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My latest blog posts

The way to a man’s heart…

… is through his stomach, or so they say. Anatomically, that seems rather suspect; but I would have to agree that food – especially when cooked by one lover for the other – has vast potential to create a romantic ambiance. But it has to be the right food. You

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Counting down to publication

April is fast approaching, and with it the publication of my novel Burning Embers by Omnific Publishing. It’s an exciting time indeed; this is a milestone I’ve much looked forward to in my journey as a writer. I first began writing Burning Embers years ago. The story and the setting

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Favourite poems about the ocean

The ocean was my first love. I grew up in a house overlooking the sea, and it was a constant source of inspiration to me growing up. There is something so breathtakingly beautiful about the water – the power of its motion; the glorious colours, changing daily; its constancy; its

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Ship of dreams

The harbour, a short walk from my house. In the evening after a good day’s writing I go to a little cafe outside the harbour where there is a soft sea breeze and relax as I watch the boats and passers-by.

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Letting go in order to move forwards

Feeling love, in many ways, is easy. Letting go in order to really, truly give your heart is harder. In my novel Burning Embers, Rafe is a man who is haunted by his past. He is unable to let go of a difficult situation in which he found himself and

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Writing on paper

The modern writer has a choice: paper or PC? Of course, PC is the most practical – but does it, I wonder, help or hinder the creative process? Wherever I go, in my handbag I keep a small notebook, so that when an idea walks into my mind I can

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One of my hideaways

A small municipal garden not far from the house looking onto the most fabulous sea views splashing over the rocks. I sit in the shade of the pins parasols (the umbrella trees) and think out my most romantic love scenes. I usually have the place to myself, especially in the spring and

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Marriage in romance novels

I’ve been reading romance novels since I was a young girl, and years ago, in more traditional times, the happy ending at the end of a book was wrapped up in marriage. Either the hero proposed to the heroine, or, usually in an epilogue, they stood at an alter and

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Love is a temporary madness

One of my favourite quotes about love is from the book Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières: “Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so

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Recipe: Kenyan chicken coconut curry

Curry calls to mind India; coconut curry calls to mind Thailand. The following recipe, however, is a traditional Kenyan one from the East Coast – the kind of meal that the characters in my novel Burning Embers may well have enjoyed, cooked by their local staff. I prefer a mild

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The mimosa tree

A mimosa tree in my grounds in France. They flower all over the French Riviera. Some towns celebrate La Fête des Mimosas, and chariots adorned with mimosa flowers and branches parade through town.

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Absence makes the heart fonder…

… Or so the popular saying goes. Heathcliff and Cathy. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler. Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester. Pip and Estella. Dexter and Emma (One Day)… Romantic stories throughout the history of literature are peppered with the prolonged separation of lovers, which serves

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Blending fact and fiction

This week journalist Jonathan Freedland, who writes thrillers under the pen name Sam Bourne, has published an article called ‘Why the Facts Really Count in Fiction’. In the article, he explains that he takes great care in his writing to ensure that his books are as factually correct as possible.

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When the hunter and the prey join together

In researching my book Burning Embers, which is set in Kenya in the 1970s, I read a lot of African materials – legends, fables, proverbs, poems, songs – so that the traditional tribal culture with which the protagonists’ modern, more westernised world overlaps was authentic. I was particularly interested in

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Favourite film: Charlie St. Cloud

Most of my favourite films are romantic classics from previous decades – like Gone with the Wind. But I do occasionally watch a more recent film, and a friend recommended I watched the 2010 film Charlie St. Cloud because she had seen it and thought it would strike a chord

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Inspiring music

Regular readers of my blog will know that I’m passionate about music across many different genres, and I often use music as an inspiration for my writing. So I was delighted, this week, to read an article in The Huffington Post on ‘lit-pop’ – songs inspired by literature. The fourteen

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St Maxime by night

My local town in the south of France. The reflections of the lights remind me of the phrase from the song ‘On My Own’ in Les Miserables: ‘All the lights are misty in the river.’ (Though of course it’s the ocean!)

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Love is . . .

Happy Valentine’s Day! The most wonderful day of the year for a romantic like me. Do you remember the comic strip ‘Love is . . .’ by cartoonist Kim Casali? Now, I’m not a regular reader of comics of course (not enough words for my liking), but this strip caught

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The journey towards maturity

In most novels, the central premise of the book is that the main character(s) goes on a journey. Usually, that journey is at least partly experienced within the character – so spiritual, emotional, intellectual. In Burning Embers, both of the main characters, Coral and Rafe, go on such a journey.

