As a freelance journalist, Julia Stuart won an Amnesty International Media Award and went on to become a feature writer for the Independent and the Independent on Sunday for many years. Assignments included being taught the art of spanking by a dominatrix and performing as the back end of a pantomime horse. While living in the Middle East she interviewed one of the first Arabs to reach the South Pole, who, due to the lack of snowy peaks in Bahrain, trained for Everest by standing in a freezer. While scuba diving around the island, Julia found a pearl, which was the inspiration for her novel, The Last Pearl Fisher of Scotland (Vintage, 2016). Wondering what it would be like to just make it all up, she turned to fiction and is now the author of four novels, including a New York Times bestseller chosen as the holiday reading of the Obamas. She still hopes to be commissioned to write an account of being the front end of a pantomime horse.