“You have one body and one life to live and you only get this one shot – and that reality can drive you crazy.” Ottessa Moshfegh
Writers’ paths
Homing in on Hopper

Homing in on Hopper

I have always been a bit sniffy about biographical fiction, the mining of a personal life for the sake of a story, particularly when that person is no longer around to defend him or herself. So how come I ended up writing a novel about one of the greatest artists of the 20th century –...
About a girl

About a girl

I’d never intended to call my novel Snegurochka. Titles are tricky, so writer friends made helpful suggestions. Call it ‘Something in Kiev,’ suggested one. The novel is set in Kiev, where I lived for a while in the early 1990s. The place gripped me from the start and I knew that one day I would...
Writing in the #MeToo era

Writing in the #MeToo era

Shocking revelations, a barrage of headlines, rising public outrage, hashtag activism, and… fiction. My novel The Red Word has been launched at the height of the #MeToo movement, and from its first days on the market it’s been praised for being ‘timely’. How does it feel to have written such a timely novel? How has...
Pride, prejudice and parathas

Pride, prejudice and parathas

When I was fourteen years old, my Aunt Helen gave me my first Jane Austen novel, a beautiful red and gold hardback of Pride and Prejudice. I remember climbing onto my bed one summer afternoon in Lahore, the heat tempered by the roar of the AC, and settling down with this new read. It is...
A remarkable woman

A remarkable woman

As I made the final corrections to the proofs of my debut novel Attend, I was asked by my publisher whether I wanted to include a dedication. Having toyed with some names – a few people in my life I thought might fit the bill, the idea came to me that I should dedicate this...
Over the line

Over the line

All writers should plant sleeper agents in bookshops, to be activated when their novel starts to peep over the parapet. I am fortunate to have the wonderful Mr B’s Reading Emporium just around the corner from me, and have been receiving coded signals about my debut novel, Testament. “It’s appeared on the system!” “It’s available...
The reluctant romantic

The reluctant romantic

I didn’t set out to write a love story. In fact, I was startled when my agents Karolina Sutton and Lucy Morris chose to position my book as a love story. I said, are you sure it isn’t migrant literature disguised as time travel? Or a disquisition on the passage of time, wrapped in a...
Outback to the future

Outback to the future

I didn’t always want to be a writer. When I was at school it just wasn’t the kind of thing I thought you could ‘become’, or, even if it was, how you would ever go about doing so. This was pre-internet, a dark and mysterious time when the sum of all knowledge was the ragged...
Beyond the abyss

Beyond the abyss

I was only a few months through an MA in Creative Writing and I already wanted to quit. My partner was driving me to the train station at the time. I had the money in my hand ready to pay for the expensive journey that would get me all the way from South Wales to...
A beginning

A beginning

Everyone loves an origin myth, even if most are exaggerations or convenient distortions, and some of them outright lies. But if you want to know where the idea for my debut novel Arkady came from, I might as well tell you this story. Sometime around 2010, while I was working as a freelance radio producer,...