"I expect you’ll be becoming a schoolmaster, sir. That’s what most of the gentlemen does, sir, that gets sent down for indecent behaviour.” Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall
Diary
Dartmoor downpour

Dartmoor downpour

Julia Rochester’s debut novel The House at the Edge of the World is longlisted for both the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Desmond Elliott Prize for Fiction 2016. It’s a darkly comic and constantly surprising psychological mystery about comforts and destructive forces among close relatives. A recent family get-together is dominated by foul weather,...
Wet cement

Wet cement

Last week I was in Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh, a state in the northeast of India that most Indians are, much of the time, only dimly aware of. It’s nearer China than it is to Delhi. I was lucky enough to be there as a jury member for a festival of films from...
A country escape

A country escape

Christine Sneed’s latest novel Paris, He Said focuses on a woman in her early 30s who accepts the offer of an older man who invites her to live with him in the French capital and work as an artist. She writes from a luxurious and strings-free creative haven closer to home. October 2, 2015 Lake Forest, Illinois: I’m at Ragdale, an...
Dennison's dolce vita

Dennison’s dolce vita

July 9, 2015 “So, where were we?” I say, as she fills her water bottle and I rescue a fragile, yellow spider from the yoghurt container, in which I have packed the blueberries from my bushes. “What were we talking about?” Ruth Ozeki and I haven’t seen each other in over nine months. Time enough...
Up in the clouds

Up in the clouds

Wednesday 27 May We are late taking off. The Airbus sits unmoving on the tarmac, the stale air tasting of dust and the faint, tantalising possibility of disaster, while outside the New York City evening is blackening to night. In London, it is one am: in seven hours or so, while this plane crests down...
On the cusp of wherever

On the cusp of wherever

I am on a beach holiday and it is raining. Still, we sit out, under the umbrellas, because we’re told that it will pass, and there is nothing else to do, and the children are swimming regardless. The rain has delighted them, but I am cold. Everyone around me holds a book, or device. In...
Seeds of change

Seeds of change

Wednesday 10 December 2014. Tonight is the night I leave Beirut with a suitcase full of my first children’s book, The Giant Watermelon, a bilingual Arabic-English story set in a refugee camp in Lebanon. It’s almost 4 am, I am sat at the airport and have just given a couple of copies to some curious...
Sitting tight

Sitting tight

Publication week, and surfing the exhilarated, semi-anxious state of having a book launched into the world. We cracked a bottle – okay, more than one – across the bows of Getting Colder on Monday… marking the beginning of the uncertain voyage any book takes. In my other job, as a screenwriter, seeing your work go out...
After the euphoria, the finances

After the euphoria, the finances

Recently I went to the launch night of a literary journal here in Dublin. As is the way with these things, as soon as the readings and speech were done, we all sighed with relief and headed next door to the pub. I was introduced to the author of a novel I had read and...
Smoke and mirrors

Smoke and mirrors

Mira Jacob’s sumptuous debut novel The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is a heartbreaking and hilarious story of a family in flux in the heat of a New Mexico summer. Basking in positive reviews and attention, she reveals that life as an overnight literary sensation is not always as it seems. 28 August 2014 Today is...