Treasures and Floods.

Hi there

I’m sorry that posts have been a little erratic recently. Blame the summer holidays – that’s what I’m doing! I was lucky enough that no sooner had I finished the laundry from one trip that another one arrived. This time I was in Venice to see the Damien Hirst exhibition Treasures From the Wreck of The Unbelievable.

I really know very little about art but when I read about this bonkers exhibition I really wanted to see it for myself and it was also the perfect excuse to hop on a plane and have a weekend away. The Unbelievable, or so we are told, was a ship that sank off East Africa two thousand years ago. The ship was ladened with artefacts collected by a freed slave and it is these that make up the exhibition.

At the beginning of the exhibition is a beautifully shot video of the divers ‘recovering’ the artefacts from the ocean floor. I loved the fact that everything had to be sunk in order to be rescued. The items themselves are then scattered across two separate venues.

The clue is in the name of the ship and you really aren’t supposed to suspend your disbelieve. It seemed to me that Hirst had his tongue very firmly in his cheek when he included a barnacle-encrusted statue of Mickey Mouse in his treasure trove. Roman and Greek mythology merge together in a melting pot of cultural references, many of which were too clever for me to grasp. That notwithstanding, I really enjoyed the spectacle of it all.

I also had two other first experiences whilst I was there. I discovered the picture perfect island of Burano (where I fully intend to retreat to very shortly) and I saw the sea rise up and flood St Mark’s Square which was fascinating.

And now I’m back and well into the first draft of book three. There will be news of book two shortly so watch this space.

There’s a new review on the Reviews page too. Just click HERE. It’s perfect if you’re looking for something to escape into.

Happy reading.

Imogen x

 

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Hi everyone

The radio silence from this end can be explained by my summer holidays. My family and I were lucky enough to go on a safari to Tanzania last month. It is a fascinating country with incredible wildlife, particularly to someone who rarely sees anything bigger than a rabbit.

We were lucky enough to be shown around a Masai village and whilst the main purpose of the trip was to get us to exchange our dollars for some of their handmade jewellery or household objects fashioned from acacia or ebony, we saw enough of these villages on our route to understand that this was a genuine way of life and not just recreated for the tourists.

There were various things that struck me. Firstly, the women do everything ( no surprise there) but there was a huge respect for them and their work which came from the men which was less familiar. When we came to negotiate a price for our purchases, the man did the talking as he had the best English ( having spent longer at school) but it was the woman who decided the price.

The Masai have next to nothing and live a very simple life tending their livestock and moving on whenever the grazing runs bare. They drink the blood of their cattle ( but not the goats or sheep who could not survive losing such quantities of blood), they have little by way of their ‘five a day’ and their water isn’t ‘clean’ but their bodies are strong and lithe and they looked very healthy – a far cry from many of the western tourists that visit them. I felt a little ashamed because of all the things that I consider to be daily necessities and seeing how they lived made me reassess how much I actually ‘need’. Not as much as I have as it turns out.

We were invited into their school – a mud hut slightly bigger than the ones that they sleep and cook in but still smaller than my sitting room. The class we saw was made up of five and six years old. They were learning their English alphabet which they could recite just as clearly as any child I’ve heard but they also spoke the national language of Swahili and their tribal language Maa – not bad from a mud hut!

We learned of the systems to ensure the gene pool is kept wide, how they initiate their boys as warriors and their ideas around wealth. We didn’t learn anything about their sanitary systems which disappointed my children!

And now I’m back with plenty of things to think about and ideas to fill my creative well. The nights are drawing in, there’s a nip in the air and I am back at my desk. I’ll be starting on the edits for the new book just as soon as I type THE END on the third one which won’t be long. Watch this space for news.

If you have been reading the Summer book group read then I’ve posted my thoughts and you can read them HERE. Book reviews will start again next week.

Happy reading.

Imogen.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside . . .

This week I went to Brighton. I’d never been and really wanted to so I booked a train and went off to discover it.

It’s been at least three decades since I’ve visited a British seaside resort on the south coast so what struck me most is how unlike Blackpool Brighton is. The ‘kiss me quick hat’ count was particularly low and I didn’t see anyone who was obviously on a stag or hen do! The pier was familiar though. They are all much the same and I was glad to see that there was a fortune teller although I have never actually had my palm read. I fluctuate between thinking it’s a load of rot and not being brave enough to hear what they might say!

Of course the best part of being by the seaside for me is the sea. I have no idea how I ended up living quite so far away from it when I love it so much. Maybe one day . . . Here’s me looking at it wistfully.

In other news, I’ve read my fave book of the year so far. If you want to know what it is then check out this week’s book review HERE.

Finally there’s still time to join us and read our summer Book Group choice Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

In the meantime, enjoy what’s left of the summer.

Happy reading.

Imogen x

 

Taking things for granted

Hi. You know how it is. You’re sailing along through your daily life and everything seems to be running as smoothly as one can expect these things to go when suddenly you hit a bump in the road and the world wobbles.

