Friday, June 10, 2011


People are wonderful.  Do you ever have a day when you just suddenly realize that people are wonderful?  It can be a small holding door open thing or sweeping, huge life changing thing that can trigger the 'people are wonderful' reaction in me.

Look what lovely Allie from Hist-fic Chick wrote!  She was invited to do a guest post on the Borders website and she wrote about Nell.  People are wonderful.

Monday, May 30, 2011


For once I have a legitimate reason for not writing: I have moved!  From Bloomsbury to Vauxhall.  Moving is hard.  First you buy the plastic boxes, then you bring them home, and then you try to entice your stuff to hop into the plastic boxes--and your stuff is  always so much smarter than that.  It knows much better than to climb into a perspex box where it will likely never get to stretch out on a hanger or snuggle in a drawer again, and where it will probably get musty and start to smell like a lavender moth ball.  My stuff is particularly brainy.  It evaded the plastic boxes and refused to fold up nicely and wouldn't go without a fight.

After weeks of sunshine, it naturally rained on the day of the move.  My grumpy stuff got wet.  Of course my shoes and books took the brunt of the damp weather.  My waterproof bath stuff did not get rained on at all.  But now my books and shoes and bath stuff and dresses and birthday cards and pajamas are all here in Vauxhall.  And so I am writing.  Writing a plum bean and writing second book.  Second book got ignored during the move but has reasserted herself in my brain and is quashing thoughts of suitcases, unpacking and laundry.

And: it felt like such a treat today: Nell got a lovely review!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Month!

It has been a month since I wrote a plum bean.  A strange wonderful crazy month.  I have written, gotten stuck and then written again.  I am about to move house which unravels writing fairly conclusively for a few days.  Somehow the act of getting all my belongings into plastic boxes and from one flat to another is utterly outfoxing me.

Nell received a wonderful treat today.  Natalie, also known as Coffee and a Book Chick wrote a lovely review.  I was thrilled.  She said that Nell had prompted her to spend hours on the internet noodling around 17th century theatre.  How absolutely marvellous that she had that reaction.  I love the Restoration and so often it gets overshadowed by the grisly can't turn away from the beheading train wreck  of the Tudors.  I understand that.  Kings bumping off brilliant wives and changing the course of religion is compelling stuff. So it is especially wonderful when the Restoration gets discovered and explored.

So, tonight is the Manic Mommies Book Club interview.  I am absurdly worried about getting the access codes right and actually finding the interview.  Having had relatively little experience in a normal job (working on the Vagina Monologues was brilliantly, wonderfully abnormal--not everyone has vagina puppets on their desk) I have some anxiety around fax machines and conference calling.  Absurd, I know but there it is.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


The Italian cover!  Nell goes to Italy...

Saturday, April 16, 2011


"Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh?" he whispered. 
"Yes, Piglet?" 
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you." 
 A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh)

I have been thinking about things not said.  I love this quote.  I love the simplicity.  I love that nothing is spelled out but that feeling of safety, friendship and returned love is utterly captured.  

I have been thinking about how good writing works.  How to write a feeling without explaining the feeling.  How to grab a moment and make it sit still long enough to become perfectly realized.  It is not easy to do.  I think it is all about recognition.  That is the root.  To see yourself in a character or room or time or place or awkward situation pulls you into the writing.  It becomes familiar, personal, meaningful, important, yours.  I know that feeling.  I know the small moment of cocooned relief Piglet feels holding Pooh's hand.  Such good writing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Home to the Sun...

I love it here.  I really do.  London in the spring is is a city of green postage stamp squares, blurred by pale fluffy blossoms and brushed in pastels.  It is a blooming, stunning city.   But, it does lead to some eccentricities.  The warmth is fleeting and tenuous and does not visit the shade.  The rain is quixotic and cold and lands in puddles and then gets thrown around by buses that move disturbingly fast.

