About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Saturday 27 June 2015


Last night I was at the launch of the amazing Manchester Children's Book Festival 2015 (more info here: http://www.mcbf.org.uk/?from=mmu-homepage-banner) The festival was declared open by the Creative Director of the Manchester Writing School at MMU, Dame Carol Ann Duffy.

It was one of those moments when I was overcome by astonished gratitude that I get paid to do what I'd probably do anyway, as a hobby; plus I get to do it in the same place as so many stellar colleagues.  Admittedly, this feeling alternates with a sense of panic, when I look around at people my age and realise Oh no, we are the ones in charge now!

Once we were officially declared open, it was wine and canap├ęs and mingling.  Or networking, which is like mingling, only you can put it on your CV.  I was busy networking with my colleague Michael Symmons Roberts in a high-powered way, when our group was approached by a magician.
Well, we are a bunch of trained academics.  Scepticism and careful interrogation in the pursuit of academic rigour is our motto at all times.  We watched closely.  We knew there was a trick.  Sleights of hand.  Distractions.  We'd spot them.

The magician proceeded to astound us with impossible feats of close-up magic.  A deck of cards that turned into a perspex block in my hand.  A signed two of hearts that appeared in a sealed envelope. No!  No!  Impossible!  If you have ever seen this type of magic performed, you will understand when I say that we simply laughed in delight and disbelief.  Our considered academic conclusion was that he was using genuine magic.  There was no other explanation.  Furthermore, he would probably disappear through a portal into another dimension at the end of the evening.

'Now that's what fiction does,' I said to Michael Symmons Roberts.  'You know it's not real, and yet you believe it anyway.'

And he, being a poet, replied: 'Well, I'd rather watch magic than read a novel.'  I can only assume he's suffering from a fiction overdose after adapting so much Trollope for Radio 4 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03sfyzp)

For more about The Manchester Writing School and our MAs in Creative Writing and English Studies, and a variety of CPDs, look here: http://www.manchesterwritingschool.co.uk/ 

Thursday 11 June 2015


It's arrived!  Goodness, I feel as though I'm announcing a birth.  After a long gestation and difficult delivery, both author and novel are doing well.  Here it is:

The cover features another beautiful watercolour ('Masham from the Foot of the Bank') by Ian Scott Massie.  You can see more of his work here: http://www.ianscottmassie.com/ 

I blogged this novel between Easter and Advent of 2014, and after shining it up a bit, sent the MS off to SPCK.  It's published by their new fiction imprint Marylebone House.  With a bit of luck, this will stop bookshops sticking my books in the mindfulness and bible commentary section, where no sane novel-reader will find them.

If you can't get to a bookshop, you can buy a copy here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1910674230
or from the lovely people at SPCK (if you're allergic to Amazon): http://www.spckpublishing.co.uk/shop/unseen-things-above/

I hope you enjoy it, and feel moved to write a positive review.  Bear in mind that I am a judo black belt.  If you write a bad review, I may have to hunt you down like a dog and forgive you.  I will be particularly grumpy if I see any more 1 star reviews saying 'I liked the book, but the print is very small'.  This is a 1 star review of the reader's eyesight, not of my novel.  It is a review of their personal vanity in refusing to get reading glasses.  In fact, if you look on Amazon it actually says 'Frequently bought together: Catherine Fox novel + reading glasses'.

Alternatively, get a Kindle.  With Kindle you can make the print as huge as you LIKE.  But it is a sad irony that the sort of people who are old enough to need reading glasses are also the sort of people who like the feel and smell of a real book.  They can't read a real book, but I suppose they can lie in bed sniffing it and riffling through the pages as they drift off to sleep.

To be honest, I need reading glasses; but I've opted instead to have my contact lens prescription adjusted to monovision.  This means I can very nearly read my own books without glasses.  I can also very nearly read cocktail menus in dimly lit cocktail bars.  I have strategies for overcoming this without resorting to borrowing someone else's reading glasses.  I take a picture of the menu on my phone, then enlarge it.  Or else I call out to the cocktail waiter (in a Lady Bracknell voice) 'Young man!  Would you kindly come here and read this for me?'

Oh, all right: I made that last bit up.  Just as I made up the topless cocktail waiter in Unseen Things Above.  He is not real.  I'm sorry to break it to you.  None of it is real.

That doesn't mean it's not true, though.