Over the years I have had low-paid jobs on 3 continents, including being a Putzfrau at the 1972 Olympics in Munich (I cleaned Mary Peters’ room, and got chatted up by the Australian featherweight weight-lifting team – when one of them backs you into a corner at a party, you stay backed!), office dogsbody in Sydney, and making elaborate sundaes at an ice-cream parlour inToronto. I’ve worked at summer camps for inner-city kids, been a happy cog in a number of typing pools, sold ugly coats to rich old ladies, I was the secretary at Iona Abbey for a year, and used to teach piano. None of these jobs could even hold a candle to writing, to which I always return. It’s quiet, and there’s no heavy lifting.
Joan grew up in Canada, and now lives in Scotland – in a house overlooking the Tay Bridge – with her family.
Joan has had poetry published in magazines and anthologies in Britain and Canada, several children’s stories printed in Cricket magazine, and a number of adult stories published and broadcast in Britain. Her first children’s book, The Bad-Tempered Dragon, was published by Scholastic in 1998. She has also had two puppet plays performed at the Edinburgh Fringe (“Midas Goes for Gold” 2000, and “Travels in a Washbasket” 2004).
Joan has written fantasy novels for teenagers (Questors and The Seventh Tide (Puffin), Silver Skin and Walking Mountain (Birlinn)) and comedy for newly fluent readers (Tales from the Turrets – Catnip Books). Her Wickit Chronicles quartet (Andersen Press), charting the life of a young boy living on a Medieval monastery on the East Anglian Fens, and Slightly Jones quartet (Catnip Books) about a young Victorian Sherlock Holmes wannabe who solves crimes which take place in museums in Paris, London, Cambridge and Glasgow entertain readers aged 8 to 11. The Night of the Kelpies (Barrington Stoke) and Planet Hell(A&C Black) were written for less confident teenage readers.
Joan has been an Arvon Tutor, received a Writing Bursary from Creative Scotland in 2009 and was the recipient of the Jessie Kesson Fellowship which entitled her to spend a month living and working at Moniack Mhor, the Arvon Foundation Writers’ Centre near Inverness.
Joan blogs regularly (she takes great photos!) on her own website here, and regularly contributes to the Girls Heart Books blog, and the History Girls Blog.
Joan has appeared at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, The Borders Book Festival and the Aye Write Festival, the Northern Children’s Book Festival and the Islay Book Festival amongst many others. She is registered with Live Literature Scotland and is a regular visitor to schools to talk about her books, and to run creative writing workshops.