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I always love looking at the pictures and captions to the author in the picture feature, there is usually a surprise or two waiting to be discovered, and isn’t it fascinating to look at the pictures that mean such a lot to the author. Dinah’s books are gorgeous, full of vivid colour and emotions, and they are also beautifully written. Do take a peek at some of our previous reviews for The Separation, The Tea Planter's Wife, The Silk Merchant’s Daughter, Before the Rains, and The Sapphire Widow. Dinah’s latest book The Missing Sister joins the must-read list and is out on the 21 March 2019. I adore the pic of Dinah in her PJ’s on route to her writing room and the vibrancy of the photo of the book group in Sri Lanka, perhaps we ought to ask them to be our book group of the month!
After I read Julia Gregson’s East of the Sun, set in India, I was so inspired I began to think about my own childhood spent in Malaya – now Malaysia. I’d been considering trying my hand at writing for a while and kept wondering if I might be able to use my own exotic experiences to write a book. A few years later my first novel, The Separation, set in Malaya, was published and it changed my life.
I love to read in the reading corner of my writing room, although these days I also love listening to audiobooks lying on the rug by the fire in the sitting room. Some of the narrators are so good and I do have my favourites. Top of the list is Imogen Church whose reading of Kate Furnivall’s The Survivors is incredible.
When I found out The Tea Planter’s Wife had been picked for the Richard & Judy book-club, I really couldn’t stop smiling and when I actually met them, I was bowled over by how professional they were. I’d followed their recommendations for years and couldn’t believe it had happened to me. When The Sapphire Widow was also chosen my grin just got wider.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast when Tea Planter reached Number One in the Sunday Times top ten bestsellers was such a huge thing for me. I’d come from nowhere and there I was in my mid-sixties being interviewed by Naga Munchetty who I love, and John Kay. I had never expected anything like that.
I was invited to speak at the Galle Literature Festival in Sri Lanka this year and the turnout for my main event was so unexpected. The huge pavillion was packed, with standing room only, and I was deeply touched by the support and kindness I received. Later I sat in the festival gardens beneath the shade of a large umbrella with wonderful a book group from Colombo. Several of the women were mixed race, and so open and candid about their experiences that we talked for over an hour about writing and about life. It was very special.
I always write in my writing room at the bottom of the garden. It’s a glorified shed really but I love its peace and quiet, especially if the rain is thundering on the roof or the wind is howling. It did get rather hot during last year’s heatwave so then I had to write super early in the morning. The picture shows me still in my pyjamas intending to make an early start.