From Russia with Love

Between novels being published, there’s often not a lot of news for a writer to share but this update is a big deal for me!

I celebrated a milestone birthday (21, again!) last week and used it as a good excuse to go on a special holiday to Russia, a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. We started off in Moscow and did all the usual touristy stuff but then took the train to St Petersburg for a few days.

This was more of a ‘work’ than ‘play’ trip as the novel I’m writing refers to the Siege of Leningrad and I wanted to do some research. To get a feel for the impact on the city, I went on a private walking tour of the main sights related to the siege and also to the museum dedicated to the events (essential to have a guide as the signs are only in Russian)


After the tour, I met with a retired curator who is an expert in the albums referred to in my novel which contain messages of support and solidarity between the women in Leningrad and Airdrie and Coatbridge, my local area. Irina’s specialist input and generosity in sharing her extensive knowledge was invaluable preparation for the following day.

This final appointment took a lot of planning to make it happen but it was well worth the effort. The highlight of my visit to St Petersburg was when I had the absolute privilege of a private viewing of the album which was sent from Scotland and is now in possession of the state history museum. To be allowed this opportunity was an honour and an emotional experience. I’m now home and even more fired up to attempt to bring this amazing story to life. Better stop eating birthday cake and get back to my desk and writing then!

Have you made a special trip for research? Or celebrated a big birthday somewhere that was on your ‘bucket list’?

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Potty Politics

HMK & sons

Me with my two ‘babies’.

 

I’m the mother to two grown-up sons but on Thursday I became a new mum again when I gave ‘birth’ to my latest novel, Buy Buy Baby.  My book is a bittersweet story of two very different women united in their desperate quest for motherhood.
download (1)I’ve discussed my strong views on motherhood and identity in a guest post I wrote for Naomi Frisby’s website, The Writes of Woman which generated thought-provoking comments about a woman’s sense of self. It’s a topic that fires me up and so I was very interested to wake up to the latest joust in the battle for the leadership of the Conservative Party where it was all kicking off on social media about Andrea Leadsom allegedly claiming in The Times that, “being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of the country”.

If she’s not been misquoted, it’s a gob-smacking statement to make and imply that anyone, such as Theresa May, isn’t as well qualified for the job because she isn’t a mother. Being a parent should never be a prerequisite to hold down any level of responsibility and here in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon is a phenomenal role model for women, young and old. And then there’s Angela Merkel, another powerful European leader who has led her country for 16 years. I could go on and on with examples of child-less leaders that makes quotes like, “Being a mother gives me edge on May” sound utterly ridiculous.images

Leadsom is now being castigated for her alleged remarks and if it they’re true then it was a condescending cheap shot to suggest that somehow childless women, or indeed men, live in a vacuum and that being a parent makes you a better person.

 

 

BBBBI’ve explored this topic and challenged the ideas about society’s expectations and attitudes to women throughout Buy Buy Baby and hope that the yearning of the two main characters in the novel provokes discussion on such an emotive topic.

Do you think a mother makes a better candidate to lead the country?