This is the last post I am doing from this Google blog. Please come and join me at my new website/blog at
Scarborough Consequences, the story I wrote following the collaborative story project I facilitated at the 2013 Scarborough Literature Festival, has been up-loaded onto the SLF site:

Once you're on the above page you have to click through twice to get the download....

I hope you enjoy it!


My friend who is a fan of Dorothy L Sayers queried my previous post about Sayers' writing lacking intense emotion and it made me think more deeply about it.

I think it comes down to technique and how technique in fiction writing has changed over time. I am now deep into Gaudy Night (dug out of the library vaults!) and am loving it, however, I think it has a couple of examples of what I mean. On page 9, the protagonist Harriet Vane finds a tie belonging to Philip Boyes (the ex-lover who she was accused of murdering in Strong Poison) and the comment in the text is: ‘how horrible that that should still be hanging about!’ On page 34, Harriet is talking about finding the dead body with the cut throat (described in Have His Carcass), she says, ‘It was beastlier than anything you can imagine.’

Of course, there’s intense emotion behind these phrases, however, I think in more modern fiction they would be accentuated by (a) some kind of internal monologue and/or (b) a bodily feeling within the character. It doesn’t happen here at least partly because of the way third person is being used. We get much closer to characters (including inside their heads) in modern fiction even in third person, whereas in Sayers' day there was more of a sharp distinction between first and third person. With the former the reader was inside the character, with latter they were most definitely outside. I believe that distinction has collapsed to a certain extent in more modern writing. And I enjoy that both as a writer as well as a reader.


I am doing what I always tell my students to do - reading the genre/form I am writing. I have heard some would-be writers declaring that they won't read others authoring in their chosen genre or form. They claim it will contaminate their style or their inspiration. And yet artists, dancers, musicians and anyone else working in the creative arts will study what has come before them and their contemporary colleagues' output, so why not writers?

I am, therefore, delving into crime/mystery fiction. One of my writing friends put me onto Dorothy L Sayers. My only previous brush with this author was the TV series with Ian Carmichael in the title role, now only very hazily remembered. I was surprised to find, then, that the edition of 'Have His Carcase' I found in the library got me hooked. For sure, the language and dialogue are very dated, but for anyone interested in pace and plotting, this story fairly rattles along.

There's no doubt that crime/fiction has changed its focus since Sayers' time away from intricate story-lines. These days there is more emphasis on character building and the psychological layering of those involved. I can't imagine a modern writer attempting as complex a plot as 'Have His Carcase' which involves letters in code, people in disguises and numerous false alibis. Still I think there is something to be garnered from the skill with which Sayers sets her riddles and unravels them. And even she has started down the path of the 'flawed hero' which is so beloved of present day crime fiction. Lord Peter Wimsey is far from the perfect leading man I recall from the small screen.

In some ways, because of the lack of intense emotion expressed in the pages of her novel, she does capture something I heard a forensic pathologist comment on in an interview I saw recently. He said that, in general, crime fiction fails to portray the casualness and the indifference of the perpetrators of the violence he encounters in his job every day. Sadly, that perhaps hasn't changed in the last eighty years.



There came a moment of inattention,

I think I was trying to make sense of my own design,

when it began to unravel.

I dropped stitches,

felt the yarn untwist then knot between my fingers.


There came that moment of inattention,

when my own fashioning began to seem unwieldy,

and I purled instead of plained

and our glorious pattern looked

awkward, unworked, unbeautiful.


There came this moment

when I saw what I had done

and cried.


Then there came another moment

when together we scooped up the sorry mess

and wove

a variation on what we had before

but more brilliant.


I have re-read the first draft of my novel and have begun to fall out of love with it. I know this is part of my process as a writer and also has to do with where I am emotionally. If there are tough days to do with being a writer, then this is what makes them tough for me.

It's at times like these that I remember this from Elif Shafak (quoted in the English PEN magazine):
When we are faced with censorship, intimidation, persecution, ignorance and sheer fanaticism, there can be parts of us that feel despondent or fearful or doubtful. And that's OK. We are not heroes and we shouldn't try to be. Yet at the same time, we should remember that our writing is stronger than us. Our writing is wiser than us. Basically it is more than us personally. So the writer can be afraid or depressed, but the writing should not waver because words matter. Stories matter.

