I’d be interested to know how authors cope with moving on from the book they’ve written to the next one they want to write.

My fiction writing thoughts have already moved on from Jiddy Vardy. My ideas now are about Harris and Dee, not Jiddy and Jonas. My eureka moments are set in Formentera and Hawksmoor, not Robin Hood’s Bay and Whitby.

And yet I am looking forward to going to Robin Hood’s Bay and recording some videos showing the sea and cliffs and talking about Jiddy. I’m excited about striding out into the waves and showing Jonas’ fear of the sea. I’m so, so excited about seeing the book in print and discussing it with anyone who deigns to read it.

And on the other hand, I’m excited about The Monster Belt. My brain is working out my characters’ journeys. I am awakening in a different landscape and time.

What is taking me away from cocooning myself into the next book is having to talk and market the previous one. How do authors do this???? For months and months afterwards. This is the dilemma. Managing the two at the same time. I love Jiddy. I love talking about her, but she doesn’t belong in the world I’m now writing about. And she is fading if I don’t talk about her. But Dee and Harris can’t appear unless I let her go! Aghhh!!!!! And on top of this, there’s the day job!!!

I guess I’m lucky to be surrounded by such interesting people and if I think deeply about it, I want them all along for the ride. 🙂DSC01726




From idea to print

Two days ago, Elaine of ZunTold emailed to say that she has sent ‘Jiddy Vardy’ off to be typeset and digital copies made to send off for reviews. I can’t quite believe it. It’s been almost a year of writing, editing and discussing. And this is after I’d written a version, even several versions of JV.

So, it’s going to be typeset now. Elaine’s news came after the last discussion about the final word that had been flagged as an anachronism from proof editor, Debbie.

Having previously been through the eyes of copy editor Anna.

Having been through the hands of Elaine.

Having been through the tunnels and caves of my brain!

The next stage: a hard copy of the book. I’m excited to see this.

And then reviews to hopefully include in the final version of the book that will be ready for the bookshops.

Image shows the changing font for the cover – image by Isla.JV image from Isla Feb 2018 (2)


Wuthering Heights’ Fireplace

Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ was a revelation when I first read it. Main characters were mean to each other. Really mean. And the writer didn’t shy away from very practical choices that ‘love stories’ didn’t usually highlight so realistically.

Cathy loved Heathcliff. She also loved luxury, pretty dresses and being complimented. She also wanted a man who looked good and not all dirty and tatty.

So she gave up the love of her life for material reasons and chose Edgar Linton.

No other love story had done that before! What?!!! Gothic and dark and wild!!

I realised that there didn’t have to be happy endings for some people in love stories. Love was more complicated. End of the first section of the book.

And then the next section went on to explore those choices that Cathy made. And the writer leaves us with a satisfying ending taking in the effects on Heathcliff, Edgar and the next generation and concluding wider themes including those of inheritance.

Being brought up near Haworth, where Emily Bronte grew up, I knew about the influences to Wuthering Heights. The families the Brontes knew in the area. Scandals. Buildings and places.

Various houses have been cited as being used as locations for The Heights and Thrushcross Grange.

Here’s one of them. Wycoller Hall – that some say houses the fireplace in Wuthering Heights that Emily Bronte used.


Mile in shoesSome actors when they are getting into a character work from the shoes up. Try it.

I tried on Noel’s this morning. They did make me walk differently. I felt different. I could feel the floor through the thin soles. I shuffled. Walking felt difficult. It made me feel that he is hard on himself. He doesn’t give himself comforts. He doesn’t spend money on his shoes. The shoes actually made me feel sad. I saw how he sees life.

Try on shoes you’d never dream of wearing. High, low, battered, pristine. Try on men’s, women’s, see how other shoes make you move and feel.

Women have been sacked for not wearing heels to work. I know!!! Men – you try it!

Men who always wear flat shoes, see what a bit of height does for you!

Let’s try on each other’s – and let everyone wear what they are comfortable in.

And when you’re building your characters – try on their shoes. Get under their skin. Live their life.

Let’s all give it a go. We’ll create more depth to our characters and we’ll probably be kinder people too. Win, win! XNoel's shoes


I’ve been given some questions that I have to find short, helpful, insightful answers to by Friday – and I think I’m going to be filmed saying them!!!

So. First one. Where do I get inspiration?

Observing people. Listening to people. Looking around. Articles. Snippets from the past. Photographs. PHOTOGRAPHS AND PAINTINGS!!! I have folders filled with these.

Right. Need to make a smart, snappy sentence out of that.

Think it’s going to mean some late nights …

In the meantime, here are some photos of my study. It is filled with pictures, books, bits of this and that. Inspiration.


The Bridges of Madison County

I have just finished reading ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ by Robert James Waller. It’s broken my heart just a little bit. It’s left me feeling I want to take the day slow, like Robert Kincaid. He is the photographer in the book who says he’s the last cowboy, the end of the line and obsolete. The book makes me want to live slow and intensely, savouring the person I’m with and the touch of sun or breeze.

It makes me want to be a poet and an artist and a person who gives everything I have to the person I love. I don’t want to run around. I want to lie still.

There are few, very few books I have read over the last year that I would read again. This is a book I will come back to every year, maybe on a special day. It was published in 1992 and I can’t believe why I haven’t read it before. Though so simple at times, the words are laced with imagery and ideas that melt you into the heat of the summer.

This is not a plot driven book. It is about character, ideas and place. It doesn’t dip and dive and swerve around corners or up and down. It is graceful and pulls you along a shining thread that you attach yourself to willingly.

It’s not a long book, either. It’s perfect. Feels like you are reading a biography one moment and a myth the next. It’s strong, solid and stranded with gossamer.

My heart is touched with a September sunrise this morning, pink, pale blue and white yellow. I want to walk quietly along a long straight road with my eyes on the horizon.




Noel has been cleaning out the attic and he keeps appearing with boxes. Look what he found!!

I used to draw, colour in and cut out paper dolls when I was little. I gave them names, friends, families and made up stories about them. I then stuck them to my blue bedroom wall with superglue and everyone knows, superglue doesn’t give up on what you stick to it! Don’t think mum was pleased. They are well gone.

But my peg dolls have survived!! I couldn’t stick them to the wall! They have names and friends and families and stories about them too. Have to see if there is a box in the attic with those in. But for now, here are my peg dolls in all their dressed up glory and in the very old After Eight Boxes I kept them in.

Sometimes it’s good to see the characters we want to write about in 3D.