So here we are again – publication week.  It´s always a terrifying time for an author and after so many books, it never gets any easier, I can tell you. Which is why it´s so fabulous to get my first review.  This one from the lovely Laura Lockington.


Oh my goodness! This has to be the perfect beach read. Sophisticated, glamorous, romantic and gripping. And with a rather beautiful cover that you won’t mind being seen with. There are two women, decades apart, their lives tangled with love and betrayal that are unknowingly linked through a tiny exotic island off the coast of India. In 1989, Leila who has known nothing but happiness on Lace Island, helping her mother keep her high flying glamorous guests happy is sent to boarding school in cold grey England. That’s when her troubles really start. Then, in 2016 we meet Jess who dreams of far off places and keeps a tattered poster on her wall of a beach with white sand, blue seas and palm trees. After the death of her best friend she finally gets her dream job as cabin crew, perhaps taking her to those places that she has only ever seen in pictures before. But then she meets the seemingly perfect Blaise, who captures her heart in a whirlwind relationship that catapults her into the world of the unscrupulous super rich. The two women meet up years later under extraordinary circumstances. I defy anyone not to enjoy this epic tale; it will have you reaching for your cold drink under the sun umbrella and slathering suntan lotion on whilst turning the pages. This is a big hearted book that leaves you walking on sunshine.

Joanna Rees will be appearing at The Bookish Supper Salon on September 14 . Tickets from

Read more at:

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So This Is What Happened

If I wasn’t a writer, I wonder what path my life would have taken.  I often think that my dream career would be in radio.  It’s so much fun chatting to people and hearing about their lives.

Which is why I’m delighted to be continuing my guest appearances as an interviewer on Radio Gorgeous. This week I’m talking to the lovely Laurel Lefkow.  She’s curating a fantastic story-telling event in the Omnibus Arts Centre in Clapham.  I went along to meet her and to hear some of the stories and came away enthralled by the power of story telling.  Here’s my piece for Radio Gorgeous.

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The Beach Hut Writing Academy



I’m very proud to be taking part in this fabulous writing event this Saturday, March 12th.

It’s a full-day conference for new & experienced writers, run by the Beach Hut Writing Academy Conference and taking place in the gorgeous Brighton sea front Angel House.

There’ll be plenty going on, including workshops and lunch with bestselling authors, screenwriters, agents and editors, all sharing their insider secrets. Emlyn and I will be chatting about writing together and how to make a career out of writing.

The conference is currently SOLD OUT, but you can join the waiting list for last minute tickets here.

Hope to see you there.

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Emerging from its chrysalis at last



Today is publication day.  ‘The Very Hungover Caterpillar’ hits the shops and Emlyn and I had a cheeky breakfast to celebrate.  This morning, we were hungover free, I’m pleased to report, but it’s that time of year when the calendar starts to get full of events, parties and dinners.  I always think I won’t drink too much, but I invariably do.  So after years of experience, here’s my top ten tips to surviving the party season.


1.  Accept in advance that you’re in it from early December for the entire duration.   There’s no point in fighting it. You’ll finally get to collapse on Boxing Day. Be strong!
2.  A five pm powernap does wonders to restore a flagging spirit.  Insist on forty-five minutes of shut eye and you’ll be fresh as a daisy and ready to party on.
3.  To avoid illness, never party three nights in a row. Lock in rest days and evenings in your schedule.  You may find yourself filling them up (and they may well turn out to be the best party nights of all), but at least try to book in some sofa down-time.
4. Be a social butterfly, then you can flit between parties, or even slope off home.  In order not to get caught out, make it a rule never send emails or engage in social media after dark.
5. Girls:  Invest in those padded party insoles for your high heels and a pair of folding ballet pumps for when the night ends.  It’s amazing that you can dance all night in heels, but the second you have to stagger to the night bus or the last train, you can’t actually walk.
6. Become an account holder at a reputable cab firm now in November, or even better, stash your company’s account details in your phone so you can always get a cab home.
7.  Do all your Christmas shopping online early and get it delivered to somewhere where someone will be in to take the packages.  Keep a list in a safe place, reminding yourself of who gets what.  Share this list with your partner to avoid doubling up.  Don’t leave present buying until the last minute, when you’re frazzled and stressed out and always buy multiple ‘joke’ presents just in case, as you’ll always need them for the relative and friend you forgot, or the office secret santa.
8.  Make sure you you’re stocked up on bread, cheese and supernoodles for  the 2 a.m munchies.  Then, just before you go to bed drink as much water as you can possibly keep down.
9.  Perfect your own tailored hangover cure.  In this house, we favour Berocca, plus a massive fry up.  For those who know Brighton, only a Billie’s Cafe plate of hash will do.
10.  When all else fails, a hair of the dog does work wonders.  Try a Pickleback – one shot of Irish whiskey with one shot of pickle juice as a chaser.  It’s revoltingly harsh, but remember: you’ll be on the wagon in January.