Of course, Shafak is talking about situations far more grim than mine, where writers ARE heroic, far more heroic and wise than I could ever be. Still I find it a beautiful and encouraging quotation, I hope others will too.
How the mighty have fallen. For years, I have had a vague sense of who Radclyffe Hall was, the woman who wrote The Well of Loneliness, the seminal treatise on the rights of gay women. The book was banned for being obscene and RH was vilified for writing it. However, I have just read Diana Souhami's The Trials of Radclyffe Hall and it has left a rather sour taste in the mouth.

According to Souhami, Radclyffe Hall supported Fascism and Mussolini, was intolerant and unkind and her pleas were for a 'certain class' of lesbian (or 'invert' as she called herself). They were god's creatures and, therefore, to be treated with forbearance and consideration. Others, it seemed, could go hang.

The trial did underscore the deep misogyny and prejudice of the government and judiciary of the time. Indeed, though we quite rightly still rail against the 'isms' of today's society, we need only go back a century to see how far we have come. And as for violence, is anyone else shocked by the White Queen being serialised on the BBC? Assuming that at our core humanity has not changed in 600 years, there is a lot of brutality which is now lying dormant.

It is hard, however, to see Radclyffe Hall, a feminist icon, in such a different light. What she did with The Well of Loneliness was ground-breaking and paved the way for what was to come. And yet, as an individual, she was so imperfect. It is difficult for me to marry those two aspects. And it is a conundrum presented by a number of other writers.

Going off on another tangent, when (in the late 1930s) RH was diagnosed with cancer, her doctors advised her to cut down on smoking. So they must have known even then about the link?


I have just finished the initial draft of my novel 'The Art of the Imperfect' which I intend to be the first of a series featuring Hannah Poole, a counsellor with her own demons, her neighbour, Aurora Harris and Detective Sergeant Theo Akande. It is a re-write of a re-write from a novel completed many years ago. By fitting it into the murder-mystery genre I hope to make it more publishable while still staying true to the exploration of mental health which is my preoccupation. Others - Kate Atkinson, Ruth Rendell, Minette Walters, Val McDermid - have also 'subverted' this genre to discuss issues close to their heart, so I take my lead from them.

Having a completed draft and a clearer shape for my novel I feel quite giddy!


On Saturday was the second in the series of Healing Words workshops which I am facilitating and it went really well. I have devised these workshops for therapists, health professionals and writers working in therapeutic environments. They are an invitation for participants to explore how creative writing can work therapeutically. There are six in all, taking various themes, individuals can come to all six or pick and choose ones which interest them. At this last one we were looking at metaphor.

I had a great time, so it is very satisfying (and confidence boosting) when the participants say that they are gaining from the experience too. Here are some comments from the evaluations:

‘Gently & thoughtfully presented – allowed me to explore and learn more about using metaphor.’
‘The metaphor workshop was magical’
‘I’d highly recommend Kate’s writing workshops.
I’ve done two and have learnt so much in each but also really enjoyed them.’
The next workshop will be looking at poetry in this context. For more information contact:


I've just finished reading 'Mrs Robinson's Disgrace', another cracking read from Kate Summerscale (I previously read her 'The Suspicions of Mr Whicher'). This new book is about a divorce case in 1858 (one of the first after divorce stopped being reliant on the passing of an Act of Parliament) where the evidence for the husband of his wife's infidelity came from her private journal.

Publicly at least, everyone involved in the case and those spectating were outraged and shocked by the honest and explicit content of Mrs Robinson's diary. And since she addressed a 'reader' there were questions about whether it was intended for publication. However, Summerscale suggests that the addressing of 'the reader' might give an explanation as to why Mrs Robinson kept such a journal: since she no longer believed an spiritual afterlife, she hoped for compassion from future generations. She finishes despondently, 'May you [the reader] be more happy.'

It is my contention that writing is essentially a relational act, writing means we are communicating something to someone, we are always writing for a reader. The reader may be ourselves (our present or future selves). However, in being that reader, we will also be influenced by the myriad of people who have already responded to what we write or say, as well as the myriad of others who we imagine responses from. Though we may sit down alone with pen and paper or at the keyboard, our space is thickly populated with audiences - real and fantasised - from our past, present and future.

Saturday was a get together of our local Lapidus ( group. As ever it was a nourishing mix of mutual support and inspiration for writing (see also

One of our members', Sue, led us through a number of writing exercises to do with food:
  • favourite food;
  • food we loathe;
  • food and place;
  • food and time;
  • personifying food;
  • describing a character using food metaphors.
She encouraged us to think about gender roles in connection with food. Each exercise brought up some interesting reflections for me and in the group we agreed that writing about food evokes powerful images, memories and emotions.

