Thursday, 28 January 2010


The Black Magic box?
Well, maybe.....
But also about how to write a Mills & Boon romance.

It's at Winchester Discovery (notice the subtle play on words) Centre on Thursday, 4th February, 2010.  

I asked our wonderful PR person what the talk was to be called.  LOVE CONQUERS ALL, she said.
Original, I commented.  Which bright spark came up with that little gem?
Er, you did.
Right.  So there you have it.  A brilliant title - with many clever references to Virgil (not!).
You can find out more here:  LOVE CONQUERS ALL

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


Trompe d'oeil has fascinated me ever since I saw Rene Magritte's fabulous painting of the easel and the smashed window containing the shattered clouds - and experienced that blinking moment of disbelief as I asked myself:  is it real?

I like the topsy-turvy sensation that Trompe d'oeil evokes as a metaphor for life itself.  That nothing is ever as it seems...(HEAVY!).  And it's always good to look at things in a different way.

While in Avignon last November - we seemed to find an example of this particular style at every corner.  It made the place seem even more magical - a city with lots of secret places.  

An actress I know has her bathroom painted to resemble a Greek temple.  It's decadent and delicious.
So...if you could decorate a room in this style - what would it be?  The typical Tuscan landscape?  A rooftop view of New York?  Or inside the trumpet of a daffodil?

Monday, 25 January 2010


To Rachel, for her wonderfully succinct summation (is that a tautology - or just a complete strangulation of words?) of the skull and butterflies sculpture.  You said:  It is an illustration of man's ability to create beauty transcending death.  Or maybe you got that from the artist - in which case, you've shown huge initiative!

Your prize?  A copy of THE PRINCE'S CHAMBERMAID.  Can you email me your address and I'll send it?

And thanks to everyone else who contributed.

Sunday, 24 January 2010


I love sculpture. I like the fact that it's 3-dimensional. That it occupies its own space. That you can reach out and touch it.

For my 21st birthday, my parents asked if I wanted a ring or a watch. Neither inspired me. I wanted simply to see Michelangelo's David (I'd just read The Agony And The Ecstasy by Irving Stone and it had blown me away). So they bought me a ticket and I flew to Firenze to see the perfect piece of marble, crafted into a man. I'll never forget the moment I first laid eyes on him. It was love at first sight.

This early passion may be why my webpage features a woman trying to kiss a statue. To breathe life into him - which is what sculptors do so cleverly. It has always been the perfect fantasy for writers - the statue who comes to life. Much has been written about Pygmalion - a Cypriot sculptor who carved a woman from ivory and fell in love with her. Eventually, with the kind intervention of the goddess Venus, the statue came to life and he married her. Shakespeare also used the statue device in my favourite of his plays: The Winter's Tale.

Last week, in Paris - I was lucky enough to visit the atelier of an amazing sculptor called Jean Garleita. I ate lunch surrounded by some of his stunning works in their various stages of construction. Have a look at the photo, above - and see for yourself how talented he is.
You can read more about Jean and where to find his work by clicking here: SUBLIME SCULPTURE

And maybe you could tell me - what's the most beautiful piece of sculpture you've ever seen?

Friday, 22 January 2010


In Paris.

Which is why the giant Christmas tree is twinkling outside the Notre Dame Cathedral.

And why the crib is inside....attracting lots of awe-struck people.

And also, why I found myself wearing a crown - to brighten up the grey January day - along with Michele, Patrice et Monsieur Cabaret!
We were celebrating LA GALETTE DE ROIS  
(Have you ever found a feve in your Galette?)
Sigh. I miss the city already.....

Meanwhile, there is still time for you to enter the  WHAT CAN IT MEAN? competition.  I'll let you know who the winner is on Monday.....and tell you some more of my Parisian adventures - including finding some pieces of sculpture which were just so BEAUTIFUL.

Friday, 15 January 2010


Sorry for not having posted much this week - was mired down by revisions (thankfully few) for the book I've just finished.  It features a gorgeous hero called Giancarlo Vellutini - who I grew to like so much that I'm reluctant to let him go.

