Fran writes psychological thrillers, gothic suspense and dark fantasy. She graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from City University London, and a BA in American Literature with Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. She currently lives in Derby, England, with her three giant newfoundlands and two black cats. When not writing she consumes inhuman amounts of tea, works in a book shop, and buys way too many books – not necessarily in that order of significance. Her debut novel AFTER THE ECLIPSE was released in March 2019.
I was approached by my agent during the first year of my creative writing MA in 2015, where I was working on the novel that was to be my debut. I’d written probably 20 finished novels beforehand but never had the courage to do anything with them. My agent’s interest pushed me to be brave, and we signed based on what she read of the book. After that came two years of drafting and edits, first within the MA structure (where my mentors helped me to hone my messy first draft) and then with my agent, to make the book more commercial.
I sold my debut AFTER THE ECLIPSE in 2017 and it was released in March 2019. I’m currently finalising revisions with my editor on my second standalone psychological thriller THE FINAL CHILD, due for release in September 2020. In the last year or so I’ve also turned my gaze to writing dark fantasy and gothic novels (both adult and YA), genres that I absolutely adore.
During both my undergraduate degree and my MA I focused heavily on studying writing. I’ve written multiple theses around creative writing, and had the benefit during both degrees of working with mentors and larger workshop groups. I’ve also taken part in NaNoWriMo every year since 2005 and I have signed up for buddy programs most years. Since my graduation I’ve been a member of two successful local writing groups, where we provide each other with advice both practical and pastoral, and started a discord chat for people writing f/f books!
I mentored in R6 of AMM and got a real chance to test my critical thinking and push both myself and my mentee. Since then I’ve also done several large revisions with my publisher on my second novel, including a pretty hefty rewrite, and I’d love to share some of the things I’ve learned during that process. My day job working in a book shop also provides a fascinating insight into the Other Side of publishing and what really sells (in my local area at least).
I’ve had so much support during my writing journey and made some really fantastic friends – and I really want to pay it forward. I feel like I made a lot of small mistakes on the road to publication that I didn’t need to make, including my inability to celebrate a lot of the milestones due to massive imposter syndrome. I’m here to support my mentee in both the physical craft of writing and also in their emotional experience! I want to be both a Cheerleader Mum and an Eat Your Vegetables Mum.
Although I had a lot of support during my quest for publication there was often a distance between myself and my mentors (because often they were mentoring more than one person). A lot of my early meltdowns and my fear of celebrating important moments during my journey could probably have been avoided if I’d had a mentor I was closer with, and who I wasn’t afraid to talk to. So that’s exactly who I’d like to be for you! I’ve been writing novels for half my life, and it’s often a very solitary experience. Sometimes what you need more than all of the how-to guides in the world is just somebody you can message and say “please pull me back from this terrible meltdown I’m about to have because X didn’t work out the way I planned”. But I’m also here for any plot or character issues, big or small.
I’m a bookseller by day, so it goes without saying that I like books. But, honestly, I LOVE books. Like, I eat, sleep and breathe books. I go to work, sell books to customers, come home and read and write them. I love making new writer friends – talking about books, especially my FRIENDS’ books, is one of my favourite things in the world! I’m also really into discovering new favourite things, especially if they’re book related.
I adore dark fiction, anything that verges on the taboo (but which treats it sensitively), and anything queer. I’m definitely more of a fan of creepy than gory, love stories about siblings and female friendships, and bonus points if there are f/f relationships or witches! I’m equally happy to work on fantasy, crime/thriller or gothic but whatever happens I’ll be looking for a strong hook and charcters I really love, even if they need some unearthing.
- Magical Realism/Fabulism
- dark fantasy
- historical fantasy/crime
I’m a huge fan of psychological anything. Thrillers, horror, fantasy… You name it! As long as there’s a hint of the gothic fear of the human mind, I’m here for it. Speaking more broadly, I love gothic anything, whether that’s serious or with elements of fun. If your book could be comped in any way to REBECCA, WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, ELVIRA, THE LITTLE STRANGER, THE HISTORIAN or THE THIRTEENTH TALE then I’d love to be considered. (Or anything that comps to my list of favourite media!)
