George Square Edinburgh

George Square was built in the latter part of the eighteenth century and the architect named it after his brother, George Brown.

The Menzieses' House No 20

The Menzieses’ House No 20

It was a very sought after and upmarket address when the Old Town began to spill out of the bands of habitation lining the Royal Mile from the castle down through the Lawn Market, past St Giles and on to Holyrood and the royal park.

Yesterday, I was in George Square to park and later retrieve the car. All around was the bustle of the Fringe Festival showing little sign of being in its final hours. Even so, I spared a moment for Bella, Charles, the Menzies’ household and the other characters I created for Bella’s Betrothal.


Bella’s Betrothal


Men are from Mars – or Somewhere Out There

Greek Lady, Sicilian Temple

Greek Lady, Sicilian Temple

Men are from Mars This month’s round robin topic asks if certain genres stereotype men and women? Why do I think that happens? Do I do anything to avoid it in my writing?



Certain genres do stereotype men and women. There are classic preconceptions and romance literature is certainly the place you’re going to find masculine men and feminine women. But, you’re not going to find men who are masculine in the way that military commanders in a buddy movie are masculine, because romance literature is aimed at a female readership. Yes, I know…

So why does it, sexual stereotyping, happen in romance literature? Because it’s in the nature of the beast. Most men want to protect ‘their’ woman and most women want to be cocooned by ‘their’ man – at least through the honeymoon period.

Do I do anything to avoid it in my writing? I think so, but within the boundaries of what my readers expect.

So if you’re aiming at a female readership, then the masculinity is fine-tuned. I write regency-style historical romance and I love the battle-of-the-sexes banter that is a characteristic of that genre.

London Girl

London Girl

I like to have my H & H verbally sparring when together on the page. At the same time, the regency period was renowned for its vulgarity. You only have to study a few of the political cartoons of the period to pick that up. So the men, when in male company were probably a lot less refined than they are portrayed in the drawing-rooms of the novels.

It’s also the case, that I enjoy allowing my female characters to kick over the traces a bit. I like to use the challenge of getting into their contemporary mores, but I also like to have them straining ahead to a time we might recognise as coming.Bella’s Betrothal Bella, in Bella’s Betrothal, is very interested in the layout and content of gardens. many women in the later nineteenth and early twentieth century became recognised and successful gardeners.

Daisy, in Daisy’s Dilemma, is hopelessly confused. Growing up as the pampered and highly privileged daughter of an earl, she struggles to understand why her new sister-in-law, with her interest in educating the masses, makes her so uncomfortable. Could there be something out there she doesn’t yet understand?

Daisys Dilemmal 333x500

Equally, their heroes must be made to rise to the challenge of an equal mate. How do Tobias, Charles and Reuben temper their arrogance, their assertiveness and their testosterone? The books are all available for your trusty e-readers. I really hope you’ll enjoy finding out. Other writers are blogging about this topic today, too. I’m followed by the lovely Skye Skye Taylor but you can also visit the others from their links, below. thanks for dropping in, Anne



Beverley Bateman
Connie Vines
Rachael Kosinski
Anne Stenhouse
Skye Taylor
Fiona McGier
Helena Fairfax
Rhobin Courtright

Out and About in Edinburgh

ENCOUNTER by Simon McBurney and Complicite was the water into which I dipped my first toe of 2015.

When Dominic Cavendish interviewed McBurney for The Telegraph – with ten days to go – he claimed the show wasn’t finished. He claimed it was waking him up at 4am and the stage manager was clamouring for a script.


Complicite, Théatre de Complicite, is about collaboration, but it defies my understanding that a show of the complexity I saw performed last night was so unfinished ten days ago, it was wakening the creator and performer up. What did he mean?

Did he mean one or two loose ends needed tying? Did he mean he’d read the book, Amazon Beaming, some time ago and a few ideas were floating about? Clearly, there’s room for misunderstanding about what ‘finished’ means.

The evening begins with McBurney talking the audience into their individual headphones – ‘This is a conference centre, not a theatre.’ he says with a laugh. Then he wanders around his stage and introduces us to a head on a stand. The technicalities will be familiar to many, but binaural technology was new to me. So when he introduced us to noise in our left ear and noise in our right ear and later when there were mosquitoes buzzing around the back of my neck, I was hugely impressed. I kept my eyes closed for much of the two hours and missed the occasional visual joke, but the effect was all-encompassing.

Without the nausea of 3-D cinema, the effect is so realistic I was just stopping myself slapping the ants and running from the rising flood-water. It’s wonderful story-telling.

Amazon Beaming is a 1991 book by Romanian author Petru Popescu. It recounts the remarkable period American photographer Loren McIntyre spent, 20 years before, in the captivity of an Amazon tribe. This is what McBurney based Encounter on.

In addition, he personalizes the creation of the story and the telling of the story by introducing his sleepless daughter and her pointed questions. The child’s voice punctuates the arc of the main plot as the artist creating the work tries to create while baby-sitting, and introduces some levity into the profound nature of Loren McIntyre’s experience.

Two hours on and McBurney has earned a standing ovation. It all looked finished to me. He took time to commend his technical crew and I’d second that. Perfect cues, great stage-effects (I was looking sometimes) and sympathetic or dramatic lighting added hugely to the production. Highly recommended.

Run continues various dates till Sat 22nd 7.30pm and 4 matinées. Performance has no interval. Edinburgh International Conference Centre. Morrison Street.


In which I have a book birthday and an actual birthday

Open only today 6th August, BST, folks, Scratch your head and then scratch an answer across on Alison May’s blog. Great prize for the winner, Ts&Cs – read them carefully.

alison may

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to Me! etc etc. And secondly, Happy Birthday to the paperback edition of Sweet Nothing which is out this week. In honour of these twin excitements I have put together a little present for one of you lovely reading type people out there. And here it is: Sweet Nothing pb giveaway We have got a copy of Sweet Nothing (to be signed, of course), a fab tote bag, a Midsummer Dreams notebook and bookmark, and because Sweet Nothing and Midsummer Dreams are both published by Choc Lit, there will almost certainly be some chocolate added to the haul as well. So what do you have to do to be in with a chance of owning all of these lovely things? Well you need to enter a little competition. This is how: Simply add a comment below, telling me which Shakespeare play you’d most like to read a contemporary adaptation of…

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