Book Launch Party for The Stolen Child

Book Launch Party for The Stolen Child

If you’re in Bristol and you’d like to come and celebrate the launch of The Stolen Child, please do come along to:

Waterstones, the Galleries at 7pm on Friday 21 April

It’s one month today! More details are on my Events page, but if hearing about The Stolen Child isn’t sufficient incentive, there will be prosecco and beer from Grape and Grind, and a Stolen Child inspired Bourbon and coffee cake made by Ahh Toots!


See you there!


Q&A about The Stolen Child

Q&A about The Stolen Child

I’m thrilled to be able to share this conversation about The Stolen Child with you. It’s a bit about what inspired the story, where it’s set and where the title came from. Enjoy!



If you have any more questions, do let me know. And if you sign up to the newsletter, I’ll send you some free extracts from The Stolen Child before it’s published.



Behind the scenes: Filming The Stolen Child trailer

Behind the scenes: Filming The Stolen Child trailer

I thought you might like to see what went on behind the scenes when we were filming The Stolen Child trailer! The crew and I all live in the south-west, and it was going to be too tricky to get us all to Ilkley, West Yorkshire, where The Stolen Child is set…so we decided to use Porlock common, a heathland in Somerset, to stand in for Ilkley moor.



Here’s our actor, Ela Chia Gutierrez, playing Evie, being filmed by Director of Photography, Rob Franklin.

We wanted to start with Evie, who is a happy contented child, until she receives a sinister card… We planned to film this in a playground in Porlock – but when we arrived, it had been closed the night before as a piece of equipment was unsafe to use. Ah, the best laid plans.

We ended up filming next to some toilets in a car park… So glamorous!



Here’s Ela being lit by our camera assistant, Zoe Masters. Evie has just spotted a card left for her.

Hello my darling, 

I’m your real father. I’ve been searching for you ever since you were stolen from me. I love you so much. 



When we filmed on the common, aka, Ilkley moor, Ela dressed in a Princess Elsa dress and had to run across the heath –



– with my mobile taped on her back so we could tell her when she needed to STOP, and come back to us. We used a drone camera, operated by Jack Stevenson, to try and capture the feeling of isolation, wilderness and fear that Evie must have felt when she was lost on the moor…



I love this place. I love this land. It’s part of me, it’s part of who I am. But it’s no place for you: a seven-year-old girl in a princess costume. 



Here’s Rob and Jack operating the drone, filming Ela as she sprints across the moor.

Rob and Zoe then drove up to Ilkley moor and filmed a few shots to drop into the trailer to give that feeling of authentic wilderness.



The dark edge of the moor and the Cow and Calf rock are crisp against the blue-black sky. I can’t see anyone outside, watching us. As I shut the door behind me, I hear a noise. It came from the hall. I feel the hairs rise on the back of my neck. 


Let me know what you think! Here’s the finished trailer:






The Stolen Child Trailer

The Stolen Child Trailer


The Stolen Child trailer is live! Here’s our fabulous actor, Ela Chia Gutierrez playing Evie, being filmed by DoP Rob Franklin. We were also joined by Zoe Masters, our camera assistant, and Jack Stevenson, the drone pilot. Ela had to run across the moor in a Frozen dress being pursued by a drone camera! We bought her a slap-up ice cream afterwards!

Let me know what you think of the trailer!





Peter James on The Stolen Child

Peter James on The Stolen Child

Two of my writing heroes, Peter James and Peter Swanson, have kindly given me a quote for the book cover of my next thriller, The Stolen Child.



And two of my favourite psychological thriller writers Holly Seddon, and Amanda Jennings, have also said nice things:

‘Grips to the very last page… I couldn’t put it down.’ Amanda Jennings

‘The Stolen Child captivated me, terrified me and left me deeply moved.’ Holly Seddon


You can pre-order The Stolen Child here




Coming Soon – The Stolen Child

Coming Soon – The Stolen Child

My second thriller, The Stolen Child, is out soon: 6 April! And I’m delighted to be able to reveal the cover to you!


