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My latest blog posts

My latest blog posts

A woman alone

In both of my novels published to date, my heroines are very much women standing alone in the world. This is in part due to their fierce independence and determination to make their own way; but it is also because they lack parents on whom they rely. In Burning Embers,

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The Joust of the Bear

  I set a large part of my novel The Echoes of Love in Tuscany, Italy, because it’s a region I know well and love for its scenery and, especially, its culture. And what better typifies the spirit of the Tuscans than the Giostradell’Orso, the Joust of the Bear. Today,

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Books as visual art – and seats!

In my novel The Echoes of Love the hero, Paolo, explains: ‘I spend a lot of time reading about beautiful things and like to surround myself with them.’Were I describing myself, I would edit this to: ‘I spend a lot of time reading beautiful things and like to surround myself

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The Festival of the Redeemer

Venice comes alive this weekend for the FestadelRedentore – the Festival of the Redeemer. It takes places on the third weekend of July, and has done each year since 1577. Then, the city was celebrating its deliverance from devastating plague that decimated the population of Venice in the preceding two

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Italian iced coffee – shaken, not stirred

Summer’s here! Wherever you are in the world, I hope you’re enjoying the sunshine. I’m certainly taking every opportunity to write outside in my garden, amid all the tantalisingscents and vibrant colours and the sound of the breeze rustling the leaves and the distant waves crashing on the rocks. It’s

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Heroes and heroines: Tortured, complicated souls

Ask me my most favourite books, and a classic English romance will always appear near the top of the list: Wuthering Heights. The agony and passion at the centre of the love story between Heathcliff and Cathy has always gripped me, moved me – and it inspired me as I

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An argument for digitising books – all books

I’ve always loved this song: The tune is haunting, and the main lyric ‘Where have all the cowboys gone?’ strikes a chord about how society – gender roles, notions of romance – has changed. Cowboys aren’t quite my ideal heroes, so I’d perhaps be singing ‘Where have all the gentlemen

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Favourite film: Gatsby

Did you know that when author F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940 he believed himself a failure? That long years of alcoholism saw a heart attack claim his life at just 44? That since the publication of his book The Great Gatsby, which had received poor reviews and lack-lustre sales,

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A Jungian perspective

No doubt you’ve heard of Carl Jung (1875–1961), the Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who was the father of analytical psychology. Yung wrote prolifically, and his writings have been hugely influential in many different areas, from philosophy to archeology, psychiatry to literature. In my novel The Echoes of Love, Paolo quote Jung to Venetia

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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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My latest blog posts

The colourful character behind the wisdom of Legacy

Secrets, deceit, betrayal – and revelation, truth and loyalty: these are the themes that underpin my Andalucían Nights trilogy. In the final book in the series, Legacy, the heroine Luna has secrets that she is keeping from Ruy, the hero, and top of the list is the fact that she

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A brief history of the hand fan in Europe

As part of my FANtastic Fiesta, running until 14 August, I’m giving away three lovely wooden Spanish hand fans, as featured on the covers of my Andalucían Nights trilogy: No doubt you know that the hand fan is a classic object that blends both fashion and function. But how much

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Taking inspiration from the Andalucían almadraba

My latest novel, Legacy, is set in Cadiz, a city in Andalucía that is almost entirely surrounded by sea. This is the view from my heroine Luna’s home at dusk: The port of Puerto de Santa María glowed in the distance, accompanied by the steadfast wink of the lighthouse. Fishing

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WIN in my FAN-tastic Fiesta

This month, I’m having a FAN-tastic Fiesta, to celebrate the launch of my Andalucían Nights trilogy in a special, all-in-one edition. The award-winning epic Andalucían Nights Trilogy sweeps the reader from the wild landscapes of Spain in the 1950s, through a history of dangerous liaisons and revenge dramas, to a

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Should the gender of an author matter?

Back in the nineteenth century, readers – men and women alike – began to discover and enjoy fiction by new novelists Currer Bell, Ellis Bell, Acton Bell and George Eliot. Male writers, you may well have assumed, but in fact these were the pen names of the Brontë sisters and

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Essential elements in a summer holiday read

Do you remember that ‘last day of school’ feeling before the summer holidays? Other than Christmas Eve, I think it was the most wonderful time in my childhood. While I enjoyed school, I enjoyed far more the freedom of those long, lazy days: freedom to paddle in the ocean, build

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A visual tour of my novels’ landscapes

Earlier this week, I was hunting in my files for a photograph when it struck me just how many images I was browsing through. Since I began blogging here back in September 2011, I have built quite the picture library! When I write on this blog about the settings for

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