The Secret Lives of Colour in Thirteen Languages. Plus: odd apples; books on wheels; and why hitmen shouldn’t wear GPS watches


One month into the new year and I’ve just about gathered my thoughts on the last one. Professionally speaking, it was a biggie.

‘The Golden Thread’, my second book, was published by John Murray in October. Second anythings are tricky, especially when the first something exceeds expectations. And yet ‘The Golden Thread’ has so far refused to be upstaged by her colourful older sibling: Radio 4 Book of the Week and Woman’s Hour appearances in the first month of publication, a review in the Sunday Times, and a shout-out from Peter Frankopan. What more could a book want?

Also in 2018, ‘The Secret Lives of Colour’ came out in South Korea, Italy and Russia. It’s now—or will be very shortly—available to readers in a dozen languages. Translation is a dark art that requires teams of great dark-artists. Cultural references that make perfect sense in English will be gobbledigook in Thai. Covers and graphic design that appears dashing in one country may seem old fashioned or jarring in another. Over the past year teams of translators, editors and art teams have ensured that ‘The Secret Lives of Color’, ‘Atlante Sentimentale Dei Colori’ or ‘Het Geheime Leven van Kleuren’, are the best books they can be in their adopted languages. To all of them: thank you!

So, what’s next? Well, there’s another book, the idea for which I’ve not been able to get off my mind since 2016. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for it, and I hope you all will too. There’s are also other projects I’m working on. Articles for The Economist, The World of Interiors and my new-look colour column for Elle Decoration, the first of which is out this month. I’ve also got some ideas for longer-form projects that have been pitched, and others that I’m still working on. And of course I’ve also found time to comb the internet for the interesting and unexpected.

Below are a selection of things that caught my eye over the past few weeks, as well as some of the pieces that I’ve worked on. Enjoy!

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“Books are essential. Without a book, children are often alone.” I think we can all agree that Antonio La Cava, and his sky-blue library on wheels, Bibliomotocarro, are things of joy.

Benjamin Dreyer, copy chief of Random House, on bad habits and clichés that writers need to excise. Of particular note are “the letting out of the breath you didn’t even know you were holding” (this one is definitely going to bug me now) and over-use of “a moment”. And if you get through all those, try these tips from best-selling authors including J.K. Rowling, Zadie Smith and John Grisham.

Some look like cherries, others like stars. Some are gnarled and russet and don’t look very appetising at all. They are all apples, shot by pomme-queen William Mullan. Also available to buy as a rather delectable book.

Don’t wear your GPS-enabled watch while carrying out a hit. This nugget of wisdom comes too late for Mark “Iceman” Fellows, currently serving a life sentence for shooting a mob boss and his enforcer while wearing a Garmin.

true-crime oldie from Outside. In 1999, a man murdered four women in Yosemite. This spree, despite being an anomaly, made many—especially women—reconsider their relationship to the wilderness. This cropped up in Outside’s “Horror Vault“, which is well worth a visit.

My recently published work includes an essay for the TLS on women and weaving; an ode to Armstrong’s spacesuit; and a review of ‘Widows‘. Click here to read more.


[Image is of the fairytale Hole Cottage, a Landmark Trust property]

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