About Josa Keyes

Formerly known as Josa Young, Josa Keyes has reverted to her maiden name as of July 2018 for all purposes. Anything new will be published under the name Josa Keyes.

Josa was born on a chicken farm in Kent where she ran wild outdoors until she was 7. Her unusual name was bestowed on her shortly after birth by her two-year-old brother, Johnnie, who couldn’t say Josephine.

When she was 7, her happy secure world fell apart, as her father’s precarious grasp on financial reality took a catastrophic turn for the worse. The family moved to a gloomy old house on a hill, where her parents established a sixth-form college for public school drop outs. As a child, Josa experienced all the fun of the 1960s in their company (with rock and roll but without the other bits).

As her mother did all the housekeeping, and worked long hours, she was sent to boarding prep school.

Both her all-girls schools were reasonably academic – unusual then – which enabled her to get into Cambridge University to read English Literature. There, she wrote abysmal short stories, went to lots of parties and danced about in red satin camiknickers singing in German on the Edinburgh Fringe.

In her last year she entered the Vogue Talent Contest, which led to her first magazine roles. After 5 years, she took a belated gap year to travel throughout India. When she came back, she worked as a senior commissioning editor on the Times, Country Living, Elle Decoration and other publications. She has written articles and columns on everything from sex education to book groups, bishops to foundlings, social history to interiors.

In 1994, she discovered the internet in a locked cupboard at work. The excitement of finding herself in an infinite virtual library/art gallery has never left her.

She began producing digital content in 1995, which led to a career shift from paper to digital. She started blogging in 2000 (before it was called blogging), and adopted social media in 2007. She is now a content designer, working for big brands and gov.uk, when she isn’t writing novels and short stories, and performing her poetry.

Her first novel, One Apple Tasted, was published in 2009 by Elliot & Thompson. The second, Sail Upon the Land, long-listed for the Historical Novel Society prize, was published 1 December 2014. My Love Life & Other Disasters, a collection of poems, is published 1 June 2021.

In 2019, she won the Arts & Humanities Faculty Outstanding Dissertation Prize, plus Distinction, for her Creative Writing Master’s from Brunel University London, supervised by Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo. Previously, for her Oxbridge entrance exam, she was tutored by Penelope Fitzgerald, who won the Booker in 1979. She correctly predicted Bernardine would win exactly 40 years later.