Baa-baa – a bowl of ovine blandness

  Many of us are diving into recipe books and blogs right now to find delish things to make for guests or tote along to other people's Christmas parties. How lucky we are that 21st-century food offers so many rich and savory delights. It wasn't like that for our ancestors – for instance, anyone care for a bowl of sheep's head broth? It gets a mention in my novel  Scarlet & Magenta – … [Read more...]

On your marks, get set, skate!

Some of best times I had in researching Scarlet & Magenta was finding out what people did for fun and exercise in the 1880s – for instance, "rinking". When I first spotted the word I had no idea what it meant. Didn't take long to discover that in my hometown, Auckland,  people flocked to the Choral Hall in Symonds Street. There they could strap on skates over their ordinary shoes and go … [Read more...]

Watch your back

In the supermarket about 10 days ago I probably leaned over a few times like this. But the view would not have been so pretty. It was only when I was at the checkout that another woman sidled up behind me and whispered, "Excuse me, but your skirt! Do you know it's rucked up at the back?" Kindly she tugged at the fabric to pull it out from the waistband of my panties. She had a husband … [Read more...]

Morse code’s dots-and-dashes magic

Never before have I been asked so often what I like to read. It happens when you publish a book. Media attention follows, and the question they all ask what sort of books you dive into when you're not writing your own. In my case, pretty much anything. I remember learning at school that having catholic tastes has nothing to do with whether or not you go to mass but is more about having … [Read more...]

Where are you going?

It's a question that's been on my mind lately. Nothing like a wrestle with cancer to make you ask questions of the what-the-hell-am-I-here-for sort. I still can't say I know that for sure, but the BBC World Service sure caught my attention with a series of recent half-hour radio shows called Where Are You Going? As I've plodded through chemo and then radiotherapy (just finished it all - … [Read more...]