How Emily Bronte Changed My Life


When I was younger I didn’t think books could be set in the sort of places people actually lived. I understood that books were set in unreal magical places. Or London.

I certainly had no idea they could be set in Yorkshire. Or – even – be written by people from Yorkshire.

As a result, when I started reading and writing for pleasure, I didn’t think it was a career option. I was just something I did.

I was 20. School had gone badly. I’d been unemployed. But, with a sudden love of reading, I started an A level at night school in Leeds. Things were changing.

Within a month of starting the A level, we had read Wuthering Heights and watched film of the poem V. by Tony Harrison. One set on the moors above Haworth. One set in Leeds. A double dose of Yorkshireness.

I had my epiphany then.

You know? That great moment in your life when everything changes.

My epiphany: I could write about where I was from! And… I could be a writer. As a job!



Tomorrow I am launching my new book Killing Ground in Halifax.

Because it is set in Halifax.

On the moor next to where they host the Halifax Agricultural Show. At the Shay football and rugby stadium. In the new central library. Inside the town’s extraordinary Piece Hall. And on the streets that connect all those places.

I will visit four Halifax schools to tell them about a book set on their doorstep. I’ll tell them about Emily Bronte. And Ted Hughes, who lived just up the road. I’ll tell them about me.

And I’ll tell them they can read about Halifax in fiction. And write about it too.

You can find out more and read the first chapter of Killing Ground here.