Wat Damnak

Wat Damnak

Last week I ran the first of my Writing Through workshops for this year. Others have done theirs already, but this was my first, and it was held with students at Anjali House, where my programme first started six years ago. The theme this time was 'Place', as I...

Sweet Home, Siem Reap

Sweet Home, Siem Reap

So, I'm back -- back in my room at my guesthouse, back at the educational shelter, Anjali House, where this all began. I spent my first week wearing my Anjali House Board Member hat, checking in on administrative and fundraising tasks, talking to the staff and...

On my way…again

On my way…again

I'm on my way back to Cambodia, this time for what has become my annual two-month trip. Two months always sounds like a very long time, but when I look at the calendar and all that I have already lined up to do, I realise it will go by in a snap. Packing is always a...

The Meaning of Literacy

The Meaning of Literacy

What do we really mean by literacy? This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately, both as a writer and as an educator. We know what we mean when we say someone is illiterate. Often, to those of us in the West, that word is used to mean stupid, at worst,...

A Brief New Year's Letter to All

A Brief New Year's Letter to All

Dear Friends, 2015 has been a huge year of growth, change and transition. If it's taught me anything, it's taught me not to be too afraid of what's next. It's not always great, but sometimes it's marvellous, and always it's important. So here's a great big welcome to...

Writing and Reading Through the New Year

Writing and Reading Through the New Year

2015 has been an incredible year for me, full of development, both personal and professional, world travel, and big changes. I can already tell that the new year will bring more of the same.  I think it's time for a rest during this holiday season and so I bring to...

The Writer Retreats

The Writer Retreats

I'm writing this on Tuesday, but you'll be reading it days from now because I'm going off-line for a bit. I'm taking myself on a much needed short writing retreat. I have half a poetry collection burning a hole in my computer and a notebook full of notes and research...

Trying to Do Some Good Despite It All

Trying to Do Some Good Despite It All

I arrived back in London at 5.30 in the morning on Saturday. The flight seemed uneventful. I watched a film (Ted 2 -- I know, ridiculous, but so funny), had something to eat and then went to sleep. So far so good. But when I landed and turned on my phone I found I had...

Of Monsoons and Memories

Of Monsoons and Memories

Finally, after all these years of coming to Cambodia, I have experienced a real Cambodian monsoon. Actually, several days of them. Monsoon -- the word alone summons up all these feelings of exotic otherness. And, although they can be a colossal pain in the butt, like...

Back in Siem Reap!

Back in Siem Reap!

I have had a great first week back in Siem Reap, switching back and forth between my work with Writing Through and my work at Anjali House. For Writing Through, this week has been about seeing old friends, making new ones, setting up repeat workshops for last year's...

Haze inside and out

Haze inside and out

Ah, jet lag..... Traveling to SE Asia from London doesn't get any easier. I sleep in deep, melatonin-induced bouts of slumber, only to wake up rarin' to go every four hours or so. That is, my brain wakes up rarin' to go, but the rest of me continues in that weird half...

Why the Novel?

Why the Novel?

It seems at least once a year somebody is railing about the death of the novel. I've thrown my hands up in despair about it so many times that I won't bother to show you the links. But there's a somewhat different and interesting take on the question going around...

John Burgess: Temple in the Clouds. Fiction vs Non-Fiction

John Burgess: Temple in the Clouds. Fiction vs Non-Fiction

John Burgess, former foreign correspondent for the Washington Post, has written a fascinating and compelling history of the temple known as Preah Vihear, which lies on the border of Cambodia and Thailand. Ownership of this important site has been disputed for...

A Workshop Among the Ruins

A Workshop Among the Ruins

it's always a pleasure to turn my blog over to someone who has recently returned from facilitating a Writing Through workshop. There are no better ambassadors for the work that we do than the talented and brave people who go out into the field and work with the...

