5 things this week

Five things that have been amusing me this week:

james o'brienListening… to James O’Brien. I don’t like music radio (I’m too set in my musical ways to have anybody else choosing what I listen to) but I do like talk radio, and James O’Brien’s phone-in show on LBC (weekday mornings at 10AM) is always informative, entertaining and enlightening. Unlike some other phone in hosts, he never lets people get away with talking rubbish. If someone is talking twaddle or repeating lies they’ve read in the press, he’ll sort them out fairly quickly. He’ll admit when he’s wrong, admit when he doesn’t know something, isn’t afraid to get emotional and he’s deeply intelligent and an all-round nice person. He’s just brilliant. I think I may actually heart him a little bit.

butterfly knotTying… a butterfly knot. The TV show Innocent, which ran this week Monday-Thursday on ITV, was a thriller about a man (Lee Ingleby, who was fantastic) who’d been falsely accused of his wife’s murder. But had he done it? If not him, who? There were loads of red herrings and several of them hinged around the knot that was used to tie up the woman’s corpse in a tarpaulin. Several of the characters knew how to tie a butterfly knot. And now, thanks to a handy app, I do too. This may or may not come in handy if I ever have to dispose of a corpse.

paul ritter friday night dinnerWatching… As well as Innocent, it’s been a good week on telly. The Split continues to be engrossing in a Brothers and Sisters sort of way. A new series of Humans started last night. And the latest series of Friday Night Dinner is as consistently brilliant as ever.


… the Royal Wedding. I quite like Princess Markle from what I’ve seen of her, but I still can’t be faffed to get excited about a load of posh people having a party. Though when I put it like that it sounds very much like Made In Chelsea, which I do watch every week. Anyway, while the wedding of the year is in progress I’ll be on a train heading north for the golden wedding of my aunt and uncle. I wonder if Prince Harry and Princess Markle will still be married in 50 years’ time?

book cover 3DHoping… that lots of bookshops decide to stock Holby City: Behind the Screen. So far people have mostly been buying it online, but I hope that having it stocked in more shops will attract the eye of Holby fans who don’t necessarily spend as much time on the internet as I do.

5 things this week

This week I’ve been:

Walking… With pigs in the Brecon Beacons. This was planned by my lovely husband as a Christmas present. We stayed in a cosy cottage with a view of fields and sheep, and on Sunday went for a walk with four funny, friendly Kunekune pigs called Babz, Hazel, Willow and Holly. They’ve been on telly, too.


WatchingCoronation Street. I stopped watching Corrie for a few years, but came back to it recently because EastEnders was getting too stupid for words (all that gangster nonsense, and a lot of chess-playing in sheds). So I’m not entirely up to date with everything that led up to Aidan’s suicide in Wednesday’s episode, but blimey – what a brilliant hour of television, with an incredibly important storyline handled with perfect sensitivity and intelligence. Like the Lucy Beale murder on EastEnders (back before the stupid gangsters and chess-playing), it focused on the reactions of the people left behind, and showed the ripples that a death has right through a community and the different reactions to such shocking news. And David Platt’s realisation that he had to tell someone about being raped before he ended up with nowhere to turn like poor Aidan, and Shona’s sensitive reaction to what he told her, was brilliantly done. Right across the cast the acting was perfect.

Also watching… Michael Clark’s dance piece ‘to a simple rock ‘n’ roll… song,’ which was on BBC Four. It consists of three segments set to music by Patti Smith, Erik Satie and David Bowie. The dancing is just stunning – it’s all about line and form, extremely precise and detailed, and very beautiful. I’ve watched it several times now and notice something new every time and marvel at the amazing things the human body can do.

Reading… I’m part way through Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit. It’s set in Berlin, which is interesting to me for a start, and begins with the narrator visiting his father, who’s in prison for manslaughter. The story then goes back to the time leading up to the crime, dipping between the narrator’s early life and more recent events. I’m finding it intriguing, though not exactly unputdownable at the moment.


Writing… A new character recently turned up in my novel-in-progress, and I’m probably going to have to kill him. And just as I wrote that sentence, something clicked into place about the way I was thinking of killing him, and how it links with something that happened earlier on. I love it when that happens – you realise your subconscious has been working away on something while you thought you were thinking about pigs and soaps and dancing.