I wear sundresses in the warmest part of the day but in order to do that I have to carry a heavy bag with me.  Inside the bag are 1) a book--always--a bit like Linus and his blanket, 2) clothes--lots of clothes: socks, tights, jumpers, jackets, hats and a scarf.  As the day cools down I put on more and more layers until the summer dress is lost under a whole sheep's worth of wool and underpinned by heavy boots and topped off with mittens.  The effect is bizarrely Victorian.

This lovely city also holds so many of the people I love best in the world.  The easy, short hand communication of long broken in, lived in, much loved friendships is a marvellous thing.  On Saturday, Sadie and I decided to nothing but watch movies.  We went to the HMV in Victoria station and bought movies and then spent the evening at her house tucked up in the sitting room, utterly happy.  When I am back in Hawaii, in another life, a million miles away, I will remember nothing of what we talked about and everything about that happiness.

Yesterday, I was on a bus on my way somewhere else and suddenly I did not want to go somewhere else.  So, I hopped off in Vauxhall and called my friend Dan who lives just there.  He cooked a roast and I sat on the sofa.  It is a magical precious thing to spend random, ordinary, unhurried time with old friends.  It makes me want to stay.

But I have that restless, about to go feeling that comes with a flurry of changed tickets and frantic packing.  It is almost time...  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Answers on a Pogo Stick

I woke up this morning at five am.  Unusual for me if I am not jet lagged.  I have been rolling a writing problem from the second book around in my brain for a while now.  Not a huge problem; not a messy problem but a niggling wiggling problem that creeps up on me when I am brushing my teeth.  And at five am this morning, the answer appeared.  Bang, like a gift on the doorstep.  Boxed, ribboned and addressed to me.

I was astonished.  I have never been a writer who expects the answer to come bouncing along on a pogo stick.  I believe in making a decision and if sixty pages (yes sixty--this actually happened while writing Nell) it is the wrong decision, go back and unravel it.  I find an odd sort of comfort in the mechanical workmanship of writing.  Sounds dreadfully unromantic but there it is.  I like the piecing and puzzling.  Puzzling is such a good Dr. Seuss word.

But here it was.  The answer was simple, manageable, small but important.  There was not enough city.  Not enough huff and puff and clip and clop.  Not enough hustles and bustles and cobbles and cakes.  And so I am putting them in...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hist Fick Chick

Lovely, lovely Allie at Hist Fick Chick reviewed Nell and invited me for an interview!  Kind, incisive, thought provoking and generous, it was a delight.  Her blog is brilliantly meticulous about historical detail and I love that. What a wonderful thing to find on a pretty spring Saturday morning...

pages written this week: 28!  Getting there...

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Eclectic Reader

I did a guest post for wonderful Teddyree at her wonderful blog,The Eclectic Reader.  Her question was, "If you could be dropped into a novel as any character, who would you be and why?"

It was actually not an easy question as I quickly realized that many of the novels I love most do not go terribly well at the end...

And marvellous Linda at her marvellous LindyLouMac Book Reviews  wrote a lovely, lovely review of Nell!  Both she and Teddyree took the time to transfer the trailer and Nell images onto their blogs.  I am always so touched by that.

It is Tuesday.  It is spring.  I am reading a brilliant but darkly unnerving novel called Privilege and I have cut my hair super short again.  So far, a good week...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bits and Pieces

Ariel, a dear friend of mine from college left me a lovely note at the end of my last post.  She is reading Nell and is enjoying the under-written quality of the emotional landscape.  It was a wonderful thing for her to write.  It is a big risk to just leave breadcrumbs scattered on the forest floor and hope they bring the reader to the gingerbread cottage heart of the book.

I find I am constantly battling a strong desire to leave enormous glaring, flashing, obvious, neon signs along the way to prevent any mishap and collect any stragglers.  'Battling'?  That makes it sound like I am riding into mighty combat with a three headed writing beastie, but that is a bit how it feels.  I am currently writing about a lesser known person but a more famous period in history.  The three headed writing beastie wants me to print out google maps for the readers so no one gets lost in the forest.  Tricksy stuff...

And, I wrote at the end of my last post that I had tea with the utterly lovely Philippa Gregory.  She astonishes me.  I love when historical accuracy profoundly matters to historical fiction authors.  They really will fall down the rabbit hole in order to track down the particular historical details that make the writing so rich.  I find that is a common thread with all of my favorite historical writers.

