lundi 21 décembre 2015

The next one

Time ticks. Been reading, writing, working, being so busy. I've also been watching The Bridge Series Three, which was brilliant, both in plot and characters. Saga's new male policeman side-kick is a fascinating, flawed partner-in-crime: a grieving, drug-addicted, hallucinating cop. The cast-iron story holds tight, steely, gripping the viewer with a series of eerie "staged" murders.  The third series is much stronger than Season Two.  
Also watched London Spy, which was endearing and beautiful, but patchy; stretching thin in the wide gap between conspiracy theory and Ken Loach. Great acting, but inconsistent episodes...

In-between shorts and a film project, I am starting work on the next book in my noir detective series. I'm following my heroine Parisian-based Prudence across the Channel, to Londres, into a plot-driven adventure involving vicious blackmail, entrepreneurs, art and tea-shops. Am off to London for Christmas to do some research.... and all the merry rest...
Bonnes fêtes!

lundi 30 novembre 2015

Visual Verse: The Fire Triangle

Have a flash fiction piece up on Visual Verse, The Fire Triangle.

"I kissed Francois. Black-body radiation. Organic matter glowed. Life burnt"

You can read it here.

jeudi 26 novembre 2015


There are events which render us speechless. How do we react to the senseless brutality of the attacks on the 13th November in Paris? What can we say? What can we write? Where should we write? Here in France, we shift nervously, our world out of kilter. Etat d'urgence. State of Emergency. I collect people's comments in my mind, catch them as they fall. My daughters. The childminder. Colleagues. The café owner. Many people know someone who knows someone who was in the Bataclan or on the street. We write, we speak, we type and text in attempts to connect and hopefully unearth and rebuild some truth from the rubble, to find a shared pattern, to make peace from disaster.

mercredi 25 novembre 2015

My debut detective novel

I've been absent from this space. I've been off writing, in my house, in Catalonia, in Donostia, in the South of France and in the middle of the forest in a wooden house that's off the GPS. Since my last post, I've finished the first draft of my detective novel. It was one of those books that ran out of my fingers, shouting and kicking onto the page.

There's been much work and all of the business of burning the candle at both ends and many, many (far too many) late nights. I bless coffee, green tea and sea-swimming for keeping my boat afloat (as well as my amazing family!). 

To keep my inspiration hooked on the polar, or roman noir, - as they call detective novels in French - I've been reading Chandler, J. Ellroy, Nicci French, Paretsky, Ruth Rendell and Jane Casey.  I also dipped into Girls this summer, watched Macbeth and King Lear. I read This Too Shall Pass, by Milena Busquets (we share the same Literary Agency Pontas) and loved it. 

In-between times, I've been contributing to various magazines and reviews, working on film projects and a collaboration with a painter, but will update on all of that later....

jeudi 9 juillet 2015

Litro: Anything Could Happen Here

My short story Anything Could Happen Here, is published in Litro this week.

My piece, The Pull of The Moon, appeared in Litro in their French addition, alongside work by Michel Houellenbecq, a couple of years ago. Litro is, in their words, "A little London Lit mag with a great world view", their stories transport you.... 

vendredi 12 juin 2015

Visual verse: Loom Love

I'm contributing to Visual Verse again this month, my piece is called Loom Love. I was inspired by teenage outsiders, devious little elastic bands and the image by Sigrid Calon. You can read Loom Love here.

vendredi 5 juin 2015

Pontas and Etonnants Voyageurs

Etonnants Voyageurs, one of the most important French literary festivals, is held in the coastal town of Saint Malo, where I wrote my début novel The Tide That Took The Sea. The festival is a brilliant event, bringing in authors from across the world. I've met some extraordinary writers such as Xinran, David Vann, Mathias Enard and Maylis de Kerangal. This year, I had a great evening with Marc de Gouvernain from the Pontas Agency. 

mercredi 27 mai 2015

Marc Didou: Presence and Absence, Standing In A Certain Light


Spectrale © Marc Didou 2015
Spectrale © Marc Didou 2015

 At the end of a tree-lined single track, tucked into the cove of a salt-marsh Breton estuary, lies a modest stone chapel, a pilgrimage site to Sainte Marie, patron saint of the sailors who for decades crossed the seas from here to Canada to fish for cod. Even today, numerous statutes, freshly-picked flowers, lit candles and tiny notes adorn an altar built into the stone wall; "Please Saint Mary...", they say.
        International artist Marc Didou's recently-comissioned gate Spectrale (2015) now opens the way into this mysterious space. An anamorophic piece, the gate can appear as a simple iron-work, a delicate, almost lacy structure. But, from a certain angle, when the light is right, a female face appears, looming from the portal; a spectre of Juno to carry us across the threshold. "The Roman goddess Juno", Marc told me when we met, "Symbolises the beginning and the end", opening and closing. According to the season, the luminosity and the foliage on the trees; there is something here, or nothing.
                     Didou's work explores the ideas of absence and presence, the difference between 'voir' and 'regarder' what we look at and what we see. The Spectrale is part of a show, three works currently exhibited together. Echo contre ciel, depicts a bronze head based on a MRI scan of Didou, it is executed he says, almost as though "I am sculpting blindly"; his trace, his sculptor's touch absent in the shape. The third piece Pipeline Fossile, turns a petrol pipe inside out and restores it to a log-like form- recounting the origins of the petrol that once travelled inside; the secret, the invisible cyclical story of the pipeline.
            Since I saw this work last week, it is the Spectrale gate that - literally - continues to haunt me, particularly it's acute relationship with the site, echoing the intimate act of pilgrimage, the invisible hands that arrange the flowers, strike the matches, write the notes; the spirituality that can be present or absent, or may catch us, unexpectedly, when we stand in a certain light....

