Friday, 25 September 2015


At last! The LAST YEAR OF CHILDHOOD is finally complete at 111,688 words, redrafted, and edited 5 times, and about 20 smaller edits.

It has been an epic journey for me as a writer as it is the 3rd novel completed, so the learning curve was steep. I learnt from them all, but this one the most. I feel confident that I am doing something right, because this January, the novel was long listed for the Exeter Novel Prize - for unpublished novels.

But it is my characters who have made it come to life. It is they who told me what they thought, felt, did, and wanted to do. It is their voices who were written. I had little planned, though notebooks full, A3 sheets with plotting maps and timelines around the study, and notes pinned up to my walls and shelves over my desk. Authors say if you're not plotting you're Pantsing. But with all my efforts to plot, and even when I had the end truly pinned down hard to the board, it changed by the final edit. Why? Because the characters shouted out to me.

I had never envisaged that it is the characters who would be writing this book. The end was up to them. And I wrote it according to their wishes. Ok, there were times I had to stop them in their tracks and say, hold on a second, that is a tangent I cannot handle. So we worked together. So much so, that I took them to bed with me in turn. Truly I did. I only mentioned this once to my husband. My 12 year old Latchmin was a joy to snuggle with in bed, and she told me her heart - her fears and her joys. The handsome 17 year old Rajnath, whose temper could get the better of him had to be told at times, to think before he reacted. And the 14 year old Sumati, ran sometimes too fast for me to catch up with her wild and wilful ways. But she has a heart of pure passion, which was often mistaken for badness - a worry for her poor mother.

The novel is set in a difficult and restricted Colonial world, in 1917 Trinidad, when labourers had been brought from India, China, Syria, and Portugal, to work in the plantations, after African labourers would no longer slave for free, or even cheaply.

To my readers, I believe much of the plight of the characters, the emotion, and human need to see justice done, will resonate with you all. This novel is not just about a historical time and culture. It's global. It's about what makes us who we are today and what we expect from the country we live in, our needs, our wants, our desires, our dearest hopes, and for our children to  achieve and fulfil their dreams. It is about those who have money vs those who don't. And those who have education, and what happens to those who skip school or don't have the opportunity. It is about realising that both money and education have purchasing power, and have advantages over those who don't, in different ways. It is about striving and struggling for a better future.

The novel is about ...

Latchmin aged 12, Sumati, 14, and Rajnath 17, are all involved in each other's lives in their fight for the freedom to choose.  

The girls struggle in different ways against arranged marriage - an Indian tradition. Latchmin is well off, but desperately wants an education in order to pursue her dream to become a teacher. Sumati, a poor girl, disappears from the village, causing upheaval and repercussions beyond control. Rajnath, a plantation labourer, feels guilty and partly to blame, so seeks to make things right. But in doing so, he risks his life to confront the corruption of the prostitution business, jeopardising his own livelihood and freedom. It is only because of the conflict and consequences they suffer, do they all learn where freedom begins. It is not about what is available to take, but about what you are actually willing to sacrifice.  

If you think you would like to see this novel published, or find it interesting, please leave me a comment.  


Love you loads!

Marilyn x

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Trout fillet - baked and healthy

Baked Trout, with mixed vegetables, and Crispy Baked Potatoes

The full plate above is a very healthy fish recipe that is also low in fat, calories, and with no more than 8 pro points. I'll let you know how I did the fish below. It is quick and easy, and cooks in a
180C fan oven for about 30mins

Ingredients for One portion of the Trout recipe 

You can multiply the ingredients depending on how many you are cooking for. Please note, I have used large fillets. If you use smaller 120 gram ones, that cuts your WW pro points immensely, and your calories. You can therefore have 2 fillets each!

1 large fillet trout approx. 200 grams
1 slice of tomatoe, and 1 slice chopped up
sea salt flakes
1 large stuffed olive, cut horizontally in half
a small shake of onion salt
two or three leaves fresh parsley, chopped up
half clove of garlic, chopped up
black pepper (from a pepper grinder)
2 tsp lemon juice
2 oz water


1. Use a metal or oven proof dish large enough to take the amount of fish you are cooking, and put on oven at 180 C to heat.

2. Prepare fish by scraping off the scales from the skin with a knife. Use a pair of tweezers and pull out every bone if possible, so that your meal is not one where you spit out every other mouthful. This is not that hard and it is so worth the time. And trim off any pieces of bony, fatty edges.
Rinse fish in cold water.

3. Place fish in tin, skin side down.

4. On the top of the fish, rub on sea salt, onion salt, parsley, garlic, pepper,

5. Place slice of tomato in the middle of fish

6. Place halves of olives on either side of tomato slice

7. Sprinkle on the chopped tomato around the rest of fish

8. Drizzle on the lemon juice and pat it in

9. sprinkle on another few flakes of sea salt on to tomato topping.

10. pour in water carefully around side of pan so as not to disturb fish

11. Cover the pan completely with tin foil and tuck around sides so as to keep in the moisture.

12. Place in the heated oven and cook for around 25-30 mins

13. Remove foil, and baste on some of the water on to the fish carefully

14. Leave open and replace in oven for 5 mins.

Serve with any vegetables, potatoes or couscous

Hope you enjoy this. If you do, please leave me a comment. If you have any questions, please leave me a question. 

Enjoy! And Thank you, Saffron, Linda, and others from Warwick Weight Watchers, for asking me for this recipe! I hope it meets your expectation!

It has got me back to paying some attention to my blog!

Watch out for more recipes. I've also been asked for the Crispy Baked Potatoes.