All posts by Anne

March on…

Hey everyone!

So session 1 of 12 of my chemo is done, and I’m back at work on something – not quite new, but which I had set aside for a while, awaiting the opportunity to pick it up again. It’s my new LOKI/RUNE book, and I’m actually having a blast with it. The concept is nuts, which is my favourite kind of concept, and because it’s so different to everything I worked on last year, it feels like a bit of a holiday. Subscribe to my newsletter for details and snippets of work-in-progress, or follow my weekly one-minute video diary on YouTube, for a more intimate, day-today glance at What is it Writers Really Do.

And in cautiously optimistic news (or do I mean wildly optimistic news?), I’ve just sold the film and TV rights to my very first novel, THE EVIL SEED. Of course, things like this have happened before without a show ever being made, but it’s nice to know that a book I began forty years ago when I was at university still has the power to make people dream.

And here’s a piece of good news for you. For a whole month before the publication of THE STRAWBERRY THIEF in paperback, the e-book will be available on Kindle for only 99p. Treat yourself. You deserve something nice…

Happy New Year!

Happy new year, everyone! 2020 was tough for many of us, and 2021 may yet have its challenges. But there’s nothing like a fresh start, a brand-new diary and a positive mental attitude to help shake off the doldrums.

There’s a lot to look forward to this year – the launch of HONEYCOMB in May, the paperback of THE STRAWBERRY THIEF in April, and my new St Oswald’s book, A NARROW DOOR, in autumn. Plus, hopefully, there will be in-person events as well as online happenings, as well as some gigs with the Storytime Band.

This month I’m inviting you to join me for a 30-day writing challenge – just 300 words a day, every day, to help you get into good writing habits and set you up for the coming year. You don’t have to be a would-be professional to benefit from creative writing; nor do you need to have any kind of experience. Just start off gently, on whatever topic you like, and see where your ideas lead you.

My new self-help book, TEN THINGS ABOUT WRITING, is now available in hardback and audio to help you get started, with hints about how to manage your workspace, how to get into your headspace, how to make the most of your time, and what to do when the Muse won’t clock in.

Read more about it here,  or buy a copy at And don’t forget to follow my little writing seminars on my YouTube channel

Christmas 2020

It’s okay to be merry this Christmas.

It’s also okay to be sad, or to grieve, or to feel anxious or lonely.

It’s okay to drink, or not to drink, as you prefer. It’s your choice.

It’s okay to be risk-averse, and to stay in your own home.

it’s okay to be kind to yourself, as well as to other people.

It’s okay not to celebrate at all, or to celebrate something else altogether, or to postpone your celebrations until the world is a safer place for you and yours.

It’s okay to look inward, instead of looking outward.

It’s okay to  eat what you like, or not.

It’s only one day. And it’s yours.



TEN THINGS ABOUT WRITING comes out in hardback and audiobook on December 10th! It’s a terrific, chunky little hardback with a purple silk bookmark, artwork by Moose Allain and a striking jacket design by the excellent Claire Skeats; perfect for anyone who needs  encouragement with their  writing,  or  tips on  how  best  to  get started.

See here for more details.

Meanwhile, I’ve finished the first draft of my new thriller, and I’m waiting for my editor’s reaction – always an anxious time for an author, regardless of the number of bestsellers. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this one – it’s not quite the same as my other Malbry books, and I really hope she likes it…



I’ve just received the advance copies of TEN THINGS ABOUT WRITING, and oh my, they look tremendous! With Moose Allain’s clever, funny artwork, a purple silk bookmark and a conveniently wipe-clean surface (blood, coffee, writer’s tears), I can’t wait to see it in bookshops. You can pre-order it here, just in time for Christmas, but if you just can’t wait till then, it’s already available in e-book form. Oh, and if you’re an audio fan, the audiobook (with me as the narrator) will be coming out on December 10th…

This month’s offer on Amazon Kindle UK is GENTLEMEN AND PLAYERS: available for just 99p till the end of the month. Catch up on St Oswald’s before A NARROW DOOR comes out next year…

 And if you’re already looking at ideas for Christmas, you might want to consider the following bookish gifts:

SWALLOWED BY A WHALE: How To Survive the Writing Life: a beautiful, lavishly-produced book of essays on writing by members of the writing community, ably edited by Huw Lewis-Jones.

