Simpson spent twelve years as an investigative journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald before joining the staff of the Journalism and Media Studies department at the University of Tasmania.
A writer across genres, Simpson has published several works of non-fiction including Brothers in Arms (1989, reprinted 2001), The Killer Next Door (1994), My Husband My Killer (1992, reprinted 2001), all with Sandra Harvey; More than One (1994) with Andiee Paviour; The Australian Geographic Book of Tasmania (1997) and To Have and to Hold (1997) with Walter Mikac. Her first novel, with a working title 'An Evolutionary Tale' was completed in 2004; it deals with Darwinian themes and looks at life in Van Diemen's land in the years 1830-1850 through the eyes of three different characters - a Commandant, a storekeeper and a Governor's wife.
The Curer of Souls2006single work novel historical fiction In London in 1865 Lydia Frankland finds a love letter written twenty years earlier by her late stepmother, Jane, to a natural historian at Port Arthur, Louis Lempriere. In the letter Jane confesses she is in love with Louis. Lydia is horrified at her stepmother's apparent infidelity, and begins to read Jane's diaries. In them she finds more details about the time the family spent in Van Diemen's Land all those years ago, when Lydia's father, Sir John, was governor there. She reads an account of a macabre murder involving two convict boys; of horrible experiments conducted on prisoners held on the island; and of Jane's obsession with Darwin's theories of evolution. Lydia realises there are secrets in her family's past, and she sails to Van Diemen's Land - now Tasmania - to unravel these mysteries. There she finds out more about her stepmother's friendship with Lempriere, and is forced to confront the fact that her father, whom she had believed a hero, upheld a sadistic regime in the penal colony. She is also transported back to a world where Charles Darwin's theories were emerging and threatening to take over long-held religious beliefs. In this historical novel, Simpson intertwines real historical events and figures with her own fictions, to 'map the silences' that traditional history leaves untouched. She masterfully weaves the reality of the darkness of Van Diemen's Land with brilliantly realised imaginings of the past on this remote island at the end of the earth. (Publisher's blurb)