Here is my personified food:
'I am lain on a plate, flat out, bronzed on either side, syrup running down my thighs. I am sweet, delectable, waiting. You have whipped me, beaten me, tossed me and I lie here expectant of your desires. You garnish me with rubies and jade - tangy raspberries and gooseberries - fold me in creamy silk. You will enjoy the first taste of me, the second and the third, but by the end you will feel gorged and uncomfortable. You will blame me for your unnatural over-indulgence. I should not have lain so openly on a plate.'


Having passed my 49th birthday with not too much fuss and entered my 50th year, I do pause and wonder about the passage of time. In the vastness of the earth's - even human - history, my life is but an iota of a speck, and I am comfortable with that. Yet, in my own infinitesimal way, I do want to do more good than harm, and I feel strongly that it is through my writing that I might manage this.

Recently I have discovered this from Edith Sitwell's 'The Poet Laments the Coming of Old Age':

I see the children running out of school;
They are taught that Goodness means a blinding hood
Or is heaped by time like the hump on an aged back,
And that Evil can be cast like an old rag
And Wisdom caught like a hare and held in the golden sack
Of the heart. ... But I am one who must bring back
Sight to the blind.



Writers hold a mirror up to the world. A mirror which reflects a grey lidded day when the clouds bear down on the steely sea, as well as the sudden rainbow, the colourful ladder between wave tip and sky. Writers turn a mirror on themselves and on others. It is not everyone who wishes to look into this mirror and see themselves, but it is the lot of writers to do so.

I sometimes wonder as I write reflections such as these, whether I am remembering a half forgotten quote such as Shakespeare's Hamlet: 'To hold, as t'were, the mirror up to nature.' Perhaps I will not claim the above thought as entirely mine, but it is around for me at the moment as I plough on into my future writing projects.

My Book Launch! Thank you to Sue for the cakes, to Felix & Rosie for the readings and to everyone who came.

I indulged myself at the weekend with one and half days at the Bridlington Poetry Festival ( This included a workshop on writing sonnets with James Nash, a talk on Pablo Neruda, an Iranian poet reading in Farsi, and performances from Michael Laskey, James Nash, WN Herbert and Jackie Kay (among others). It was both nourishing and inspiring, and took place in the beautiful surroundings of Sewerby Hall.

I learnt from Graham Fawcett that Pablo Neruda had an affinity to the sea which I could intimately relate to. Neruda wrote to 'whoever is not listening to the sea...' that 'the sea will make its answer/to the shuttered heart'. Despite all his wanderings, Neruda returned to the ocean over and over again, and I wonder whether I could ever live too far from it myself again.

Alireza Abiz gave us a timely reminder of the dangers that some poets/writers encounter for expressing their truth. He gave us an insight into the 'Ministry for Culture and Islamic Guidance', the wonderfully Orwell-esque name of the department of censorship in Iran.

However, I guess the highlight for me would be when I approached Jackie Kay after her superb performance and reminded her of her visit to my installation, 'Words in My Head', in the Sitwell Library at Woodend two years ago. And she still remembered it as 'a magic moment'.


The great female poet and writer, Edith Sitwell, should be commemorated and given her rightful place in the literary canon. To show your support, check this out -
Just the other day I was talking with a couple of writer friends about the need to walk away from our writing and let it 'stew' or 'percolate' or 'compost'. I suggested this in my book 'Pathways through Writing Blocks in the Academic Environment' ( or There I called it the 'waiting-muse' and I described it thus:

Phenomenological psychologist Moustakas talks about “indwelling”, the “turning inward to seek a deeper, more extended comprehension of the nature or meaning of a quality or theme of human experience.” In some senses we are waiting, yet it is not an inactive, lethargic waiting. We are attentive, something is going on in us; but it is below the surface, we are not fully aware of it, at times it appears to be not of our own volition. ...
What is happening behind our most accessible thoughts is where the action is. And once primed the waiting-muse will continue to whirr away in the background, making connections, dreaming up new perspectives and different ways into the issue that we are examining. That’s if we allow it to, are attentive without being impatient and are offering nourishment without insisting it produce.

For me the waiting-muse requires physical exercise - a walk or a swim. How often do I think of where to go next with my writing when I am back-crawling a length of the pool?

