Related to: 'Blog: Staff Hot Picks for Summer 2013'

Headline Review

The Painted Chamber (Short Stories from the author of The Crimson Ribbon)

Katherine Clements
Katherine Clements

'The vibrant new voice of historical fiction' Suzannah DunnTHE PAINTED CHAMBER is a lyrical tale of love and longing, and HOW TO ROAST A PIG WITH THE HAIR ON, winner of the Jerwood Historical Short Story Competition 2012, a darkly vivid story of wifely revenge. Also included is an exclusive sample from Katherine Clements' highly acclaimed debut THE CRIMSON RIBBON.

Tinder Press

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

Anton Disclafani
Anton Disclafani
Tinder Press

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

Anton Disclafani
Anton Disclafani

Perfect for fans of The Great Gatsby, Tigers in Red Weather, and Curtis Sittenfield... 1930s America, southern high society: Part love story, part coming-of-age novel, this is the moving, raw and exquisitely vivid story of an uncommon girl navigating a treacherous road to womanhood. Thea Atwell is fifteen years old in 1930, when, following a scandal for which she has been held responsible, she is 'exiled' from her wealthy and isolated Florida family to a debutante boarding school in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. As Thea grapples with the truth about her role in the tragic events of 1929, she finds herself enmeshed in the world of the Yonahlossee Riding Camp, with its complex social strata ordered by money, beauty and equestrienne prowess; where young women are indoctrinated in the importance of 'female education' yet expected to be married by twenty-one; a world so rarified as to be rendered immune (at least on the surface) to the Depression looming at the periphery, all overseen by a young headmaster who has paid a high price for abandoning his own privileged roots...

Posted by Christina Demosthenous, Editorial

Blog: Desert Island Reads

When it comes to packing, choosing my holiday reads is definitely the best bit. And while I was spoilt for choice this year, I began imagining (with difficulty) which books I would take with me if I was stranded on a desert island. I’ve put this question to some of my fellow Headliners (asking them to ignore the existence of e-readers, which would eliminate this conundrum…) Feel free to take inspiration for your beach book this summer! I would have to choose E.M. Forster’s Howards End – a book to transport me to the streets of London and travel back in time. It deals with almost everything: issues of class, family, philosophy, gender, art and love, but most importantly, it has a very special place in my heart. My dad once gave me a beautiful edition of Howards End with a message inside, saying he hoped the novel would have the same profound and lasting effect it had on him when he was younger. So as well as keeping me entertained and leaving me enriched, it would help me feel less lonely stranded on a desert island! John Wordsworth from Fiction Editorial thinks that ‘you have to choose something that lends itself to multiple reads. I ploughed through The Brothers Karamazov when I was far too young and found it simultaneously fascinating and baffling, so I’d consider that. Although being stranded on a desert island would be depressing enough without Dostoyevsky, wouldn’t it? I think I’ll have go for a story that my grandmother used to read to me, one that makes me think of home, and reminds me that things have a funny way of working out: The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr Seuss.’ Two books at very opposite ends of the spectrum, John! Laura Ricchetti from Sales would take the complete works of Frank O’Hara, ‘to keep me happy’ and Moby Dick, because ‘it’s a wicked book and might even teach me some sailing stuff so I could get off the island too.’ Good thinking. Emily Kitchin from Fiction Editorial would take I would take Jilly Cooper’s Score! She says: ‘Other than having obvious physical benefits for a desert island (it’s large and would double up nicely as a pillow, foot stool or weapon), it’s got everything you could want in a novel. All the old favourite characters appear (the arrogant yet charismatic Rupert Campbell-Black; his young yet adorable wife; his snooty but desirable daughter Tabitha, and so on), and are on top form gallivanting about, riding horses and having steamy affairs. In time-honoured Jilly Cooper tradition there’s a host of new characters too, including the hot and sexy Frenchman Tristan who becomes embroiled in a love triangle between icy-but-beautiful Tabitha and plain-but-loyal Lucy. There’s a film set, a blood-curdlingly nasty villain in the form of the monstrous Rannaldini, and a whodunit to rival Eastenders’ ‘Who shot Phil Mitchell?’ storyline. It would keep me entertained for hours.’ I’m sold! Publicity’s Elaine Egan chose two books. She cleverly picked The Swiss Family Robinson, ‘a handy and practical guide to living in a remote paradise, hopefully without the beastly creatures’ and as her back-up read, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, where ‘reading about Yossarian’s jinks would keep me somewhat sane.’ Ben Willis from Publicity would also choose Catch-22 – a popular choice! ‘It's terrifying, silly, hilarious, poignant, dense yet readable, vivid and yet almost cartoonish: basically everything you need to make you feel less aware of being stuck on an island with only a volley ball for company.’ Darcy Nicholson from Fiction Editorial went one better than Elaine and picked three desert island reads. Charles Dickens came out on top with Great Expectations, ‘because this is as meaty a novel as I can imagine – every time I read this, I find new depths, new character flaws, new angles. To me this book is endless.’ Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis comes a close second ‘because fascinating doesn’t even cover it with this one. I could spend hours in open-mouthed awe at the sheer brilliance of Amis’s concept.’ And thirdly, Darcy chose William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, ‘because I have never read it and cannot imagine a more apt time to do so.’ Frances Edwards from Editiorial and Publicity also has three emergency picks. How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran, ‘for the times when I want to laugh until it hurts’, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, which comes top of her list of ‘books I’m embarrassed that I haven’t read’ (and what a better time than to conquer this list than when stranded on a desert island) and finally, ‘anything that Patrick Gale’s ever written’ because ‘he’s got a character to complement every mood and moment. And he writes great stories, beautifully.’ Richard Roper from Non-Fiction Editorial would take Kirsty Young's Desert Island Discs book ‘just to see what other people would be reading on a desert island.’ Great answer! Alternatively, he’d choose Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, partly because ‘it's the first book I can remember properly loving’ and secondly as it would ‘give me hope that other oversized, floatable fruits may lead to my escape.’ Another great answer! Production’s Ant Simnica has two top choices, and neither is a light read! The Dinner by Herman Koch, which he read in one sitting and ‘then wished I’d saved it. Tense, unsettling and darkly funny, The Dinner follows an evening with two brothers and their wives at a restaurant. As we learn of the horrific crime their sons have committed, and the reaction unfolds, it really made me think about far we might go to shift the blame and protect our own’ and Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin: ‘obviously everyone loved this book, but for good reason. A captivating take on mother-son relationships and how our whole perceptions of ourselves and those closest to us can change so much. A true page turner that builds to a jaw-dropping ending. Probably the only book I’ve ever read twice.’ Sherise Hobbs from Fiction Editorial would choose anything by Tasmina Perry, whose novels are ‘not only wonderfully escapist but also fantastically chunky so they would help me while away the hours.’ Agreed! She would also take a really good nail-biting thriller: ‘I’m desperate to read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, or the latest by Lee Child, Linwood Barclay or Lisa Gardner, to keep my mind sharp as I puzzle over how to escape from the island.’ And finally, Sherise would have to take the complete set of Anne of Green Gables novels, in case ‘I never escape and I need something I can read again and again…and again…and again…’ So there we have it, a fine selection of books in the event of being stranded on a desert island (if you don’t have an e-reader, that is…) Take your pick!

Headliners choose their favourite summer reads


The Wrong Knickers by Bryony Gordon 'I think The Wrong Knickers would be my perfect beach read. Totally relatable and absolutely hilarious, it’s the perfect book for a busy day of tanning – I can just picture thousands of women all along the Marbella shoreline spitting out their holiday cocktails with laughter.' Holly Harris, Non-Fiction Editorial Summer House with a Swimming Pool by Herman Koch 'If you found Herman Koch's The Dinner an addictive yet uncomfortable read, wait until you read this! A book that draws on obsession, guilt, paranoia and asks the toughest ‘What would you do?’ question you can imagine. I guarantee you'll finish this in one sitting by the pool as the protagonist’s world slowly collapses around him. A gem of a read.' Beau Merchant, Marketing The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas 'I have two absolute must-reads this summer, the first of which is The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas. When Fiona Clutterbuck finds herself stranded in a remote village along the west coast of Ireland, utterly alone having being jilted at altar, things seem just about as bad as they can possibly get. But chance has it that the mysterious and somewhat infamous local oyster farmer is in desperate need of an assistant. Fi throws herself into the role and what follows is an utterly uplifting, life-affirming story filled with warmth, laughter, tears and a romance that will sweep you away. I promise that The Oyster Catcher will capture your heart this summer!' Poppy Does Paris by Nicola Doherty 'My second summer pick has to be Poppy Does Paris – an irresistible e-short from Nicola Doherty which marks the beginning of her fabulous new digital Girls on Tour series. Think deliciously Parisian fun, flair, food and fashion. Brilliantly escapist, laugh-out-loud funny and a romance for you to really root for, Poppy Does Paris is everything that you look for in a summer read. It will leave you dying for your own holiday and longing for the next in the series … so watch out!' Christina Demosthenous, Fiction Editorial Mr Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt 'This impeccable debut novel will introduce you to the most fascinating character you’ll encounter for a long time. Mr Chartwell is big, he’s black and he’s furry. Mr Chartwell is a dog. He can stand upright, he can talk, drink tea from a china cup and bathe himself (though it is easier if you help him). This book will furrow your brow and make the corners of your eyes crease, it will make you feel brave and it will fascinate you. This is no ordinary story, it is no ordinary summer read. Hunt’s writing is mesmerising, every page has a sentence I wish I had crafted and, now that I think about it, the only thing that might have made this book better would have been to read it on a beach.' Darcy Nicholson, Fiction Editorial The Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish. 'My summer read is The Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish. Louise is one of my favourite authors and I have been pressing copies of her books into the hands of friends to take on holiday for years. The Disappearance of Emily Marr is no exception – it is addictive and full of intrigue. Mix that with the irresistibly gorgeous setting of Il de Ré, which Louise so vividly describes, and you have a perfect suspenseful summer read with a twist I defy anyone to see coming. The plot and characters will stay with you long after you have left the beach.' Fran Gough, Publicity The Proposal byTasmina Perry 'My favourite read for this summer is Tasmina Perry’s new paperback The Proposal. Set in modern-day Manhattan but also taking you back to the 1950s debutante era, this is a magical and brilliantly escapist book which kept me guessing until the very end! Perfect to get absorbed in on a hot summer’s day!' Laura Ricchetti, Sales The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson 'This quirky book is a great summer read. Following in the style of The 100 Year Old Man, it tells the tale of Nombeko Mayeki and her unusual journey through life, from her upbringing as a latrine worker in Soweto, to receiving a small fortune in diamonds (through rather unorthodox means) and becoming friends with (unsuprisingly) the king of Sweden! Over the decades her luck and location constantly changes, and her bizarre adventures, eccentric friends and the ridiculous plot make this book a fun and breezy summer read which keeps you guessing and asking 'whatever next?' until the very end.' Bekki Guyatt, Creative With such a variety of stunning escapist reads here, hopefully you can indulge in one or two of them this summer!

