Find out about how I approach historical research in this post for Simona’s Corner of Dreams.
Read about the story-behind-the story of the English Agent at Snazzy Books.
Discover what seven books I refuse to chuck out, and why at Bookdrunk.
If you want to know more about my new book, my life, and why I love talking to strangers and dogs, have a listen to my interview with Craig Priest.
Find out five things I really shouldn’t be telling you… On My Bookshelf.
Join me in Bookland with Alba, where I talk about researching The English Agent.
Here I’m in Linda’s Book Bag , talking to strangers…
Read more about the images that inspired The English Agent in a post for Carole’s Book Corner.
In this piece for OAPSchat I talk about The English Agent and the story-behind-the-story.
I was lucky enough to be the first post on Elle Field’s Writer Wednesday in 2017 – read it here:
Bestselling author Elaine Everest interviewed me recently for the Romantic Novelist’s Association blog. Read the interview here:
Listen to me on an interview with BFBS
THE GUNNER GIRL: out now in supermarkets and bookshops nationwide.
Hear me talking about how I came to write THE GUNNER GIRL on Notts TV
Nottingham’s School of English Showcase
I was lucky enough to take part in the University of Nottingham’s School of English Showcase event earlier this year, to talk about how The Gunner Girl came about and my experience as a debut novelist.
You can listen via the UoN website:
Inspiring Beauty: inspiring writing
I don’t think there’s any such thing as so-called ‘writer’s block’ but sometimes creativity needs a bit of a catalyst, and with that in mind I got together with one of the archivists from Boots and made this mini writing workshop.
In conjunction with the Boots ‘Inspiring Beauty’ exhibition of archive No 7 cosmetics and adverts currently running at Nottingham Lakeside Arts, I’ve put together a few tips and techniques that I use to help inspire my own writing.
If you’re currently suffering from writer’s block/blank page syndrome, or if you’d just like to fire up your creativity, why not watch this and give it a go?
Listen to me on an intervew with BFBS
A little bit about how the book came about on Notts TV
Whilst researching SOE Lysander flights for my work-in-progress, I found this wonderful real-life ghost story by Bob Lomas. One of the benefits of writing a book is finding little nuggets like this, where reality is more fascinating than fiction.
Meeting the past:
The only surviving member of the Secret Operations Executive (SOE), Noreen Riols, 89, was in discussion on a panel at the British Library on the 10th October 2015, so of course I had to go along. The auditorium was packed, and every other attendee seemed to be either a historical novelist or a biographer, so there was a real buzz of excitement as Riols took to the stage with the other panellists.
In 1943 bi-lingual Riols was about to turn eighteen and had decided to join the Royal Navy (“…mainly because I liked the hat”) when she found herself summoned to the Foreign Office and interviewed in four languages, before being sent on to a large building in Baker Street. It was only once there that she realised that she’d got a job, not as a ‘Wren’ – as the serving members of the Women’s Royal Navy were then called – but as an agent with the French section (F-Section) of the SOE. “I was recruited without even realising it,” Noreen recalled, “I remember the Headquarters in Baker Street being organised chaos when I arrived, and some chap telling me ‘Nobody – but nobody – must know what you do here’ and when I opened my mouth to respond, he said, ‘and don’t ask any questions!’”
There were three other panellists at the packed-out British Library event, of course. Historical novelist Elizabeth Buchan, biographer Clare Mulley, and historian Mark Seaman were also there, giving their own slant on the work of the agents of the SOE in the Second World War. However, Riols, centre stage in a cerise wool jacket, floral walking stick, and an air of utmost composure, was without question the star of the show.
Mulley talked about the diverse range of female agents in SOE, from cockney shop girls to oriental princesses, and commented that what united these women from different walks of life was their courage and patriotism. Buchan pointed out the complicated psychological reasons that might cause women to want to put themselves into such dangerous situations. But then Noreen chipped in: “When you’re young, you don’t fear in the same way,” she explained. “We were kids; we didn’t realise the danger.” Seaman added some interesting detail about the nature and scale of SOE’s work in wartime, and there was some discussion between the panellists about how history has often downplayed, romanticised or mis-portrayed female agents’ roles in the secret services in wartime.
However, the truth about what life was really like for secret agents in wartime came from Riols. Recalling a moment when she was helping debrief an agent, and dwelling on the fabrications she’d created in order to get to that point, Riols’ gaze drifted momentarily upwards: “I realised then that my whole life was a lie,” she said. That one line, for me, said it all. Because for the women agents of the SOE, real life was itself a fiction – and that’s what makes them such fascinating subjects for historical novelists like me.