So I'm off to my favourite city - primarily for a birthday party, but also to garner a little inspiration along the way.  It's where this photo was taken - can you guess which city it is?

And what about this giant skull covered with butterflies?  If I asked you to tell me about it in a single sentence - what would that sentence be?
I'll send a signed book to the person who comes up with the best definition.
A bientot,

Saturday, 9 January 2010


Yesterday, there was nothing whiter (snow included) than these magnificent swans - which frequent the water-meadows just behind Winchester College.  

Sometimes they get territorial about their particular stretch of river.  They fly across the surface of the water chasing away intruders - their huge wings beating down - causing everyone to stop and watch them, transfixed.

I've loved swans ever since I was a at school - when a wonderful teacher read aloud the haunting tale of THE CHILDREN OF LIR
You won't find a sadder or more beautiful story anywhere.  It stayed with me for years - and it still echoes in my ears whenever I see a stately swan sliding across the water.  And it reminds me of just how important good teachers are.

Is there any powerful memory from school which lingers with you to this day?

Thursday, 7 January 2010


Michela writes to say that Naples famously has three beautiful things:  il mare, il Vesuvio e le Sfogliatelle. The latter is a shell or cone-shaped pastry filled with orange-flavoured ricotta - though almond paste or citron peel can also be substituted.  Yummy!

Should you feel encouraged to try this at home (and can speak Italian) - here's how to do it:   SFOGLIATELLA NAPOLETANA

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


This is the view from my room this morning after a night of relentless and glorious snowfall.


And very different from the sight that greeted me back in September

Yet it's the same view.

It made me think about my characters - about how two people can look at the same situation and interpret it in completely opposing ways.  Because what we see and what we feel is related to our own unique experience of life.  

Today I shall be out crunching through the virgin whiteness (if all the sledges haven't got there first) - and imagining when my heroine might find herself out in the silent stillness of a winter's day.....

Do you love the white stuff, too?  I'm aware that some readers live in places where it never falls (Naples!) - so what is the delightful equivalent of snow where you live?

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


This will be the last time......
That I will probably ever legitimately hold a bunch of fragrant blooms while gazing so winsomely at the camera!  
So forgive me if I print this one last photo from Heather's wedding.....and give a big (virtual) bouquet to clever Carol Ferris who designed all the flowers.

Is there anything (like putting your hair in pig-tails or sporting a thigh-skimming pelmet of a skirt) that you don't think YOU will do again?

Monday, 4 January 2010


Some time before Christmas, I tried to download one of my favourite songs of all time - but I was defeated by technology.
Fast forward into 2010 - and the genius Colin at the Mac Shop in Southampton has shown me just what to do.
So here you go.  

Do you love it as much as I do - or do you love another song more?

Sunday, 3 January 2010


Gosh, but you readers of romance are passionate devotees of the whirlwind love-affair, aren't you? (Don't know why that should surprise me).
So to continue on the wedding theme, here is a photo of the bride's bouquet - which I caught. Yes, I know. And yes, there were loads of beautiful young girls milling around....but when I saw the fragrant spray of blooms arcing through the air towards me - I just couldn't help myself and clicked straight into competitive mode.
It was a real Chariots Of Fire moment: I was the goal attack in the school netball team again. The mother at the school sports-day who charges forward like a bat out of hell. I leapt into the air (even the memory seems to be in slow-mo) and grasped the cream-ribboned stems with ease.
How I love traditions.

And here - because England is currently the grip of what is known as a "cold snap" (which always sounds like a drink from Russia) - I will illustrate the glorious frostiness of the eight mile walk I took this morning. Heavenly. And providing just the right kind of inspiration for the new book, which I'm starting this week.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Love is....

They met under a clock at Waterloo and a week later he told her that "love had arrived on the 12.37 from Weybridge."
Fast-forward several weeks and they decided that they had to get married.
Which was why their wedding cake (made by me) looked like this....

Here is the bridal party at Weybridge Register Office. (The music was great).

And the eclectic assortment of bridesmaids (I'm in there, somewhere) - all wearing black!

Heather and Terry - I wish you every happiness for the future.

And readers, what is your opinion on whirlwind romance?