Artichoke Hearts

Winner of the Waterstone's Children's Book Award 2011
Winner of the Redbridge Book Award 2012
Selected for The Book Trust's Booked Up (Free Books for year 7 students ) Scheme 

Shortlisted in 2011/12 for the:
Berkshire Children's Book Award
RONA Award
Ealing Readers Award

Longlisted for the:
Carnegie Medal 2012

Musings on Artichokes

"A beautifully written book about family, friendship, grief and hope which made me laugh and cry sometimes at the same time"
Anthony Browne, Children's Laureate (2009-2011)

Published in the USA by Albert Whitman Publishers under the name of ' Mira In The Present Tense'

Artichoke Hearts is a book, written in diary form about a month in a girl's life when just about everything changes: her beloved bohemian grandmother is dying and she's falling in love with a boy in her class for the first time. The Artichoke Heart charm Mira's grandmother gives her and what she experiences in just one month of her life, teaches Mira about the many layered secrets of the human heart.

What an amazing experience it has been having my first book published by Macmillan. A Big thank you to my wonderful editor and agent Sam Swinnerton and Sophie Gorrel Barnes of MBA (Two of the most beautiful and intelligent people in exaggeration)

I never dreamed when I started writing it in 2006 that this book would not only be published but that it would receive an award presented to me by Children's Laureate Anthony Browne. Since I was Mira's age (12 years old) I have dreamed of becoming a writer, and now it's wonderful to be given the green light to carry on. It's so rewarding when people write to me and tell me that they have been moved by my story because above all else it was written from the heart.

I started writing Artichoke Hearts after my mother in law Rosie Harrison (Artist and Activist) died in 2005. She was an inspirational grandmother to my children. We were all very close to her and I felt that the lessons that she taught me and my children about love and living a great life should be passed on to other people.

The whole book spans just one month in Mira's life. I remember when I was twelve how slowly time seemed to pass and how much could happen in a very short space of time. I recall moments in my own life that seemed to change the way I understood the world. Artichoke Heart tells the story of a time that changes Mira forever as she begins to step out of her childhood shoes and walk other paths.

Like many first novels it brings together some of the elements of the author's life. Although I am not Pat Print  (I don't generally go into schools wearing walking boots or holey cardigans unless I have been savaged by Smokey our temperemental cat!)  Miss Print's year seven creative writing workshops do share a trail back into my work in theatre and education. What a gift it is now to be able to go back into schools and talk about Artichoke Hearts .    

I recently went back to my old secondary school to give a talk and workshop. So many memories of school days came flooding back as I stood on the stage where I had acted in plays, got a detention for pinching biscuits and picked up my GCSE results (very long time ago!) I looked to the back of the room to see a teacher whom I have not seen for over thirty years. I was so touched that she had made the effort to come along to hear me talk.  Inspirational teachers have played a part in encouraging me to become a writer just like Pat Print inspires Mira to write her diary. It's not until you look back that you can see how the layers of your life and work are starting to fit together.  

And, although he hates me telling everyone this.. something else unexpected came from writing this book... a beautiful silver charm made to the exact description in my book and presented to me by Leo, my husband.

"The artichoke charm is the size of the nail on my little finger. It has layers and layers of leaves, painted at their tips with green enamel. Each leaf gets smaller and more delicate until it reaches the centre...a tiny blood red heart"

Best Husband of the year award 2011 goes to Leo Harrison!
I am planning a  rare and completely bespoke jewel in all my books from now on...


The Guardian Review - 29th May 2012

The Guardian  - 26 February 2011
"I can quite see what made the judges choose Artichoke Hearts, an unusual love story inspired by the relationship between the author's daughter and her own mother-in-law." 
Mary Hoffman Full Review

Daily Mail - February 20 2011
"Brimming with emotional honesty, the voices of all the characters have an authenticity that allows the painful situations to be lightened by gentle humour... This is a brave and ambitious book that succeeds on every level. A wonderful debut from a new talent"

Children's Booksellers' Choice - January 2011
"Wholly believable, funny and finally, heart - wrenchingly sad"

Waterstone's Sarah Clarke (children's buying manager) - February 10 2011
 "This is the most honest, emotionally affecting children's book I've read for some time. I defy anyone to read it without crying." Full Article

Ham and High - January 20 2011
"Juxtaposing ideas from the imaginative creative writing classes Mira takes at school, with the increasingly poignant episodes in her own life, this warm thoughtful novel offsets the pathos of its subject matter with a lively sense of humour and a moving appreciation of close family relationships." 

Wonderous Reads - January 2011
"I've been thinking about Artichoke Hearts ever since I finished it last week. It just keeps creeping back into my thoughts, and the only thing I can do is talk about it. I've bothered my mum, my friends at work, Twitter... anyone who I can tell about it, I've told. It's honestly that good.

A beautifully written coming-of-age story and, if this is the standard that future British debut novels have to live up to, I'd say we're in for a fantastic year. It really is a special book, and it's one that will stay with me for a very long time." Full Review