The Grimm Novel-Tea Box: You must know how much I love Grimm & Co: their lovely writerly gift box comes with a copy of one of my novellas.  Plus every sale helps support one of the most exciting, magical children’s literacy projects in the world…

Or if you’re feeling flush, you can bid for the chance to give your name to a character in my forthcoming novel, A NARROW DOOR – or offer someone you love a Christmas gift they’ll never forget! All proceeds to the charity Freedom From Torture.

Happy Halloween!

This is my favourite time of the year, and to celebrate, here are a few seasonal treats.

Until the end of the month, Amazon Kindle is offering both THE BLUE SALT ROAD and BLACKBERRY WINE for only 99p each. Get them while you still can!

The Folklore podcast is out! Listen to me discussing Orfeia, the Child Ballads and the importance of folklore for free here.

Check this out: SWALLOWED BY A WHALE: essays on how to survive the writing life, featuring me and lots of other authors.

Storytime fans; I’ve uploladed the Storytime Band’s version of A POCKETFUL OF CROWS on to Bandcamp for you to enjoy (although if you prefer physical CDs, you can still buy your copy here.)

And if you’re craving something delicious in a hurry, here’s the EIGHT-MINUTE MUG CAKE from my good friend, David Greenwood-Haigh


  • 30g plain flour
  • 20g caster sugar (Fairtrade)
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/4 tspn baking powder
  • 30 g butter
  • 40g chocolate


Using a microwaveable mug, melt the chocolate and butter togther in the microwave in short 30 second bursts.

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well.

Add the egg and mix thoroughly

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high).
If the cake rises over the top of the mug, don’t worry – more for you to enjoy!
Allow to cool a little, and either tip out onto a plate or just eat it straight from the mug. Enjoy!

Autumn Leaves

ORFEIA has been out for two weeks now: thank you everyone for your support, your comments and your reviews. These things help a book so much, especially when online events are all an author can do to help gain publicity.

Thank you to all the terrific bloggers who contributed to my virtual tour: I love you all, and I appreciate your hard work immensely.

The audiobook is also out now: you can listen to a couple of clips here and here.

Here’s a talk I did for Forbidden Planet TV

…and a great review and a guest post from me at Don Jimmy reviews.

I also did an hour’s slot on the Folklore Podcast: it should air at the beginning of October, so keep an eye out for all things folklore, Orfeia and Loki-related there.

Good news on the writing front: TEN THINGS ABOUT WRITING is now available as an e-book in the US and Canada, as well as in the UK. And next month I’ll be recording the audiobook in time for the release of the hardback in December.

And finally, #Storytime has a Bandcamp page! Follow us here for new releases, artwork and music…

#StoryTime CD


And it’s… a BOOK!

ORFEIA comes out in the UK in both hardback and in audiobook on September 3rd. Cover art is by Sue Gent; internal art by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, and we’re all very proud of how our new book turned out. It’s my darkest, richest novella yet, dealing with grief, isolation, fantasy, memory, motherhood and sacrifice, and I really hope you’ll like it. I’ll be doing a number of virtual events this month to celebrate the launch, so do check out my events page to see what I’m up to, and join me on my blog tour if you can.

I did a spot on Orfeia and settings in story for Wendy Jones’ Writing and Marketing podcast – you can find it here.

I also wrote a piece on the Child Ballads, and why they’re anything but child’s play.

Due to Covid-19 I won’t be doing any in-person signings, but if you’d like a signed bookplate for your copy of the new book, Bonnie has designed a beautiful one exclusively for ORFEIA: just buy me a coffee on ko-fi to pay for postage, and I’ll pop one in the post for you.

Order your copy here!

Want to study ORFEIA as part of a readers’ group? Here’s a handy guide to give you some ideas and extra resources. (Note: some of the questions contain spoilers, if you’re worried about that kind of thing.)

Jealous queens and wicked witches: a blog post on ORFEIA and the role of older women in traditional fairytales.

A mother’s grief and the dark side of fairytales. A blog post of the background to Orfeia.

Bonnie has written a terrific blog post on how she and I came to work together. Check it out here!

Want a taste of what it’s like? Here’s a clip of me, reading from the book…



Throughout the whole of August, Amazon UK will be offering the e-book of CHOCOLAT for only 99p on Kindle. Interested? Treat yourself here…


This month I’ll mostly be preparing for the launch of my new illustrated novella, ORFEIA, with a magical cover by Sue Gent and illustrations by the wonderful Bonnie Helen Hawkins. It’s a standalone story, set in the same world as A POCKETFUL OF CROWS and THE BLUE SALT ROAD:  and I think Bonnie has produced some of her most stunning artwork yet. We’re both very happy with how our new baby has turned out.

