After Oxford, she did odd jobs in the theatre and wrote her first novel, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, when she was 23. It was published a year later in 1985. At the same time she published a comic book with pictures, Boating For Beginners. She then worked for her publishers at the time, Pandora Press, before publishing The Passion in 1987 with Bloomsbury in the UK and Knopf in the States. At that point she became a full-time writer, publishing Sexing The Cherry in 1989, Written On The Body in 1992, Art & Lies 1994, Art Objects (essays) 1995, Gut Symmetries 1997, The World And Other Places (short stories) 1998, The.Powerbook in 2000, a book for children: The King of Capri, in 2003, Lighthousekeeping in 2004, and her latest, The Stone Gods in 2007. In 2005, she published Weight, a re-working of the story of Atlas and Hercules, for the Canongate Books Myth series. In 2006, Bloomsbury published Tanglewreck, her first novel for older children (9-11). In addition she dramatised Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit for BBCTV in 1990, and wrote a TV film, Great Moments In Aviation for BBC 2 in 1994.
In 2002 she adapted her novel The PowerBook for the Royal National Theatre London, and Theatre de Chaillot, Paris. The stage version was directed by Deborah Warner, and starred Fiona Shaw, Saffron Burroughs and Pauline Lynch.