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© Phil Date / Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Phil Date / Dreamstime Stock Photos

I’m currently in the process of giving my books a facelift. I’m not reworking the actual contents (apart from clearing up a few minor typos and formatting problems), just trying to make them look more attractive and professional. The process so far has given me a thumping headache, and a renewed respect for publishers. Getting a book to look all lovely and slick – in both its print and eBook manifestations – is, let it be said, no easy matter. A thousand perils lie in wait for the unwary. Continue reading

The Dreaded A-Word

81skgtUocuL._SL1500_Consider these three different scenarios:

1. The hero of a Regency romance stalks into a drawing-room and greets his bewildered valet with the words ‘What’s up, dude?’

2. A generally well-researched novel set in Mediaeval Europe has a scene in which the protagonist gets out of bed and puts on his underpants. (Underpants, so I’m told, were not commonly worn in the Mediaevael era.)

3. An author deliberately and knowingly introduces anachronisms, such as spaceships or the internet, into a novel set in Tudor England.

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Italian Literature’s Identity Crisis

italian-flagItaly is one of those countries you just have to love. It has some of the best countryside and most interesting towns and cities in the world; it’s the country of the Renaissance, of glorious art and architecture. Its wine, fashion and food are widely considered to be second to none. Besides, how can you not love a country shaped like a boot? Yes, there’s no doubt about it: Italy gets rave reviews all round. Continue reading

The Living is Easy

Lake Como, where I like to spend those long summer days...

Lake Como, where I like to spend those long summer days…

One of the good things about living in Italy is the general consensus that, from June onward, the weather is much too hot and sticky to keep students locked in school. By now, then, school is well and truly out, and the once-crowded school corridors are a spectral place of lone cleaners mopping the floor and the plaintive shrill of phones that never get answered. Of the students and teachers, there is not a trace. Well, who am I to argue with such a wise and humane policy? Continue reading

Time, Dr Who, and Writing – or not, as the case may be

TardisI sometimes swear I’m caught up in some kind of bizarre Dr Who-style time-bending experiment. I don’t know what’s happened to the space-time continuum, but it just doesn’t seem to be functioning as it once did. I can remember a time when the temporal gap between one Christmas and the next lasted for about – well, about twelve months actually: twelve long, glorious months stuffed full of exciting possibilities. Now I sometimes wonder if it’s even worth packing away all the festive decorations; before I know it, it’ll be time to put them all back up again. Continue reading

The Importance of Play

© Pnovess /  Dreamstime Stock Photos

The way forward is not always a straight line… © Pnovess / Dreamstime Stock Photos

Recently, while tapping away at a work-in-progress, I hit the buffers. The ideas that once seemed fresh and exciting began to look dull, and the words that once seemed so alive suddenly became leaden, lifeless artefacts. Matters weren’t helped by the fact that I was beginning to sense a looming deadline – not, I should stress, a deadline that had been imposed on me, but one that I had imposed on myself. Feeling that time was running out, I forced myself to sit down and write for a certain number of hours every day; yet during those hours, I often found, I actually managed to achieve very little. I was putting in the hours, all right, but I wasn’t seeing the results. Continue reading