I KNOW MY NAME cover

Coming soon….

It’s just five days now until the release of the Writing Motherhood anthology, published by Seren and packed with poems, essays, and interviews on the relationship between motherhood and writing. If you live near London, UK, the launch is on Fri 9th June at the Flying Horse on Oxford St from 7-9pm, with readings by Rebecca Goss, Liz Berry, Fiona Benson and others. If you live in the North, the northern launch is at the Lit & Phil, about a minute’s walk from Newcastle Central Station, on Thurs 6th April, 7-8.30pm, and there’ll be readings at that launch by Nuala Ellwood, Pippa Little, Jane Burn, and others. They are both FREE to attend and promise to be excellent events.

I went down to London recently for another meeting with my publisher and publicist, and they presented with me this:

I KNOW MY NAME cover

It’s the cover for my new novel, published 15th June, isn’t it lovely? I’m super thrilled for it to be released into the world. I’m currently writing the next book and excited for it to be published next year.

So it’s been an exciting year so far, though not without the usual side order of pain and suffering. At the end of January my little girl was diagnosed with autism.

This has been one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to face, and one of the hardest things we’ve had to face as a family. The internet is both educational and scary. I’ve accessed a lot of information and support groups. I’ve seen the words ‘no cure’ many, many times. It still makes me cry, even though I’m lucky to know several people with autism and they are successful, intelligent, happy people.

I’m still learning a lot about how to enable her to develop and grow. For the most part this seems to require a lot of therapy. I’ve been working full time throughout all of this and I’ll admit that it’s been a struggle. Some days I’m fine, and take a lot of stock in how happy she is; other days I would give my life’s blood for her to tell me how she feels, or for her to understand the things that she can’t. Parenting an autistic child is extremely difficult. In some ways, there is now some relief at knowing why she wouldn’t communicate, why she couldn’t understand, why she would never engage like other children, why she just did. not. sleep.

The hardest thing perhaps is the uncertainty – not knowing what the future holds. My anxiety is at full pelt at the moment so I’m trying to get a handle on that and move forward.

Just the other week I watched a BBC report on autism in girls. One of the things that was raised about autism during my daughter’s assessment was how girls can be tricky to diagnose because whilst autism is characterised by impaired social interaction, girls are very adept at developing coping strategies for social situations and – just like my daughter – appear every bit as friendly and sociable as the next child. By missing out on a diagnosis, however, autistic girls fail to access the care they need to progress. It made me feel grateful that we’d been able to get our daughter diagnosed. How strange life is when you come to a point of gratefulness that your baby girl has been diagnosed with autism. But gratitude in all things, and in all things, gratitude.