Cover of Echo Hall

Latest updates

Back This Party's Dead and Win a Prize!

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

My Unbound friend Erica Buist is currently funding This Party's Dead. The book is a  memoir about her response to the sudden death of her father in law. The experience was so devastating that for a while she became agoraphobic and on recovery decided she needed to face up to death. So in the last couple of years she's been travelling the world visiting death festivals to understand how other cultures…

Exciting news!

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

 Being a debut author is hard work. There are so many brilliant new novels out there, and small publishers like Unbound have limited resources for marketing (though they do an amazing amount with what they have). So we writers have to do a lot to make our books stand out from the crowd. In the year after Echo Hall was published, I wrote to bookshops, I organised talks, I ran an online treasure hunt…

Remembrance 1918-2018

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

In a few days we will mark 100 years since the end of World War 1 and not surprisingly there will be commemorative events up and down the country. For many people, wearing a red poppy will be part of that commemoration.

There was a time when I used to wear my poppy with pride, and take part in the annual silence. My  father and uncles were World War 2 veterans, my grand-father was a veteran of…

Vote for Me!

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Dear Lovely Readers,

Every year, The Guardian does a very fine thing to promote books people might have heard of. This is the 'Not the Booker List'. Two very kind people, Wendy Tuohy and Emma Moyle nominated me, so I'm on a longlist of 140. Alongside fellow Unbounders Patrick Kincaid,(The Continuity Girl), Stevyn Colgan (A Murder to Die For), Julia Kite (The Hope & Anchor), Zelda Rhiando (Fukishama…

Hay we go again...

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

 It is the time of year when I dive into our shed and rifle through all the gardening tools to dig out the camping equipment, load the car to the roof and head off to Hay for the bank holiday. I've been taking the kids every half term since 2011, and although they are now all teenagers, and one has left home, it is still an important family experience. 

This year had an extra thrill to it, as I…

Recent activity and more to come...

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

After a quite period there's a few things going on...

Yesterday (Monday 14th) I was invited on to BBC Radio Oxford's Kat Orman show to take part in a discussion about conscientious objection. It was an interesting conversation and I was able to mention 'Echo Hall' a bit...You can listen here from 32 minutes.

This Saturday 19th May, fellow Unbounder,  Erinna Mettler has organised an Unbound stall…

Hay...can you help me?

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Sorry for the appalling pun in the title, but this is just a little reminder that the Hay Festival have teamed up with The Pool to celebrate 100 years of women's suffrage. They've asked readers, writers and publishers to choose 100 books by women that have been published in the last 100 years.

I appreciate there are lot more books worthy to be on this list, but given that women's suffrage is a…

Pushing Forwards

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Hello there,

Some of you might have spotted it's been a while since I've posted. That is mainly because I have been cramming for my Procurement Diploma exams (an exercise in stuffing as much useless information in my head that I can retain long enough to regurgitate in 3 hours). This has diverted me from the much more important job of pushing 'Echo Hall' out to readers everywhere.

So now that…


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Hi All,

The keen eyed observer of history might have noticed that the day Ruth arrives at Echo Hall was quite a momentous one. She turns on the TV to see Nelson Mandela released from prison, which pinpoints it to February 11th.

I thought it might be fun to mark the occasion by sharing this on twitter, Facebook and instagram, under the hashtag #enterechohall

If you are on social media, and…

Merry Christmas and Thank you!!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Hello everyone.

First up, can I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year. 

This time last year I was revelling in the fact I'd reached 100%, today I'm still pinching myself that 'Echo Hall' is actually here. And it's all down to you for backing it. I will be forever grateful to you all for being part of my journey to publication. Many thanks also to everyone who…


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

So that's a wrap then...

There's a chance, I might get one last look, but after a proof reading marathon on Sunday, I have finished my last edit of 'Echo Hall'. Thirteen and a half years after I started thinking about it, and ten years after I tentatively started typing in our front room, I sat there again, carefully annotating the script for final changes.

Copy editing and proof reading are…

The Joy of Editing (2)

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Well I said it would hurt, and it did.

