My books

Coming from Sourcebooks Landmark on October 4, 2022, THE INVINCIBLE MISS CUST is Penny Haw’s debut historical fiction.

Aleen Cust has big dreams and no one—not her family, society, or the law—will stop her.

Born in Ireland in 1868 to an aristocratic English family, Aleen knows she is destined to work with animals, even if her family is appalled by the idea of a woman pursuing a veterinary career. Going against their wishes but with the encouragement of the guardian assigned to her upon her father’s death, Aleen attends the New Veterinary College in Edinburgh, enrolling as A. I. Custance to spare her family the humiliation they fear. At last, she is on her way to becoming a veterinary surgeon! Little does she know her biggest obstacles lie ahead.

THE INVINCIBLE MISS CUST is based on the real life of Aleen Isabel Cust, who defied her family and society to become Britain and Ireland’s first woman veterinary surgeon. Through Penny Haw’s meticulous research, riveting storytelling, and elegant prose, Aleen’s story of ambition, determination, family, friendship, and passion comes to life. It is a story that, even today, women will recognize, of battling patriarchy and an unequal society to realize one’s dreams and pave the way for other women in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

You can pre-order THE INVINCIBLE MISS CUST here and add it to your to-be-read list on Goodreads here.

Worldwide rights for THE INVINCIBLE MISS CUST and a second work of historical fiction by Penny (for publication in 2023) were acquired by Sourcebooks’ Editor, Erin McClary from Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

An audio version of THE INVINCIBLE MISS CUST will be produced by Blackstone Publishing. The Chinese translation rights for Mainland China have been purchased by Adagio Culture.


THE WILDERNESS BETWEEN US was released internationally as part of a traditional publishing deal with US publisher Köehler Books on July 31, 2021. In September 2022, it won the 2022 STAR Award in the general fiction category of the annual Women’s Fiction Writers Association competition.

Here’s what the book is about:

Faye Mackenzie and her friends’ anorexic daughter, Clare are thrown together when a flood separates them from their hiking group in the remote, mountainous Tsitsikamma region of South Africa. With Clare critically injured, Faye is compelled to overcome her self-doubt and fear of the wild to take care of the younger woman, who opens her heart to Faye.

As their new friendship takes the women on an unexpected journey of discovery, the rest of the group wrestles with the harrowing aftermath of their own near tragedy.

Juxtaposing physical and psychological intrigue, THE WILDERNESS BETWEEN US is a tale of two fragile women who unexpectedly find clarity, independence and renewed purpose as they fight to survive. It is a vivid, moving story about family, friendship, adventure and the healing power of nature and compassion. As with all my writing, it also expounds the author’s love of animals and the outdoors.

It is available internationally from Amazon here. You will also find it on Indie Bound here.

As part of a distribution agreement with Karavan Press, wholesale/trade purchases in South Africa are available from Protea Distribution on 021-699 8506 or orders@proteadistribution.co.za.

Nicko cover (medium res)

NICKO, THE TALE OF A VERVET MONKEY ON AN AFRICAN FARM is an animal story based on the true account of the author’s grandmother, Alice Kirk and her life with a vervet monkey and a menagerie of other animals on her farm in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands of South Africa. It is told in Alice’s voice.

Abandoned as a baby, Nicko was brought to Alice to raise. Because she expected him to return to the wild once he was old enough to take care of himself, Alice never caged or confined the little monkey. The result? Nicko became a lifelong and important part of the farmyard, befriending the dogs, cats and other animals, and accepting them as his new troop.

Told over almost 180 pages, Nicko and friends get up to series of hilarious, heart-warming and sometimes heart-wrenching escapades and antics. There’s tension too, as the monkey learns to be careful when Ruskie, the borzois (also known as a Russian wolfhound) is around; Ruskie is bred to hunt and finds it difficult to see Nicko as anything other than prey. But, what happens when Nicko goes missing after he and his friends encounter a strange pack of vicious dogs on the farm, is the ultimate surprise.

Reminiscent of classic animal stories like Jock of the Bushveld, The Incredible Journey and Old Yeller, the book is written for animal lovers of all ages. It’s ideal as a self-reader for children aged 8 to 12, and as a chapter a night bedtime story for younger children. Nicko is a gentle story that describes unlikely friendships across species, provides thought-provoking insights into animal-life and will pull a little at your heartstrings as you wonder whether Nicko will eventually include Alice in his special circle of loved ones.

Watch the book trailer here.

As part of a distribution agreement with Karavan Press, wholesale/trade orders of NICKO in South Africa are available from Protea Distribution on 021-699 8506 or orders@proteadistribution.co.za. You can order the Kindle version of the book here.