Apparently Wilfred Owen also experienced the need for a lull for his poetry to bloom. In the biography I am reading at the moment by Dominic Hibberd, Owen is quoted as saying that a poem can not 'grow by jerks' but must develop 'naturally as leaves to a tree'. A process which requires time and feeding but cannot be forced.


It is the off-stage characters which hook the writer.

I was watching Clare Balding's interesting documentary on C4 about Emily Wilding Davison and it was the story of the jockey which took me off. Summarised in a couple of sentences; apparently he never rode to his previous standard and was haunted by EWD's face, so much so that he committed suicide in 1951. Thirty-eight years later? Now that's a tale to tweak at the curiosity.


I went to hear a talk today about sculpture given by Andrew Clay, Director of Woodend (creative industries centre - He was looking at continuity and discontinuity in the history of sculpture in Britain especially around WWI and the work of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. It was very good, entertaining and informative.

I find it interesting to reflect on my chosen art form - writing - in comparison to others. Andrew pointed to the cataclysmic effect of the 'Great War' on sculpture which finds echoes in the history of literary arts. We were no longer so innocent, perhaps, so optimistic; the sentimental, the fluffy held less appeal.

Sculptors have always experimented with materials, and continued to do so into the 20th century, engaging with the new substances of the time, such as Perspex. That made me think about the stuff of writing and how our material - words & language - has hardly changed since its beginnings. I wonder what our equivalent of Perspex is?


Late greening of trees,
cold blown blossom speaks of loss,
May, our cruellest month.


How wonderful, a hot bank holiday. I have avoided the crowds down on the beach and thronging the front by sitting in our verdant garden gazing at the dull-gold dandelions, smelling the lavender and listening to the bees.

I have also been indulging in what I love to do - writing outside. I have been working on my second draft of the 'Scarborough Consequences' story and have been typing on a lap top whilst being warmed by the sun. How pleasurable.

The story is shaping up well. I have decided to stick to the epistolary style/genre, so everything is told through letter, email, tweet or text. There is a danger that this can exaggerate the artifice of all story-telling, but I think I've managed to keep the right side of believable. I have used the ideas given in the missives submitted at the Lit Fest for the plot lines and also some of the wording given by my 'collaborators' in this project. This has helped, I think, in creating distinctive voices for the different characters. Since creating distinctive character voices - and ones that aren't always echoes of your own - is a challenge for writers, this could be a useful technique: asking others to write or be recorded talking about a subject. It is akin, I suppose, to another writerly technique: ear-wigging on people's conversations in cafes. Although it could, perhaps, offer more control to the author.

Saturday saw seven of us gathering for our Humber-Ouse-Tees Lapidus workshop ( at the James Cook museum in Whitby. And what an inspiring time we had of it. A guided tour of the exhibits was followed by a series of interesting facilitated writing exercises around the topic of objects and journeys. We all came up with some great pieces, many of which will prove to be starting points for more extended work I am sure.

It is the untold story which often snags a writer and a number in our group were drawn to Mrs Cook. She lived until she was 93, having been widowed and lost all her six children from middle age. What had happened to her? What had been her background? What was it like for her, apparently a 'poor traveller', to have her husband circumventing the world? These and many other questions clamoured for an answer as we gazed on her bonneted face looking back at us from her portrait.

Lapidus promotes creative writing and reading for health and wellbeing. During our time together on Saturday, I was told about a recent Radio 4 documentary on the subject. I managed to track it down and it is, indeed, worth a listen: It made me consider once again the difference between Pennebaker's expressive writing, which invites people to write freely about an emotionally charged subject, and what I try to do with creative writing. I also invite people to write freely about emotionally charged subjects, however, and I think this is crucial, creative writing techniques also supply tools for bringing perspective and order into chaos in a healing way.

Meanwhile, here is a taste of what I wrote on Saturday.
Kauri wood.
with the coming of light,
of knowledge being passed
from one generation to another.
Pitted wood fashioning the perfect circle.
Yet human patterns were ever misshapen, broken, snapped.
An aspiration then.
Watched over by fish, hands, eyes, beaks, noses, whorls, snakes, shells, chains, feathers
in tattooed
Totara wood.
Last Friday found me at the Hull2Scarborough Line's latest performance: 'The Enormous Yes!' And it was the best yet. Taking the words of Virginia Woolf and Philip Larkin as a starting point, it invited us to consider whether it is possible to touch joy without being in touch with the bleak. The fast paced work interwove poetry and prose - Wilsea's and Hodcroft's own in between Larkin, Woolf, Charles Lamb, Wendy Cope, Roald Dahl, Emily Dickinson, John Donne and others - with the music of First Quarter. It was a deft and entertaining exposition of what might make life worth living.

