Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Weathervane Summer Sale!

In the spirit of holiday reading (be it lost in the grass, cocktails at dusk, a leaky cottage or simply a Sunday lie-in) my magnificent publisher, Weathervane Press, are having a Summer Sale.

For a limited period, you can pick up any Weathervane title (including The Dawning) at half-price - that's just £3.99 - and with FREE P&P too!

Just what are you waiting for?!?

oh - here's a bookshop link

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Discovering Megan Abbot

She’s been collecting awards and accolades for years, but I’ve only just discovered Megan Abbot.
I started accidentally, on a whim, with her second novel, The Song is You. The book’s styling made me pick it up (my husband’s a bit partial to pulp art and I’ve grown to have rather a soft spot too, our dining room is walled with it), but as soon as I began to read, I fell hard and I fell fast. Just the way you should with such a book.

Abbot writes period novels in the hardboiled/noir tradition. She’s frequently compared to Chandler (and I love Chandler), but there’s both a succinctness and sumptuous lyricism to Abbot’s writing that is absolutely her own. She’s everything I might have hoped for in this genre. And so much more.

There are bent cops and wayward starlets, cloudy bars and glittering casinos, each crackling, sizzling story accompanied by perfect pacing, hooks and twists. The moral ambiguity is brilliantly layered – everything and everyone has a beautifully rendered seamy underside - and while Queenpin is simply dazzling, in each of her novels, her female characters are outstanding.

And this is hugely appealing. Personally I’ve always had a thing about fictional ‘bad girls’ (Oates’ Foxfire is one of my all-time favourite books). It’s also more generally refreshing – not that this is some simple redressing, the chilling brutality of gender politics runs in dark threads throughout Abbot’s books.

Most of all though, she tells fascinating, stylish and irresistible stories.

And her covers truly are amazing. And she’s called Megan. What’s not to like?

Thursday, 1 July 2010


After he’d left us, during those final weeks, I’d rush home from school each afternoon to find my mother spread across the sofa cushions, watching the tennis.

At least she appeared to be watching it. The room was so dimmed it was difficult to tell. The French windows often stood wide open, but she kept the curtains closed. The garden’s heat and buzzing drifted in, in small, squeezed pieces, although now and then, the lined hems quivered with a more persistent, fruit-tinged breeze.

And from the television, that very English murmur:

"Fifteen – Love"

Before the furred, steady thud of the ball resumed. On and on, like a heartbeat. Back and forth, like breath.

My mother watched the screen and I watched her. I’d never seen her looking quite so blank, or pale, or still. Not in the flesh, anyway. She looked like an old photograph of herself, perhaps one of the perfume campaign shots, when they had swathed her in silk, behind a misted lens. She looked just as dreamy and beautiful, and as unnervingly unreal . . . When the telephone rang she hardly stirred. She’d glance up, but that was all, or shift to rearrange the cushions at her neck, but she wouldn’t rise. She never answered.

While it trilled though, she sometimes smiled in my general direction and once or twice, she raised her glass to me. She winked.

Or seemed to wink. Through those blowsy shadows, that uncertain light.

And I do remember crossing the room. Not to answer any call either, but to sit on the rug beside her. Beside her glass, filled with gin and tonic and shifting ice. And I remember how meticulous her movements were when she lifted her drink over my head. I remember that hiss and icy tinkle, while the ball-girls ducked and ran in circles, then fell hastily back into place.

(from The Lives of Ghosts)