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The Very Hungover Caterpillar – cover reveal

Last Christmas, Emlyn and I had a load of fun when Constable & Robinson published We’re Going on a Bar Hunt, a parody of Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury’s much loved children’s classic. On Christmas Day, we had loads of messages from people who’d opened up their copy and were enjoying a chuckle.

Newspapers like The Guardian and Telegraph and sites like Huffington Post were kind enough to say things like “hilarious”, “naughty”, “fabulous” and “very funny”.

We loved working with the very talented Gillian Johnson, the brilliant illustrator and decided to do one more. The Very Hungover Caterpillar is a parody of the wonderful kids’ classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Here’s the cover… What do you think?


The Very Hungover Caterpillar follows the quest of one man as he attempts to shake off his hangover, through eating whatever he can get his hands on, and annoying his family in the process. The research process for this book was long and arduous!

We hope it’s as much fun as the first one and will get a knowing wink from anyone who fondly remembers the original, but has now grown up and knows all too well just how painful hungover days can be . . .

Out on 6th November!

We hope that once again, it’ll make a perfect humorous Christmas present. You can pre-order on Amazon here.

Or share your own book parody titles on Twitter using #bookparodies

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A good old-fashioned achy hand










When was the last time you had an achy writing hand?  The kind of wrist-flipper that catapults you back to when you last feverishly wrote in your exams?  I have to say, it’s rare for me –  being the speed typist I am –  but it’s good to be reminded occasionally of the sheer joy of handwriting.

Last night at my creative writing event at the Jubilee Library here in Brighton, I was lucky enough to meet a whole room full of enthusiastic writers.

I started off with a timed writing exercise, following a set of rules.  I first stumbled on these writing rules when I read Natalie Goldberg’s ‘Writing Down the Bones.’  She’s also written a fabulous book, ‘Wild Mind:  Living The Writer’s Life’.  Her idea is a simple one: that is the more you practice writing, the better you get at accessing your creative mind.  The idea is to write FAST, in a timed session, with no censorship.

There are SIX rules for writing practice.

  1. Keep your hand moving.  No matter what.  Even if you write banana, banana, banana, the idea is that you will outsmart the editor in you which is telling you that this is ridiculous and you’ll get to the good stuff.  You must not stop writing for the time allocated.  SPEED is everything.
  1. Don’t cross out.  That’s editing as you’re writing.  Even if you’ve written something you didn’t mean to.  Leave it.  Nobody is going to judge you.
  1. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar.  Don’t even care about writing straight on the page.  Just keep going.
  1. Be Specific.  Use your senses.  Use colour, textures, sounds.  Use different nouns and verbs to bring your sentences zinging to life.  If you write a generic sentence, don’t worry, just make the next one better.
  1. Lose Control and Don’t think. Stick with your first thoughts, not your thoughts on your first thoughts.  Stay with the words you’ve chosen.  Follow your instinct. Let it rip.  Go where the writing takes you.
  1. Go for the jugular.  If something comes up in your writing that it scary or naked, dive right in.  It probably has lots of energy.

The group wrote for ten minutes and I gave them the words ‘The First Time’ as a jump point.  All sorts of wonderful tales came out.  I particularly liked one woman’s description of her first cigarette and the hellish relationship she’s had with cigarettes ever since.

At the end of ten minutes, everyone had achy hands, but everyone agreed that they felt better for the exercise.

Try it.  You might enjoy it.

My next creative writing session is on September 13th here in Brighton.  The course runs from 10.30-3pm and is £99 including a gourmet lunch.  Please contact me to book your place.



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Gorgeous Gossip










Things have rather Dark & Stormy around here with Emlyn, Julia and Ray’s new Crime Festival, which was a storming success.  There were sell out events all-round with a brilliant turn from Brighton’s own Peter James as well as a ‘Spies Fact or Fiction’ event in the Dome with Dame Stella Rimmington and Liam Fox amongst the other distinguished guests, not to mention the rocking launch party. I was lucky enough to make my radio presenting debut recording for the brilliant Radio Gorgeous and spoke to Julia Crouch and Candida Lacey about why Brighton and crime go together like Fish and Chips.  Here I am on Gorgeous Gossip.

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