For fantasy, I am not always convinced by urban/contemporary fantasy, but the stuff I love I REALLY love. I’m happy to read books about witches/vampires, especially if there’s a different twist to it (f/f witches and vampires? Yes please!)
For crime I’m not a fan of police procedurals of any kind, and like my crime to have as little police intervention as possible, but otherwise I love anything that’s got a really strong sense of place and atmosphere.
I love morally grey characters and downright villains best of all. I’m a huge fan of enemies to lovers and monster romance (I’m thinking more psychological monster than physical, but my mind can be changed!), and I absolutely adore gothic settings like crumbling old houses or secluded country estates.
If you could give me a crime/psychological suspense vibe ADDAMS FAMILY book I’d sell my soul to help you with it. And once again, if there are witches, I’m in. I just really, really love witches. Please give me a gothic adult fantasy/psychological suspense with witches??
My own writing tends to focus on character as much as plot. I love reading character-driven novels with morally complex protagonists, as well as anything gothic, creepy, or a little bit magical. Romance isn’t key, nor is f/f, but I adore both of those things. I wish I’d had a mentor who understood my desire to write books with f/f central relationships, so if you’re looking for somebody to support you through that experience, I’m your gal.
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Freestyle in chat
The most important thing I believe about any sort of mentorship is that I want to listen to the kind of feedback and help you want to receive. But having said that, my personality means that I will always be very friendly and approachable and we will work best if we get on well as friends too. I find that some of the best problem-solving happens when you’re talking/thinking about other things! This isn’t a prerequisite of course, but if that’s the sort of mentor you want, I’m the one for you. I want to be the kind of mentor you can approach if you need a bit of a pep talk as much as if you’re really struggling with a scene.
I’d love to check in semi-regularly using something like discord or slack, but would be more than happy to step back while you edit/redraft if that’s what you needed, and I’m happy to work with you until you feel that it’s ready. I can read whole drafts or individual chapters, but in later stages I should only need to read directly what you’re working on as you work on it.
I’m definitely more of an email/chat girl than a phone call girl though.
In terms of critique, first off I will read through a complete draft leaving notes in the document with my first impressions (both things I love and things I think need a little work), and then I’ll write an edit letter with a broader-scale structural-focused slant, similar to the kinds of feedback I receive from my editor when I’m working on revisions of my own. Then, depending on how much work the book needs we might do another big edit if that’s something you want to tackle. I’ll be here the whole way! And then smaller edits to polish. During this time I want my mentee to feel comfortable communicating with me about the points I’ve raised so we can work out the best way forward, whether through private discord/slack or regular email. I believe the best progress is made through flexible working, conversation and mind-mapping collectively. If and when you decide you’re ready to query, I’ll do my best to help with your agent choices/query/first chapters too.
My ideal mentee is somebody who is taking their writing journey seriously, who wants to work on their novel so that it is ready for query or submission and who isn’t afraid of the hard work that it might entail. I might be tough but I’ll always be fair, and most importantly honest.
If you choose me as your mentor you’ll need to be comfortable with feedback, but also willing to discuss with me if you don’t agree (I’m not always right, nor should I be because at the end of the day it’s your book!). Above all, I want you to be enthusiastic and honest with me, both about your goals and about the things you thought you could get away with in your manuscript but which still need work. We’ve all been there, we’ve all done it, the hardest part sometimes is getting started on what needs to happen next.
• Psychological thrillers/mysteries/suspense with complex protagonists and evocative settings.
• Gothic suspense.
• Private detectives
• Anything with witches. (Please, please give me witches. The bloodier and queerer the better.)
• Noir with a feminist slant.
