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S.E. Durrant has wanted to be a writer since she was a child and has always squeezed writing in around the edges of her life. She spent her childhood in Scotland before moving to Leicestershire when she was twelve. She studied Fine Art (painting) and then travelled widely before settling in south London. She has taken on many jobs including working on a stall at Covent Garden market, selling paintings in Venice and teaching art to children. For many years she worked on research bids at the University of London. She now lives in Brighton with her partner and two teenage children, all of whom are taller than she is.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | March 2020 Book of the Month | Iris takes refuge with her grandma, Mimi, to escape the chaos at home, caused by her two-year old twin siblings and her dad’s DIY repairs. There’s a different kind of disorder in Mimi’s house which is chock full of items collected over the years, chiefly boxes of photos she’s taken and developed. Among the photographs of other people’s weddings are family portraits and its one of these that sets Iris on a hunt to unravel an old mystery, even as Mimi’s memories are fading. The story is beautifully told, as much about Iris and her search for order and happiness as it is about Mimi and her struggle with dementia. A poignant, thoughtful examination of family relationships, memory and loss, that ends on a note of hope and renewal.
Highly Commended in the UKLA Book Awards 2019 | S E Durrant writes convincingly and movingly about ordinary young people in extraordinary situations, and Running on Empty finds beauty and certainty in an apparently bleak situation. Eleven-year old AJ’s parents both have learning difficulties and he becomes their main carer when his grandfather suddenly dies. It’s a struggle, especially at first when no-one at his new secondary school realises just what AJ has to cope with. His love and tenderness towards his parents is beautifully described, as is the warmth of his extended family and things slowly sort themselves out. Somehow too his grandfather – who loved running as much as AJ does – is never really far away. Without a trace of sentimentality, this ends on a note of hope and happiness that is both believable and uplifting. This is one to recommend to fans of Susin Nielsen and even R J Palacio.
Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2017 | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | This moving story of looked-after children describes the difficulties they face, but is nonetheless uplifting. Ira and her little brother Zac live in Skilly House, what Tracy Beaker would call a dumping ground. There are things they like about it including the staff, kindly Hortense and Silas who was in care himself, though not stern Mrs Clark. They love the garden, with its huge tree. Carved into the trunk is a name, Glenda Hyacinth, 1947. Ira decides Glenda must be a ghost (the story is set in the late 1980s) and imagines she sees her playing in the garden. Holiday visits to a lady in the country lead to a permanent home, but Ira is sad to leave Skilly House, especially as by then she’s learned something surprising about Glenda. Children will be caught up in Ira and Zac’s story from the first page, and will understand them perfectly by the last. Subtle and beautifully told this will appeal to readers who have enjoyed The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson.