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Pictures of what inspired me

I recently returned from a half-term visit to Montenegro and took the opportunity to snap some of the pictures that I've not quite got round to before. I've uploaded a bunch of them into the Under An Amber Sky gallery so do take a look if you fancy seeing some of the key locations from the novel. It's amazing how much time it takes to photograph everything left, right and centre and often I prefer to just enjoy the experience rather than constantly be hiding behind a lens and a viewfinder. Perhaps part of that is because I spent so many years as a videojournalist and self-shooting producer/director so I was always lugging camera equipment around - including whilst heavily pregnant. I think it was filming in an boisterous and extremely loud Essex nightclub at 3am that finally made me think this wasn't the job for the long term! After a ten-year period working as a freelance writer and digital media creative director, I retrained as an English teacher - no less exhausting and still lots to carry around, just exercise books rather than battery packs - but at least I finish work at 6 or 7 in the evening rather than at dawn.

Montenegro was as beautiful, peaceful and life-enhancing as it always is. Apart from some instances of aggressive driving, I find Montenegrin people incredibly calm. Even when held up in a two-mile tailback of stationary traffic (at least half of which was headed to the international airport in the capital city) because the road had been shut for the Podgorica marathon, nobody was getting upset or emotional. The men took it as an excuse to get out of the car and have a chat and a cigarette and the women - well, they just waited. Not a single horn sounded during the entire 25-minute delay and as far as I know, nobody missed their flight so all's well that ends well.

I've been reading a lot lately and will be updating this blog with my picks shortly. I love a good psychological thriller so those have been featuring heavily on my reading list. If you, too, like this genre, do give my one a try! It's called The Missing Twin by Alex Day and is available in ebook, paperback and audio. The audio narration has been done by the wonderful Sarah Agha and is truly superb. As well as my own personal reading, I'm studying American Literature 1880-1940 with Year 12 and LOVING re-reading classics such as The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and The Awakening by Kate Chopin. It's so rewarding to see these texts opening up new worlds for the students. The many restrictions experienced by women in a patriarchal society shock our twenty-first century young people - but the scandals rocking Hollywood and Westminster right now make me wonder what has changed. Perhaps we're not quite locking hysterical women away in attics or Gothic mansions any more but women as men's possessions or as objects to be treated how they please? How much has that changed?

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