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Showing posts from July, 2014

Brave New Worlds

It’s strange to think that when I post this blog, my elder stepson, his wife and their toddler son will be on a plane bound for Canada where they are going to live. Last week we attended a family farewell party for them and the next day Tom and I looked after the baby whilst they said goodbye to their work colleagues. It’s been a time of mixed emotions; we all want to keep our loved ones close, but our daughter-in-law is a French-speaking Canadian who can see the opportunities her country can offer their little family and Tom and I certainly support them in their quest to make a good life. This view was reinforced after our babysitting stint. It was getting late, but we decided to drive home to Wales whilst the roads were quiet. We stopped at the first takeaway we found to buy something quick to eat, a kebab restaurant in a straggle of run-down shops by a dual carriageway. As we waited for our order, a handful of men also waiting struck up a sexist, racist conversation that was p

Coverage and Uncovered

Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell has a new book out in September. I know this because Radio 4’s Today programme kicked off by announcing that the writer was trailing his new novel by putting a short story out on Twitter.  A four-minute interview, not to mention numerous plugs throughout the show, gave David Mitchell lots of lovely prime time exposure so that he could explain why he wasn’t ‘a social media animal’, didn’t want to be seen as a ‘gimmick chaser’ and, er, to promote his new book. Well, good luck to David Mitchell, or his publicist, for garnering so much attention, but I do wonder what made this particularly story so newsworthy. Twitter fiction isn’t news, as any of Joanne Harris’s followers will tell you (and her #storytime treats are exquisite). And although Twitter used to be about conversations, it’s now overflowing with authors flogging their books prompting me, one morning when I could see nothing but promotional tweets, to write this haiku: Twitter streams glea

Visiting the OU and Coventry Cathedral

Official Publication Day for Follow A Star found me at the OU in the Hub while Tom presented a paper to prospective PhD students.  It’s been a busy time for both of us so rather than travel all the way back to west Wales we stayed at a Premier Inn overnight then went off to see Coventry Cathedral. Like the Mappa Mundi at Hereford Cathedral a few weeks ago, it’s one of the places we’ve always meant to see … I’m so glad we finally made the effort.  It was a profoundly moving experience, marked throughout by poignant reminders of the horrors of the Coventry blitz on 14 November 1940 yet tempered by all the love, care and craftsmanship poured into the building that rose from the devastation.  We arrived early and wandered round the remains of the ruined cathedral before crossing over to the new building just as it opened. Here are some of the places where I paused for reflection. Ecce Homo, sculpted by Jacob Epstein Detail from the West Screen in the new cat

Sailing By

“The wind has howled all day and I now know what hailstones look like when they hit the sea. I’ve also seen phosphorescence, not splashing over the stern in fluorescent spangles, but rather less romantically swirling round the loo! I got up for a wee in the night and although I’d been forewarned by Tom that the sea water flushing the loo was full of plankton, it was still a little eerie seeing the bowl come alive with sparks of coloured lights. Impressive, though, despite the setting. We have been on the mooring for 27 hours with no sign yet of being able to move on…" Extract from my sailing diary. Walton-on-the-Naze. Waiting to cross the Thames Estuary. Today sees the paperback publication of my third novel, Follow A Star , the second to feature Little Spitmarsh, a faded seaside town trying to reinvigorate itself. It’s also the second of my novels set around boats. In fact for much of the beginning of the novel May and Bill, the heroine and hero - neither of them