Highlights of 2014

So, I was planning to post a piece about my writing year – the highs and lows – but it turns out I spent a lot of time sitting alone, typing, reading or trying to work out the best way to kill or maim someone. So instead I’ll leave 2014 with my cultural highlights. Some are more cultural than others. Enjoy.


I wish it could be Christmas every day – if only because I’ve managed to read four books in the past week. If I could do that every week, the mountain of books on every surface would soon shrink. Unless of course I kept buying more books, and let’s face it, that’s highly likely.

A lot of the books I’ve read this year weren’t published this year so to keep things simple I’ll only include my faves from 2014 which include:

Yes Please – Amy Poehler (Read in a day. Wanted to start reading again once I’d finished)


Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys – Viv Albertine (Everything you’d want from an autobiography. And you don’t need to be a fan of The Slits to enjoy)

How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran (As funny and brutally honest as you’d expect)

Fear Nothing – Lisa Gardner (Best crime novel of the year. I didn’t name my detective after her for nothing)

Sane New World – Ruby Wax (I will wrestle my brain into submission. I will!)

But my favourite book this year has to be The Free by Willy Vlautin. In fact, I’d recommend his whole back catalogue. One of the best writers out there.

the free


I took binge watching to new levels this year and watched Breaking Bad in its entirety in eleven days and all of Game of Thrones in a week. I came out of both experiences slightly dazed but surely a better person, and in the case of Game of Thrones, with an obsession with Peter Dinklage.


Some of my other favourite TV shows of 2014:

Olive Kitteridge (I want to be Frances McDormand when I grow up)

Parks and Recreation (If I can’t be Frances McDormand can I be Amy Poehler?)

The Mindy Project (Or Mindy Kaling)

Transparent (Almost perfect)

Orange is the New Black (Best ending ever)

Homeland (This series was even better than the first. Discuss)

Fargo (Thought it would be a poor relation to the film. Was very wrong)

True Detective (Took me two attempts to get into but was more than worth it)


The Colbert Report (I will miss you so much)

Broad City (Very funny and not just if you’re a woman like some of the internet claims)

Garfunkel and Oates (See above)

The Knick (So good I could even get past Clive Owen’s ‘tache)

Broadchurch (Who ever thought David Tennant wouldn’t be the best thing about a show? Hello Olivia Colman)

Sherlock (Not sure this needs explaining)

Doctor Who (So sad to see Matt Smith go, but Peter Capaldi is as awesome as ever)

Another highlight of the TV year was the return of 24, not because it was a brilliant comeback, it was average on the whole, but this bit is surely one of the funniest things ever broadcast. Or is it just me?


I spend a lot of time watching films and there are many average ones out there but this year there were also a lot of good ones. Including:

Nightcrawler (Jake Gyllenhaal – way scarier than the Babadook)

What We Do in the Shadows (Proving vampire films can be interesting)

Guardians of the Galaxy (Sounded like a terrible idea but was actually amazing)

The Skeleton Twins (Almost perfect balance of funny/sad)

Obvious Child (More funny/sad)


Frank (See above)

The One I Love (Just not what you expect at all. I can’t say anything more)

Knights of Badassdom (Peter Dinklage. And ridiculousness)

Locke (Who knew a man with a beard talking about cement could be so compelling?)

22 Jump Street (Just funny)

Pride (Reminded me of being fourteen and thinking I was Wolfie Smith. But better, obviously)


I’ve probably forgotten many of the good things 2014 brought but let’s not worry about it now, I’ll just kick myself later. Hopefully you’ll agree with at least some of my choices and maybe even seek out those you haven’t seen or read already. And let me know if you think there’s something I should watch or read.

But I’ll sign off now. These books won’t read themselves.

Happy New Year!





So, the interweb reliably informs me that Gone will be released in 30 days. This is exciting. It is also terrifying.

Gone is my second novel, so in some respects I should be prepared for what’s to come. And yet…

In 2013 my first novel, Stolen, was published and I experienced a lot of things for the first time – seeing the cover, seeing the book in physical form, seeing the book on a real shelf in a real bookshop, seeing reviews online, seeing a group of people gather to hear me talk about the book. All exciting. All terrifying.

I remember seeing the cover of Stolen for the first time just before Christmas 2012. The lovely Andrea from Moth sent it via email to see what I thought. And to be honest, I wasn’t sure about the orange of the word Stolen. It didn’t seem very crime-y. But she told me to have a think about it over Christmas and if, after that, I still disliked it, we could talk. Fortunately, after a few more hours staring at the image, I decided it was actually pretty cool. What’s wrong with standing out a bit? So thanks Andrea!

I saw the cover of Gone for the first time in May this year and this time, even though I was no less surprised to see it popping up in my email unannounced, I loved it from the start. It’s creepy and unsettling, and, in my opinion, suits the book perfectly. Thanks Mulholland!

I saw an actual copy of Stolen for the first time in the offices of New Writing North, where I’d gone to speak to Liv of the horror I felt about my launch and the other events that would follow. She kindly gave me a copy of the book to take home, possibly to make me feel it would all be worth it, and also put me in touch with the venerable Mari Hannah to talk me down from the ledge. In the end I managed to get through my launch without keeling over, and soon after did my first library event alongside Mari and discovered that librarians and readers are all lovely people. Thanks Liv and Mari!

With Gone, I’ve yet to see the finished book in person, as it were. I’ve had my mitts on a proof copy though, which was exciting for many reasons, not least because it meant it was finished and all the tear-inducing rewrites were over.

So the next step is seeing the book on shelves, then seeing (and trying not to read) the reviews, and lastly, going out into the world to meet more readers and hear what they think of Gone.

So, 15th January 2015.