And, I got such a nice pixie dust surprise when I checked my email this morning.  Teddyree at the marvellous blog The Eclectic Reader wrote such a truly lovely review.

Apropos of nothing, I love my spell check.  It makes me giggle every day; like a straight faced butler it tirelessly serves up proper grammar on a silver tray.  But, I do not think my affection is mutual.  My spell check gets fed up with my using words like beastie...

Sunday, March 6, 2011


You know when you hear a song and it plays through you all day?  Your mind drifts to it when you let go of your thoughts like a bright red, musical balloon that sails out of your hand on a summer day in a summer park.  I love that.  Ray LaMontagne's throaty, haunting Jolene won't leave me alone this week.  

It has been a wonderful week.  Writing and reading and writing and reading.  I am in that lovely flat place in the writing.  The grassy plain in the heartland of the story when you can guess where you are going.  The characters are speaking to each other and to me.  One wants baked alaska, another wants to sail on the Titanic.  I told him it was a terrible idea... Jolene, Jolene...

And on Friday I had tea with Philippa Gregory and she was just utterly marvellous.  More about that tomorrow...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dancing Nell and the Second Book

A funny thing has happened.  There is a before and an after.  Exit the Actress came out a month ago today. Before it came out, my second book felt like a far away thing; like a flower that lived on a star.  No one was asking about it as Nell was still waiting in the wings, fixing her hair, brushing her teeth and changing her dancing slippers.  Now Nell is in full swing and having a marvellous time at her party.  She sends a kiss and gives me a look as if to say "You can go.  Don't wait up."  Her dance card is full and she is planning to stay out until dawn.  I am happy for her but I miss her.

Many reviews and interviews end with a comment or question about my next book.  I love that; the assumption that I will write another.  I love that this is what I do now.  To write is a great verb.  I love that people are interested in what I am working on.  I have not been doing this long enough to be able to say I am an author without giggling.  I know I shouldn't but it gets away from me.

I have been strangely cagey about the second book.  It is set in the First World War but I have been reluctant to discuss the subject of the novel.  I have realized that second book is not quite ready for grown up company.  When I was very young my mother would take me to the ballet.  I loved it, only I wanted to sit closer.  No.  Until I could sit still in my seat, we had to sit up in a box where I could crawl around the floor and not bother anybody.  At last, when I could finally be trusted to keep my shoes on, stay in my own seat and face the stage, we moved to the stalls.  The first violinist always waved to me and I felt so grown up.  Second book is nearly ready to move...

And!  Lovely, lovely pin on refrigerator immediately review today from Christina at Confessions of a Book Addict!

Friday, February 25, 2011


A wonderful week!  It was my birthday on Wednesday and it has been a perfect week of dearest friends and pink cupcakes and silver sprinkles and birthday cards and blown kisses and sprawling books and floaty dresses and rainy day movies and spring tulips and silver rings and my family's handwriting--I love the light thump on the doorstep when an envelope bearing my mother's writing arrives in mid-winter.

I love my family's alphabets.  My father has extraordinarily beautiful writing; dark and slanted and elegantly scripted.  He has the sloped fountain pen writing I think Rebecca would have had.  My mother has the swooped and dashed and hurriedly looped, felt tip writing of a mom in a hurry.  My sister has the careful, precise writing of a lefty and my brother has the angular writing of someone who's thoughts move faster than the pen.  Doesn't seeing the writing of people you love make you miss them more and less at the same time?  That happens to me.  It is an indelible hug.

Also this week, the season shifted.  Just for a moment, it may not last, but just for today, it is spring.  And in other lovely news, Misha from the marvellous blog, My Love Affair with Books wrote a wonderful review!  A lovely week.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Amazon included Exit the Actress in its 'Featured in Fiction and Literature' section.  Or at least it did in the email it sent to me.  I know Amazon can personalize everything in a sort of friendly yet Orwellian Big Brother way.  It seems to know what I might like to read like a neighborhood librarian who has been checking up on me.  Still, I was very pleased to see Nell at number 18!

