How I Used Pictures To Write In The Light of What We See

Nancy Beaton as a Shooting Star for the Galaxy Ball, 1929 Photographer: Cecil Beaton. This is an important image in the book and I had a print of it sitting on my desk while I wrote.
Nancy Beaton as a Shooting Star for the Galaxy Ball, 1929 Photographer: Cecil Beaton.
This is an important image in the book and I had a print of it sitting on my desk while I wrote.

When I’m writing I like to collect images which ‘feel’ like my book. In the past, I’ve even made paper-and-glue collages, with small objects and found ephemera stuck into the mix.

Visual details and setting are very important to me, but the first draft tends to arrive in the form of characters talking. In The Light of What We See was no exception, so I used an inspiration board of digital images to help me. The board (like the book) includes ghost birds, the beautiful Gower peninsula in South Wales, Brighton, nurses, and the Royal Sussex Hospital.

In the early stages, I use pictures of people as ‘placeholders’ for the characters. They don’t necessarily look the same as the character, but they evoke a feeling or attitude which helps me to write them. Pretty quickly, I get to know them through the story and they take on a life of their own. Evie and Geraint look (and feel) completely different in my mind, now, but the inspiration board was a massive help in the beginning.

Unusually, I didn’t use images for either Mina or Grace (the main characters) as they arrived so fully-formed and definite that I didn’t need them.

As this book is half-set in 1938, I did a fair amount of research. The pictures serve as shorthand reminders for that research or, again, just to set a certain mood in my mind before writing a scene.

I have collected quite a few of the images I used onto a Pinterest board if you are interested.

Out on Friday - meep!
Out on Friday – meep!

Also, don’t forget to enter your email address here to be in with a chance of winning book swag on Friday!

I will pick three names at random from my mailing list on Friday afternoon.

Also, Lake Union are running a GoodReads giveaway which ends on Friday. Head here for your chance to win one of twenty paperbacks.

Publication Celebration Giveaway – Pretty Book Swag!

Hello, my lovelies!


On the weekend, I took my book out for lunch in Edinburgh, and a good time was had by all… As you can see, my book likes a splash of Prosecco. Quite right, too!

As promised, I have procured some goodies to giveaway to celebrate the publication of In The Light of What We See.

image1 (1)I have had two gorgeous book lockets made. They are quite tricky to photograph, but here’s one held by me. The locket measures 22 x 17mm, but might look as if it is larger in my small-ish hand.

The locket opens and has spaces for two (tiny!) pictures/photos.

I also have some notebooks (one bird-themed as a nod to the ‘ghost birds’ which appear in the novel) and one with my book cover, and some lovely postcards.

Woodland Trust bird notebook
Woodland Trust bird notebook

On publication day (1st April – as if you could forget!), I shall pick three names at random from my mailing list and those lucky ducks will win one of the following prizes:*

1st: 1 book locket, 1 ‘bird’ notebook, 2 x postcards

2nd: 1 book locket, 2 x postcards

3rd: 1 book-cover notebook, 2 x postcards


In other (boasty) news: In The Light of What We See is still in the top 100 ‘Kindle Bestsellers’ chart. Huzzah!

Thank you to everyone who has bought it, reviewed it, or spread the word. I am so grateful!

*Giveaway is open Internationally and closes at midday (GMT) on 1st April, 2016.

In The Light of What We See Picked for Kindle First!

So, um… This happened. Meep!

Hello, my lovelies.

Something a little bit exciting happened with In The Light of What We See, but I was strictly forbidden from talking about it… It’s been killing me!

The book has been chosen as a Kindle First title, which means it is out (Kindle format and in the UK/Australia only) right now. During March, members of the Kindle First book club can pick up a copy of the book for just 99p and read it ahead of official publication on 1st April.

I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you about this before – I hope you will forgive me.

I also hope you’ll forgive a little horn-blowing… In The Light of What We See hit number 3 on the Kindle chart yesterday. Whoop!

It’s also currently NUMBER ONE in the ‘Contemporary Fiction’ chart on the Australian Amazon. Thank you, Australia!

I’ve also received my first three reviews and they are all five star… Cue a massive sigh of relief!

If you’re in the UK, you can join Kindle First (for free) and grab your copy for 99p here. For Australian readers, the price is $1.99.

For those in the rest of the world, there are only four weeks to go until official publication; do pop back next week (or sign up here) to hear about a pre-launch giveaway.

Thank you!