I grew up in Northamptonshire, and studied languages with the idea that one day I’d run away and be able to talk to anyone, anywhere. But I liked reading novels too much and settled for studying English, then moved to London. I live near the human souk that is the Portobello Road with my husband, who is a journalist.
I have worked as a gossip columnist (which taught me that enjoyable conversation and scoops don’t mix), interviewer (and discovered that even the god of mirth Eddie Izzard isn’t funny at 6 a.m., New York time), and briefly as a publicist (my ardour flared and swiftly died as I watched my Naked Russian poets waggle their bits at Big Ben, before performing a shamanistic goat chant in a radio studio). I moved into publishing, then writing full-time.
Apart from adventures with other minds, I love good books, food, theatre, art, film, friends – enjoying all fine things, and observing the quirks, vanities and ridonculities of the world and what people say and do in it. I have contributed to publications like The Times, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman and Mail on Sunday, and written scripts for the BBC and Channel 5.
My first book, The Art of Conversation, is published by John Murray in the UK in November and Gotham Penguin in the United States in the New Year, and will be translated into five languages. A rallying cry for this neglected yet vital pleasure, it offers a guided tour of the secrets and surprises, as well as tips for doing better.