Headliners discuss their favourite literary teen romances


This Thursday 28th August marks the paperback publication of CONQUEST, the first in an epic new Young Adult Sci-Fi trilogy by bestselling author John Connolly, and Jennifer Ridyard. Set on Earth but not as we know it, Conquest tells the story of a world occupied by the Illyri, a fierce and beautiful alien race, and features two teens embroiled in the ultimate forbidden love.

Posted by Leah Woodburn, Editorial

Blog: Announcing Tinder Press!

It is no ordinary day here at Headline Towers, for it is the day that we finally announced the arrival of our new imprint, Tinder Press. It's a hugely exciting endeavour for us, and we can't wait to tell you more about the fantastic books we'll be publishing – do keep an eye out for them here. And, despite the fact that we're not launching till next year, we're already chattering away: do follow us on Twitter @TinderPress, have a peek at our website:, and, lo! we’re even on Pintrest: The stories are coming…

Where Were You?

Blog: Andy Murray, Wimbledon 2013

‘Where were you when...?’ is a game of immense value. Questions such as, Where were you when Elvis died, when the twin towers fell or when Princess Diana died? are ones to keep in your back pocket for necessary small-talk-scenarios, when the conversation is dwindling at dinner parties or when you're two-thirds through your long haul flight. But this game does much more than simply enliven the chatter accompanying the proffering of After Eights. It makes the momentous microscopic, it takes grandiose events experienced by everyone and translates them to a more personal level – and this summer, on 8th July 2013 on Centre Court at Wimbledon, Andy Murray did not just become the first male to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936; he unwittingly added fresh new material to this game. Now, ‘Where were you when Andy Murray won Wimbledon?’ will forever be immortalised as a legitimate question to add to the list, to which all proud Brits will have a good, patriotic story to share. To prove this, I presented the question to the office - read their varied and wonderful tales below... Read on to the end – David McTeague’s is my favourite! Abigail Mitchell - Sales - I was at a really nice pub in Stratford (very close to where Andy won his gold medal at the Olympics!) with my best friend (also Scottish). We sat outside in the sunshine watching the big screen while enjoying the outdoor BBQ. We both shed a little tear when Andy won! Jenny Karat - Regional Manager I was on holiday with my husband and children in Provence, along with two other families. It was a baking hot day; we had many bottles of chilled rose, a pool to cool off in and we switched the huge television on for the only time during the week we were there. Watching Andy Murray win in those surroundings with our friends was a Wimbledon I will never forget! Emily Griffin - Editorial I spent the match crouched on my living-room floor (not the sofa, it was too tense for the sofa) conveying my support/frustration/excitement/despair to the TV. If the match had gone to a fourth set, there’s absolutely no way I (never mind Murray) would have had the stamina to cope. Top sporting drama! Darcy Nicholson - Editorial Before I was taken there as a translator, I had never heard of Gabon in Africa. And yet, when Murray won Wimbledon there I was, sitting in the lobby of a hotel in the country’s capital, freezing cold in the path of a manic air-conditioning unit. We watched the match on a French channel, revelling in the eccentric commentary but despising the ad breaks in live TV – the BBC wouldn’t have dared! By the time Murray won, we had the entire hotel behind him; we cheered, we cried and we celebrated with local beer. Highly recommended. Lynsey Sutherland - Marketing I was watching the final in the park, with a makeshift iPad/pizza box set-up (see below). Our iPad ran out of battery in the last game so we rushed home but just missed the last 5 minutes!!! Noooo! Christina Demosthenous - Editorial I was at a screen in Kings Cross next to Central St Martin’s college. It was absolutely packed and the atmosphere was buzzing. We were drinking Pimms in the sunshine and cooling off in the water fountains in the breaks. It was so summery and British! Beau Merchant - Marketing I was on a nudist beach in Croatia (romantic). The bar overlooking the beach had wi-fi so I was following it on the BBC website / Twitter. Our boat to the mainland left at a certain time which meant I missed the final set! We bumped into a group of Scots that night out celebrating so it wasn't all bad news. Frances Edwards - Editorial I was at a music festival up in the Yorkshire Dales and part of a throng of people completely ignoring the band, desperately refreshing live BBC coverage every two minutes and getting stressed at the lack of phone signal. Someone must have managed it in the end as a mass cheer went up when he won and an electro-ceilidh struck up on stage! And the semi-famous David McTeague - Commercial... I was standing on a hill surrounded by other tennis fanatics, knackered after camping all night in Wimbledon, slightly inebriated after drinking wine all morning in the queue, and to be honest, crying shortly after this picture was grabbed off the TV. Such an amazing moment.

