How is it April already and HOW have more than TWO YEARS passed without me posting a blog update?! Here’s how: I lost my username and password to be able to access my. Own. Website. EEEEK. Obviously rather a lot of other Things have been happening in the world too, and like everyone else I’ve been doing what I have to do to get through this strange time, plus working in my other job as a hospital-based midwife. Also I rely a lot on other platforms — Twitter and Instagram, mostly — so I haven’t been entirely offline, but it definitely feels good to be back here and have the ability to write in a longer format. So. Hello!
First of all, thank you so much to everyone who has connected with me via any of my pages, including those of you who have sent messages via this site. I cherish every single message I receive. Also a massive thank you to everyone who has bought a copy of one of my books! Stories cannot live without their readers and it means the world to me that even one person might gain something from reading mine.
So, bookshops are due to re-open in 3 days (whoop!) and if you didn’t already know, I have a new book which published this year! As a slight departure for me, this book is set in a version of our own world, with magic creeping closer and closer. It is the first in a new two-book series — or duology, if you want to use the fancy word. ONCE WE WERE WITCHES tells the story of the Wrythe sisters, Spel and Egg, who grow up in Mistress Mouldheels’ School for Wicked Girls, where they are made to believe they are the daughters of criminals. I have had the best time getting to know these characters and the rest of the cast! I had the first inkling for this story way back in 2016, and you can read an interview I gave with the lovely Fern of Bluebird Reviews here, which will tell you lots more about the story, my writing process and inspiration.
One of the most exciting parts of the process of making this book was the opportunity to collaborate closely with an amazing illustrator. Fabi Santiago has breathed life into the characters and their world, and you can explore her website and find out more about her here.
I’m delighted to be able to report that the book was sent off for a second print run at less than two months old, and during a national lockdown. Thank you to everyone who has bought a copy, recommended the book or posted a review!
In other news, I’ve been having an amazing time over the past couple of years working with the National Deaf Children’s Society. I first had the opportunity to work with them when I became one of the judges of their storytelling competition in 2019, which led to working with young author Maya to turn her story into a real book. You can read more about Maya and her book, The Quest for the Cockle Implant, here.
Next, I was asked by the brilliant team at NDCS to work with them again to provide creative writing workshops for young deaf writers, which was A LOT of fun (for me, at least!) and this led to becoming a judge again for their Big Story Challenge, in association with ITV’s Signed Stories. The winning stories have now been made into brilliant Signed Stories which you can check out here, along with some videos by me and illustrator Lucy Rogers on writing and illustrating your own stories. Working with NDCS has not only been a ton of fun, but it has also opened up a whole world for me that I’m afraid to say I previously knew very little about. NDCS are doing crucial work providing support for families experiencing childhood deafness, raising deaf awareness and campaigning for deaf children’s rights, which helps them access the same opportunities as their hearing peers. It’s an honour to be involved with their work.
So, what now? At the moment I am drafting book two of the Witches duology, preparing for something important at work (which honestly is too boring to talk about), listening to a lot of Taylor Swift and London Grammar, and playing too much Rayman Legends on Switch. It’s a bit addictive. My reading has been slow during lockdown but SHIPWRECK ISLAND by Struan Murray seems to be helping me out of my reading slump. If you loved ORPHANS OF THE TIDE, you have to dive back into Ellie and Seth’s world. And if you didn’t, where were you? Probably busy surviving, like the rest of us. Which is fair. I hope that whatever you have been doing, you’ve been finding the right pace and the right path for you.