THANK HEAVENS for literature. For poems that nail a moment or feeling, books that educate, transport us to places we didn’t know about and help us escape.
Writers are inspired in different ways: through memories, chance meetings with unusual people, newspaper articles, dreams, narcotics…the list is endless. Looking at my bookshelves, I notice how many of my favourite reads are strong on location. My favourite childhood read, “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” with the ominous and brooding shadows of the Yorkshire moors, “Cider with Rosie”, where Laurie Lee takes us to life in a remote Cotswold village and a wonderful recent favourite, “A Year of Marvellous Ways” by Sarah Winman, set in a remote inlet of the Cornish coast. In all these stories, locations are not just backdrops to the plot and characters, they are vital. These books would be diminished and fall apart without them. Continue reading
At Home in the Pays d’Oc is the story of how my husband and I were adopted, while in France, by a small brown and white dog, and how we ended up spending four years as residents of a village in the Languedoc.
It is true, up to a point, although I wouldn’t dream of spoiling a good story for the sake of a few hard facts. Some of my beta readers have been kind enough to say it is funny. If you want to read it, it will soon be available through Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. If you subscribe to Tolino, Scribd or Apple you will, I’m told, find it there.
But the point of this post is not to tell you about the book. It is to tell you how it came into existence: a salutary tale (or a warning) for all indie publishers. It’s about perseverance in the face of all odds; it’s about saying ‘I quit’ nine times and going back, reluctantly, with gritted teeth and dragging heels, a tenth time. Continue reading
I’ve really struggled to describe my new book to people. I think the reason is that it’s very personal and may not fit with current genres for historical fiction. But one of my beta readers has said that some chapters remind him of Dickens and others of Hardy. While I would never dare to put myself on a level with those masters of 19th century classics, it has made me realise something. I have not written this book to please other people, but myself and if that does not appeal, so be it. My new book, in its small way, is a social commentary on difficult times and how that affected one particular family in the early part of the 19th century. Some of the themes I touch on are women’s place in society; poverty both in agrarian and industrial settings; the casual disregard for life; the influence of religion for both good and ill and the awakening recognition that things must change.
But there are also resonances with life today, especially how the poor are still at the mercy of the powerful, and I don’t mean just economically. The poor are still vilified, only now we are berated by tales of benefit cheats, whereas the reality is that very few people cheat. I recently listened as a reporter from the Daily Mail on television said that such stories sell papers and people don’t want to hear the truth. So certain newspapers are not in the business of reporting truth but obfuscating, how surprising! Plus ça change.
Many fought long and hard to improve living and working conditions. Let’s not slip back to these times. They weren’t so long ago.
These are the books we will be launching on April 3oth, but of course, we will have some of our previous output available on the day as well.
Now the big announcement. Our launch is booked for Sunday April 30th. Please put it in your diaries. We have a great venue with good parking facilities. Do come and help us celebrate.
Last month’s exercise was to write a piece about A New Year’s Resolution Gone Wrong
The Oxford dictionary describes a resolution as “good intentions that one formulates mentally for virtuous conduct” – wow, I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions, and certainly don’t believe in telling them to other people, and as for the virtuous conduct… but this year I had made a secret vow to myself that the year was going to have even more exercise in it than usual. Well, usual is to walk anything between 20 and 40 miles a week and to play tennis at least two or three times!!! Not only that, but in view of a booked holiday next month, where the aged body was going to be exposed to sunshine and swimming costumes, I promised myself I would go without all edible sweet stuff, chocolate, biscuits and cake etc – and that’s really virtuous from someone with a very sweet tooth! Continue reading