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.
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.
If any unfortunate soul should ever ask me which books I read, I’d tell them I have broad taste, everything from Austen to Zola. I’d list my favourite books; Little Dorrit, Catch 22, The Heart Of Darkness. After all that, I’d finally admit that, these days, I mostly read crime novels. I would then describe, in great detail, the differences between crime and mystery fiction, between sub-genres, styles, authors.
In July, 2009, twenty-three-year-old Darlene Haynes, eight months pregnant at the time, was strangled to death with an electric cord. Her abdomen was then cut open and the nearly full-term fetus removed. The perpetrator turned out to be her close friend, Julie Corey, who had suffered a miscarriage three months earlier and evidently felt that the most efficient way of replacing her own lost baby was to murder her friend and rip the unborn child from her womb.
Why do some failures inspire breakthroughs and others breakdowns?
Economist Megan McArdle examines the art of failing well in The Up Side of Down, which hits shops across the UK next week.
Here are her top tips on taking intelligent risks and bouncing back if they fail:
Political correspondent and bestselling author Stephen Bates tells us why 1846 was such a pivotal year for Britain and why he chose to write about it in his new book, Penny Loaves and Butter Cheap: Britain in 1846, which hits the shops tomorrow.
HoZ are pulling out all the stops for the 2014 Oxford Literary Festival, with three of our authors and our very own Chairman, Anthony Cheetham, taking the stage in March.