Why Work?

My dogged, deeply un-hip obsession with what happens on page and stage.



I plunged in as an opera singer and sang in a lot of opera houses all over the world with many singers far more talented than I would ever be. At the start of the new millenium, I decided to do things differently and replace the time I spent singing, worrying about singing, and sitting around frustrated in hotel rooms and rented flats, with time at home spent writing and dreaming up shows in my head. Thanks to leaps of faith by various people, I published my first novel, Long Gone Anybody (Transworld-Black Swan) in 2004, and the second, Cold Comfort (Transworld-Doubleday) in 2006, and directed my first piece of writing for the theatre in 2001, (the regina monologues – Covent Garden Festival). Then I assisted Richard Jones at Glyndebourne (a theatre in which I had last sang Cherubino, and who had helped me by sending me to the National Opera Studio).  Then I started my own company, The Paddock, and in the last seven years, we did lots of exciting things, large and small, involving theatre, opera and dance, usually in unexpected places, some of which I wrote, or directed or both, and some of which I handed over to other talented people. Meanwhile I began teaching writing at University of Sussex, and sometimes, if I was lucky, for the Arvon Foundation, and mentoring online for The Literary Consultancy. I am currently finishing work on two novels, my third and fourth, which somehow have demanded they be written concurrently, not necessarily something I’d recommend but it has worked for me this time.

Most recently I have directed a new opera, Imago, by Orlando Gough and Stephen Plaice, at Glyndebourne, Chabrier’s L’Etoile for New Sussex Opera, and Harrison Birtwistle’s Down by the Greenwood Side for the 2014 Brighton Festival. In 2015, I have been commissioned by the 2015 Brighton Festival to create a new show called Being Both, with the singer Alice Coote, and the English Concert Orchestra, led by Harry Bicket.

Meanwhile, my teaching and mentoring work goes on. In 2014 I reduced my teaching load in order to give myself more writing time, but next year I am back with the Creative Writing Programme teaching on the two-year course, as well as the monthly Advanced Writing Workshop. Have a look at the Writing Coach page, for more information on one-to-one mentoring options, and courses with the Creative Writing Programme at New Writing South.

6 thoughts on “About

  1. Hello. I’m writing an article about opera singers who quit and I’d love to hear what you have to say about this topic.

  2. Wonderful. The article is for Classical Singer magazine. I’ll send you an email with all of the details shortly.

  3. Pingback: December 2013 – settling (glitter) dust | Pearl Bates

  4. Robin J. on said:

    Happened upon a story about “The Regina Monologues” while surfing tonight. Am wondering if the script is available for purchase.

    • Hello Robin J. A HUGELY tardy reply to this enquiry – I am finally getting back to my intermittent blog, many apologies. RM is not available for purchase, as I never published this script. Are you a writer? What spurred your interest in the show? I’d be happy to share more about it with you. Susannah

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