Hazel McHaffie


Look at any newspaper and you’ll probably find something about medical ethics – abortion, assisted conception, euthanasia, transplants, cloning, stem cells. The list is endless.

Medicine today is a hotbed of dilemmas and difficulties which bewilder individuals and challenge society. And touch all of us at some stage in our lives.

The novels in this series are set in this world of moral choices but they are tales of passion, perplexity and crime that hold the reader spellbound. They are accessible and compelling, bringing ethics to life. And they are for anyone who likes to think as well as read.

Killing Me Gently

Anya Morgan has it all – beauty, brains, dream home, handsome husband, and now to complete the picture, a new baby. But Gypsy Lysette doesn’t conform to Anya’s criteria for perfection. Sleep deprived and insecure, she searches for solace and reassurance.

Leon Morgan is torn between supporting his paranoid wife and the demands of his job. Increasingly stressed he starts to make mistakes, big mistakes, threatening the future of the family firm, jeopardising their marriage.

Tiffany Corrigan to the rescue; qualified nurse, mother of three, a fount of practical wisdom. She’s a shoulder to lean on when the crises escalate … when Gypsy is admitted to hospital … when the fingers start pointing … when suspicion and jealousy widen the rift between Anya and Leon.

Then inexplicable things start to happen. Frightening things. Baby Gypsy’s life as well as Anya’s sanity are under threat. Who is responsible? And will the professionals act in time to save this family from devastating loss?

ISBN 978-09926231-5-9
Paperback, 390 pages
Publication date: 1 July 2019
Recommended retail price: £8.99; $10.99

Published by VelvetEthics Press

Cover of "Listen"


Thanks to an airline strike, Professor Jocelyn Grammaticus faces a whole day sitting on the 8.20 through train from Aberdeen to Penzance. The most difficult ethical choice of her life awaits her at the end of her journey, and she seeks respite from her internal conflict in preparing a keynote conference speech due the following week. Unwittingly her fellow passengers give her intriguing real-life material to illustrate her arguments as they flit in and out of Coach C. But four hours before she’s due to arrive at her destination a phonecall turns her world upside down. Will she have the moral courage to fulfill her promise? Will she be too late?

ISBN 978-0-9926231-4-2
eBook only £0.99  $1.49
Publication date: 13 March 2017
Published by VelvetEthics Press

Inside of Me cover

Inside of Me

Victor Grayson adores his 8-year-old daughter, India, so why does he vanish leaving only a neatly folded pile of clothes on a windy beach? India is devastated and bargains with God: I’ll stop eating chocolate if you send my Daddy back to me. Now 15 and seriously anorexic, she’s convinced that she heard his voice on a crowded London station, and sets out to track him down.

Isolated and overwhelmed, her mother, Tonya, succumbs to gnawing doubts about the man she thought she knew. Who exactly was he? What dark secrets were haunting him? Could he be involved in the disappearance of three teenage girls? The revelation when it comes is much more challenging than Tonya ever dreamed of.

This book will resonate with everyone who has ever agonized over their own body image or identity, and any parent who must learn to relinquish control to their child.

ISBN 978-09926231-2-8
Paperback, 242 pages
Publication date: 14 March 2016
Recommended retail price: £7.99; $10.99

Published by VelvetEthics Press

“This is a very interesting novel, with an intelligent and thoughtful storyline and some well-crafted and believable characters. The subject matter covers many areas of body image, identity, gender and family relationships, in a very sympathetic way. The dynamics of family are well-portrayed and the prejudices, preconceptions and misconceptions we have about others, even those we are closest to, are well-drawn and feel authentic.

India has many of the attributes of a typical teenage girl, who turns angry, confused, needing her parents but needing her independence too. There were times however, when I wanted to feel more sympathy for her, but found this difficult because of the way she treated her mother. And while I appreciate that many girls of this age have conflicts like this with their mothers, there seemed to be no connection at all, which spoiled things a little for me.

Victor was drawn very well and in a very non-judgemental way, which was refreshing and valuable in the current climate. I found his storyline to be the most interesting of all the characters.

