Sunday, 10 May 2015

March and April 2015

This March I was thrilled to be invited to speak at The Alderney Literary Festival. You can read all about that on my blog www.scribbling-inthemargins.blogspot. I think Alderney really do know how to put on a superb event and also how to make a festival such fun for all of us.
Beautiful Alderney

 I joined writers Simon Scarrow, Tom Holland, Danuta Reah, Mandy Scott and others to speak on the theme of historical fact and fiction. Simon Scarrow and I spoke on fact and fiction in our writing. I was on panels, spoke solo on Medieval Women, introduced Marc Morris's King John and spoke with him on The Bayeux Tapestry. I also gave radio interviews. The hospitality on Alderney was fabulous. I leaned a lot too. In fact, I learned how to organise a successful literary event. This will be useful because I am co ordinating The Historical Novel Conference 2016, September 2nd-4th. It will be held in Oxford which is a superb venue. More about this in time.

Panel on The Bayeux Tapestry ( I am second from the left)

I was fortunate to visit Vietnam and Cambodia in April. It was an incredible experience. I grew up in the shadow of The Vietnam War which in Vietnam is called The American War. I spent ten days in Hanoi visiting museums and taking photographs. I realised that although forty years have passed since the end of that war, Vietnam remembers. Equally, Vietnam is a very modern country, proud and progressive and yet there is a social conscience in Hanoi which is admirable. Vietnam may be a capitalist society now but it is different and very exciting. It is also beautiful.

Central Hanoi

Cambodia is suffering. There people struggle with daily life in many ways and yet it is an old world that is slowly moving forward. Siem Reap and Ankor Watt are two interesting locations. The first is a modern city and the second an ancient city filled with temples so old that the jungle reclaims them. Some are held together by trees. It is as if the trees are glue. If you took them away the temples would fall into the ground. It is a truly Gothic place and incredibly beautiful.
Anghor Watt

At the moment I am preparing to return to Greece for the summer. I am planning  a new book but currently it is in its beginnings. I am at the research stage. When I know more I shall share it with my readers.

The Betrothed Sister is up for pre order on amazon. The final novel of The Daughters of Hastings Trilogy will be published in the US in September and in the UK in October as paperback and as an e book simultaneously. I would like to thank all my readers. Without you these books would never have been so successful.

Monday, 23 February 2015

January and February 2015

After a book launch in Bicester, Oxfordshire, on 11th December for The Swan-Daughter, we flew Greece again. We spent a wonderful if very chilly Christmas period in The Stone House we rent in the Greek Mani. Those who follow me on Twitter will have seen the photographs.

 I worked on The Betrothed Sister relentlessly, almost every day during December including Christmas Day. The manuscript is complete at last but, of course, as every novelist knows this is only the beginning of a thorough editing process. Editing has had to wait until my return to England in late January.
Stoupa in Winter

We drove our aging Volvo Estate car, home via Venice, Padua, Verona and into France, spending a week in Amsterdam and Antwerp where we heard wonderful jazz. We went out into the bitter winter chill sightseeing. We visited art museums and spent romantic hours walking by chilly canals. Look at my blog www.scribbling-inthemargins.blogspot for the Italian week of the road trip adventure shown there in photographs.

Amsterdam in Winter

Whilst England in winter is cold, at least we have central heating. I have my large roomy study and my reference books to hand. There is time to catch up with friends and to research the next novel. Winter is a time for theater visits too. So far we have seen Treasure Island at the National Theater, London which made me want to write a sequel except that Andrew Motion has already done this superbly. I also loved The Shoemaker's Holiday, a hilarious Jabobean drama currently showing at The Swan, Stratford on Avon. For the very first time ever I laughed my way through Anything Goes, the musical. Wonderful songs and performances. Finally, I must mention that last week I was on Front of House duty for our local pantomime, Old King Cole which was a hoot! May I boast that my raffle ticket sales are legendary! A small claim to local fame.

Well there are the books of course. I am sending The Betrothed Sister to my editor by the end of March. The Handfasted Wife is going into audio this month. The audio is being narrated by a professional actress in LA. I look forward to listening to it. I gave an interview to Radio Marlow and to my local newspaper. The Swan-Daughter is Radio Marlow's book of the month for February. Good choice, say I. Otherwise, I am reading and reviewing for the HNS which is The Historical Novel Society. Look for their website and find superb reviews of historical novels. They also produce a superb glossy quarterly magazine which is international. There is a fine review of The Swan-Daughter in it this quarter. I am already working hard as coordinator for the Historical Novel Society Conference September 2016 to be held in Oxford.

Currently I am preparing a talk on Medieval Women, another on Fact into Fiction, and am part of a panel discussion concerning The Bayeux Tapestry for The Alderney Literary Festival. This is the weekend of 20th March. I am appearing with Marc Morris and Simon Scarrow amongst other broadcasters and writers. There are ten of us in total. If you are interested in the weekend do google the Alderney Literary Festival and please come to this famous Channel Island Event. The weekend promises to be fabulous. One of my all time favourite historians Tom Holland will be speaking and I simply cannot wait for the Roman dinner party though I am unsure about what might be served up! As for the ghost walk, well, dare I go on this and if I do, will I return sane.

May I wish you all a belated Happy 2015. Keep happy, healthy and reading.