Headliners choose their favourite movie adaptions

Headline's Favourite Book to Film Adaptions

With the release of the much anticipated movie adaption of Gone Girl imminent, Headliners have taken the opportunity to relive some of their best book-to-movie experiences.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls - Anton Disclafani


Katherine Clements

Katherine Clements is a critically acclaimed novelist, self-confessed costume drama addict and current Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Manchester. She is editor of Historia, the online magazine of the Historical Writers' Association, and is a member of the HWA committee. @KL_Clements

A festive round up from the crew at Tinder Press

Tinder Press Authors' Recommended Christmas Reads

My recommended buy for a Christmas present this year would be Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, which I haven't read yet. This recommendation is basically a hint to my own friends and family, who I am hoping might happen across this blog. Tartt's writing is awe-inspiring, and I particularly like the sound of The Goldfinch's mystery element; very well suited to reading on the sofa next to a fire, with the winter night close outside. My favourite book world moment of the year was Alice Munro winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. She is one of my favourite writers, concerned above all with what it is to be human: asking that question in each of her subtle, beautifully precise short stories. Natalie Young is the author of SEASON TO TASTE, which is published by Tinder Press on 16th January 2014. Natalie tells us about the books which have inspired her this year: The storm came at the end of October. Winds dragged a telephone wire across the stump of an old tree and blew leaves up against the windows of a cottage I’d rented in Dorset. I woke up to find them around the house – tiny and yellow – like a hundred handprints up against the windows. I stayed indoors with Doris Lessing and The Golden Notebook and the short stories in Dear Life by Alice Munro. ‘These four stories at the back’, she whispered to me, ‘are the closest things I have to say about my own life’. I ran through the pages, hunting her down, and still I sift through the images in my head of a small house beyond the river and a small girl disappearing over the bridge. Helen Walsh is the author of THE LEMON GROVE, which is published by Tinder Press on 27th February 2014. There are two books I will be giving as presents this year. The first is the paperback edition of Kevin Power’s The Yellow Birds, which is one of the most accomplished debuts I have read in a long while. Spare, poetic and beautifully written, we follow the narrator John Bartle, a brooding, emotionally tormented veteran, as he moves back and forth between his native America and his tour of duty of Iraq. In terms of plot, not that much happens, but it is Kevin Power’s sensitive and masterfully handled portrayal of the legacy of damage and the loss of innocence in the young soldiers deployed in battle, that makes this a must read for anyone interested in the human condition. I will also be wrapping up copies of Jenn Ashworth’s The Friday Gospels to give to friends. It is one of my favourite novels of 2013 and reminds me very much of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, except the family in Ashworth’s novel are British Lancastrian Mormons. Like The Corrections, The Friday Gospels is both important and insightful and very very funny.

