Thursday, 12 November 2009

Bad blogger

Just realized I've not actually mentioned a lovely visit I had to Waterstone's Bishop's Stortford...It was on the same night that Nick Griffin was on Question time and I'm happy to report that I had an easier time than he did. A really good discussion with local book groups, very interesting questions and we echoed Question Time to a certain extent with a foray into the issue of immigration (with reference to the Jewish strand of banking and moneylending in Madonna of the Almonds) Thanks very much to Valda and her colleagues who sent me away with a bottle of wine and a copy of Ghostwalk, both of which which I'm currently devouring.

US Cover for Botticelli Secret

Here's the US cover for my upcoming third novel The Botticelli Secret, published first in March in the US and in May in the UK. I'm very excited about this one because it's a bit different from my previous novels, much more adventure/ treasure hunt based, a lot bawdier (!) and with a heroine I love so much I actually miss her! I've also illustrated the book myself (inside I mean - can't take credit for the cover art!)

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Blenheim Palace

On Sunday I had the great pleasure of speaking at Blenheim palace, with Shelagh Foyle, the perfumer at Floris. We'd been invited to be a part of the 4th Independent Woodstock Literary Festival and it was truly amazing driving up through the grounds to the palace. We were taken to a beautiful green room and given refreshments (and goody bags!) until it was time for our event. We were taken to a beautiful room hung with immense paintings and spoke in turn about how the book and the perfume 'Madonna of the Almonds' came about. We got a very friendly reception,and Shelagh had every one spellbound with her perfume masterclass! Many thanks to those who came to see us, and the organizers of the event.

Earlier in the day I was at Warwick University signing copies of both books at a trade fair. It was great meet all the independent booksellers who have been supporting both books in what has been a very difficult economic year for small bookstores. I also was delighted to see Sara from Pocklington, and Christine and Jo from Colne, bookseller friends I have made at previous events. Thanks to Michael, Andy, Neil and all the Turnaround team who are responsible for physically getting the books out to shops around the country. Without you, I wouldn't have the best job in the world!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Back on tour!

Hello everyone and apologies for being an incredibly lazy blogger. Just been dormant for a bit for children's summer break but now they're back at school and I'm back touring with my second book The Madonna of the Almonds. This week I was up in Lancs for an event organized by two fantastic book-loving ladies called Christine and Jo who run the The Bookshop in Colne. We had a lovely Italian meal in a canal side restaurant, and I met some great people and talked my head off! As always there were some very interesting questions following my talk and we discussed different aspects of the book. I also had the great pleasure of meeting Mary, who runs the mobile library which my Mum visits. I'm a big fan of mobile libraries, I think they are so important in rural communities like the little Dales village where my Mum lives, especially for the old and infirm. It's so important that everyone can get access to books, wherever they live, whatever their age.
This week I'm back at home working on my next book which is set in Siena. I'm just going through all the photos from my research trip-slash-family holiday (!) in the summer, and pining for Italy. The Dutch version of Madonna has just arrived in the post, and my UK publishers Beautiful Books are now discussing cover art with me for my next book The Botticelli Secret....all very exciting, can't wait to see it.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Notes from a whirlwind tour!

I'm busily touring the country to launch The Madonna of the Almonds, and it's been really terrific so far...(though exhausting) I must say I've been so impressed by how many enthusiastic and intelligent readers there are out there and also how many dedicated, bookloving booksellers who run tiny bookshops covering huge areas of the countryside with wonderful bookgroups and personal recommendations and events. Also it's amazing and heartening how many organisers of literary festivals give their time for nothing. It's been a real pleasure to meet readers and sellers alike; each time I give a talk I've had so many interesting questions about the books and some very lively discussions so although I'm pretty exhausted It's been a great experience and I've met with kindness everywhere. So thanks (so far) to Sara at the Lincoln Book festival, Mark at Mostly Books in Abingdon for a wonderful Italian evening. Thanks to Sara at Simply Books, who arranged a beautiful Amaretto themed dinner in Pocklington church, right down to tiny golden bags of sugared almonds! Thank you Sandy at Kingston Book festival who gives so much of her time to organising the festival, and the wonderful staff at Borders there. And last but not least, to Nash and Cate at the wonderful Much Ado Books in Alfriston, who kindly invited me to their supper club, where I had a wonderful meal (complete with handmade almond bookmarks!) and a very interesting discussion, not just about Madonna but many many other books as well. As I said, I'm having a great time so far...more next week!

Glassblower US

The Glassblower of Murano officially launched in the US on Wednesday - out now from St Martin's Press. Welcome to any readers from the States out there in cyberspace!