In audiobook news, I’ve just finished the unabridged recording, which will be coming out on September 3rd, at the same time as the hardback edition.  With so many new books coming out on the same date, pre-orders are likely to be even more crucial than in previous years, so if you’re enjoying these folklore-inspired stories, please consider pre-ordering it now: it will help drive sales and make it a whole lot easier for me to convince my publishers that there’s a market for this kind of thing…

Order it here from Amazon!

Or here, from Waterstones!

Or here, from Forbidden Planet!

Or here, direct from the publisher…

Want to study ORFEIA as part of a readers’ group? Here’s a handy guide to give you some ideas and extra resources. (Note: some of the questions contain spoilers, if you’re worried about that kind of thing.)

Want a taste of what it’s like? Here’s a clip of me, reading from the book…

Good Things This Month

This month, things are getting busy again. I’m hard at work on the new book, as well as keeping busy in the garden and making plans for the autumn. TEN THINGS ABOUT WRITING is gaining momentum; thank you so much if you bought it. Small presses need our support right now! If you enjoyed it, do please consider writing a review: as you know, they can help enormously. And do check out my YouTube tutorials on writing – the first one’s right here…

I’m off to London in a couple of weeks to record the audiobook of ORFEIA: and the lovely proofs will be out in a few days, so watch out on Netgalley for the chance to get your review copy. Or you could just enter this month’s competition (details in July’s newsletter) and win  one for yourself…

And we’re celebrating nature, reading, summertime and the passage of the seasons by making A POCKETFUL OF CROWS available to you for only 99p on Kindle. Do take a look if you don’t have it already; it’s my take on an ancient folk tale, and features the most beautiful artwork by Bonnie Helen Hawkins…


Thank you so much to everyone who bought or reviewed TEN THINGS ABOUT WRITING. It will be available in Australia and New Zealand very soon, and I’ve just signed a contract for the audiobook, which I’ll be narrating myself, and which I hope will be out at the same time as the print version. And to accompany the book, I’ve been recording a series of 12-minute YouTube posts on various aspects of writing and the writer’s life, which I’ll be updating weekly. Check out the first one here!

And just in case you were wondering what I’ve been doing to relax – here I am in the greenhouse, where I have a hammock, a radio and a small but carefully-stocked bookshelf. Lockdown is a  limbo state for writers and other creators, providing plenty of time to work, but not always providing the necessary state of mind. Many of my friends have told me how difficult they have been finding it to work, or to function normally. I understand this all too well. I’m lucky that lockdown hasn’t completely flattened my creativity, but there are days when the dream machine just won’t start, and I’m learning not to worry too much when this happens, and to find different ways to get into the zone. First, gardening: a Sisyphean task in the case of my garden, but therapeutic. Second, reading (especially well-worn old favourites). Third, exercise. I’ve found a number of useful resources online, and it helps. It really does. (So do chocolate biscuits, and wine – hence, of course, the exercise.)

But if you’re struggling, if you feel that you’re still in freefall, you’re not alone. Remember that sometimes, just getting through the day is enough: there’s no need to accomplish great things or set yourself impossible goals. I’m using this as my daily goal, and I find it works for me. One writing-related task per day; plus one piece of exercise; one thing to improve my home environment; and one thing for myself. I find it’s a flexible enough routine to sustain, on good as well as bad days. And there are lots of us having bad days; and loss; and grief, and anxiety. I see it, and my heart goes out to all of you who are struggling. Take care of yourselves and those you love. When the big things seem overwhelming, try to remember the little things, which matter more than ever now. And remember small pleasures, and practise self-care, whatever that may mean to you.

Ten Things About Writing

Over twenty years of being a full-time writer, I’ve experienced many things. Changes in the industry; the rise of digital publishing; the changes in our reading habits and our interactions with readers.

But what never seems to change is the number of people who want to write.  Online or off, and in all genres, the passion for writing continues to spread, and with the new opportunities offered by the internet, writers now have many new ways in which to reach their audience.

Six years ago, on Twitter, I started to post frequent little ten-tweet threads  on the subject of being a writer. I did this in response to questions from both readers and writers about my process, my techniques and what being a professional writer entails.  Rather than repeat myself, I would hold these mini-seminars – after fifteen years in teaching, it seemed the easiest thing to do – and the short-form medium allowed for a degree of light-heartedness that I and my audience enjoyed. I took requests, and chose the topics that seemed most interesting and relevant to me.

