About Tish Farrell

This blog is not about writing, although there are one or two excursions into aspects of the creative process. No. This blog is mostly about place. Land and landscapes – actual and metaphysical: the bedrock of existence and also, in that conjured ‘sense of place’ the bones of all memorable fiction. These days I live on the edge of Wenlock Edge, an upthrust limestone ridge of vast antiquity. Some four hundred million years ago it lay prone, the floor of a shallow tropical ocean. This was the Silurian Sea that, before tectonic shift and shunt caused it to pitch up in Shropshire, in England’s Midlands, lay south of the equator somewhere off Africa’s east coast.

In my writer’s mind this extraordinary geological structure, some twenty miles long, feels like a threshold, or better still, a conduit through time and space. There’s a certain congruency too. Before I came to live on the Edge, I had lived in Kenya for seven years, with a nine month stay in Zambia in between. But Shropshire is the place I am from (well mostly), and the notion that I have somehow come home and at the same time returned to the place I had left, though in quite another age and hemisphere, tweaks my imagination.

So: this is where I post impressions (often more visual than verbal) of the place where I am, and the places I have been; and sometimes they get mixed together. But that doesn’t matter. These days too, I might say I am more of a gardener than a writer. Or at least, and here I’m taking a leaf from the late-days account that R.S. Thomas gave of himself as poet and/or birdwatcher, I might say that on days when the writing goes well, I am a writer; on the days it goes badly, I am a gardener who takes photos. But however you find me, welcome to Writer on the Edge.


Back story

I began writing while I was living in Kenya. At the time, when it came to children’s fiction, the Nairobi bookshops mostly stocked European imports, Enid Blytons and Hardy Boys reprints. There were few stories that featured African kids as heroes in their own time. This made me angry enough to overlook my presumption in appointing myself, an English ex-patriot, to do something about the situation. My fury carried me a long way. Zimbabwe Publishing House and Phoenix Kenya accepted my first two works, a picture book Flame Tree Market and short novel, Jessicah the Mountain Slayer. These titles won first and second children’s literature prizes respectively at the 1995 Zimbabwe International Book Fair. That is a long time ago, but is still a source of deep satisfaction. Extraordinarily too, both titles have remained in print in Kenya ever since, or at least they were at my last royalty pay-out. (Over two decades now!) My next two stories were also published for African young people, Joe Sabuni P I (Heinemann JAWS) and Sea Running (Macmillan Pacesetter).  Joe Sabuni was later translated into six Zambian languages as a means (rather obviously to my mind) of encouraging teens to read by giving them books in their mother tongue rather than in their second language, English.

Meanwhile my African short stories were being published for children of all ages in the United States in Carus Publishing’s Cricket, Spider and Cicada magazines.  When I returned to the UK I was commissioned by Ticktock publishers and Compass Point Books in the US to write a 6-book creative writing series for 8-10 year olds. The series won several awards. The UK edition Write your own adventure stories won third prize at the inaugural Society of Authors’ Educational Writers Award, and Write your own science fiction stories gained (of all extraordinary extraterrestrial entities) a special Golden Duck award for ‘encouraging excellence in children’s Science Fiction writing’. I take heart from the fact that J K Rowling has also won a Golden Duck.

My most recent works have been quick reads for unkeen teen readers for Ransom: Mau Mau Brother; Mantrap and Stone Robbers. I also reworked one of my Cicada Magazine stories, Losing Kui, as a Kindle e-book. It was originally published as El Nino and the Bomb  (Nov-Dec 2008). Cicada publishes literary fiction that appeals to both an adult and near adult readership. My very good friend, Buffalo artist, Kathleen Collins Howell, kindly created the cover.