There was an extract from the lovely 'The Summer Day' by Mary Oliver:
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.

And some moving poetry from Wilsea and Hodcroft themselves, such as the exquisite 'Bosphorus' exploring what might happen to us when we are gone and the lovely 'My Daughter Danced at Your Wedding' about time passing and friendship.

I have heard rumour that 'The Enormous Yes!' will get another outing. I can recommend you sign up to hear when. Go to: and follow the links.


The Scarborough Literature Festival was inspiring and enjoyable - both the main and the fringe events.

I will not forget in a long time a Home Office pathologist being asked whether rhubarb leaves can kill - some of the writers in this town appear to be a murderous lot. The creative writing students from the University of Hull, Scarborough campus, did an excellent performance both in diversity of work and in its quality. Then there was William Sitwell on the Sitwells and on food; drama sprung from the word flood; and moody American poetry. What a talented lot we are. I am just sorry that I could not get around to see more.

Here I am collecting contributions for my collaborative story making project 'Scarborough Consequences'. I now look forward to weaving them into a story.


Come along to the myriad Scarborough Literature Fringe events including my ‘Scarborough Consequences’ collaborative story making project in the library bookshop.

Beyond the Fringe: the new performance by H2SLine - Felix Hodcroft and Sue Wilsea - is a powerful, joyful experience - though not for the easily offended! Backed by the brilliant Scarborough trio, First Quarter, Sue and Felix will, amongst much else, rehabilitate Philip Larkin and Virginia Woolf as paramount writers of joy and celebration, as well as feature a wider range of first class writing - from 13th century Persia to 21st century Scarborough. Friday 19th April, 5-6pm, in the Sitwell library at Woodend. £2 to include a free glass of wine or fruit juice. Reserve your ticket by ringing Felix on 07926-382562.


I am getting on well with writing the first book in an intended novel series based on the mystery/crime format. I have taken the characters from an (unpublished) novel I completed in 2005 - which I had a go at re-writing in 2011 - and given them another good shake.

I am following Minette Walter's advice in creating a mystery: start with the characters and a scenario without knowing 'who dunnit' and allow the solution to reveal itself. Surprisingly it is working so far.

I am also finding the truth in something else novelists often say, that characters take over and write themselves. I have one who at the beginning was pretty minor, who is now muscling in on all the action. It's a very interesting process.


This was something I wrote on a recent trip to Switzerland, it may be appropriate for the recent weather:

The persistence of snow.
As inconsequential as crematorium ash,
it falls, subdues, transforms.
Writers, readers and lovers of words in Scarborough are gearing up for this year's literature festival ( As well as nationally known authors with a book to promote, there is a vibrant fringe - see the website - with performances and workshops of every hue.

My own contribution is a collaborative short story. I will be asking participants in the festival to write letters, tweets and emails to and from a collection of fiction characters. These will then form the basis of a story I will create provisionally called 'Scarborough Consequences' to be published on the festival's website.

Come along and get involved!


National Book Day. And my book is here!


According to the Writer's Almanac, poet Robert Lowell (1917-1977) said something which also rings true for me: 'Sometimes nothing is so solid to me as writing - I suppose that's what a vocation means - at times a torment, a bad conscience, but all in all purpose and direction.' Lowell was mentor to both Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton.
There is a quote from TS Elliot which I have always been struck by: 'We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.'

I came across it again recently and it has spurred me into a new project. I am going to the same bench overlooking the South Cliff Gardens and the sea at around the same time on the same day every week and I will quickly sketch and/or write briefly what I experience. By the end of twelve months I should have 52 snapshots of the turning year. What I will do with these snapshots I have no idea, but that is part of the exploration, the arriving and the knowing for the first time.

Today I rather regretted the spot I had chosen, but writing with gloves on (never easy) and hat pulled down I had a go:
I heard the roar from half way down Prince of Wales Terrace, and here I cling to the balustrade like it's a ship's rail. The wind doesn't want me to write, it is raw slapping on my face. My fingers tingle, the blood freezing in their tips. Grey rolling, white splashed, unceasing, cold. And yet on the way here I saw green spears of daffodils still to blossom standing triumphant above the dark earth. Smells elude me. Fresh, cold, great distances, void, murderous - are any of these descriptive of a smell?


