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Showing posts from February, 2017

Medical errors, Screenplays and Reincarnation

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I feel at present a bit like a locked-up princess in a castle, because the pavement in my street has been dug up in order to lay cables. The result is that for two days I've had a very small opening through which to exit, and heaven help me if I'd suddenly put on weight. As for a shopping trolley, forget it. There also does seem to be a serious shortage of local princes on white horses...

My film project has gone quiet at present, partly because I unexpectedly had to undergo surgery due to a medical error. Because of a totally benign mark which might, or might not have been (it wasn't), I was scheduled for a 'needle' biopsy - a very minor procedure, except that in my case I was given, in error, a 'core' biopsy under a local anaesthetic which damaged an existing breast implant, so fairly swift surgery, due to possible infection, was vital, and my implant, which had been in place for almost seventeen years, had to be removed, to be replaced in around three mo…

Best Book on Being a Writer Since William Goldman's "Adventures in the Screentrade" - Andrew Crofts

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I have just read the best book on the writing life since William Goldman’s “Adventures in the Screentrade”, which is now more than 30 years old, so this is praise indeed.




The book in question is called “Pretend I’m Not Here” by Barbara Feinman Todd, who started as a journalist on the Washington Post and became a ghostwriter for Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, (as in Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in “All the President’s Men”) and for Ben Bradlee, their editor, (played in the film by Jason Robards). 
She then went on to ghost for Hillary Clinton, while she was First Lady, and gives a riveting insight into life in the Clinton White House, and the back-stabbing world of Washington politics and journalism. 
In the process she sheds considerable light on how Mrs Clinton came to lose the affection and respect of the American people so dramatically.
The book perfectly captures the mechanics of what it is to be a ghostwriter to the very rich, the very powerful and the very interesting. I…

Lion & Shambala Junction: Dipika Mukherjee investigates international adoptions

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When I started writing Shambala Junction in Amsterdam in 2009, I had no idea that there was a traumatised young man named Saroo Brierley. Oceans away from me in Australia, he was desperately searching satellite images on Google Earth, trying to find a way from Howrah railway station to the home he lost as a child in India. 
I had angrily started to write my novel, tentatively titled Finding Piya, after reading a short news article in an Indian community newspaper about babies for sale in India. The article described a flourishing trade in unscrupulous international adoptions operating out of India.
Shambala Junction was published in 2016, after winning the Virginia Prize for Fiction in the UK. Also in 2016, the much-feted movie Lion opened in movie theaters worldwidestarring scene-stealer Sunny Pawar, as well as Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman. Lion is based on Brierley’s memoir (A Long Way Home, 2013). 
Although Saroo Brierley was not an orphan, he had been adopted into a home in Canberra. …

Making History by Susan Price

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I'm enjoying the book I'm reading on my kindle.      No surprises there. A complaint I've heard all my life and still hear often (especially from my partner) is that I'm 'always reading,' always 'got my nose in a book.'
     Although it's hard to put your nose in a kindle. I have found that when you read in bed and doze, the falling Kindle strikes your nose a far more destructive blow than a paper book. Wakes you up. This hasn't stopped me, though. The book I'm reading and thoroughly enjoying at the moment (despite the risk to my nose) is The Town House by Norah Lofts. I've just finished her similar Bless This House.

Bless This House was first published in 1954, before I was born. The Town House, first published in 1959, is the start of a trilogy, being followed by The House at Old Vine (1961) and The House at Sunset (1962).
     Bless This House is almost like a test-run for the trilogy, though it is a very good read in its own right (wr…

On Meeting Neil Gaiman by Lev Butts

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I have met a lot of writers. Like real, published-by-big-houses, award-winning, best-selling novelists. Writers you know, writers that your kids have tests on, and writers that your kids read to avoid studying for tests on the writers your kids have tests on. Writers with Wikipedia pages

I once had dinner with Joseph Heller because I told him at a signing that I was writing my Master's thesis on his work. I had to explain to Kurt Vonnegut at the same dinner that no, it wasn't because Slaughterhouse-Five wasn't good enough for me.


I used to play D&D with a World Fantasy and Bram Stoker Award winner. I correspond regularly with another Bram Stoker Award winner. I've eaten several lunches with T.E.D. Klein. I used to work with the guy who wrote the Wishbone books. I am also good friends with both Kelley Wilde and our own Reb MacRath, and you all know of my friendship with Richard Monaco.

I was asked a few weeks ago which author I'd most like to meet, not meet at …

Historical fiction: words from the wise, by Ali Bacon

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A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to read at Novel Nights, a regular event in Bristol where local writers get the chance to air their work in progress.  I’ve been a fan of these evenings for quite some time and have followed them over two changes of venue.  Since guest speakers have been added to the programme, there’s the bonus of  picking the brains of a writing or publishing expert. And the cosy vibe encourages serious questions rather than the celebrity worship of high profile literary events. In January, the guest was Celia Brayfield and the theme historical fiction, the module Celia leads on the Bath Spa M.A. As the guest is last to take the floor on these occasions, it gives writers (if they're anything like me!) the chance to recover from the anxietyof reading to an audience and take in the words of wisdom. So here are Celia's edicts for writing Historical Fiction, at least as I recall them.
Fiction first Well, this is advice I have ignored more than once…

Is your wi-fi killing you? - Katherine Roberts

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As electric authors, chances are that we (and you, our readers!) are using various electrical gadgets - computers, smartphones, etc - and swimming in wi-fi signals every day without thought to the consequences. Like me, you've probably suffered the occasional lapse of concentration and general brain-fog, putting it down to overwork and the mass of data coming in from all angles, 24-7. But there's another scarier possibility... that our wi-fi might be killing us, or at least killing our creativity and general well-being.

I first noticed these 'brain-fog' symptoms about 7 years ago, a few years after I'd moved from a 17th century cottage with 22-inch thick stone walls in the Wye valley to a brick-built bungalow in Torbay, which might be within walking distance of one of the best beaches in south Devon, but is basically an urban environment with a rapidly-growing collection of masts at the top of the hill. There's a sign on the gate advising people not to enter. …

Releasing the inner poet by Sandra Horn

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Says Alice by Jan Edwards

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In moments of idleness random subjects frequently leapfrog through my mind in rapid succession, turning subjects not merely on their heads but morphing them into something else entirely. Today, whilst making tea and boggling at the latest news headlines drifting from the radio, the process was begun in recalling the quote from Alice that runs, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”(Through the Looking Glass,ch 5.)

I am a lifelong devotee of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and its companion Through the Looking Glass.  I loved these books as a child and again in my teens when they were must-read volumes of the ‘flower child’ revolution, and I have loved them ever since. So when I came across a gloriously OTT reading of Carroll’s Jabberwocky’ by Benedict Cumberbatch I was delighted and shared it around with glee. In the very same week  the great actor Sir John Hurt passed on, and in the plethora of obits and postings on social media I spott…