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.


For many years I worked as an academic, researching, writing and teaching African history and collecting stories of minority belonging and identity back in Zambia. I even won an award for my work! I find it fascinating the way humans invent boundaries and labels to define ourselves and others and I explore these themes in my books.

Joan with chimp, 1988
Chimfunshi, Zambia, 1988


The other big theme in my writing is looking after our planet and its biodiversity, which is something I have campaigned for since my first bake sale to save elephants at age eleven. (Elephants still need saved.) I am now a member of the Climate Fiction Writers League and Authors4Oceans, and I am proud to publish with Bonnier, which is a carbon negative publisher. My family and I offset our own carbon footprint through the Tweed Forum.


My books have featured in mainstream newspapers (including The Wall Street Journal) and magazines (from The Week Junior to Woman’s Weekly) and I have been interviewed on a variety of platforms, including BBC Radio Scotland. I write a monthly post for the Awfully Big Blog Adventure.


​I am currently one of ten lucky school Authors-in-Residence with the Scottish Book Trust and I’m available for funded school bookings through their Live Literature programme. I’ve also taken part in bookshop, library and major book festival programmes – I love connecting with readers and listeners and believe strongly in the power of stories.

​Thank you for stopping by. Please stay a while and do pop back!

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