Monday, 13 May 2019

Favourite TV shows and why


I’m not ashamed to admit I like junk TV. I wish I could claim to watch something with some merit to it like Game of Thrones. But apart from nature documentaries (I do love David Attenborough) my tastes, I have to say, run a little lower-level.

·         Dragon’s Den. Apart from the vicarious cringe I get when someone forgets all their figures in the face of the Dragons, what I particularly like is finding new small businesses I can use. I still get my yearly advent calendar from Snaffling Pig, a company which sells flavoured pork scratchings.

·         Judge Rinder. Yeah, I know, it’s only one step up from Jeremy Kyle, but it’s a good way to relax after a long day at the office. And a reminder to always get a contract when lending money to family.

·         My Cat From Hell. I would love to see what Jackson Galaxy would make of my two cats, who have no idea how to play and who like to leave socks all over the house.

·         Great British Bake Off. And all its spin-offs. I can’t bake, but I love to watch the complicated concoctions the contestants have to come up with.

So what do you like to watch?

Monday, 6 May 2019

Books I want youth to discover


Now this was an interesting one from Long and Short Reviews. I’m not sure I’m seasoned enough to be telling youth what to read (and slightly depressed that I no longer count as youth). However,  I can think of a few books that could potentially go overlooked...

·         The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Bronte. Anne is my favourite Bronte sister but often gets forgotten in favour of Charlotte and Emily, even though this book was a bestseller in its day and considered shocking for its views on religion and marriage. I was very proud to work on adapting this one for the Clandestine Classics line, although I would certainly recommend reading the original first.

·         Emma – Jane Austen. Again “Pride and Prejudice” tends to be the one people think of first, but I have always preferred “Emma” for its wit, wordplay and narrative style. And frankly, while I love Mr Darcy, I’d still take Mr Knightley any day.

·         The Sherlock Holmes series – Arthur Conan Doyle. Okay, not just one book, but having met a teenager recently who had no idea that Sherlock Holmes existed outside of Benedict Cumberbatch, I think these deserve mentioning. I’ve read a lot of continuations of the series by various writers, but nothing tops the original stories.

So what do you think the youth of today should discover?

Monday, 29 April 2019

3 things I wish more books talked about


What do I wish more books talked about? And do we mean fiction, non-fiction or both? I’ve taken this to mean both, and have three specific things I would love to read more about.

·         Chronic pain. I have only read one heroine who suffered from chronic pain, and I wrote her. As a chronic pain sufferer myself this is something that I think should be brought more to the forefront – many people deal with it every day without those around them knowing about it.

·         Horror films. This one is in a non-fiction sense. I’m currently reading Men, Women and Chain Saws, a take on women in horror, and was quite surprised at how few books I could find that dealt with horror as a genre.

·         Different supernatural beings. I read a lot of vampire/shifter novels and have seen angels and fairies, but I would love to see writers go further afield with supernatural creatures.

So what would you like to see in books?

Monday, 22 April 2019

Books I discovered on social media


This blog topic from Long and Short Reviews was a tricky one, because in the first instance I couldn’t think of any books I’d discovered on social media. However, thinking back, I could remember three authors I’d discovered online and who, in at least two cases, I’ve gone on to read plenty of.

·         Will Storr vs the Supernatural. Will Storr is a journalist who, for one of his magazines, started to investigate the supernatural and was shocked to discover there was more to it than he had expected. I’m now in the middle of another of his books, The Science of Storytelling, but my favourite of his will always be this one.

·         The May Bride. I discovered Suzannah Dunn while looking for other historical fiction authors to join Philippa Gregory and Anne O’Brien on my shelf. Her novels are unusual in that they use modern dialogue, the idea being that people discussed the same things back then, just in slightly different forms of speech.

·         So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. This one is probably the most famous. I was drawn to this after the Justine Sacco incident, being aware of how terrifying it is that you might one day say something stupid and have the whole world land on your head.

So what have you discovered on social media?