Sunday, 3 May 2009


This week was very exciting because I got to sign a bunch of Madonna copies in my local Waterstones in Hampstead. Although the book doesn't officially launch for 2 weeks the distributer has decided to get them into stores early - maybe to catch those bank holiday shoppers? Anyway look out for it... I'm very pleased with the cover - it really pops out and suggests long hot Italian summers!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Floris and the Capital Club

Thursday was a big day - in the morning I returned to Floris to sign off on the final scent for Madonna of the Almonds and I loved it at once - Shelagh had done a terrific job and created something which really encapsulated the book; something sweet and bitter, capturing all the scents of the text. I put it on straightaway and it smelled great, almonds and lemons very much to the fore to begin with, and behind that the incense and bergamot. Later in the day I got a breakdown from Floris of the ingredients which was fascinating.

I'm sure my new perfume gave me courage for the evening - my first ever talk about Madonna of the Almonds, at London's Capital club. Luckily I was not on my own but was speaking with three other authors from Beautiful Books - my speech was fairly low-brow and I began by reading from the very Amaretto box which gave me the idea for the book - credit where it is due! Public speaking will never be my forte and unfortunately it never gets any easier - but that's it til May I think.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Highgate Book Group and Mostly Books Abingdon

Very busy day yesterday as I did two different events, Highgate book group in the morning, and Mostly Books, a fantastic bookshop in Abingdon near Oxford.

The ladies in Highgate were delightful, most of them had read the book so we could get quite in depth, and many had been to Venice so we had a good old chat about the city too. I came away with a lovely bunch of flowers, so thank you to Sandra and all the ladies for such a nice tribute.

In the evening it was off to Abingdon and a great bookshop called Mostly Books - a great olde worlde shop with some fantastic stock, lovely staff and some hidden 'Hogwart-y' back rooms crammed with children's books. A real jewel, so visit if you're in the area! The evening was quite relaxed and very enjoyable - I had the great pleasure to meet the other speaker, Bethan Roberts, acclaimed author of 'The Pools' and hear her read beautifully from 'A Good Plain Cook', her latest book. I spoke about the Glassblower briefly and did a short reading, then we both took questions, which were all very interesting and be expected from a literate bookshop audience! Thanks to Mark and all the staff at this great little shop, and to my siblings Veronica and Rick for coming along to support me and calm the nerves!

Thursday, 19 February 2009


This morning had a fabulous time at Floris in London's Jermyn street, where I'm having a bespoke perfume created to launch The Madonna of the Almonds. It's a terrific honour because Floris is such a distinguished firm, they've had a Royal Warrant for centuries, and, on a personal note, my Gran used to use Floris! We met the lovely perfumier, Shelagh who has a treasure trove of an office, with ranks of antique bottles and vast ledgers detailing orders from the likes of Lawrence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, and every Royal you can imagine, both foreign and domestic! Floris has a bit of a literary history as their no.89 scent was Ian Fleming's favourite scent, so he had James Bond wear it in the novels. Anyway, Shelagh had read the book really closely and had picked out just about every olfactory reference in there, and soon we were sniffing dipsticks of lemon, almond, vanilla, sandalwood and incense (churches and old libraries, said Shelagh) We were in the presence of a master as she blended the scents expertly, and we came away happy with the scent of The Madonna of the Almonds in our noses! The perfume will be a limited edition, available in association with the book in May. Thanks to everyone at Floris, and Teresa (my uber-agent) for going along to sniff with me and lend her perfume/marketing expertise!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Madonna of the Almonds Bookseller Cover

OK so am officially getting childishly excited about the release of next book Madonna of the Almonds (on the 14th May) because it's there in glorious technicolour on the front of this week's Bookseller, the booktrade's premier magazine! As well as the gorgeous cover (which will be on my site soon) there was lots of info inside about what Beautiful books are doing marketing-wise...a bespoke perfume designed by Floris, support from Amaretto, (great because the liquor is the subject of the book) a competition run by Alitalia, and a swish launch at the Italian Embassy!! Am already getting nervous about my speech....! x

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Happy New Year!

Well, the children are back at school and I'm back at the laptop - yesterday I typed the terrifying words 'chapter one' but luckily I was able to carry on typing beyond that and did quite a good first day. This is book 4 by the way - book 2 The Madonna of the Almonds is due out in May and the build-up is all going well; I handed in the corrected proofs before Christmas...phew! Meanwhile the 3rd book The Botticelli Secret is now going out to publishers and has sold in Germany already...and meanwhile, I'm still doing publicity for book 1 The Glassblower of Murano, which is, luckily, proving to be the book that wouldn't die. (If you're in the York area I'll be on BBC Radio York on Thursday next week) Also top secret negotiations are going forth with an eminent Hollywood producer for the option to Glassblower so watch this space...