Things are going from bad to worse in Ingigi village. No one knows why five-year old Kui has gone missing. Nor does Sergeant Njau want to find out. He has his own problems, pressing matters that are far from legal. Then there is the endless rain. Will it never stop? Some Ingigi folk think it means the end of the world. Old man, Winston Kiarie, has other ideas. He senses some man-made disaster, and when it happens, it is worse than his worst imaginings. The fierce storms are causing landslides and throwing up British bombs, unexploded for forty years. Their discovery is giving the Assistant Chief ideas: how to make himself very rich. And then there’s young Joseph Maina and the primary school drop-outs thinking they have found treasure, and about to do something very, very foolish. Meanwhile, is anyone looking for Kui?

Losing Kui” is a fast-paced novella of interwoven tales. There are secrets, conspiracies, tragedy and dark comedy. The setting is a fictional East African country in the late 1990s, a time when El Niño rains were causing havoc. The author lived in Kenya during most of the 1990s, and much of the story was inspired by real events. 

Kindle Edition HERE

5 star reviewed




More about my published books and stories HERE

The story that inspired a children’s opera HERE


110 thoughts on “About Tish Farrell

  1. Lovely too meet you Tish! You have a fascinating story, I’ll bet that you use your travels as a source of inspiration 🙂

    I look forward to reading more of your blog in the coming days!

    Take care, talk soon 🙂


    1. Nice to meet you too. You have some great pieces on your blog
      esp the piece on bullying. I must go back and ‘like’ it. We all need to remember the ‘Be Kind’ banner.

  2. I enjoyed reading your stories about Kenya. I worked in Southern Sudan and Ethiopia for Save the Children Fund in 1980 as a medical officer. I visited Nairobi to get root canal work done, but it didn’t put me off Kenya. In comparison to Sudan, it was heaven. Incidentally, the tooth lasted me until it was extracted six weeks ago. My future wife and I travelled in Kenya at the end of my contract, and we visited Lamu, Melindi, Mombasa, the Lakes and even went camping in old fashioned scout tents in the Mara!
    I wish I’d kept a diary for my time working overseas, but we were very busy and my letters home will capture some of the memories. I also have about two thousand slides / transparencies, many of which are starting to age like your photographs in your blog. I had a go at digitising them, picking out the ones of my wife, who died 14 months ago.
    Now I have this trendy little iPad and a small digital camera, and I can share my experiences with my friends and others who take a glimpse at my blogs. I’m lucky with the technology to be able to do this so easily. My friends have asked me if I was going to write my memoirs; I haven’t time because I’m writing to describe my present.
    I look forward to reading more of your reflections.
    Best wishes, Dr Ian Cross

  3. I have enjoyed poking about your blog here this morning. Turns out to be quite the lovely writers respite. There is much going on here! And I feel at home.

    Anyways, I like what you’re doing, and I do admire your success! Don’t mind if I tarry on a bit longer here, and read some other things worth reading.

    Keep it up, Tish!

    1. You’re most welcome to tarry here. Thanks for your most supportive comments. Much appreciated. Sometimes it feels as if one’s writing in a tunnel. Or a black hole. Which reminds me, I must get back to yours. Love the plank cooking.

  4. Your blog is very interesting, especially the African stories. You have experienced two very different places, which must give you a unique perspective. And what versatility as a writer! Encouraging young writers is something to feel especially proud of.

    1. Thank you very much for your encouraging comments. And yes, living in two worlds is interesting as you must find too. There is, for me at least, the danger of not being quite at home in either – which is interesting from the writer’s perspective, but can leave you feeling a bit rootless. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I’m drawn to your olive grove and the life you are making there. Very creative in the deepest sense – right down to the roots of things. I wish you all success.

      1. I used to use the rootless word quite joyously when younger. Now I think Rootless could also mean above ground, being able to float happily between universal connections😉 Do you feel that?

  5. Tish…….What can I say?
    This blog, from what I have read so far, and from your amazing photographs, is a joy!
    I am now going to follow with interest, and feel very pleased that you took the time to visit and comment on my own blog. Truthfully, you have such a talent my friend. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I look forward to seeing more

  6. Congrats on your publishing successes! I’ve tried Cricket with no success (yet). We had the illustrator speak at our last regional conference. Her sketches were so much fun.