That has just happened to me. My husband had a health issue that caused him to have to be blue-lighted to hospital not once but twice in the course of one week. Hopefully all is well again now and there was never any danger than he wouldn’t recover but when something like that happens it makes you realise just how much we take for granted.

With this in mind, I have been trying to be more grateful for the things in my life that have always just been there up until now. Not only does that include my family’s health but also our amazing NHS and how efficiently it works in a crisis. It’s a hackneyed phrase – live every day to the full because you never know. It’s also not terribly realistic as we all have our fair share of the boring and mundane that just needs to be done no matter how much you might prefer to be doing something more exciting or relaxing. That said, I am trying to make the most of every day and to make sure that I fully appreciate all my blessings.

In other news, I’m delighted to report that Postcards is selling really well and I’m getting such a lot of lovely reviews. The first draft of book 3 is moving from nebulous concept to proper story so that’s encouraging too. Book 2 is currently just waiting to be edited. It’s always good to give these things some distance I find!

This week’s Book Review is HERE and in case you’ve forgotten, the Summer book group read is Eleanor Oliphant is completely Fine. (I wish my predictive text would stop changing it to Elephant! It’s driving me mad!) You know how it works. Read along and then post your comments HERE.

In the meantime, keep having a lovely summer.

Happy reading.

Imogen x

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Harry Potter and The Cursed Child!

I missed posting last Monday as I was away. I hope you forgive me! The family and I were off in London catching shows. First Aladdin which was typical Disney – big budget, bright colours, larger than life – and then Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

I think it’s fair to say that the Clarks are big Potter fans. We started with the books (of course) becoming more and more addicted until by the time the final two were published we were having to order two copies so that my husband and I could read them at the same time.

Next, the fabulous Stephen Fry became as good as a member of the family with his wonderful readings of all seven books and then finally the films, by which point all four of our children were addicted too.

So when the stage show was launched we had to have tickets. We weren’t disappointed. Basically I am sworn to secrecy but . . . what a show! (Or two shows as we saw both parts back to back.) The story doesn’t disappoint but the best thing by far is the stagecraft. It is like watching a magic show. Things happen that you know are against the laws of gravity and yet you can’t work out how they are done. Using clever lighting, some pyrotechnics and wonderful and creative movement the cast make the magic happen before your very eyes.

If you get a chance to see it then go.  Even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan then you should still watch if only to see the future of stage shows. It sets a whole new benchmark.

Just because I haven’t posted here though doesn’t mean that I haven’t been reading for you and there’s a new review HERE. Also, don’t forget that our Summer Book Group read is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine so if you’d like to read along and join in the discussion then grab yourself a copy. I’ve finished it and I thought it was great.

Happy reading.

Imogen.

Don’t put your daughter/son on the stage!

I’m your classic introvert. I’m perfectly happy in social situations just as long as the attention isn’t on me. I love talking to people if I can  stick to asking questions and listening but try to switch the conversation my way and see how fast I manage to flip it back.

It seems odd then, that all four of my children are at their happiest as part of a cast on a stage. Dancing, singing, acting – it doesn’t matter which. They will just run with whatever is thrown at them. And whilst two of them are naturally outgoing like their Dad, the other two would rather not speak unless it would be rude not to… and even then might not!

So it delights me that we have a wonderful and very vibrant youth theatre group in my town. At least twice a year such of my children as are available are able to be part of an Upstagers show and they love it and since I have learned how much they grow from taking part, I have firmly encouraged them. Here’s a post I wrote six years ago after a very successful run of Billy Elliot which they performed at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford. Tis was before I really understood what a massive part of our family Upstagers would become!

Last week, two of the children had the chance to part of a vibrant and ambitious production of Starlight Express, a show which takes place entirely on roller-skates. The  cast members had to sing their numbers whilst negotiating two concentric race tracks which the Upstagers team had built around the auditorium. It was heart-stopping stuff but I’m happy to report that the only collisions during the five show run were of the choreographed kind. The production was very well received, great fun was had by all and now things feel a little bit flat around here!

But not in my writer’s world. Postcards is still selling very well and the lovely reviews just keep coming. I’m so grateful to anyone who writes a review because each one gives other readers the confidence to take a chance on an unknown writer and so discover me for themselves.

I read quite a bad book last week too. Review here. And don’t forget the new book group book, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine which is a real gem of a book and well worthy of a place in your suitcase this summer..

Please check out the links and share my site with anyone that you think might be interested.

See you next week. Happy reading.

Imogen x

My Dales Way Quest

So, here’s a sign that I have walked past almost every day for a over a decade. It marks the start of The Dales Way, a walk from my home town of Ilkley to Bowness-in-Windermere in The Lake District. If I had a pound for every photo that I’ve taken of walkers about to begin then I’d have enough to buy myself a guidebook!

Anyway, this being the year of the Big Birthday I decided that I should stop just looking at the sign and actually DO something and with that I announced my intention to walk The Dales Way on Facebook, a surefire way of making me commit to something.

