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My latest blog posts

The perfect man…

Last month the Guardian reported on an interesting survey undertaken by the Festival of Romance, an international convention on romantic fiction. They interviewed 58 romantic novelists to find out what qualities are important in a man. These were the results: The perfect man, according to romantic novelists (% agreeing), is:

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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

Ferrari: A car for a male romantic lead

The following extract is from my novel The Echoes of Love: It was two o’clock in the morning. The Ferrari sped through the night towards San Stefano in Tuscany. Attuned to the darkness surrounding him, his sombre mood overwhelming, Paolo drove the sleek, powerful sports car as though he was

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Book review: Not Quite Enough by Catherine Bybee

From the blurb: Monica Mann has made it her life’s work to save lives. After an earthquake and tsunami hit the shores of Jamaica, she volunteers her trauma skills with Borderless Nurses. Calculating and methodical, Monica creates order out of whatever chaos she finds. Until she finds the perpetually barefoot,

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Favourite poet: Petrarca

A love poem a day for the woman you adore – what can be more romantic? This was the gift of Italian writer Petrarca: 366 sonnets penned way back in the fourteenth century, later collected into the Rime in vita e morte di Madonna Laura – Petrarch’s Sonnets. Francesco Petrarca was

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Historic Italian culinary bibles

I love Italian food – eating it, but most of all cooking it. To get me in the mood while writing my Italian-set The Echoes of Love, Italian was often on the menu at home. For me, cooking Italian doesn’t just mean throwing some dried fusilli pasta in a saucepan,

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How do your cure writer’s block?

This was the question posed by Mslexia writing magazine in its most recent reader survey. Author Terry Pratchett famously wrote: ‘There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.’ But of the 1,904 women writers who took part in the survey, four

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To the Letter

Dear Margaret, We regret to inform you that your husband is missing in action… Dear Mother, Finally, I can write the words: Born this morning, a beautiful baby girl… Dear John, I’m sorry but I just can’t do this anymore… Dear Grannie, Did I leave my spectacles at your house?

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Favourite film: A Room with a View

When I’m writing a novel, I like to immerse myself so far as is possible in the culture and time in which the story is set. For my most recently published novel, The Echoes of Love, that meant enjoying Italian culture – watching films, reading books and listening to music

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Writing Italy: Treading the line between reality and cliché

In this season’s issue of The Author, Tobia Jones shares an interesting article entitled ‘Italy: Real and Imagined’, in which he explains that ‘[a]nyone who writes about Italy has a battle on their hands to avoid “italianity”, the cult of Italian myths and clichés’. He goes on to explore in

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Bookspotting: an app for the future

Visitors and residents of Scotland are to be envied by book lovers worldwide: a creative collaboration there has come up with a fantastic application for smartphones and tablets that marries, on the one hand, authors and books with, on the other, locations and themes. So, wherever you are in the

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Book review: Married to Maggie by Jan Romes

From the blurb: Texas playboy, Ty Vincent, heir to the Vincent Oil fortune needs a short-term wife to convince his grandfather and the Board of Directors that he’s changing his ways so they’ll name him CEO. Ditching an environmental conference in Atlanta to play in Reno, Ty suffers razor-sharp chest

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Ebooks to outsell print books

It’s 1980, and you’re reading a novel set in a futuristic world that is astonishingly different to the world as you know it. For one thing, in this futuristic world books don’t exist in a physical format; all books are digital, read on various computer devices. Clearly, the book you’re

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The Palazzo Barbaro: artistic hub

One of the finest examples of architecture in Venice is the Palazzo Barbaro, two adjoined palaces in San Marco, Venice, on the Grand Canal, near the Ponte dell’Accademia. One palace is in the Venetian Gothic style, influenced by Byzantine and Moorish architecture, and it dates back to 1425, when it was crafted

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Luminara

Recently, I visited a luminarium built by the visionary Architects of Air: an enormous inflatable sculpture one can enter to, as the makers put it, ‘be moved to a sense of wonder at the beauty of light and colour’. It was amazing. The luminarium got me thinking about the role

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Taking inspiration from classic children’s books

I write fiction for adults, but that doesn’t for a moment mean I don’t appreciate children’s fiction as well. Classic children’s books: Take me back to my roots: My love for books – for reading and writing – began in early childhood. Such adventures I had between the covers of

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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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My latest blog posts

Win my Andalucian Nights trilogy in paperback

Welcome, and thank you for visiting my website as part of the Rain Rain Go Away hop, organised by The Kids Did It http://thekidsdidit.com and The Mommy Island http://themommyisland.blogspot.com. I’m offering readers a chance to escape to hot, sultry Spain with my full Andalucian Nights series: that’s three paperbacks. Entry

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My heroines: reflections of myself?

‘Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will.’ So wrote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, prolific writer of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. After all, isn’t the point of writing to express oneself? Whatever you write, it is infused with

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The rich literary heritage of Andalucía

In my twenties, after graduating university, I travelled around Europe, keen to visit places I had read so much about. Andalucía was one such place; it had cropped up so many times in the literature I had read. There was Washington Irving’s captivating Tales of the Alhambra, in which he

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Making time to read the books you want to read

If you’re reading this blog post, it’s a safe assumption that you’re a reader: you enjoy reading books (perhaps even my own novels; I do hope so). Consider these questions: How much time do you devote to reading? In your reading time, which books do you choose to read? Whatever

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Authors who handwrite manuscripts

As a child, I wrote and wrote – stories inspired by fairy tales, when I was young, and then, in my teens, romantic tales. Of course, these stories were handwritten on paper. I can recall even now the rustle of the paper, the scratching of the pen nib, the scent

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A light exists in spring

Persephone has returned from the underworld, heralding the return of spring: daffodils and snowdrops, blue skies and warming sunshine, longer days and milder nights – spring has sprung! There is such a feeling of hope in the air, of the promise of rebirth and growth and discovery. As Emily Dickinson

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Reading: an escape into your own past

We all know that reading fiction is a means of escape: from wherever you are reading, you are transported to the fictional world, to another place and time, and that can be as inspiring, relaxing and enjoyable as travelling for real. Have you ever considered, though, that reading is not

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Win a reading journal in the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop

Welcome, and thank you for visiting my website as part of this hop. I’m giving away a lovely reading journal made by the British Library and inspired by the Olga Hirsch collection of decorative papers. ‘The main section of the book is organized alphabetically with flexible writing space to note

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