I was born in London, but have lived and worked in Manchester for most of my life.
When I was seven, I made my first book, the story of a girl called Poppy Palaver. It had a red cover, fashioned from my mother’s old diary and was very, very small. I wish I had it now… At twelve, I wrote, The Square Pudding, my first play for children. Like every girl in her teens, I kept extensive, secret diaries, written in exercise books and in the wonderful folio-size, shiny-covered Boots diaries you could buy then. A complete archive of being young, and growing up in the fifties and sixties, they’re now beseeching me to type them up!
Studying French at Leeds University entailed immersing myself in French life, both in Paris and in Aix-en-Provence, where I taught English and studied at the University of Aix-Marseille. The experience of living in a Napoleonic tenement building in the Bastille area of Paris, or with a wealthy widow and her hidden daughter in Aix became one of the strands in my writing.
Marriage, having three children, one of whom was beautiful but profoundly disabled, then teaching French and working with people with learning disabilities took up the next few years.
Sometime in the nineties, I discovered Commonword, the Manchester writing resource agency, and began to write seriously, publishing poems and short fiction in magazines and online, here and in America. In 2006, I was awarded an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.
My first novel, Babyday, about a woman who ‘has’ seven babies in one day and must find out who they are, was accepted by a publisher, who inconsiderately went bankrupt a few weeks later… But the novel has recently been long-listed in the first Myslexia novel competition.
Minnie and the Mysterious Machine, a fantasy novel for children aged 9-12, was set in a sweatshop in London’s East End. My second novel for this age group, Rafi Brown and the Candy Floss Kid was highly commended in the 2010 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Competition. An exciting, adventure story about two children who bunk off school, it will soon be published by Red Bank Books.
My Russian grandmother, Sophia, was an anarchist. We know only a few facts about her, but they are the inspiration for the novel I’m presently writing about anarchists in Edwardian London and pre-revolutionary Russia. Its first chapter, How I Broke Mama’s Commandments, was published in 2009 in Migration Stories, by Crocus, and I was invited to the Oldham Literature Festival to talk about migration from Eastern Europe and my reasons for writing this story.
last year, together with my husband and the Quagga saxophone quartet in which he plays, we presented a programme of poems and music at the 2011 Didsbury Arts Festival,
Coming from a secular background, I’ve made a long, spiritual journey into Judaism and my cultural roots; I’ve written and shared my reflections about this with various groups, both at Limmud, the Jewish educational conference, and at other faith gatherings. And I really enjoy running writing workshops for anyone who wants to write!