I think it’s hard to know what to include when you write your own ‘about’ section. I was born in Croydon in 1990, and in Primary School I wrote an essay about being a cave woman when I grew up. As it is, I’ve had lots of jobs, though never in a cave. My first was in Pizza Hut Coulsdon, and now I’m a fiction writer and PhD candidate at MMU.
I started out writing poetry, which I’ve been scribbling away at as long as I can remember. I was longlisted for the inaugural London’s Young Poet Laureate and was the 2014 Cityread Young Writer in Residence, which led to 24 poems about Soho (one for each hour of the day) being commissioned for a publication called Curious Hands. I qualified on the Spoken Word Education Programme (via the Creative Writing and Education MA at Goldsmiths), and spent a year as resident writer at Clapton Girls Academy. I ran creative writing workshops, performances, and a club there; mentored students; and taught classes, all with a focus on confidence; emotional literacy; and combatting exclusion, shame, and violence. When the first draft of my novel was shortlisted for the Mslexia Prize, I met my agent Laura West, and the finished book Let Me Be Like Water was published in 2018 by Melville House in the US & UK. I’ve delivered creative writing workshops for PEN International in Honduras and Scotland, for the Roundhouse in Bulgaria, and all across the UK with different schools and organisations. My creative writing projects develop emotional literacy, and explore mental health, memory, and healing from violence. I’m also particularly interested in multi-lingual literature and translation, and how different languages live and are used in cities.
Outside of writing, I worked in a call centre for a year after graduating from Oxford University in 2012. During this time, I co-founded the ‘Great Men’ project with Genevieve Dawson, an initiative working with men and boys in inner city London to challenge toxic masculinities and associated behaviours using an intersectional lens and participant-led approach. I then worked for a while as a gender trainer and consultant for organisations including Plan International, Youth For Change, and others. I led various initiatives with survivors of sexual and domestic violence, and then joined the team at Clapton Girls. That same year, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and had to change my lifestyle a lot. After taking a timeout, I spent a year as the Global Campaign Manager at PEN International, a freedom of expression organisation, working with writers at risk around the world. I left PEN to do the final edits on my novel and spent my weekdays nannying for three lovely kids, their two dogs, their hamster, and their lizard. I also swam a marathon (10km) down the River Dart for the wonderful My Body Back Project in September. It was very cold, but worth it.
Currently I am an AHRC-funded PhD student at Manchester Met, researching gender disruptive depictions of sex in literature, and writing my second novel with money from the NWCDTP. I’m in the process of setting up a project around the articulation and vocabulary of healing, and another one exploring food in books. I live in Leeds.
Header photo by Naomi Woddis. My pronouns are she/her.
I am happy to receive emails from other UK-based writers applying for funding for practice-based research PhDs and in need of information on the process. It can be a bit opaque, so get in touch via email if this is you, and we can chat.