Making Space: interview with author Frances Quinn

I interviewed author Frances Quinn about her writing space, her process and her historical novel The Smallest Man. Set during the English Civil War and inspired by a true story, it tells the story of Nat Davy. In 1625, Nat is 10 years old, still as small as his baby sister and beginning to realise that he will never grow any bigger. Narrowly escaping life in a freak show, he is plucked from his family and presented as a gift to the new young queen of England. Spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is a heartwarming tale about being different, but not letting it hold you back.

Frances spoke to me about the challenges of writing historical fiction spanning the complex decades of the Civil War, the benefits of keeping a treadmill in your study, and writing tips borrowed from Abba.

Making Space: an interview with author Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith

I interviewed author and activist Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith about the space where she writes, her writing process and her Mixed Race memoir The Space Between Black and White. Esuantsiwa’s memoir is published by Jacaranda Books as part of #Twentyin2020, their initiative to publish twenty Black British authors in 2020.

I first met Esuantsiwa several years ago, when we were both at the start of our writing journeys. I heard her speak on Radio 4 about what it was like growing up Mixed Race in white, working-class neighbourhoods and reconnecting with her Ghanaian heritage later in life.

I contacted her to ask if she would be happy to speak to me about her life. I was working on the first proper draft of A Book of Secrets and was very keen not to get it wrong, as a white author writing a Black protagonist. Esua’s childhood experience of growing up an ‘only one’ in white neighbourhoods closely matched Susan Charlewood’s, and the emotional effect of this must be similar despite the 400-year difference.

Esua was beginning to gather material for her memoir and reflect on her past, and she was generous enough to share her experiences with me. I can honestly say I could not have written A Book of Secrets without this generosity. Now, I am proud that our two books stand next to each other on my bookshelves!


A Book of Secrets can now be purchased on Kindle – click here for the link!


This month A Book of Secrets has found itself on the longlists for two fantastic awards – the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown Award & the Diverse Book Awards (adult category). The lists for both awards are very strong and it is brilliant to see my novel alongside books that I have read and loved.


I’ll be appearing at Gladstone Library’s Hearth festival in February, taking part in a discussion about Black Tudors. I’ll be talking with Miranda Kaufmann, author of ‘Black Tudors: the Untold Story‘ (which informed much of my research) and the amazing author Patrice Lawrence whose children’s book ‘The Diver’s Daughter‘ is inspired by one of the Black Tudors in Miranda’s book.

The event takes place at 2pm on February 1st and tickets cost £15 (or £65 for the whole day of the festival plus meals). Click here for more details and to book.