I’m the author of seven novels, with an eighth, Something Only We Know, out in August 2015. My work’s been adapted for ITV and Radio 4, and I write regularly for national newspapers and magazines. I’ve been a full-time novelist since I gave up English teaching in 2003.
What is your connection to Bolton School? Were any other members of your family here?
Starting at BSGD was a step into the unknown. No one from my family had any links with the place, and no one else from my village primary school had applied. So when I arrived in 1976, I was striking out across very unfamiliar territory.
What is your fondest Bolton School memory?
That’s a hard one because there’s so much I loved. The smell of floor polish and the general hush I found uplifting in themselves; then again, the banter in the cloakrooms and on the bus at the end of the day was also brilliant. I remember laughing almost till I cried. But I’ll never forget my surprise and gratitude when my form tutor Mrs Tate visited me in hospital with a card signed by all my classmates. That was very special.
Did any member of teaching staff particularly inspire you while you were at school?
There were many inspiring women at Bolton School – I’ll name-check Mrs Carr, Mrs Tate, Miss Windle, Mrs Johnston, Miss Walker and Miss Chignell, though there were more. They taught much more than just their subjects; they talked about the world and what our responsibilities might be when we grew up. They guided and prepared us. I’m still consciously grateful for what they passed on.
What do you feel your experience at Bolton School has given to you personally?
As well as a good strong academic foundation, the school taught me to think independently, and to expect equal treatment for women. I credit Bolton School with planting the strong feminist politics I hold today.
What is the best career advice you can give to Bolton School pupils today?
Try your best in all subjects, but really pursue those interests you love. Defend them against the naysayers. Follow your heart.
What do you think about Bolton School’s 100 Campaign aim to re-establish genuine open access through its bursary fund?
I would love more people to be able to go to Bolton School!