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.
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, running creative writing workshops, performances, and a club; mentoring students; and teaching classes; all with a focus on emotional literacy and combatting shame. 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. 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 masculinity 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 worked on various initiatives with survivors of sexual and domestic violence, and then spent a year at Clapton Girls. This led me to burnout, and I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, meaning I 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.
This last year I have been editing my novel and nannying for three lovely kids, their two dogs, their hamster, and their lizard, whilst living with my partner and a bunch of excellent friends in Brixton. 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.
From October I will be an AHRC-funded PhD student at Manchester Met, researching gender disruptive depictions of sex in literature, and writing my second novel. I’ll also be running a project around the articulation and vocabulary of healing, and another one exploring food in books. You can keep in the loop by following me on Twitter.
Listen to me talk about and read from my work here.
Header photo by Naomi Woddis. My pronouns are she/her.