How Aaron Sorkin is making me a better writer

8th October 2016

Yes, I am deliberately making it sound as if Aaron Sorkin is giving me personal one to one advice. Of course he isn’t really. But I kind of feel like he is.

I’ve been taking his online screenwriting masterclass from the aptly named Masterclass.com and it’s exceptionally inspiring and useful, not just for fledgling screenwriting attempts, but for writing in general.

There are 35 lessons in total and I’m not going to blabber the contents all over the place (not least because I’d get in trouble) but one lesson in particular really stood out. It’s called “Writing Habits”.

Continue Reading…

Try Not to Breathe

Blimey, 1000 Goodreads reviews!

11th September 2016
screenshot of Try Not to Breathe on Goodreads

I got my first Goodreads review in June 2015. It was a bolt from the blue. Being a debut novelist, every step of the process was a mystery and this was just one more. I had no idea that I’d get a review eight months before the book was even released. Fittingly – as it arrived a month before I was due to move with my family to Amsterdam – it was in Dutch. I copied and pasted it into Google Translate and – thank goodness – it was a positive one. I could breathe.

I forwarded the link to pretty much everyone I knew. And the next one, and the one after that. I didn’t realise, I didn’t ever consider, that they would ever appear too quickly and in too great a number to keep sending them individually to the many people who worked on the book with me. But they did.

I refreshed the page hourly for weeks, probably months. Every time someone liked it, I wanted to thank them personally. Every time someone didn’t, I wanted to explain, plead the case for my characters. I LUCKILY managed to do neither. Eventually, I learned just not to look. It’s not good for the heart, and definitely not good for the work in progress.

But I do log on to answer any questions or update my author page and so I have seen the review number tick steadily up. And I still can’t believe that it’s hit this number, but it has. And I’m incredibly grateful. To everyone who has taken the time, enthused and feedback. THANK YOU. I promise you, if you ever wondered, authors are grateful to each of you even if we can only look at what you wrote through our fingers after a couple of shots.

Try Not to Breathe

Try Not to Breathe is out in paperback

14th July 2016
3D image of Try Not to Breathe in paperback

Big, big day. But first, a little mood music.

My debut novel Try Not to Breathe is out in paperback across the UK and Ireland today. There are posters in tube stations. Posters in tube stations! There are special promotions planned (more on those soon), and you can pick up my book in all good online and offline bookshops, WHSmith and most supermarkets including Sainsbury’s! (I’ll not wang on about the significance of that again.)

The stupid thing is, I don’t really know what to say. This is everything. I think somewhere along the line, I must have rolled a six.

Thank you to everyone who has already bought or borrowed the book, thanks to everyone who has talked about Alex and Amy, encouraged others to buy their story and put up with me awkwardly promoting myself in a way that does not come naturally to a Brit.


Try Not to Breathe

Try Not to Breathe out in paperback one week today!

7th July 2016
3D image of Try Not to Breathe in paperback

In May 2010, I started writing it.

In December 2013, I finished it. Kind of.

In January 2014, I found my agent.

In October 2014, Atlantic/Corvus bought it.

In January 2016, the hardback and ebook were released in the UK.

Now finally, over six years after I first sat down and typed the (original) first words, “the ward was trapped in a pregnant pause,” Try Not to Breathe is coming out in paperback.

14 July, 2016. It’s going to be one hell of a day!


Book clubs, Competitions, Travel, Try Not to Breathe

Win a villa holiday to Tuscany

1st July 2016

win a trip to tuscany

To celebrate Try Not to Breathe being Great Northern and ThamesLink’s July book club choice and the one year anniversary of Books on the Go, they’re giving people the chance to win a trip to a beautiful villa in Tuscany, Italy thanks to their partners at Tuscany Now & More.

To find out more about the book club, read a sample of Try Not to Breathe and enter the competition, visit Thames Link Railway.

UK residents only.

Try Not to Breathe

Nefesini Tut is out in Turkey on 17 June

9th June 2016
Nefesini Tut cover

Isn’t this cover from the Turkish version of Try Not to Breathe beautiful? NEFESINI TUT loosely translates as ‘Hold Your Breath’ and I really can’t wait to see what Turkish readers think of Alex and Amy.

Nefesini Tut is being released by fantastic publisher Yabancı.

You can pre-order it on Babil.com or from all good (Turkish) bookshops.


Literary festivals for readers and writers in the Netherlands

15th May 2016

I moved to the Netherlands in summer 2015, six months before my first novel was due to be published. As excited as I was for our new lowlands adventure, one major thing I was worried about was whether I was going to damage my career in some way by being a flight away from where the action was happening. The honest answer is that it’s not caused a problem, it’s just taken a little effort and planning and is so worth it.

It’s only an hour’s flight from Amsterdam to London, about the same time it used to take by train from my old home in Kent (albeit it with a bit more waiting around beforehand and a higher cost). I have made a point of flying over regularly and am attending a few UK events this year as I’d really love to meet other authors.

But I also want to feel like an author in Amsterdam too, rather than a London author living in exile. Luckily, this place is amazing for the linguistically lazy (my Dutch is horrible) as there are many English-speaking events or multi-language events that English speakers and writers can still enjoy.

Here’s a brief round up of the literary events I’ve found in my adopted country. Do let me know if I’ve missed any!

Winternachten festival – The Hague

I went to the Hague (Den Haag) for the first time the other day and it’s a really nice town with a great bookish scene. I’ll definitely head to Winternachten next year.

This is one for Dutch speakers and readers. A 10-day celebration of Dutch literature that takes place every March and takes the form of events across the country.

International Literature Festival Utrecht
PJ Harvey opened it this year, which is pretty cool but as I missed it, I’m going to make a beeline there in 2017. Let me know if you’re going too.

Poetry International Festival Rotterdam
Part of a government-sponsored drive to promote an interest in poetry.

Read My World – Amsterdam
This is a great idea, a literary festival in Amsterdam that focuses on different regions each time and invites writers from those places to speak and read. In 2016, it’s Ukraine and Poland.

Crossing Borders Festival – The Hague
Festival of books and music that runs in November every year. Past draws have been Salman Rushdie, Louis Theroux, Sarah Waters, Lou Reed (RIP), Jeanette Winterson, Ian McEwan, Dave Eggers and Anne Enright.

What have I missed?