Together, my followers and I explored a multitude of topics, from editing, to getting an agent, to festivals, to describing the weather, to how not to write about women’s breasts. For six years, I fielded requests to compile all of my #TenTweets into a single online resource. I liked the ephemeral nature of Twitter, and the feeling of having an audience, instead of just a readership.

But lockdown has changed our landscape, and after many requests from writers for help and advice in this difficult time, I decided to launch this project. I chose to go with a small press to show my support for a sector of the publishing industry that is under particular stress, and to bring out the book as an e-book at first, to enable those who need it most to access it immediately. It will come out later this year as a hardback, with some added material, including illustrations from master punster Moose Allain, whose cartoons on all aspects of the creator’s life have never failed to made me smile.

Whether you’re an experienced writer, or whether you’re still looking for the confidence to begin your writing journey, I hope this book can offer you something new and worthwhile. We’re all on a learning trajectory, and sharing our knowledge can only help make us stronger and more connected. My experiences as a writer may not be the same as yours, but we can all learn from each other. So take what you need from these pages; and most of all, enjoy what you do. Joy is such an vital part of creative writing – because if you don’t enjoy what you write, how can you expect anyone else to?

Buy the e-book right now!

Pre-order the hardback here. (Comes out December 10th)

Joanne Harris’s Ten Tweets are a constant source of pleasure, equally welcome to writers and readers. Her tips are not only hard-earned and well-considered but they also spark debate and creative thought. Frankly, they are marvels in miniature. (IAN RANKIN)

Joanne Harris’s Ten Tweets have been tiny islands of sensibleness and wisdom in the sea of lunacy that is Twitter for a long time now, dispensing advice and distilled observation to those who follow her. I’m delighted they are going to be collected in one place and, selfishly, am looking forward to catching up with all the ones I’ve missed. (NEIL GAIMAN)

Joanne Harris’ #TenTweets series is an invaluable, no-nonsense and honest resource. Her pithy, often very funny, advice demystifies writing the publishing industry for new and aspiring writers. (CRESSIDA COWELL)

Joanne is not only a master of her craft but has the rare gift of being able to explain that craft, and offer peerless advice, in the clearest, no-nonsense, practical and entertaining of ways. Wherever you are in your writing voyage, Joanne is the perfect navigator. Learn, absorb, and enjoy! (MATT HAIG)

Orfeia Cover Reveal!

After weeks of lockdown cancellations, here’s something to look forward to!

Here’s an exclusive look at the cover of my upcoming book, ORFEIA, designed by Orion’s talented Sue Gent.

It’s another novella based on a couple of Child Ballads (Ballad 19: King Orfeo and Ballad 2: The Elphin Knight), and will be coming out in autumn, with interior illustrations by the wonderful Bonnie Helen Hawkins, who also illustrated A POCKETFUL OF CROWS and THE BLUE SALT ROAD.

And here I am, on YouTube, reading from the first chapter

Click on the image to read more!


Author on Lockdown: Beginning Month 2


I’ve been self-isolating for a whole month now – to protect my elderly parents living in the village – and life in the Shed has fallen into a kind of gently anxious routine. I try not to look at my diary, which is filled with events, readings, signings, gigs, parties, meetings, festivals, charity galas, interviews – all of them crossed out, of course. Some of them will be rescheduled. Today should have been my paperback launch, the start of a three-month book tour. A part of me still wakes up expecting to have to catch a train to a book event, a festival, a TV show. After thirty days of this strange limbo, I’m still a little surprised to be here.

Instead, and for the first time in years, I have an actual daily routine: an early-morning run, before the rest of the village wakes up; then food preparation; breakfast with my husband, then writing  time, gardening time, internet time, Zoom and Skype meetings for the SOA and the ALCS, FaceTime with my daughter; planting; seeding; watering; Netflix in the evenings. In twenty years, I’ve never had such an ordered, simple, predictable life – except for the obvious, of course, which brings its own daily surprises. I’m very aware how lucky I am in comparison to many: I have a space of my own, and a garden, and access to open countryside. I have a local greengrocer who delivers essential food supplies. I’ve started to find pleasure in things I would never have thought of before – the arrival of a fresh vegetable box; a chance conversation on Twitter. Tidying cupboards pleases me now: my sock drawers have never been so ordered. I try not to worry too much about those things that are beyond my control: the health of my friends and family in Italy, France, or America. So far – at least as far as I know – I have not yet lost anyone who is close to me, although there have been some narrow escapes. I try not to dwell too much on this. The crisis is far from over.