And I just checked up on the audio books and I found Nell there on the first pages of the new releases!  She had her audio book cover on so it took me a minute to spot her...

On other fronts I have been reading wonderful books.  I re read Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks recently.  Harrowing and haunting but so beautiful.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Forgotten Words

So, I write in books.  It is a habit with me.  I write in them constantly.  I write down words, colours, flirts of language, movement, shift and light.

I am reading one of Sally Beauman's huge, gothic, ensorcelling novels right now (my birthday present to myself) and inside the back cover I have written phrases like 'finch green' and 'hummingbird's cup' and 'drift of wrinkles'.  I do not remember writing them.

Yesterday, I found one of the research books I used for Nell.  It was a book I had left here and had not taken back to Hawaii to use while I was writing.   On the back page, amongst movie times and notes to call Virgin Atlantic, and to not forget Charlotte's birthday, I found more fragments of light and language.  I had forgotten they were there.  I had forgotten I ever wrote them.

But I recognized these phrases.   I opened Exit the Actress and there they were.  I love that these shreds of text survived my leaving them behind and forgetting them.  They bided their time and then turned up on an island in the Pacific ocean while I was writing Nell; like gatecrashers at a birthday party...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


It has been a good month.  People have just been unendingly wonderful.  I am delighted.  Nell is delighted.  Now Nell is out there, I have a confession.  The putting forward aspect does not come naturally.  Publicity is just not my strong suit.  I wrote and erased and wrote and erased the Facebook post announcing my New York reading at least seventeen times.  And then, after erasing for the seventeenth time, I went and had hot chocolate instead and did not post it at all as the reading started twenty minutes later.

Publicity does not come easily to me but I know it is essential.  It is the difference between Nell getting lost standing up in the "P" section (which is always on the bottom shelf--I checked) at Barnes and Noble or being on the lovely, spacious, visible front table where she can sparkle and flirt and then lie flat, stretch out  and have a snooze.

I have known since I signed my publishing contract that the publicity part would be tough.  I could not see how to do it?  And then, wonderful friends stepped in to help!  They make it easier, happier, better, simpler, shinier, smoother, and much funner.  I love the word 'funner'.  Nell has a wonderful huge extended family now and she is thrilled!  How did everyone help?

Sharon Kay Penman has been unimaginably kind and put up a wonderful interview with Nell and me.  One of my best friends from high school gave me Sharon's The Sunne in Splendour on a Wednesday afternoon and I fell in love with historical fiction.  Splat, right there in the tenth grade.

And Lisa at Bibliophiliac posted a wonderful review and also invited Nell and me for an interview!  Her questions were insightful and rich and it was such fun!

Look what Stella did at her marvellous website Ex Libris!  Not only did Stella write a gorgeous post about Nell and the plum bean, but she also went and researched Java Kai (my favorite coffee shop in Hawaii) and included the Java Kai logo in her post.  I was so touched.  And homesick!  Stella is reading the book now and planning an interview for later in the month.  She is such an incisive, avid reader and beautiful writer and I am delighted!

Rick at Goodreads has started an Exit the Actress thread in his amazing, enormous, wonderful book group.  He has become a Nell champion and it makes me so happy.  And, he and nineteen other generous, gracious people went on Goodreads and Amazon and wrote fantastic reviews!  The reviews help so much and I read each one out loud to my poor parents.

June, from Writing is a Blessing came to the reading and asked terrific questions!  Friends are helping everywhere.  It is like a fantastic team effort.  My closest friend from high school, a wonderful writer, (who is the one who gave me The Sunne in Splendour) knew I was terrified in my reading and sat right in my eye line and peppered me with wonderful, perfect questions at my reading; taking away all my knee knocking nerves.

Friends have popped by the Exit the Actress page on Facebook and left lovely notes...  My family tell  everyone they meet about Nell.  Noah cheers her on and has given her to his friends.  My friend Jack ordered one for him and one for his mom.  It has been a good month.

