Back to Journal

A child’s eye view

July 2015

On the eve of the publication of my second book, The Tea Planter’s Wife, set in Sri Lanka when it was Ceylon, I find myself thinking about the past and the way life influences the novels we write. This book, like my first, is set in a hot exotic country. [caption id="attachment_578" align="alignleft" width="145"] My sister, my mother and me: about 1951 in Malaya, now Malaysia[/caption] It was a delight to write. I love the period – the 1920s and the 1930s – and I loved the location. I stayed in a tea planter’s bungalow in Sri Lanka: the inspiration…
Read more

The hidden psychology of a writer

January 2015

Two years ago I walked out of the air-conditioned airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka, to begin my research trip for The Tea Planter’s Wife. Vibrant life swirled around me: men crowded to carry my case, horns blared and people yelled, but little of that sank in. I stood there feeling as if I was alone and reeling from moist heat approaching like a solid wall. Palm trees waved in the breeze, the scent of cinnamon drifted in the air and, feeling profoundly assaulted by the past, I fought to control my breath while trying not to cry. Everything that had…
Read more

I would have hated to have been an adult woman in the 1950s

December 2014

Picture the scene. A middle-class family home in a relatively rural village in England. It’s early evening and the year is 1950 something-or-other. A mother in her mid-thirties drags out her heavy ironing board, sets it up and plugs in the iron. Is she about to attack the mile high pile of ironing? Really? She’s ‘fragrantly’ dressed in a fresh dress, her waist nipped in courtesy of a very tight, boned-girdle worn beneath. Her husband is due home and, with her kitten heels on, a little dash of make-up discreetly applied, a spray of scent, hair immaculate, she is ready…
Read more

Afternoon at Bowood Hotel in Wiltshire

September 2014

On Wednesday this week I  spent a wonderful afternoon at Bowood Hotel in Wiltshire where I had been asked to talk at a Literary afternoon tea. The tea was delicious, the setting gorgeous, and I gave my talk standing beneath a portrait of the Fifth Marquis of Lansdowne who was also a past Viceroy of India no less! Below is an extract from Jackie Law’s review of the event on her website, NeverImitate, which perfectly encapsulates what my life is like at the moment… “(Dinah’s) talk offered attendees an insight into her writing process, inspirations and the issues faced by…
Read more

A number of events coming up

February 2014

I’m very excited about a number of events coming up. The launch of ‘The Separation’ will take place on or around May 8th at Waterstones Cheltenham. The plan has yet to be confirmed, but the idea is for an evening launch at the store. I’m also looking forward to talking at the Calcot Manor Literary luncheon in May. In addition I’m thrilled that ‘The Separation’ has been chosen as the NHS bookclub book of the month for May, and I will be giving a talk at Penguin to the NHS. Watch out for my article in You magazine and a…
Read more

Penguin have bought The Tea Planter’s Wife

September 2013

Now summer has gone I realise I spent most of it waiting and biting my nails. It’s taken a while but the great news is that we’ve sealed the deal, and now that Penguin have bought The Tea Planter’s Wife, I have a proposed publication date of June 2015. I’m not used to planning so far ahead, but it’s such a relief to know that my second book will definitely be published, both in the UK and in Germany. Who else might publish? That’s a question of crossing my fingers and waiting. There is a fair bit of waiting during…
Read more

Penguin UK cover for ‘The Separation’ is now ready

July 2013

The big news is that the Penguin UK cover for ‘The Separation’ is now ready. You can see it here, or on the books page. I love the moody feel and gorgeous colours and I hope you like it too. Publication is still almost a year away, so I’ve been busy finishing off the draft of Book 2, ‘The Tea Planter’s Wife’ and my agent, Caroline Hardman, is now reading it. Fingers crossed she likes it, and that my publisher likes it too. Sometimes the editorial process seems to take longer than writing the book in the first place, but…
Read more

The German version of The Separation

April 2013

Here’s a photo of me, taken by my German publisher, Claudia Mueller of Bastei Luebbe, on the day we had a really enjoyable meeting in London. It was the weekend before the London Book Fair, and five of us met at Searcy’s restaurant on the third floor of The National Portrait Gallery. It seemed like the whole of London was either on the streets, or looking at paintings that day. It was raining heavily, but the cakes were great, and I enjoyed escaping from my little back room, my slippers, and my old jeans. Now and then it’s fun to…
Read more

Research trip to Sri Lanka

February 2013

Am very excitedly booking a research trip to Sri Lanka, the setting for my next book – working title -The Tea Planter’s Wife. I would really love to travel back in time to 1920s Ceylon, as Sri Lanka used to be called in colonial times. That’s when the story takes place. The travel agents couldn’t offer me a Dr Who telephone box, so staying on a Tea Plantation in the misty highlands of central Sri Lanka will have to do. Tough this research business – hope my third book won’t be set in Swindon! Sorry Swindon. Anyway, I’ve begun writing,…
Read more

The Separation final copy edits are finished

January 2013

The Separation final copy edits are finished, thank goodness, and the manuscript has been delivered to Viking/Penguin on time, and to my German and French publishers. Not sure quite what is happening with The Norwegians and the Italians, as Viking are handling them. The editing process had been fascinating and I’ve really enjoyed it. But what an amazing learning curve it has been, and continues to be. Can’t wait to begin the next book.
Read more