Beginner’s Pluck

Suzanne Joinson

Suzanne worked in Waterstones before joining the British Council, in the Literature Department. She co-ordinated authors in Europe, then worked in China and Russia, before concentrating on the Middle-East. She wrote short stories, and did a part-time MA in creative writing. She won an award for creative non-fiction that included a year’s mentorship with Sara Maitland. Through that, she got an agent.

Who is Suzanne Joinson?

Date/place of Birth: 1974/Cheshire, England.

Education: Secondary school in Eastbourne. Goldsmith’s, University of London, English Literature.

Home: Worthing, Sussex.

Family: Husband Ben Nicholls, a musician. Woodrow, four, and Scout, two.

The Day Job: British Council two days, writing for three.

Hobbies: Yoga. Walking by the sea.

Favourite Writers: Elizabeth Bowen; Nabokov; Virginia Woolf; Graham Greene.

Second Novel: I’ve started it. Part of it is set in the establishment of the British Mandate in Palestine.

Top Writing Tip: “At the creative phase, when you’re in danger of losing the thread, read what you’ve written that day just before you go to sleep. Something happens in your subconscious. It will be there the next day.”


Twitter: @suzyjoinson


A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar. Bloomsbury: €14.99. Kindle: €7.76

In 1923, sisters Evangeline and Lizzie arrive in Kashgar to help establish a mission. Lizzie is a passionate evangelical, but Eva’s motivation is less clear. A keen cyclist, she starts work on a book. In present day London, Frieda is adrift in life. Then she becomes entangled with Tayeb, a film producer who has fled from the Yemen.

“I started to write autobiographical stuff about wafting around the globe feeling dislocated. And I wanted to write about places that were difficult to get to, so I read about the amazing women like Freya Stark who went off on adventures. That led me to missionary archives. Then I decided to link the two stories.”

The Verdict: I was blown away by this debut. It’s amazing. Clever, exotic, compulsive, intensely moving.


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