Outback Writer

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Thirteenth Tale

I contrast to the dire Death in Pemberley series The Thirteenth Tale was excellent. In parts it was so chilling that shivers ran up and down my spine. As in all good dramas things gradually evolved and made sense.

The characterization was excellent. At first the old lady on her death bed seemed unpleasant, but gradually understanding dawned. Olivia Colman and Vanessa Redgrave gave fine performances.

The locations were heavy with atmosphere, especially the ruin of the old mansion Angelfields.

If I had to sum up the theme of the story it would be 'The evil of uncontrolled jealousy'.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

What a cliche!

A man being saved from the gallows seconds before he's about to drop, is an inexcusable cliche for any writer to use, but worse when used by a respected crime writer with many excellent novels to her name. I can forgive an inexperienced writer but not PD James.

The other howling cliche is that the guilty man expired soon after his confession.

Surely the BBC can do better than this. Dreadful costumes and a plot line full of holes are not what people pay their licence fees to watch.

I haven't read the book, and if the TV series was any indication as to how weak it was, I certainly won't bother.


Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 28, 2013

BBC Costumes

Have the BBC slashed the costume budget in Death Comes to Pemberley?

In a period where women changed their clothes at least three times a day Mrs Darcy wears the same green dress for days. She is supposed to be very wealthy yet she wears no jewellery - not even a modest string of pearls. When she is not in the same green dress she wears drab clothes more suited to a servant.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Death comes to Pemberley

Sequels should be written by the original author or not at all.

PD James is an excellent writer and capable of inventing her own fascinating characters, so why did she write a sequel to Pride and Prejudice?

I refused to read the book, which some say is dull, but I have watched the first episode of the TV series. It is atmospheric and tense, but what struck me forcible was that it could have been one complete novel, not a sequel to any thing else.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Rolf Harris

I see on the reports that there are no rape charges against Rolf Harris, just decades old sexual abuse charges.

What did he do? Put his arm round them? Tell them they were pretty? Shake hands with them?


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Do supplements work?

Or are they a waste of money?

A few years ago a girl I worked with had severe flu. When she came back to work after having 3 weeks sick-leave, she looked like death. The glands in her neck were swollen, she was pale and had black circles under her eyes. She was so exhausted her could hardly drag herself through the day.

I had had a remarkable experience with Ginseng, so I went out at lunch time and bought her some. We didn't expect to see her the next day. One of my colleagues said they wouldn't be surprised if she'd been admitted to hospital. But she came to work, looking much better. Even I, who had a lot of faith in Ginseng, was surprised at the improvement. The next day she was back to normal. She felt so well that instead of catching the train home 2 stops, she walked.

Why then are we always reading articles decrying supplements?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Princess Margaret's son?

When I was working at The National Archives, the man who claims to be the secret son of Princess Margaret, came in to look at the records hoping to find the proof he needed.

Dismissed by some of the media as a crank, there are strong reasons for his belief.

(1) Unlike most people the woman who adopted him was Princess Margaret's dresser, so it's not as if there was no connection with her.
(2) He was born in South Africa. Princess Margaret was there at the time.
(3) He has asked for, and been denied a DNA test.

He was always polite and seemed very sensitive. He told me that he was anxious to establish his identity.

He has at last been permitted to check Princess Margaret's will.

Good luck to him.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013


In my latest novel, Suspicion Points, I used the experience of bullying I had when I worked at a hospital. It was interesting making use of a bad experience. These two women lied and bullied and were so convincing that our complaints to human resources were ignored.  At least once a week they reduced someone to tears. One man had a nervous breakdown. I don't know if they ever got their just deserts, and now I don't care. The department had become a snake pit and I was relieved when I was made redundant.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013


How I loathe the term celebrities.

David Beckham is a footballer or, in more general terms, a sportsman.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are members of the royal family.
Helen Mirren and Helena Bonham-Carter are actors.
JK Rowling is a writer.

Why lump them under the generic term of celebrity?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Peter O'Toole

He was my favourite actor. Lawrence of Arabia is my favourite film.

Imagine the excitement when he visited The National Archives as a reader. I think it was in 2006. His visit must have taken hours longer than he anticipated, because readers and members of staff kept going up to his desk and asking for his autograph. He was gracious and charming and his eyes were mesmerising and very blue. Even as his normal self he was charismatic.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Nasty characters

Coming in contact with nasty or mad people is useful for  a writer. While the experience can be alarming or frustrating it can be stored for later use. Need a nasty character? Dredge your memory.

Working with the public is a goldmine. When I was working for The National Archives in London, we had at least one nasty person a week.

One man came rushing up to our desk demanding we call the police because someone had stolen his documents. He had left them on his desk while he went to lunch. We tried in vain to calm him by telling him that no one can get through security with an armful of documents. He launched into a conspiracy theory. The documents were a vital part of his research and only he had realised their significance.

We checked the references and went into the reading room. It didn't take us long to find them. 'That's not my desk!' he thundered. It was his desk. He had got confused on his return from lunch and gone to the wrong desk.

Instead of being embarrassed and apologetic, he grunted, sat down and said, 'I hate this place.'
How we would have loved to reply, 'And we hate readers like you.'

I haven't used his rudness and paronia in a novel yet, but I will.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Amazon Coundown Kindle deal

Secrets, tragedy and love in the Australian Outback.

UK 99p

US $1.62

Extracts from reviews :

It reminds me of Anna Karenina, as if this was the Australian book that Tolstoy never wrote.

The characterization is very well done and the book left me homesick for a place I had never been.

The ending is powerful and unexpected--both bittersweet and hopeful.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Amazon Countdown

I'm delighted that my Amazon Coundown promotion for my novel about opera students has been successful.

Monday, December 09, 2013


Intrigue from the first paragraph.

A tragic and mysterious novel with strong, well rounded characters.

On Special offer from Amazon Coundown. for 1 more day.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Amazon Countdown Deal

Opera unites them. Love & ambition divide them.

UK 99p

US $1.62

Snips from reviews

A great story, filled with mystery and tension.

Vissi d’arte is an extremely well written and expertly crafted novel.

Nicholas’s arrival at a house he had no wish to inherit is a great start to the story.
A high-pitched romance set within the world of the opera.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Opera Novel

Opera is the star of this novel set in an opera school. Students are united by opera, but divided by love and ambition.

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 06, 2013

Nelson Mandela

Do not mourn his death. Rejoice that he was born and celebrate his monumental achievements, his integrity and compassion.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Maria Callas

Maria Callas was born 90 years ago today. What a supreme singer and actress she was. Her voice was full of passion and expression. If her character was in a frightening situation you could hear it in her voice.

Vissi d'arte will always be my favourite aria. Tosca's desperation and feelings of injustice shine through.

In my novel Vissi d'arte, which is about student opera singers, the director uses the Callas recording of Tosca to show the class what acting in opera through one's voice is all about.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Black Friday

It is a black day when people behave like lunatics and are encouraged to do so.