4 June, US & UK 


I was born near Edinburgh and lived there, in Ayrshire, in Dumfriesshire and in Galloway before moving to California in 2010, where I live on the land of the Patwin people.

I don't know how they did it, those early emigrants who set off forever from Leith docks. I'm back home every year for a couple of months and I still can't watch Burnistoun without sobbing.

A born swot, I finally left school at age thirty with a PhD in linguistics from Edinburgh University. Proper jobs have included banking (hopeless), library work in local studies and fine art (heaven), and a short burst of academia (hell). But I've been a full-time writer since 2005 and hope never to have a proper job again.

When not writing or talking about writing, I'm reading, gardening, cooking and baking, cycling in Davis, swimming (anywhere but a pool), strolling through walnut orchards, peching exactly like a bull mastiff on my trampoline, peching quite like a bull mastiff on my yoga mat, getting to grips with this outlandish and enormous country (43 states visited so far) and practising an extreme form of Scotch thrift*, from eating home-grown food to dumpster-diving/skip-surfing for major appliances.

*when "making a living" as a writer, thrift helps a lot

I like:

  • Dr Who, Jane Austen, Stephen King, Kathleen Jamie, Toni Morrison, meat pies (see left), kittens, violin music, Vicki Feaver, Stavangerflint, Doris Day, Max Bruch, Star Trek, watermelon juice, Gardener's Question Time, The Dress Barn, The Wire, Jenny Diski, Mary Higgins Clark, my PT Cruiser (RIP), Arbroath smokies, Dorothy Whipple, the Gulf Stream, the cha-cha-cha, Joan Didion, Coronation Street, Kate Bush, Mr Giles the librarian's green Fire King cup, The Sugarpine Diner in Mariposa, the Avid Reader, the new Forth Bridge, the new Bay Bridge, sisters, donkeys, rain, the London Underground, barkcloth, Cush Jumbo's eyeshadow, Sarah Waters, Mishka's, Junior's cheesecake, Black Twitter, Terry Gross's laugh, Nancy Wiegman [for pointing out that I didn't have Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh and Michael Innes on here] the Milky Way, Gilmore Girls, Hawaii, okra, Mrs Wilkes' Boarding House, the Grand Canyon, ironing, PayDay Bars, all the worlds in the multiverse where PayDay Bars are healthfood, The Repair Shop, Koi carp, Schitt's Creek, Calfire, Aaron Rupar's baby daughter, Scottish grit lorries, Simone Biles, Pointless, Flanders and Swann, science (Science!), Christmas, Molly Goddard, HR40, Meal Deals, the Brett Domino Trio's banger, "Meal Deal", Alexei Sayle, Marmite, cashews, Marmite cashews, roadkill tomatoes, Bill and Oti, Matterport, "Tour de France" (the Kraftwerk track, not the thing with all the bikes), BIC Cristals, Jennifer Coolidge, tinsel, Coronation Street, postcards, allotments, radio drama, cupboards, socks and sandals, pumpkin pie if I make it, Bramley apples . . . to be continued