Friday, February 11, 2011

This Week

I have been writing plum beans in my head all week.  It has been a marvellous, magical, swirled with honey week.  I did my first reading in Washington DC.  My parents were there.  My sister's best friend since they were two was there.  My sister's best friend since they were two's mom was there.  The preschool teacher who taught them when they were two was there.  My favorite history teacher from high school was there.  And people I did not know were there!

I was nervous.  My knees knocked.  My heart bumped.  The room tilted and off we went.  People asked wonderful questions.  Smart, thoughtful, insightful questions.  My mother cried and tried to pretend it was hay fever in February.  My brother and sister's preschool teacher took photos.  There were posters!  In the window; in the store!  We got to keep two of them and Barnes and Noble asked me to sign the rest for them.  "Really?"  I asked.  I have to stop doing that.
That is the reflection of my mom taking the photo...

Noah was first in line!

And then it was off to New York.  We walked in the door of Borders at 57th and Park and saw:

Right inside the door!

And my knees knocked and my heart bumped and the room tilted and off we went.  The two lovely men who organized the event came and found me and showed me how the microphone worked and were so utterly lovely.   They had read it, as had the store manager and they all said wonderful things.  I was so touched that in a building full of books they had read mine.

And people came.  Lots of people.  Old friends, blog friends, new friends, writer friends, sixth grade friends, friends of friends, Vday friends, and people I had never met before.  My brother and his fiancee sat in the second row and my mom and my sister sat in the first.  I took my glasses off so everyone was fuzzy.  I read and everyone asked questions and it was fun.  I had expected terror and got fun instead.  How wonderful.

Signing books!

And then, one of my favorite authors, Sharon Kay Penman, put up the kind, generous, thoughtful interview she did with me... more about that tomorrow...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Dear Nell,
You're off to great places.
Today is your day,
Your mountain is waiting,
So get on you're way!
Dr. Seuss

Today!  Today!  Today!  

Exit the Actress is in bookstores TODAY!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blog Friends

I really didn't see it coming.  I had no idea when I started down the plum bean path I would find marvellous, sweet, splendid, fun, ingenious and wondrously supportive blog friends.  No body told me.  You know the friends; the witty, brilliant, honest, incisive, funny friends?  The ones who show up, encourage, root, support, communicate, chat, read, write and inspire?  You know who you are and you are wonderful.  Look at what sweet Kate at Kate's Library just did...

And look at what lovely, lovely Whitney from the marvellous She is too Fond of Books did...  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Audio Book...

The audio book!  I love the art deco feel of the lettering.  Such a great Nell.  Such a great nose.  She is far more imperious and regal and statuesque than the Nell I wrote but she is fabulous just the same.  And this is the cassette version.  Did not know they still made cassette versions...

Eight more days...

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Website!

It is up!  Thank yous.  Huge thank yous are in order.  Thank you to Matt and Joseph and Naomi and Noah.  For the design and construction and video and photos and images and buttons that change color and the greens and the reds and the pinks and the greys and the enormous love, care, patience and work.  Thank you.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Name

It is not a terribly uncommon name.  That was a double negative, awful.  It is not even an impossible name to pronounce.  And another double negative.  I apologize--they seem to be getting away from me.  It is not even easy to find me on Facebook.  Through some mystical mechanism, it is nearly impossible to find me on Facebook.  There are pages of Priya Parmars and I am on about the thirty-seventh page.

It is pronounced exactly like it is written.  Well maybe not, the 'y' is a bit tricky and can outfox you but when people meet me they do not know about the 'y' yet.  Now, it sounds like I am talking in code.  I am not.  Still, P-R-I-Y-A--not difficult, right?  But, I know that people have trouble with it and so rather than risk hideous awkwardness, I repeat it to give them a second shot at it, and reassure them that it is a hard name, and forgive anyone who forgets it instantly, and and and...

Still, I get people being occasionally, horribly rude.  I am used to the painful pause when people forget it, but it is an altogether different beast from the puzzled pause when they try to work it out.  This happened today when the man concluded the painful pause with "What are you?"  Ummm.  How do I answer that?

