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My latest blog posts

The poetry of Leconte De Lisle

The seeds of inspiration for the verdant setting of my novel Burning Embers were sown way back at school when I was introduced to the flamboyant poetry of Charles-Marie Leconte De Lisle, better known as simply Leconte De Lisle, who was the leader of the group of French poets called

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Through a child’s eyes

‘Write about what you know’ is the advice given to any fledgling writer, and it’s certainly wisdom I have tried to take on board in my development as a writer. The action in my novel Burning Embers begins on a cruise ship bound for Mombasa. Coral, the protagonist, is gazing

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Favourite places: Dover Castle

The nearest town to my home in Kent is Dover. I love spending afternoons wandering around the magnificent 12-century Dover Castle which stands majestically above the White Cliffs for which the town is famous.

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Favourite films: Out of Africa

Out of Africa is one of my favourite films – I’ve watched it at least fifteen times to date, and it never fails to move me. The film is set earlier in the twentieth century than Burning Embers, but the breathtaking settings (which include Mombasa, where Burning Embers is set)

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My latest blog posts

How languages evolve

I was born in Alexandria, Egypt, where the language predominantly spokenis Arabic. So I learnt to speak Arabic. My school was run by French nuns, my parents were fluent in French, and my governess was half-French. So I learnt to speak French. My parents were well-educated and well-read, and they

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Recipe: Baci di Dama

What better recipe for a romance novelist to try than one for a delicious Italian sweet treat called ‘Lady’s Kisses’? American readers may spot a striking resemblance between these and the US-originating whoopie pies. For both one element is key: the filling! And any biscuits sandwiched with chocolate are bound

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The best views of Venice

  There is a glorious City in the Sea. The Sea is in the broad, the narrow streets, Ebbing and flowing; and the salt sea-weed Clings to the marble of her palaces. No track of men, no footsteps to and fro, Lead to her gates. The path lies o’er the

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Book review: Shades of Avalon by Carol Oates

From the blurb: Ben Pryor grew up as an average kid in Camden, Maine, unaware of the supernatural storm brewing in his Celtic blood. However, at nineteen, as the last born in the royal line of beings that once ruled Atlantis, Ben has eagerly embraced his newfound abilities and birthright.

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Transcending the pages: fiction as visual art

Once upon a time, books were books, only books. Then along came the motion picture, and books – for so long the foundation of culture – were the obvious source of inspiration for films. Frankenstein, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Rip van Winkle, The Assommoir, Uncle Tom’s

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Shopping the Venetian way

Last time I visited Venice, it was a research trip for my novel The Echoes of Love. I wanted to firm up descriptions of the setting, and so I walked in my characters’ footsteps, seeing the city through their eyes. But of course, I could not resist just a little

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Navigating the ‘spaghetti streets’ of Venice

One of the many charms of the city of Venice, setting for my romantic novel The Echoes of Love, is its unique map: this is a city of waterways cutting among myriad winding streets that form something of a daunting labyrinth for the tourist. Not in Venice will you find

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Maya Angelou in quotations

I was sad to read this week of the passing of the great American writer and activist Maya Angelou. Readers of my novels and followers of my Twitter feed will know that I am something of a collector of quotations, and over the years several of Maya’s quotes have been

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Ode to the notebook

If there’s one shop, other than a bookshop, in which I can lose all track of time (and spend a near fortune!) it’s a stationer’s. Notebooks in all shapes and colours and sizes and designs, lined up on shelves, just waiting to be filled, to paraphrase William Wordsworth, with the

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To sleep, perchance to dream…

Recently, I’ve been thinking about dreams. To be a romantic is to be a dreamer. And so to write romance is to write of dreams. The dream is integral to the romance novel. No wonder, then, that a search for the word dream’ in my latest novel, The Echoes of

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Favourite artist: Botticelli

No doubt you’ve heard of Sandro Botticelli, the Italian Renaissance painter whose works include The Birth of Venus. Certainly, his artistic style has long been admired and a point of reference in creative circles; in The Echoes of Love, for example, I write of a beautiful landscape: ‘Botticelli must have

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Book review: Risking It All by Lucy Oliver

From the blurb: Beneath bomb-filled skies, Head Radio Operator Lynne Cecil takes the safety of her RAF pilots seriously. They’re England’s last defense against the Luftwaffe. But too many pilots die on her watch. The top brass harass her for answers, but her team is giving their all. Devastated by

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Writing maps to guide you through the writing process

I confess, I have a real passion for book- and writing-related gifts. If I’m not giving the gift of a book itself, a gift that celebrates the love of the written book is the next best thing. So I quite often find myself on literary gift websites, looking for some

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My latest blog posts

Exploring the subconscious through dreams

In 1899, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud published a book entitled The Interpretation of Dreams, in which he laid out his theory of how dream interpretation can allow one to explore the unconscious. His belief – which slowly became a talking point among academics and doctors of the mind – was that we

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‘Make me immortal with a kiss’

… so wrote playwright Christopher Marlowe in this speech for Doctor Faustus: Was this the face that launched a thousand ships, And burnt the topless towers of Ilium? Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss: Her lips sucks forth my soul, see where it flies! Come Helen, come, give

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A print book resurgence?

Recently, the arts news has been full of a major comeback: that of the vinyl record. In 2016, vinyl sales in the UK reached 3.2 million, which is the highest figure for 25 years, and represents a 53 per cent increase on the previous year. Most interesting is that this

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An inspirational composer: Manuel de Falla

After all the vibrancy and jubilant cacophony of December, January always feels a quiet month to me: the silence of a snow-covered field, the gentle crackle of logs on the fire, the scratch of my pen moving over the paper, and – most notably – the lulling melodies of classical

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Tradition: the preservation of fire

Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to travel to Spain several times, and each of these visits provided rich inspiration for my Andalucían Nights trilogy, spanning Indiscretion, Masquerade and Legacy. Each of my stories is set during the hot, heady days of summer, but I didn’t limit my

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Mistress of the night: the moon

This holiday season, I have been fortune enough to do some stargazing. The night skies have been velvety blankets sprinkled with stars, and the moon… magnifique! I have always been fascinated by astronomy and astrology, but more than anything the moon has captured my imagination since childhood. Little wonder back

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The art of the gingerbread house

Knusper, knusper, knäuschen, wer knuspert an meinem Häuschen?  Nibble, nibble, gnaw Who is nibbling at my little house?  So says the witch in the children’s fairy-tale ‘Hansel and Gretel’ by the Brothers Grimm. I loved fairy-tales growing up, but I always found this one quite dark and chilling. However, like

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