I felt very sorry for Tonya and felt she was treated rather unfairly. I would have liked things to have gone better for her – she seemed to have been left with all the issues, all the conflict, all the drama and difficulty and was expected to get on with it – which she did. There wasn’t a lot of sympathy here for her, or for the mistakes she made (which we all do). However, this portrayal was probably more realistic in the circumstances, and the author has stayed true to her story, and to her characters.

There were a few little details in the plot that I felt were a little too contrived, a little too coincidental, but on the whole this is a well-written, well-researched and enjoyable novel.

Four out of five stars.”  Alison Williams


“An insightful novel that easily draws readers in. Set in the present day, with lots of current references … the interactions are described well from the perspective of India and her mother. The twist in the story makes the reader feel they are on a voyage, and the overarching theme – the coping strategies we use to get through diffculty – makes Inside of Me a thoroughly enjoyable read.”  Nursing Standard

“In this riveting tale, McHaffie sends the reader on an agonizing journey to find out the truth about what happened to 15-year-old India Grayson’s father, Victor … Family members clash, as the relationship between India and her mother, Tonya, deteriorates. Bottled up feelings and emotions haunt them both as they try to deal with their grief (“You know, some folk are so lost in their grief, their loss, their pain, they can’t find space for anybody else to feel bad about what’s happened”) … McHaffie impressively weaves together the perspectives of multiple characters, while delivering an exquisite story, one that deals with the struggles people face when it comes to accepting family members for who they really are.” Publishers Weekly

“… a complex and absorbing tale of a loving, dysfunctional family torn apart by the quest for identity. Clearly well-researched, McHaffie’s engaging family drama is told from several different viewpoints. It tackles complex psychological issues, but with a light touch that keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens to these vulnerable characters. When finally revealed, the solution to the mystery at the heart of the novel comes as a terrific shock and it sent me back to the beginning to see if the author had cheated. She hadn’t.
INSIDE OF ME raises challenging questions without simplifying the issues or offering any easy answers. This is grown up fiction in all senses, but the book might also be enjoyed by thoughtful older teenagers.”
Linda Gillard (author of UNTYING THE KNOT and EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY)

“… well researched, full of empathy and shows how wonderfully Hazel McHaffie is able to get inside the skin of people who are torn apart and tormented by deep and personal internal struggles about their own image, identity and relationships. She worms her way into the mind and heart of young people, understanding their culture and appreciating the complex web of their relationships with peers, parents and adults generally, and is able to weave it all into a gripping story, full of unexpected and emotional twists and turns. The tempo steadily increases towards a climax which left me with a fresh appreciation of how many unknown battles lie beneath the surface of so many people’s lives – including, of course, our own – and of how we human beings need to be less judgemental of each other.” John Salter (Canon in the Church of England, Guildford)

“In her latest novel Hazel McHaffie has once again managed to combine a sensitive and informed exploration of ethical issues with a strong human story that engages the reader from beginning to end. She provides an insightful commentary on both the individual and social context of anorexia and identity. By telling the story through the voices of the key characters she allows the reader to identify with, and thus understand, their different perspectives; a prerequisite for anyone wishing to really engage with any ethical debate. As such it will provide a useful educational resource for teachers of medical ethics as well as a thoroughly enjoyable read.” Anne Slowther (Associate Professor Clinical Ethics,  Warwick Medical School)

“… makes a gripping and compelling read. It is laced with accurate insightful accounts of the physical and emotional effects of eating disorders on young people and the dilemmas faced by the parents and caregivers living with and planning care for teenagers who themselves have reached the age of consent. As a General Practitioner, I recommend it as a must-read for anyone who might benefit from gems of accurate information about the workings of the young troubled mind of an anorectic as she desperately tries to take some control over her life which was ‘ruined’ by adults. GPs, medical and nursing students, and all parents of teenagers would do well to add INSIDE OF ME to their wishlist.” Maria Galea (General Practitioner, Edinburgh)

“It flows very well, the characters are well drawn, and the moral issues are handled sensitively.” Richard Ashcroft (Professor of Bioethics, University of London)

