Welcome to my blog and to updates on progress with Black Tongue of Fire, a cross-cultural romance set mainly in India, and other incidental thoughts and writings.

As well as drafts and extracts from the novel, I hope to share some thoughts about the issues that arise for me in researching and imagining this story, and the writing process itself.  Black Tongue of Fire  is my first novel, and I have spent the last year writing it, starting during NaNoWriMo (http://nanowrimo.org/) in November 2012, completing 50,000 words in a writing marathon that sprang from despair and anger as much as inspiration, and tailing off in the exhausted months that followed.  I have learnt a great deal – about writing and about myself – in the last 11 months, and become acutely aware of how much more I need to learn. It has been a journey of intense emotion and physical endurance as well as technical struggle and there is a very long way still to go.

Will I ever finish it? There are many more drafts to write and rewrite even when “The End” is finally set down on paper.  And if I do, will it be anything like the book I envisaged in my mind, and will I have laid to rest the demons that drove me to begin it and wrestled with me all through its composition? Here is where you will find out.

First, a small extract from Black Tongue of Fire, Chapter 23: this part set in the badlands of Pakistan, on the road to Peshawar, sometime in 1992.

‘Qasim’s car picks up speed on the road out of Islamabad towards Peshawar. Qasim leans back in the driving seat, the size of his body seeming to fill the space like a snail housed in its shell, his head pressed against the roof, his arm jammed against the door. In front of his eyes a huge double tassel of tinselly fronds sways from the mirror, bound together with a green band bearing the shehada, the declaration of faith. The car is green on the outside too, but inside it is a swath of tattered plastic where the original seat covering has been retained, now frayed scuffed and torn and curling up at the ripped edges. On top of the plastic covering, pieces of carpet have been laid: offcuts of thick Baluch rugs and scraps of old prayer laid on each seat and in the footwells. On the back parcel shelf a tissue box appliqued with metallic arabesques takes pride of place beneath a miniature Pakistani flag.

The car looks gaudy. Qasim is wearing shades.’


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