Writers, Dogs and the Tsunami that is Ill Health


My dog Basil is always with me whether I’m walking, writing, cooking etc. He’s a constant.

Yesterday, however, things changed, and the only walk Basil had was in my arms, wrapped in an old towel, straight to the vet’s where he remained.

Illness can hit like a tsunami. After an average day of walking, writing and more walking, Basil threw up, and in the early hours he repeatedly excreted blood.

With Basil at the vet’s on a drip etc, I didn’t even try to write. How could I concentrate without my little friend? Instead I worked on a linocut for the cover of my upcoming book, London Tsunami.

Linocut in progress
Linocut in progress

The title story, London Tsunami, is about a woman whose partner, without warning, becomes dangerously ill. Whilst other stories in the collection deal with similarly sudden and unexpected shifts in reality.

Cover designToday is of course another day and after a night on intravenous antibiotics Basil has bounced back. He’s now home and although he’s a little quieter and skinnier than normal he’s well on his way back to good health.

The Importance of Writer Friends

Writing is by its very nature a lonely business. Solitude helps. Somehow, at some point after spending time alone, the magic happens: words, paragraphs, chapters and novels finally emerge to do what they will.

As Anne Enright says in The Guardian’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction, ‘The first 12 years are the worst. If you sit at your desk for 15 or 20 years, every day… it changes you… It makes you free.’

After a day spent home alone writing it’s good to meet with writer friends. These are people that understand what it’s like to start from scratch and go on to create an imagined world. They also write and rewrite until it works (and hopefully sings), and send out until there’s a positive response.


London literary event The Books that Built Me seemed like a good excuse to get together with writer friends Stephanie Zia and Jacqui Lofthouse.

Writer and playwright Samantha Ellis discussed the books that have had a major influence on who she is and in turn inspired her to write How to be a Heroine.

The Modigliani GirlHer choices ranged from Henny Penny to Lace and personal favourite, Wuthering Heights – always worth revisiting. And more importantly, it was a good opportunity to celebrate the publication of Jacqui’s latest book, The Modigliani Girl. On a sadder note, I heard from another friend who has had to bow out of our writing group due to ill health. He’ll be missed.