Blog tour: Sarah’s Vignettes and Liz Loves Books

For the penultimate stop on the blog tour I did a Q&A for Liz Loves Books.  I talked about my family, how I was an early pioneer of fanfic, and the time I forgot to sort out my eyebrows – when I happened to be visiting the Holby City make-up department!

And my final host was Sarah Swan of Sarah’s Vignettes, who gave Half A World Away a lovely review (I’m completely thrilled with all the gorgeous reviews), and hosted a giveaway of a copy of the book.

This is the first time I’ve participated in a blog tour, and it’s been a great experience. The book bloggers involved have been kind, helpful and enthusiastic, and I can’t thank them enough.

“Gripping and captivating… I really enjoyed this story.” – Sarah Swan

Blog tour: Jaffa Reads Too

My stop on the Half A World Away blog tour today is the blog Jaffa Reads Too. I’m so happy that the blog’s author, Jo, really liked the book and gave it a great review.

But who is Jaffa? Well, he’s Jo’s “glorious ginger cat,” who assists her reading by positioning himself somewhere close by. I’m now wondering whether I should call my blog “Elliott Writes Too,” as I have my own feline assistant who’s never far away while I’m writing.

We’ve had Elliott for ten years. He was born on Bonfire Night and we got him on New Year’s Eve, so he’s very cool with fireworks. On the day we got him we were amazed at how such a tiny little kitten already knew what a litter tray was and how to use it. We were also impressed with the way he “defended” us against our older cat, Frostie, the first time she dared to try to come into her own house.

Elliott is more like a dog than a cat and follows me from room to room. This has its down-sides too, as he’s always been the most gassy cat I’ve ever known. We have to warn visitors that he’s part cat, part dog and part skunk.

“I enjoyed seeing East Berlin through Nicky’s eyes whilst at the same time allowed myself to follow in Alex’s footsteps into a very different world.

Beautifully written, and in perfect step with time and place, Half A World Away is one of those stories which stays with you long after the last page is turned.” – Jo (and Jaffa)

Blog tour: Swirl and Thread

I’m honestly quite blown away by the amazing review of Half A World Away today on Mairead Hearne’s blog, Swirl and Thread (she also loves sewing, hence the blog’s name: “I was visualizing the swirl of words on a page and the thread of a story working together to make a great book. Also swirls and thread are synonymous with sewing” she says).

As well as the fabulous review there’s also a Q&A which I enjoyed doing because I got to talk about Holby City, Stephen King, trains, Liverpool – all the stuff I love!



“Half A World Away is a beautiful read. Set just before the collapse of The Wall, Sue Haasler has captured the claustrophobic atmosphere of living within such a restricted and, at times, frightening regime. For many this was their norm and what lay on the other side of the wall was what they feared…the unknown. Sue Haasler approached this novel using her own knowledge and experiences of East Berlin, having travelled there over the years and her husband being from East Berlin. For me this familiarity gives a very authentic feel to the novel. At times I was drawn right into the pages as though I were actually there myself.

Alex, Nicky and Detlef are all so very different, yet their individual stories knit together wonderfully to bring the reader a very poignant and at times heart-breaking story. This is a love story, set against the backdrop of one of the most incredible and fascinating times in recent history….The Berlin Wall and it’s subsequent collapse.” – Mairead Hearne

Blog tour: No Safer Place


Today my host on the Half A World Away blog tour is the wonderful Zoe, from the No Safer Place blog. I talked to her about how music influenced the novel (and my own attempts to learn to play the flute), the authors who inspired me to write, and the differences between writing fiction and non-fiction (Holby City: Behind the Screen).  There’s also a hint about the book I’m working on now, which I’d better get back to …

Blog tour: Broadbean’s books

Today my host for the Half A World Away blog tour is Melisa Broadbent, who writes the blog Broadbean’s Books. I was very happy that she liked the book and took the time to review it. Pop over there and see what she thought.



“I must admit that I was quite young when the Berlin Wall was pulled down but Sue Haasler does a magnificent job of describing how harsh and completely different things were depending on which side of the wall you were on. I don’t want to spoil too much of the story but I found this book to be one that I didn’t know a lot about going into but learnt a lot at the end of the journey.” – Melisa Broadbent