Thursday, November 19, 2009

Coming to the end of the year

So much seems to happen down here in Dorset that there is never a minute to spare! For some reason my deadlines all seem to arrive at once, however hard I try and spread them out. And so many friends come to stay. They realise I have to work and are not upset when I shut myself away in the study. That is part of the deal!

I have a little wood burner in the study that I have lit a few times when it is really cold weather and it makes such a difference. When I am sitting writing my feet and ankles can get really cold. The woodburner is a great help on a bitterly windy day. All the wood, which is a mixture of oak, ash, beech and sycamore, is stacked neatly at the end of the barn ready for whatever winter has in store.

Now I have to think about Christmas and the new year. It will be a hectic time as usual and then in January I have been asked to run a writing course in Dorchester. I'm really looking forward to it as I love being with other writers. Am I right in believing we think differently from people who are not writers?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dick, Deadlines and Racing Down to Paignton

It has been such a busy time. Apart from being totally obsessed by the weather - something that is natural as I am English - all my deadlines seem to have come together. It was a foul day when I had to drive down to Paignton to interview Dick Francis and his son Felix. Dick lives in the Cayman Islands and was on a regular family holiday at the same hotel he had been staying at for well over 50 years. I read a couple of his books before I went and remembered how much I enjoyed them. There is a background of racing but the protagonists are usually in entirely different professions. Felix, who now writes the books with his father, made an interesting comment. He said his mother taught him about the importance of rhythm in writing and that sometimes he would work for an hour on a sentence to make it sound right.

After leaving the Francis family I called in for lunch with very old friends in Bishopsteignton. I have known them since I was three and I was their bridesmaid! It's lovely to know people for so long because they become as close as family. As you might expect, we picked up on conversation as though we had been chatting away yesterday. Then it was back on the road with heavy rain and wind making driving home a miserable experience.

Friday, June 26, 2009


This weekend is the Glastonbury Festival - which is not that far from where I live - and of course, it's raining. Not gentle rain but determined, strong, wet rain. Glastonbury festival-goers will love it; it's part of the fun, slopping around in mud. I'm glad it's raining because it means I don't have to water the pots or the new fruit trees I put in a while ago. Watering is currently the bane of my life. I do it each evening with a watering can and it's quite an effort carrying a gallon of water to the end of the garden. I really should get a hosepipe.

The sheep seem to have eaten all the grass in the field and so now have moved on. We miss them looking over the gate . I think the younger cat does, too. She didn't quite know what to make of them as she had never been so close to a sheep but it was clear she didn't want them in the garden. Neither did I - but for different reasons.

There are so many things going on in the country at this time of the year. We have a local magazine - we have several - that lists all events everywhere. It covers a huge area. Friends from Somerton suggested a trip to a specialist plant sale near Salisbury that they'd spotted in the magazine. We went on a Sunday and it was there I found new garden furniture. I had been looking for about a year with no luck. As with so many things, when you are not looking you find what you want.

And the rain still falls. Ah, well. I'd better get on with some work. Procrastination is the thief of time, I am told. Yet sometimes, for a writer, it's good because it clears the head of rubbish.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Warm Mornings, Interviews and Journalism.

One of the reasons I really enjoy working from home is that I have unexpected visitors. Because I start very early, it is a welcome break when someone drops by at about ten o’clock and I can stop for coffee. On warm sunny mornings we sit out in the garden and put the world to rights.

Since I moved to Dorset I have done more telephone interviews. I hate them with a passion! You have to look someone straight in the eye for them to trust you and know that you are only going to ask questions about writing and not about murky love lives! There is the problem of ‘the pause’, too. If there is a pause, is the interviewee waiting for the next question or thinking? But, as many other journalists have told me, I can do the interview sitting in my bath robe with wet hair and no-one is any the wiser!

It was almost a disaster when I interviewed the popular American crime writer Michael Connelly. First of all, the telephone developed a loud buzz on every handset so I had to use my mobile to re-schedule the time. Then, when we started to talk he was giving me one word answers. That was probably my fault because I was tired and not asking sensible questions that cannot be answered in a word. It was the end of the day and I think he was tired too but again, this is the trouble with interviewing on the telephone. However, it developed into a really good interview and I enjoyed writing it.

I went to Bridport the other evening to hear my friend Katie Fforde give a talk in the lovely library they have there about her new book, Love Letters. There was a good turnout and some very interesting questions. Afterwards, we went for dinner in The Bull Hotel and Charlotte, the publicity director who was accompanying Katie on her promotional tour, bought us champagne to mark the end of a successful trip.

It reminded me that I am giving a talk about my life as a freelance journalist in a month. I seem to get myself in all sorts of scrapes when things should be so straightforward but I have met some very interesting people over the years.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Welcome To My New Blog!

Today it is raining and everything is a depressing grey. I keep thinking how good the rain is going to be for the garden and I shall be spared the chore of watering. Watering takes me about half an hour which is not long but I find every excuse not to do it until the last minute when it is usually getting dark.

The farmer has put sheep into the field at the end of the garden. They are pretty inquisitive and keep staring at us over the gate. I think we are going to have to get a proper fastening for the gate. At the moment it is held together by string and if the sheep keep pushing at it is going to open and they will all crowd in and cause mayhem! I can’t bear the thought of that happening particularly as I have been working hard in the garden to try and keep it in some sort of order.

Life is very hard at present because we are opening up the inglenook fireplace in my study and putting in a wood burning stove. If we have as cold a winter as last year it will be wonderful. Meanwhile, I am camping out with my laptop in the dining room and this is working quite well – until I need something from the study which is currently swathed in dustsheets making most things inaccessible. But in another two weeks it may be back to normal.