Guest writers on their way…

Over the next few weeks I’ll be hosting some fellow writers on my blog. Look out for Claire Baldry, Mike Hingston, Fiona Morgan, Madalyn Morgan and Jane Risdon. Here’s Claire, who is a retired Headteacher and English Advisor living in Sussex. She’s published one novel, five poetry booklets and won awards. More about Claire and co. coming soon…

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Oh, to be on Leros now that Spring is coming

Martyn and I thought long and hard about moving to Greece, more specifically, to Leros. Then Brexit reared its muddled head and we decided to ‘wait and see’. Well, the waiting isn’t over and we still don’t know whether it will ever be a possibility. Writing a novel that’s partly set in Leros has helped transport me back from time to time since we were last there in September / October 2018. The name of the book, JIGSAW ISLAND, is because of the shape of Leros, like a floating piece in the Aegean Sea. It’s also a place where the leading character discovers some missing pieces in her life. JIGSAW ISLAND is due for publication this year. Meanwhile, photographs enhance the memory… Pandeli is one of my favourite favourite places – where old and new friends live and work in the community – and Pandeli harbour is a favourite view.

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What I was watching when I should have been (re)writing…

Martyn and I took a stroll down into Dawlish yesterday and look what we saw… a monochrome study but for the red beaks. There are now at least six adult black swans on Dawlish Water – and three nests, one with two eggs that I can see. Too early for Australian ducklings with the weather about to turn, poor wee souls. Ah well, back to the Mac, to Jigsaw Island and the sunny Aegean in my head.

Posted in Contemporary Women's Fiction, Devon, Fiction, Greek Islands, Humour, new writing, Personal, Writing | Leave a comment

Crow Court – Andy Charman’s new novel

A novel of short stories set in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, in the 19th century.

Crow Court is the tale of a small community in the aftermath of a choirboy’s suicide and the violent death of the choirmaster. Set in Victorian Dorset, the novel is told through fourteen episodes, each one a story in its own right with a unique narrative voice—sometimes modern, occasionally antique and often featuring rich Dorset dialect.

Andy’s novel is available through Unbound –

Breaking barriers through crowdfunded books

… mission to disrupt publishing with fresh ideas that don’t fit the mould

Find Andy’s novel on Unbound here

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Research is a dangerous activity; it can actually stop you writing. So here I am researching my next book, Jigsaw Island, on the Greek Island of Leros. The fourth draft is written, by the way, but you can never be too sure. And you can wake up to views like this….Pandeli Leros

Posted in Contemporary Women's Fiction, Desperation, Greek Islands, Humour, Life on the edge, Writing | 1 Comment

Jigsaw Island – finding the comedy in tragedy

Top: Agios Isidoros Chapel, Leros, Dodecanese Islands

Below: Refugees, Lakki Harbour, Leros

Much as I enjoy humour, increasingly I see the balance between comedy and tragedy. Like yin and yang, they are co-dependent, one acting as a foil to the other. At Reading University, we students were given a stern rebuttal of the theory that Shakespeare’s ‘comic relief’ is there to ‘lighten up’ the serious content of a play. The argument was that what many see as light relief is, in fact, a reflection on the darker elements of a play delivered in dramatic contrast to give them dimension and greater potency. The Porter’s speech in Macbeth is an excellent example.

As I write my second novel, Jigsaw Island, set in the Greek Islands of Symi and Leros, I am struggling to find comic irony in the crisis that faces refugees and the islanders who offer them aid. Not even bitter comedy feels appropriate. The further I investigate, the more outrage I feel, the greater becomes my anger at the Western powers who have caused and now perpetrate the conflict in Syria and elsewhere. Their failure to alleviate the appalling suffering of thousands of displaced people or assist those who are prepared to help them is both abysmal and callous. The misery on one side and contempt on the other continue and the media is losing interest.

The research I have done relies in part on personal experience of the islands and contact with friends and acquaintances who are or have been involved with assisting refugees. They tell some very dark stories. I will continue to wrestle with a way of using comedy as a literary device to prompt consideration because I believe that provoking amusement then asking the viewer or reader to question their reaction is a powerful tool in the writer’s kit.

Jigsaw Island will be a darker novel than its predecessor, Terrible With Raisins. But I’m working to create equally engaging characters who are capable of inspiring laughter as well as illuminating uncomfortable truths in theirs and the lives of others.

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Performance art in Torbay – The Tale

It was much more than that. For three weeks in September The Tale took its mobile audience through memorabilia, sea trips, promenade and venue based performance art, sound installations and the spoken word provided by the young people of Torbay. Martyn and I were privileged to be part of it. This is a link to the Guardian review:

My particular favourites were The Alphington Ponies – a representation of two sisters who lived in Torquay in the 1840s and promenaded in identical costume and exaggerated make up every day at 3 pm, weather permitting. They had moved from Alphington, an Exeter suburb, with their mother as a comfortable middle class family whose head of the family was in the military. When their father died, the money ran out and the ponies and trap had to be sold. But the name ‘Alphington Ponies’ stuck. They were figures of interest, ridicule and some sympathy. In their later years, they returned to Exeter and, when one sister died, the other was to be seen, promenading alone. It was fortunate, perhaps, that her loneliness did not endure too long.:



And the seascape sound installation at Berry Head by Chris Watson, an experienced and highly skilled sound recordist known best, perhaps, for his work on the many David Attenborough series of wildlife programmes. The range of sound and setting engulfed and moved the listener, from sea birds to cetaceans, cliffs to coral life. Chris Watson’s website:

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