The past is always with us
Tuesday, 22 January 2019
I'm often asked to talk about research, as I am again in March as part of the Portsmouth Book Festival. I like to surprise people by demonstrating that we're more in touch with the past than we suppose. My mum was brought up by her grandparents, who were Victorians. It gives me insights and vocabulary that I use in the Bera books - not pretending to be old Norse but a slightly distant vernacular…
5 Tips for moving home I wish I'd thought of
Tuesday, 18 December 2018
Piece of cake, we thought. The best tip someone gave me first time was to always be packed by professionals. We have now moved houses seven times and always use the same excellent company. We got a lot right this time: the redirection of post; the room plans with furniture to scale; the decuttering and cleaning before being lovingly packed over two days. Our dogs stayed with friends. We packed…
A very special present
Wednesday, 28 November 2018
Midnight 3 December.
That's the last moment you get get your name in the back of the book. Obsidian is already funded and launching on 13 June 2019 but if you'd like to give someone a different Christmas present you can put their name in the list of supporters and they will forever be in the British Library. And check out some of the offers, like the audiobook of Book One, Sea Paths, or map…
Be a Viking for 19 seconds
Saturday, 3 November 2018
I thought I'd welcome new supporters (and do join the party if you haven't already!) with traditional hospitality: breaking bread together amongst fellow Vikings. This was taken at Birka, on the island of Björkö in Lake Mälaren, Sweden.
From the eighth century Birka was one of the most important places for Viking world trade. It had up to a thousand inhabitants for over two hundred years but then…
Sun, football, tennis, strawberries & a campervan
Monday, 2 July 2018
Author looks very happy with life - because the story is in the best possible shape thanks to the fine-tuning of my brilliant developmental editor Liz Garner and went off this morning for the painstaking copy edit at Unbound. Liz writes:
You have done such a fantastic job here. Bera's quest is completely focused: the outer events match her inner development, and I love the strong move to…
Volcanic eruption in 2019!
Sunday, 27 May 2018
Here's a clue as to why the updates have been scarce. Partly I didn't want to add to the GDPR burden but mainly I've been busy ... with the last 'creative' edit before the brilliant Liz Garner does the line edit at the start of June. Obsidian is due to be published next summer! That seemed like plenty of time to get things perfect - but working backwards it means the copy edit has to be July 1st…
Wednesday, 25 April 2018
Every author wants to be read as widely as possible. I was thrilled with the beauty of the first edition hardback of The Book of Bera, Sea Paths, and hope it becomes a collector's item in the future. However, I was well aware that few people bought the trade hardback - and even fewer read the one they had. So when I sold out of paperbacks at the launch and was pressed to get the sequel, Obsidian…
Bera has gone properly public!
Tuesday, 10 April 2018
It was wonderful a year ago to thank supporters at the launch of their first edition in London. Last week, I launched the paperback at Waterstones, Chichester, which was more daunting. Why? It wasn't the public nature of it that alarmed me; it was the feeling that friends wouldn't take me seriously as a writer. I was completely wrong. It was a warm, happy and supportive evening and I loved it. Many…
What does being a working class author mean?
Wednesday, 28 March 2018
There's so much talk about diversity and so on and I've been thinking how my past affects or reflects on my writing life. Also, does it matter? I don't want to give critics a stick to beat 'women' or 'working-class women' or middle-class women' with, if they find my particular product doesn't suit. I loved growing up in Eastney (now called Southsea but it isn't). See? Inverse snobbery creeps in. Anyway…
Monday, 5 March 2018
Very happy to get to 40% thanks to you, dear supporters. Here's my rather shambolic video: the first I've done with iPhone. I hope you like the faster message.
Did Chaucer invent Valentine's Day?
Thursday, 8 February 2018
Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash
The answer is yes - and no. Chaucer wrote in English, not French or Latin, so his poem, The Parliament of Fowls, although commissioned for the marriage of royalty, was of the people and their belief that birds choose their mates on February 14th.
And whan this werk al brought was to an ende,
To every foul Nature yaf his make (mate)
By evene acord…
Friday, 19 January 2018
Yesterday, at one of my favourite places. January can be a cruel month: even though the days are lengthening, the mornings seem darker than ever. The sun made everyone smile and this is where I come when I want to think about plot structure. The dogs are happy and the calmness of blonde grass and sand beneath a deep blue sky seems to produce clarity of thought. A problem that seemed intractable…
We All Need Heroes
Monday, 1 January 2018
I used to be ashamed of reading escapist literature or watching films that weren't 'relevant to our present crisis' (whichever the latest was). I used to criticise my mother for refusing to wallow in the misery of current affairs just before bedtime. She said it was better in the War when newspapers kept morale high. Now I'm turning into her and that's a good thing. I think we need heroes. I'm queasy…
The Yule Log
Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Photo by John-Mark Kuznietsov on Unsplash
The Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice - or Yule - is probably as old as mankind. Bad weather could mean death, especially in winter, which is why I gave Bera the gift of predicting it. When the sun seemed to vanish, in Winternights, the Norsemen lit bonfires, told stories and drank ale to forget their fear. They pictured the sun as a wheel that changed…
Monday, 27 November 2017
I've been away in Winchester for the weekend for the annual Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (British Isles) Conference. If you think we look Seriously Funny, it's because that was the theme this year. Here's the photo taken of all authors published this year. I manage to squeak in because my debut novel, The Book of Bera, is for readers YA upwards. (Typically, I'm the one…
Thursday, 16 November 2017
Researching The Book of Bera, I stayed at the wonderful Hotel Ranga on the South coast, purely by chance. It turned out to be exactly opposite a place where I 'sensed' Bera to have made her first settlement, which begins Obsidian. This is a video I made at the time. Although I hope you find it as hilarious as I do, it shows how images impress themselves even in lighthearted moments.