What Inspired you to write the Territory series?
I wanted to write about two issues that I’m really interested in: the environment and education. Turning to the environment first – it’s going to sound corny, but I have two young girls and I’m really worried about the sort of world we’re leaving behind for them. Global warming is real, it’s happening and we’re simply not taking big enough steps fast enough to combat it. I wanted to write a near-future novel that scared people. As for education, I’ve worked as a private tutor for the past 14 years, running my own agency, and I’ve seen first hand how much pressure our exam-obsessed system places on our young people. In addition I strongly feel that the UK education system prioritises logical subjects at the expense of more creative ones and that students’ results are often as much determined by the school that they attend and the amount of outside or home help they receive as by any natural academic ability.










What awards have your books won to date?
The Territory won the Gateshead Teen Book Award 2017 (an award voted for by all the local schools and reading groups). It was shortlisted for the Times/Chickenhouse Children’s Fiction Prize and has been shortlisted for this year’s Trinity Schools Book Award.

How hard was it to get First book published?
I was really lucky in that it was relatively easy. I finished the first book in time to enter it for the Times/Chickenhouse competition that year (a competition for unpublished authors who don’t yet have an agent) and ended up being shortlisted. An agent approached me off the back of that and then took it to publishers.

How many publishers turned you down?
Lots. It wasn’t the right time to be writing dystopia! It was very frustrating as I kept on getting an initial ‘I love it’ followed by a rejection on the grounds that it would compete with another title they’d already taken on.

Do you try and read the online reviews you get on say Waterstones website?
I always read reviews.

Would you ever consider writing for younger children (maybe 9 to 12 yrs) or adults?
I definitely wouldn’t rule it out. I’m writing another YA book at the moment – a comedy for some relief after all the darkness! – but I’m not sure what I’ll do after that.

What did you do before becoming a writer?
I was originally a lawyer – I read Law at Oxford University so it seemed like the logical thing to do. However, I really didn’t enjoy it so quickly left to become a tutor. I’ve also designed t-shirts, written for children’s TV and been a hair model.

Which author inspires you?
My favourite author is probably John Wyndham. His books are so deep yet so accessible and all deal with really interesting ideas.

Which genres do you read yourself?
I read all genres. I love non-space based Sci-Fi and the slight surrealism of Murakami. I used to think that I didn’t like Fantasy, but then I read Patrick Rothfus’ The Name of the Wind and now I’m a convert.

What is your biggest motivator?
I’ve always been really driven. It’s been the same way whatever work I’m doing whether it was shelf-filling as a teenager, working as a corporate commercial solicitor or now as a writer. I just want to do the best that I can. I think it’s in my DNA.

What will always distract you?
I have so little time to write that I cannot afford to let anything distract me. My 4 year-old is at morning nursery school so I drop her off at 9:30 and then pick her up at 12:30. This is my writing window so as long as I can find a café with a seat and a plug, I’m in the zone!

How much say do you have in your book covers?
The good thing about being with a smaller publisher is that you do get more of a say in things like this. With the cover for Truth we also surveyed kids from lots of the schools I’ve visited to find an image that resonated most with them.

As a child were you a great reader?
Voracious. I devoured books. Every week we’d go back to the local library so we could collect a new pile. As a teen I read anything from Point Horror one month to the complete works of Thomas Hardy the next.

Which bookshop is your favourite?
Oh that’s so hard! I love my local bookshop – Sheen Books. The Waterstones in Richmond is also brilliant – Terri who runs the children’s section is phenomenal. I also like the Pocket Shop in Hammersmith where they really seem to have a curated collection.

What can you not resist buying?
At the moment I find it very difficult to resist beautiful hard back editions of classics to read with my older daughter, who’s just turned 7. I bought her The Secret Garden for Christmas and the cover is simply stunning.

Do you have any rituals on your writing days?
As above. I have to be out of my house with a coffee and ideally something sweet. A pain au chocolat seems to double my productivity.

How many books in your own to be read pile?
I try not to think about the next book until I’ve finished my current read. Having said that, I’ve broken with my own rules and lines up my next one already: The Boy on the Bridge (the sequel to the Girl with all the Gifts).

What is your current read?
The Fall of Giants by Ken Follet

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