Morag Joss was born in England, and from the age of four grew up in Ayrshire on the west coast of Scotland, the second of four children. Her father was a psychiatrist and her mother a teacher. At school she excelled at English, French, Music and Art; over her performances in Maths, Chemistry and Physics it is kinder to draw a veil. She gained an MA in English at St Andrews University and after that, with the help of scholarships from the Edith & Isaac Woolfson Trust and the Incorporated Society of Musicians, she went on to study singing at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. She then spent three years in London as a student, also tutoring English, proof-reading legal documents and designing clothes to pay the rent.
On her marriage in 1983, she left London and abandoned singing as a career. Between 1984 and 1996, she headed the education department of a large industrial museum (helping it win a number of 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 several consultancies on arts education for the National Trust and others, renovated and decorated 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.
After a chance meeting and, later, encouragement from P D James in 1996, Morag won an award in a national competition with her first short story. Starting to write was, she says, “discovering a lifelong ambition I didn’t know I had.” She then wrote the three Sara Selkirk novels, set in Bath, the first of which, Funeral Music, was nominated for a Dilys Award by the American Independent Mystery Booksellers Association.
She won the 2003 Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger Award for her fourth novel, Half Broken Things, which was adapted in 2007 as a TV film, directed by Tim Fywell and starring Penelope Wilton, Daniel Mays, Sinead Matthews and Nicholas le Prevost.
Morag was commissioned by Sky Arts in the summer of 2009 to write her first play for television, Famous Last, a darkly comic exploration of self-worth and survival in the lives of two fading celebs. Starring Pauline Collins and Laura Haddock, it was performed before a studio audience and broadcast live, as one of six plays in the series Theatre Live! devised and presented by Sandi Toksvig.
In 2008, Morag was a Heinrich Böll writer in residence on Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland. During her time there she worked on her sixth novel, The Night Following, which in 2009 won a prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination in the best novel category.
Among the Missing, her seventh novel, will be published in America in the autumn of 2010.
Since her divorce in 2008, Morag has lived in rural Hampshire, in a converted stable (the fifth house, pictured on the homepage). She is now writing her next novel, and when she isn’t working or spending time with Hannah (now a drama student), she loves to cook for her friends, swim, walk (and even run, sometimes), travel, draw and paint, go to the theatre, and listen to music ranging from Bach to The Proclaimers, too often joining in.
The Carrick Hills, Ayrshire