Until recently, my creative writing always played second fiddle to my journalism and marketing work. The first time I really felt confident calling myself a writer is when I finished the first draft of my book; a memoir which charts the story of my dad, Patrick, through the trees and wildflowers in the places that shaped him: the gorse covering the Wicklow mountains, the cherry blossom in Paris’s botanical gardens and the Old Man’s Beard that lines the paths of Gravesend, where I grew up.
It took me 18 months to write my dad's life story, a journey which saw me travel to Dublin, Paris, Suffolk and London, sneaking around in graveyards, knocking on people's front doors and uncovering dusty archives in library vaults around the country. I then spent a further 9 months editing, and am now seeking agent representation for my manuscript - a brand new chapter, just as daunting as writing it!
What I write about
Although I love experimenting with form and genre, I'm particularly interested in narrative non-fiction. This is an umbrella term for anything rooted in truth but told in a narrative way - for example, nature writing, travel writing and biography. In adult fiction, this might be a title like 'H is for Hawk' by Helen McDonald or 'Hidden Figures' by Margot Lee Shetterley.
Memoirs in particular tend to be considered a bit 'stuffy' or middle class, but as the genre becomes more popular we are seeing the authors become increasingly diverse. A few of my favourite narrative non-fiction titles are:
'On Chapel Sands' by Laura Cumming
'Bandit: A Daughter's Memoir' by Molly Brodak
'Fairyland' by Alyssia Abbott
'Bageye at the Wheel' by Colin Grant
'The Salt Path' by Raynor Winn
As well as writing my dad's memoir, I have been lucky enough to be commissioned to write poems and short stories for a number of different organisations, including Changing Relations, Curious Arts, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums and Gateshead Council. I have also put together writing workshops and activities for places such as Dingy Butterflies and Gateshead Art Diamonds.
You can find out more about these specific projects - and my creative process - on my portfolio page.