“This novel gives a touching, sensitive insight into the effects of 21st century expectations and parental influence on the young impressionable mind. I enjoyed it very much and believe it should be in every school library.” Pat Boyd (formerly Principal Examiner for Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies in the Scottish Qualifications Authority)

“I couldn’t put this book down. India Grayson’s voice is totally authentic – to the point where the voice in my head was actually that of my teenage granddaughter and I found myself wondering if she was eating properly! Her attitudes and obsessive nature are conveyed brilliantly and for the first time I really felt that I understood the intractable nature of this dreadful illness. It’s not susceptible to logic or to reason and I had to smile when India said that obesity was the real problem and she was simply taking responsibility for her own health. I liked that Hazel McHaffie never gives us details of India’s height and weight. I’d love every teenager who worries about their body image to read this book and the lack of specific figures means that there’s no quick get out of ‘I weigh far more than her – so I’m OK to continue starving myself’. An appropriate weight is personal to each individual.

Tonya Grayson’s voice resonated with me too – and will with anyone who has ever tried to reason with a determined teenager. She’s saying all the right words, adopting all the right attitudes, but India is still losing weight. Neatly included are all the signs to look for, even down to the smell of disinfectant around the toilet or too regular use of mouthwash which might suggest vomiting.

McHaffie has trained as a nurse and a midwife and has a PhD in Social Sciences. She knows what she’s talking about, but more importantly she can write a compelling story which brings out the seriousness of an illness such as anorexia in a totally believable way. There’s a fascinating look at the question of when a child is competent to make decisions about her own health. Do parents really know better than their children? Are children necessarily wrong because their view doesn’t accord with that of their parents or doctors?

The main thrust of this book is India’s anorexia, but there are several other ethical issues which are explored and a major twist at the end of the story which left me gasping, but which is, in itself, an issue which is currently commanding a lot of media interest. I’m not going to even hint about what it is, because I want you to have the same pleasure which I had.” Bookbag

“Hazel McHaffie has got right inside each character’s mind, making this a compelling and convincing story. And it is a gripping story, easy to read, but by no means a comfortable read, in turns emotional and troubling. It conveys the complex dilemmas of living with eating disorders, problems with body image and difficult family relationships, issues with control and coping with emotional disturbance, obsessions and compulsive behaviour. Added to all this there is the mystery of what happened to Victor – his pile of clothes on the beach reminded me of Reginald Perrin (from the TV series  in the 1970s). I think it is a wonderful book and I don’t think I’ve read another novel like it. I’ve only touched its surface in this post! Booksplease


Over my Dead Body

Carole Beacham is in her mid-sixties and planning to leave her husband. Before she can do so her daughter, Elvira, and two little granddaughters are involved in a fatal road traffic accident.

Then a stranger appears in the Intensive Care Unit claiming to be Elvira’s boyfriend, insisting Elvira wanted to donate her organs. But Carole has her own reasons for rejecting such a possibility: a dark family secret which has been hidden for thirty years.

She’s torn in two, but gradually her need to respect Elvira’s wishes overcomes her fear, and the transplants go ahead. Letters from grateful recipients bring comfort and Carole’s dread recedes.

The barriers created to safeguard anonymity start to slip. A troubling communication from a publishing firm … a moving poem from a teenager … an ambitious would-be journalist … and the family’s peace is in grave danger.

ISBN  978-0-9926231-0-4
Paperback, 212 pages
Publication Date: 1 September 2013

Published by VelvetEthics Press

“This new book from Hazel McHaffie is written with a remarkable dose of sensitivity to human nature, putting a very human face on the inevitable pathos and drama of organ transplantation, and does not keep the reader at any ‘safe’ distance … It is a lot more lot more thorough, authentic and enjoyable than any bioethical textbook on transplantation.”  Scottish Council on Human Bioethics

“Hazel McHaffie maps out the moral maze with clear-headed compassion for all involved. Confronting and encapsulating the related issues, whether medical, ethical, social or emotional, she tells a story which is gripping in itself and valuable in its focus on a subject which, in the widest sense, affects us all.”  Cornflower

“Gripping and thoughtful, Hazel McHaffie writes about ethical issues in medicine with empathy and real emotional truth and power … Evocative and engaging, her novels deserve to be widely read.”  Rachel Warren (formerly sessional ethics tutor, Kings College, London School of Medicine)

Saving Sebastian

Dr Justin Blaydon-Green is used to controversy and challenge – he’s the Director of The Pemberton Centre for Reproductive Medicine. Things are going well for him. His team are strong, success rates are increasing, they’ve never been more in demand. Then disaster strikes.

