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!

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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!

A Lancôme campaign, a live TV interview… People, remember my book!

We’re still in the buzz of International Women’s Day 2017, so I am very honoured (and slightly amused) to have been chosen by Lancôme as one of 40 powerful women to be featured in the My Shade My Power campaign for their new line of Teint Idole Ultra Wear foundation. 

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Wait, what? As their foundation comes in 40 shades of skin tone, the new campaign features 40 diverse women who have been impressive in different industries and professional fields. Very humbling to be in the same group as cultural icons like Gurinder Chadha, Bonnie Greer, and Malorie Blackman. The campaign will be in the UK and Ireland all spring, and you’ll soon see posters and handouts in stores as well!

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Aside from makeup ads (for which I did NOT get paid, but this underpaid writer could definitely use the money), I’ve been pretty busy writing and speaking.  I’ve started writing for Media Diversified, and my article on Hollywood’s Awards Season Obsession with Rape and Sexual Assault was quite popular.  It’s true: each year, prestige pictures roll out with plum roles for actors to play rape survivors and rapists (and hopefully win awards), but how well do these films reflect the lived reality of rape and sexual assault?

I was in New York and Boston earlier this week, and did a live TV interview with i24 News — on their program ‘Stateside’ with David Shuster.  The Marine photo scandal is still raging in the US, so they asked me to comment and gave me a chance to talk about my upcoming novel DARK CHAPTER.

Guess I can tick ‘live TV interview with international news channel in Times Square’ off my list!

In Boston, I’d been invited to speak at my alma mater Harvard’s 50th Anniversary Symposium for the Folklore and Mythology degree.  Yes, that’s what I got my BA in, and it was truly wonderful and reaffirming to talk about the impact of a humanities education on my life and how I am still using storytelling (to a very large degree!) in the work that I do.

Finally, my red-eye flight landed back in London on International Women’s Day, and I somehow made it through five hours of class to chair a fascinating panel discussion that evening for The Malala Fund.  This was on the importance of girls’ education worldwide, and followed a charity screening of the documentary ‘I AM MALALA.’  I had the chance to speak with an impressive panel of women working on gender equality, including representatives of Women 4 Africa, Educate Girls, The Malala Fund.

But there will be plenty more of such panels this weekend at the sold-out 7th annual Women of the World Festival at the SouthBank Centre.  It turns out I’m speaking/chairing at FOUR different events over the next few days there (all on rape and sexual assault, of course).   

Saturday, March 11, 3pm: Deciding Whose Story Gets Told 

Sunday, March 12, 11:30am: Q&A panel following the World Premiere of ‘Foreign Body’

Sunday, March 12, 6:15pm: Chairing the Discussion Group on Giving Testimony about Sexual Assault and Abuse

Tuesday, March 14, 5:30pm: Chairing a 7pm Discussion Group following South of Forgiveness

This last event is the re-programming of the controversial TED Talk speakers Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger (a rape survivor and her rapist who share the stage), which generated an angry online petition to have the event moved out of the WoW Festival.  WoW, to their credit, moved the event and have felt it was important to enable conversation with survivors to hear their thoughts on the topic.  So it promises to be a heady, but vital discussion.  Hope to see some of you at the SouthBank this weekend!