Public speaking… not so hairy scary after all!



When I was asked to do a talk to The Tewkesbury Historical Society back in 2016, I said ‘yeah sure’, thinking that’s two whole years away.  I put it on the back burner for quite some time and thought little about it until the first day of January this year. Ummm, suddenly the date of the talk felt a bit close for comfort. I had been supplied a title which sounded rather good; Conflict between fact and fiction.

It took a few drafts to complete my PowerPoint presentation supported by copious notes. I tested it out on my poor nearest and dearest, who all said it was jolly fine.

Great, except that I haven’t presented in a while. I did an author Q &A on a stage in India (that was up there with hairy scary experiences). I had done a bit of presenting in my former life as an Art Director, but nothing like this. I love talking about my book, my research, my ideas, I could talk all day about it …. but to a room full of people for an hour!! This was a whole different level of hairy scary! Anyway, last night, my two years was up. Somehow, from deep within my nerve-wracked brain I found the courage to walk into a roomful of strangers ready to perform. It was less a room and more a church! I actually gave my talk standing at the pulpit to my 50 strong congregation!

How did it go? I surprised myself. I loved it! It was fun! I felt happy to be sharing my story of writing a novel and my thoughts on the conflict between fact and fiction. I had a round of applause and lots of brilliant questions. Books were sold and everyone seemed genuinely interested and happy. Result! I am now officially unafraid of presenting!

Thank you John Dixon (chairman of THS) for giving me this wonderful opportunity to come and speak to your lovely group. I learnt a lot…. I hope they did too!




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Spot the difference

Spot the difference. Okay, there are many, but I am super excited to see that Ali Smith’s Winter and Dance with Fireflies have shared the same small space. Thank you Heffer’s Bookshop in Cambridge.

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Oh yeh, oh yeh, oh yeh


Oh yeh is actually spelt oyez but that looked far too weird for a title.

Who knew a morning of book signing could be so much fun! The town crier turned up and Dance with Fireflies was announced to the world… well Tewkesbury. I met a stream of book lovers, sold an armful of copies and didn’t misspell any names (a fear of mine). Thank you Alison’s Bookshop for hosting this jolly event.

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A compliment from Vikram Seth…a moment to treasure.

So last night I met the amazing Vikram Seth after an enlightening session at the Oxford Literary Festival. What struck me was not only his total passion for the written word, be it novels or poetry but also his warmth.

He indulged me in a lengthy conversation and even complimented me on the title of my novel (Dance with Fireflies) which I gave to him, despite a snaking queue of people wishing to speak with him. He asked me to dedicate it to him as he was signing my copy of A Suitable Boy….what a great moment!

I was lucky enough to hang about for a while and felt hugely pleased to see him rest his arm on my book throughout the whole signing process.

As we sped back to Burford that evening to enjoy one of my husband’s birthday treats …a night at The Golden Pheasant, I prayed to the stars that Vikram would at least flick through my book, if not read it.

I can’t wait for A Suitable Girl….published later this year .

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Portraits of India

Just had an amazing few days helping out at my talented sister’s photographic exhibition called Portraits of India. Like me, Susie is an India obsessive! I blame our mother, who shared many colourful stories of her early years there.

The exhibition kicked off with a very enjoyable private view in The Gardens Gallery. Much Prosecco was sipped and everyone who attended were hugely impressed by the amazing photographs on display.

Throughout the week over half the photographs were sold, and the visitors book filled up with messages of admiration. Total strangers became friends as our mutual love of this amazing country was shared.

I had a neat display of Dance with Fireflies which did rather well too.

Susie is heading off for Darjeeling again later in the year. Can’t wait for the next exhibition. Maybe my next novel will be published by then 🙂


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A Suitable Boy, a suitable read.

Time for some reading! I find it quite hard to read when I’m immersed in my own writing. I don’t want my characters to blend unintentionally with others. I need full concentration on my own storytelling. So I am feeling a little lacklustre regards my reading of late. I did manage Nutshell by Ian McEwan, but it was pretty short.

Having just completed Book Two, I feel able to step away from the keyboard and look outside. I’m incredibly excited to be attending The Oxford Literary Festival to see Vikram Seth at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford.

I am ashamed to say a previous attempt at Seth’s long novel (a massive 591,552words…equivalent of 5 Dance with Fireflies!) stumbled half way through.

Second time lucky… I may be some time!

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The End…time to start book 3


After a couple of years, I have just typed The End. It’s filled me with a mix of emotions; happiness, relief and elation. The surprising and overriding feeling though was utter sadness….It may sound cheesy but I’m going to miss my characters so much. I have lived with them; feeling their pain and sharing in their joy. I have experienced the horror of the partition of India and witnessed the end of the Raj.

Time to start book 3….

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