I’m a writer based in the city of Barcelona, where I’ve lived for most of my adult life.
I’m co-author of the popular book In The Garlic: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain and the author of more than 50 SpeakUp movie guides, numerous magazine articles and contributions to guide books.
I’ve also published a number of short stories including the prize-winning Flight of the Eagle, I Love Lucy and Black Dress, and the shortlisted Fat Girl. A Rose Between Her Teeth was featured in the Writers Abroad Anthology 2010.
Most recently Ecuador appeared in the Winter 2011 issue of Barcelona Ink magazine devoted to women writers, and Black Dress at Spook City (its seventh publication).
Now I’m working on the final draft of my novel, a picaresque hero quest in a magical city where, they say, paths intertwine and dreams come true. I’m freewriting raw material for the sequel and have several short stories in progress. I also share my passion for words and stories by giving creative writing workshops.
Where I Come From
Since my earliest childhood in Manchester, UK, I’ve always been entranced by words. As a child and pre-teen I wrote for the joy of it, with none of the ‘head stuff’ that so many of us have to blast through when we sit down to write as adults: the inner critic, the saboteur, the voice that second-guesses, as well as the ‘realistic’ concerns: will I get published, what about the format, the genre, the word length? Is this any good?
At grammar school I fell in love with French, Latin and then Greek, and taught myself Spanish and Italian, and I went on to study classics at the University of Cambridge. When I came to Barcelona I began to revel in my own language, previously taken for granted, as I explored its inner workings in order to teach it to Spanish and Catalan speakers. To convalidate my degree I studied Spanish at the University of Barcelona. I read Don Quixote and other wonderful works of Spanish literature. I learnt Catalan.
Then I became a translator: working with words full time, sitting at a desk, surrounded by dictionaries and language books. I loved it. But eventually I got restless. After the 1992 Olympic games, work dwindled. I signed up for a distance writing course (snail mail), thinking to improve my English writing skills so I could do better translations and get more work from better clients.
But what happened was that my forgotten childhood joy was rekindled. I loved the course assignments. I didn’t want to translate any more. I was burned out. All I wanted to do was write. I vowed that I would.
As synchronicity would have it, I landed an ongoing freelance gig with a Barcelona-based publisher that used all my skills (teaching, writing, translating, researching) It was the perfect writer’s apprenticeship and I did it for 15 years.
Meanwhile, it took me four years to finish the writing course: by the end we were using email on clunky dial-up. I submitted articles to magazines and stories to competitions.
I picked up a couple of guidebook assignments and started a novel. Articles of mine appeared in glossy Spain-dedicated magazines (years later they would be transmuted into the book I co-authored: In The Garlic.) Several of my fiction stories won competitions and were published online and in print. I was on my way.