The Stolen Child is set on Ilkley moor, where I grew up. It’s about a couple, Zoe and Ollie, who long for a baby but are unable to have one. They adopt a child from birth, a little girl called Evie. A few years later they have their own child, a boy called Ben. The story begins when Ben is two and Evie is seven. Evie’s starting to realise that she’s different from the rest of her family, and beginning to understand what it means to be adopted.

One day she receives a card addressed to My Daughter. Inside it says:

                           Seven years ago, you were stolen from me. 

                           Now I’m coming to get you back. 

                                                              Love, your Daddy.


I’ve been fortunate to have had some wonderful pre-publication comments:


‘The Stolen Child captivated me, terrified me and left me deeply moved.’ Holly Seddon

‘Beautiful terse writing and the build to the shattering climax is palpable.’ Peter James

‘Gut-wrenching… The Stolen Child succeeds as both a fast-paced thriller and a haunting tale of a fragile family.’ Peter Swanson

‘Grips to the very last page… I couldn’t put it down.’ Amanda Jennings


I hope you enjoy it! It’s available for pre-order from Amazon.





Amazon Rising Star!

Amazon Rising Star!

category_icons03I’m so delighted that Bone by Bone has been selected as an Amazon Rising Star for 2016! These are the most promising debuts of the year.

I’m in stellar company: fellow Corvus author, Catharine Ryan Howard with Distress Signals, multi-million bestseller, Hideo Yokoyama with Six Four, and Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris.




There’s some incredible-looking book covers and titles – I’m intrigued by Fen by Daisy Johnson, You Have Me to Love by Jaap Robben, with its eerie image of a seagull’s head, and  Jihadi: A Love Story by Yusuf Toropov.


Needless to say, we’ve been celebrating!


Bone by Bone is picked as one of The Guardian’s best books of 2016

Bone by Bone is picked as one of The Guardian’s best books of 2016

category_icons03I’m so delighted – Bone by Bone has been picked by Mark Lawson in The Guardian as one of the best crime books and thrillers of 2016!


Mark calls Bone by Bone a noteworthy and unnerving debut. I’m in good company – Val McDermid, Ian Rankin and Ann Cleeves are also must-reads, as well as one of my favourite thrillers of the year, Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall.


Who would you recommend for 2016?






Mothers & Daughters

Mothers & Daughters

category_icons03In my thriller, Bone by Bone, there are three generations of female characters – Autumn, who is nine years old, and is being bullied at school; her mother, Laura, who, like her child, is shy and unconfident, and her rather more forthright mother, Dr Vanessa Baron-Cohen, a well-known anthropologist. The bond between mothers and their children, particularly their daughters, is usually the strongest one that exists in human beings.


Mothers shape their daughters, but daughters often rebel against being moulded. I was interested in exploring this most tight and intimate bond; how some women raise their daughters to be like them, and their daughters then reject their values, but in doing so, may make mistakes of their own with their daughters – a tale familiar to some of us! As Oscar Wilde so glibly said, ‘All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.

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Bone by Bone supports anti-bullying charity, Kidscape

Bone by Bone supports anti-bullying charity, Kidscape


category_diary80I’m so delighted – Bone by Bone will be out in paperback this week! I’m donating 10 % of any profits I make to anti-bullying charity, Kidscape.

Here’s a short video with five tips for children to help them stop the bullies:



And here’s a wonderful statement that Kidscape have written for the paperback edition of Bone by Bone:


Bullying and abuse can destroy childhoods and damage futures. Kidscape has been working for over 30 years to keep children safe from harm and to give parents and professionals the knowledge and skills they need to ensure that every child is protected. We were the first charity in the UK to tackle bullying and child sexual abuse and remain committed to our mission to support and protect children and help them to grow into happy, confident adults.


We are hugely grateful to Sanjida for working so closely with us and donating a portion of the profits of Bone by Bone to Kidscape. Bullying is an issue which can affect anybody, regardless of family background, location or economic circumstance, and Bone by Bone handles these issues in an incredibly thoughtful and incisive manner, as well as being an exciting read. Kidscape supports families through the torment of bullying, and educates teachers and other professionals about how they can prevent it occurring. All the money raised through sales of Bone by Bone will help Kidscape to continue its highly effective early intervention work in schools throughout the country.


