I began reading Sherlock Holmes as a teenager and was so intrigued by the clever detective and his deductions that I moved onto other well-known Whodunit authors such as Agatha Christie and P.D James, and decided that this would be my genre as I began my apprenticeship as an author. While working through Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat, I decided to try my hand at adapting one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories—The Valley of Fear—into a screenplay. It was a fascinating exercise, and gave me a lot of insight into story construction and characterisation. Continue reading “Who was Joseph Bell?”
At the heart of Kathryn Craft’s long-awaited debut novel The Art of Falling is the story of the intense and life-changing friendship between three very different characters. Penny is a dancer treading the finest of lines between disciplined diet and anorexia who regains consciousness in hospital after a 14-storey fall. Marty is her worst nightmare–a baker who tries to sweeten her life with glazed dough-nuts. But he is also her saviour: it was his van she landed on, and he’s determined to check up on her. And Angela is the woman in the next bed with cystic fibrosis, a great sense of humour, and a perfect stick-thin body to die for. Continue reading “The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft (Book Discussion)”
Just as some people find it hard to start a conversation, some also battle with what to say next. If talking to people doesn’t come naturally to you, you might want to think of conversation ideas ahead of time. Don’t rehearse too much or you’ll sound unnatural.
Another way to keep talking is to think of conversation as a tennis match. Continue reading “How to Keep a Conversation Going”
Many people just don’t know what to say and will respond to any attempt to start a conversation. It’s worth a try.
Here’s a neat trick: Start by asking the question you want the other person to ask you. What’s the most interesting thing you do or know or like. Because, usually, the polite thing to say after answering a question is “How about you?”
When I was working as a typist or secretary or personal assistant, I never asked people “What do you do?” Continue reading “How to Talk to People”
Friendship is one of the themes that crops up in my books all the time. I’ve made lots of mistakes with my friendships, and learnt plenty of lessons along the way (the hard way). I thought I’d share some of the good stuff.
1. To Have a Friend, Be a Friend
You can’t “make” someone be your friend. The only person you can control is you. So look for ways to be friendly and let friendships evolve naturally.
How can you be a friend? Continue reading “How to Make Friends”
The StarThorn Tree – Book 1
When crippled Durrik makes a strange prophecy regarding Estelliana’s dying young Count, he and his friend Pedrin go on the run from the evil Regent’s soldiers, while their parents and most of the village are imprisoned to pre-empt a rebellion.
Durrik’s prophecy involves six people and a deadline of “when the last petals fall from the StarThorn tree”, so when he and Pedrin discover the count’s sister and her maid hiding in the forest, and their team is joined by a strange old man and a dirty little thief girl, they begin to believe they are destined to save the Count and overthrow the evil Regent.
But the prophecy is vague, and if their assumptions are wrong, they will all risk their lives for nothing. Continue reading “The StarThorn Trilogy by Kate Forsyth (Book Discussion)”
…are called “Hennin”. Thanks, Wikipedia*.
I first came across this particular headgear when I was a child listening to a Story Teller tape of The Faery Flag by Beryl Maude-Jones. The accompanying book was full of pictures of pointy cone-hats with long veils. The funny thing was I was scared by the story. So, in true child-like spirit, I decided it would be better if I recorded over this story by singing Happy Birthday onto the tape instead. I earnestly informed my mother that I would re-record the story when I was older and it no longer scared me (as if I could possibly recapture the talent of reader Annette Crosby (she of One Foot in the Grave fame)). Luckily my rendition of Happy Birthday was only long enough to record over the title of the story. And the last time I was able to listen to the cassette tape, as an adult, I laughed at my little five-year-old self singing to unscarify the audio. My husband now informs me that we no longer have any equipment capable of playing those old tapes. Continue reading “The Cone-Shaped Pointed Hats Worn by Princesses in Fairytales…”
I wanted to be an author from the age of about eight or so – as soon as I realised that real people were responsible for the stories I loved. I was a storyteller from a very early age, entertaining friends at sleepovers with tales of princes and princesses, and making up plays that we would rehearse and put on for our parents.
I never could decide on a “real” job, so I did a creative writing diploma and a secretarial course to learn to type, and kept working away on my first novel. Writing and telling stories have always been a part of who I am, so it’s a natural outlet for my creative expression, my ideas, and the way I view the world. Continue reading “Long and Winding Writing Journey”
Beyond the murk
The ire of dragon long impaled on wretched lance
Encircled in a bitter trial.
Sacred heart and evil dance
And hemlock burns in desperate pale
Beyond and through the cries of night
Bewitched and thrice behove of light
Briton’s daughter-earth beyond
Fearless echo of their heart.
Continue reading “Orb’s Return (Poetry)”
When I was a young child a little girl called Fiona Harvey was kidnapped from the same town where I lived. Parents of that town – my parents, my friends’ parents – clamped down on our freedom out of concern for our safety and taught us about “stranger danger” – as well they should have. I still walked home from school almost every single day, but things had changed.
My fears grew slowly. I travelled to the UK and felt able to take risks I wouldn’t have dared to in the place where I grew up. I lost more innocence, not because I took those risks, but because others felt entitled to abuse my naivety simply because I had it. I took a lot of supposedly far bigger risks that had no negative consequences for me at all. Travelling by myself overnight on a train to see Dublin, Stratford-upon-Avon, London… some of the highlights of my trip to the UK. I took myself out to dinner in Dublin and then walked maybe a mile by myself, late at night, across the city, to find a particular pub I’d read about, where I then had a drink and a conversation with a lovely Scottish couple and a pleasant young man from Cork. Right place, right time? I certainly hadn’t been as safe at our next-door neighbour’s house, or in my parents’ home with bars on the windows and dead-bolts on the doors. Continue reading “How I Lost My Courage”
A week or so ago I had one of those sparks of inspiration that usually stop me short as I backtrack in amazement to work out how my brain cobbled together something that seems so, well, inspired. I was tidying up (yes, housework), putting some books back on a shelf, when I noticed that the author of one of the books had the same name as a character from my work-in-progress. I thought nothing of it at the time, but about half an hour later I found myself mulling over what I remembered of a Wikipedia entry I’d read a year ago, that had a connection to a plot strand involving this same character. Suddenly the phrase “everything’s connected” popped into my head, and an element of the Wikipedia entry that I hadn’t considered important before wound up being the thread that tied an entire dangling subplot back into the main plot. I was so blown away I just had to sit there for a moment with my mouth open. Continue reading “Sparks of Inspiration”
The long awaited update post. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in December – another easy homebirth, but another silent reflux baby. She hasn’t yet fully outgrown the reflux, but she started crawling at six months and is now pulling herself up to stand at eight months. Her brother hasn’t coped very well with the addition of a constantly crying baby to his life, and turning three didn’t help, either. We have had to take several steps back and re-group often. But now that the doldrums of winter are finally beginning to shift into spring, we are all feeling a little bit lighter-hearted.
A month after my baby was born, my mother died. Continue reading “End of a Chapter”