The Hairy Marys. A new book!



I still get a thrill when I hold a new book in my hands. The Hairy Marys is a quirky, uplifting school drama about a twelve year old girl called Emmy. She has just moved up to St Mary’s High School and dreams of being in the end of term play.

There’s just one problem. Nearly all the parts in the play are male, and the teacher in charge, Mr Derren, will only give male parts to boys.

Inspired by the Suffragettes, Emmy and her friends begin a protest that turns them famous overnight. But being a celebrity… is it a dream or a nightmare? Emmy is about to find out!

The cover illustration is by Mariya-Racquel Amato, a fabulously talented young illustrator from the US.  I met her at the Arsenal Book Fair in Kyiv.

Buy the book here: 272562503595

Truth & Truffles: A new touring cabaret show with Naomi Paul



Touring soon! A brand new story cabaret show with comedienne Naomi Paul 

Here’s the flier blurb:

From dancing shoes and dating disasters to libraries and lingerie, Truth & Truffles celebrates life as a Grown Up. Finding humour in the way we live now and savouring the special moments (especially the chocolate)

It’s going to be a fast-moving show. Lots of short stories – and I will be singing country again. I am super-excited about that!!

All the dates are listed on the Calendar tab.

Bluebeard with Chris Riddell, Hay Festival 30



My association with the Hay Festival goes back twenty years – they championed me at the beginning of my career. So it was truly wonderful to be a part of this year’s 30th festival. And what a great event I had!! Not only was I telling ‘Bluebeard,’ one of my favourite shows, but the mighty Chris Riddell drew live as I performed. He used a visualiser to project the images onto a screen behind me –




He produced fifteen drawings in fifty minutes, and we both loved the experience so much, we are hoping to do it again 😀 There are also plans to turn the drawings and a transcript of the night into an illustrated pamphlet.


Arsenal Book Festival, Kyiv, Ukraine

I invariably travel alone, so what joy it was to be in the fine company of authors Jonathan Coe, Kit de Waal & Stuart Maconie, and poets Jonathan Davidson & Kurly McGeachie for a British Council/ Writing West Midlands trip to this fantastic book fair and festival.

Alternative Albion delegation from Writing West Midlands
Alternative Albion delegation from Writing West Midlands

The event was held in an actual arsenal, built by Catherine the Great. One hundred and fifty publishers were present, selling their books in vast vaulted halls. So many gorgeous books, with exquisite, quirky illustrations. And such enthusiasm from the public! It was like the first day of a Debenham’s sale 😀 Endless books being bought and talked about.

I took part in a panel discussion about the UK literature scene – ‘Alternative Albion’ –  talking about ‘alternative’ ways of showcasing literature and encouraging writers. I also did a family performance, alongside my fabulous translator Irina Zaytseva.

Tandem storytelling, in British and Ukrainian!
Tandem storytelling, in British and Ukrainian!

I still have some work to finish. One day, our hosts took us out into the city and set us individual challenges, to explore the city through one particular sense and write a piece about it. Mine was ‘scent,’ and I’ve been writing about a visit to the Monastery of Caves. Kyiv is a glorious city to explore…


School visits to Oman, Saudi and South Korea

King Abdullah University Jeddah


What an extraordinary couple of months! World Book ‘Day’ became eight weeks of solid work, including three fantastic foreign trips to international schools in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Muscat in Oman and Jeju Island in South Korea.

I had wonderful hosts at all the schools. All librarians, who treated me grandly, supplying endless cups of tea and taking me out sightseeing and dining. I worked with hundreds of children, whose exuberant welcomes, enthusiasm and sheer love filled my heart daily.

And at the British International School in Jeddah, I was finally given what I have secretly long for for fifteen years – a book door!! I was impossibly thrilled 🙂


book door