writing life

Special Edition: London Book Fair, Part 3/3 + Newport, Rhode Island

I’m writing this from the Newport, Rhode Island where I am having a 4-day long weekend. It’s The Ocean Race weekend, the only North American stop on an around the world sailing race (32,000 nautical mile or 60,000 km), that is amongst the world’s toughest and craziest team sports. The crew race day and night for more than twenty days at a time on some legs, slammed by the wind and waves and extreme conditions that can fluctuate from -5 to +40 degrees […]

Special Edition: London Book Fair, Part 2/3

I don’t know about you, but I gave last weekend’s coronation a pass. The pictures on the news though, all that ceremony and pomp, cheekily reminded me of an event I stumbled upon at the National Gallery when I was in London for the Book Fair. The National Gallery’s Friday Lates is free evening arts programming that varies each week; in this case Life Drawing. Two performance artists  interpreted a Renaissance painting from the gallery (The Ugly Duchess) and […]

Special Edition: London Book Fair, Part 1/3

I’ve returned from a fascinating week in London in which I stayed in Shepherds Bush, a dynamic area west of Kensington I’d never really visited except to go to meetings at the BBC. My hotel was oddly fascinating. My room triggered an unfortunate muscle memory of Super 8 Motels from US road trips; the breakfast area was filled with publishing types and in the evenings hordes of men speaking Russian, often sporting loud gold jewellery, occupied the main floor […]

Life of a Queen

Hello stranger. It’s been a while. While the Prince Harry memoir Spare breaks bestselling records, and British journalists sneer yet gobble up every available column inch to denounce it (apparently despising the media pretty much guarantees they despise you back. . .), I’m here to talk about the Queen. And I don’t mean Elizabeth II. Last May, we took a transatlantic crossing between New York and Southampton, England on the Queen Mary 2, decades after my parents and three older […]

Location, Location, Location.

*This was published by Open Book as part of my writer-in-residency appointment. I’m writing to you from the plane to London. I’m headed to my favourite city for ten days, following by a few days in Edinburgh visiting friends. Interspersed are trains to Cardiff and Cambridge. It’s a research trip for my third novel, set in London. The project continues the exploration of global money-laundering, political corruption and the illegal but highly profitable actions of the […]

Why TV is Good For You.

*This was published by Open Book as part of my writer-in-residency appointment. If your mother was like my mother, you were told to turn off the television as a child (in my case, Family Ties or Miami Vice or Murder She Wrote or. . .) and pick up a book. Any book. Because everyone knew reading was better for you than staring at the idiot box. Now, far be it from me to suggest my mother wasn’t right about everything. I […]

Ask Jane (Agony Aunt)

* This was published by Open Book as part of my writer-in-residency appointment. Hi, I’m Jane, and I’m the protagonist of Helen’s novel, Pull Focus. I’m taking over the blog today to answer questions readers may about me, or the book, or anything else. What’s an Agony Aunt? A woman who replies to reader’s letters, usually in a newspaper or magazine column, and gives advice. What qualifies you to give advice? Probably not too much, but […]

How to Cook A Look

*This was published by Open Book as part of my writer-in-residence appointment. In March 2021, my house was completely destroyed by fire. Thankfully, I wasn’t home at the time.  Although the fire incinerated only one floor, the smoke and soot travelled everywhere, including via the firemen’s heavy boots as they ran up the stairs with their axe chopping holes in the walls to ensure no sparks flew unseen. Smoke and soot are carcinogenic, so the […]

The Marketing Salsa

*This was published in Open Book as part of my writer-in-residence appointment. You’ve finished a book. Congrats!  Now, you’ve got a book deal, decided to self-publish or signed with a hybrid publisher (the ‘pay to play’ option, which provides some editorial and marketing support, but at a fee). The hard work of marketing is about to begin, and you’ll need to become an author-entrepreneur, regardless of your publisher, or whether you’ve engaged some freelance PR help yourself. It’s […]

The Writing Life

*This article was published by Open Book during my writer-in-residence appointment. It’s late October and I’m writing this on a cold, rainy day after learning my friend, the writer Sylvia Fraser, has passed away. Such profoundly sad news. Author Sylvia Fraser. Sylvia was three decades older than me and more alive than almost anyone I knew. She backpacked alone around India for three months in her sixties. She took ayahuasca (a plant-based psychedelic) in the Amazonian jungle. She demonstrated […]

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