Posted in Events, Writing

The Michael & Debbie Double Act Strikes Again!

bcfm logoI always love doing radio, especially when the show’s presenter is a great friend. Today I was pleased to be the studio guest of Michael MacMahon, one of BCfm Silver Sound’s hosts.

About Michael and Me

Cover of The Wedding Speech HandbookI’ve known Michael for quite a few years now, having met through our shared interest in writing. Although Michael writes non-fiction books and I write mainly fiction, we get on famously and are often helping each other out in practical ways. Michael is a popular fixture at my Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival, renowned for his rendition of Prospero’s speech from the Tempest at our closing ceremony. I’ve chaired his launch events for both of his books, and each time it has been great fun.

The most recent of these launches was just last month, for The Wedding Speech Handbook, when we dressed up as if for a wedding, complete with buttonholes, wedding cake, and in my case my best wedding hat!

Celebrating Michael’s new book about weddings in style (he’s seated, left in his DJ) 20181127 – Photo @JonCraig – 07778 606070

What We Talked About on the Show

Today on the Silver Sound show, we were talking about how and why people shouldn’t think in terms of retirement, but instead of how to reinvent themselves, as indeed both he and I have done with our writing careers. I was very interested to hear about Michael’s plans for his next book, interviewing people who have reinvented themselves in retirement – including my dad, who, as I mentioned on the show, embraced multiple artistic hobbies after a career in computer engineering.

How to Listen to the Show

If you’d like to hear our wide-ranging conversation, you can catch up with it online via BCfm’s website Just click on “Silver Sound” in the programmes list, then on today’s date (20/12/18). We’re on for the first hour from 10am, chatting from about four minutes into the show, after the news at the top of the hour.

Post-Script Coincidence

After the show, we parted company, but a little later an email from Michael pinged into my inbox. “I get dozens of emails every day, but this was the first one I opened when I got home,” he wrote, forwarding the one he’d received to me:

screenshot of Amazon ad

I think Jeff Bezos must be watching us…

What’s Next for our Double-Act?

We’re hoping to stage a joint event on a wedding theme in the new year, involving both his Wedding Speech Handbook and my collection of short stories, Marry in Haste. More news to follow in due course!
For more information about Michael, his multi-faceted reinvention of himself, and his excellent books, visit his website, – or tune in to Silver Sound to catch his show!
Posted in Personal life, Writing

Tuning In at John Lewis

New on my This post was originally published in the October issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News

cover of parish mag with my John Lewis card
October issue with my new John Lewis card

The finishing touch required for our new extension was a little background music.

My tastes in music are eclectic, but when I’m reading or writing, I prefer to listen to something without words. I needed a machine to do justice to classical music.

Going to John Lewis to buy a modest CD player to fit the space, I quickly discovered it’s nigh impossible to buy a stand-alone CD player. All seem to come with a DAB radio attached.

How the Other Half Shops

While awaiting my turn for the assistant, as I browsed the machines in the lower price bracket, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the elderly couple the young man was serving. For them, money was clearly no object: they were inspecting the product range of a brand fancy enough to have its own display area. I assumed they must have a more discerning musical ear than mine.

Not so. “Please may we try it on BBC Radio 4?” asked the elderly lady.

Once they’d been despatched with their purchase, when the assistant came to help me. I said to him, “Only in John Lewis would a customer ask to test your best hifi on Radio 4.”

The couple must have been working their way round the department, because the two models I’d been looking at were also tuned to Radio 4. Stephen Fry was in full flow on them both.

“Perhaps you should have him playing on a continuous loop,” I suggested. “His velvet tones would sell any sound system more easily.”

The assistant smiled conspiratorially.

And almost before I knew it, he was ringing up my sale on the till.

Cover of All Part of the Charm

Every month, I write a short column like this for our local community magazine, the Hawkesbury Parish News. I’ve collected the first six years worth of columns in a book, All Part of the Charm: A Modern Memoir of English Village Life, along with several essays I wrote about living in the village when I first moved here over 20 years ago. It’s available in paperback and ebook format via Amazon and elsewhere. 

Posted in Events, Writing

Multimedia Me

Highlighting my recent appearances on local radio and YouTube

Photo of typing cat
Well, every website needs the occasional cat photo, doesn’t it?

With my working life revolving around the written word, and much of my day spent sitting silently bashing a computer keyboard, it’s always refreshing (to me, at least) to have opportunities to communicate in other ways.

As a naturally chatty type (the kindest way to put it), I’m always pleased to be invited to give talks on any aspect of self-publishing, book marketing or writing (see my current list of events here).

I’m hoping to produce my own podcasts in future, inspired by great role models such as Joanna Penn, who interviewed me on one of her own podcasts recently (see this previous post).

I’m also quick to embrace any opportunity to appear on broadcast media. Today I thought you might like the links to my two most recent appearances.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire Book Club (10th March 2015)

It’s always a pleasure to nip up to the BBC Radio Gloucestershire studios to feature on one of their shows. On Monday of last week, I joined my friend Caroline Sanderson, another local author who is also an Associate Editor of The Bookseller magazine, on the lunchtime slot for their new Book Club slot.

Presenter Claire Carter, a live wire with an enquiring mind, is a self-confessed reluctant reader. As I learned when I worked for thec children’s reading charity Readathon, the multiple benefits of a leisure reading habit are well-documented. Not only are regular readers more successful in their education and careers, but they also form more satisfying personal relationships, better social skills and are more contented. Claire’s decision to share her determination to become a regular reader will, I’m sure, inspire many others to do so too, stimulated by lively discussion on her show.

Cover of The HumansThe BBC Radio Gloucestershire Book Club will run once a month, usually with Caroline and/or me in the studio, with occasional visits from other local authors. (There are a lot of us about in these parts!) Each month we’ll choose a book to read for the following month’s discussion. We’ll be choosing books that are readily available in paperback, to buy from bookshops and to borrow from libraries, and which are likely to appeal to a wide audience, while also stimulating comments and feedback.

This month, we were talking about Matt Haig’s The Humans, a sweet, funny and touching tale about an alien who takes over the body of an Oxford professor of mathematics. If you’d like to know how we got on with it, you can catch the show here on BBC iPlayer for the next couple of weeks. (The Book Club slot runs between 12noon and 1pm).

Link to radio show


Cover of The Book ThiefNext month’s Book Club will be on Claire’s show from midday on Wednesday 8th April, and we’ll be talking about The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. If you’ve read it and would like to share your view, or would like to share any book-related thoughts with listeners, tweet the show at @BBCGlos.

Ingram Spark YouTube Video

Back in November, I had great fun at the Indie Author Fair that ran alongside the Chorleywood Literature Festival. The amazing Triskele Books team, who masterminded the event in partnership with ALLi, set up the opportunity for indie authors to be interviewed by Andy Bromley of Ingram, the book distributor responsible for the publishing and distribution services Lightning Source and Ingram Spark, through which many indie authors, myself included, publish their books.

The Ingram team improvised a recording studio at the back of the community hall in which our event was running, and I was very pleased to secure one of the interview slots. Last week I received the final edit of the interview, which Ingram have now posted on their YouTube channel, and which I’m please to share with you here:

Image of the YouTube cover for my interview


But for now, I’m stepping back out of the limelight and getting back to my keyboard. So much to type, so little time!