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Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Surprise behind The Sunrise

Embedded image permalink
Alison and Pat from Plackitt & Booth, Lytham, with Victoria Hislop (centre)
Photo courtesy of Headline

Renown author Victoria Hislop, who  has sold millions of books all over the world, admits she never wanted  to be a novelist. 'I didn't have a creative gene in my body,' she told a lively audience at Lowther Theatre, Lytham, this week.

Victoria was in Lancashire to celebrate the launch of her latest novel, The Sunrise, released on September 26 and already a best seller.

 Set in Famagusta, Cypress, in the early 1970s, the book follows two families whose lives are changed forever when the Turks stage a coup forcing the locals to flee for their lives.  Based on recent history, The Sunrise charts the decline of the once prosperous town into a ghostly half-ruin. Even today, no-one is allowed into Famagusta, which is fenced off with barbed wire and guarded by Turkish soldiers.  Eerily, some of the homes remain much as they were  forty years ago, 'still with books on the shelves.'

The writer first fell in love with Greece when she visited Athens in 1976 and now sees it as her second home. She is well known on the islands for the  film of her debut novel, The Island, and can speak Greek fluently - albeit with a French accent! So taken is she with the culture that she admits she'll never write a novel set in England. 'I don't think I can write about English people,' she said with a definite twinkle in her eye.

Are her characters based on real people? 'No character is based on one individual.' she explained, 'but they do reflect the various personalities of the Greeks.'

Victoria read English at university and became a travel journalist, before realising that it would be 'much more fun' to make up her own stories.  Every day she writes in the library near her home to avoid getting  distracted by the minutiae  of daily life  - and that includes eating, or having a cup of coffee. Which perhaps explains why she is very slim!

Does she still have ambitions? 'I'd like to write like Ian McEwan,' she said, without hesitation.

Despite being married to journalist and presenter Ian Hislop, a popular panellist on BBC's Have I Got News for You,' Victoria appears unfazed by her huge success. After answering numerous questions from the floor, she thanked Plackitt and Booth, booksellers, of Lytham for hosting the event and for being a great example of the successful independent bookshop.

The Sunrise is published by Headline and available in hardback and paperback from all good booksellers.


Monday, 22 September 2014

Bra-burning and bookworms

Bra-burning and equality at work were on the agenda at a 'book club-with-a difference' in Lancashire last week. The Bookworms are an enthusiastic group of professional women, from the historic town of Carnforth, who invited me to talk on Baggy Pant and Bootees (released in paperback this month.)

 Set between the Second World War and the 1960s, the book contrasts the misery of the post war years with the infamous 'swinging sixties' less than two decades later.

My memories of life in the chauvinistic world of provincial journalism in the late sixties prompted a surge of recollections in an afternoon discussion, reminiscent of TV's Loose Women. So how much has really changed for women in the workplace?

Back in the sixties, my first women's page features championed female lawyers, scientists and accountants who had managed to infiltrate a male-dominated world. 'Women CAN be a success in the workplace'  I proclaimed, with barely disguised glee. All this, where previously there had been fashion, food and flower arranging, a woman's staple reading diet.

 'Women have to be better than their male counterparts to succeed in the workplace even now' said one club member.

 How often have you read about a high flying female  professional suing her male boss  for 'unfair conduct?' I'm not talking here about sexual harassment, which is clearly a serious matter, but if women do want to work in high profile jobs,  equality has to work both ways. And a man or woman who earns over £100k a year  must also expect to work under pressure.

Most of the women at the meeting regarded equality in the workplace as the norm, but admitted that ingrained attitudes, especially in the older generations, are sometimes difficult to erase.

 The much-discussed bra-burning of the sixties  arose from a myth and has gone down forever in history. Meanwhile,  I am  still standing on my metaphorical soap box and burning my metaphorical bra. How about you?

Published by Amelia Press, Baggy Pants and Bootees is available from good bookshops and from here and here


Saturday, 6 September 2014



The first paperback copy arrives.

                                        BAGGY PANTS AND BOOTEES is available in paperback  now!

When war baby Sophie joins the macho world of 1960s journalism she’s determined to prove that she’s ‘one of the boys.’ But a phone call from her estranged mother after years of guilt and torment sets Sophie on a quest to uncover the secret of her birth.

Was her father the all-American soldier she dreamt of when she was a child, or someone far more sinister? This is the story the ambitious reporter was destined to write.

Helped by the charming but mysterious David, Sophie uncovers a heartbroken wartime orphan, a GI romance and a terrifying rape that leads to an innocent man’s court martial – and finds clues to her own unhappy childhood.

Torn between her secret love for Steve, the newspaper’s most eligible bachelor, and her desire to know who she really is, Sophie follows David to find her father.  Only when faced with the startling truth can she accept the tragedy of love, loss and betrayal and begin a very different kind of future.

Baggy Pants and Bootees ,will shortly be available from Plackitt & Booth, booksellers, Lytham, Lancashire, or to order from any good bookshop.
You can also buy it on
and  on