Inappropriate crushes in the office

The Lemon Grove: a few Headliners admit to having a touch of Jenn about them…

Sam Eades – Senior Publicity Manager Craig David… It lasted throughout my teens as well. The crush died a quiet death when I met him in person ten years later (and he was still wearing the beanie hat). Vicky Palmer – Head of Digital Marketing My inappropriate crush took hold when I was 14. In Gap. The very high street shop where I spent my teenage years buying Gap-logo-emblazoned hoodies and denim jackets (they were cool at the time, honestly). He was a Calvin Klein model lookalike (in reality he probably looked like a dodgy Take That tribute band member) and it was crush at first sight. I admired him at every opportunity, reluctant friends in tow. The height of it? Spending my entire month’s allowance on a teddy bear I had no need or money for, just so that he could serve me. The very lowest point? Having to fess up to my mother and being dragged back in to get a refund – from said crush. If they’d had hashtags in those days it would definitely have merited an #awkward. Brid Enright – Key Account Manager My inappropriate crush started on a rainy day in September. Week 1 in University, I innocently attended my first ever lecture – Introduction to Literature- and there he was – the man I would have a crush on for the next 4 years. A distinctly average, nerdy looking English professor who very much looked the part. I was the smitten! In 4 years I never missed one lecture given by M Griffin and if he was teaching any of the accompanying tutorials I always swapped into his classes. I bumped into him in a nightclub about a year after I finished University and got my photo taken with him… this embarrassing moment was enough to make me realise that my crush firmly belonged in my university years! Caitlin Raynor – Head of Publicity I don't exactly fancy him but I do think he is totally awesome and a brilliant actor and I have totally stalked him (see photo)! He is Krister Henriksson, he is 67! and is the Swedish actor who played Kurt Wallander in the Swedish version of the detective series before the BBC remade it with Kenneth Branagh in the role. The picture was taken at the Crime Thriller Awards in 2010 and while Sam [Eades] was getting her picture taken with Benedict Cumberbatch I went over and did that classic thing of saying ' I really love you, you are brilliant' and more or less gave him a hug! Darcy Nicholson – Editorial Assistant Two words: Kevin McCloud. The sexiest man in property philosophy. I am drawn to his mystical powers – his ability to predict someone will hugely exceed their budget, his eulogizing on window shape and even his boundless awe at under-floor heating. I once found out that he is a guest lecturer at Nottingham University and tried to go to hear him speak. Fortunately for him, that plan failed. Then I spied him across the room at an event; his voice was a dream but his physical presence was sadly lacking without the camera panning from him to a wide shot of house-filled landscape while the Grand Designs theme tune tinkles in the background. Abigail Mitchell – International Sales Manager I have to confess to being slightly drawn to Bill Nighy, it’s the twinkle in his eye! And he makes me laugh. Bekki Guyatt – Junior Designer and Artworker My flatmate at uni had a crush on Dr Christian from Embarrassing Bodies. The combination of her talking about how fit she thought he was, coupled with the horrific illnesses and injuries on that show made it pretty horrendous viewing. Laura Ricchetti – Sales Administrative Assistant. While the majority of the population were cheering for Leona Lewis in the final of X Factor 2006 I only had eyes for her competitor – Ray Quinn. I fell head over heels for his smooth voice and slick looks, and defended my crush in the face of a torrent of adversity from all of my friends (‘Err, that chubby one who sings like my dad?!’). He is the only person I have ever voted for in a reality TV programme. Cue heartbreak when I recently saw a spread in OK! magazine of his wedding! Emily Kitchin – Editorial Assistant and full time Mick Jagger enthusiast. Mick Jagger. A man millions have obsessed over. I seem to have joined the party forty years later than most of his fans. But it’s never too late to develop a raging crush on a craggy, charismatic rocker, particularly when he’s in such good nick, and with such seemingly boundless energy. Back in the day, it was pretty standard to be a little bit in love with the bad boy frontman of rock. And yet, when I look at old footage of the Stones over the years, it’s actually Keith that I’m drawn to – seriously bad teeth aside, he was the very epitome of rock-star cool (and, dare I say, heroin-chic?!). There’s something a little obscene about younger Mick’s fleshy, sensuous pout and pseudo-mockney accent, not to mention his slender-to-the-point-of-androgynous frame. So why this recent obsession? Which deep, dark part of my soul is it that finds the older, wrinklier version of Mick so much more attractive than the 60s/70s version? Perhaps it’s the fact that his voice and his dance moves are as energetic and outrageous as they ever were. Maybe it’s because the rest of the band, in comparison to Mick, look decidedly, er… ropey. Perhaps it’s the life experience etched onto his face. And here, Bono agrees with me – he recently said of Mick’s face, ‘The wrinkles that run through it have made it even more beautiful. Why? Because he wears those wrinkles well. I love his wrinkles.’ Hear hear. And lastly, watching him three Saturdays on the trot last summer (Glastonbury followed by Hyde Park twice), and then obsessively rewatching the footage, has ingrained Mick’s every vocal nuance and facial expression deep into my mind. Either way, every time he gyrates his narrow hips, it’s like a zipwire of electricity straight to my soul. Mick, I’ll sign off by saying: I love you. If you weren’t too old, I’d have (more of) your children.

