Sunday, 19 March 2017

A Launch to remember!

It's been quite some week!
The Girl from Simon's Bay is now well and truly launched!

Four talks and signings, several radio interviews (listen on my website, print media interviews, blog interviews and a TV appearance. I've certainly been kept on the hop promoting the book in Cape Town. I've met many new readers - and also reconnected with ones who had read my previous book, The Housemaid's Daughter. Thank you to all those who came along to find out more and then went on to purchase a copy!

Breakfast TV must be one of the liveliest workplaces around. It doesn't have to be regimented or particularly serious - it's all about engaging with the slightly sleepy viewer and making him/her feel good about waking up and facing the day. On my show, there was a band giving an impromptu performance, someone demonstrating indigenous flower arranging, a feature on how to choose a puppy(!), a guest chef about to prepare a sausage dish, and myself talking about my new book. Never a dull moment! If you haven't caught my TV clip yet, jump on to or find it on my website.

And how did we ever survive without mobile phones? Aside from the humdrum matter of calls/texts/emails, welcome to the mobile phone as temporary radio studio. I found myself in a car, on live radio, discussing my book, offering my take on International Women's Day and then receiving a job offer from a presenter who said I had a good voice for the airwaves!
Just don't put the call on speaker - too much feedback.
Amazing what you learn along the way!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Girl from Simon's Bay on air

I was thrilled to be invited onto SAfm's Literature program on Sunday 19th Feb. Hosted by Nancy Richards, it features all things literary including interviews with authors from South Africa and abroad. The Girl from Simon's Bay was chosen as the "Hero book" on Sunday's show, and we chatted for about half an hour live on air. You can listen to the interview if you go to my website and click on Events.

Whenever I go on radio, I'm always amazed at how efficient it is! No cast of thousands required here, as is the case with television. There was Nancy and her charming producer, a bank of complicated equipment... and they were good to go. Long live radio! No wonder it can bring us so much variety and can respond so fast to breaking stories.

I am counting down to the launch of The Girl from Simon's Bay in Cape Town during the week of the 6th March. If you happen to be in the area, do join me at one of the following events:

Monday 6th March at 10am at Fish Hoek Library for a Literary Tea - talk and reading
Wed 8th March at 10.30am at Exclusive Books in Cavendish Square, Claremont, for tea and book signing
Wed 8th March at 5.30 for 6pm at Wordsworth Books, Longbeach Mall, Noordhoek for talk and book signing, with refreshments

Do take a look at my website, again under Events, for the Invitations to the above.
I look forward to seeing you!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Searching for the Girl...

While four ships become the wartime home of the hero of my new novel, The Girl from Simon's Bay, what of the heroine, the Girl herself? Where does she call home?

She is born in 1918 in Simon's Town, the British port which hosts the Royal Navy's South Atlantic fleet. She lives in a terrace of cottages above the dockyard where her father works. When she's 21, war breaks out and changes her world - you'll have to read the book to understand why!

But wait:
In the 1960s, the South African government embarked on a program of forced removals as part of their apartheid policy. Simon's Town was declared a White Group Area, and non-whites were evicted from the town and their homes were destroyed.
So... how was I to describe my heroine's early life in a community that no longer exists? While many of Simon's Town's beautifully restored Victorian buildings can still be seen, the cottages of local workers and fishermen have gone. Only fragments remain: a historic wall that marked one section of the community, a small, elegant mosque that defied demolition.

Luckily, I discovered the tiny Heritage Museum, tucked away near the dockyard, where a dedicated lady historian has created a vast archive of photographs, cuttings and memories. She was generous enough to guide me around the streets she once knew, and to conjure up life as it had been when my heroine lived there.

And here she is, holding an advance copy of The Girl from Simon's Bay, in her extraordinary museum...

Thursday, 19 January 2017

A Fiery Start to Publication Day...

Today, Thursday 19th January 2017, is publication day in the UK for The Girl from Simon's Bay!

So... the book will be in bookshops around the UK from today, and also available to download to your Kindle, iPad, iPhone, and any other digital reader - wherever you are in the world. For South African readers, copies will be arriving in your bookshops from mid-February, and I will be doing a series of events in Cape Town in early March. If you are in Australia or New Zealand, keep an eye out from March. US and Canadian readers will have to be patient for a little longer - but remember that you can download the ebook immediately.

