Friday, 15 August 2014

Thank you Jacqueline Wilson!

I'm so thrilled (and a bit stunned) that Jacqueline Wilson chose How to be a Heroine as one of her six best books. Along with some real corkers too; Virginia Woolf! And Sarah Waters!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Katniss Everdeen: a heroine for our times

I wrote this for the Guardian today ahead of my Edinburgh Book Festival workshop on The Hunger Games and loved revisiting the books and films; they're even better second time around. My workshop is returns only but there are still tickets left for my event with Rebecca Mead and Lee Randall. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Agent 160 Fun Palace

I'm so happy to be working with Agent 160 on a Fun Palace at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. When Lisa Parry first suggested setting up a theatre company led by women writers in order to do something about the depressing statistic that only 17% of plays produced in the UK are by women, there was no question that I wanted to get involved. But what I didn't realise was how amazing it would be to be part of a supportive network of female writers. Since the company launched, I've met writers from all over the world, and had really fascinating, challenging conversations about how to make gender parity in theatre happen. And I've been really moved by the way a group of very different women, living very different lives, have come together to make something.

When I heard that Stella Duffy was going to try to realise Joan Littlewood's dream of a Fun Palace, I knew I wanted to be part of that too. Littlewood's long been a heroine of mine, and anyone who's read How to be a Heroine knows that she changed my life. I was having a very mixed-up time, in my twenties, wanting to be a playwright but doing all the wrong things to make it happen. I was scattered and confused, and I came across a piece about the premiere of Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey. The critics said Delaney was just like the Angry Young Men, and Littlewood said no; Delaney was different, because she knew what she was angry about. I decided I needed to know what I was angry about, and to channel Delaney and throw everything into my work. So there was no question, also, that I wanted to make a Fun Palace.

And now I'm really thrilled to be helping Agent 160 to make a Fun Palace at and in partnership with the Wales Millennium Centre. We're commissioning sixteen short plays by women, directed by women and starring women. And yes, that's sixteen heroines we'll be writing. I can't wait. You can find out more (and support the crowdfunding campaign) here.

Also, really excitingly, Urgent Theatre is producing some short plays of mine at Theatre 503 this September. Starlore for Beginners and other plays will include a brand new play, as well as some of my shorts for The Miniaturists and the one I wrote for the Agent 160 launch. Oh but it's nice to be doing theatre again.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

How to be a America!

Here's the gorgeous US cover for my book, from my American publishers Vintage Anchor. It'll be out in February. I can't wait.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014


I was in a tent in Yorkshire when Wayne Gooderham tweeted me to say my book was a clue in the Guardian Weekend crossword. Not that I could get a copy. I was doing a reading at the Deer Shed Festival, which is another thing to add to the long list of things I could never in a million years have imagined I'd ever do. The festival was completely brilliant; I especially loved Woman's Hour, an excellent band from Kendal. Also the cinder toffee ice cream. I stayed, along with my best friend and Emily Rhodes, at a bed and breakfast that not only had a ghost but had also been the setting for a horror film—tagline: "Tourists come in peace...and leave in pieces!" I got to go to Emily's Walking Book Club, which was fantastic. And I met a woman who had called her son Heathcliff and wondered if it was a bad idea.

Thank you Amanda Craig for posting me the crossword. It's surreal but lovely at the same time.

Also, this month, thank you JC for this lovely blog review of my book!

Thank you Sara Sheridan for mentioning it in this this fascinating Foyles blog post about heroes and heroines as imaginary friends.

And thank you Sam Baker for putting my book on this list of the best books of the year so far.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Going back to Top Withens

A couple of weeks ago, I went back to Haworth, for the first time since the trip that inspired How to be a Heroine, and got to talk about Wuthering Heights to the fabulously Brontë-literate women of the Brontë Society and Brontë Parsonage Museum, who refer to not just the Brontës, but their friends, servants and hangers-on by their first names.

At the Parsonage, I went Beyond the Ropes, to look at the treasures. There was a drawing Emily made, at eleven, of a fist smashing a mullioned window, spidering the glass; whose fist? Whose window? Or was the smashing, maybe, something Emily wished she could do herself?

I saw an Angria book, tiny enough to fit comfortably in the palm of a child's hand, or to be read by one of the toy soldiers who inspired them, should they ever come to life. And I saw Anne's heartbreaking last letter, planning her trip to Scarborough to see the sea. And Emily and Anne's diary paper of 1837, with Haworth news mixed with news from their fictional world, as though they were living in them concurrently. It ends with Anne asking Emily if she intends to write that evening, and a decision "We agreed to go out 1st to make sure if we got into the humour. We may stay in—"
And of course, I scrambled up to Top Withens. It was a warm, beautiful evening, the heather especially purple and the grass especially green, and I set off late enough that I had the moors pretty much to myself, the whole epic sweep of them. I thought about all the things that happened since I was last at Top Withens and felt amazingly lucky. And I didn't long for Heathcliff at all. Maybe I am finally growing up.