donation by Routledge in June 2023. Written in hybrid form, the life writing combines interview material and creative responses, with a poetry sequence from the project shortlisted for the 2019 Cinnamon Literature award.
Since 2008, I have been honoured to teach Creative Writing with The Open University, where I am proud to have supported the creative writing journeys of hundreds of students on both undergraduate and postgraduate modules. I was thrilled to be able to build on this experience as an RLF Fellow based at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford (2021–2023), supporting students’ academic writing across a range of disciplines. I have also taught Creative Writing with the University of East London as a guest lecturer, created my own life writing programme ‘Turning Life into Literature’ with The Brilliant Club, and facilitated online starter courses in writing fiction with FutureLearn.
As a qualified school teacher, I’ve taught Maths and English to vulnerable teenagers in Alternative Provision for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. My additional experience in the charity sector feeds into my interests in socially engaged writing and links between creativity and wellbeing.
Other gigs include co-authoring mathematics text books for Pearson, and being commissioned for Mslexia, Disability Now and Rough Guides to Accessible Britain.