  7. An honor to have you visit one of my Ligo haibun. While I have only been scantly published off the net – not yet a professional… I do enjoy writing – mostly poetry. I will book mark your place. I was just glancing at the two latest posts and I sort of remember The Prisoner…I, being a misfit of the 1960’s. Your photos are inspirational as well.

    Thanks again, Jules

    1. Thanks for your comments too, Jules. As Clarissa Pinkola Estez says: if you write you are a writer. Getting published a lot isn’t everything, though it always seems as if it is. I think blogging gives writers true freedom to create the things they want to create, and build an audience too. Keep writing and posting!

  8. Hi Tish,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and liking some of my posts there. I’m glad to see you actually liked a couple of the more political ones. My friends keep telling me I should stop ranting about all that ‘crap’ and chill out, but I really do care. I think I do it a lot to ‘keep my head from exploding” too!! Nice to see at least a few other people care at least enough to take a look.
    You have an interesting blog here and I like your writing. Great that you’ve already been published. 🙂

  9. I really enjoy your writing style. Don’t let your head explode, and keep bringing positive vibes to the blogosphere.

      1. I hope so. Only god knows and time will tell. Thanks for the support. Stay tuned for my novel release in January 2014.

  10. Hi Tish, I’m glad you visited my blog so that I can find yours. I love your African stories, writing tips, well everything about your blog. Thank you for these wonderful stories.

  11. This is wonderful to know that there are people who try their best to help the “slow” readers. I’ve been a teacher my whole life. The last 4 years I had year 1, 2, 3 classes all in one!( Private school in South Africa) Books are so important to those first time readers. I am not a fast reader too, but still enjoy reading. Then also the illustrations in those young children’s books are also very important. They need to visiolise(can’t spell word) it in their minds.

  12. Wow! Hello Tish. What a lovely blog you have. So full of heart and do and bravery and responsibility. You have done a lot of great work. Each children’s story that you have written sounds fascinating. I am going to investigate further into those books for myself and for my son. Your blog is one of those earthy feel good places to be. A beautiful mind. 🙂

  13. Hi Tish, just been reading about your distracting disease. I seem to have similar with some of my ‘projects’. Making things can be very scary, well not the doing but the thinking about whether it can be done. I spend many hours, even days, pondering on whether it can be done, whatever it is. I sit in the car outside supermarkets with sketches in my head. I go to bed and get up again to fetch a notepad to put down on paper what is bothering me. You say it helps you to ‘talk out loud’. I find myself unfolding my head borne portfolio of madness to my neighbour who soaks up my daft ideas. This helps no end.

      1. Thank you and you are welcome! He just got three more accepted today in The Kentucky Review! His poems will be in the online version and the printed version which is reserved for the poems the editors think are the best!

  14. Tish, I’ve enjoyed engaging in discourse with you; and anyone who’s a friend of Ark, Noel, and John, is a friend of mine. Very nice to meet you and I look forward to reading your writings as time permits. Should you visit my blog, please don’t croak over my gross lack of writing skills. I’m an advocate and human rights activists, not a writer. 😉

    1. What a very nice note you have left here. I’m pleased to meet you too, and would not dream of passing judgement on your writing skills. I should think you probably express yourself very proficiently given your calling. I shall now pop over to see.

  15. Tish, thanks so much for stopping by my blog, for the likes and comments. 🙂 Right now, I’m in a season of blogging where I’m exposing “stuff” that is commonly taboo to do in my country. I found my voice on WP and I don’t plan on shutting up anytime soon. But I’m not always so serious. Not by a long shot.

    Do you like living in the UK?

    1. That is a remarkably hard question to answer. What can I say? It is familiar and I am blessedly well provided with facilities. It presents many pleasing realities (and much hypocrisy). I guess I’m here because I’m here. 🙂

  16. Hi Tish. Thank you so much for stopping by at my blog. Feels honoured 🙂 Some of your books really got amy attention, and I am sure to read those. Reading always enriches you and takes you to another wonderland.

    Keep in touch and I hope you will visit me back.