Download a sampler

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

Click here for a sneak peek at THE YONAHLOSSEE RIDING CAMP FOR GIRLS by Anton DiSclafani. 1930s America, southern high society: Part love story, part coming-of-age novel, this is the moving, raw and exquisitely vivid story of an uncommon girl navigating a treacherous road to womanhood.


ebook of the month

An exclusive extract featuring New York Times bestseller John Lescroart's most popular character, lawyer Dismas Hardy, in his most personal case so far.

Posted by the Easter Bunny

Blog: Easter Can't Come Soon Enough

Sheila O’Flanagan gave up sugar in her tea for Lent when she was twelve years old and has very impressively never taken it up again. These days she tries to be more tolerant throughout Lent, which is definitely a nice one! Clare Foss in Fiction, Editorial once decided to give instead of give up for Lent. ‘Each time I encountered a charity bucket (every day at Clapham Junction), I’d donate my change and remember those less fortunate than myself!’ Stephen Bywater, author of The Devil’s Ark has continued his tradition of giving up meat: ‘For the sixth year I've given up meat for Lent. For the sixth year lunch and dinner invitations have arrived like buses, or multiplied like bunnies. Hard to settle for the fishcake when your editor is having the grilled chicken breast smothered in a Dijon sauce. But abstinence makes you stronger. For forty days Morrissey gets what he wants and lambs can frolic, friends can be lectured and the planet can breathe a sigh of relief. At least until Easter.’ Christina Demosthenous in Fiction, Editorial has succeeded (thus far) in giving up chocolate: ‘I am addicted to chocolate and usually keep bars and bars of the stuff in my drawers at work, somehow convincing myself that dark chocolate is good for you! And I just can’t help grazing on it throughout the day. I’ve been taking each day as it comes and I keep fantasising over which Easter Eggs to choose this year…’ And for those of us not taking the plunge, or perhaps those counting down the days, author Emma Hannigan has a lovely, simple chocolate nest recipe to get you in to the Easter spirit. We don’t observe lent in my house but once Easter Sunday looms I love nothing more than making seasonal treats. I decorate the house with branches of pussy willow and hang pastel coloured egg decorations from the branches. A must every year are these little chocolate nests. I am yet to have a guest (no matter how young or old) to refuse to try one. The trick is to use good quality chocolate and make sure the mixture isn’t too dry! When placed on a pretty plate or cake stand these are sure to bring a smile to any visitor’s face. These are the easiest things to make, but look gorgeous. Perfect for tiny-fingered helpers and us adults can fool ourselves into believing they’re mildly healthy as they contain whole wheat! Makes approximately 15 Ingredients: 500g Shredded wheat 500g chocolate 2 bags of coloured mini eggs Fluffy toy chicks (available in most discount stores) Greaseproof paper Method: Melt the chocolate in a large bowl. It’s really worth buying good quality chocolate as opposed to the cheap cooking stuff. Scrunch the shredded wheat into the melted chocolate and stir ensuring it’s all generously coated. Spoon a mound of mixture onto the greaseproof paper and make a little well or dip in the centre. Allow to set in the fridge before adding three or four mini eggs. Finish the decorating by adding a little fluffy yellow chick!

Posted by Headliners

Blog: If Headline Could Turn Back Time

If I could turn back time, I’d make sure that my teenage self did NOT spend her mornings scraping her hair back into an enormous bun, secured with a scrunchie, and then painstakingly pull out two thin strands at the very front (referred to at the time as ‘bimbo bits’). I thought it was ‘the thing’ and that I looked pretty cool – photographs suggest that this was all in my head. Emily Kitchin, Fiction Editorial If I could turn back time, I would tell my 13 year-old self to embrace my curly hair rather than slavishly spending hours and hours straightening it every evening, only for it to frizz the moment I stepped out of the front door and into the damp British air. It was a terrible look! Christina Demosthenous, Fiction Editorial If I could turn back time, I would like to have realised that what people think of you doesn't matter very much! My teenage years would have been a lot easier if I embraced my geekiness and realised actually, it's very good to be clever! Bekki Guyatt, Creative So many things, so many. But if I have to narrow it down, here are fives things I would do if I could turn back the clocks: 1. Never wear an electric blue puffa jacket. 2. Or Reebok Classics (I’ve never admitted this to anyone in my adult life before. Oh, the shame). 3. Or a satin mini skirt with a matching white satin shirt. I’m sensing a 90s-fashion-disaster-related theme here… 4. Try actually doing some work for my Biology A-level. It’s remarkable what happens when you try. If only I had. 5. Go to Ibiza on a crazy girls’ holiday while I had the chance. Vicky Palmer, Marketing If I could turn back time, I would have really pursued my original career plan to be a mermaid. Other than that, no regrets. Frances Gough, Publicity Tweet us at @Headlinepg to share what you would do if you could #TurnBackTime IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME is out now in paperback and ebook.