For more information on Marc Didou.

For more information on the exhibition organised by the association L'Art au Fils de Rance.

lundi 25 mai 2015

Visual Verse : We Can Be Bought And Sold

I've written a piece for Visual Verse this month, We Can Be Bought And Sold, about the brain, neurosciences and people as supermarket barcodes. You can read it here

mardi 12 mai 2015

A Chuckle. A Dip. A Crack : Visual Verse

Been trying to get back to writing for Visual Verse every month. It's a spontaneous, unpremeditated  experience, there's no time for prevarication, hesitation and reflection, just a little mental churn over ideas (a tiny prayer that the vein tapped will yield some gold) and then fingers on keyboard. Write, write, write.

dimanche 10 mai 2015

Marion Mitchell and collaborations

I am currently working on two international collaborative projects with visual artists, a painter and a film-maker (more news about these soon!) Visual art often inspires my writing.

The brilliant international artist Marion Mitchell has an exhibition on at the moment at the RSpace Gallery in Lisburn, called Strands of Wishful Thinking: Hairlings and other Things. 

Marion Michell’s art touches on childhood, on growing up and its anxieties. It is as much an exploration of memory as of physical experience. Not necessarily concrete memories, more moods and atmospheres, interwoven with elements from myths and fairy tales. The exhibition encompasses assembled objects, re-fashioned heirlooms and photography as well as crocheted outfits which skirt the border of reality as a way of thinking about bodies, bodies that buckle under the strain of difference, and draw their lifeblood from it.

mercredi 25 mars 2015

Pontas and The Tide That Took The Sea

Thanks to the Pontas team and Jessica Craig for this great piece in their newsletter about my novel The Tide That Took The Sea.

Schwitters, Vorticism and found language


       Once upon a time, in another life, I wrote an MA dissertation on Vorticism, which is held in the  elegant Tate Modern library, where I carried out part of my research. I have always been drawn like a bee to honey by the avant-garde artistic movements from the début du siècle. Dadaism holds a special, undone, ripped up and shuffled place in my heart. This week, I was flipping through the pages of Coutts-Smith book about this anarchic and nihilistic movement which took place between 1916 and 1923. Reading, I came across the German artist Kurt Schwitters, renowned for his opening up of art, its materials, subject matters, ideas of aesthetic. In this assemblage vision the debris of contemporary society: the broken, the abandoned, the useless and the over-looked, are re-presented, transformed and transcended. 
               Schwitters extends this practice to language, travels for hours on trains, circling the city, listening to snatches of conversation, chatter and gossip, lyrics and songs. Overheard fragments are collaged together, language re-found. I have been mulling this idea around in the back of my head, the idea of finding language, words and stories, over, under and around the page. Outside and inside. And, also the idea of reclaiming the discarded and the lost.

vendredi 20 mars 2015

L'hôpital Le Dessous des Cartes

L'Hôpital Le Dessous des Cartes, hit French bookshops last week. I co-wrote this French roman, a semi-fictional, semi-academic dramatic exploration of the dilemmas facing contemporary French hospitals. 

You can read more about the book here

mercredi 4 mars 2015

Visual Verse : A Feast of Tongues

So happy to be back contributing Visual Verse. You can read my piece A Feast of Tongues here. Aunt Dorothea is writing once again about grief, donkeys and swimming pools!  I was inspired by the Raymond Carveresque photo by Dominic Goodman and a recent venture into Marina Warner's Signs and Wonders. I came across her years ago when she gave the Reith Lectures Managing MonstersIn  A Feast of Tongues, I was thinking about Aesop, fables and all that they can be.

In other news (in between sick children, non-writing work and the shenanigans of everyday life) I am back writing my detective books. So will dip into Raymond Chandler, San Antonio, Fred Vargas and maybe some George Perec (the latter for something unpredictable and wild). 

lundi 16 février 2015

Vargas: The Chalk Circle Man

I am re-reading The Chalk Circle Man, a Fred Vargas detective novel, featuring the enigmatic police chief Adamsberg, renown for his Zen methods for solving crimes. The Chalk Circle Man - like all Vargas books - is dotted with eccentric characters, an oceanographic alcoholic scientist ( who stalks people in her spare time), an love-sick beret-wearing old lady with crocodile teeth and a beautiful, but very mean blind man. To be read.


In the past couple of months, I have fallen out of this blog, writing consuming my days and nights, at the back of my mind, a constant, parallel tick that - as I work, wash and drive my car - is trying to rewrite that paragraph, solve the plot twist, hack away at what must go. I have been in two places at once, here and there, in the world of work, family, friends and then inside this cave, right deep down, where something entirely different is happening. In the cave, time runs with multiple clocks and logic is utterly unreasonable; it's more about feeling your way in the dark, slicing through words with a delicate sword.