Though the amendments to Ruth and Elsie's stories weren't too bad, amending Rachel's letters was much more challenging.  I knew Scott was right in that I had to cut a lot of words to make them less 'novely' and more 'lettery'.But oh it was a struggle. For they were my words,  which I had crafted lovingly over several years and they were beautiful. So there…

The joy of editing.

Monday, 10 April 2017

I find the process of writing immensely interesting, as it takes two very different sides of my brain. The first stage allows my freewheeling creative side begin the process of telling the story. The second uses my analytical objective side as I begin to edit the words that I have written.  I know some people who do this painstakingly sentence by sentence as they go along, so that their first drafts…

A new chapter begins...

Saturday, 31 December 2016

It doesn't get old, coming on here, seeing that orange circle emblazoned with 112%. Knowing 'Echo Hall' will finally be published has been a lovely way to end the year. It's been a long time coming.

If you've been paying attention to my shed posts, you will remember that I first had the idea for 'Echo Hall' in early 2004, nearly 13 years ago. Back then, the children were very small, and I had neither…

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

I wrote this years ago in a class,led by a wonderful tutor, Jenny Lewis, with an exercise inspired by the beginning of Under Milk Wood. It's a little clunky, but I can't think of a better way to say Happy Christmas to you all, and thanks for your support! 


Snow falling, snow on snow – some forty years ago.  Returning home from mother's Old Girls, four year olds stand at the…

Fully Funded!!

Monday, 28 November 2016

This time last year, I answered a call for submissions put out by Scott Pack, Associate Editor with Unbound. I was delighted with his initial positive response, and further delighted when he offered me a deal earlier this year.

It's been a long and hard road since then, so it with huge relief and grateful thanks that I learnt that I had hit 100% today.

It couldn't have been possible without…

It's a Wonderful Life

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Ten years ago, my lovely twin Julia Williams called me with exciting news. After nine years of writing, submitting and rejection,she had finally got her first book deal. I know how hard she works and how good her writing is, so I couldn't have been happier for her. That book was 'Pastures New', published by Avon in 2007; since then Julia has never looked back.

It took me ten years to write 'Echo…

Give your loved one the perfect gift - an Unbound pledge!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Ever stuck for pressies for loved ones on those special occasions? Birthdays, Anniversaries, Just for the hell of it days, and the one we don't mention yet?

If they're a book lover, why not take out a pledge on their behalf? Just pledge as normal and add their address in when prompted, and edit your entry so their name appears in the back.

If you'd also  like a  specially designed e-gift-certificate…

Just Keep Swimming...

Friday, 14 October 2016

This week I was privileged to take part in a panel on the future of publishing, at Oxford Waterstones, alongside my editor Scott Pack, and David Fickling and Simon Mason of David Fickling Books. It was a fabulous evening. My fellow speakers were highly entertaining and it was a pleasure to meet such an engaged and interesting audience, that included Unbound author Klara Piechocki and my former tutor…

Characters on the loose again.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Way back in April, I conducted a writing experiment and let my four World War 1 characters, Rachel, Joseph, Jacob and Leah loose on twitter. It was an interesting exercise in understanding them a bit better, and my World War 2 characters immediately clamoured to have  a voice.

I had intended to follow up quickly with a significant week in their lives in  June 1936. However, life got a bit busy…

Holiday Reads

Friday, 19 August 2016

I always take an ambitiously large pile of books on holiday with me and usually don't finish half of them...This year was no exception particularly as I'd brought a lot of nonfiction with me, I did however get through most of my fiction ist and even read one we picked up at a second hand bookshop...So here, in order of reading (more or less) is what I read and what I thought.

1. Before the Fire…

Shooting Stars

Monday, 8 August 2016

The first time I saw the Perseids  I didn't really know what I was looking at. It was 1999, and I was in Cornwall with my friends Angela and Catherine for a totally different astronomical event - the total eclipse of the sun. It seemed like an extra bonus to catch shooting stars at our campsite the night before. We lay on our backs swigging whisky as we watched stars streak across the sky, with high…

The consequences of conflict.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Before John Chilcot took to the stage yesterday to deliver his long expected report, I was filled with cynicism. I was convinced that the pre-publication hype would merely be the establishment’s way of rapping Tony Blair’s knuckles. When it came out, I imagined the document would be faintly critical but that would be it.