But I am actually writing too, although many of my friends tell me they are finding it hard to concentrate on work. I find that work is what anchors me; gives me something to cling to. Tea helps – and so does wine. Fortunately, we have plenty of both. Other people have other ways of coming to terms with this new reality. I’m writing blog posts; chapters of my new book; articles for the papers. It’s really the first time that writing has seemed to me almost like a full-time job: before this, so much of my time was taken up by touring and publicity.

And this month, I’ve finally got round to putting together my #TenTweets on writing into something that’s starting to look like a book. It’s going to be available pretty soon for you to download, with, hopefully, the chance of a nice print version sometime later this year. More news of that as it breaks, but for now, a few words for the ones of you who may be feeling lost or disconnected in the face of current events. I get it. We don’t all thrive on  balcony singalongs. Some days are better than others, of course, but on the days when all you want is to go back to bed and watch Netflix under the covers until the world goes back to what it was, know you’re not alone in this. We can’t always face each new day with a smile, or start a new language, or transform our bodies in twelve weeks, or bake artisanal sourdough bread. For some of us, just carrying on is a daily act of courage. If this is you, remember this:

Are you afraid that what you do doesn’t matter? Don’t be. If you help just one person, save just one life, make one sad, lonely person a little happier and less lonely, then it matters. Even if that person was you. 

Stay safe, everyone.



2020 events cancelled



That means all book events, readings, festivals and gigs with the #Storytime Band until June, and possibly later. Paperback publication of THE STRAWBERRY THIEF has also been cancelled, which means that instead of coming out this Spring, it will be coming out next year instead, and the launch of HONEYCOMB is likely to be put back till the autumn of 2121.

So far, publication of ORFEIA is still going ahead for this autumn, though this too may change.

Obviously I’m disappointed, both on my own behalf and on yours, but I completely understand the need to do whatever we can to combat the spread of Covid-19. I hope most of the cancelled events will be rescheduled in time: in any case, if you have tickets for a cancelled event, please get in touch with the organizers, who will arrange a refund.

Meanwhile, I’ll be doing various things online instead, so follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to take part.

And the e-book of THE STRAWBERRY THIEF is at 99p on Kindle for the rest of the month, so check out this link if you’d like my book for the price of a cup of coffee… 


Great news!

After a long period of gestation, the lovely Charles Vess is hard at work finishing the illustrations for HONEYCOMB in time for a book launch next year. These are just rough drafts so far, but they’re already giving me the chills…

The Stunners’ Opera

Most of you weren’t able to attend the very short run of THE STUNNERS’ OPERA at Mountview last month: it was amazing, and Howard and I are already working on the next stage, in the hope of bringing it to a larger audience.

Meanwhile, here are some of the awesome photographs taken  by the wonderful Katherine Leedale…


As Christmas approaches, a lot of you have been asking me for gift suggestions. Here are my Top Ten ideas for the readers and writers in your life:

  1. A #Storytime Band CD! Each one is signed, and comes with an exclusive signed bookplate.
  2. A Grimm & Co Novel Tea gift box. Contains tea, a copy of either THE BLUE SALT ROAD  or A POCKETFUL OF CROWS and various magical accompaniments to ensure the perfect reading conditions. Plus, each sale goes to support the fabulous Grimm & Co: changing the world, one story at a time.
  3. For the writer in your life, a subscription to the Society of Authors (if you’re not published yet, you can still be an associate member), to keep them abreast of all the publishing news.
  4.  A box of personalized pencils. Inspirational mottos, in all the cute colours.
  5. Drink tea whilst improving your grammar with a set of grammar mugs!
  6. The Writer’s Map: an atlas of imaginary lands. Lavishly illustrated; edited by Huw Lewis-Jones, with contributions from many (non-imaginary) authors.
  7. Offer them the gift of a professional manuscript evaluation, a one-on-one Skype tutorial or, if you’re feeling flush (and they’re feeling ambitious), a whole manuscript editing service.
  8. Cashmere fingerless gloves from Brora. For those Dickensian winter days.
  9. Writers Tears whisky. Because we’ve all been there. (Although you may have to add in the apostrophe yourself…)
  10. Or, for the scent-addicts in your life, you could try Dzing! from L’Artisan Parfumeur, which recreates the smell of new books…