Thursday 25 August 2011

"Popular" giveaway!

If you are a blogger or book reviewer and your blog has more than one hundred followers, Penguin are giving away seven copies of my novel Popular for review. Please contact the theatre version of Popular's e-mail address at to request your review copy!

Tuesday 16 August 2011

An actor in "Popular"

"One of the best things about playing the character of Cameron is how he has many different relationships in the play. This is good from my perspective, as I enjoy acting with the different characters, in totally contrasting moods and different scenarios. For instance, I could be in a highly amusing scene with Peter or a very tense scene with Blake, and I like this as each scene is rewarding in its own different way."
Here's a link to an interview with actor Robbie Dagher, who is playing Cameron Matthews, one of the lead roles in the Northern Irish theatre adaptation of my novel Popular, this September.

Sunday 14 August 2011

The return of the Ascendancy

Ever wondered what it would be like to spend a week, an evening or a weekend living like a member of the Irish Ascendancy? Well, The Irish Times has just profiled one of my favourite places in the country - the absolutely beautiful Montalto estate, a few miles from where I live, and currently administered by my childhood Sunday school teacher, David Anderson MVO MBE. The estate, which dates from the early eighteenth century, was originally the home of the earls and countesses of Moira and it represents one of the triumphs of Italianate architecture amongst the homes of the Irish aristocracy. During the rebellion of 1798, there was considerable fighting on the estate between those who supported the rebellion and those who were loyal to the Crown. At that time it was the home of the 2nd earl of Moira, who later became Marquess of Hastings, a hero of the British army during the American War of Independence and later British Governor-General of India. The marquess sold the estate in 1802, four years after the rebellion, whereupon it passed into the hands of the Ker family and later the earls and countesses of Clanwilliam in 1912. In his amusing history of the estate, Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland reports that one countess of Clanwilliam refused to live in the house "because of the regrettable infestation of ghosts."

The house and estate has now lovingly been restored and, believe me, it's absolutely beautiful. With all the modern conveniences, it somehow still manages to feel as if someone magically stopped the clock in 1910.

For The Irish Times article on its restoration, click HERE.

And many congratulations to David, the Wilsons and everyone at Montalto. It's a magnificent place and beautifully restored.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

August 10th, 1792: The siege of the Tuileries

On this day in history, the Tuileries Palace in the centre of Paris was laid siege to by a mob and in a horrifying display of public violence, centuries of monarchist rule in France were effectively overthrown. The royal family, who had been living under de facto house arrest at the Tuileries for nearly three years since the fall of Versailles, were forced to flee for their lives and many of those attempting to defend them were savagely murdered, chief amongst them being the loyal Swiss Guard. Novelist Elena Maria Vidal, author of two novels based on the royal family, has posted an excellent account of the fall of the monarchy, told from the point-of-view of the marquise de Tourzel, the impeccably Catholic governess to the royal children and a character who featured prominently in both of my own plays about Louis XVI and his family.

"Several faithful servants of the King, having found means to gain access to the Assembly, went to the King in the reporters' gallery, and gave his Majesty an account of what was going on at the Tuileries. They told us that the women had got away without any accident, and my son assured me that Pauline was in safety. This certainty and his presence were a great consolation to my heart, although it was still deeply grieved by the fate of the many brave fellows who were devoted to the King and the royal family. Mgr. the Dauphin was charming on this occasion on account of the sympathy with which he displayed his satisfaction at knowing that his dear Pauline was out of danger. These gentlemen told us that the Suisses had got the upper hand for a moment, but as they were unsupported, and the crowd increased every moment, they had been compelled to retire; that a great number of them were killed, and that the general fury had extended to the attendants of private individuals, of whom several, and especially mine, had perished; and that it was impossible to help feeling that there would be many more victims, so great was the rage which animated the mob, who were by this time masters of the Castle...."

Click HERE for the full article on Elena Maria's blog.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

"Mistress of the Monarchy": A Review

Published in Britain as Katherine Swynford: The Story of John of Gaunt and his scandalous duchess and in America as Mistress of the Monarchy, American novelist Elena Maria Vidal offers a positive review of Alison Weir's biography of the beautiful Katherine Swynford, mistress and then wife of the fourteenth century English prince, John of Gaunt, who effectively ruled the realm during the childhood of his nephew, King Richard II. 

Monday 1 August 2011

Penguin South Africa

Today my first novel, Popular, became available through Penguin to buy in South Africa. Hope readers enjoy it and I'm very excited it's available there now!
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