Tag: writing

Cause and Effect

A girl was walking the streets of Exeter dressed as a bee, carrying a placard with the simple message, ‘Tick Tock, Tick Tock’. She was one of hundreds of children and young people, striking from school, marching to the County Hall to deliver their impassioned message: it’s time to declare a climate emergency NOW!

Ask the Author

I remember the days of tape recorders and cassettes, the horrifying sound of the tape being chewed, and the delicate task of winding it back with a pen. And the excitement of opening a gifted multipack of blank tapes, deciding and sorting an order to record. Gran still called the radio a wireless, and TVs sported three whole channels that could time out, leaving you with trade test transmissions.

Happy New Year – 2019!

As evening approaches, I imagine people discussing their resolutions for the New Year. I’m not one for resolutions. Instead I try to stick to the simple motto: keep trying to do better. In life as in writing, with practice, hopefully we improve.

Winter Nights

There’s a cold wind blowing and grey clouds brewing. Time to ‘batten down the hatches’. Apparently, in winter, we actually produce hormones that make us sleepy, designed to restore body, mind and soul. Well, whilst I appreciate cosying up on a cold winter night, my mind still races on. It seems, for me at least, the writing struggles to keep pace with the thinking.

It never gets old, seeing the book I wrote in print. I’m generally hopeless at remembering dates, but 24th May 2018 will likely stick for a long time to come: the date I held my first published book. Since then I’ve ventured out, introducing people to the story of Return of the Mantra. I appreciate each person who has taken the time to let me know how much they enjoyed it. A recent moment of excitement when it appeared as Day 8 of a reader’s book advent list – thank you twitter.

And now I’m working on a sequel; I’ve lost track of how many years ago I started it. The first book was complete, with an ending, but there always was going to be loose ends. I decided to re-visit the characters ten years on (in their world). And as they struggle to come to terms with their own history, a whole new land is introduced. In the planning stages I looked at some of my paintings and had a thought.

The paintings that offered up inspiration were hand-painted mosaics – though at this stage I couldn’t possibly tell what it was that inspired the story!

Desert Mosaic

City Mosaic

Both canvasses are big, approximately a metre square to fill with painstaking detail. Always it comes down to inspiration. So I thought of oases in the desert, the detail of henna, and the vibrancy of Durban amid the grey. It took a total of almost three months to complete the largest, in what felt like a sort of meditation. Tuning out and focusing on the detail is not dissimilar to writing.

Each project goes through the same cyclic process. For the sequel, I’ve thought, I’ve written, I’ve edited and hopefully now I’m on polish. And as I tighten the narrative and fine tune the characters, the world gets sharper in my mind. It’s not a world of black and white, but rather varying tones of grey. And yes, there’s a book 3, although think and write is about as far as I’ve got with that, so a long way to go. But first the polishing of book 2, and hopefully, with perseverance, it will find itself in print, nestled on my bookshelf.

Happy Tuesday!


FantasyCon 2018

Last weekend was busy, with a trip to Chester to attend my first FantasyCon. It was amazing, and slightly overwhelming, to meet so many writers and readers of fantasy fiction. I took the plunge and signed up to the programme, including joining a fantasy reading panel. I read from Return of the Mantra, the part where Suni’s life irreversibly changes after she experiences tragedy. She poses as a boy and heads off to the mines in search of her estranged father, but life at the mines isn’t what she anticipates. Survival will depend on keeping her female identity secret, and on courage as she discovers her connection to ancient gifts passed down in bloodlines from the days of the tribes.


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.


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.

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.