Blog Archive

SoS 22/05/2

Very quick SoS today.

We’re in the city for a few days and the weather is astonishing – twenty degrees and the garden is so confused. And dry…

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Reliquary – an author’s note…

The inspiration for my latest book, Reliquary, originally came from the research I carried out for the previous trilogy called The Triptych Chronicle. In the process of seeking facts on rare and valuable merchandise that may have been traded in the twelfth century, I came across mention of a silk called byssus and which is still harvested in the Mediterranean from a species of shellfish.

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SoS 15/05

We’ve finally sunk into a true winter burst, with chilly temps and snow on the mountains. Whilst the snow will be gone by Monday, the cooler temperatures remind us that we need to consider frosts and planting seeds for spring. We’ve planted broad beans in the veggie garden (traditionally on Anzac Day April 25th, here in Tasmania but we’ve planted as late as August) and begun to rest and feed the veggie garden. There’s always more for us to do in our garden in autumn/winter, I love it. Pruning, feeding, mulching, planting, planning – and so we’ve begun.

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A Café Date…

This is one of those chatty posts, as though you and I might be sitting across a café table from each other and we are meeting for the first time. I’m drinking a cappuccino with a coffee macaron on the side. And you? You’re having a coffee as well? Excellent.

You want to know what I do?


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‘Oh Christ! Oh Christ, the bairns…’

Over the years, I’ve often commented on how inspirational Dorothy Dunnett’s writing has been to me as I tread the path.

Once a couple of years ago, I was asked to write a piece for the Dorothy Dunnett Society’s august journal, Whispering Gallery, on the nature of shock or more particularly, what I found to be the most shocking piece of writing in Dunnett.

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SoS 24/4/21

We’re back in our big garden on the coast after dallying in the city last week and I was happy to see the garden breathing again as temperatures drop and the nights have welcome dews. This garden suffers in summer, as I’ve mentioned before, and in order to try and create a more temperate micro-climate, we’ve slowly been filling the old orchard with trees of all sorts. Hopefully they’ll act as not just wind protection, but feedlots for birds and insects AND lower the overall summer temperature of the whole garden. Trouble is, it may not be in my life time. But that’s gardening, isn’t it? A measure of future-proofing?

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I appear not to have written a post on my reading  since September last year! And that, my friends, is not a good thing.

In September of 2020, I remember saying it might be good, with my birthday and Christmas approaching, to receive book vouchers for my favourite stores. But no, it was not to be.

Instead, but just as appreciated, I received garden-nursery vouchers, which I have started to use this last week. Gardening for me is as much a passion as reading.

But also, summer came and I try never to go near the city during summer – a waste of my time, so I stay happily ensconced in our coastal garden by the sea. Which of course makes my Kindle and the all-important Amazon and Audible bookshops vital. Here, by the sea, where I can hear the waves and watch the seabirds, I have no need to drive into the city, park the car, walk through crowds to get to a bookshop. It’s all done with the click of fingers and buttons.

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SoS 17/4/21

It’s been an age since I contributed to SoS, despite that I’ve always visited all the other gardens across the globe. Life’s been a bit busy and to be honest, it’s that time of year where nothing much is going on in our gardens.

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When I write a novel, I always scan the screen for likely people to inspire my characters.

I will spend time watching their movements, how they speak, trying to pick up nuances that build brick upon brick.

So these are the faces/actors whose work helped me with  Reliquary

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A city beseiged…

Recently I was offered an ARC of Paris in Ruins by MK Tod in return for an honest review.

Until now, my knowledge of MK Tod had been the most inspired surveys not just about historical fiction but about readers’ attitudes. In my opinion, her surveys are state of the art from year to year and required reading for any hist.fict author.

I hadn’t read any of her other work and had no idea of her creative style. I approached Paris in Ruins with some trepidation as it’s not a chosen timeframe and I may well have bypassed it on a shelf.

Simply, I would have missed a polished and well-contrived novel. What a beautifully written and well-framed and mounted drama.

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