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My latest blog posts

My latest blog posts

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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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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My latest blog posts

Does romance need new sub-genres?

Here is a dictionary definition of the word ‘romance’: a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love; a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life. And here is a definition of romance when it is used with relation to a story: a book or film

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An infinity of passion: Madame Bovary

This month marks 160 years since the publication in book format of a masterpiece of literature: Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. In my early twenties, I read French literature at the University of Alexandria, and I was inspired by so many French writers, from the celebrated, like Charles Baudelaire and Victor Hugo

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My ten top blog posts

This week I’m celebrating four years since I became a published author (see my Monday post, ‘Win my novel Burning Embers’). It is in fact four and a half years since I started blogging, and in that time I have written hundreds of posts on all kinds of subjects, from

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Thought piece: on women earning less than men

Today I’m launching a new theme on my blog: thought pieces, which initially will be inspired by a book published by London Wall, my publisher: How to Do Good: Essays on Building a Better World is a collection of extraordinary personal stories from thought leaders, celebrities, statesmen and women, Nobel

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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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