She is the author of two works inspired by the famous Cadbury chocolate manufacturers at Bournville, Birmingham (UK) founded by the Quaker capitalist brothers, Richard and George Cadbury.
The biography BEATRICE The Cadbury Heiress Who Gave Away Her Fortune (2012) tells the compelling true story of the radical Cadbury daughter, who gave her shares to the Bournville workers in pursuit of a fairer society.
Fiona’s fact-inspired novel Comforts For The Troops (2015) brings to vivid life the trials and tribulations of Cadbury women workers in World War One.
Her latest historical project Shugborough Estate in Staffordshire, is a National Trust guidebook to the property and estate developed by the Anson brothers, Thomas and George, in the 1700s.
Drawing on her professional background in English Language Teaching, Fiona has also authored two Graded Readers, Oscar’s Journey (2013) and A New Song For Nina (2015). Both were shortlisted for the Extensive Reading Foundation’s Language Learner Literature Awards, and A New Song for Nina went on to win.
Fiona is a popular public speaker with a busy speaking schedule. Her Heritage Talks on the background to her Cadbury books have entertained more than 200 audiences at literary festivals, libraries and reading groups, historical societies and membership groups like the WI and the University of the Third Age (U3A).
Fiona lives in Birmingham with her partner, their two daughters, and their much-loved rescue dog. Contrary to expectation she has never received free chocolate from Cadbury.
A LONGER BIOGRAPHY…
Apart from Saturday jobs in Waitrose and Tesco, my career was primarily in education and in English Language Teaching (ELT). Following a degree in History and English I trained as a teacher and taught for a year in a secondary school before embarking to Athens to do TEFL. After returning to the UK, I completed an MA in ELT and secured a lecturing post in EFL and Linguistics at the University of Wolverhampton. During my time there I co-authored three ELT exam textbooks with my partner, Peter Travis, including the Candidate series for Prentice Hall and Longman.
In 2000, after eight years of lecturing, I took voluntary redundancy and set up an online publishing company called Flo-Joe, which helps learners of English pass their Cambridge exams. Flo-Joe won the prestigious British Council ELTON award for innovation in 2003, and now has a sister website, called Splendid Speaking. In addition I work occasionally as a learning technology consultant.
BECOMING A WRITER
I began writing creatively in 2004, quite by accident really. When I came to sign up for my regular Tai Chi class I discovered the tutor had moved abroad. At another table they were taking enrolments for a writers’ workshop. Hmm, creative writing? I thought. Isn’t that for pretentious, self-absorbed types? How wrong I was. I really loved the class and after four years of half-hearted dabbling I applied for the part-time Graduate Diploma in Writing at Birmingham City University, a course supported by the National Academy of Writing (NAW). Whilst on the course I had a number of short stories published, won the NAW’s ‘2009 Prize for Fiction’, and was contracted by Heinle/Cengage to write an EFL graded reader (OSCAR’S JOURNEY). My biography of Beatrice Cadbury, the radical daughter of the famous chocolate manufacturer. BEATRICE: THE CADBURY HEIRESS WHO GAVE AWAY HER FORTUNE was also developed during the course and I published it under my own imprint, Foxwell Press. My next book was a novel inspired by women working at Cadbury during WW1, COMFORTS FOR THE TROOPS. As a writer I combine my own projects with writing commissions from publishers as well as individuals, which includes a biography of Godric Bader and the ghost-writing of a soon-to-be-revealed memoir.
Contact with other writers is a really important part of staying motivated and developing professionally. In 2010 I joined Tindal Street Fiction Group (TSFG) and became an associate member in 2013. I also belong to the Society of Authors, the Biographers’ Club, New Street Authors and The Producers’ Forum. In 2012 I was accepted (along with 17 other emerging writers) onto the Room 204 Writer Development Programme offered by Writing West Midlands and I continue to be grateful for their incredible support.
I gain a lot of inspiration as a writer from living in Birmingham and being part of the local community of Acocks Green. My ongoing voluntary roles include:
- Community governor at Acocks Green Primary School. I chair the Teaching, Learning and Resources Committee and am Named Governor for Literacy and EAL.
- Member of Acocks Green Carnival Committee
- Nationwide Community Board member within the Central Area, shortlisting local housing projects for a grant
- Volunteer Workplace Chaplain at Webster and Horsfall, one of Birmingham’s oldest manufacturing companies
- Executive Committee member of West Midlands Readers’ Network
IN MY SPARE TIME…
I enjoy watching and deconstructing movies, keeping fit through callisthenics, cooking produce from the family allotment, and simple pleasures like a game of cards after dinner. I have a weakness for vintage textiles and ceramics and am happiest when mooching for treasures at flea markets, car boot sales and charity shops.