Contact - FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

 

I’m organising a festival/author talk/conference. Will you speak at our event?
Talks and appearances are hugely important to me. I promise to deliver an insightful and heartfelt presentation. I will arrive at your event ready and willing to share my point of view. I give my listeners the kind of consideration that I would wish to receive. Please email me with your requirements, including your venue size, talking points and intended audience.

I’m from a creative writing course/college/university. Can you inspire our students?
I want to support new voices on the page, whether this is young people (age 16+) who are exploring their talents for the first time, or adults who’ve made the bold decision to write later in life. I have several offers which might be suitable, including beginner workshops, and masterclasses. You may also wish to consider: a sofa Q & A; commissioning an original lecture; or, to get the most value from my visit, inviting me to campus for a few days to deliver a programme of work. My emphasis will be on what it means it be a writer, tools and techniques that students can use in their own projects, and offering encouragement and inspiration. Please email me your expression of interest, telling me about your students and what you want them to achieve.

I’m from a book group. Will you visit us?
Meeting readers is one of my favourite parts of being an author. Whether your book group is in Suffolk, elsewhere in the UK, or even another country, yes, it may be possible. Be aware that I write fulltime – I’m self-employed – and I cannot give away author talks at a loss. So before contacting me, please consider how your group will cover my expenses, which includes travel and accommodation where relevant. If your book club is a private group of friends, this might mean a whip-round for example; or you may need to join forces with another local reading group/book shop to make it more affordable. For my part, I will do what I can to keep costs down, such as traveling off-peak. Please email describing your group, and when, where and how you will host me. I’m more likely to say yes to realistic invitations from genuine booklovers.

I’m from a book shop. Will you sign some stock?
If I’m coming to your local area anyway, then yes, we should definitely get in touch ahead of time. I’d love to pop in, sign copies, and boost your shop on my socials. I’m afraid I don’t do sit-at-a-table-and-hope-someone-talks-to-me ‘signings’ anymore, as the times I did those in the past were pretty lonely. Event organisers and book groups should refer to the relevant sections on this page.

I’m a producer/journalist/podcaster/book reviewer. Can I interview you for a media piece?
Depends on my availability and what specifically you are looking for. Email me with full details including your deadline, and links to your previous work and socials. I’m more likely to say yes if your project is planned, rather than lastminute.

I’m a publisher/publicist with a new book to promote. Will you read it and offer a review quote?
Before attempting to send a copy, please email me a blurb including your deadline for jacket quotes. I will tell you if I’m able to help on this occasion. I don’t blog book reviews anymore, but they will appear on my socials #BookReview. I’m especially interested in:

  • Debut and second novels by women.
  • Fiction and non-fiction about art, philosophy, or Shakespeare.
  • Books by LGBTQ+ writers.
  • Books by writers of colour.
  • Books by writers who are past/present sex workers.

Have you got any advice on how to become a writer?
If you are writing, then you’re already a writer. Also:

  1. Practice, practice, practice. Write regularly and attentively. There is no shortcut to becoming a better writer.
  2. Find a community – online or in real life – so you can tap into support when you need to. Writing is a solitary activity. Sometimes this solitude can become isolating, and problems feel bigger as a result. But when you start talking to other people you soon realise how many of your struggles are completely normal, and that they can be overcome.
  3. Write you what you love and what you know to be true. Write for yourself, not for some imagined marketplace.

I’m a writer who wants to improve. Can you help?
Check out Wolsey Writers which includes ticketed workshops and free participation opportunities, plus #WritingTips on socials (I only post what I use myself). I also offer WIP Consultations which is more bespoke support for longform writers with a work in progress.

Have you got any advice on how to get an agent?

  1. First, finish your manuscript to the highest standard possible. If you know in your heart that there is still work left to do, then it’s too soon to approach agents. You’re wasting your time if you submit anything shoddy or incomplete.
  2. Do your research properly. Read the submissions guidance on the website of the literary agency you wish to approach and follow it to the letter. I also recommend connecting with agents via socials – particularly Twitter which, for all its sins, is still the preferred platform for writers and the publishing industry. It is okay to ask genuine questions and network this way. Consider approaching newer agents who are hungry for undiscovered talent and more likely to have space on their lists.
  3. Mentally prepare for rejection. If you really want to be a published author, then you should know that rejection is part of what you’ve signed up for. All the best and most successful authors have been rejected by someone: rejection is a rite of passage. Always be polite and professional, as if you were applying for a competitive job. Keep your sense of humour. Accept the outcome for what it is without being hard on yourself. The reality for many authors, including myself, is that they weren’t published until they had written their second novel. And… if you have exhausted every possible lead for this manuscript, then my advice to you is to keep writing. Write something better. Write a book you love even more, telling a story that only you can tell. What sets you apart? Write that.

 

Where did the idea for Girl Reading come from?

From this.

Is Girl Reading a novel or short stories?
I think it’s a novel, conceived as a single piece of work, made of seven components – and that if you took one of those components away, it would be incomplete. Girl Reading has a narrative arc. It has specific, and general, threads running through it and (I hope) a page-turning quality. It is intended to be read in order. I love novels which do unexpected things with structure aka the form. Fans of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas will understand. I also love The Hours by Michael Cunningham; The Waves by Virginia Woolf; The Night Watch by Sarah Waters; The Accidental by Ali Smith; and The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. These books and numerous others have made it acceptable for novelists to experiment. The form is an important device which contributes to mood and pace. It determines what the reader is shown, when and how. It is as important as editing in filmmaking. Having said all that, if other people think Girl Reading is a book of short stories – fine.

Why aren’t there any speech marks in Girl Reading?
By no means am I the first author to write a novel without speech marks, but the one I personally read where I felt this device really enhanced the book was If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor. I wanted the voice of Girl Reading to be distinctive and true to the sometimes other-worldly and ambiguous themes. I also have an unpublished first novel which was much more conventional than Girl Reading, so I wanted my second attempt to take more risks. Lack of speech marks was something I experimented with right at the start, leaving the reader to decide what is spoken out loud and what is thought privately. It was the right choice. I did so knowing it would annoy some readers; indeed it has. Incidentally, my favourite piece of feedback I get on this subject is when people tell me they didn’t even notice! As to speech marks in future books, I will always make a judgement based on the kind of novel I’m writing and what it needs.

 

French Novels and Rose Van Gogh 1888

French Novels and Rose Van Gogh 1888