Welcome to my new website

Welcome to my new website

The last few years have been eventful ones. At the end of 2009 I flew out to Pakistan to visit my partner who was working in Karachi. As I flew over Afghanistan and looked down at the barren, ochre mountains that seemed to house no life I felt a strange excitement, an intimation that my life was going to change. My partner was waiting for me with airport security as the plane doors opened and I was whirled away through the airport and into a waiting car. The heat hit me like a blast from an oven as we drove into Karachi amidst the terrifying traffic, bright buses, huge decorated lorries and motorbikes weaving through the chaos with up to five people on them.

An hour or so later, ensconced by the hotel pool where we had an apartment and where the welcome had been overwhelming, I looked up at a vivid blue sky where kites whirled low, at the small silver-grey doves pecking at the edges of the pool underneath hibiscus and rustling palms and realised with a shock this was love at first sight for a country I did not know and whose culture was so different from my own. I was not prepared to fall in love with Pakistan but that is what happened. I went for two weeks and stayed for a year.

I wrote my latest book, THE DAY THE RIVER CAUGHT FIRE by a deserted swimming pool in Karachi.

I made some wonderful friends in Pakistan and I saw some wonderful places. However it was not always easy. Karachi is a dangerous city and my movements were severely restricted. I could never go out alone, only with our driver Noor, or with Pakistani friends. It was sometimes like being in a five star prison.

What it did give me as a writer was a unique opportunity to observe, to absorb and to listen to all the disparate lives going on in a hotel in Karachi. Journalists, diplomats, NGOs, businessmen of all nationalities passed through. The hotel staff talked to me of their lives and their dreams that were almost surely not destined to be fulfilled.

I sat by the pool in the early mornings before the heat of the day and I wrote until the heat drove me in. In the late afternoons I read Pakistani writers who opened up their world for me. I swapped books with an American diplomat and swam in an empty pool in an often empty garden.

My book is my thanks and my tribute to the Pakistan I saw.

I saw grace and beauty and a dignity in people who have so little and are confronted with violence and danger every day.

I rediscovered the meaning of true friendship. Overwhelming kindness when I was ill or lonely or a little frightened. We are your family while you are here.

Pride and deep love for family life predominates. Happiness in the small simple things such as shopping and eating together no matter what happens tomorrow; the importance of the moment and the preciousness of each other.

The dark side of Pakistan, when we were abruptly no longer safe drove us home early. We cried. Our friends cried. It felt like losing my Karachi family. Emails and Face Book mean we stay close and one day I hope I will return to Pakistan.


Back home in Cornwall I moved to a lovely three-storey house at the west end of town. I have an office at the top of the house where I can see the sea glittering through the rooftops. The landscape, living by the sea, is the rhythm and inspiration for much of my writing. Even if I am writing of another place, the background, the innate sense of where I live remains important.


In the first month of 2012 I look back on the last two years in the photos, the people and the landscape that inspired my latest two books.

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