This bold step enabled me to identify a walking partner, someone much wiser and more experienced in these things than me and, crucially, with a sense of direction which I lack.

Next came new boots. My trusty old ones ( leather on the left) last saw action on the Isle of Aran in 1985 and whilst I’m awfully fond of them, I felt that walking boot technology ( and fashions) might well have moved on. I was right and the nice man in the walking shop helped me buy something suitable. ( Nice new and disconcertingly bigger boot on right.)

So now I’m all sorted. I have a date in the diary ( 11th June 2018) and the motivation. I even have that guide book. I am breaking with convention a little though. I reckon it’s psychologically better for me to start in The Lakes and then walk home so I may need to read my book backwards!

And now I’m ‘in training’. It’s a six day walk and I have to be able to walk 16 miles for two days on the trot and still get up and walk again for a few days after that. This feels quite daunting but not impossible. I imagine that it might hurt a bit but I’ve had four children. I can handle a bit of pain!

We’re doing a long training walk each month and gradually building up my stamina until I’m ready to go. And of course, me being me,  I’m going to write a book as I go along. So watch this space for news of how I’m getting on!

In other news, the eagle-eyed amongst you will have seen that I had a book launch last week and I want to say thank you to everyone that came along to support me. I am more grateful than you can possibly imagine. Sales of Postcards From a Stranger are going well and I’m getting some lovely reviews (and my mum hasn’t written all of them!)

There’s a new book review up HERE which might be interesting to those of you trying to find inner peace. And I have decided that the Book Group Book for the summer will be Eleanor Opliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman which The Yorkshire Post described as ‘Brave, smart and funny… the most refreshing and heartwarming debut I’ve read in some time’. 

So if you fancy reading along with us then you know what to do. Read the book and then join in the chat on the Forum which I will open for discussion from 1st August but which is always open.

Have a great week. Happy reading.

Imogen.

 

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Lift off!

Hi

Well this is all very exciting! My book Postcards From a Stranger appears to be taking off and I’m delighted. Readers are being very complimentary and whilst I’m sure that there will be some bad reviews before too long, there aren’t any just yet. I even have people who have marked it to read on Goodreads.

Please indulge me if I share some of the comments that readers are leaving.

“The mysteries and puzzles are set against a clear backdrop so that the reader’s energies are focused on the central theme. This skillful construction made it a book that was hard to put down. I was riveted.”

“Thoroughly enjoyed this! Great mix of characters and a storyline that kept me guessing throughout. Both laughter and tears involved in the book, with a story that had me gripped and kept me turning the pages.”

“A great novel – twists in the plot, believable characters with poignant stories and back-stories and the dysfunctional family relationships that we all have to some degree, or at least recognise.”

“It’s a cracking read, delving into family dynamics and the devastating effects that secrets and lies can have, rippling outwards and onwards.. It flows easily and keeps you engrossed and always wanting to know what happens next. I would highly recommend it and I can’t wait to see what comes next.”

I’ll stop now but there are plenty more like that so I am delighted. And if you haven’t read it yet then WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

In other news, today the first draft of my next book has sailed its way down to my editor for her comments and feedback so I’m nervously awaiting that but that is giving me the perfect time to get on with plotting the one after that.  I’m also aiming to write another Lucinda book in the autumn so if you have any young teenagers who enjoy kicking around with Kitty and Lydia then tell them it won’t be too long to wait.

There’s a new Review HERE. This week’s book is 720 pages long so it’s been a bit of a marathon but it was well worth all the hours.

Next week I shall be announcing our next Book Group Read so that you have something to get your teeth stuck into over the summer. We can then talk about it when we get to September. I did think about suggesting my own book but I wasn’t quite brave enough for that!

Don’t forget that if you don’t want to miss a post and for details of my new books then sign up for my mailing list. I promise not to bombard you.

Happy reading.

Imogen.

 

Feeling a little braver . . .

Hi

Well this has been quite a big week. My new book Postcards From a Stranger started to sell both here and in the States. Not only that but as I write this I have six ★★★★★ reviews. All of them share one theme – “I couldn’t put it down”.

Obviously I’m delighted that I seem to be having such a good start although I’m sure there will be some less encouraging reviews in due course. That’s part of the journey of being a writer and why it was important that I read the book that I have reviewed this week! Check it out HERE.

Also, have you noticed my new, cute little hippo badge? That’s because I was featured last week on Book Hippo, a book recommendation site. You can check that out HERE if you’re interested although the offers may now have expired. I can thoroughly recommend BookHippo if you have difficulty trying to decide what to read next ( when you’ve finished my book that is!)

So now I’m working like a demon to get my next book ready to go to my Editor‘s next month but it’s all great fun and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

If you’ve finished any of the Book Group Books then it’s never too late to pop over to the FORUM and add your comments to the discussion. I’m considering making Postcards the summer read! What do you reckon?!

Happy reading.

Imogen x