You don’t need me to tell you it’s been a long year of lockdown and cloistered existence. We’ve all had to find ways to cope, and for me that has meant escaping into a comfort place of words (not just my own writing, I hasten to add.) I’ve built myself an escapist book-lined nest, mostly fiction with a weird slant or surprising twist that drags me off into a different world.
Turns out I spent quite lot of 2020 escaping to my nest to read: plenty of books I’ve loved, some I’ve had to push through, and a few abandoned before the end. In total too many to mention. Nevertheless, for my final book review of 2020, I decided to share five books that would definitely feature at the top of my list. Here they are, in no particular order, just because I loved them enough to read or listen to them twice. At least twice.
Continue reading “Book reviews: My top reads of 2020”
Since lockdown began I’ve been focussing on my novel Governor’s Man, and neglecting my usual short story writing. Then along came the Lincoln Book Festival 2020 flash fiction competition. The challenge was to write a complete 50-word story about the Lincoln Imp. Those of you who’ve visited Lincoln will know of the little gargoyle who sits perched on top of Lincoln Cathedral, staring down at passers by. Locals regard him as malign; he’s been blamed for all sorts of mishaps over the centuries, from housefires and miscarriages to sour milk.
Continue reading “Prize winner at Lincoln Book Festival 2020”
27 June 2020
Last time I promised you my review of the remainder of the Rotherweird trilogy, by QC and fantasy writer Andrew Caldecott. So I’ll begin with that, and then see how you like the segue into my catch-up on Covid-19 and our illustrious Government’s part in its downfall.
Continue reading “Life in the Time of Coronavirus #13: Weirdly over the top”
This blog is usually about my writing, or other authors I love. In case you’re steeling yourself for the crushing disappointment of not hearing about my latest publication, relax. There will be links to my new anthology at the end.
We writers tend to live in a fantasy world of our own creation much of the time. But at times in any writer’s life, reality doesn’t just intrude: it bangs open the door, shouts loudly to attract attention, and continues to be demanding and exhausting for as long as it can get away with. A bit like a teenager.
Continue reading “The other side of the hill”
I’m really quite an organised person; or as my beloved suggests, I’ll do any form of prevarication to avoid actual writing. So I keep a detailed record – using fab writers’ tool Duotrope – of all my stories and their current whereabouts.
Now please don’t be picturing the bereft little creatures, dispatched shoeless and alone, doomed to wander forever in the big bad world.
I’m not that cruel, and I truly love every story I write (even if a surprising majority of publishers and competition judges don’t agree.) So I track each submission carefully, anxiously monitoring the progress of my small creations and weeping a little whenever they are rejected and sent back to Mummy unpublished. Continue reading “Poor little lost souls”
It’s officially autumn. Even our sunflowers have wrapped shawls round their heads against the October chills.
I can personally vouch for the season’s change, having caught the Great-Grandmother of all colds nearly four weeks ago. It kept me in bed for a fortnight, and then ruined a week’s holiday in the Dordogne, especially when my Beloved also fell prey to the virus and couldn’t drive us home. We were a menace on four wheels as we wobbled our way back to the Channel, cutting our trip short and coughing a bug-filled hurricane over every passing French person. Continue reading “Back on your heads!”
Readers of my travel blog (peteandjacmotorbikingineurope.wordpress.com) will immediately appreciate the serendipity of the picture above. Tracy Chevalier, my hero and talented author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Last Runaway, and most recently The Edge of the Orchard, was a speaker at the Historical Novel Society’s 2016 conference in Oxford last weekend, which I attended. (Apologies for the poor quality of the image, taken on my phone from way back in the hall.) Her wit, modesty and plain good sense are like gold dust. Coming only a few days after seeing the Vermeer original of Girl in The Hague on the final day of our European travels, her keynote address just seemed to really bookend that wonderful trip. Continue reading “Special moments in history”
This morning I woke up to tropical birdsong and rustling palms on holiday here in Mauritius, but also to some bad news … Continue reading “Problems at Kindle”
A few weeks ago, I went to my local library in Cheddar on an innocent mission of research. I emerged having foolishly promised an enthusiastic volunteer that I would get involved with the upcoming Cheddar Arts Fringe Festival (CHAFF), taking place 29 April to 2 May in my part of Somerset, UK. Continue reading “A Moment of Madness”