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Island Life, Word Birds & Process

In a couple of months I’m giving a short talk at the Llandeilo Literary Festival. It’s lovely to be invited & I’m looking forward to it. Although I still experience a frisson of nerves when called upon to face an audience, these days I do so with more confidence. In particular, I like engaging with people; with readers who have questions. These are my stories & I know them – there’s very little to be nervous about frankly. My previous experience of audience participation has been 99% good. (Asking about the 1% will get you nowhere! There’s always one?)

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When Christoph – our hardworking leader – asked me for some advance info for publicity (not least the title of my talk), I had to think on my feet. The festival doesn’t happen until April but needs must & I like an organised chap.

Niche is a hackneyed description & frankly, meaningless. It tends to mean you don’t know where you fit. And that’s a concern for those of us who write outside of the box. I was ‘niche’ for quite a long time. It’s taken two books for me to understand where my writing fits. Although I still have issues with genre per se, I’ve done the rounds & find I fit – if I fit anywhere – on the edges of the Gothic.

My characters are as ordinary as they are extraordinary – not least my sisters. Like me they find themselves unexpectedly thrown into this half-lit world & we all follow the breadcrumbs.

In both my books, each one of my girls find her courage. Cadi in Ghostbird; Verity & Meredith in Snow Sisters have all taken me away from the ‘normal’ into the world of magical possibility where, although the dark can get a bit scary, love makes sure that ultimately it’s made of hope. And together we retain a measure of control over the genre we’ve found ourselves in.

I make no apology for liking a bit of creepy – it makes life exciting & it’s fun to write. Knowing Christoph was waiting, I winged it & came up with a title for my talk: Genre, Ghosts & the Gothic. It’s up on the website now & on the promotional literature, so no turning back. I’ll take my ‘girls’ with me. Perhaps offer a sideways introduction to my new story & one of my new girls…


Turning on the half landing, Ida glanced out of a small window and below her saw how the land stretched, unfolding into the distance as if towards the edge of the world. The sombre hills were a book falling open at different pages, each one telling a new story in a secret language.
She had no language anymore. And the new story she had deliberately chosen for herself scared her.

I know how she feels…