Friday, 24 December 2010


I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas - and if you're celebrating something different - I hope that everybody has a fabulous time.
As usual, I seem to have ended up with too many presents still to wrap....
I've spent the morning cooking (a motley mixture of two different types of chilli and some cauliflower cheese! This is because my son's Christmas Eve party has now become an annual event) - and I know that there are a whole pile of things I should be doing - if only I could remember them.
But one of the reasons for my disorganisation is that I have spent the last few days tweaking my latest manuscript and my editor has just phoned to say that it's been accepted. Hurrah! What a lovely way to start the holiday!
So for all you readers who wanted to know if Zahid and Francesca had their own story - well, they do now!

For everyone who has read and commented on this blog - thank you. And for all the people who still haven't received their prize-winning books - these will be reaching you very soon.

Try to listen to the Carols From Kings - which start at 3pm GMT today, sung live from Cambridge - and which you should be able to access due to the marvels of modern technology. The sound of that lone choir-boy's voice is pure, spine-tingling perfection.

I wish you all peace. And love.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


Yesterday, I had lunch in one of my favourite restauants The Poule au Pot, in Pimlico. Always twinkling and atmospheric - it's especially pretty at Christmas.
Here I am posing happily with one of my presents.

Often occupied by politicians and expensively-dressed locals, you can usually spot a famous face or two - and yesterday was no exception. In walked a tall and commanding man whose scruffy jogging clothes and woolly hat did nothing to detract from his essential star-quality. It was the actor Rupert Everett - who I've always found to be a mesmeric screen presence.
It was actually the second time I've seen him while eating out....the last time was in Soho. (You don't think he's stalking me, do you?)
I love observing famous people at close quarters (while pretending not to, of course!) - do you?

Friday, 17 December 2010


Each May, I run a week-long creative writing course in a watermill in deepest, greenest Tuscany - where you can learn and practice your craft against the most stunning and inspirational backdrops.
Like this one....

The courses are organised by Lois and Bill Breckon - who do much to nurture talent and creativity - and to this end they are running a brand-new writing competition.

Would you like to win £1,000 ($1,500) and the chance to get yourself and your story noticed?
Of course you would!

So why not find out more? Go on.... push all the wrapping paper off the table and dust down a story. Or take yourself off into a quiet corner and write a new one. Write something from the heart. Something which will make the reader's heart quicken.
Who knows? It just might make your dreams come true....

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Christmas....and a new book!

I love the cover of this book, THE FORBIDDEN INNOCENT - which is out in the UK now.
It's a book which has an interesting little back-story of it's own....
Last year I was lucky enough to be asked to speak at the Cheltenham Literary Festival (weirdly, I have given Nick Clegg a name check, in those faraway days when he was just another Lib-Dem politician who probably thought he'd never set foot in 10 Downing Street.....wouldn't life be peculiar if we could each look into a crystal ball?).

It was at Cheltenham that I had to talk about Jane Eyre (among other great classics) and had to hurriedly read it up beforehand. As a latecomer to the book, I completely fell in love with it - so much so, that when I mentioned this to one of our editors, she suggested I write a modern version for Harlequin Mills & Boon.

A daunting prospect! But what is life without challenge? So, I wrote the story of Ashley and Jack and the isolated and harsh landscape they inhabit. Some things about the story have changed to fit in with the times but I hope that the emotions are the same. A young, innocent girl who falls in love with a tortured man, with secrets he dare not share.....

I'd love to know what you think of it.


And the photo featured below was taken by a pal who demanded I showcase it on my blog!
So here's a snowy fir, to get you in the mood for the festive season.
Are you knee-deep in wrapping paper?
Searching for those hidden presents and wondering where on earth you hid them?
Or have you given into the lure of the mince-pie?
Do tell what Christmas preparations take place in your part of the world.
Maybe you treat it as just another day....

Monday, 6 December 2010


Yesterday, I was singing carols around a baby-grand piano (and eating far too much pastry) during a glorious afternoon spent in London.
Hurtling by train through the foggy and still-frozen snowy fields of Hampshire - I was amazed to be greeted by bright blue skies and sunshine the minute I arrived in Canary Wharf.
And when I stood on the terrace of my friends' apartment - it looked and felt as if I was on a luxury cruise-liner, headed for some balmy destination.
It was also an extremely inspirational day - because this is exactly the kind of achingly-cool urban penthouse in which one of my heroes would live.
Look in the distance and you will see Renzo Piano's controversial Shard which is in the process of being built.

And here's the Christmas tree in the dining room. Quel view!

And the best carol?
Silent night, probably (especially the verse sung in German).
Or Good King Wenceslas (sung in parts).
But every one of them gave me the requisite lump-in-throat-now-where-on-earth-did-I-put-my-tissues?

What did you do which was inspirational this weekend?