BOOK LAUNCH

Monday 6th August, 2018

On November 1st my new book, For The Love of a Dog , will be officially launched into the world. I shall have a party, open some fizz, say a few words. Milestones must me marked or they slip through our fingers like time. I like the word 'launch'. It is used to describe the promotion of anything these days, but for me it always summons the image of a ship, heaving into the sea after the pop and… Keep Reading →

Memoirs vs Fiction

Thursday 5th April, 2018

I never thought I would be one of those novelists who wrote a memoir.  Here are some of the reasons why: Making up stuff is much more freeing and fun Fiction is satisfyingly infused with the private experience of an author, but without the tie of being dictated or dominated by it Fiction allows an author to keep her inner life private and safe Who would be interested anyway? But then my mother… Keep Reading →

My Sixteenth Novel

Wednesday 26th April, 2017

I had hoped that by now, Spring 2017, I would be posting a blog about the launch of my latest novel, 'Good Girls'.  It has been finished for many months.  Indeed, I am already well into that enjoyable early phase of my next work-in-progress, when everything still feels possible as opposed to flailing out of control and needing pinning down. The dispiriting truth about 'Good Girls' however, is that… Keep Reading →

Getting A Dog

Thursday 29th September, 2016

Once upon a time, a million years ago, in answer to the question 'What do you want to be when you grow up', I would always reply - without hesitation, and certainly no trace of irony - "a kennel maid".  As a child I could conjure no better employment prospect than working with animals as wonderful as my grandparents' lab, Kim.  Not even getting bitten on the nose by Kim put me off.  The poor dog… Keep Reading →

Human Endeavour

Friday 12th August, 2016

So.  We are in the thick of the Olympics, and no, I didn't think I would get sucked in, because how could I ever care as much as I did four years ago, and besides, I am having a busy summer - places to go, people to see, stuff to write.......... But somehow the sucking in has happened anyway.  Reader, I have been glued to: The riders with the double-barreled names who were too slow or knocked down… Keep Reading →

Ernest Hemingway: Genius has its drawbacks

Saturday 26th March, 2016

What does it take to win the Nobel Prize for Literature for heaven's sake. I mean, to WIN THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE!!!!! It makes the Man Booker, or the Orange, or the Costa Award - or indeed anything else - look like... peanuts. To be honest, and with some shame, I must admit that, while being aware that Ernest Hemingway knew a thing or two about the craft of writing and had churned out some… Keep Reading →

The New Year

Tuesday 19th January, 2016

"Time" is a man-made construct.  As far back as the Neolithic period apparently, our ancestors were looking at the moon and devising 'calendars' to mark the phases of the periods they were living through.  Sometimes I like to imagine what it would be like if they (and later, the Gregorians) hadn't bothered: No seconds or minutes or hours or days or weeks or months or years.   No regular markers… Keep Reading →

Why I Write

Monday 14th September, 2015

As many people know by now, I have finished my novel.  My 16th.  It is called 'The Distance Between Us' and has taken THREE YEARS to write, FOUR if you count the year before that when I was 'charging my batteries', or 'filling the well', or whatever euphemism you want for the business of  living life  for a bit instead of trying to write about it.  The length of time has many possible reasons: I… Keep Reading →

Milestones Matter

Friday 12th June, 2015

My son is leaving home.  Cue a chorus of jeers and "about-time-toos".  Forgive me if I don't join in. They take their time to go, this lot, not like us oldsters, who packed our bags for a first job or uni and never looked back, apart from intermittent phone calls and the occasional festive visit.  No, this generation, for a variety of socio-economic reasons that I don't propose to go into here… Keep Reading →

Writing vs Living

Wednesday 4th February, 2015

My mother died last week.  She was eighty one, and had had an amazing life, and was getting frail, so it was a blessedly sudden and speedy release for her, but a terrible shock for the rest of us.  Grief is a strange, exhausting business. It comes at you in waves over which you have no control.  Every time you think are okay to stand up it  knocks you down again.  And again.  The frequency of this… Keep Reading →

Endings etc

Monday 22nd December, 2014

A good ending is the hardest thing for a writer to pull off.  Readers can be swept along by fabulous narratives, full of twist and turn, but it is the final chapter  - the lingering taste in the mouth - against which a story will ultimately be judged. And rightly so.  It is the point where things come together - make sense - or fall apart.  A bad ending exposes the author as a fraud.  A good… Keep Reading →

Creative Frictions

Sunday 19th October, 2014

We all need something to push against.  It takes a few decades to realise this.  Growing up, our lives are structured by authority: 'Time to go to bed!' 'Time to wake up!' 'Time to get dressed!' 'Time to eat!' 'Do your homework!' By our teens we are longing for the 'freedom' of independence. Then 'freedom' comes and we realise we need to apply some structure to it or nothing gets done.  So we have… Keep Reading →

The Value of Words

Sunday 27th July, 2014

My novel A Family Man , which took a year to write, is currently available to purchase for 99p.  This is thanks to an Amazon Summer Promotion and I couldn't be more pleased.  Last month, due to selection in a similar cut-price 24 hour deal, my book Relative Love rocketed from 125,000th to 12th in the Kindle Bestseller Rankings.  The next day it began its descent, but, oh my goodness, it was a… Keep Reading →

Everyone has a novel in them... on't they?