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Bone by Bone out in paperback!

Bone by Bone out in paperback!


category_diary80I’m so delighted – in ten days time Bone by Bone will be out in paperback! My other exciting news about the paperback release is that it’ll be in Sainsburys! You’ll be able to pick up a copy with your tea bags and chocolate Hobnobs!

The paperback has a few additions: a Bone by Bone – Author Q&A with me, some book club questions and the prologue to The Stolen Child – in case I can tempt you to pick up a copy!


Bone by Bone paperback book trailer



I’m also thrilled that Audible have bought the rights to turn it, and The Stolen Child, into audio books! I’m a big fan of the form – I listen to books most days. I’ll let you know who the narrator is going to be!


What do you think of audio books? Do you like them or do you think the narrator can distract from the story?




The Stolen Child

The Stolen Child




I’ve just finished the edits and copy edits for my second thriller, The Stolen Child!


   They stole my child from me.

And now I want her back…


For those unaware of the various lengthy processes a  novel goes through, after I’ve handed the manuscript in, my editor highlights areas that could be improved and I have another go at reworking those sections to her satisfaction. I finished that bit the day before going on  holiday – phew!


The Stolen Child - copy edits


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Summer holiday thrillers

Summer holiday thrillers




I can’t wait to pack my bikini and my books! We’re heading to Italy for an unadulterated beach holiday. We’ve got one suitcase between three of us, so already I’m worrying which novels to take as I like to read real books in the sand!

Here are my favourite summer thriller recommendations, that will be perfect for down time, whether you’re by the sea or up a mountain





My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry, published by Michael Joseph


Lily feels unloved and unlovely. When she meets wealthy artist, Ed, she thinks it’s her one chance of marriage and she takes it, in spite of barely knowing her future husband.

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Blurred lines: Separating fact from fiction

Blurred lines: Separating fact from fiction


category_diary80I’m delighted to be featured in Writer’s Aloud, the Royal Literary Funds podcast. This week I’m talking about the distinction between imagined and real worlds in novels.

Writer’s blur the lines between fact and fiction – we can’t help it – our work comes from us, our heads and our hearts; in the end, everything is, in some shape or form drawn from our own experience.


Have a listen and let me know what you think!


James McConnachie & Sanjida O’Connell

Who am I? Finding ourselves in others

Who am I? Finding ourselves in others



Last week I gave the keynote speech at Sidcot School’s Peace Festival. It was a double honour, because it was also the launch of the James O’Connell Peace Field. Named after my Dad, the field is full of wild flowers and several yurts, which are spaces for meditation, reflection, doing a bit of homework, as well as being part of the Peace and Global Studies Centre that Dad inspired.




My brother, Pat O’Connell, said a few words about Dad, and my mum, Rosemary O’Connell, cut the ribbon.




The day was about identity and I talked about how we find our identity as we’re growing up (or even as grown ups!). Identity, I believe, is formed by where you come from, who you love and who loves you, but you can also shape it yourself. Your origins do not have to be your destiny. And as you grow and change, your identity changes too.





My two favourite quotes from the talk are by Coco Channel:

A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.

…and Dr Seuss:

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.


What do you think forms and shapes your identity?





Long listed for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award!

Long listed for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award!



category_icons03I’m so delighted – I’ve been longlisted for The Crime Writer’s Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award. I can’t quite believe BONE BY BONE is alongside Lee Child’s MAKE ME and Julia Heaberlin’s BLACK-EYED SUSANS.IMG_3403

Ian Fleming said there was one essential criterion for a good thriller – that ‘one simply has to turn the pages.’

And my day continued to get better, as I sat next to Ian Rankin for dinner at Crimefest! Ian said that he was a mid-list writer for eleven years before he broke into the best-seller list with BLACK AND BLUE. So with perseverance and luck there’s hope for us all.

IMG_3405Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for me to get through to the shortlist!