      1. It suits you perfectly. I have a very short intro about you ready for Thursday. Do you want me to send it to you before for approval?

  17. Hi Tish – I’m quite taken with your blog, both words and pictures. I’m glad you found our blog so I could find yours.
    Thanks for following our blog. I hope you enjoy the stories of our journey, both inner and outer. And don’t be a stranger. Feel free to join in the conversation.

  18. Hello Tish, I dropped by to thank you for the like on my post on the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum, and discovered a prolific author behind the “like”. What an achievement. I am thrilled to advise that my first attempt, a memoir, I Belong to No One, will be published by Hachette Australia in July this year. Hope it will get picked up for the UK market. I have high hopes of following up with an historical fiction – but who knows? You must be so pleased with your efforts. cheers GG

      1. You are to be applauded. I have failed to inspire one of my grand-daughters. Over the years I have watched her turn further away from the written word. At fourteen, she is bordering on illiterate. I have a belief that you ‘learn to read, then read to learn’, and I wonder what opportunities she will miss out on in the future.

  19. G’day Tish I would like to nominate you for the 5 photos 5 stories challenge that is doing the rounds. I would love to see what you do with this fun challenge.
    Of course there’s no obligation Tish, have fun if you want to join in!

    The challenge is to just “post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge”.

  20. Hi Tish – looking to get a quick word with you in regard of your clog about the Much Wenlock Council Chambers – Karl (Shropshire Star newspaper) 01952 241490.

  21. Pleasure to read your piece. I found one similarity between you and Bart Wolffe. Both are uprooted from their respective places in Africa and still adjust to live at the new environment. Good. Keep Going

  22. Bonsoir Trish
    For whatever reason l can now receive authentication codes – if it was something you did thank you if not l am relieved beyond belief.
    So sorry to have bothered you and in any event thank you.


  23. I landed here after you visited my own blog and subscribed. It is quite unlikely that I would ever have found my way here otherwise. And now I have started to read your posts, I am absolutely enthralled. Not only because your writing is so graceful and the accompanying photographs so beautifuuly composed, but because so many of your pieces carry me back to my own childhood. The thrill of the Devil’s Chair is one of my earliest memories; camped up on The Stiperstones listening to ghost stories as a primary school child. And I have cycled past those cooling towers at Buildwas on my way to discover the nearby abbey. Ironbridge formed the destination for many a Sunday afternoon outing. So I thank you Tish for visiting my own site and feel quite honoured actually. I also very much look forward to reading new instalments of your adventures in Shropshire and beyond.

    1. Hello James. That is probably the loveliest comment I’ve received on this blog. I’m cherishing the ‘graceful’. We seem to have quite a bit of common ground – Shrewsbury, Sheffield Uni, East Africa…The Big NHS Heist was the biggest eye-opener, so many thanks again for posting it. I’ve posted it twice to FB and also to Twitter. I hadn’t realised the shocking scale of the conspiracy spun around us all, this despite following Craig Murray et al. Listening to the wretched Today programme this morning, it seems the powers that be are now intent on demoralising us out of bothering to vote: the two main contenders presented as being as ‘bad as each other’. What times we live in! But then there has to be a bright side too – so I am v. happy to have discovered you and your blog 🙂

      1. The ways in which our lives have run in parallel are just uncanny. What are the chances that we would finally run into one another by such a roundabout route? Still more curiously, quite a few of my friends in Sheffield are writers too from days when I tagged around with the poets of the university writers’ group. So I wonder if you know them.
        I won’t disrupt the calm with an injection of politics. Just to say that I too agree with Craig Murray about most things and that the rabbit hole is indeed a deep one.
        Well, it is great that I met you here and perhaps if you ever pop by in Sheffield we might share a tea or coffee and enjoy a real chat together. I’m sure we’d find plenty to talk about.

      2. Thank you for that very kind invitation. Haven’t been back to Sheffield for years. And no, I wasn’t writing very much when I was there. I think I’m anyway a generation older than you (she says, trying to ignore fast accruing years). Cheers for now. And I will keep up with your blog.

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