Jill says she's been writing "pretty much since I was in the cot". She took her first degree in English and then became a secondary-school teacher – "as a stopgap until I got my writing career going!". But she fell in love with teaching, and ended up becoming a leading headteacher, first in a top boarding school in Surrey and then an independent day school in London. From here, she put aside what had come to feel like ‘the easy life’ to take over a Brighton state school in special measures, and went into battle on behalf of the teenagers that society tries to discount, or pretends not to notice. She somehow also found time to raise three children and do a PhD at Hull (where she knew poet Philip Larkin). After moving to the Lake District she took up her writing in earnest, doing another PhD (phew!), this time in Creative Writing at Newcastle. Morph is the first of Jill's published novels, but she says “lots have been written over the years and are now in the pipeline”.
“Is it a boy or a girl? That’s the first question parents ask when a baby is born, but I read online that for one in every 4,500 births the gender isn’t clear. Like me?”
(an extract from Jill Clough’s debut novel Morph, published autumn 2018) ...
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Teenager Joey is struggling to work out who she is. She feels good when she's fell-running – leaping over rocks in the mountains – and when she's at home online, because in both places, in totally different ways, she can be privately free to explore her identity ...
... But she's terrified there's something wrong with her, and that she has some kind of 'condition' that needs curing. Worst of all, her horrible secret threatens to destroy the relationship she has with the people she loves most – her parents and her best friend, Bex.
Set in the English Lake District, Morph is both a thoughtful study of gender and a moving coming-of-age story ... with a Millennial twist. The novel has been described as 'a startling and sensitive portrayal of what it means to inhabit these odd, awkward and joyful things we call bodies'.
Images from the launch of Morph in Kendal, November 2018. Pictured alongside Jill are her four dedicatees, Georgia, Frances, Libby and Niamh
Latest reviews of Morph
"Brilliant, moving, loved it! Reduced to tears at the end."
(14 November 2018)
"A complex, tender portrayal of a teenager struggling to understand their gender identity."
(10 November 2018)
"So much of what is said or written about gender dysphoria is harsh or intolerant, whereas this was quite the opposite."
(30 October 2018)
"A deeply sensitive novel told with dignity and humanity.”
(29 October 2018)
"A thought-provoking novel and an engaging story."
(15 October 2018)
"A moving story for young adults."
(14 October 2018)
"A powerful reminder that we are all struggling
with one issue or another."
some things are better left said