Merry Christmas - and here's to next year!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Swan xmas

Dear supporters, readers and supporters-to-be,

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, a restful festive season and a fabulous seeing-in of the new year 2018! Are you staying home, going out, going away? Sun, snow, Christmas markets? Nutcrackers, Hansel-and-Gretels, pantomimes, or, er, Swan Lakes? 

I'm staying home and writing, as you may be surprised to hear (or not). I'll be devoting much…

What's in a name? Er, quite a bit...

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Glass repair broken window


An interesting development is propelling Meeting Odette in a new direction. As I mentioned last time, it's turning into a winter's tale, with a Christmas Carolesque slant to its magical side. The more I chip away at it, the more this new-look setting is building the story's inner strength - indeed, its whole point. Still, whatever I do to it, I realise I need to do a very great deal more…

Snow scenes

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Leaf snowy wintry branch ice snow ice flowers 1891869

Some things remain as much of a thrill when you're (supposedly) grown up as they are in childhood. And one of them, along with sitting at the front on the top-level of a London double-decker bus, is watching the world turn white moment by moment in front of your nose as falling snow settles on the roofs, twigs and a few last brave leaves that are still hanging on. The magical transformation of…

7 great reasons to support Meeting Odette that have nothing to do with swans

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Meeting odette

1. Meeting Odette is an allegory for the present. That refugee you see shivering in the water, struggling across barren lands - how can you know who she really is? Refugees have nothing and our society therefore sees them as nobody. This is both ridiculous and worse than inhumane. Supposing someone who arrives from the east with nothing but the clothes on her back turns out to be...a very unexpected…

Titles 102, anti romanticism and some extraordinary Sibelius

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Hmm, my thoughts on a change of title for MEETING ODETTE don't seem to have gone over especially well. TAKING FLIGHT, apparently, sounds like a self-help book and has been used before in fiction, as has FLIGHT OF THE SWAN, which shows up either as a children's book or soppy romance.

I'd like to make one thing clear about MEETING ODETTE. Romance it ain't. And that's the curse of the swan. It's a…

What's in a name?

Monday, 18 September 2017

Meeting odette broken glass image

Above: a breakthrough?

Answer: quite a lot. Especially if it's not so much a name, but a title. A book has to have the right title. Can you imagine 'Gone with the Wind', 'Wuthering Heights' or '1984' being called anything else? A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but if you pick a title that doesn't resound, it's not going to do its content any favours. 

I've been aware for…

New pledge level: a personal consultancy session! Plus: the next Pledge Party, and some ballet from a glorious Odette...

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Dear all,

I hope you've had a wonderful summer. Mine has certainly been eventful. Over the past couple of years I've been working on a new "people's opera" called SILVER BIRCH with the wonderful composer Roxanna Panfunik, and in late July it was premiered at Garsington Opera. We had some fantastic reviews (The Times called my libretto 'powerful and poetic', spurring purring). And seeing this work…

10 reasons you'll want to meet Odette

Sunday, 23 July 2017


One month in and Meeting Odette is one third funded, which is brilliant news. Huge thanks to my 61 supporters who have stepped forward to pledge so far! Now we just need twice as many again to do likewise, preferably within the next few weeks... so please can I ask you all to share the link with any literarily, balletically, musically or fantastically inclined friends who might enjoy a feathery tale…

Hang on a mo...

Friday, 7 July 2017

Mute swan 97676 960 720

[I feel a bit like this today...hiding head in despair]

...but what? You wait 25 years and suddenly someone else picks your topic too? For a Hollywood blockbuster? Oh. Flippin'. Heck.

I just stumbled across a piece of news on Twitter: Felicity Jones is to star in a movie based on the story of Swan Lake, without any ballet. No kidding. Read all about it here. 

What are the chances…

"I offered them swan terrine, but they were rather horrified..."

Monday, 3 July 2017

Max pic

The wonderful oboist Nicholas Daniel alerts us to this report from BBC News Scotland from 2005, when the then-Master of the Queen's Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, found himself being cautioned over the death of a swan near his Orkney home. The unfortunate bird had struck a power line. ("Max" himself died last year and is much missed for his mercurial and outspoken personality as well as his…

Newly added: Launch Party pledge level!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017


Dear friends,

I did something utterly terrible when I chose the pledge rewards to offer you. I forgot all about the party. 

How could I? I mean, what is a book without its launch party? What is the point of a book if you can't celebrate its existence with wine and friends and good cheer? In this neck of the woods, the book is not an excuse for a party; the prospect of a party is the excuse…

"My beloved swan..."

Monday, 26 June 2017

It's not that Jonas Kaufmann's voice was absolutely essential to the first update on the Meeting Odette page. You never need any excuse to listen to him (at least, I don't). But the German tenor's Lohengrin is legendary and, let's face it, Swan Lake would be nowhere without Wagner's swanny opera. Stories often sprout on the backs of older stories, and that ballet is no exception.

Here's a video…


Friday, 23 June 2017

Osipova as odette by gene schiavone

I used to have a recurring dream. I was in the library, looking for a book. I knew I'd seen it once before. I couldn't find it. It was a book of Swan Lake. I would always wake up knowing there was something inside it that I wanted, or needed, but I could never remember what it was.

(Pictured above: Natalia Osipova as Odette, photo by Gene Schiavone, Royal Opera House)

I had this dream…

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