I live and write in Saltburn-by-the-Sea on the wild North Yorkshire coast.
As the daughter of an Irish mother and Yorkshire fisherman my writing pulls together the magical and the practical; the lyrical and the visceral.
I write short stories, novels and poetry.
My debut novel HOW SAINTS DIE was published with Harvill Secker on 13th July 2017.
It took me a long time to remember and respect my voice rather than find it. I grew up on a council estate in the North East in the 1980s. Though I had always told stories and written poetry, I began to write out and write around my background and the world I knew. Although this was about shame the best way I can explain this is through fairytale – I always have sympathy for the ugly sisters who cut their toes to fit the shoe: it’s the only way into the palace. So I cut my voice, my accent, my past. But in 2011 when I was given the gift of a two hour commute on a bone shaker train I found my story and started to write. I wrote about fishing and sea coaling and what happened when we ran out of money for the electric meter. This story became How Saints Die.
My poetry has been published and performed live, with appearances at the Royal Festival Hall, Durham Book Festival, BBC Radio 3 and many venues across the North East from pub back-rooms to Saltburn Pier.
I strive to live up to the words of my original critic and primary school teacher ‘weird, minus one house-point’.
I have always had to work to enable my writing. I have been a development and fund raising executive for the arts; the third sector and higher education. I’ve worked in a theatre where I devised and led projects which gave young people the opportunity to excel through creativity. In universities I have devised and sourced funding for international projects which supported the growth of creative and digital businesses in the North East. These skills are now coming in quite handy to shape the writers’ collective.
You can find out more about my writing at carmenellen2013.wordpress.com.
I’m also a trained chocolatier and made this, possibly my greatest ever achievement: