News & views

Some highlights from 2007

Burn My Heart, my novel about loyalty and betrayal, set in 1950s colonial Kenya, was handed in to Puffin in June last year – on time! My story begins just before the State of Emergency when 55,000 British soldiers were sent to Kenya to fight the Mau Mau. After four decades of silence, this period is suddenly back in the news. In October 2006, lawyers in London launched a claim against the UK government on behalf of some members of the Mau Mau. Martyn Day of Leigh Day & Co, the Solicitors, says on the firm’s website:

‘In the years following the second world war when the full horrors had emerged as to what the Germans and Japanese had done to their prisoners of war, it is impossible to understand how the British could set up a system of camps which would have been at home in either of those countries. It is right that the British Government should accept responsibility for the devastation of these Kenyan lives and should pay compensation for what they went through.’

The British Government is set to contest the case. It does not accept that the Colonial Office was to blame. Its lawyers will argue that the incidents took place 50 years ago and that too much time has passed for them to be able to defend the claim. The lawyers for the Mau Mau detainees will argue that this case is so important that the passage of time should not prevent it being heard. Writing Burn My Heart, I felt the past was very close. I wait keenly now for readers to enter the world of Mugo and Mathew and their two families…

Launch at South African High Commission in London, 5 July

Hear about Burn My Heart at:

Other 2007 events include:

  • Southampton’s Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Day, 27 January. Students from Oaklands Community School will read the letters sent between Sade and her imprisoned Papa in The Other Side of Truth
  • Publication of Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak by Deborah Ellis (Frances Lincoln). I have written a Foreword to this British edition of a moving and brave little book of interviews, 1 March
  • National Gallery Articulate masterclasses, March. Watch this space for my choice of painting!
  • Nairn Book and Arts Festival, Highland 2007 Year of Culture, 13 –1 5 June
  • University of Exeter summer degree congregation for Education students for an Honorary Doctorate (DLitt), 11 July
  • Celebrating the Carnegie with Melvin Burgess, Kevin Crossley-Holland & Beverley Naidoo, 12 August
  • Carnegie Festival of Imagination, Dunfermline, 25-26 August
  • “Open a Door… Open a Book…Open your Mind… to the World” – International Chilldren’s and Young Adult Literature Celebration, Wisconsin USA, 17 November
  • Visits to schools in Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Hampshire, London, Oxford, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Warrington, Lancashire, County Durham