Journal2020-02-07T19:21:03+00:00

News, Musings & Miscellanea

Repository for news, updates, videos, and various thoughts

Thought: Rhapsody on an Autumn Night

October 5th, 2019|

One of my favourite poems is Rhapsody on a Windy Night, by T.S. Eliot. I learned it by heart when I was eighteen years old and preparing for my Speech & Drama Licenciate exam with my old friend and teacher, Herbert Davies. It's a bleak and haunting poem about time and its passage, in which the speaker walks along a moonlit street at midnight, each streetlamp revealing striking images in the present that recall memory fragments from his past. I'm not sure whether I loved the poem back then because [...]

Update: New UK and US paperback jackets | TCD

March 27th, 2019|

The Clockmaker’s Daughter will be released in paperback in both the UK and the US this spring, sporting an all new jacket in each place. In the UK, the paperback edition will hit shelves on the 18th of April, while in the US copies will be available a little over month later on the 21st of May. There are also bonus features aplenty: the UK edition contains a letter to readers and a brand new afterword; while the US edition includes a handy Chronology of Birchwood Manor and a Book Club [...]

Video: My Life in Books

August 29th, 2018|

Long before I was a writer, I was a reader. My parents taught me how and, from the moment I discovered that wonderful other worlds lived within the black marks on white pages, I was hooked. The older I get, the more aware I am that childhood reading - indeed, all reading - is a type of landscape every bit as shaping as the geographical landscape outside the window. Herewith - my life in books!

Update: New Book

March 21st, 2018|

It's done! I'm thrilled to tell you that the new book is finished and will be published in September/October 2018. It's another big one, as you can see from the rather large stack of pages on my kitchen table, and spans a number of periods between 1850 and the present day. It's set partly in Victorian London and partly inside a big old house called Birchwood Manor, which is tucked within a quiet bend of the Upper Thames. There are secrets and mysteries aplenty and characters to whom I can't [...]

Update: New US/Canadian paperback jackets

April 10th, 2017|

As promised, the new US and Canadian paperback jackets. All with gorgeous stepbacks (a hint of which you can see in the pics below). I love the way they capture the idea of stories within stories - gateways from one place or time to another, hidden texts, mysteries, secrets and hidden truths. A few of my favourite things, in case you hadn't noticed...   PS The scattered-petal image at the top of the post appears inside Secret Keeper.

Update: New Australian/New Zealand paperback jackets

January 12th, 2017|

I have been remiss in not posting sooner about my new Australian paperback jackets. If you’re in Australia or New Zealand and have a habit of getting lost amidst the shelves of your local bookstore, you might already have seen them? The hope was to capture a sense of history, mystery and secrets – of texture and layers of story – of past and present - and to reflect my (apparently insatiable) love of peel-y old wallpaper, houses in need of a lick of paint and forgotten photographs of people [...]

Update: Next year’s words

January 6th, 2017|

Happy New Year! This morning was so glorious that I couldn't resist a walk across Regent's Park. It was finger-tinglingly cold, but incredibly beautiful. Those bare branches! The long wintry shadows! The low sun turning the sky from gold to blue! I've been working on book 6 and look forward to sharing it with you as soon as it’s ready. The story is set in a number of places, both geographical and temporal (no surprises there!), but the main historical storyline takes place in nineteenth-century England - a treat for [...]

Video: Summer Reads

May 20th, 2016|

Hello dear readers, you might remember the Book Break episode I filmed in Cornwall last summer with the lovely Leena? (You can watch it here, if you missed it.) Recently Leena and I caught up again to talk Summer Reads. If you're looking for a recommendation, whether fiction or non-fiction, summer or not, you might see something in the video that piques your interest.

Update: Winter, Das Seehaus, mercy and truth

February 12th, 2016|

It's been a long time since my last post and a lot has happened. Most notably, the wheel has turned, the old year has spun away, and here we are in 2016. Just like that. I'm writing from a small desk in a small room in London. The view outside the window is of chimney pots and stained old bricks and black metal downpipes. The sky is milky and the branches are bare. We really are in the deep midwinter. It's been a strange year, though. Most of winter has [...]

Update: Autumn, early reviews and book tours

October 5th, 2015|

So, here we are in October. From where I sit, typing this post, I can see through the window to where the leaves are turning yellow, ready to fall and scatter. I love the turn of the seasons: there's something thrilling and wonderful about the year in transition. It gives me a frisson of excitement and makes me want to be writing. To write is usually my first urge when faced with feelings of gladness. I suppose that's called inspiration, but if so it's the sort driven by a general [...]

