Happy New Year! Not The Booker Prize, US Book Tour & more

Happy New Year, everyone!  I’m glad we’re in 2018 now, because 2017 was a serious endurance test for me, both exhilarating and exhausting… Since I last posted here:

  1. Dark Chapter won The Not The Booker Prize
  2. The UK paperback came out and became an Amazon bestseller
  3. The Weinstein scandal broke and #MeToo & sexual assault dominated headlines
  4. I was nominated for Irish Tatler’s Women of the Year Awards 
  5. We had the 2nd edition of the Clear Lines Festival, of which I was Artistic Director

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 00.22.30So first of all, thank you so much, those who voted for my novel in Not The Booker.  I honestly wasn’t expecting a novel about rape to win, but I think recent news stories indicate how much the issue resonates with many people.  #MeToo also made me reflect on my own experiences in the film industry, so I wrote this opinion piece for The Guardian, another one for The Scotsman, and this one for journal.ie

Because all I ever wanted in life was to have my photo printed right next to Harvey Weinstein's in a newspaper spread...

Because all I ever wanted in life was to have my photo printed right next to Harvey Weinstein’s in a newspaper spread…

I also had the pleasure of discussing #DarkChapter and the #MeToo movement on BBC Woman’s Hour with Jane Garvey and fellow novelist Anne Cassidy. Here’s me in the green room!IMG_2252

After Not The Booker, there was a 5-way auction for translation rights to my novel in Taiwan, where my parents come from.  It’ll be coming out in November 2018 with Delight Press, who also publish bestseller Celeste Ng.  Needless to say, my extended family are very happy about this one. It was also an honour to be nominated in a Special Recognition category for Irish Tatler’s Women of the Year Awards, which I attended in Dublin the day after my birthday.IMG_2180

In November, I spoke at Goldsmiths on the Creative Writing Programme MA course, the day the paperback edition of Dark Chapter was published. It was particularly memorable to be in conversation with my former tutor Ardashir Vakil, talking about a novel I had started writing while on that very course four years ago!  Later in November, I also got to discuss Dark Chapter as a guest speaker at the annual NAWE Conference in York; at a unique evening with fellow rape survivor Madeleine Black at Waterstones in Glasgow; and in a lunchtime discussion for the Survivors’ Network conference in Brighton.

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 01.31.37http://www.independent.co.uk/video/rape-sexual-assault-life-survivor-new-video-series-introducing-media-justice-metoo-a8062251.html

Needless to say, I was very busy this year for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence!  This video series with The Independent launched — I’d helped shape the concept for the series through The Angles Project.

And then, in December, we had the 2nd edition of Clear Lines!   This year, it took place in the Rich Mix arts venue, and highlights included a Comedy Night with Sara Pascoe, Bisha K. Ali, Alice Fraser, and my dear friend Tiff Stevenson; some sterling theatre performances; and panels dedicated to the experiences of BAME (ethnic minority), disabled, and LGBTQ survivorhood. Our Film Night featured three documentary films about survivors from the UK, Norway, and Ireland, with the international filmmakers flying in to discuss their work.  There is lots of discussion about bringing Clear Lines to other locations, and already a team is in place to make Clear Lines USA happen!


As for 2018 and me, my US book tour kicks off this week with an event in Los Angeles on Sat, Jan 6 and another one in San Francisco on Tue, Jan 16. Click here for my upcoming events schedule — and in the meantime, ah yes, I’ve started my next novel… Happy New Year!

MA Portfolio FINISHED & Research in Ireland

Ah, the big news is I handed in my portfolio (aka dissertation) for my MA in Creative and Life and Writing at Goldsmiths — and am now DONE with all the requirements for that course!  The deadline was at 4pm, and I handed it in at 3:45.  (I consider this progress: as an undergraduate, I would have been frantically racing down the department corridor at 3:59.)

Here’s a nice literary shot of my final portfolio, with some of the random books that influenced it.   However, I think I’m most proud of somehow managing to cite the Moscow car chase scene from The Bourne Supremacy in my Critical Commentary.

The portfolio was comprised entirely of extracts from my upcoming novel, Dark Chapter, which I have been researching heavily this summer. In August, I made my second 2014 trip to Belfast and ended up staying for nearly two weeks, living with a very hospitable family on the Falls Road and hanging out at the Feile an Phobail, the annual West Belfast arts festival.  Lots of great debate and discussion, where I got to learn more about the fascinating (and harrowing) history of that part of Belfast, plus literary readings and a very diverse line-up of musical acts.  There’s nothing quite like watching Boyzone perform in a circus tent, when you’re in a crowd of 4,000 Irish women going mental!

More importantly, the trip was a really genuine way to soak up the atmosphere of West Belfast, where much of my novel is set.  I had a lot of illuminating conversations with forensic psychologists, social workers, solicitors, community organizers, the West Belfast Partnership Board, the Public Prosecution Service of Northern Ireland, the Probation Board, the Belfast Travellers Support Program, and I went to visit The Rowan, the spanking new SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) in Antrim, which serves all of Northern Ireland. Now I just have to make sure all this somehow makes it in to my novel.  Wish me luck!