Morag Joss was born in England and from the age of four grew up in Ayrshire on the west coast of Scotland. After graduating with a degree in English from St Andrews University she studied singing at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, with the help of scholarships from the Incorporated Society of Musicians and the Edith & Isaac Woolfson Trust. She spent three years in London as a music student, tutoring English, proof-reading legal documents and designing clothes to pay the rent.
Between 1984 and 1996 she headed the education department of a large industrial museum (helping it win awards for its education work), ran the marketing and PR department of Manchester City Art Gallery, spent a year as CEO of the trading arm of Winchester School of Art, lectured at Bournemouth University, carried out consultancies on arts education for the National Trust, renovated four crumbling houses and gave birth to her beautiful daughter Hannah. She never for a moment considered that she might be able to write fiction.
Starting to write was, she says, ‘discovering a lifelong ambition I didn’t know I had.’ Her first three novels are whodunnits, the first of which, Funeral Music, was nominated for the USA Dilys Award for a first novel. Later awards and short-listings include the CWA Silver Dagger for Half Broken Things (later adapted as a TV film starring Penelope Wilton) and the USA Edgar Best Novel Award for The Night Following. However, she has never considered herself the real thing as a crime writer, and she now writes fiction that some critics describe as novels of ‘psychological suspense’ and others as literary fiction. In 2008 she was a Heinrich Böll Writer in Residence on Achill Island, Ireland where she worked on her seventh novel, Among the Missing. Most of her work has been translated into several languages.
Although best known as a novelist, Morag Joss has also written for television; her play for Sky Arts, Famous Last, starring Pauline Collins, has been broadcast worldwide. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies and the most recent, It May be Lalique, was broadcast on Radio 4 to celebrate International Women’s Day 2012.
In 2014 she was awarded a PhD for published work in creative writing by Oxford Brookes University, and she currently holds Fellowships at the universities of Reading and Southampton. She also teaches Creative Writing for Oxford University and is a regular tutor for the Arvon Foundation and the Scottish Writers Centre at Moniack Mhor.
Her eighth novel, Our Picnics in the Sun, published in 2013, was described by one critic as ‘poetic and profound’ and ‘not only transcend[ing] genre’ but ‘just plain transcendent’ (Ed Siegel, Boston Globe critic & The Artery, Boston NPR). Morag is at work on her next novel, Good to Go. She lives in rural Hampshire, in a converted stable.