So when I turned on the livestream yesterday my expectations were exceeding…

Flash Fiction Fortnight

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Over the last fortnight, I have been celebrating National Flash Fiction Day on 25th June  by writing stories in response to people's prompts.

In the week before NFFD, I took prompts from people on Facebook and wrote seven stories which you can find here. Thanks to Kate, Pat, Chris, Andrew, Wendy and Jennifer for providing the ideas.

On the day itself, I was thrilled to be Writer-in-Residence…

NFFD 2016: The Results (4)

Saturday, 2 July 2016

The final two flash fictions!


Prompt 8 came from Richard an Albion Beatnik regular who dropped in for tea and chat: My girlfriend is coming back from Hull on a train. Why is she delayed?


The 11.59 from Hull

The best laid plans went astray before he’d even got started. He was at the station on time for the 11.59 but somehow he ended up at the wrong platform. There he was…

NFFD 2016:The Results (3)

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Prompt 7 came from Kate: an Arabic garden in Spain. When she described such gardens as being a series of embedded hedges around a centre, and then how they linked to the structure of The Arabian Nights, I couldn't resist trying four flashes in one story. Makes it a bit longer but...


A picnic in the Arabic garden


The argument began over sandwiches, who was supposed to bring…

NFFD 2016: The Results (2)

Monday, 27 June 2016

Here's the next selection of stories from my Writer-In-Residence day at Albion Beatnik.

Prompt number 4 came from Rachel, a friend of Deborah's who was passing by and came in for a cup of tea: the phrase ‘Designing with a Purpose’ drawn from a discussion about architecture.

4. Designing with a purpose.

The University was the newest of new, funded by a benevolent benefactor to whom…

NFFD 2016: The Results (1)

Sunday, 26 June 2016

I had a wonderful time at the Albion Beatnik Bookstore yesterday. It truly is a magical place. Slightly off the beaten track in Oxford, it is always worth schlepping up Walton Street to browse from its eclectic shelves, debate with Dennis the owner, sit at one of the decorated tables with tea and cake reading your purchases. If you don't know it, you really should visit. And often, because it's hard…

National Flash Fiction Day 2016

Saturday, 25 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day 2016 I have been writing  flash fiction to prompts from readers. Though I'm glad I don't have to do it everyday, it's been great fun. Each prompt has taken me off into different directions and I've often ended up in unexpected place. 

I enjoyed grappling with finding a story behind each prompt.  I could see the first, 'Turning Japanese' had multiple possibilities…

Flash Fiction Marathon (7): Lazy Afternoon

Friday, 24 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.

This is my prompt: a woman rushes across the road from the pub, throws something in the bin, and then runs back inside.


Lazy Afternoon.


Heather rushed into the pub, red-faced and breathless. Bill was in his usual…

Flash Fiction Marathon (6): Parallel Lines

Thursday, 23 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.

Prompt 6 comes from Jennifer Harvey: A commuter walks to the end of the railway platform every morning and takes a photo of the railway track. Why?


Parallel Lines

He was doing it again. As he had done every morning…

Flash Fiction Marathon (5): Vote Leave

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.

Thank you Wendy Tuohy for prompt number 5: A brother comes home from living abroad for many years. He is staying with his sister but won't come out of his room. Meanwhile his wife and family are in Brazil.

Vote Leave


Flash Fiction Marathon (4): Horror Stories

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.

The fourth prompt is from Andrew Wille: A torch and a wicker basket.


Horror Stories


‘Ooh...The Wicker Man is on TV on Saturday,’ Sarah grins.

‘Count me out,’ says Andrew.

‘What?’ He loves horror films.…

Flash Fiction Marathon (3): Up on the roof.

Monday, 20 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.

The third prompt is from my husband Chris Cole: An ladder is left abandoned on the side of a wall leading to the roof of a set of flats.


Up on the roof.


Clang!  My spade made no dent in the frost-hardened earth…

Flash Fiction Marathon (2). A budgie called Pat.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.

