Thursday, 21 June 2012


Well the new book 'The Venetian Contract' is out today! Available from all good bookshops as they say, and also from Amazon on Here's a little blurb as a taster: VENICE, 1576 - Five years after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto, a ship steals unnoticed into Venice bearing a deadly cargo. A man, more dead than alive, disembarks and staggers into Piazza San Marco. He brings a gift to Venice from Constantinople. Within days the city is infected with bubonic plague - and the Turkish Sultan has his revenge. But the ship also holds a secret stowaway - Feyra, a young and beautiful harem doctor fleeing a future as the Sultan's concubine. Only her wits and medical knowledge keep her alive as the plague ravages Venice. In despair the Doge commissions the architect Andrea Palladio to build the greatest church of his career - an offering to God so magnificent that Venice will be saved. But Palladio's own life is in danger too, and it will require all skills of medico Annibale Cason, the city's finest plague doctor, to keep him alive. But what Annibale had not counted on was meeting Feyra, who is now under Palladio's protection, a woman who can not only match his medical skills but can also teach him how to care. ENJOY!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012


Just had a week with husband and kids in Stratford-Upon-Avon for half term. I'm doing research for the new novel (book 6, if you believe that?!)which I can't say much about except that it involves a certain Mr. William Shakespeare! It was useful for Sacha too as he is prepping a new movie which also updates a Shakespearean tale. We had a great time even though it drizzled so much I thought it was some kind of Twelfth Night reference (The rain it raineth every day!) We went to all the Shakespearean houses, such as the Birthplace,where a troupe of talented young actors wearing Elizabethan dress would do extracts from any play you asked for on request. I was very impressed with their recall! We asked for a bit of Midsummer Night's Dream, as our son is doing it at school. The actor playing Oberon involved him as Puck, plucking a flowerbud and giving it to him as Love-in-Idleness, and telling him not to fail in playing their trick on Titania. Another highlight was New Place, which is doing an archaeological initiative for kids called 'Dig for Shakespeare'. They could mess around in trays of sand and mud finding artefacts, and could actually clean and date coins that were found on site. We also visited Shakespeare's 'grave' where there is a disappointingly mundane and portly memorial to the great man. I had heard the rumour that his tomb depicted him with a woolsack and it was only replaced with a quill long after his death. Which brings me on to the authorship question. I found it interesting, in all of the extremely well-presented tourist attraction s we visited, that there was no more than a cursory discussion of who actually wrote Shakespeare. We'd just seen a very interesting documentary on Sky Arts, where such Shakespearean luminaries as Derek Jacobi, Mark Rylance and Vanessa Redgrave were putting forth a very strong case for the Earl of Oxford. I suppose that since the 'Stratford Man' is the town's lifeblood, you can't blame the place for downplaying the controversy. Every landmark lays claim to the playwright, with a touching pride. Even our hotel, the Alveston Manor, was said to be the location of the first performance of Midsummer Night's Dream, which was set in and around the enormous cedar tree in the grounds. I was delighted with this discovery - the kids were more interested in climbing the tree!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

ebooks or real books?

I'm becoming aware that I treat my electronic books and my paper books differently. I don't usually have one more than one book 'on the go' at a time (perhaps this pluralism is also a consequence of new technology?) but for some reason I'm happy to dip in and out of the ebooks in my iPad library with a casual carelessness I would never apply to my real books. For instance at the moment I am part of the way through Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth on my iPad, but the only book that is really getting a thorough reading by me at the moment is my physical 'bedside table' book, Maia by Richard Adams. Granted, Maia is one of my favourite books of all time (a partiality possibly being fuelled by my current obsession for Game of Thrones, which it in many ways resembles) but there's something about the weight of that book, and the turning of those physical pages, which draws me. Perhaps it's because an actual book sits there reproaching you, while an ebook is tucked away in the digital heart of a device (phone, iPad) which can often be used for many other functions. Out of sight, out of mind perhaps? Or perhaps it is the fact that, despite all our new technologies, theres nothing like reading a 'real' book. Either way, I will, one day,find out what happens at the end of Pillars of the Earth. I hope they manage to build that bloody cathedral. But perhaps I'll have to buy the book to find out...

Monday, 14 May 2012

London Eye

Went on the London Eye with the family yesterday - the sun was actually shining for once and it was great to see London spread out below us. I don't know if it's the Jubilee or the Olympics but I'm feeling very proud of London this year. It looks even better from 100 feet up with a glass of champagne in your hand!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Book Five handed in!

Well my long silence can be explained by the fact that I've just handed in my fifth manuscript! It felt really good to type those two little words The End. I can't say too much about the new one yet except that it will be about architecture and centre on Palladio and his great villas and churches of the Veneto.

This book will have a strange genesis because it has already been optioned for a screenplay, so I immediately have to 'adapt' it into screenplay form. What's nice about this is that I usually miss my characters when I finish writing them, but this time I won't have to, because I'm sure there will be MANY drafts to come. I'm a total novice at screenwriting so am hoping for the best and will be picking Sacha's brains constantly. I'm meeting my film producer tomorrow so more news soon.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Book Launch!

Had a very swanky book launch on Wednesday at the Italian Cultural Institute in Berkeley Square, a really lovely place. It was a very smart affair, champagne all round and a great gathering of family and friends. Once my speech was over (I kept it short!) I was able to enjoy Sara Girolamo singing some Italian folk songs, and Micheal Campari (great name!) crooning some appropriately Italian-themed standards like 'That's Amore'! Thanks to everyone who turned up, and to our gracious hosts at the Institute. Back to reality now with some more book signings around London, and then back up to my beloved north country next week for an event in Colne.