Welcome to my monthly newsletter for May 2024

Hi there.

Ribbons! You know what that means, don’t you? I’ve been in a craft shop which is invariably because I’ve seen something on Instagram and have come over all arty. I cleared out my drawer of shame not that long ago so now there is plenty of space for lots more started and unfinished projects! This time it’s a crocheted cardigan (I needed a hook in a size I didn’t have.) Let’s see how far I get before it gets subsumed by other things.

Anyway, hello and welcome, especially if you are new to my newsletter. I promised a GIVEAWAY this month so if you’re interested in that then keep reading (or skip straight down to the bottom – it’s up to you!)

So let’s dive straight in with the news.

What am I writing?

Well, I’m still in the middle of next year’s Imogen book (working title – A Question of Loyalty.) I say the middle but I have actually gone beyond the halfway point. The book is set in Ripon, London and Sicily in the 1980s and some time nowish so there’s plenty to get my teeth into. My characters are starting to feel more like friends than strangers so it’s always nice when that happens. I have to deliver the manuscript to my publishers by the beginning of August so I’ve set myself a deadline of the end of June to finish the first draft. Hopefully I’ll hit that but if not I have given myself a little bit of a buffer.

In other book news, the new Izzy Bromley title Table for Five is out in a month so I’m building up to that. (Did I mention that I’m giving copies away below?!) Publication is always scary but somehow I get less nervous about Izzy’s books than Imogen’s and so I can enjoy the process a bit more.

Where have I been?

Early in the month I was down in London to watch my third daughter’s end of degree show. You may know that she has been at Drama School for the last three years studying Musical Theatre and the final shows are the culmination of all the students have learned.

Now I know that I might be slightly biased, but it really was FAB-U-LOUS! What a talented bunch of young people, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when my girl sang. Super-proud Mum moment.

After the London trip and some time at home, I went to Turkey to walk part of the Lycian Way, an ancient route along the southern coast of the country. The Lycian civilisation prospered from around 450BC to 540AD when bubonic plague and invasions from the Romans and the Arabs pretty much finished Lycia off. However, signs of the ancient people are still scattered all over the hillsides. We regularly had to walk around stone sarcophagi which were strewn across the paths.

The walking was extremely hard (and hot) and we didn’t see a human soul most days. We did meet plenty of tortoises, a very helpful dog and quite a few large spiders though. At one point there were flames leaping out of the ground (as a result of escaping methane gases.) It was all very dramatic.

Here are a few pictures to give you a taste but as ever there are more on my Instagram and Facebook pages.

What have I read?

I’ve been reading a bit of non-fiction this month and I reread the fabulous None of this is True by Lisa Jewell which I recommended in a previous newsletter, but here are some of my new fiction suggestions.

Whale Fall by Elizabeth O’Connor is set in an isolated community on an island off Wales in 1938. Manon, a capable young woman, born on the island and now working and caring for her father and younger sister, aspires to a life on the mainland. When two anthropologists arrive and offer her a job helping them she believes that they offer her a chance at a new life. The book is a beautiful study of possibility and betrayal.

The House of Mirrors by Erin Kelly is a pacy literary thriller. In 1997 two very different women meet and a string of murders and mysterious happenings occurs. Fast forward to the present day and the daughter of one of the women receives mysterious notes that she doesn’t understand and which don’t sit with what she knows about her family. A twisty turny story with fascinating characters and a nod to 20th century fashion.

The Trees by Percival Everett opens with a series of brutal murders in the deep south of America. This would be strange enough but alongside the murdered bodies lies the same corpse which someone keeps stealing from the morgue and putting back in crime scenes. The book is a dark satire which aims squarely at racism and police violence. The author’s dialogue made me laugh, but the book is clever and highly thought-provoking.

You’d Look Better as a Ghost by Joanna Wallace is definitely a comedy and is also pretty dark. Claire is your run-of-the-mill serial killer who gets caught up in someone else’s mystery and soon finds that her dark secrets are in danger of being exposed. If you can look beyond the fact that she murders people on a whim then this is a funny book with messages about how children can be damaged by those who are supposed to love them.

Drumroll please!

And now, as promised, the giveaway. I have TEN copies of my new Izzy Bromley book to give away. Here’s what it’s about to whet your appetite.

Abbie Finch loves her job.

Unfortunately, her boss doesn’t love her.

When she finds herself unexpectedly unemployed, Abbie realises that she’s let all her friendships fall by the wayside and has no one to turn to.

Lost and lonely, Abbie decides to leave her comfort zone and join the neighbourhood café’s community table. There she meets aloof, elegant Ethel, down-on-his-luck Bob, colourful, chaotic Dawn and recently relocated Viraj. Friends? Not yet. But when they decide to help the homeless people in their community by staging an extravagant fundraising event, will something that began as a good deed help Abbie find a way back to herself—and make lifelong friends at the same time?

So, if you’d like to win a signed copy all you have to do is reply to this email and tell me who you would most like to drink coffee with. It can be anyone, alive or dead, famous or not. Just tell me who’d pick and why, and I’ll choose my ten favourite replies. I’m afraid that this giveaway is for UK residents only. I’m so sorry – blame postage costs.

And that’s it for this month. Next month I will have been to London on a writing conference and on another exciting walking trip so watch this space for all the news on those. In the meantime, don’t forget to send me your entry for the giveaway and pop by to my You’d Look Better as a Ghost by Joanna Wallace if you want to chat books! There’s always a warm welcome in there.

I hope to see you again next month and until then happy reading,