Picture prompts

A picture is worth a thousand words, is the old phrase. I certainly think a picture can inspire a thousand words. I’m not ready to revisit my novel in any detail right now but I can share a couple of early images, which helped me to write certain sections.

I love this photo, below*. Part of my book was set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and this was around that time (a little earlier). I just like thinking about the big decisions these two young men faced.

Bobby and Jack

(*Picture sourced from: Bos, Carole “Bobby and Jack Meeting Together” AwesomeStories.com. 2 Feb 2015 http://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Bobby-and-Jack-Meeting-Together.)

And this, 1961 café culture in Paris, which I found here. This was my screensaver when I wrote my novel. It’s hard to let it go.

Paris Cafe Scene 1961

I’ll be sharing more picture prompts over the coming months. Lots of new writing going on.


Another year beckons …

I’ll keep it brief; 2015 is almost upon us.

My read of the year was this …

Crossing to Safety

… and I also loved this:

Beautiful Ruins

I’m really looking forward to using this …

The Persephone Diary 110

… and this:


With no novel deadline hanging over me, it’ll be a treat to sort through the cuttings and various snippets I’ve collected over the past year, and get stuck into some new writing.

Happy New Year.

It’s done

I’ve finished my novel. It was printed, bound and sent to the powers that be at Manchester Metropolitan University earlier this week. It’s liberating. It’s also a bit strange that after three years of studying for the MA, I no longer have to answer to that nagging feeling that I should be working on my novel. I will revisit it after feedback from tutors.

Right now, after a fair few setbacks and late hurdles en route to the finish line, I’m very glad it’s over. I made it. But at the same time I feel a bit sad that it’s over. Like I said, it’s strange.

I have lots of books to read and some new stories waiting to be written. I’m going to use the festive season to enjoy the freedom of choice and see where it takes me.

Merry Christmas!

Finally, Maus

I’ve joined a local book club in a bid to keep broadening my reading horizons beyond the MA, which is nearly at an end. The club has certainly done that thus far, as well as adding a thoroughly enjoyable social element with like-minded people. Next up on the club reading list is Maus, Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer prize-winning graphic novel. These are my first steps into this medium (apart from Jan Cleijne’s Legends of the Tour earlier this year), and I must just add a small apology to my husband, who, as something of a graphic novel and comic aficionado, has been trying to get me to read Maus for years.

It seems I really do need that book club to continue to push my own boundaries.


It’s been a long lovely summer

The leaves are falling and nights drawing in but I’m only just getting round to processing my summer of culture, so the next few posts will be reflections on the last 2-3 months.

First stop, Totnes in July for the Ways with Words Festival of Words and Ideas:

– insights from Jill Dawson on process and interesting discussion about the role of research. This interests me; it’s a fine line between research and procrastination so I resolve to be guided by narrative pull and discipline, rather than getting bogged down with research. Liberating.

– pure academia from the excellent John Goodby on Dylan Thomas. What an authority he was; his newly edited collection of Thomas’s work is published today and on its way to me. Exciting.

– immersed in the Bloomsbury Set again, this time with Jans Ondaatje Rolls talking about her Bloomsbury Cookbook. Thoughtfully compiled and designed: a real window into another world. Fabulous.


It’s been a while since my last blog post; I put it down to a hectic summer. The latest news is that my novel deadline has changed from the end of this month to December. I’ll be back to it soon and post about those last stages of completion.

School’s back and the buzzword these days seems to be enrichment. I’ve had an interesting summer with plenty of enrichment and new ideas as a result; more details in future posts.

In the meantime, enjoy the changing seasons, and if you’re involved in the routine of the academic year, feel the optimism and freshness a new term brings.

Rich pickings

Time to update you on my plans to mingle with the literati here in the south west over the next couple of months.

This coming weekend sees the start of the 10-day Ways with Words, a festival of words and ideas (love that coupling) at Dartington in Devon. I have my eye on several sessions, which could mean more than one trip over the next week. The festival runs from July 4-14; full details of all the events can be found in the programme.

ways with words logo

Not long after that – and I’m very excited about this one – is the Curious Arts Festival in Lymington from 18-20 July. It’s the whole festival thing, wrapped up in a family friendly package of literary events with authors such as Deborah Levy (!) and Nathan Filer, a children’s tent with movie screenings and author events as well as a Jabberwocky Hunt, fairground rides and some very cool live music. All in a beautiful setting: Pylewell Park in the New Forest. Can’t wait.



A breather in August for some Italian culture and inspiration (more on that another time), before heading down to the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival, which runs from 18-21 September. It’s a packed programme once again and with Hilary Mantel an ever-loyal attendee, the festival keeps going from strength to strength. The box office opens on July 28th – set a reminder on your phone because the hot tickets will sell out fast.


BudLitFest 2014