This picture of me with an early copy of the book was taken at the top of Red Hill, overlooking Simon's Bay, last month. It does not look the same today. Sadly, last week, a devastating fire swept through the area, destroying much of the beautiful fynbos, and threatening Simon's Town below. Only the heroic action of three water-bombing helicopter pilots plus the dedication of firefighters on the ground averted a tragedy.

A fire threatens Simon's Town in The Girl from Simon's Bay...

Perhaps it was the sun glancing off a piece of glass on the mountain that caused the spark. Flames burst through the leafy canopy like myriad orange umbrellas.
"It'll head this way," I cried, "the wind's in this direction -"

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Coming soon in 2017...

Happy New Year! A box arrived on my doorstep the other day...
And here are the contents: all crisp and hot off the press, the first copies of The Girl from Simon's Bay!

It's always a wonderful feeling to hold the finished book in your hand for the first time, to flick through the pages and read a random section and realise that, yes, it's finally in print! I am delighted with it, I love the design, and the cover is really smooth and tactile to the touch. Typeset in 11/16pt Sabon, it's clear and easy to read - I always enjoy a book whose the type setting doesn't require me to screw up my eyes! Right now, The Girl from Simon's Bay is being distributed for its launch in the UK on the 19th January. Copies will soon be heading off to South Africa where I will be doing a series of promotional events and interviews in Cape Town in early March. In due course, there will be paperbacks available in the USA, the Commonwealth and other English-speaking countries.

But if you are a Kindle or iPad user, you don't have long to wait - wherever you happen to be in the world. You can order the book directly to your device right now via your favourite online seller, and it should pop up in your library/digital bookshelf on 19th January. Hooray for technology!

Sometimes David surprises me... in the passing slide of blue eyes, the timbre of a man's voice, the line of a warship sliding across the bay.
I can almost believe...

Sunday, 4 December 2016

A brand new website!

With the upcoming publication of The Girl from Simon's Bay, I'm delighted to be relaunching my website

After all, a new book is surely a good time for a refresh!

Website design has certainly moved on from when we set up my original site four years ago. Instead of a static page, I can now include a set of revolving photographs as a backdrop, for instance. And I can add more links to the research I've done and the places that feature in the books. The website is now "dynamic" (!) in that it will squeeze itself onto the smallest phone without losing content, or expand to fill your large desktop screen. Progress! And, hopefully, a more appealing layout. Let me know what you think.

In addition to the smart new features, I've revamped the existing material that described The Housemaid's Daughter, and included lots of new content about the background and inspiration for The Girl from Simon's Bay. The new novel is set in Simon's Town, the naval base at the foot of the Cape peninsula in South Africa. There are photos of the bay and the mountains, there is background to the 4 ships that feature so strongly in the book, and I've given a taste of the wartime royal navy town that's at the heart of the story. It's a world that nurtures - yet sometimes turns away from - the Girl in the title...
So do take a look, especially if you plan to read the book. It will offer a private view behind the scenes!

The Girl from Simon's Bay will be published in paperback on the 19th January 2017 in the UK and South Africa, with the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to follow in Feb/March. But remember that the book will available worldwide, on 19th Jan, as an ebook for Kindle, iPad and other ereaders.
Don't miss it!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Girl from Simon's Bay

Here she is, ready for her debut in January 2017!

The Girl from Simon's Bay has taken her place on a cover that strikingly evokes the setting for my upcoming book. Last year I took a series of photographs from a vantage point above Simon's Bay, on the Cape Peninsula in South Africa, to provide inspiration and detail for my publishers' design team. I wanted to show the spectacle of the glittering bay surrounded by mountains, while also conveying a haunting sense of a young woman adrift...

To my delight, the designers also included typical Cape features like the swathe of fynbos with pincushion proteas in the foreground. And for those of you who know the Cape, you'll recognise the ribbon of sea foam as being a well-known sight along the coast, particularly down at Cape Point where the sea can be so rough that foam seems to decorate every rock and inlet.

Now that the cover is complete, the book will be going to print. Pre-orders are already being taken so if you fancy getting in early then do place an order at your favourite online bookseller and await its delivery in the New Year. The official launch date is the 19th of January. I can't wait to feel the pages beneath my fingers! You can, of course, also order the book to read on Kindle, iPad and a variety of e-readers.

In my next blog, I'll be introducing you to Louise, the heroine of the novel, and the enigmatic girl on the cover. But for now, let me leave you with a brief taster...

Infant waves curled towards me over the crystal sand.
I reached out both hands to seize the oncoming water with its lace of bubbles and fell forward. Cold, green liquid gurgled into my mouth, lapped at my forehead and started to trickle into my ears...