I give talks and run workshops at a variety of places: Primary and secondary schools, museums, festivals (such as Edinburgh International Book Festival, Words by the Water, Henley Literary Festival, Totally Thames, Archway with Words, the Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival, the Finchley Literary Festival, Stoke Newington Literary Festival, Richmond Literary Festival), libraries, book groups, writing groups, the Women’s Institute, history societies, pubs, retirement homes, charities.
I’m happy to tailor-make a talk, preferably in the London area. I also work as a mentor, helping people who are struggling to write a book. I was a judge for the 2015 Denia Writers Circle (Costa Blanca, Spain) short story contest, 2015, and the City of London short story competition (Ponds Project Writing Competition for Young People, 2016). Please use the contact page if you’d like to get in touch.
Topics: The writing life – as a novelist, non-fiction writer and journalist – how to become a writer and how to get published. Memoir writing. Writing ghost stories. Creating Characters. Using historical sources to inspire fiction. Edwardian baby farmers. The birth of the Regent’s Canal, which inspired a great video from students at WAC the Performing Arts & Media College. The history of the Hampstead Bathing Ponds. The birth of Camden Lock & the Market. GI fathers and the children they left behind. Dido Elizabeth Belle at Kenwood. The history of Thames swimming and forgotten women champions. The history of Holloway Prison.
I have a PGCE teacher’s qualification (University of Sussex) and have taught in a wide variety of institutions including: The University of Davis (California, USA, Teacher’s Assistant Introduction to Women’s Studies and Introduction to Literature), Clark University (Massachusetts, USA, Writing Instructor Expository Writing), College Gate (Mass, USA, Summer School), Stanley Deason High School (Brighton, England), Holloway Prison (London, England, English Instructor), Elizabeth Johnson Organisation (Brighton, England, English as a Foreign Language), Tshwaragano Community Junior Secondary School (Maun, Botswana),
UPCOMING TALKS/ Readings/Events 2017:
‘Women swimming the Thames: forgotten champions’, March 16th, 6pm, University of Hertfordshire, De Havilland Campus, Mosquito Way, Hatfield AL10 9EU – TBC
‘The Writer’s Life’, April 20th, 10.45 am, Warwickshire Women’s Institute annual meeting, Chesford Grange Hotel, Kenilworth, Warwick CV8 2LD
‘The Finchley Baby Farmers’, November 30th, 8pm, Jean Scott Memorial Lecture, illustrated talk on the background to The Ghost of Lily Painter, Stephens (Avenue) House, East End Road, London, N3 3QE
Recent talks 2016:
November 23rd, 11am, William Henry and the birth of the Highgate Men’s Pond, RLSS Commonwealth, Conference Room, Hampstead Heath, NW5
October 8th, 3pm, William Henry and the formation of the Royal Life Saving Society, RLSS Award Ceremony, Guildhall, London, EC2
June 7th, 6.30pm, illustrated talk on Thames Swimming old and new at the London Society, The City Centre, 80 Basinghall Street, London EC2V
June 2nd, 6.30pm, Wandsworth Heritage Festival, Putney Library, 5/7 Disraeli Road London, SW15 2DR
May 28th, 12.00 noon, Greenwich Literary Festival, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London
February 18th, an illustrated talk on William Henry as part of the Royal Life Saving Society’s 125th anniversary, Education Centre, Hampstead Heath, London NW5
February 26th, 2016, International Sports and Leisure History Colloquium Manchester Metropolitan University
April 15th: A talk on Thames swimming at Richmond, as part of Rivers of London Cityread Festival, Hampton Library, TW12 2AB, 7.30pm
April 16th: opening talk at the Footprints River Walks Festival, 7pm, The Prospect of Whitby, Wapping Wall, E1W 3SH
April 21st: A talk at Chiswick Pier Trust, London W4 2UG, 7.30pm
April 24th: Talks, book launch and music at the University of Essex, The Forum, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 1NE, 6pm-8.30pm
May 6th: reading and panel discussion on urban swimming at The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB, 6.30-8pm
June 6th: talk at Stoke Newington Literary Festival, 2-3pm, ‘London Lost & Found’ with Travis Elborough and Tom Bolton, The Prince Pub, 59 Kynaston Road, London N16 0EB
June 26th: talk and reading at Wandsworth Historical Society, 8pm, Wandsworth High Street, London SW18
July 12th: Open Water Swimming Show, Remenham Farm, near Henley on Thames
July 27th: illustrated talk at Brockwell Lido, 7-8pm, Brockwell Park, Dulwich Road, London SE24 0PA
September 7-27th: Thames Swimmers Display, 10am – 6pm, Show Space, Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN, as part of the Totally Thames festival
September 19th: Forgotten Thames Champions, illustrated talk on women swimmers from yesteryear, 2.30pm – 3.30pm, Clore Learning Centre, Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN, as part of the Totally Thames festival
October 3rd: Henley Literary Festival, 1pm, onboard the Hibernia, Henley on Thames
October 10th: Archway with Words Festival, 3pm, with Jenny Landreth
November 15th: 2-3pm, Richmond Literary Festival, Richmond Old Town Hall
January 30th: writing workshop at Friern Barnet Secondary School, north London, part of the Speakers for Schools programme
September 20th, ‘Swimming the Thames: Then & Now’ Thames Festival 1pm – 2.15pm HMS President, Victoria Embankment, London EC4Y 0HJ
September 15th, Urban Plunge at the Roca London Gallery, 6.30pm, Townmead Road, London SW6 2PY. Panelist on a discussion of Thames swimming.