Video: Book Break in Cornwall

September 14th, 2015|

While I was in Cornwall over the summer, I took some time out from skylarking along coastal paths and eating copious amounts of clotted cream on scones, to spend a few days with Pan Macmillan shooting an episode for their YouTube channel, Book Break. It was a lot of fun, not least because the show is hosted by Leena Norms who is as perspicacious and delightful in person as she appears on screen. We talked about the magic of Cornwall, the writing process, structuring a novel, lost children, Taylor Swift, [...]

Thought: But oh! that deep romantic chasm… A savage place!

August 19th, 2015|

I’ve been thinking about the sublime lately. It’s being here, in north Cornwall, where the coastlines are rugged, the cliffs drop suddenly away, and the blue ocean seems to stretch forever. The landscape is breathtaking. It’s dramatic and beautiful and craggy and flower-covered and enormous. And I feel small—happily, contentedly so. For a long time, Cornwall was harder to get to from London than Europe. It wasn’t until the 1850s, when the railway opened up the countryside, that city dwellers were able to journey—cheaply and comparatively easily—to such locations. How far [...]

Interview: Library Journal

August 14th, 2015|Tags: , , |

I had the opportunity recently to speak with Barbara Hoffert from Library Journal about books, in particular The Lake House. I love libraries, and could talk about writing all day, so it was a real pleasure. The interview has just been published, and if you're interested in my thoughts on structuring novels, narrative rightness, and living history, you can read them here.

Article: My Country Childhood

June 6th, 2013|

There's an article in this month's Australian Country Style magazine, written by Claire MacTaggart, about my childhood on Tamborine Mountain. It was such a lovely piece to be involved with - the older I get and the more I write, the clearer it is to me how enormously my childhood experiences influence the way I see the world. Anyone who's read The Secret Keeper will recognise the Tamborine Mountain of my memory in the chapter featuring Vivien as a girl: running down to the creek, hiding under the ferns, watching the [...]

Update: Christmas and The Magic Doorway

December 23rd, 2011|

Christmas in Australia doesn’t look much like a Nat King Cole song. Sandcastles rather than snowmen, surfing instead of sleigh-rides, and a lot of overdressed Santas handing melted chocolates out to kids. There are mangoes involved, lots of them, and a box of cherries that I have to hide or else I’ll eat myself ill. It’s hot outside, the sort of hot that comes laden with moisture, searing heat by day and cracking thunderstorms on dusk; the sort of hot that makes you want to sit very, very still beneath the [...]

Update: Flying a kite inside the maze

November 22nd, 2011|

I'm in the middle of writing my new book and I love it. There's no feeling quite like that of being lost inside its world. It's the desperate, delicious, absorbing pleasure of reading - characters and setting and plot that come to life inside your mind so that you need to turn Just. One. More. Page - but a thousand times better. (It can also, occasionally, be a barren desert of a place, but that's a discussion for another time.) All writers write differently, and I was asked recently whether [...]

Update: How do I love thee, notebook?

November 10th, 2011|

A while back I did an interview with Historical Novels Review. The journalist and I live in different cities, so the interview was conducted via email. This happens sometimes and it's actually my preferred mode of Q&A, not because I'm anti-social (well, maybe just a little bit), but because I always feel more comfortable expressing myself in writing than I do out loud. The list of questions when they arrived excited me. This isn't always the case with Q&As, and the reasons were twofold: first, they were things I hadn't been [...]

Update: An unexpected collaboration.

September 29th, 2010|

I think I might have mentioned the shiny first editions that have started arriving at my door? Gorgeous covers, thick powdery pages (oh, so many pages!), and the most glorious endpapers you've ever seen. This divine image from the front of the UK edition made me cry when I first glimpsed it, and I'm not an easy-crier. The artist has actually made real Juniper's lost letter: there's an historically accurate stamp, a proper postmark, and don't even get me started on the scratchy handwriting and little mouse nibble at the [...]

Update: On finishing a book

September 27th, 2010|

The Distant Hours is done, which means that I'm back in the real world and it feels wonderful. That is, it does now. It didn't immediately. The final period of a book's creation is such a dense, busy, all-encompassing place to be, that when the final pages are finally wrested away and sent to the printer, there comes an inevitable slump. A hole. A gap. A nervy, tic-inducing period in which people say things like, 'you must be so pleased', and, 'now it's time to relax', and although you smile [...]