I was born in London in 1950, the youngest of four children. As a child I wanted to act and my love of the theatre has influenced my novels, which are visual and dramatic and contain a lot of dialogue. I do not plan them in great detail but conceive of them as scenes.
I have written an unpublished novel, Family Portrait, which is based on my life up to the age of seventeen.
I studied History at King’s College London, dropped out at the end of the first year and went to live in Rome, where I enjoyed myself hugely and finished my first novel, Under the Rainbow, about a young couple splitting up. Family, my second novel, is set in Rome, where a young opera singer falls in love with a man who turns out to be a terrorist.
One of the most original novelists working in Britain today.
I married in Rome in 1979 and my daughter, Rebecca, was born two years later. I have travelled widely and, in addition to Italy, I’ve lived in Libya, Saudi Arabia and Japan.
My third novel, Before Natasha, set in London, is about the birth of a baby and the effect it has on her parents, a teacher and an actor.
During the early eighties, when I was living in London, I became involved in CND and was convinced that the policies of the Thatcher government would make England more divisive and unequal. I was shocked when homeless people and beggars began to appear on the streets of London and Smiles and the Millennium, my fourth novel, was a passionate response to this. It is set in what was then the future (2000), in a London where the elite live in mansions and desperate homeless families squat in shanty towns where cholera is endemic.
An intended sequel to this novel turned into my only work of non-fiction, Bed and Breakfast: Women and Homelessness Now. This is a collection of interviews with homeless women and politicians, with an afterword by Sheila Mckechnie, former director of Shelter.
My experience in Saudi Arabia resulted in A Thousand and One Coffee Mornings, a collection of stories about the bizarre and often comical lives of expatriate women living in Riyadh.
In addition to writing I’ve worked as a teacher and a charity fundraiser. I live in London with my husband, the musician Gordon St John Clarke.
In 2013 I was awarded a Fellowship by the Royal Literary Fund.
I am currently a mentor for The Literary Consultancy.