Posted by Tom Troughton

Headline Over Heels

Valentine’s Day has to be one of the most awkward days of the year. If you’re single, you face the annual gauntlet of consumerist media making you ‘wish’ you had found The One and if you’re with someone, god help you too. The barrage! So to face down this awkwardness my pick has to be the greatest, most awkward love story of them all: THE ROSIE PROJECT. Prof. Don Tillman’s quest to find the woman of his dreams via a scientific test is unique, funny and brilliantly charming. Lobsters in the bath, specific food for days of the week and an extreme social interaction phobia make this a book to laugh, cry and feel joyful about. And no hideous satin greetings card in sight.

Posted by Emily Barr, Author

Blog: Writing and Travelling by Emily Barr

One of the perks of writing books set in far-flung locations is the fact that I have to visit these places before I can write about them. Nobody ever accepts that these trips are ‘work’, and they are right. They are, in many ways, its opposite. Looking for places for a cast of imaginary people to have adventures is a bizarre pursuit. It involves finding out what it’s like to be somewhere: absorbing the sights, the sounds, the smells, buildings and food of a place. As it happens, this often involves spending time on a beach. All in a day’s work. It was travel that got me writing fiction. Fifteen years ago, I left a job at the Guardian and went away backpacking, more or less on the spur of the moment. It was one of the best years of my life. I had huge highs and terrible lows, but the moment I hit south east Asia I became obsessed with the idea of using it as a setting for a novel. I remember beginning to write a book, sitting on the beach at Palolem in Goa. I dug my toes into the hot sand and decided that I wanted an obnoxious main character, someone who would say exactly what she thought. If she was unbearable at the start of the book, then the experience of being out in the world on her own, forced to spend time alone, to talk to strangers, to fit into other ways of doing things, would change her. By the end of the novel I wanted her to be quite different. And her adventures would, of course, follow the same backpacking trail as my own. Those notes grew into Backpack, and eleven more novels have followed. Three of them, written when I was living in France and had small children, did not involve a trip away, but were set partly in France instead. For every other one I have packed a bag and set off, usually with a friend in tow, to find a place for my characters’ adventures. When I wrote The Perfect Lie, I caught an overnight train from Paris to Venice with my friend Sam and checked into the canalside hotel in which Don’t Look Now had been filmed (we only discovered that after booking: it was a fabulous extra detail, particularly since the place had clearly not been updated since the film was made in 1973). We spent six days wandering around Venice, jumping on and off boats, sitting at outdoor tables in bars sipping prosecco, and photographing and noting every detail. I would write every day, sitting on the hotel bed and staring out at the entrance to the Grand Canal that was outside the window. It was ‘work’, but it was also, of course, the opposite of work. It was time away from everyday life. It was the chance to plan a few days around lunch and dinner in interesting corners of the city, and to spend the time in between looking at frescoes in churches, standing on boats staring at implausibly picture-perfect views, and imagining interesting scenarios. Planning adventures for made-up people can be almost meditative: nothing is a better escape from real-life traumas. I go on these trips to scour the locations, but they also invariably kick-start my writing. The most obviously blissful research trip I’ve ever been on was the trip to Malaysia for Stranded. As the story largely takes place on a desert island, I needed to find a paradise beach in Asia and to spend time lying around on it – not something I was ever going to be able call ‘work’ with a straight face. My friend Vanessa and I hit upon Pulau Perhentian Kecil in Malaysia, booked up some accommodation, and set off. It took us a while to get there on various buses, taxis and boats, and there were plenty of mishaps along the way, but eventually we were stepping off a boat and into the clear shallow water of a sheltered bay. The sand was white, the tropical flowers huge and bright, and there was nothing to be seen but a few wooden huts, one of which was to be our home for the next few nights. ‘This,’ I thought, ‘will probably do.’ Then I tripped over one of the boat’s ropes and fell headfirst into the warm sea, which, while undignified, was not the worst thing that has ever happened. The days that followed were an amazing blast of writing in hammocks, reading on beaches, swimming in the sea and exploring the rainforest that forms the whole of the interior of the island. I came away with a book in my head, almost fully formed, and a notebook filled with ideas. In contrast to the paradise beach, this year I went to Svalbard, deep into the Arctic Circle, on my own. I had not been away alone since my very first travelling, my trip around the world. This trip, in late May, was difficult to sell to potential companions: ‘Come to the far North of the world! It will be freezing and snowy and incredibly remote’ is not, it turns out, as enticing a proposition as the one about the desert island beach. So I boarded a flight on my own, to Oslo, then Tromsø, then Longyearbyen, in Svalbard, an archipelago halfway between the north Norwegian coast and the North Pole. Norway is, of course, incredibly easy to navigate and extremely safe for a solo woman. Nonetheless, being alone again was very weird. Everything was so expensive that I existed on snacks. I didn’t speak to anyone. I stayed in the cheapest guesthouse in town, sharing a bathroom with a corridor full of hearty men in their twenties who all had explorers’ sledges piled up outside their doors with equipment for hearty expeditions. They said friendly hellos to me, but I was, essentially, on my own for five days. No conversation, no hot food, no alcohol: it was like a Buddhist retreat, but with midnight sun and snow. It was, again, one of the best times of my life. I kept waking up, all night long, to check that the sun was still shining outside my window (it was). I went on a day-long boat trip that was breathtaking and otherworldly, and that culminated with the sight of a mother polar bear leading her two cubs across the ice. I wandered into the world’s northernmost church just as a woman was using a fork-lift truck to remove boxes with ‘Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra’ stencilled onto them. Everywhere I looked I saw something stunning. I plotted out a whole story, incorporating everything around me. I have done the research: all that remains is the small matter of writing the book. Emily Barr's latest novel, the sensational The Sleeper, is out now in paperback.

