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Events for young people

About my books, my writing life, creative writing, about reading, or any combination of these.


Weird and wonderful facts about discoveries that have helped change our world


Weird and wonderful facts about inventions ...


A feast of weird and wonderful facts about transport


In a vast African landscape, four teenagers and a journalist vanish ...

Gulliver’s Travels

Gulliver is shipwrecked and washed ashore on the exotic island of Lilliput ...

Another novel


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Reviews of Song Beneath the Tides

Favourite Reviews so far! Will keep adding!


‘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  ⇓  

WRD About Books

‘A complex and lyrical adventure that’s part ghost story, part thriller, part love story. Compelling, atmospheric and beautifully written.’

Scottish Books Trust

‘Gripping. … explores themes including colonialism, international tourism and animal poaching, change and resilience. At its core, it’s a book about hope and working together. Click post-it for video review:

Youth Library Group

‘lyrical yet urgent new novel’

I wrote a guest blog for YLG about the background and inspirations to Song Beneath the tides. Read it here:

Book of the day in ReadingZone

5* review and Book of the Day – thrilled!

‘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.’

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.’

Ipswich Children’s Book Group 

Review and 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 ⇒  

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

I also wrote a story-starter/writing task

‘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

‘Ah, I was trying not to read Song Beneath The Tides too fast, trying to savour every moment. Instead I found myself caught up and carried along by the tide of your story. Congratulations! Perfectly woven together, I lived it, heard it smelt it, touched it as I was transported to the forest and beach to Shanza and … Kisiri.

And underneath it all a deep, knowing current anchored in factual history and oral traditional tales giving it depth and resonance.

Margaret Bateson-Hill much-loved story-teller and award-winning author of multiple books including The Dragon Racer trilogy and Masha and the Firebird

‘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

‘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

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

‘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

‘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

‘Beautiful, intense and atmospheric book. Intricately drawn characters in a rich, vibrant setting, and is packed with mystery and action.

Mo O’Hara best-selling and acclaimed author of many books including My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish series and Agent Moose

‘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

‘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