• Empowered girls everywhere.
• Badass women who do NOT do as they’re told.
• Dark fantasy. The creepier & more gothic the better!
• f/f or anything LGBTIA+! (I’m a BIG fan of ace/aro). Bonus points if coming out isn’t the focus. (I totally support #ownvoices writers but if you don’t want to openly identify as such, that’s cool too!)
• Complex relationship dynamics: hate to love, marriage of convenience, slow burn (my fave), especially anything angsty. Villain romance too!
• Horror with a psychological bent. Bonus points if it’s a WHY book, not just a who/what book. Like how at the end of The Others you find out WHY Nicole Kidman and her creepy-ass kids are as weird as they are.
• Retellings of any kind, but especially classic novels/myths/legends/fairy tales! But only as long as there’s some kind of twist on the original story. An especially big YES if it’s an f/f retelling of literally anything.
• Historical fantasy/crime (especially eras that are less commonly written about, but also I love Victoriana settings and anything set in America or England). I love southern gothic, the 1920s, the 1950s.
• Boarding schools
• Old or haunted houses/country manors
• Creepy forests
• Family crypts
• Rooms full of secrets, families full of secrets.
• Sisters or female friends. Especially if they’re a bit twisted.
• Vampires. I’m ready.
• People who make Bad Choices and then have to live with the consequences.
• A duo/trio who encourage the Bad Choices.
• Cinnamon roll boys.
• If you’ve got a crime/psychological suspense vibe ADDAMS FAMILY book I want it.
• Same goes for an adult Veronica Mars, especially if she gay.
• Anything that can be compared to any of the media on my faves list. Bonus points if you can mash two together!
I could add to this list FOREVER. If you have questions, ask away 🙂
DO NOT SEND ME:
• Sci-fi. If there’s too much tech involved, I’m not here for it.
• Abuse on the page. Nothing too visibly violent please! A bit is fine, but don’t go too far, especially in crime. I love dark, I love bloody, but please nothing sexually violent.
• Urban fantasy without witches/vampires (I’m really only into contemporary fantasy for the witches, or vampires if the price is right).
• High fantasy where the main focus is war/court intrigue/end of the world. I love quiet stories best, ones with smaller stakes, and big wars are not my forte to edit.
• Police procedurals.
• Crime without a romance/friendship subplot (I need something emotional I can sink my teeth into alongside the mystery element)
• Pure romance.
• WWI or WWII stories
• Historical fiction that has no crime/fantasy element. I like reading it but I’m no good at editing it.
• Pet deaths. Or animal abuse of any kind.
– The Binding – Bridget Collins
– Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
– Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn
– Behind Her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough
– Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
– One of Us is Lying – Karen McManus
– The Diviners – Libba Bray
– Vicious – V. E. Schwab
– The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield
– Uprooted – Naomi Novik
– And I Darken – Kiersten White
– Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
– The Secret History – Donna Tartt
– Northern Lights – Philip Pullman
– Circe – Madeline Miller
– Charmed (original series, an old favourite)
– Law and Order: SVU
– Pushing Daisies
– The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
– American Horror Story (Murder House, Coven, Apocalypse, 1984 especially)
– Veronica Mars
– Twin Peaks
– Brooklyn Nine Nine
– Orphan Black
– BBC Dracula (2020)
– His Dark Materials (2019)
– Practical Magic
– Addams Family Values
– The Craft
– The Others
– The Skeleton Key
– Crimson Peak
– Interview with the Vampire
– Knives Out
– Ghostbusters (2016)
– The Heat
– Wizard of Oz
– Return to Oz
– Anything Disney
– Panic! at the Disco
– Florence and the Machine
– Delta Rae
– Lady Antebellum
– Amanda Palmer
– Billie Elish
– Taylor Swift
– Disney soundtracks
– Frozen (& Frozen 2)
– We Will Rock You
– Phantom of the Opera