About Carolyn

Carolyn Jess-Cooke grew up on a council estate in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She received scholarships which enabled her to complete a BA (Hons), MA, and PhD at Queen’s University, Belfast, and  embarked on an academic career in film which resulted in four books: Shakespeare on Film (Wallflower, 2007), Film Sequels (Edinburgh Uni Press, 2009), Second Takes (co-edited with C. Verevis, SUNY, 2009) and Apocalyptic Shakespeares (co-edited with M. Croteau, McFarland, 2009). In 2011 she shifted her focus to her creative work. She is currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.

Carolyn’s first poetry collection Inroads received a Northern Writers Award, an Eric Gregory Award, a Tyrone Guthrie prize, an Arts Council Award, and was shortlisted for the New London Poetry Prize for Best First Collection in 2010. Her second collection BOOM! explores her experiences of motherhood and received a K Blundell award from the Society of Authors and a Northern Writers Award.

In 2009, Carolyn’s debut novel, The Guardian Angel’s Journal, about a woman who dies and comes back as her own guardian angel, was sold at a four-way auction at the Frankfurt Book Fair to Piatkus as their 2011 superlead title. The novel was published in 23 languages and was an international bestseller. Her second novel, The Boy Who Could See Demons, explored themes of mental illness in the aftermath of the Northern Irish Troubles and was optioned by a Hollywood film company. In 2016 she received her third Northern Writers Award. Her third novel, I KNOW MY NAME, was published under the name CJ Cooke in June 2017, and her fourth novel, The Blame Game, was published in  2019. Her fifth novel, THE NESTINGreceived an Arts Council England grant towards research in Norway and is published 2020. You can read her research blog here.

In March 2020 she set up the Stay-At-Home! Literary Festival, in partnership with the creative writing incubator, Paper Nations, in response to Covid-19.