Making It Up

11ème Parcours d’art contemporain en vallée du Lot
présenté par la MAGP centre d’art, du 3 juillet au 4 septembre 2016

(Photographie : Yohann Gozard ©)At Falmouth University Thursday 22 March 11.30-13.00 giving the keynote presentation in the Research Students Symposium. How do we make something from nothing? How do we get from the blank page to the book or the artwork? I will focus on the development of my future fiction, Meanda, set on a water planet. The symposium is open to the public, with other presentations by postgrads. Places are limited. If you would like to attend please contact Image shows an extract from Meanda installed on the GR36 Compostella path in the Lot Valley, France. Photo by Yohann Gozard.

Experiencing Suspense


Can I get through treacherous snow and howling winds in the UK today to reach the Gers in south-west France for a weekend workshop with a group of delightful writers?

If I make it, we plan to consider narrators, voice, tense, creating characters, creating suspense, settings, and constructing fictional worlds.

That should be enough to keep us busy for a couple of days.


New newsletter and books giveaway

urinal Cluny
Urinal used for medical diagnosis, from the Cluny Museum, Paris

My latest newsletter has just been published. It includes news on my novel in progress, The Anarchy, depicting the continuing conflict between the Welsh and the Normans in the 12th century in the aftermath of the sinking of The White Ship, when King Henry I lost his heir.

The newsletter also includes items on my recent talks with writers and readers, my visual inspirations for writing from the Cluny Museum and news on two new guest blogposts coming up.

And finally there is a competition to win a free book by answering a simple question about Henry I.

If you don’t already subscribe to my newsletter you can sign up here.

Images from the medieval world

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I am running a series of daily image trailers on Twitter prior to an illustrated talk that I am giving at Downham Market Library on Monday 11 December, 2-3pm.

A lot of the research I undertake for my historical fiction involves images, objects, places and maps.

To celebrate the publication of my latest novel, The Drowned Court, I will present some of these fascinating images in the talk. I aim to show how I use them to help me write and how some of these objects, faces and places have found their way into my fiction.

Booking for the talk is essential on 01366 383073. (Tickets £3, includes refreshments.)

The images above are: Statue of the Virgin, Albi Cathedral, France; December from a Book of Hours; Locust in a manuscript; the Witham Pin in the British Museum. Follow me on Twitter for more images over the next week.

Palaces and bishops

Thank you to Pembroke Dock Library for such an enjoyable event last week when I presented my new novel, The Drowned Court, and talked with the audience about medieval life and the process of writing historical fiction. And thanks too, to Bob, my ‘muse’, for driving me around Pembrokeshire again, so that we were able to tread in the 12th century footsteps of Nest ferch Rhys and her husband Gerald FitzWalter.


St Davids Bishops Palace cropped
Bishop’s Palace, St Davids

We visited the splendid Bishop’s Palace at St Davids where Nest’s son was bishop, and the vast Bishop’s Palace at Lamphey (after a very fine lunch at Lamphey Hall).

Lamphey Bishops Palace
Bishop’s Palace, Lamphey
Lamphey Bishops Palace drawing
Artist’s impression of the 13th century Bishop’s Palace at Lamphey

The massive corn barn at Lamphey Palace stored a huge amount of grain which the Norman overlords took in taxes from the Welsh tenant farmers. The palace’s dovecote, deer park and four ponds supplied the bishop with meat and fish, and three orchards provided apples, and cabbages and leeks for his potage.

The Bishop’s Palace at Lamphey was where Nest’s wily husband Gerald FitzWalter left a faked letter tricking the Welsh attackers of Pembroke Castle into believing that he had plenty of troops and supplies to defend the castle when, in fact, most of his men had deserted and he had no food at all. The ruse worked and he was the only Norman lord who managed to hang on to his toehold in south west Wales during that round of attacks by the Welsh.

The date of my illustrated talk at Downham Market Library has been changed to Monday 11 December, 2-3pm. Booking essential on 01366 383073. (Tickets £3, includes refreshments.)


Hnefatafl -Viking boardgame


Since characters in Dublin who appear in my novel trilogy, Conquest, play the Viking boardgame, hnefatafl, I was excited to see a 9th century set of glass pieces from the game in a fabulous exhibition of medieval glass at the Cluny Museum in Paris this week.

I am giving illustrated talks on the Conquest novels

at Downham Market Library on 27 Nov.

Booking essential.

Library Talks – Historical Fiction

The Drowned CourtMy new historical novel, The Drowned Court, is published tomorrow by Impress Books. It covers the years 1107-1121 and focusses on the tumultuous lives of the Welsh princess, Nest ferch Rhys, and the Norman king, Henry I.

I am giving a number of library talks in November in Norfolk and Pembrokeshire to celebrate the new book:

Mon 13 Nov 11am Pembroke Dock Library. Free event.

Mon 27 Nov 2pm Downham Market Library, Priory Road, Downham Market, PE38 9JS. Illustrated talk, £3 including refreshments. Booking essential on 01366 383073.

My guest blogpost on writing the book is published on The Writing Desk.