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A bird’s eye view

Oh, to be a bird – to soar high above the land, to glide on thermals – majestic, graceful. But best of all, to get that inspiring, awesome perspective over our world that’s afforded by a view from above. The colours, the textures and the sense of cohesion are just

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Snow!

This week the snow hit our home in Kent, blanketing the world with soft, silent whiteness. Here are some pictures I took.

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Favourite film: Immortal Beloved

As regular readers of my blog have no doubt gathered, I adore music and it often forms the basis of my inspiration for my writing. Classical music is a particular favourite – when a song has no lyrics, it frees my mind to imagine the accompanying words; and of course

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Bewitched, bothered and bewildered

A sinister undercurrent running through my book Burning Embers is fuelled by native African culture embodying voodoo magic, witchcraft and evil intent – all under the auspices of the witch doctor. The protagonist’s former yaha (nanny), Aluna, is a big believer in all that is supernatural, and she stirs in Coral seeds

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The cost of love?

When browsing through a newspaper, I’m always drawn by articles about love and romance, whether love stories or commentary on the current state of romance in the country. So this week I was intrigued to read reports in the national press of a survey commissioned by Match.com to investigate the

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Drawing upon the seven core stories

Every writer tries to be original in her writing – otherwise, what interest is there for the writer and the reader? But some writing experts believe that it is not possible to be original when it comes to the fundamentals of the story – the bare bones, if you like.

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Censorship and writing

Writing is about expression. A writer must be free to be herself. Without constraint. Placing rules on a writer simply hinders the creative process. To paraphrase Shakespeare, ‘at the length truth will out’. But through the years many regimes have censored books whose contents they deemed to be outrageous, sacrilegious,

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The importance of the sun

Light is essential to my life. Light, to me, is life itself – it’s what gives me energy and strength and creativity. The long winter months are hard, but I get through them by taking long walks in the countryside with my beloved dogs, and by keeping the house well

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My latest blog posts

The Lunissanti of Castelsardo

In my novel The Echoes of Love Paolo and Venetia take some time out to get to know each other on the island of Sardinia. There, they attend a very special ceremony in Castelsardo, in the northwest of the island, which is a key part of the town’s cultural identity.

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A novel publicity stunt

Thriller author James Patterson has long been a vocal advocate of aggressive, creative, attention-grabbing marketing in the publishing industry. He’s famously said: ‘Publishers are sitting around saying: “Woe is me.”… Get in attack mode.’ (Source: The Guardian). Although Patterson has a publisher, he’s always seen marketing as a personal responsibility

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An anonymous artist with a marvellous mission

Earlier this week, I posted an article about author James Patterson’s latest publicity stunt: an exploding book. No doubt that book will have his name prominently displayed on it. As for the vast majority of creative – artists, writers, musicians – the name is as big a part of the

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Book-spotting in London

It’s a most rewarding activity which I think most published authors would admit to indulging in: looking for your book on the shelves of bookstores wherever you go. This week, with the help of some friends who commute around London, I’ve book-spotted The Echoes of Love in three locations, Heathrow,

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Five fine art depictions of the Venetian waterscape

When I think of Venice, setting for my novel The Echoes of Love, I always think of two things: art and water. Venice has long been an important focus in the art world, especially during the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque; it even boasted its own unique style known as the Venetian School, whose major

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The writer’s responsibility to write well

I make it my business to know about the publishing industry, and to keep abreast of news and opinion pieces in the book sections of newspapers and in magazines dedicated to the theme. Of course, much has changed and is changing in this sector, and so people have much to

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Is always having a new book to read important to you?