Samuel and Candice Opakanjo have waited fifteen years for a baby. Now, thanks to Justin, they have twins. Only, one of the twins is coffee-coloured; the parents are both black Nigerians. There’s a major inquiry.

In the middle of all this unrest, Yasmeen and Karim Zair arrive seeking a controversial treatment. They have a 4-year old son, Sebastian, who has an incurable blood disorder. His only hope lies in stem cells from a matched donor – a saviour sibling. But will the gatekeepers allow it?

The team are in meltdown. The senior embryologist in charge of the internal inquiry is incensed at the waste of his precious research time, and upsetting his colleagues. One of the lab technicians is behaving suspiciously. Staff begin mysteriously leaving. The authorities lean more heavily. A newspaper reporter starts sniffing around. Justin’s own daughter gets mixed up with some militant pro-life campaigners.

Just how far will everyone go to get what they want?

ISBN-10: 1906817871, ISBN-13: 978-1906817879
Paperback, 219 pages; also available for Kindle
Published by Luath Press

“Problems in medical ethics are not just for doctors but for everyone.  Hazel McHaffie has found a way to bring them before a wide public. You are gripped from the very beginning of her latest novel, but as you turn the pages, you are compelled to think about the issues. It is an excellent formula.” Baroness Mary Warnock

Remember Remember

It was during the Second World War that Doris Mannering made the choice that changed the course of her family’s life. She has kept the evidence of her actions hidden for sixty years but now the secret is in danger of being revealed with untold consequences. For, with the onset of Alzheimer’s, her mind is wandering. She is haunted by the feeling that she must find the papers before it’s too late, but where did she put them? When she eventually goes into residential care they are still not found.

Jessica is driven to despair by her mother’s endless searching, so once Doris is safe in the home, it’s a relief to be able to set about methodically clearing the house. But she is unprepared for the bittersweet memories she unravels and the growing realisation that Doris knew she was slipping away from reality. Her son, James, and her lawyer lover, Aaron, offer support and encouragement until Aaron reveals a deception which casts doubt on everything she has always believed in.

This is a tale of triumph over adversity, of love and loyalty, and tenderness regained.

ISBN (10) 1 906817 29 4 ISBN (13) 978 1 906817 29 9
Paperback, 219 pages
Published by Luath Press

“Hazel McHaffie has an extraordinary ability to create the convincing inner voice of a person with severe dementia. The result is often both funny and poignant. She raises emotional and ethical issues not as theoretical ‘thin’ cases, as are so often used in teaching in medical ethics, but within the richly characterised world of the novel. This makes Remember Remember a valuable resource for teachers and students of healthcare ethics. These ethical issues, however, are a natural part of the story and the novel is a good read from start to finish whether or not you have an interest in medical ethics.” Tony Hope

“This moving book will resonate with anyone who has ‘lost’ a loved one through the living death of Alzheimer’s.” Sir Cliff Richard, OBE

Right to Die

Adam O’Neill is thirty-eight, a successful and ambitious writer and journalist, widely acclaimed for his pithy exposés and thoughtful features. When he discovers he has Motor Neurone Disease he starts to keep a computer diary to help him track his loss of control and choose the time and manner of his death. Through its pages the reader learns of his inner struggle and changing priorities. When is the time right for his exit? Who will help him? Does he have to consider his wife’s interests or his mother’s scruples?

Trapped in a body that increasingly refuses to obey him, his mind remains alert and he devises a plan for himself – but three women, a doctor, and a peasant farmer have other ideas. Tensions and suspicions intensify, but unknown to Adam, his wife carries her own burden, a haunting secret that could jeopardize what little time they have left together.

