The magic of words

The last couple of months have been busy for me. I moved to a new office in my day job, after a year in a promoted post, in August. In August I also had a fun day out in Edinburgh with fabulous authors such as Kirkland Ciccone, Alex Nye and Roy Gill. We got to spend some time in the Author Yurt at the Edinburgh Book Festival, (thanks to Kirkland’s VIP pass), where we drank lots of tea and ate lots of crisps (authors live really glamorous lives you know). I had to get a photo beside my books in the Festival shop, before then heading off to the fabulous ‘Teen Titles’ party at Central library. Below is a snapshot of my interview in the Teen Titles magazine, alongside a photo of me at the party!

I was interviewed last year by pupils Alison and Freya when I visited their school, Portobello High. I was delighted by their reviews of ‘Follow Me’ in the magazine, particularly as Freya found it, ‘scary, gripping and dark.’


In September I managed to escape to beautiful Barcelona for a few days of sunshine, and during the September weekend I attended the inspirational Society of Authors weekend, titled ScotsWrite, at the Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld. Famous authors such as Joanne Harris, Jane Johnson and Denise Mina delivered key note speeches and helpful workshops. I loved the fact that even after penning loads of books they all still feel a sense of ‘self-doubt’ when it comes to writing.

One of my favourite quotes from the weekend was during Joanne’s talk where she said, “Playing with words is the closest thing to magic we can do. It’s voodoo.” I think this is a beautiful way to describe writing; when a piece of work starts to flow and come together, it does feel like magic. And both Joanne and Jane spoke about the journeys their writing has taken them on, the people they have met along the way, the way their words have led them on adventures and touched different lives. Something which came across was the sheer power that words can have. It reminded me why I write – I want to be part of that magic, of weaving stories into the fabric of the world, even if that world is one built within my own imagination!

The best thing about the past few months for me has been the way in which a book I have been working on for quite a long time, finally came together. And now I am working on the finishing touches to some final edits before I send my words out into the real world (i.e. to my publisher for a read). Watch this space to see what happens with book number 2…

Read to Succeed – A Visit to Eastwood High




A couple of weeks ago I visited Eastwood High to give a talk at the launch of their S1 ‘Read to Succeed’ initiative. Parents and pupils were invited along to find out more about the initiative and got to listen to me talking about the Joy of Reading, and how my love of reading ultimately led me to become a writer. When I was putting together my presentation I had fun constructing a collage of images of some of my favourite books from childhood, ranging from The Worst Witch to the Nancy Drew mystery series. So much of what I have read has shaped my writing. There have also been important books which have taught me a lot about craft; reading White Oleander by Janet Fitch when I was in my early twenties reminded me of why I wanted to write. Her style of writing in this book was so lyrical I got lost inside the paragraphs and yearned to be able to construct such a story of depth and beauty. I don’t know if I’m quite there yet, but that’s the great thing about writing – your style always continues to grow and adapt as you begin new projects, and experiment with different forms.

After the talk and presentation from the English department I got to speak to some of the pupils and parents afterwards as I signed books for them. We had interesting conversations about writing and ideas. One girl also told me she plans to beat the ‘Read to Succeed’ challenge of reading 12 books by Christmas (I think that was the number) and plans to read 43.  I was impressed by her enthusiasm and she took away Follow Me to read as one of her 43!

Tomorrow I am off to Portobello High School in Edinburgh to deliver a talk to some 2nd year classes and I am also being interviewed by pupils for the brilliant Teen Titles magazine. Looking forward to that!

A reminder that there are  a couple of weeks left to enter the ‘Paisley Adventure’ short story I am judging for Oak Tree Arts. See the poster below for more details:

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