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A paean to Peppa Pig

2 Jul

This post is about one of my many niche interests, specifically that gentle satire on the English middle class: Peppa Pig. You might think that this is just a children’s cartoon about a family of pigs but you would be wrong. It is laugh-out-loud funny in its dissection of human foibles and frailty through the medium of stylized animal drawings.

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Happy (belated) International Women’s Day!

9 Mar

If I had been more organised, I would have written this post in good time and set it up to come out on International Women’s Day. But I didn’t, so the next best time is now.

I wrote a wee blog post for Premier about five Christian women who have been unjustly forgotten. I got to choose all but one of them, so naturally I included one of my personal heroes, Olympia Fulvia Morata. (I’ll take any excuse to go on about her.)

If you would like to find out about this amazing woman, and also about Perpetua (whose feast day is the day before International Women’s Day, coincidentally), Josephine Butler, Susan B. Anthony and Catherine Booth, please go ahead and click the link.

Five incredible Christian women you should really know

If you already know about all of them, well done you. And get in touch – we should probably be friends!

Fun Facts about Joan of Arc

2 Mar

When I was researching my article on Joan (who wasn’t really called ‘of Arc’, by the way) for my article in the latest edition of Premier Christianity Magazine, I came across a number of facts that I couldn’t squeeze into the article, but which deserve to be shared anyway. I’ve called this “Fun facts about Joan of Arc” but really it should be called “Fun facts which are at least tangentially linked to Joan (not of Arc)”. But that’s not so snappy. Continue reading

Robin Hood’s first review – and it’s a goodie!

6 Nov

The lovely Bob White, chairman of the World Wide Robin Hood Society (based, appropriately enough, in Sherwood, Nottingham) has just written a review of Why Everything You Know about Robin Hood Is Wrong.

You can read the whole review here, but (as is my prerogative as an author) I’ve quoted my favourite bits below.

Robin Hood silhouette transparentKaren Murdarasi’s new book pulls no punches and tells it like it is! The 90 informative pages are jam-packed with revealing facts and comparisons about the many discrepancies in the popular story and it’s all brightly written in a succinct and engaging style.

Robin Hood silhouette transparentIf your curiosity gets the better of you and you really want to delve into the murky world of Robin Hood’s authenticity, then Karen Murdarasi spells it all out in this enjoyable new book.

I’m sure your curiosity get the better of you, so you can pre-order the book now on Amazon or Waterstones (or your bookshop of choice). It will be on sale from 22nd November.

If you’re in or around Glasgow, look out for details of WEYKARHIW book events, which I will be posting soon.

Three little-known signs of dyslexia

2 Feb

Here’s my latest piece for the Dyslexia Scotland blog, about the signs of dyslexia you might not be aware of.

A life less ordinary


When I was in primary school, my new teacher asked everyone in the class to tell him something they thought he should know about them. I remember that I wrote something along the lines of, “If I’m staring into space, don’t stop me – I’m thinking up stories or imagining.” That’s not very surprising for someone who went on to be an author, but I didn’t realise at the time that it was probably a sign of dyslexia, too. I wasn’t identified for many years after that, but a tendency to daydream or ‘zone out’ is more common for dyslexics. Often, we don’t even realise we’re doing it, and can completely lose track of time!

There are other things that can be signs of dyslexia that people wouldn’t normally think of. Most people know that dyslexia affects reading and writing, but there are signs that have nothing to do with…

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Love Your Local Library

1 Feb

Library books

This is less a blog post, more a public service announcement – or at least, a readers’ and writers’ service announcement. I’m sure most writers will know* about the Public Lending Right (PLR), but I get the impression that a lot of readers don’t. Some people perhaps feel guilty if they borrow a book from the library instead of buying it, even if, like me, buying all the books you read in a year would consume most of your annual income.

You can stop feeling guilty! Writers get paid when you borrow their books from libraries. Now, there are a list of exceptions and exclusions (you have to register; it’s only in some countries; private libraries don’t count; you have to reach a threshold; there’s a cap on how much you can get) but I don’t want to go into them and obscure the major point: writers get paid when you borrow their books from libraries!

The Public Lending Right Act came into force in 1979, after a lot of lobbying by writers’ groups, securing a small payment each time a copy of an author’s book is borrowed. Fair enough, it’s not much. In fact, I think it’s about 7p per loan at the moment. But every little helps when you’re a starving artist, and it’s not as if royalties from sales are particularly high either.

So please, stop feeling guilty if you get your fix at the library rather than the bookshop. You are supporting the writer. (If you’d like to support a writer who’s not stocked by your local library, you can request that the library get their books in.) And please, please, keep using libraries and borrowing books. Not only are you making it more likely libraries will stay open to benefit future generations of readers, you’re also helping authors like me. 😃

(Feel free to share this with fellow bibliophiles.)

*If you’re a published author and you don’t know about the scheme, here’s some information on how to register for PLR payments.

Cutting-Edge Technology from 3500BC

22 Sep

A guest post for the Dyslexia Scotland blog – featuring ancient history, natch 😉

A life less ordinary

papyrus_featherYou probably don’t remember learning to speak. It happens too early. Most of us are chattering away before we’re out of nappies. But you may have painful memories of learning to read: the anxiety of spelling tests, word lists, and red pen.

That’s because speaking comes naturally to us, and reading doesn’t. Human beings have always talked. Our brains seem to be ‘hard-wired’ to pick up language. Put a normal baby in an environment where people talk to it, and within a couple of years it will have started to speak itself.

But put a normal person in an environment where there’s writing, and they’re unlikely to learn to read without being taught. That’s one reason why we spend such a large part of our childhood in school. Reading and writing isn’t usually something you just pick up.

Writing first developed in Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium BC. It started…

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Typewriter Society author interview 

14 Sep

I did an author interview about publishing Leda for a website called Typewriter Society this summer. It’s just been released and you can read it here.

In Darkest England 

7 Aug

The August edition of Premier Christianity magazine features my article on William and Catherine Booth. If you’re thinking “who?”, they were the couple who set up The Salvation Army, back when the English capital was a lot grimmer than it is now – “the London of Charles Dickens and Jack the Ripper” indeed. 

Pick up a copy in larger newsagents, or get a free copy online. 

Top 5 Things Not to Say to a Writer 

22 Feb

It’s another guest post link (although at some point I’ll probably write up my impressions of Bucharest, which I’ve just returned from). 

The Portobello Book Blog kindly invited me to write a post for them, so I’ve given my take on the things you shouldn’t say to writers, or specifically me. Don’t worry if you’ve already  said these things to me – it’s fairly tongue-in-cheek, and I love you really 😉