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Writing Piggy Monk Square

Piggy Monk Square began when I was a single parent.  I had returned to education as a mature student and studied film and television. There is more about this experience here.

I wrote a great deal of Piggy Monk Square during the long bus journeys into college and since many of the classes scheduled in the college didn’t actually take place I used this ‘free’ time to write.

stack of paperback books - Piggy Monk Square by Grace Jolliffe

Piggy Monk Square is a dark and humorous novel. It was informed and inspired by my own personal experience of growing up in 1970’s Toxteth in Liverpool – shortly before the infamous Toxteth riots.

All the characters are fictional although many of the themes in the story are related to real life events and these themes are of special significance to me.

Although the novel is narrated by a nine-year-old girl it is not a children’s story. Rebecca’s parents are splitting up. Her best friend, Debbie, has a father who is constantly in and out of prison.

Their world is dark, confusing and frequently brutal and the two girls tend to mix reality with fantasy – especially when it comes to coping with what will soon become their terrible secret.

One day, Rebecca and Debbie are playing in the cellar of a derelict house when a policeman warns them to keep away from there.

But this is their favourite place to play and when they can’t keep away and are again caught by the very angry policeman.

They ‘leg it’ and he chases them but he falls down a ladder and goes ‘asleep.’ The girls have been taught not to trust the police and and are so terrified of getting into trouble that they don’t tell anyone.

The injured policeman is unable to escape the cellar and becomes dependent on the two girls. But their efforts to help him have disastrous consequences for them all.


First books, as many writers will tell you, don’t usually do a whole lot business wise, but as first books go I think Piggy Monk Square did very well.

It was published by Tindal Street Press and went on to be optioned by Willy Russell (Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine.)
I adapted it for Radio and it was broadcast on RTE’s The Book On One.

Piggy Monk Square was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and made it to BBC’s Raw Read’s recommended list.

Later, Willy Russell commissioned me to adapt and write a full-length feature film script of Piggy Monk Square.

Following the demise of Tindal Street Press the rights to Piggy Monk Square reverted to me. I took the opportunity to republish the book and it is now available from all good online retailers.






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