A selection of our best romantic reads

The Perfect Reads for Valentine's Day

SPARE BRIDES – Adele Parks This dazzling new book is Adele Park’s first historical novel, and WHAT a read it is. Set in the glittering, glamorous 1920s, it’s the story of four women – Ava, Lydia, Sarah and Beatrice – and how they are coping in the aftermath of the war. The 1920s was a highly charged decade: the young threw themselves into hedonism and wild partying to obliterate the horrors that the First World War brought to them; and yet, the sadness and damage caused by war couldn’t be forgotten. Parks captures this contradiction wonderfully, and her beautiful, yet damaged set of characters will draw you in emotionally and never let you go. The Desires Unlocked trilogy – Evie Blake Evie Blake is the mistress of seduction and writes steamy, passionate romance with a sophisticated, European twist. Blake’s heroine, Valentina, is in many ways the antithesis of Fifty Shades’ Ana – Valentina is chic, liberated and very, very cool. Her on-off romance with her lover Theo creates a powerful dynamic throughout the series, eventually culminating in a seriously romantic – and sexy – finale in New York that will leave you gasping for breath. THE UNPREDICTABLE CONSEQUENCES OF LOVE – Jill Mansell THE UNPREDICTABLE CONSEQUENCES OF LOVE is just wonderful. I defy anyone not to fall in love with Jill’s writing, her characters and the worlds she creates. In THE UNPREDICTABLE CONSEQUENCES OF LOVE Jill takes us to a beautiful seaside town full of secrets and intrigue. As ever with Jill, I devoured this in one totally indulgent afternoon and then chastised myself for finishing it already. Lots of laughter (and a rogue tear – embarrassingly enough!). THE PROPOSAL – Tasmina Perry This is the utterly spellbinding, breath-takingly romantic novel from Tasmina Perry which will sweep you off your feet this Valentine’s. When Amy Carrell is left devastatingly heartbroken, she is desperate to be with her family back in New York. Stumbling across an advertisement requiring a companion for a ‘Manhattan adventure’, she responds, and is whisked away, forming an unlikely friendship with British aristocrat, Georgia Hamilton. Unravelling Georgia’s history and transported to the lost world of the debutantes in 1958, Amy uncovers a painful past of masked secrets, the highest betrayal and broken hearts. Buried for over fifty years, this love story is finally told, and I promise you that it will stay with you for ever. THINGS WE NEVER SAY – Sheila O’Flanagan Sheila’s latest novel is an absolute treat. It is one of those books which you completely want to curl yourself up with and lose yourself in – especially during a grey and rainy February as the main character lives in sunny California! When Abbey Andersen’s life is turned upside down by a long-buried family secret she learns genuinely how important your friends and family can be to get you through tough times. Referring back to the title, this is about THOSE THINGS WE NEVER SAY, but maybe we should. On Valentine’s Day this should probably be ‘I love you’. The Anti-Valentine’s choice (but a cracking read): SEASON TO TASTE – Natalie Young This is the deliciously dark and subversive story of Lizzie Prain, one of the most remarkable – and controversial – heroines in recent fiction. Season to Taste has been hailed in the media as ‘the new Fifty Shades of Grey’ – not because its content is sexually explicit (it’s not), but because it’s at the forefront of a new genre, dubbed ‘chick noir’, about women and marriage and the darker side of one of the most intimate relationships that exists between humans – that between spouses. If you’re not feeling romantic on Valentine’s Day, this darkly comic tale of a woman who kills her husband and then disposes of his body in a highly unusual way, will appeal. Warning: unsuitable for vegetarians.