Researching often means I get to indulge in reading books I consequently fall in love with that lead me to other books in a never ending roadmap of discovery. This morning, while researching woodlands, I came across a quote by Wordsworth “… with gentle hand | Touch — for there is a spirit in the woods” from his poem Nutting, so of course I had to read the rest of the poem. I found my book of his major works, searched the glossary for the page number, and then the book flipped open straight to the poem. I paused, thinking that was cool, but just as I started to read aloud (as I often do with poetry), my iPhone stopped playing music, as though this poem demanded quiet. It was sudden and mysterious — I had to share. And yes, the poem is wonderful! 🙌

*Woods: A Celebration by Robert Penn

London’s lockdown seems to have ended. The streets are crowded with people again, as though the threat of death no longer looms. Is it the fair Friday weather that lulls them into a false sense of security? Or is it the human condition to forget, doomed to repeat our painful histories, that pulls them out of their homes in too large crowds? Passing them on the pavement feels like playing Russian roulette, an unnecessary game with a consequence that outweighs the prize. There are too many people willing to play. Too many bullets in the gun. I’m staying inside again. I can always walk in my dreams.

Found in my mother’s garden, a pot of spawning cactus plants. A google search informed me they are hedgehog cactus. I’m not 100% certain that’s correct, but I love the name, so I’m sticking with it! My mother’s garden is full of surprising delights tucked away in nooks and crannies. A slow wander around with a sharp eye is an early morning treat.

White Chrysanthemum has been shortlisted for Best First Novel by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. I’m honoured to be selected along with two wonderful writers Guy Gunaratne (In Our Mad and Furious City) and Nicola Mostyn (The Gods of Love). If you have time over the holidays, pick up their books and give them a read. If you haven’t read mine yet, what are you waiting for!?

Happy holidays and happy reading!

Can you spot my book? Hint, it’s on the top shelf. Dreams do come true! At my local @waterstones in the O2 Centre.

On another note, Happy Halloween!!!! 👻🎃

Here’s the US paperback release of White Chrysanthemum. Hopefully this beautiful new cover will reach many more people across America. There are so few Korean ‘comfort women’ still alive today–eight women died this year. I still meet so many people who have never heard of them, what they endured, or how many perished during WWII. History is written by the victors, yet women’s history is largely ignored. It’s time to remember, to tell women’s stories, so they will be ingrained in our collective memory. White Chrysanthemum tells one story, a historically ‘shameful’ one, hidden for decades, until a woman finally comes forward to tell her loved ones what happened to a sister long forgotten.

Translated into German, White Chrysanthemum becomes And Above Me The Sea. I love the cover, the poetic title and the timing. It’s the day after the autumnal equinox and the days grow darker from here. I hope German readers fall in love with Hana and Emi. I hope the story of the ‘comfort women’ translates across language and border and personal experience. I hope so much for this novel. ❤️