What he meant was, 'what sort of name is that?'.  This man was from Michigan, he was standing in a Waterstone's book store in Gower St.  I understood the nature of the question and I am admittedly a strange half Indian, been living in Hawaii, went to university in the UK, living in the middle of London with blonde hair mix.

I would be totally prepared to overlook the badly worded question if he tone had not been so meanish.  Why mean?  We were standing in a bookstore.  Who gets personal, rude and mean in a book store?  A lovely book store at that, one of my favourites.  The Waterstone's in Gower St. is marvellous.  It has a delicious early twentieth century collection (I have been romping through Forster, Bowen and West) and has about the best poetry collection in London.  Auden, Yeats, Akhmatova, Pasternak, Herbert, Milosz, Cavafy, Walcott?  Humph, one shouldn't get mean in front of Walcott.

Onto better news:

Nell is up for a group read on Goodreads!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Trapeze Swinger

Have you heard that song?  It is nine minutes of brutal, winding, haunting song.  I love things that fully inhabit themselves.  That is when writing, any writing, feels best.  Not easy to do.  It requires risk and courage and very good balance for the cliffs are steep out there.  But the rewards?  The rewards are huge.

I have been thinking about boldness.  It is not easy to write.  Boldness cannot fling itself onto the page, uncaring of the response.  That would not ring true.  Boldness must be conscious of the dangers and calculate how far the fall and then charge the field.  Without armour, without cavalry, without hope of rescue.

Akhmatova begins her poem "There will be thunder then.  Remember me."  Bold, dangerous.

Du Maurier begins her great novel with "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again."  Again?  But this is the first sentence.  She does it without a net.

Dr. Seuss fearlessly writes for children:

"I am the Lorax!  I speak for the trees,
Which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please;
But I also speak for the brown Barbaloots,
Who frolicked and played in their barbaloot suits,
Happily eating Truffula fruits."  Of course.  A Lorax.  I know a Lorax.

That is when we admire the writing.  It cannot be faked.  We would smell artifice immediately.  Every wonder of the literary canon faced a terrifying field.  But even when they fall, an often they do, we admire the attempt.

I love the options my spell check gave me for 'Barbaloots"...


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Letters and News

They are marvellous.  Personal and public and a thing meant to be shared.  You are a different you in a letter.  Quixotic and sharp edged, loving and light; letters froth with vigour.  To write is an active verb.  It is wonderful to be writing a book largely in letters.  I get to take up the personality of the character, live his or her day in my head and then write a letter that has nothing and everything to do with that day.  

They are of a moment: singular, finite, fleeting.  As soon as you seal the envelope you are in a different moment.  You would write a different letter if you had it to do again.  It is that strange alchemy of mind, heart, pen and paper.  You cannot step into the same river twice.

I have been reading letters recently.  The love lit letters of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the gossipy letters of Truman Capote, the stormy letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, the chatty, catty letters of Somerset Maugham, the achingly unfinished letters of John Keats and Fanny Brawne.  They all tell small daily stories within larger tangled, messy lives.  They are not neat, tidy stories with clean, rounded arcs.  Pathos does not lead to resolution.  Eros is often a capricious little beastie.  Quite often, nothing is learned and mistakes are remade.  I love that.  I loved the human, flawed aspect to them.  They fascinate.  

Pages written: 6

Also, I was sent the marketing plan today....  It is really happening.

I do not usually go back and tamper with posts, actually that is wrong, quite often I do and I apologize, but I had to mention what lovely June at Writing is a Blessing wrote about Nell yesterday.  Go and see...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Back.  Done with flying, airports, passports, travel size, lost socks, long lines, immigration, contraband liquids, seat belt signs, x ray machines, static electricity, peanuts and things that go beep.

It is wonderful to know I am going to write, go to ballet, go to the library, go to dinner with friends, write, go to sleep and then wake up and do it again tomorrow.

Pages written this week: 0

Pages to write: 20

But on the upside, I did finally finish my albatross of an Author Portal Questionnaire for Simon and Schuster.  Surely I will get better at this...