Bye Bye, Yogi

Bye Bye, Yogi

I may have grown up in New York, but I was never a Yankees fan. I always rooted for the scraggly underdogs, i.e. The Mets, and then when I married into a Red Sox family, well..... But I always loved Yogi Berra -- who didn't?-- and the fact that he was affiliated with...

Stop. Start?

Stop. Start?

There is a weird thing that happens to runners. Sometimes, in the midst of a run, despite running along quite confidently, all of a sudden, you stop. The feet stop moving as quickly. The legs slow to a walk, or come to a complete halt. And very often, you don't know...

Now what?

Now what?

It feels a bit like confession: 'Dear God, it's been 6 weeks since my last blog.' Well, I've been busy. Doing what, you ask? * recovering from throwing my son and new daughter-in-law's wedding * flying to California to help my son and new daughter-in-law settle into...

Writing Through Phnom Penh

Writing Through Phnom Penh

My NGO, Writing Through, recently held 2 workshops in the Phnom Penh centre of Enfants du Mekong -- one in English and one in French! Let me turn my blog over to the Facilitators, Lisa Edmondson and Anne-Estelle Bourgeon, for their reports. First, Lisa's essay, and...

Not So Hopeless After All?

So, this isn't what I had planned to write about here today. But lots can happen in a week. The last sentence of one of my blog posts of last week read: All I can say is that although I am one of the most pollyanna-ishly optimistic and hopeful people I know, I feel...

Three Months on the Road with Writing Through

Three Months on the Road with Writing Through

Over the past three months, our intrepid Writing Through Facilitator, Katy Oglethorpe, traveled - first with me (Sue Guiney) and then, for most of the time, on her own - throughout the northwest of Cambodia, delivering our workshops to the children in the most remote...

Trying to Understand Another American Shooting

Much has already been written about last week's terrible shooting in South Carolina. I usually try not to use this blog as a forum for my political convictions, but this time I find that I need to speak out, especially as an American who has spent most of her adult...

Being Part of a 50th Anniversary

Many know that I have played the violin since I was seven years old. Playing the violin is such a basic part of me that I rarely mention it. But for over twenty years, I have been a member of the first violin section of the Kensington Philharmonic, one of London's...

My Favourite Author, Again?

Writers are always being asked this question. It kind of drives me crazy, though. My favourite author changes over time, with age, with circumstance. And I know that people are always expecting me to say something especially clever, or name someone surprising. So...

Shelter Me, by Circumference

Shelter Me, by Circumference

i recently wrote about Theatre Delicatessen here. That post was about their new mentoring programme, Departure Point. But today I want to tell you all about a rather spectacular theatrical experience going on at Theatre Delicatessen right now. I saw it Saturday night...

I Wanna' Go To The Beach: Camber Sands

After living a quarter of a century on these hallowed shores, I've decided it's about time to focus on the beach. I love the beach and I especially love sandy ones. I spend the summer on an island going to the beach every day. My favourite writing retreat in Ireland,...

Departure Point

Departure Point

Happily (or should I say jauntily), I wear many hats in my career. Today I want to don my theatrical hat and talk about a British theatre company which I am very much involved with, and their latest venture. Theatre Delicatessen started out as a group of four...

Good News from Cambodia via IJM

Good News from Cambodia via IJM

When I was doing my research for my latest novel, Out of the Ruins, I walked along some pretty frightening streets in the part of Siem Reap that the tourists usually don't see. I saw some upsetting scenes which I won't describe now, but a few did land inside the...

Looking Back

I'm deeply grateful for the kind words and encouragement from the novelist, Lynda Renham. We share a common passion for Cambodia and here she takes a moment away from writing her hilarious comic novels to ask me about the changes which have occurred to my own writing...

"Cocoon" and the Value of Patience

"Cocoon" and the Value of Patience

Back in 2009, after my first novel, Tangled Roots, was published, I had a bit of an awkward time around the London Book Fair. As part of the Fair, the British Council brought over some writers from India in a bid for cultural exchange. They asked for local,...

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