July 22nd, 7pm, ‘The History of Camden Lock’, reading and book signing, at the Spread Eagle Pub, Camden Town, with David Fathers, author of The Regent’s Canal: An Urban Towpath Route from Little Venice to the Olympic Park
July 5th, Highgate Library mini-festival, 12-4pm, ‘Dido Elizabeth Belle and the background to Family Likeness.’
June 21st, ‘Why we love and fear the Thames’, Somerset House, 2-2.45pm – Museum of Water
May 31st, Finchley Literary Festival ‘Baby farming and the background to the Ghost of Lily Painter‘, and panelist ‘When a Man Writes a Woman and When a Woman Writes a Man’
April 28th, 2014, 7.45pm ‘GI ‘war babies”, Stanford-le-Hope Ladies’ Club, Essex
April 16th, 1-3pm, using props to inspire fiction, Word for Word Writing Group, Hornsey Library
December 11th, 2013, Creating Characters in historical fiction, Christ’s College, Finchley, Speakers for Schools
November 22nd, 8pm The Highgate Society
November 12th, 7pm, Writing about the Heath, West End Lane Books
November 6th, 1-3pm, Using Artefacts to Inspire Fiction, Word for Word Writing Group, Hornsey Library
September 25th, 6.30pm, ArchWay With Words Literary Festival
September 21st, 12pm, with Joanna Briscoe, at the ArchWay With Words Literary Festival
September 17th, 12.30pm, in conversation with Wendy Wallace, at the Ham & High Literary Festival
September 5th, eiClub London, Breakfast Subject Salon: Autumn Books – Looking Ahead to the Frankfurt Book Fair, at the Swedish Ambassador’s Residence
July 16th, ‘Writing about the Heath’, at the Owl Bookshop, Kentish Town, with Michele Hanson and Wendy Wallace
July 10th, ‘Writing about the Heath’, an Islington Libraries Event
May 22nd, Creating Characters – how to make the people in your stories come alive, Word for Word Writing Group, Hornsey Library
March 13th, Discovering the History of Your School: whole school assembly and Year 5 workshop to introduce the School Centenary Project, Brookfield Primary School, Camden
The school wanted to investigate its history but has very few archives of its own, so I started off at the London Metropolitan Archives. It has some great old photos, like this one from 1929 in which the children have their daily dose of cod liver oil and malt.
February 25th, Using historical sources to inspire fiction at Queen’s Wood Café writing group, 7-9pm, Queen’s Wood Lodge, 42 Muswell Hill Road, London N10 3JP. We looked at a variety of sources that can be used as a starting point for fiction, such as Old Bailey trials.
February 13th, Creative Writing Workshop, Highgate Wood Secondary School. The students used a 1902 newspaper report to inspire their own stories.
January 28th, Baby farmers and the background to the Ghost of Lily Painter, West Hampstead Community Centre, 7.30-9.30pm, 17 Dornfell Street, London NW6 IQN, with Ian Long, Sophie Radice and Melissa Harman
November: Turning history into fiction, Longdean School, Hertfordshire, as a member of the UK Speakers for Schools programme.
Baby Farming, an Edwardian crime, Women’s Institute, Avenue House, Finchley, London.
October: The Hampstead Heath Ponds, Highgate Library
Writing Ghost Stories, Word for Word Writing Group, Hornsey Library
LONGER SCHOOL-BASED PROJECTS:
As a trained teacher with a PGCE in English, I also run longer school-based projects, such as:
History Detectives, a half-term workshop at Islington Arts & Media School as a TEXT project writer, funded by the Cripplegate Foundation, 2010
School History Project, St Mary’s Church of England Primary School, Islington, a ten-week programme on the 300-year history of the school, as a TEXT project writer, 2011
Evaluation from Year 4 pupils:
“A history of St Mary’s school has been the most enjoyable thing in my whole life because I never even knew about it. I would like to do more of this, more, more, more!” Chelsea.
“I learnt all about the facts throughout our school and life in the old times, I wouldn’t have survived then, life is easier now,” Matthew.
“The best part for me was when my topic group researched for our assembly and we used all the old clothes and props,” Emmanuella.
“I enjoyed writing poems and riddles and dressing up as a Victorian child,” Amber.
“I used to hate literacy, now I like it!” Charlotte.
Year 4 teacher Ms Khan: “The children loved the project because it’s all about children at school so they can relate to it. There was a wide range of activities and they produced lots of wonderful writing.”