I grew up in the New Forest. As a child I wrote elaborate fantasy stories that I never showed to anyone. But around age 12 I stopped writing, and didn't start again till my mid-twenties.

I went to Oxford to study music, at St. Hilda's College. In my twenties I tried all sorts of things - music therapy, play-leading with children with disabilities, work in a toy shop, teaching. I also got married - and divorced. Finally I found work I really enjoyed, as a social worker: I qualified at Leicester University, and worked in psychiatry and then in child protection. It's a reviled profession but I found it fascinating: though, intriguingly, in my writing social workers are more likely to be villains than heroes. Around this time I met Mick, who is now my husband - and I started writing again. I became a full-time(ish) writer after our younger daughter was born.

At first, I wrote non-fiction and a book for children, but it was always my ambition to write adult fiction. My first novel, Trust, was published in 1999, and Alysson’s Shoes in 2002. Trust was televised by Granada as Loving You, starring Niamh Cusack and Douglas Henshall. Postcards from Berlin (2003) and The River House (2005) were both published by Little, Brown and Company in New York, and later by Mira in London, where Postcards from Berlin was called The Perfect Mother. Postcards from Berlin was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. The Drowning Girl (2009) was published by Mira in the UK, and, as Yes, My Darling Daughter , by FSG in the US; it was selected for the Oprah Summer Reading List. My new novel is called The Collaborator in the UK, where it is published by Mira,  and The Soldier's Wife in the US, where it is published by Hyperion. It comes out in June 2011.

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