My name is Joan.

I was born in beautiful, landlocked Zambia and grew up there, first in a remote village and then in a small mining town. We moved when I was twelve to Vanuatu – a chain of magical islands in the South West Pacific. I have also lived with dragons (otherwise known as housemistresses) at boarding school, monks in India and alongside real-life pirates in Nigeria. You can now find me in the Scottish hills with my cats and other family.

I write fiction and non-fiction, and I lead university and high school courses for study abroad students, focusing on ethnographic writing, travel writing, and creative writing.

I am proud to publish with independent publishers. Cranachan Publishing is a small Scottish press based on the Outer Hebrides. Templar is an imprint of Bonnier Books, an international (and carbon negative) publisher.

Joan with chimp, 1988
Chimfunshi, Zambia, 1988


My books have been widely translated, nominated for major book prizes (even being shortlisted for and winning some!) and featured in mainstream print media (ranging from The Wall Street Journal to The Week Junior to Woman’s Weekly). I’ve taken part in local and international book festivals (from Edinburgh to Manchester, New York, and Taipei) and appeared on BBC Radio Scotland, The Week Junior Show, the Plazoom podcast, the National Literacy Trust Virtual Library, and Forever Lands, the 2023 film by Publishing Scotland.


​Thank you for stopping by – please stay for a browse and pop back soon!

Joan at the Beeb
'Strong writing, a distinctive voice and original concepts' - Kelpies Prize judges