One year on

It was just over a year ago (in fact, it was about 1:30am on Christmas morning 2017) that I read an email from a friend informing me that my publisher, editor, and friend, Jo Lowe of Inknbeans Press, had died.

The news was not totally unexpected, but it hit me hard, and Christmas last year was very much a matter of smiling on the outside and grieving on the inside. Since then, I have had to pick up the pieces, not only of my emotional life (for I, like all who knew her, I think, was more than a little in love with this lady whom most of us had never met in person), but of my life as a writer.

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Did I get it right?

A couple of years or so ago, I started an experiment. I wanted to write a novel in a place I had never visited, and about people I have never been, and never will be.

The result was Balance of Powers – which came out much better than I expected, to my mind, anyway. I am sure there are some flaws in it, though – but no-one has pointed them out to me yet. Perhaps you can help me here.

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffere & Annie Barrows – REVIEW

We recently visited Guernsey, and most of the touristy shops made a big thing out of selling the book (often marketed as “the book of the film”) or the DVD. Of course the book came out first, and on our return when a friend offered to lend me either the book or the DVD or both, I chose the book.

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Dead Ringer (M.C.Beaton) – REVIEW

At our writing group, the Lichfield Writers, one of our members mentioned how much she enjoyed M.C.Beaton’s books. As we were going out of the library where we meet, I noticed the latest Beaton, Dead Ringer, on the Rapid Reads shelf (books which have just come in and you must get through them in a week because other people want to get hold of them). So I picked it up, and…

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So much for that, she thought

I’ve been increasingly irritated recently by the use of italics to indicate thoughtlines, I thought to myself this morning.

I’ve been reading quite a few things, where it seems that the authors have never heard of “indirect speech” when it comes to internal thoughts. Quite apart from the typographic convention of using italics for unspoken words, which I dislike, I think there are some serious problems here. Continue reading “So much for that, she thought”

Let’s do the time warp again

I have often felt myself (and described myself) as a Rip van Winkle character – someone who’s been asleep for a long time and wakes up to find the world has changed around him. This is due to my having lived in the isolated Galapagos Islands (aka Japan) for the best part of 30 years.

This has meant (for better or worse) that I never lived in the UK under John Major, Tony Blair, or Gordon Brown, and under David Cameron for one week only. My British cultural life has likewise been circumscribed (not that it was ever up to much in the first place). For example… Continue reading “Let’s do the time warp again”

On a small island

I am currently on an island smaller than the one where I usually live. Quite a bit smaller, in fact. And it’s a very interesting experience. Something is different. There’s a sense of isolation here, and almost one of pride, in being rather cut off from the world. I get the feeling everyone knows everyone else (of course, they don’t) and that it is indeed a small and self-sufficient little world (again, it’s obvious that it’s not self-sufficient).

And at the same time, it’s very cosmopolitan. I’m surrounded by English and French voices, and even street and family names, and there are a lot of Flemish/Dutch speakers around. So I’m intrigued by the whole concept of an island community – and in a sense, this is a great place for a locked-room mystery – on a very large scale.

I might not want to live here, but I’d be fascinated to spend a little more time here watching and learning.

 

Do reviews matter?

As someone who has been asked to provide reviews of others’ books (and has sometimes failed to provide them – mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa), and also as someone who writes books and welcomes reviews, this is a subject about which I have opinions.

When I published my first book, Beneath Gray Skies, I was convinced, as are all new authors, that I had written a masterpiece, and that the hundreds of positive four- and five-star reviews it would garner would send it to the top of the best-seller lists.

By the way, this old promotional video uses an old URL – this site is now the place to be!
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