Sunday, 13 March 2016

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Just quickly...

It's more cookery than literary, but you may enjoy the account I wrote with Elizabeth Roberts of a colonial era cookbook, for the UK Telegraph. Click here.

Monsoon Books opens UK office

Monsoon Books, the Singapore-registered award-winning independent publisher of English-language books and eBooks on Asia, has opened an office in the UK for its editorial and marketing teams. 

Heading up the UK side is founder and publisher, Philip Tatham who will commute between the offices in the UK and Singapore.

Monsoon Books publishes books with Asian themes by authors from both East and West, and both new and established. Its list includes a mix of literary and commercial fiction, and nonfiction - biography and autobiography, true crime, food and drink, history, travelogues and current affairs.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

500 words from Sylvia Vetta

500 words a series of guest posts from authors writing about Asia, or published by Asia-based, or Asia-focussed, publishing houses, in which they talk about their latest books. Here UK-based Sylvia Vetta talks about her new novel, Brushstrokes in Time. This is written in the form of a memoir of a fictional Chinese artist, Little Winter, who is writing her life story for her American daughter. Back in the day, Little Winter was part of the Stars, a short-lived avant-garde group of self-taught artists operating in Beijing between 1979 and 1983, staging outdoor exhibitions, street demonstrations and public readings. Her memories of a love affair with a man frustrated by being controlled by the state link her private life to wider hopes for freedom of expression.  Controversially, the novel touches on the massacre in Tiananmen Square, in 1989. 

So: over to Sylvia…

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Olivia & Sophia published today in the UK

Two audacious women. One fascinating man.

My historical novel, Olivia & Sophia, which has been out in Asia since November, publishes today in the UK.

The novel examines the adventures of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the remarkable founder of Singapore, through the eyes of his two wives, Olivia, his beloved first wife, who died young, and Sophia, the second wife who outlived him. Each woman was intelligent and inquisitive, but otherwise they were very different: one sexy and scandalous; the other a pious, stalwart, adoring wife and mother. The novel transports you from London to India, and to Java, Sumatra and Singapore. It is set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, as they unfolded both in Europe, and in Asia, and of international trade, during a time of great social and intellectual change.

The story in brief...

When Tom Raffles sets sail from the cold, damp confines of Georgian London to make his name and fortune in the tropics, he takes with him his new wife, Olivia, a raffish beauty with a scandalous past. She infatuates his closest friend, a poet, and one of his bitterest rivals, a soldier. Raffles turns a blind eye – or does he just pretend to?

February 1817: After Olivia’s death, and back on leave in London, Raffles, a man once again in need of a wife, makes a practical marriage. Sophia, no beauty, but curious and intelligent, embraces the opportunity of an exciting life abroad. Marriage brings her great joy but also great sadness. Her life with Raffles becomes a catalogue of loss: of their children, of their possessions, of their savings.

And all the while, Raffles, driven and talented, manoeuvres at the centre of global networks of power, trade, politics and diplomacy. His scheming culminates, to his eventual glory, with the founding of a new trading post: Singapore.

Olivia & Sophia is now available in paperback from Amazon UK here. It is also available as an eBook here.