I was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, of Polish, Irish and English parentage. I have spent many years living and working in Scotland, with time spent working in Finland, Poland and the Canary Isles. I answer to any and all pronunciations of my surname although the closest an English speaker can generally get to it is ‘cher-caff-ska’. I consider myself to be Scottish.
I have an honours degree in English Literature and Mediaeval Studies from Edinburgh University and a postgraduate Masters in Folk Life Studies from the University of Leeds.
Although these days I concentrate almost exclusively on fiction, I have more than one hundred hours of produced radio drama to my name, some of it award winning, as well as extensive experience of writing for the stage.
I have taught all kinds of writing, including a stint as Community Writer for the Arts in Fife and four years as Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at the University of the West of Scotland.
I’m married to artist and woodcarver Alan Lees and our mathematician son, Charlie Czerkawski, is a video game designer. He’s currently living and working in the Czech Republic.
I live and work in a beautiful but high-maintenance 200 year old stone built cottage in a picturesque conservation village. The cottage isn’t haunted, but there are parts of the village that may be. When I’m not writing or wrestling with a too-large garden populated with birds, beasts and plenty of slugs, I collect and deal in antique textiles, and various related items, many of which seem to find their way into my fiction and often inspire it, especially my new novel, The Posy Ring, the first novel in a planned series called The Annals of Flowerfield.
I once participated in a past life regression session. Contrary to popular belief, I wasn’t anybody famous. I seemed to have led a very quiet life. Whenever anyone asks me if I believed in what I was seeing, I tell them it seemed very real at the time. But of course – I make things up for a living.