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Monday, 19 February 2018

Good grief, will you look at the cobwebs in here! I mean, I can practically write my name in the dust. Although, why I'd want to given that my name is in fairly big letters on the top of this website I have no idea - certainly time to get in here and have a bit of a wipe round with a damp thingummie...

Anyway. Hello. It's been a while. Mostly because I've been on Facebook, Twitter, publisher's blog, pretty much everywhere, and nobody needs THAT much exposure to me. So, what have I been up to? Well, apart from the things that are currently being taken into consideration by the legal profession (I'm up to forty nine injunctions, I believe that is some kind of record, but I think Sir Tony is really going to like the big surprise I've planted for him in the shrubbery), there's a few things..

I've had a Christmas novella out (this one)
I've got a new book out (this one)
The book (not that one, the one before that, this one) and the novella (yes, that one) are on the RNA shortlist for, respectively, Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year and Short Romance of the Year (I thought that was just Tony, but apparently not).

I've been to Australia, where it was very hot and sunny and I behaved impeccably and didn't get thrown out of anywhere.
But I did look pensively at a large number of different foods, some of which just might have had the Sydney Harbour Bridge in front of them.

I might even go back. There's still a lot of food I haven't looked pensively at. Bacon, that needs a good staring at. Fruit bonbons. Tomatoes. That sort of thing.

Anyway. Back to the blog. It's time this place had the windows opened, bit of a breeze through. There's a very strange smell in here...

Sunday, 27 August 2017


Those of you who follow me closely (although not too closely please, if you are standing near enough to dip your HobNob in my tea then you probably want to go back a few paces.

And a few more.

I can still see you.

That's better)

will know that it's been a bit of a sad time for me just lately. My lovely mum (although I can't take entire ownership rights, my brother has part shares in her too) died this week.  We knew it was coming, so the end was not as much of a shock as it otherwise would have been, but even though I was prepared, I still didn't account for how 'adrift' one feels when the last parent goes.  My dad died nine years ago, so I've had a little practice though. 

I suddenly realised that there is now nobody who remembers me as a newborn baby (my brother is younger. And anyway has a terrible memory and would probably invent some stuff about me being awful and unmanageable. Or something), or my first steps, or my first word.

And then I think, 'hang on. Why does it matter anyway? I clearly learned to walk and talk, although shutting up is more of a challenge, so why do I need corroborating evidence? And why should her death have to be felt purely as it related to me?' 

Someone is gone who was once here. More lives are impacted than mine, she will be missed by my brother and his wife, who cared for her in her last years. By the nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren, by the step grandchildren and great grandchildren.

So there's now a Betty-shaped hole in the world.  One that she filled for 86 years, so she gave it a good go and, hopefully, achieved a lot of the things she wanted to. She certainly gave a lot of sit-coms a good thrashing, and also enjoyed murder mysteries rather a lot. She could pronounce 'there's been a muurrrrrrderrrrr' with more Glaswegian emphasis than even Taggart managed, despite having been born and brought up in Windsor.
Never knowingly overfaced
She will be well and fondly remembered.

Now I inexplicably want to go and eat a giant dessert...

Sunday, 2 July 2017

How to know what you don't know...

Write what you know.

That's what they say, isn't it? And, as long as you've led a jet-setting life, with frequent space flights interspersed with cattle ranching in the Peruvian uplands and occasional bouts as an angst-ridden rock star, then that's great. You've got enough material, go, write!

But what if you've never been further than Uttoxeter? What if you've never even met a rock star (hard to imagine, I know, but there must be some people out there who've never been hauled aboard a tour bus) and your day job involves pencilling tick boxes on a council form for compost bins?  What then?

(Wanders off to imagine book about Uttoxeter-dwelling council worker...)

OK. So I'm going to tell you how to write about what you don't know.
I don't fancy yours much
Emotions translate. That's all you need to know.  You may never have been widowed, but remember that time your cat died when you were nine? Remember that feeling that you'd never see them again and how hard it was and how you missed them? Hold that feeling...

You may never have decided to up sticks and move to Spain to get over your loss. But remember that school exchange visit to France, when you spent the first three weeks feeling desperately homesick and missing your mum and then you discovered you loved cycling along the lanes in the sunshine? Hold that feeling.

You may never have suffered from a life changing illness. But remember when you had that flu that time? And you couldn't get out of bed for a week even to answer the phone and you felt so awful that you were sort of afraid you'd die? And how it took you six weeks before you could stay up past nine o clock and how you felt as if you were about a hundred years old for ages?  That...

Because we all know so much more than we think we do, but none of us can have lived all the lives we write about (at least, not if you want to write more than one or two books, or recycle the same plot). But emotions translate. Loss is loss, whether it's your husband, father or dog, grief is the same. Its severity and duration vary depending on the relationship, but the sheer gut-pulling, hunched-over-crying, inability to function shock remains the same.  Fear is fear, whether it's your child straying out of your sight on the beach or a noise behind you in a dark forest, your mouth dries the same way, your heart thunders, your body freezes...And love, whether it's a partner, your dog or Aiden Turner, you still feel that warm smile on your face when you think of them (unless you've got a dog like mine, in which case your jaw sort of clenches at the same time).

You know so much more than you think you know.
Except space travel. You're on your own with that one.