Friday 9th May, 2014

Yes, of course Everyone 'has a novel in them'.  Because the lives of each and every one of us are 'stories' - narrative blends of the ordinary and the extraordinary, with happy bits and sad bits, and good bits and bad bits - there to be recounted through the written word to a wider audience, should the 'owner' of that 'narrative' choose.  And if someone else's life sounds more interesting, then… Keep Reading →

Choosing Books

Sunday 9th March, 2014

My current "house-mate" (aka: Job-hunting Graduate Son) recently remarked that I always 'rave' about whatever book I happen to be reading.  He did not intend the observation as a complimen... t was more of  a how-dull-bibliophile-mothers-are type statement.  I immediately told him he was wrong (always a pleasure) and drummed up a couple of titles that had disappointed me, including - shock-horror… Keep Reading →

Machine Love

Saturday 25th January, 2014

I have fallen in love.  With a car.  This is not something I would have expected of myself, not just because I am an unabashed, problematical, die-hard Romantic, in the most conventional 'human' sense, but because I don't like machines.  So I have been trying to analyse the reasons why: Apart from a £400 beaten-up old black Ford Something (containing a supersonic engine that someone had inserted… Keep Reading →

December Digital LAUNCH News!

Friday 6th December, 2013

December 6th: Digital Publication Day for my novels ' Relative Love ' and ' A Family Man ': I can dimly - very dimly - remember when I thought 'digital publishing' wasn't going to be something that would affect me too much... a ha ha. I never was any good at reading global trends.  It was one of the reasons why I knew it was a wise decision to leave my first career in advertising.  In fact, you… Keep Reading →

Halloween Confession

Wednesday 30th October, 2013

I am not a fan of Halloween.  Sorry.  But there it is. To be specific, what I am really not a fan of is the dubious tradition of 'Trick or Treating'.  I first came across it while living in America in the early nineties.  My sons were then aged two and four and I simply could not see the appeal of taking them out in the cold dark streets to knock on the doors of strangers and ask for sweets.  But… Keep Reading →

September & Dickens

Monday 9th September, 2013

My summer reading bonanza produced two stand-out favourites: Elizabeth Strout's * The Burgess Boys *and Colum McCann's * Transatlantic. * (I am glancing at them now, sitting in the books-I-have-loved bit of my bookshelf, looking worn and warm, old friends, begging to be revisited.  Do I need to offer any other reason why, for me, a Kindle still holds no appeal?!) But now it is September and the… Keep Reading →

If you are struggling in the July heat

Tuesday 16th July, 2013

I make a point never to complain about hot weather in the UK.  EVER. For those who may be struggling to stay positive, here are 10 of my reasons why the heatwave is a Wonderful Thing: The faint but indelible feeling of bein... n Holiday! It takes about one minute to get dressed in the mornings.  T-shirt, shorts, flip-flops.  Job Done. (More time in bed). The butter is soft-soft.  Easier to spread… Keep Reading →

The Fox Cub

Thursday 20th June, 2013

I first spotted the cub about a month ago.  I know, I know, urban foxes are disease-carrying vermin (and they terrorize my cats), but it looked irresistibly dear, curled up into a glossy ball in the sunshine next to its scrawny Mum.  They spent the afternoon dozing and nibbling fleas off each other, and I thought how sweet, and tried to work rather than watch. Then it stood up.  Or tried to.  It's… Keep Reading →

One Great (Virtual) Leap Forward

Friday 10th May, 2013

I have decided that the British seasons are like one of those fairground Big Dipper rides... antalisingly sluggish to the top of a steep climb (that's winter), then whizzing down the slope on the other side (that's May-Oct) at a hundred times the speed. We are in that whizzing bit now and I want it to slow down.  I don't know where April went.  It passed in a blink.  I got drunk on all that… Keep Reading →

It's not so bad!

