The only beautiful thing in Ivy's drab life is her glorious red hair. At a young age, her locks made her the target of Carroty Kate, a 'skinner'. She recruited Ivy to help her coax wealthy children away from their nannies so that she could strip them of their clothes - clothes worth a fortune in the markets of Petticoat Lane. It is years before Ivy escapes and finds her way back to her in-laws. Once there, she finds respite in laudanum. But before she can settle into a stupor and forget the terrible things she has done, Ivy is spotted by a wealthy pre-Raphaelite painter. Oscar Fosdick needs a muse (until now he has had to use his domineering mother as a model, something not conducive to producing his best work, he finds). To him, Ivy is perfect, a stunner. Realising quickly that this painter has more money than sense, Ivy's in-laws order her to sit for him, and to do anything else he demands. But not everyone is happy. Oscar's mother is determined to get rid of Ivy. Oscar's famous neighbour is determined to paint her. Carroty Kate is determined to find her, and Ivy herself is determined to escape . . .--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Julie Hearn used to be a tabloid journalist. After her daughter, Tilly, was born she began a degree in Education but switched to English after suffering a panic attack while attempting to teach maths to year six.
Something she read in Oxford's Bodleian Library, about a young girl who was shown as a fairground "monster" in the 17th century, inspired Julie's first novel Follow Me Down (2003). Since then she has written about witchcraft (The Merrybegot, 2005); the beauty and perils of the Victorian art world (Ivy, 2006), and the legacy of the Slave Trade (Hazel, 2007).
Rowan the Strange, she says, is as much about the craziness of so-called "normal life" as it is about a young boy's state of mind . The more she wrote the harder it became to hold onto, or defend, conventional definitions of madness.
Wreckers, another of Julie's titles, draws on the well-known myth of Pandora's Box, and has been widely praised.
Julie lives in Oxfordshire where she writes full time (most mornings anyway) in a pink and green office in her garden.