I was born and brought up in a small village in Thurgau Canton, Switzerland, and studied English and German at the universities of Zurich and Aberdeen (exchange scholarship), then became a PhD student/research assistant at Zurich University.
My life changed dramatically when I got married to Ron Butlin in 1993: I gave up my job and, together with my first golden retriever, moved to Edinburgh, where I ditched my PhD and started writing fiction. Although my mother tongue is Swiss German, I prefer to write in English.
I am the author of The Waiting (2012; UBS Cultural Foundation award), Fighting It (2009; shortlisted for Saltire Book of the Year, longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize for best collection), The Beauty Room (2002; longlisted for MIND Book of the Year) and Inside~Outside (1998; shortlisted for Saltire First Book of the Year).
My work has been widely published, also in translation, in literary magazines and anthologies both in Britain and abroad (including Switzerland, Romania, Hungary, Australia and the United States) and has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. One of my stories was the Guardian’s Radio Pick of the Day and another was selected for Best British Short Stories 2013.
My first published story won the Edinburgh Review Tenth Anniversary Short Story Competition. I am a Cadenza prizewinner and have received Bursaries from the Scottish Arts Council, Pro Helvetia (Swiss Arts Council) and Thurgau Lottery Foundation.
I have collaborated with Ron on poetry translations for the Scottish Poetry Library, the Goethe-Institut and others. Publications include The Night Begins with a Question: XXV Austrian Poems 1978-2002 (Carcanet, 2007), Fife Lines: Poetry from Switzerland (2002), orte: Brücke nach Edinburgh (Switzerland, 1996), and German Poetry Posters.
I have given readings throughout Scotland and abroad and have worked variously as a writing competition judge (Scottish Association of Writers, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh Writers’ Club), literature specialist on Creative Scotland’s Artists’ Bursaries Panel, creative writing tutor (National Galleries of Scotland, Universities Scotland, Edinburgh City Art Centre, Museum of Childhood, Writers’ Museum and many others), Royal Literary Fund Fellow (Queen Margaret University) and Royal Literary Fund Lector for Reading Round Scotland.
Memberships: Society of Authors, Autorinnen und Autoren der Schweiz, Scottish PEN (Writers at Risk Committee), Poetry Association of Scotland (honorary), Swiss Club Edinburgh (honorary)