Saturday was spent enjoying this year's Coastival ( - how very fortunate we are to have this fantastic arts festival in our town. I did not get round to see as much as I'd have liked (dallying in the sun at the Clock Cafe is the reason but no excuse). However, what a pleasure it was to see installations, exhibitions and experience the soaring voices of the Singing Ducks at the Rotunda, not to mention seeing the Spa transformed into something like the Taj Mahal by lights.

Recently there's been a letter in the local paper from a visitor from Milan Italy saying that Scarborough has no culture - how very wrong s/he is and what a pity s/he wasn't here to experience Coastival.
And I thought sending my proofread transcript off to the publisher would mean my job was done - apart from being the prima donna author, of course. But it is not so. I am now having to comb through the first proofs for errant apostrophes and misaligned headings. Idly I wonder how these could occur in our digital world when all that's happened is that my word document has become a PDF? Even more idly I wonder whether famous authors - for some reason JK Rowling comes to mind - has to do this work too.
I've just finished "Her Fearful Symmetry" by Audrey Niffenegger (author of the "Time Traveler's Wife"). It kept me reading until the end, which is a compliment. I used to devour novels, but these days I am less tolerant of slack writing, character creation and plotting and I will give up on books if they do not hold my attention. What I think Niffenegger did well was blend the supernatural with the everyday. I am no fan of ghost stories, however this one worked mainly because Niffenegger wrote about the supernatural as if it were ordinary and did not attempt any explanations.

I also liked the book because it was set around Highgate cemetery and that's an area of London which is vaguely familiar to me, plus I like cemeteries. Just walking through one yields a wealth of stories and questions. We have a wonderful cemetery in Scarborough, rich in atmosphere and tales. I noticed a nineteenth century gravestone there the other day, to a woman who had been born in France and I wondered what had brought her to this small town in Yorkshire by the cold North Sea to die so young.
Well it's gone! I have sent off my proofread manuscript to my publishers. The last few weeks have been a bit of a grind, waiting for the work to come back from the proofreader and then doing the amendments required. I thirsted for something more creative, while also being aware how important this step was and not wanting to mess it up.

To think this time last year I had 0 words and now I have 60,000 - and not just any random words, as my friend keeps pointing out - I feel quite giddy.


As icicles weep,
virgin snow turning to slush -
grieves human folly.
I've been struck this week by the beauty of the trees - when are trees ever not beautiful - and the snow. The dark branches making puzzles against the grey sky and clotted with icy blossoms.

Photo by Mark Vesey, Jan 2013


So we're into the second week of January and I'm slowly re-finding my rhythm of the every-day. I'm feeling excited about my book coming out and also about the other writing I hope to do.

I found this quote in the Writer's Almanac today: "Human nature seems to me like the Alps. The depths are profound, black as night, and terrifying, but the heights are equally real, uplifted in the sunshine." It came from Emily Greene Balch. Not a woman I had ever heard of, but someone I feel I ought to have known about. Working in the late 19th century and into the 20th, she wrote a number of books which helped bring about social reform. She co-founded the Women's International League of Peace and Freedom and in 1946 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

I was struck by her quote, firstly because I think it true and secondly because I will be headed to the Alps later this year for a holiday. Switzerland being my birth place, rightly or wrongly, I do feel an affinity for them. I am very interested in the depths of human nature, but would equally like my head in the sunshine at times this year.


So 2013 begins and I look forward to getting on with more of my creative and writing projects. Increasingly these seem to be having a greater presence in my life and this is rewarding to me.

Before the yuletide festivities I did something I'd never done before: I threw away a book (or, at least, put it in the recycling bin). I read Ann Tracy's "Winter Hunger" and was absolutely chilled by it, especially the ending. I can't decide whether it was the woman eating her baby or her husband, or the neighbours doing nothing to intervene, which got to me the most. I didn't want it on my shelf, in my house. Usually when I don't want a book anymore, I pass it on to someone else or take it to a charity shop. This time, though, I couldn't even bring myself to do that. So it was into the recycling it went.

I was amazed at the strength of my reaction - I still am - which is, no doubt, a testament to Tracy's writing. Though I still wonder at using this skill to present such an unrelentingly bleak view of human nature (and no I don't agree with the blurb which suggests Tracy makes the case for it being the landscape that "abhors the human presence" and puts in train the catastrophic events). Wouldn't it have been better to use her talent to another end? But perhaps there is no "better", no responsibility of that kind, in writing?