Non-fiction books


From fact to fiction

February 28, 2017
Fact is often stranger than fiction. This may be a cliche, but what is true is that fact is often the basis for good fiction. 
The challenges of long-term space travel formed the basis of The Martian - an amazing book and film. 
C.J. Sansom's Shardlake series is so mired in historic detail of the day we can smell the horse dung. And Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, well, we know how deep she loves to dig when it comes to fact.
And so it goes on.
For me, The Independent Enquiry into Child Sexual Abuse that began with testimony from those shipped as children to Australia is harrowing. And while their story is real, I feel it more because I edited the fictional account of children shipped to Canada in the 1870s. The author Elizabeth Howard showed me her background work, reports written by those who thought it a wonderful notion to take poor children to new nations in need of labour. But only four years after the first children were sent from London, rumours of abuse were rife and UK charity governors sent Andrew Doyle to find out the truth. Doyle found many cases of abuse and criticised the charities for not checking up on the children. "The homes in which the children are placed in Canada are not so selected, and it is certain that great abuses do ensue." 
That was written in 1874. Yet, child immigration from the UK continued. Between 1870 and 1930, more than 80,000 children were sent to Canada alone. Australia is said to have received 130,000. The numbers are all beautifully rounded and cannot possibly represent each vulnerable child sent so far from home with no one to fight their corner. The mother in me fumes. And no one can correct this - no hearings can give a grown man a happy childhood free from abuse.
But we can educate ourselves and ensure we step up when someone defends the practise.
Two books to read:
Fiction - Listen to the Child by Elizabeth Howard
Non-fiction - The Little Immigrants: The Orphans Who Came to Canada by Kenneth Bagnell 


We must battle creatively, normal protest won't work

February 2, 2017
I'm a publisher not a politician but, like many of you, I'm concerned about Donald Trump. I could call him so many names but so many people are doing that already. And it's too easy and leads nowhere.
The problem with Trump is that he's no ordinary politician, and ordinary tactics of debate and protest don't work. He's a bully and cares nothing for the ordinary guy no matter what he says. It's difficult to tell what his aim is - profit, influence or simply world domination.
I just returned from...
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Why Travel Solo?

January 11, 2017

Why not?

Many people want to travel but, when they raise the topic among family and friends, they don’t hear enthusiasm. Instead, there are excuses like, “Oh, yes, I would love to go to Borneo, Brisbane, Bali, but…we need a new garden fence, a new car, I don’t like foreign food, don’t want vaccinations, hate flying…”

There is always an excuse. Some people say they want to travel but, let’s face it, they will never get around to it. My question is why should you wait for oth...

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Put down your phone and watch people

January 9, 2017
I love travel - whether it is on a local bus or a long-haul flight, travel gives me the chance to watch people. However, I'm amazed at how many people gaze into their mobile phones rather than ponder the stream of humanity that passes them by. We can read so much about strangers' lives - or at least I can.
The group of three on a train - two girls and a boy. One girl starts to crack her water bottle loudly whenever her friend talks to the boy - is she trying to drown out her friend's words? I...
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It happens

Yvonne Barlow Editor and people watcher. I love non-fiction and the ex-journalist in me believes a good novel can never match the human story.