Inspiration

For me, painting is like storytelling; another medium to creatively put down thoughts. I started painting years ago, then when we bought our current house and white-washed the walls, I saw blank canvasses I was driven to fill. As with my first book, Return of the Mantra, thoughts born from time spent in Sudan and South Africa would feature in those canvasses.

Some of my first paintings hang on the walls of my writing room. There’s ‘Face in a Sea of Red’: thoughts of women in war torn places, living in fear of violence and blood shed, yet finding ways to foster hope in their communities.

There’s ‘The Drummers’. Drums feature heavily in my memory of South Africa in particular: the pungent smell of cow hide soaking in big barrels of water then being dragged out to dry in the sun, ready for making drums; the sight of the sangorma arriving at times of crisis, with followers playing drums, a soothing rhythm that instilled calm.

There’s ‘An African Location’. Not an actual place, rather created by memory with the licence of creativity. Big landscapes with vast valleys, where everyday chores involved long walks. I remember vividly those narrow tracks that wove a maze around the shacks of Kwaxaba location, the smell of wood fires and the trepidation of meeting a snake concealed in the undergrowth.

And hanging above my computer, ‘Face About Town’. Thinking about walking through the Indian market in Durban, the hustle and bustle, the colours and textures, I tried for a collage, using design to give the appearance of mixed media.

I often find the more I create, the more my mind ticks over. As it is now, at 1am, sitting at my computer in the writing room, the dark night concealing the view of red brick houses backing onto narrow alleyways. It’s quiet aside from the tapping of the keys and the computer’s soft whirr, and the padding feet of my cat that has stirred, driven by instincts to chirp at the moth safely out of reach…

 

Storytellers

There’s a reason why people in the UK obsess about the weather, when all four seasons can happen in one day. Conversations often feature words like nippy, overcast, drizzling… and end with dismayed comments like, ‘I’ve got washing on the line,’ or optimistic comments like, ‘it’s turned out nice again’. So after weeks of an uncommon and persistent heatwave, variable weather is back on the agenda.

Balance

It’s been a busy few months amid an unusual heatwave. Long sunny days are a great excuse to get out and about and enjoy the delights of your local area. I often think people’s tendency to explore gets saved for when they’re away on holiday, but what about the treasures on our own doorsteps?  For me that’s Devon, and while we haven’t actually ‘been away’, we have made a point of having holiday days.

Diversity in Fiction

It’s the Monday after a gloriously sunny weekend spent at the Exeter Respect Festival: a fabulous event to celebrate our diverse communities. Among live music, singing, and spoken word, the park is filled with a bustling array of stalls, food, and campaigns. Whether you want to sample authentic Syrian cuisine, be amazed by flamenco dancers, or shop for handicrafts from all corners of the world… Exeter Respect carries the message, ‘all different, all equal’.

The Big Launch

I often think of writing as tapping into that introverted side of yourself. Time spanning hours, days, months and years are spent alone, with your own head for company, creating worlds, characters, themes and plots that will ultimately blend into your story. And all the while that story sits in the comfort of your carved out niche, told only to you and your nearest and dearest.

Always Thinking

I once saw a picture of an imagined futuristic image of how people would evolve; how they’d look in years to come judging by human behaviour. Essentially it involved alarmingly long fingers, a deeply curved spine, and a seriously overweight body – a future born from sitting hunched over a screen, typing. When I thought of my daily life, much of it sitting at a computer, it got me thinking – I have to get out more!