There’s a new word being bandied about online and in writing magazines: Abibliophobia. The definition is ‘a fear of running out of reading material’. The word is being treated as something of a joke – a humorous witticism. But I think there is a lot of truth in it! For the

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The ultimate Italian delicacy: the white truffle

In my novel The Echoes of Love – set in Venice, Tuscany and Sardinia – the lovers, Venetia and Paolo, share several meals out together, from fine dining in a celebrated restaurant to authentic cuisine in a rustic local eatery, and on the menu are all kinds of delicious Italian

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The Facebook Book Club

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is a game changer. So when he does something new, people sit up and take notice. How interesting, then, for we who are immersed in publishing, that his new initiative is in our camp: he just launched The Year of Books Community on Facebook to fulfil

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A new cover for Burning Embers

Have you noticed that my debut novel, Burning Embers, has a new cover? The design is to match The Echoes of Love, and I’m delighted with it because it pulls together so many elements of the book. First, the model. She’s just as I picture Coral, the heroine of the

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A sweet taste: The official partner of romance

You curl up with a good book, and sip a steaming mochaccino. You watch a romance movie with a friend, and share a bowl of popcorn. You have a romantic meal with a lover, and end with a melt-in-the-middle chocolate pudding. You unwrap your partner’s gifts from under the tree,

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Escape to Venice and Kenya this January

Are you feeling the January blues? Is winter chilling you? Well, for less than the price of a coffee you can escape to both Venice and Kenya this month with my novels The Echoes of Love and Burning Embers! The ebooks are available now on Amazon.

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Stepping into a story world

Did you see the recent news story about a real-life Hogwarts, the school at which the Harry Potter series is set? Czocha Castle in Poland was transformed into a ‘College of Wizardy’ modelled on the school in JK Rowling’s books. One hundred and ninety fans from around the world came

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Where the Rainbow Ends by Shirley Worrall

From the blurb: In 1873, Amelia Penrose and her twin brother James are abandoned as babies in a trunk outside a Liverpool orphanage.  Amelia grows up longing for security and, at eighteen years of ages, she marries American sailor, Miles Carter. They exchange England for Seattle, and are soon making

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Losing your first draft: Catastrophe or blessing?

Every writer, surely, has some experience of losing a price of writing. The computer crashes or the coffee spills on the notebook, and the words are gone for ever. It’s utterly devastating, because those lost words were so precious and loved (even if you intended to rewrite them), and because

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My latest blog posts

Whatever happened to courtship?

Recently, Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, took to Twitter to answer a fan’s question: ‘Is there a difference between a romance novel and a love story?’ In stating her case that her own novels are absolutely not romance novels (as, to her frustration, they are often categorised), Diana

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After the ‘happy-ever-after’? Why sequels aren’t my style

To date, I have published six novels: three standalones and a trilogy. The trilogy follows three generations of families, but essentially each novel can stand alone as one, cohesive love story. Increasingly, I’m finding that readers me ask whether I’ll write a sequel to a novel they’ve enjoyed. ‘Why oh

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Prometheus: the Titan who endured

I have always been interested in mythology. The Greek myths, which inspired my new book Aphrodite’s Tears, were written thousands of years ago by wise men who helped to shape our modern thinking, and many of those stories have withstood the test of time and are relevant today. I am

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The Ancient Greek myths of Delos

A maze of dry, meandering paths led them across the island. On either side crumbling stone temples, toppled columns and the remains of statues told a story of the once-great sacred island. Damian and Oriel were greeted by something new at every bend. Whether it was a view of the

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Facing the sunshine: why I write romance, not crime

A story reported widely in the British press last week caught my eye: ‘Crime pays,’ read the headline in the Telegraph; ‘thrillers and detective novels now outsell all other fiction.’ According to data by Nielsen BookScan shared at the London Book Fair, sales of crime and thriller novels in the

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Taking inspiration from the Labyrinth of Greek mythology

‘Tell me about this house. It seems enormous, a real labyrinth…’ So says Oriel, the heroine of my new novel Aphrodite’s Tears, with regard to the big house on the island of Helios where her new boss lives. Nods to Greek mythology are interwoven throughout Aphrodite’s Tears, and of course

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A heroine with the passion (and fate?) of Antigone

For my latest novel, Aphrodite’s Tears, I took inspiration from the classic stories of Greek mythology. I grew up with these stories, told to me by my governess and my parents, and one of my oldest and most treasured possessions is a children’s compendium of myths based on the epic

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The enduring wisdom of Jane Eyre

Recently, the editors at Bookish.com published an article compiling favourite romance novel heroines as chosen by romance authors (http://www.bookish.com/articles/favorite-romance-heroines/). The heroines in the list were from modern-era novels, with one notable exception: Elizabeth Bennet of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. When I consider my favourite characters in romance, I invariably find

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