Here's a short film that Headline, my UK publisher, made. In it I describe where the inspiration for my new novel came from, and why the Swiss city of Lausanne will always be one of my favourite places.
Here's an interview I did recently with Novelicious - go HERE to read about being methodical, the wisdom of Stephen King, and why writing what you love is the only thing that really matters... Oh, and the importance of starting the day with coffee, good strong coffee, served in a joy-giving vessel, like this one...
‘They looked up at the yellow squares of windows set
beneath steeply tiled roofs, saw the shapes of people moving behind them, and
once a child’s face peeping up at the night sky as though counting stars.’
From A Heart Bent Out of Shape, page 169
To see page 1 of my Swiss Sketchbook, and to read about the background to the project and its artist, go HERE. And for a closer look at the picture itself just click on the image...
The other day I talked to fellow writer & Bristol pal Nikesh Shukla for his excellent podcast, The Subaltern. He's interviewed some amazing authors down the years so it was a treat to be asked. We talked about the duff tag 'aspiring' when attached to 'writer', problematic searches for book titles, and, um, our mutual adoration of donkeys... You can listen to our podcast HERE.
Nikesh's novella, The Time Machine, was published just recently. It's a moving story about one man's mission to recreate the food his mother used to make. The Time Machine is available as an e-book and costs just £1, with all proceeds going to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. With its beautifully-described connections between the food we eat and the people we love, as well as enticing recipes, it'll soon have you craving Indian food... Buy it HERE- you'll be doing something good for charity, and yourself.
When I first moved to London, a country bumpkin lost in the city, my boyfriend and I discovered an amazing little neighbourhood restaurant called Hot Stuff. It remains one of my all-time favourite Indian restaurants, and I wrote about the experience of finding it (and finding our way in The Big Smoke) for Nikesh's blog - you can read my piece Bright Lights, Big City, Hot StuffHERE.
This Thursday is the UK publication day for A Heart Bent Out of Shape, and I wanted to do something on my blog to mark the occasion. Last year, for The Book of Summers, my dad - the talented artist Alwyn Hall - painted a beautiful picture of Lake Balaton, one of the settings in the book. Throughout the summer I then ran recipes for some of the Hungarian food that appears in the story, from Marika's Raspberry Cake to Cucumber Salad and good old Goulash. So what to do for A Heart Bent Out of Shape? The answer, as it often does for me, lay in 'place'.
The Swiss Sketchbook is a series of ten pictures that I've commissioned from Alwyn Hall (yep, My Dad again). Each image in the series is based on a line
from the novel, and all revolve around location, location, location. Throughout the pages of The Swiss Sketchbook we’ll go from Hadley’s first giddying
view of the city, to the Lausanne lakeside, to a snow-dipped mountain
dreamscape, to a flower-bright spring. The mediums and styles will always be
different too, from pen and ink, to watercolour, to thickly daubed poster
paint. I’ll post a new picture every couple of days, through until the end of
September, so do check back and see the landscape of the novel unfold.
When I’m writing, I almost always begin with place.
Conjuring the spirit of somewhere, capturing its essence, painting a picture with words… these are a few of my favourite things. If reading A Heart Bent Out of Shape succeeds in
bringing Lausanne and its environs to life for my readers, and I truly hope it
does, then perhaps these sketches will go one step further. For me, they’re the
perfect meeting of description on the page, and one reader’s imagination. A
reader who just happens to be handy with a paintbrush…
I hope you enjoy this drawing tour of Lausanne and La
Suisse. Without further ado, here’s the first page in our Swiss Sketchbook...
‘It is about a city; a place at once fairy-tale and reality-bitten, glorious and imperfect, sun-soaked and winter-whipped.’
From A Heart Bent Out of Shape, page 3
Alwyn Hall studied Illustration at Northampton followed
by an Art Education degree in Manchester. He taught Art for several years and
worked on the North West Region Curriculum Development Project. This led to a year of educational
research in Cardiff. On
returning to Manchester he exhibited paintings at the Northern Academy and other
public and private galleries including a successful one-man show at the
University. He and his wife then moved to Devon where he took up a Head of
Department post in a large Comprehensive School. Much of his work, inspired by
the rural area surrounding their home, consists of detailed representational
drawings, paintings and linocut prints.
The most exciting project of the last decade, now nearing completion, is
a lavishly illustrated collection of his own poems and songs.
A few months ago, journalism student Sarah Abrahams got in touch, asking if she could interview me for her final piece of work for her course. I'd met Sarah at a book signing in Exeter last summer, and was more than happy to oblige. I was delighted - for Sarah, and for me! - when she not only got a great grade, but successfully pitched the feature to the magazine Devon Life. Sarah's interview focuses on my Devon childhood, and the importance that that corner of the world continues to play in my writing. My thanks to Sarah, and to Devon Life, for such a lovely feature... may I be known from here on in as The Sheep Whisperer. And best of luck with the rest of your writing career, Sarah!
From the long-ago-past to the more recent past... I've also been chatting to the very cool Cooler Magazine (a snow & surf magazine for women). Back in 2005 I quit my job to go and live in the mountains, and in between the snowboarding, chalet graft, and resort revelry, I worked out what I really wanted to do... write a novel, and work as hard as I could to get it published. You can read the full interview HERE.
I've written a new short story called The Comeback Kid, and last week it appeared in S Magazine (with the Sunday Express). Go HERE to read about the day that Cooper Clay, a faded tennis star, and his lovechild meet one another for the first time...