The second prompt  is from Pat Watkins:  A budgie in a railway station

A budgie called Pat

The rain starts just as Jess draws up to the railway station. This used to be the point when neither of them wanted the weekend…

Flash Fiction Marathon (1): Turning Japanese.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.

Here's the first, from Kate Liddle: 'A woman arrives in A&E wearing no shoes, clearly European but only speaking Japanese' 


Turning Japanese



‘Pardon?’  Kate has had a busy night.  She’s…

The long and the short of it.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

From an early age I knew I wanted to write novels. Whilst I enjoy writing and reading short stories - novels have always had first place in my literary heart, and for many years writing novels was my main focus. 

However, when I started a Diploma in Creative Writing in 2007, I was challenged to write in other formats. Over the course of two years, I completed assignments in writing short stories…

Women, war, peace and politics

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Last Saturday, fellow Unbound authors Alice Jolly (Between the Regions of Kindness & Unbound book Dead Babies and Seaside Towns) and Rachael de Moravia (News from the Home Front) and I met at the fabulous Albion Beatnik Shop in Oxford. Alas, Emma Southon (Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore) couldn't come but we read from her book anyway. It was a wonderful evening and I enjoyed hearing from…

Busking at Hay

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Every May half term, I load the car to the brim, stuff our children and at least one of their friends in the remaining cracks and head off to Hay-on-Wye for the annual festival. It has become such a family ritual, that the offspring who are now all  in their teens, have already laid down plans for how we manage it when they've left home. It's always a great few days - one of the highlights of the…

A Question of Conscience

Saturday, 14 May 2016

In March 1916, as war with Germany continued to rage in France, the Military Services Act came into law. The act introduced compulsory conscription for all adult men, a blow to those who did not wish to fight. The only consolation was that thanks to the work of campaigners, it also introduced the right to conscientious objection.  Over the next two years, 16,000 men were to claim that right, appearing…

Creating a sense of place

Sunday, 17 April 2016

An essential part of novel writing is world building. Whether events take place in the real world  or not, it is important for the reader to feel the characters live and breathe in an authentic, believable place.

'Echo Hall' is set on the borders of England and Wales. Having spent a lot of time in border counties, and in Wales itself, I could have chosen a real place to locate it. However I decided…

Experiments in Twitter

Friday, 25 March 2016

For a long time I resisted Twitter. Why, after all, I reasoned, would anyone want to listen to my witterings about what I had for breakfast?

But my husband Chris and my twin sister Julia Williams kept telling me that there was much more to twitter than that. They banged on about it so much that eventually I gave in just to shut them up. Of course, when I finally joined, I found it every bit as…

A Little Bit of History

Thursday, 17 March 2016

I once submitted a story that I was rather fond of, to an online magazine that had previously published my work. I didn't mind being rejected on this occasion - they were very nice about it, and it reassured me that they were genuinely discerning - but I was surprised at the reason. The editor felt it lacked authenticity as a piece of historical fiction. Since the story was a whimsical reflection…

Writing protest

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Last weekend, we sat down with our family to watch 'Suffragette'. I had high hopes  for the film, because, when the campaign group 'Sisters Uncut' threw themselves on the red carpet in protest at cuts to domestic violence services, the movie's stars were quick to support their action. Helena Bonham Carter felt the protest was a 'perfect' response, whilst Romola Garai said, 'I’m happy to see the suffrage…

On Writing and Politics

Monday, 29 February 2016

When I was interviewed for my writing course a few years back, I was asked what I wanted to write about. My answer, 'God and politics' produced a wry response, 'So you won't be writing bestsellers then?'. Perhaps not, but I do have to write about my passions. Since God and politics are in my top three most important things in life (the third being husband and family), they are obvious topics to choose…

How it all started.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

In the summer of 2003, my husband Chris and I moved with our three small children to a small hamlet in Northamptonshire. Chris had just been appointed as Director of The Fellowship of Reconciliation, a Christian charity that campaigns on peace issues, and the job came with accomodation which meant I could stop paid work for  a while.

After nearly five years of juggling childcare and a demanding…

Publication date: November 2017
118% funded
182 backers