27 May 2013


I was in a bookshop the other day and, walking around the shop, I could not fail to notice the amazing number of crime books in relation to other genres. I wonder why? Why are we so obsessed by crime? Is it true that what appalls and terrifies can also act as a magnet? Does reading crime books make us less terrified, less appalled? I would love to hear what you think.

25 May 2013


For those of you who may not know, Goodreads is handing out ten free copies of The Space in Between to ten lucky people. One of them could be you. The draw takes place at the end of June, but to win you must enter. Information at Goodreads

23 May 2013

Excerpt - Page 6

      Barely eighteen, Rozalija was of average height with thick brown hair, which she usually wore gathered up loosely on the top of her head. Her eyes were green-grey and her skin olive. When her mother told her that she was going to marry Zacharias, she was in the front room, standing near a window, while her mother was sitting in front of her on the dull-red sofa, sewing. Behind her mother there was a large gold-framed mirror, and the mirror reflected both Rozalija and the window.
      “And, if I don't marry him?” she repeated, looking past her mother at the mirror and at the window in the mirror. Thinking hard-to-define thoughts about openings and exits. Still thinking of Mihails.
      Ieva, distantly connected on her father's side to Polish nobility, had looked at her daughter for a moment, not wanting to recognize the hesitant defiance behind the words.
      “Why must you make things so difficult for me, Roza? Can't you imagine how trying it is to find husbands for all of you? First Matilda and now you and Paulina.” Ieva sighed and looked at the sewing lying in her lap. “Anyway, I have already spoken with his family. It is all but agreed.” She looked up at Rozalija. “You cannot refuse. It is completely impossible. Imagine the talk!” She put her sewing to one side and stood up, almost blocking out the window in the mirror. “Give some thought to your mother, child! If you don't marry him, it will be my death. I can assure you of that.”

20 May 2013

Rozalija, Nina's mother, was Latvian, but she had family connections with Polish nobility, and her parents were reasonably well-off. A twin with Paulina, she was one of five children, and she grew up in Inčukalns, a town to the east of Riga, not far from Sigulda. As a child she was very determined - a trait that became more emphasized as she grew up - and she met challenges and, later, tragedy with a stoicism, which often made her appear unemotional and detached.

She spoke at least six languages fluently. and, as well as looking after a husband and four children, she gave her time tirelessly to helping refugees, both during and after WWI.  

18 May 2013

Zacharias lived his life, as did so many others, doing the bidding of others. If he had been the type to complain, he had plenty to complain about, but he did not complain. For him, everything was as it should be; he did not seek to change things. Nowadays, people are more vocal about rights and unfairness, but I'm not sure if the ability to complain has made them happier. Any comments?  

16 May 2013


Nina's father, Zacharias, was a kind man. He was a hard worker and extremely conservative. He accepted life as it was handed to him; he did not seek to change things.

"... Zacharias was short and compact, with large square hands and a similarly shaped head. His brown hair, already turning grey, was nearly always hidden beneath a black bowler hat – the bowler, along with white starched collars, appearing several years ago when he was made foreman. His promotion had been the pinnacle; now he was on the plateau. Eventually, he would reach the edge, and finally he hoped to meet his God. He had always been a religious man. Life for him was about fearing his God, respecting the German baron and loving Tsar Nicholas II. He could not understand those who wanted a free, autonomous Latvia, and he did not understand what difference the word free would make to anyone. He had only ever known the German estate: the fields, the workshops, the sawmill, the dairy and the big house. He had begun life on an estate in Estonia before eventually moving to the estate where he now worked. He had no complaints. His wife ran the household, and the baron and the Tsar ran the country."

13 May 2013

Sifting information can be extremely frustrating but, at times, even interesting and rewarding, and, of course, the same applies to the millions of blogs floating around 'out there'. I decided, therefore, to give you, my very valued 'blog readers', a few links to blogs that I feel are worth 'checking out'.

The first one is called Painting on the Edge It is a blog by Keith Tilley, filled with his beautiful landscape paintings.

The second one is also an art blog. It is called Illustrated by Annette Abolins and it is filled with wonderful illustrations, as well as lots of useful information about how to move an image from thought to reality.

The third blog is Tima Maria Lacoba's blog,  which is all about her 'about-to-be-published' book, Bloodgifted -  a book about vampires. For those of you who enjoy being frightened, this might be a good place to start.

11 May 2013

I was thinking about Nina and her letter drafts - nowadays, we all make drafts (of a kind), but our drafts are clean and ready to send; there aren't any inserted words or blacked-out words or crossed out paragraphs. Word processors take care of all such things efficiently and neatly. Once we print out our letter or click send, our letter or email is carefully stored in a virtual folder somewhere with thousands of other similar communications. Nina's few boxes of letters begin to pale in comparison.

Most of us are drowning in information, not only the information that forces itself upon us every day, from every possible angle, but even personal information that we happily receive and send (and usually store). Too much information? What do you think: will all this easily accessible information be a boon to future biographers, or will it simply be a source of frustration? As they say, too much of anything is never positive. If you have a spare moment, I would love to hear what you think.

09 May 2013

Recently, someone asked me what it was like to write someone else's story. It is, of course, not the same as writing fiction: there is an acute sense of the need to be accurate. There is also an ever-present sense of responsibility for the person, and the people, concerned; however, at all times, even though it is a story about another person, it must always remain the author's interpretation of that story.

During the years I knew Nina, she talked to me a lot about her past; later, I regretted that I had not written down all those things when she had talked about them. Once I decided to write the book, there was a lot to piece together, and I did so with the help of my husband and his two cousins. I was also helped by the hundreds of letters we found in Nina's attic. She had kept all the letters she had received as well as many, many drafts for letters that she sent. These drafts, together with a couple of diaries, were a goldmine.

Some things, though, were impossible to find out, and I was forced to take some creative liberty based on what was most likely, given what I already knew. In many ways, The Space in Between is like a painting of Nina and her family; I am sure that there could be other interpretations, but, had I not believed in my own interpretation, Nina's story would soon have been forgotten and there would have been no one left with sufficient information to resurrect it.

07 May 2013

Continuing on from my last post, this blog is all about my book The Space in Between, so, for those of you who are new or are just passing by, you may like to check out the book's website

There are possibly extra things you would like to know about the book: the characters, the events and even the actual writing of the book - if so, I would love to hear from you.

05 May 2013

As most of you probably already know, blog stands for web log (or web diary), and it is easy to understand how the b attached itself to the log. On second thoughts, this is actually quite a delightful image...

It is mind-boggling (not blogging) to think of all the different kinds of blogs there are: gardening blogs, poetry blogs, cooking blogs, blogs with recipes and blogs that explain how the solar system works, blogs that tell stories and fashion blogs that tell us what we should be wearing, travel blogs, art blogs, language blogs, humorous blogs, blogs about stamp collecting, history blogs, blogs about books, blogs about authors and blogs that tell us how to write and what to write, handyman blogs and blogs explaining how to build a kite or a boat or even a house... There are even diary blogs.

With all the millions of blogs fighting for space on the Internet, I am truly grateful to you my blog audience. Thank you for popping by occasionally.

01 May 2013

As you may have noticed, I have altered the appearance of my blog. Whereas the last background was from a photo taken at Kolka, this background is from a screenprint I made some years ago, based on a photo of Nina. You are more than welcome to let me know what you think.