Lesley McDowell's debut novel The Picnic came out in 2007. In 2010 she published Between the Sheets: The Literary Liaisons of Nine 20th-Century Women Writers, which was shortlisted for the non-fiction prize in the 2011 Scottish Book Awards. Her second novel Unfashioned Creatures, about Mary Shelley's Scottish childhood friend, was published in 2013. Lesley was a literary critic for The Herald, The Scotsman, The Independent, TLS and others. She has a PhD on the work of James Joyce, and has won three Creative Scotland writers' bursaries. Clairmont is her third novel.