This moving story compels the reader to look at the current anomalies in the law which force patients, families and doctors into agonizing situations.

ISBN (10) 1 906307 21 0 ISBN (13) 978 1 906307 21 9
Paperback, 336 pages
Published by Luath Press

“This heart-rending book about a young journalist who has all to live for but is dying from Motor Neurone Disease, is written with a rare understanding of the conflicts and horrors of such a death. Those who read it will understand why the law needs to be changed to allow assisted dying as an option for those whose quality of life has disintegrated and who wish to end their unbearable suffering.” Lord Joffe

“This is an immensely sensitive and thoughtful book. It tackles in raw and compelling detail the deterioration caused by degenerative disease, while at the same time exploring the ethical issues surrounding assisted dying. The characters are real and attractive; their pain almost tangible. This is an astonishingly authentic-feeling insight with a highly articulate and intelligent central character.” Sheila McLean

Vacant Possession

Vivienne Faraday has been in a persistent vegetative state, looked after in a Home, for years. How can she suddenly be pregnant? Who should decide what happens to her unborn child? What is in her best interests? She cannot speak for herself. Her family, the medical team who care for her, the police investigating the crime, all have different interests, values and opinions on the best way forward. When Geoff Archibald receives anonymous letters saying his wife, who lies insentient in the room next to Viv, has also been molested, he has his own reasons for keeping the matter quiet. But events gather a momentum of their own; DNA tests unearth secrets; suspects reveal information; families face truths which challenge the rights of individuals to choose what happens to those closest to them.

This thrilling tale of crime and passion takes the reader into a twilight world where the unconscious patient becomes a pawn in a game, where other people must make medical and moral choices on her behalf, choices beset with uncertainty but nevertheless profoundly affecting their own relationships and futures.

ISBN 1 85775 651 7
Paperback, 198 pages; also available for Kindle
Published by Radcliffe Publishing

“Hazel McHaffie interweaves a scintillating web of medical ethics reflections into her exciting whodunnit. Highly recommended both for the whodunnit and for the reflections.” Raanan Gillon

“I enjoyed Vacant Possession. What a tangled web! Enough angles to keep even the best ethical mind going for a week or two.” Geoff Watts

Double Trouble

A sequel to Paternity

The Halleys are a close, successful, loving family. But when identical twins, Nicholas and Michael, fall in love with the same girl, tensions arise across two generations. Relationships become increasingly complex when the twins marry, and darker secrets and hidden emotions are revealed when an unplanned pregnancy and a surrogacy arrangement lead to discoveries which challenge their moral values and jeopardize their happiness. This gripping story probes beneath society’s superficial acceptance of fertility treatment, revealing the potential for pain, distorted relationships, and far-reaching consequences, both medical and moral.

ISBN 1 85775 669 X
Paperback, 258 pages; also available for Kindle
Published by Radcliffe Publishing

“These two books are outrageous and you must buy them at once… Quite how the author manages to include donor insemination, child abuse, infertility stigma, genetics, surrogacy, PGD, mental illness and medical ethics into two narratively linked romantic tragedies I am not literary enough to know, but she does so in a readable and uncontrived way.” Journal of Fertility Counselling


Declan Robertson is instantly drawn to Judy Burrows when he meets her by chance on a railway station. When she agrees to marry him his happiness is complete. But from the first night of their marriage cracks appear in their relationship which threaten his peace of mind. It takes time and patience but eventually she reveals information about the demons which haunt her. Just when things are starting to settle down for them tragedy strikes: a child dies. The questions which follow unravel a past which rocks their security to its foundations. Who are they? What have they inherited? What are they passing on to future generations? This intriguing story of love and deception challenges the morality of what is done in the name of infertility treatment today and exposes dilemmas and conflicts which society must address.

ISBN 1 85775 652 5
Paperback, 236 pages; also available for Kindle
Published by Radcliffe Publishing

“…medical-ethical-romantic – an entirely new genre for fiction and an absorbing and fascinating one too.” Fay Weldon