stack of books
pot plant
photograph of Beverley Birch


coffee cup

New Book alert!


is OUT!


Here’s the beautiful cover designed by Salvador Lavado of Salvador Design.

Song Beneath the Tides is published by wonderful publisher Guppy Books

Take a look here

Reviews are coming in … some highlights are below.



Review: Song Beneath the Tides

from ‘The best books for teens this Easter’ in The Scotsman, by Hannah Sycamore

‘Those in search of a more unusual thriller should try Song Beneath the Tides … a rich and gripping novel that explores the lasting impact of colonialism, the horrors of animal poaching and the effects of tourism on local communities in East Africa. Past and present stories collide as Ally experiences glimpses into the past. Her visions are deeply rooted in the legends and stories of Kisiri, a sacred island at risk from poachers and threatened by tourist development. Told in parallel timelines, this novel is a unique and fresh story for YA readers. It presents challenging themes in an accessible, engaging and thought-provoking way and at its heart it is a story about hope and the importance of working together.’


For the full review, click ⇓ ⇓ ⇓ ⇓ 




Book of the Day in ReadingZone

I’m thrilled to get this 5* review and be Book of the Day.


This is a story that’s rich with history, folklore and mysticism. As a reader you are swept away by the evocative language. … a stunning and sophisticated combination of romance and mystery and is sure to be devoured by teenagers and adults alike.’ 

Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.


Ally is on the holiday of a lifetime with her brothers in Africa. With her Aunt distracted by her workload as a doctor, Ally and her brothers can run free along the wild and stunning coastline. They quickly make friends with some local children and soon find themselves drawn in by the local folklore and customs and the modern world that clashes with them.

Ally, in particular, is drawn to local boy, Leli, and an intense bond develops between them. Fearing for the future of Kisiri, a local island swathed in legend and revered by locals, Ally and Leli set out on a dangerous mission to protect the island and its heritage. However, Ally’s status as a foreigner and outsider hinder her attempts o help and, as the locals become increasingly alarmed by a new tourist development, matters rush to a terrifying conclusion.

This is a story that’s rich with history, folklore and mysticism. As a reader you are swept away by the evocative language and the brutal descriptions of threats to an established and sacred way of life. Ally and Leli’s story alternates with a historical narrative of Portuguese invaders and the comparisons between the stories and links to local legends are cleverly entwined.

This is a stunning and sophisticated combination of romance and mystery and is sure to be devoured by teenagers and adults alike.


To see the review and read an extract in ReadingZone, click ⇓ ⇓ ⇓ ⇓ 







Ipswich Children’s Book Group

‘Lyrical, layered and dealing with relevant themes of animal poaching and the effects of uncontrolled tourism, this is a powerful novel, transporting the reader to a richly observed setting. It stays with you long after closing the last page.’

Find Ipswich Children’s Book Group ⇒ ⇒ 







Review & interview in Just Imagine


Song Beneath the Tides is a thrilling adventure with important things to say, and it is superbly written. I strongly recommend it’

Read the full review: click ⇓  ⇓  ⇓  ⇓ 





Nikki Gamble interviewed me for Just Imagine, talking about my early life in East Africa, and the inspirations behind Song Beneath the Tides.

Listen to the podcast ⇓  ⇓ 



I also wrote a story-starter/writing task … take a look    



Other reviews


‘Beautifully written, compelling, magical and with powerful historical and political information elegantly woven into the mix. ‘ 

Judy Allen, Whitbread-Award winning and critically-acclaimed author of over 50 books  website

‘A magical layered story weaving past and present that stole my heart.’ 

Jasbinder Bilan, Costa Award-winning children’s author of Asha and the Firebird  her website

‘Set on the idyllic Kenyan coast, in luminously beautiful writing, it combines a poignant ghost story, modern day love and a serious political message.’ 

Patricia Elliott award-winning and critically acclaimed author of many novels including the Connie Carew mysteries and the Pimpernelles books  website

‘The writing is beautiful, summoning the East African landscape with such clarity and precision that I feel I’ve walked on this light-drenched coast. A tender love story that turns eerie, fierce and political, with a strong message about community and resistance.’

Liz Flanagan, Carnegie Medal nominated and critically-acclaimed author of Eden Summer, Dragon Daughter and Rise of the Shadow Dragons  website 

‘a fascinating richly-layered novel asking big questions about how we explore and understand the past as well as deftly building to a thrilling climax. Highly recommended! 

Cath Howe award-winning and critically-acclaimed author of Ella on the Outside and Not My Fault  website

‘It brings Africa so close, so beautifully drawn, haunting and so heartbreaking … yet so life affirming … ‘

Sarah Mussi, award-winning and critically-acclaimed author of multiple novels including Siege  website

‘It is a fine book, vibrant and powerful, infused with a deep love for a land and its history. She cleverly interleaves the greed and violence of the colonial past into a gripping story of modern day smuggling, poaching and exploitation and shows how such threats can be defeated and overcome by love, friendship, loyalty and a people’s respect for the land, its culture and each other.’

Celia Rees, award-winning and critically acclaimed author of Witch Child, Pirates! and Glass Town Wars  website

a wonderfully told story that crosses history with modern political issues, and diverse cultures seen through different perspectives. Evocative landscapes are woven together with engaging characters to create a rich tapestry of mystery, suspense, and teenage romance. Raising environmental issues that really make the reader think, this is an essential book for secondary school libraries to spark discussions on themes such as community, ownership, cultural differences and values, and the power of beautifully descriptive writing.’

Victoria Williamson, critically-acclaimed author of The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle and The Boy with the Butterfly Mind  website  

All about Shakespeare


During the annual spring celebrations of Shakespeare, in Shakespeare week and at other times throughout the year, I so enjoy travelling around talking to youngsters about Shakespeare’s life and inspirations, showing artefacts and pictures that inspired me in writing my retellings.  Click the links to see more: Shakespeare’s Stories and Shakespeare’s Tales.  For more on events click the Jester picture (by wonderful James Mayhew, who illustrated Shakespeare’s Stories). I’m also deep in thinking about another idea which keeps me snooping around Elizabethan places and dreaming up devious and dangerous plots …


ShoutWest! Festivals

I love working with fellow authors of CWISL (Children’s Writers & Illustrators for Stories and Literacy), giving events for young readers and writers. ShoutWest! 2019, the 5th wonderful CWISL creative writing festival for young people at Brunel University, took place last year.  It’s an annual event, and we’re already gearing up for 2020’s later this year.

To see the kind of fun we have, watch this video.

We also run a parallel festival ShoutSouth! at London South Bank University. For more information on CWISL take a look at our website



Retelling folk tales …

Two-animal-tales-for-webI’ve really loved writing this. I thought about all the folk tales I heard as a child in Africa, and discovered so many new ones. In the end, I chose these two. They’re both about friendship, but very different.

One’s about teamwork, helping each other, about succeeding even when you’re very small. The other’s about betrayal, and rather sad.
Both tales have vibrant illustrations by artist Daniele Fabbri.


'a book which holds you from the first page'

'richly atmospheric'
'compelling reading'

'enjoyable, strongly written'
'excels at suggesting children's ability to keep several preoccupations, inner and outer, serious and trivial, active at the same time'