About Me

Spending ten years as a journalist was an amazing experience and the four years I’ve spent writing books has been even better. I won’t pretend it’s all hard work when I get to travel the world and do brilliant things, especially now I can take my ‘office’ (laptop, husband and little boy) wherever I go. So that’s what this Blog is about – the places I’ve been, the things I’ve done and how those experiences feed into the books. I’ve always prided myself on having been everywhere I write about; for example, Daddy’s Girls features Mustique, Megeve and Manhattan, and was written in Port Isaac, Cornwall (which is in the opening scene of Gold Diggers). This Blog will hopefully give a bit more insight/detail into what those places and were like and to maybe give you a sneak peek into who and what might be in the next one!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Summer 2009 - Australia

As I write, I am sitting at a little desk in our rented house in Noosa, on Australia's Sunshine Coast. From here, I can see the huge waves breaking on the beach. The plan of course is to make a start on the next book, but it's easy to get distracted, with so many beautiful views wherever you walk - and who wants to stay inside when the sky's blue? Still, on the way here we did manage to squeeze in a couple of days in Bangkok (amazing hotel right on the river), then a week in Double Bay in Sydney, then a road-trip through the tropical north, including a hair-raising drive to the Undara lava tubes (proper outback complete with 'roos and emus wandering about, but no real road to speak of), a day snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef and a wonderful visit to the Cape Tribulation in the Daintree Forest - the world's oldest rainforest. I'll update more as we go, but here are a few photos to be going on with. That's Sydney harbour from the top of Rose Bay in the top photo, by the way - beautiful.

The Bush

Note that there isn't usually that much tarmac!

White sand between the toes

Me on the beach at Cape Trib. It was seven dollars for the hat!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Winter 2008

I spent New Years with my closest friends in Cheshire, which was great fun (a Portuguese all-you-can-eat buffet and a man making balloon animals, what more could you ask for?), but we came home to hear that my granddad had passed away. It was terribly sad for all the family, but especially my mum who was particularly close to him, so after the funeral, I took her to Champneys spa which was a great tonic for my mum. She even managed to have a few laughs when we discovered we were there at the same time as Gazza! He seemed to be everywhere we went (especially red-faced in the pool, pic above), so we began to suspect he was stalking us. It was lovely to get away for a few days, even if I did have to take my laptop, with the deadline for Original Sin looming. I think this book was a little harder to finish, possibly because most of it is set in New York. It’s a city I know very well, but when you live in England, it’s not like you can just nip out and check you’ve got the correct description of a brownstone townhouse in the Village… Plus, I thought ‘OS’ was going to be my shortest book but somehow the characters seem to take on a life of their own and it ended up being my longest!
Caught the first few days of Spring (well, a bit of sunshine) at Kew Gardens, where the bluebells were popping up everywhere – who says global warming can’t be romantic?

What else…? Well it was great fun catching up with authors Sasha Blake and Jo Rees for a shoot for Marie Claire magazine (see the press section). Although people probably expect authors writing in the same genre to be deadly rivals (hey, not a bad idea for a novel…), lots of us are good friends. The life of a novelist can be quite a solitary one unless you use it as a good excuse for a long lunch and cocktails, of course. Although since I had a baby, my liver – the traitor – has decided to give up alcohol, so a few sips of Sauvignon Blanc require a lie-down. Hey, come to think of it, maybe my fellow authors are trying to poison me…

Monday, 8 June 2009

Summer 2008

Have you ever seen that Kate Winslet/Cameron Diaz film The Holiday? If you have you’ll know all about home exchange websites, which the two characters use to swop their houses in England and LA. Well, I did it too. Inspired by Hollywood (sadly, that’s the story of my life!), I decided to let a complete stranger - two complete strangers, in fact - live in my house while I travelled to the other side of the world to live in theirs. It was a slightly surreal experience, browsing through the houses on offer on the site – from Brazil to Tuscany – and thinking ‘Ooh, could I live in a cabin in the middle of Yellowstone Park?’ Finally we settled on two – one in Hawaii and one in California, both near the beach as I reasoned I needed lovely views as I would be writing all the time we were there. It was very exciting, but we were very, very nervous setting off. After all, who knew if their houses were going to even be there? Would they strip ours of the valuables and the floorboards? Would they wear my shoes? But we needn’t have worried. Both houses were just amazing and the people were lovely to us.
Our first stint was in the eastern part of Maui which was beyond gorgeous. They don’t call it paradise for nothing, it was exactly as you’d imagine the Hawaiian Islands to be – lush, peaceful and exotic, bananas and mangoes literally falling from the trees. The house had a wraparound veranda which looked out onto unbroken coastline and the blue sea beyond. The pic above is of the giant Banyan tree in the garden, with a little table below for plein air breakfasts. Honestly, it was like being on the set of Lost, only without the polar bears. Actually, Lost is filmed on one of the other islands, and it was probably just as well we weren’t anywhere near the set – Matthew Fox and Josh Holloway in the area might be a little distracting for someone with 150,000 words to write!

Anyway, look out for Maui’s appearance in Original Sin, there’s a scene featuring an amazing little ‘secret beach’ you have to risk life and limb to get to. If you ever go there, make sure you go to the ‘Seven Pools of Serenity’, an amazing place of beauty and calm. It was in ‘OS’, but got chopped in the final edit.
Tearing ourselves away from Hawaii, we moved on to California.

Our friend Michael was working on the Sherlock Holmes movie with Guy Ritchie down the road in LA and living at Madonna’s Beverley Hills compound. It was very exciting getting weekly missives from the world of Hollywood, although he kept insisting that the rumours of a divorce were rubbish (!). I also experienced my first earthquake out there! There I was sitting at my desk, hoping chapter 28 would miraculously present itself when I would much rather have been at the beach – and the earth moved. Actually, the earth sort of rolled. For about ten seconds it was very scary. We also felt the tremors when the volcano went off in Hawaii – maybe it was something we did? On our way back, we drove up Highway One, along the spectacular cliffs of Big Sur, stopping off at Hearst Castle (I often write about billionaires, but William Randolph Hearst makes them all look like paupers!) and staying in Carmel (a perfect little coastal village where Clint Eastwood lives), before finishing up in San Francisco. After Southern California, it was freezing, but I loved walking past those pastel townhouses you’ve seen in Bullitt and Vertigo. Then we flew cross-country to NYC for my birthday, where my husband took me for breakfast at Tiffany’s, lunch at the Boathouse in Central Park (also featuring in Original Sin) and dinner at Gordon Ramsey. He’s got a lot to follow this year!