Writing from Tutukaka harbour

I’m sitting here on the terrace, with crickets and frogs serenading me as I type - overlooking Tutukaka harbour on the North Island of New Zealand. The rugged sea is smashing against the rocks and the whole landscape is one of barren majesty.  Lush green forest swoops down until it meets the rocks and shoreline that border the most dramatic beaches.  Autumn has arrived in New Zealand and the temperature is a very pleasant 70°.

Polemic of the Year

Paddy Power Political Book Awards 2014 Polemic of the Year

And the votes are in… Daniel Hannan has won Paddy Power’s Political Book Awards Polemic of the Year with How We Invented Freedom & Why It Matters. The awards were presented last night in glorious, 85-ft 3D at the BFI IMAX.

The judges were looking for a powerfully persuasive book that covered previously uncharted territory, sparked discussion and beguiled readers. And Daniel’s book is just that – a passionate, page-turning story of how the inhabitants of a damp island on the western tip of the Eurasian landmass stumbled upon the extraordinary idea that the state was the servant, and not the master, of the individual.

We have arrived in glorious Sydney

Started the week in Blighty where the sun was making a valiant attempt to peek through the clouds – hope that weather has continued, it makes everything seem that bit brighter. I spent Monday with my best friend, which was lovely. It was a much-needed girl’s catch up (you know what I mean ladies) and to hear all about her crazy adventures flying planes.

Caroline Sandon on the real-life history behind Burnt Norton

When we moved to Burnt Norton fifteen years ago I was given an old newspaper article. It told of a night in September 1741 when Sir William Keyt then owner of Norton House set fire to his bed curtains and burnt himself to death in the house he had so recently completed.

To research the historical detail, first I contacted some of the local Keyt descendents. A direct descendent of Sir William sent me a family tree and from this I was able to build a picture of his family. Afterwards I contacted the Gloucestershire County Council who sent me an engraving of the house before the fire. Another source of information was the church. Gravestones and parish registers confirmed dates of baptism and death, they also gave me a snapshot into the past.

Love crime fiction? Download Apple's Book of the Week

Water Music, part of the Dr Clare Hart series, is the atmospheric new thriller by Margie Orford. A former investigative journalist turned police profiler, Dr Clare Hart is cerebral and intensely private. She takes the violence meted out to women and children head on, her courage, intelligence and her intimate knowledge of Cape Town her preferred weapons of choice.

Our roof disaster - time for a cuppa!

This week has lasted a couple of days. Whoooooosh…. one minute it was Monday morning and now its the weekend! How did that happen?

I’ve been having a good old think about the things that count as you do when something in your life goes belly up! We’ve had a mini crisis this week (and only a very minor hiccup in the scheme of things) but nothing that can keep us down for long.

The wonders of my new healthy regime

I feel like I’ve been locked in my writing cave for the last few weeks, emerging like a thing from the deep, only to do a bit of radio or meet my publishers… Any thoughts about my personal appearance have gone out of the window. I have skulked around in pyjamas with my long hair in dreadlocks and dark circles beneath my eyes, with me creeping miscreant-like from sofa to kitchen and back again. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but when I enter this space, it’s as if nothing else exists apart from the story inside my head.

Music to Watch Girls By... listen along to The Darling Girls by Emma Burstall

The Darling Girls begins with the funeral of Leo Bruck, a world-famous conductor, and a man whose life was inevitably steeped in music. Victoria, his partner of more than twenty years and mother of his two children, believes that Leo listened only to classical music. Indeed, she herself was once a professional cellist.