Monday 25th March, 2013

It is hard not to be gloomy at the moment, don't you find?  For Brits it is always hard, but what with the "triple-dip recession" imminent (does that mean the double-dip is finished....???!!), dumps of wall-high snow landing across the country, crushing limp frost-bitten daffodils and necessitating the rescue of pensioners, it is especially difficult.  With friends, shopkeepers, cabbies, blogs… Keep Reading →

Love Matters

Thursday 14th February, 2013

Every so often (not just on Valentines Day) I am struck, all over again, by the astonishing reach and drive of human love.  The Technological Revolution, Wars, Famines, Rockets On The Moon and Melting Ice-Cap... his non-stop backdrop of epic, game-changing events continues, often at breakneck speed, changing our world.  And yet it is still the abstraction we call Love that beams mostly fiercely in… Keep Reading →

THE LOVE CHILD

Thursday 17th January, 2013

Today sees the publication of my new novel, The Love Child.  It makes me happy to write that, happier still to see my labours bound so beautifully and available for public consumption.  But there are other trickier feelings floating around too.  Such as a mild sense of anticlimax (it takes so * long *to reach this point!), and nervousness as to how it will be received.  Because The Love Child… Keep Reading →

December Deliberations

Sunday 23rd December, 2012

Each December I resolve to stay healthy and relaxed  in the run-up to Christmas.  It is just a case - I tell myself - of maintaining the right attitude, keeping perspective, not letting the festive season _ loom _; not letting it become the deadline for absolutely everything, quite apart from the mandatory production of cooked turkeys and wrapped gifts.  But loom it does.  Deadlines abound.   And… Keep Reading →

Author talks

Thursday 6th December, 2012

Having a new book to promote means leaving one's desk to go to places and talk to people.  Writing stories is not enough.  These days authors have to help 'sell' them.  Part of me wants to complain.  I am a writer, not a salesperson.  If I had wanted to be a salesperson I would have gone into Sales and Marketing.  I get stressed out about what to wear and what to say.   Of course I think the story… Keep Reading →

October Post

Sunday 28th October, 2012

I am an 'old-fashioned' author, not anti-technology (I love my Sony Vaio... it has a BIG screen!), but in the sense of being deeply committed both to books as objects for treasuring and to the tactile power of the written word.  To me no thrill can ever replace the beauty of a smooth, plump hand-addressed envelope landing on my door mat: running one's finger under the flap, relishing the knowledge… Keep Reading →

September Blues

Friday 14th September, 2012

Part of me is still on my Greek Island.  It rained for five minutes in seven days.  My skin is full of sun, my brain rested and still refusing to come to heel.  I read four stunning books: 'Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller, 'State of Wonder' by Ann Patchett, 'At Mrs Lippincote's' by Elizabeth Taylor and 'Stoner' by John Williams.  I recommend all four unreservedly.  They are… Keep Reading →

August 3rd - Olympic Note

Friday 3rd August, 2012

I am not an attention-seeker. (Cue scoffs from people who think they know me well. To which I reply, I am someone who loves attention while often being too shy to seek it out, which is quite a different thing). Anyway, the point is, yesterday I went to the Olympics where I found myself wearing a large plastic Union Jack - a gift from the nice British Airways people hanging round the final turning… Keep Reading →

Summer Newsletter 2012

Sunday 1st July, 2012

At the moment I am something of an expert on Roman Britain. It is a bulge of unlikely knowledge, acquired thanks to a week spent walking Hadrian's Wall (the middle stretch of 40 miles or so, between Newcastle and Carlisle). Six days following the impressive, snaking stone remains of wall, forts, towers and milestones made it impossible not to want to bury one's nose in a guide book to soak up… Keep Reading →

Spring Newsletter 2012

Sunday 1st April, 2012

It is March and I am sunburnt. This is not from a skiing holiday or a Caribbean jaunt, but because I sat outside having a sandwich lunch in Soho Square yesterday with a writing friend. We talked intensely and enjoyably for over three hours, mostly about writing. He writes film scripts not books, thus facing the same dilemmas but having to solve them in different ways. We were in the shade of a… Keep Reading →

Autumn Newsletter 2011

Tuesday 11th October, 2011

For me there are very distinct cycles in the production of a novel: the thinking bit, the scribbling a few notes bit, the grab-it-by-the-throat-and-start bit, the press-on-even-though-it-feels-impossible bit, then the final strait, when you know the end is in sight but try not to look at it too hard for fear of rushing, or losing your nerve or indeed doing anything to undermine all the hard graft… Keep Reading →

Winter Newsletter 2011

Saturday 1st January, 2011

Each year I am struck by the way Christmas is 'made' to happen. An act of collective, steely determination by a species determined to find something to help it through the winter. Each year I resist, through gritted teeth, then succumb. I am at the point of starting to succumb now. I have made a batch of mince pies. I have written two thirds of my Christmas cards. I have bought scores of presents… Keep Reading →