Lorna was born in the Royal Sussex Maternity Hospital in Brighton, directly opposite The Edinburgh pub where her parents lived with her maternal grandparents. So her first journey was across the road from the hospital to the pub. She has always loved the smell of pubs.
As a child she loved to read. There weren’t many books in the house – a set of children’s encyclopaedias and the complete works of Dickens – but Lorna always ‘had her head in a book.’ She also read by torchlight under the bedcovers, for which she was punished with extreme short-sightedness.
She went to Varndean Grammar School for Girls, where she was the only girl allowed to wear black patent shoes with a shiny buckle. Her family was poor at the time, her father having suffered a brain haemorrhage after falling off a ladder. Lorna got free school dinners, which she wrote about in a poem in her first collection. She also got the patent shoe dispensation, when her mother wrote to the headmistress saying she’d gladly buy her daughter a pair of regulation shoes if the school coughed up for them. Her short memoir about the shoes was shortlisted for the Fish Short Memoir Prize.
Something of a late starter, she went to study Sociology at Kingston (then a polytechnic) at the age of 27. Between leaving school and taking her degree she was busted for possession of marijuana, married and divorced, and got bored to death pushing paper in several offices. The high points of this period were having front row seats for Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust gig at the Dome, and blowing her pittance of a divorce settlement on a summer of Greek island hopping.
She started writing in the mid-nineties and had some early success with short stories. During this time she worked as a barmaid, as a trainer in social services, and a freelance copywriter. In 2000 she took the MA in Creative Writing at UEA, where she was lucky enough to work with W G Sebald, Andrew Motion and Lorna Sage.
Lorna probably should have published a novel around this time but things weren’t going so well in her life. She had married and divorced for a second time. Her father died. Her cat died. She moved to Lewes and was flooded after two weeks. She was burgled twice. She didn’t fare too well in matters of the heart. She suspects she had a bit of a breakdown.
To clear a bad case of writer’s block, she took a poetry class with Brendan Cleary. She didn’t intend writing poetry but she read a few poems at a poetry event and John Davies of Pighog Press signed her up to write a pamphlet. Dancing to Motown won an award. She’s superstitious about reading the last poem of that book at gigs because it imagines her own funeral, and six months after being published she had a cardiac arrest. But she lived to tell the tale and went on to publish two full collections.
In January 2011 Lorna and her partner Boris moved to Cornwall. They married in 2012 (third time lucky!). Between 2014 and 2016 she was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow, first at the University of Essex, then at Plymouth University. In 2015 she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
She is currently working on a historical novel based on the life of Pre-Raphaelite model Annie Miller.