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My latest blog posts

My latest blog posts

African proverbs: “A good name is better than riches”

In an early blog entry I explained that while researching my book, Burning Embers, I read a lot about Africa – including books on proverbs. In any culture, proverbs are a poetic and memorable way to impart wisdom. I’ve decided to run a series of book exploring a proverb in turn,

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A riveting read

Confession time: one of my hobbies is reading dictionaries. Certainly not as comforting and engaging as a romance novel, but it’s amazing what you learn when you read a few pages.  

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Respect your elders?

In Burning Embers, Coral is reunited with her former ‘yaha’ (nanny) Aluna when she comes back to the childhood home she left in her youth. There is, at once, an interesting dynamic between the two women – one white, naive, young and wealthy who has grown up chiefly in England;

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Music to write books by: Fausto Pappeti

I love music: it has such power to move, to affect, to inspire. When I write at my desk, I often have music on in the background – carefully selected to reflect the mood of the particular chapter I’m writing. In Burning Embers, as well as running a prosperous plantation,

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African recipe: Groundnut Soup

Food has always been a rich source of pleasure for me; I have wide-ranging tastes and enjoy the thrill of sampling a new cuisine. I subscribe to the school of thought that believes a direct connection exists between stomach and heart: an intimate meal between characters comprising succulent, delicious food

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It’s romance, but what kind? Deciding the genre for my novel

I’ve recently been involved in an interesting discussion with my publisher, Omnific, about what genre my upcoming novel Burning Embers fits into. My book is a love story, so categorising it as romance is no problem; but what sub-category within which to situate the book?   The list of sub-genres

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Inspired by nature

The bay at St Tropez on a wild and stormy day – little wonder that after seeing this tempestuous, magnificent power of nature I went home and added a storm to the chapter I was writing.

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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

The hunger for the untold story

Type ‘untold story’ into an Amazon and the search engine returns more than 8,000 results. The phrase is frequently coupled with a title to create a marketing hook: ‘Read this book and you’ll get another angle on the story.’ Marketers know that the ‘untold story’ subtitle sells books, and so

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Annotating the first edition

Have you heard about the ‘First Editions: Redrawn’ auction? It will take place at Sotheby’s in December and will raise funds for the charity House of Illustration, which runs an educational and heritage centre in London. What’s very special about this auction is the lots: 38 editions of classic children’s

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Preserving the residences of literary greats

The blue plaque scheme in the UK is one of my favourite historical initiatives. It began in London, launched in 1867 by the Royal Society of Arts, as a means of connecting sites with people of historical interest. The first plaque was unveiled at 24 Holles Street, Cavendish Square, the birthplace

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‘Start with a bang’

Here’s a piece of advice commonly given to writers: Start with a bang and you won’t end with a whimper. It’s frequently attributed to the poet TS Eliot, but in fact he didn’t give this guidance; he attributed it to an ending, not a beginning, at the close of his

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His Island Bride by Maxine Sullivan

From the blurb: When JaceJardine is asked to return to his family’s island resort after years spent in the city, he knows Wedding Belles Resort must be struggling, but when he arrives he finds the business on the brink of financial ruin. The solution? A big wedding and happy marriage

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The dream of being a writer: What does it really mean?

The phrase ‘dream of being a writer’ is a common one that dates back a long way. Remember Josephine March in Louisa May Alcott’s 19th-century Little Women series? She ‘dreamt of being a writer’. But what exactly does that mean? What is the dream exactly? Once upon a time –

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Reading: A social activity?

Reading is often assumed to be a quiet, sedentary, solitary pursuit. If you want it to be that – if you want some peace, a sit-down, a break from socialising with others – then reading can certainly be an activity for you and you alone. But in fact, reading has

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Genre-specific book stores

The idea that the conventional book store is in trouble needs no introduction. Digital publishing, book discounting by giants like Amazon, the shift from high-street shopping to online shopping: these, and other reasons, have seen many book stores close in the past few years. Those that soldier on are forced

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