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No Vacancies and Other Stories

No Vacancies and Other Essays is a narrative of a childhood house riddled with addiction, secrets, abuse, and tragedy. People say a love for the bottle runs in families, altering the course of people’s lives like a river carving out a valley. In our family, a dark undercurrent ran beneath the floorboards.

Writing No Vacancies and other Essays helped me to connect exiled and damaged parts of me with something that was greater than pain: compassion. With the economy of language, I learned how to navigate the distance from the sudden death of my mother and brother, through the chaos that was childhood, to a present moment that was real and actually beautiful. In facing the equally sudden deaths of my father and sister, I developed an affinity for writing ethereal overlays to return – like a sleepwalker –  to the violent and traumatic places I had lived through. I went to those places to find things I thought I had lost only to leave behind things that did not belong to me. 

This collection is about growing up in England as the youngest daughter of a famous historical cartographer. The stories take you on darkly funny journeys across the paper landscapes of my father’s favorite map – Ordnance Survey, Six-inch Sheet Devonshire CIX, SE, Newton Abbot. Empty spaces are populated and finally tell what lies hidden in the map. 


















The interwoven often comical vignettes are written with evocative and lyrical language, while a  bright voice drives the narrative, challenging the convention of linear storytelling.

Scenes of childhood and generational trauma are anchored in vivid descriptions and emotional weight. The entire work is highly cinematographic –offering pathways though rooms and houses; transits through streets and towns. Landscapes are not just imagined, they are dreamed. Time is sheltered in place; given a space of repose. The dialectics of love and loss are brought into balance. 

Map of Newton Abbot, 1887. Ordnance Survey County Series Series

Seeking representation for this collection

Image by Luke Stackpoole
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