For more information about how I write, storytelling, Vermeer etc, here are a few videos and articles. There’s more online if you dig.

Writing and quilting
TED Talk: Finding the Story Inside the Painting
Writing, publishing and ebooks
My writing day
Seeing every Vermeer in person
• 2013 article about how I write

I was born and grew up in Washington, DC. After graduating with a BA in English from Oberlin College in Ohio, I moved to London in the mid-1980s. I now have dual nationality, but my accent is still American.

I worked for several years in publishing as a reference book editor, while writing short stories on the side. Eventually I decided to focus on my own words rather than others’, and left office life to do an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. There I began my first novel, The Virgin Blue. After my second novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring, took off I was able to write full-time. I’ve written 11 novels so far, and am working on my 12th.

It's hard to write 8 hours a day; after a while words start to fail. So I do other things too. I’ve also been involved with various organizations: as a Trustee of the British Library, the Society of Authors, the Royal Literary Fund, and the Dorset Museum & Art Gallery; as a Patron of the Dorchester Literary Festival, Lyme Regis Museum, Fine Cell Work charity; and as an Ambassador for the Woodland Trust and First Story charity.

I do a lot of research for my novels since they are mainly set in other times and places. If possible I like to do what my characters do, as then it’s easier to understand it and describe it. So I tried painting when I wrote Pearl Earring; quilting for The Last Runaway; needlepoint for A Single Thread; glass beads for The Glassmaker. I visited a weaving studio for The Lady and the Unicorn; spent time with redwoods and sequoias for At the Edge of the Orchard; looked for fossils on the beaches near Lyme Regis for Remarkable Creatures. Here are some pictures of my research adventures.


Checking out Girl with a Pearl Earring with conservator Abbie Vandivere


Picking apples for At the Edge of the Orchard


Finding an ichthyosaur vertebra fossil where Mary Anning did for Remarkable Creatures


Becoming a quilter for The Last Runaway


Admiring the bells at Winchester Cathedral for A Single Thread


Looking at kneelers for A Single Thread


Getting close to redwoods for At the Edge of the Orchard


Trying out rowing in Venice for The Glassmaker


The beads I made for The Glassmaker


Watching glassmakers for The Glassmaker


Making beads for The Glassmaker


Learning how to make dry stone walls with Jeremy Gavins for my next novel


Site of the brutal murder in 1826 that I’m writing about for next novel


Looking around the churchyard where Joe the Quilter, subject of my next novel, is buried

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