Saturday, May 16, 2009

Read all about it

I am in The Guardian today - the Family section. It's an extract from my journal from 7 years ago. Those of you who have read Zuzu's Petals will recognise the piece, as I used my journal as a basis for the main storyline in the novel. Click here to read it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I've just had loads of fun writing one of the scenes in my new novel. I've had it planned for months, but have only just reached the part in the story where it happens. And now I keep going back and tweaking it. I love it!

When I first started writing fiction, I read a book called The Weekend Novelist by Robert Ray. It was helpful in several ways, but the most useful thing I got from it was help with plotting.

However, Robert Ray got one thing wrong in my book (Hah!). As far as I can remember, he suggests writing your key scenes first, and then writing all the bits in between. Isn't that like reading all the tastiest emails first and then moving on to the boring ones? Or picking all the smoked haddock out of the kedgeree, and savouring it, and then having to hoover up the rice? Or eating all the bacon from the bacon sandwiches and then moving on to the bread? (You know who you are.)

p.s. I know the picture has nothing to do with the text, but I liked it, and it's my blog. So there.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Photographers can be amenable

Unless the world comes to an end, I am likely to be in the Family section of The Guardian this coming Saturday. They sent a photographer to take my picture a couple of days ago. He was very friendly and I liked him. But whenever a photographer visits, I remember poor Sally Howe in Plotting for Beginners, who was always disappointed with her photographs in the paper...

"There is something that comes over me when a photographer points his equipment at me. I am too easily persuaded. I have this ridiculous unfounded childlike trust that as they are in the business of visual impact, they know what they are doing image-wise, and that no matter how ridiculous or tasteless or yukhy I feel that I look, the end result will be stylish and beautiful. Why do they let me down?

Now I know that no matter how personable and friendly a photographers is, he just doesn't care whether or not a fifty-something female looks her best."

So, bearing that in mind, I asked the photographer if he could do his best to make me look MY best, just as Mario Testino does with all his subjects. Fabio took it on the chin. There followed an hour of posing this way and that, mostly perched on the very edge of the garden bench - and when I say edge I mean edge. He kindly sent me the pictures today and guess what? Perching on the edge of a bench makes your denim legs look thinner. Thank you, Fabio. I may remember you in my will. He sent 9 shots to the editor and I don't know which one she will pick - I hope it's one where I'm smiling. I don't like the ones where he wanted me to look serious/wistful, as I actually look as if I might be constipated.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


What are days for?

Days are where we live.

They come, they wake us

Time and time over.

They are to be happy in:

Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question

Brings the priest and the doctor

In their long coats

Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin

Friday, May 01, 2009

And the days...

And the days are not full enough

And the nights are not full enough

And life slips by like a field mouse,

not shaking the grass.

Ezra Pound