Monday, 15 April 2019

10 unusual things about me


This topic from Long and Short Reviews was a difficult one, because I don’t think I’m a particularly unusual person, so trying to find ten unusual things about me was a struggle. However, I did manage to come up with a few.

·         My favourite film is “Heavenly Creatures” – People always consider that to be weird, because it’s a film about a real-life murder and ends with one of the most horrible murder scenes I’ve ever seen. However, Peter Jackson directs the skin off this film, and Melanie Lynskey is a spectacular actress.

·         My hair is blue – It took me a year of highlights on top of highlights to get it this way, but my hair is now all-over blue, and not a day goes past without a child shouting “Mummy, blue hair!”

·         I have eight tattoos – Fairly vanilla these days I suppose. My favourite one is the kingfisher on my clavicle, which was also the most painful.

·         I went to see “Pointless” being filmed – We got free tickets when we were in London and sat in the audience for two episodes of “Pointless”. Alexander Armstrong is a class act.

·         I was on an episode of “The Chase” – Didn’t win, but I did make it to the Final Chase only to get caught by Anne Hegarty.

·         Until I was 21 I had gone up in a plane but never landed in one – I used to skydive, so I went up in various Cessnas and Islanders but had never taken a commercial flight until I was 21.

·         I used to want to move to the USA – I fully intended to emigrate and get my green card, but life happened when I finished university and I never made it. I can still quote all the state capitals.

·         I wanted to be an actress until I was 18 – However, after an actor friend dumped his girlfriend over his “passion for the theatre”, I decided I didn’t share that passion.

·         I want to own a pink Cadillac Eldorado – I love classic American cars, and this one is my favourite. Would be hell to park though.

·         My ambition is to see all Shakespeare’s plays live – I’m working on it!

So what’s unusual about you?

Monday, 8 April 2019

Characters I never want to meet


This topic from Long and Short Reviews was an interesting one. I watch a lot of horror films, so there are plenty of characters I wouldn’t want to meet. But do they necessarily have to be villains?

For instance, two of my least favourite characters in fiction are Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram from “Mansfield Park”. Two of the most insipid, insufferable characters I’ve ever read, whose only good point was that they ultimately married each other and so didn’t inflict themselves on anyone else. Give me Henry Crawford any day.

In horror terms, I would say the character I least want to meet is Sadako from “The Ring”, or Samara as she was in the US remake. The epitome of J-horror’s long-haired ghost girls, an unstoppable force who crawls out of your TV and scares you to death. After watching that film I was terrified to switch the TV on for two days.

And since I am a writer, I couldn’t end without mentioning Reed James from my “I Heard Your Voice”. 



A celebrity medium based on the press perception of Derek Acorah (I have no idea what he’s really like, but the press painted him as a nightmarish diva), Reed is an arrogant jerk who leaches off more powerful mediums to boost his own low-level powers. I’ve met plenty of people like him, but would hate to meet him in person?

So who would you never want to meet?

Monday, 1 April 2019

Favourite comfort foods and why


Long and Short Reviews have a great topic this week – comfort foods. I am not a cook, so recipes are not my forte (if it’s more complicated than “put it in the oven” it tends not to happen) but I’m as fond of comfort food as the next person, and the advantage is that it’s usually straightforward and easy to make.

My favourite comfort food is mashed potato. Possibly this stems from many a happy Saturday evening meal of my mother’s cottage pie, which I still say is the best cottage pie ever invented. I make it with a small amount of milk and lots of butter, and mash it just enough to remove the lumps while still giving it texture – I know MasterChef likes you to whip it, but I don’t like it too smooth.

As a Brit, I also love to sit down to a fish and chip dinner. I like the chips greasy, with plenty of vinegar and mushy peas over the top, and the batter needs to be crunchy – far too often I end up with soggy batter. I’ve just moved house so haven’t yet found out if the nearest chippy is decent, but I’ll be rectifying that shortly.

And to finish off, I love honeycomb cheesecake. The English Cheesecake Company do an amazing one which is also big enough to fill an entire shelf of the fridge. Chocolate-coated honeycomb and creamy cheesecake – what more could you ask for?

So what are your favourite comfort foods?