London Book Fair

I’ll be appearing at the London Book Fair Wednesday, March 13th at the invitation of The British Council. I’m excited by the topic of the conversation and to talk to some Indonesian writers after my trip there to The George Town Literature Festival in 2018. Here are the details.

Laksmi Pamuntjak, Norman Erikson Pasaribu and Paul McVeigh; chaired by Phillip Kim
16.00-17.00, Cross Cultural Hub, Olympia

Indonesian writing today is becoming more bold, more inventive, and more determined to say the unsayable. How, through literary experiments, style and themes, are Indonesia’s writers tackling taboos and redefining norms? Laksmi Pamuntjak, author of The Question of Red – which counters the official government history of 1965; Norman Erikson Pasaribu, whose poems shine light on queer Indonesian life in the midst of erasure and oppression today; alongside Paul McVeigh whose writing touches on the complex layers of political oppression, violence and sexuality; discuss their personal reasons for writing on their chosen subjects, and the need to explore, and unsettle, the dominant narratives.


Performing at the Barbican

Barbican OpenFest: Art 50

Presented with Sky Arts

I’ll reading/performing a short story, commissioned especially for this incredible project, at the Barbican, London on Feb 23rd.

It will be part of the Postcards From the Future event – ’50 years from now what will the UK look like? Four respected wordsmiths Paul McVeigh, Dreda Say Mitchell, Tony Mason and A. L. Kennedy write and perform a monologue sending us a postcard from 2069.’

Here’s some more about the project…

“Free and open to all, the day will showcase works from Sky Arts’ Art 50 which invited artists of all kinds, from all walks of life, from all artistic genres, to create a piece of work which says something important about national identity in 2019. Come celebrate the diversity and creativity of a nation through dance, music, photography and film. Highlights of the performances, shows and activities throughout the day will be the chance to see brand new work from contemporary dance group Boy Blue and Ivor Novello award winner, Nitin Sawhney with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain – all for free.”


Writing Retreat in Tuscany

This September I’m teaching at a writing retreat in Tuscany – fancy joining me? Here’s the info…

“A week-long stay in a blissful Tuscan setting. A 17th century villa on a Chianti hill with panoramic views, providing the perfect backdrop for a time of serene relaxation, writing and dining. Unwind by the poolside, or over a glass of wine from the villa’s vineyard, with an intimate group of like-minded writers, and allow the inspiration to unfold.

At the Free With Words June 2019 writing retreat, you’ll be given space away from your day-to-day life to set your creative spirit free. Workshops, teaching, and one-to-one consultations with our experienced and passionate tutors will help shape your writing in the way it needs to go.

Because we know a relaxed writer is a better writer, we don’t believe in pressure. Our passion and focus is to provide the perfect environment and support to help you do your very best writing, and to move forward in your life with more confidence in your writing projects and ability. You can choose to attend each part of the retreat, or you can use your time to simply write, relax by the pool, or explore the stunning region. Whatever way you approach our retreat, we aim to help you free your creative self.

You’ll leave this uniquely nurturing experience renewed, invigorated, and ready for the next part of your writing life.

What to expect from our Free With Words Tuscan retreat. . . .

Over your six days and seven nights at the stunning Villalta, you’ll wake up to a beautiful breakfast every day, before joining in an optional creative meditation in the morning sunshine to put you in the headspace for maximising your potential that day.

The workshops

Each morning our tutors will host a workshop, covering a range of subjects to inform your writing. From working with self-doubt to developing a page-turning plot, from writing characters that jump off the page to harnessing the power of emotion to hook the reader, you’ll be given a toolbox to bring your writing alive and to the next stage. Learn more about our tutors here.

Writing time

Throughout the day we break for blocks of writing time, where you can go to your room or find a private nook in the villa or gardens, giving yourself space to write.


You will have the chance to send us up to ten pages of a manuscript before the retreat. During the week our tutors will be available for a personalised feedback and mentorship session with each participant, so you and your writing can get the very most from your time with us.


Every evening post-dinner we host a salon, at which there will be readings, Q&As, discussion, curated interaction, and maybe even song.

Food and wine

We provide a buffet lunch every afternoon, and a three-course meal every evening, in a space that is ripe for convivial conversation. Our food is cooked by an Italian in-house chef with locally-sourced fresh ingredients, and our wines included at dinner come from the villa’s vineyard. (If you prefer to take yourself off to a local restaurant, the town of Arezzo, just a few kilometres away, has a range of top-notch authentic Italian restaurants.)

Meet the tutors…

Click here

What’s included:

  • Seven nights accommodation in a private room

  • Opening night reception and barbeque

  • All meals and alcohol

  • Workshops and salons

  • One-to-one feedback on your writing with our tutors

  • Morning meditation

  • Poolside aperitifs each evening

  • Free Wi-Fi

  • Closing night reception

What’s not included:

  • Airfares, travel and health insurance, and transportation to and from the villa


7-Night Stay & Programme

€2,500 per person, single occupancy

€2,000 per person, double occupancy

Payment terms: €800 deposit due on acceptance of booking. Final balance due by April 1, 2019.

(Rooms are on a first come first served basis.)

Read terms and conditions here

Frequently asked questions here


Being Various: Cover Reveal

Ain’t she pretty?


My short story ‘The Swimmers’ is in here alongside these wonderful writers – Darren Anderson, Kevin Barry, Jan Carson, Jill Crawford, Wendy Erskine, Nicole Flattery, Yan Ge, Sinead Gleeson, David Hayden, Arja Kajermo, Eimear McBride, Lisa McInerney,  Belinda McKeon, Adrian McKinty, Danielle McLaughlin, Peter Murphy,  Stuart Neville, Louise O’Neill, Sheila Purdy, Elske Rahill, Sally Rooney and Kit de Waal.

Edited by Lucy Caldwell, published by Faber.

Out May 1.

Proofs of ‘Common People’

And they’re off…

Heading out into the world for review are the proofs for the ‘Common People’ anthology edited by Kit de Waal. I’m delighted to have written my first piece of memoir alongside these wonderful writers…

Contributors Include:
Damian Barr
Malorie Blackman OBE
Lisa Blower
Jill Dawson
Louise Doughty
Stuart Maconie
Chris McCrudden
Lisa McInerney
Daljit Nagra
Dr Dave O’Brien
Cathy Rentzenbrink
Anita Sethi
Adelle Stripe
Tony Walsh
Alex Wheatle


The anthology is out to buy in May 2019.