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Ellen Phethean Hom
Books published by Diamond Twig

Diamond Twig was a small non-profit making press, launched in 1992 by Ellen Phethean and the late Julia Darling, to promote poetry and short story writing in innovative, exciting ways and to develop and encourage audiences too.

Our policy was to publish and promote new writing by women in the North of England.

We also encouraged new writing from women in the northern region by promoting a series of readings and workshops, run by an independent group we set up called The Blue Room.

At the end of 2018, Diamond Twig Press closed down for good, with thanks to all our poets, writers, readers, customers, The Poetry Virgins, Cornwell Internet and financial supporters over the years, including New Writing North and Arts Council.

Ellen has now sett up her own online presence, where she will publicise her own books and activities: find her at

The old Diamond Twig website content will be archived and available to search.

Ellen Phethean is a poet, playwright and editor and co-founder of Diamond Twig press. Ellen's first full collection of poetry, Breath was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award. It is now back in print, from Red Squirrel Press, who also published her second collection, Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman, and have now published her new book, Ren and the Blue Hands.

Smokestack books published Wall, Ellen's first novel for teenagers written in poems; her second novel, Hom, was published in installments on this website. She says "It's unusual in that it is written in poems but it uses dialogue, monologue and dialect and is meant to read like mini installments of a novel." Read more about Hom here, or use the monthly archives to start at the beginning.

Ren and the Blue Hands

Cover art from 'Ren and the Blue Hands, by Tessa Green

In a world on the cusp of change, Ren, a Blue Hand dyer, is plucked from the Dye Sheds to become Lady's maid up at Barrow Hall. Excitement turns to uncertainty as her mistress Lady Lilac entangles her in a plot which threatens the Shebble Dye industry that has supported Ren's family and the Islands for generations. When the secret organisation, the Mazards, are exposed, Ren must think and act for herself. Torn between helping the conspirators, loyalty to her roots and her love for fellow conspirator Bark, Ren is driven by passion into danger, where right and wrong are hard to tell, and only a terrible event can help her see more clearly.

Inspired by real historical events, but set in the fictional 16th Century Calico Isles, Ellen Phethean's YA novel, Ren and the Blue Hands, was longlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition 2012: "A vividly imagined historical background, and interesting mixture of politics and romance. Ren is a courageous female hero whom readers will empathise with and root for."

Ellen talks about the book in her diary - and she was interviewed by Kat the BookNerd (@Kat_thebooknerd) as part of a virtual blog tour ahead of the 2016 UKYA and Children's Extravaganza.

Ren and the Blue Hands was published by Postbox Press (an imprint of Red Squirrel Press) on 1st November 2016.

More information about Ellen Phethean here.

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Last updated 6th February 2019.