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Book clubs, Competitions, Travel, Try Not to Breathe

Win a villa holiday to Tuscany

1st July 2016

win a trip to tuscany

To celebrate Try Not to Breathe being Great Northern and ThamesLink’s July book club choice and the one year anniversary of Books on the Go, they’re giving people the chance to win a trip to a beautiful villa in Tuscany, Italy thanks to their partners at Tuscany Now & More.

To find out more about the book club, read a sample of Try Not to Breathe and enter the competition, visit Thames Link Railway.

UK residents only.


Literary festivals for readers and writers in the Netherlands

15th May 2016

I moved to the Netherlands in summer 2015, six months before my first novel was due to be published. As excited as I was for our new lowlands adventure, one major thing I was worried about was whether I was going to damage my career in some way by being a flight away from where the action was happening. The honest answer is that it’s not caused a problem, it’s just taken a little effort and planning and is so worth it.

It’s only an hour’s flight from Amsterdam to London, about the same time it used to take by train from my old home in Kent (albeit it with a bit more waiting around beforehand and a higher cost). I have made a point of flying over regularly and am attending a few UK events this year as I’d really love to meet other authors.

But I also want to feel like an author in Amsterdam too, rather than a London author living in exile. Luckily, this place is amazing for the linguistically lazy (my Dutch is horrible) as there are many English-speaking events or multi-language events that English speakers and writers can still enjoy.

Here’s a brief round up of the literary events I’ve found in my adopted country. Do let me know if I’ve missed any!

Winternachten festival – The Hague

I went to the Hague (Den Haag) for the first time the other day and it’s a really nice town with a great bookish scene. I’ll definitely head to Winternachten next year.

This is one for Dutch speakers and readers. A 10-day celebration of Dutch literature that takes place every March and takes the form of events across the country.

International Literature Festival Utrecht
PJ Harvey opened it this year, which is pretty cool but as I missed it, I’m going to make a beeline there in 2017. Let me know if you’re going too.

Poetry International Festival Rotterdam
Part of a government-sponsored drive to promote an interest in poetry.

Read My World – Amsterdam
This is a great idea, a literary festival in Amsterdam that focuses on different regions each time and invites writers from those places to speak and read. In 2016, it’s Ukraine and Poland.

Crossing Borders Festival – The Hague
Festival of books and music that runs in November every year. Past draws have been Salman Rushdie, Louis Theroux, Sarah Waters, Lou Reed (RIP), Jeanette Winterson, Ian McEwan, Dave Eggers and Anne Enright.

What have I missed?


I went to NY, and all I got were these awesome memories

30th November 2015
Holly and Ilana do New York.

 (pic: Ilana Fox)

I’m heading back from one of the best four days of my life. I’ve been staying in New York since Sunday and in that short time I’ve been privileged to finally meet my legendary US editor Linda Marrow and the team at Ballantine Books (Penguin Random House).

When I had just turned 25 and newly arrived in London, my office was in Victoria in the south west of the city. At lunch times, I would walk around Pimlico and Vauxhall, and inevitably find my way by the Random House building on Vauxhall Bridge Road. I would gaze for a moment and then walk on, because standing on the street staring at buildings is weird and besides, I had to get back to do my job. Not my fantasy job of writing books.

While I gazed, I used to dream for a split second. I wouldn’t let the dream really take hold, it was just the slightest itch of a hope.

When I was offered a publishing contract for the United States with Ballantine Books, an incredible imprint of Penguin Random House after agreeing a deal with brilliant UK publishers Atlantic, I finally allowed that dream to take shape.

On Monday, I walked into the New York offices on Broadway, unable to control my smile. I smiled the whole way round the office, all through lunch and into every meeting. I must have looked quite mad. But I don’t care.

I loved the city, both energy-zapping and energizing. It’s like the best kind of friend. Drags you out when you’re feeling tired, forces you to have fun and then takes you for coffee the next day. And I could say the same for my friend Ilana, who literally did the same thing. She is the New York of my friends, and I was so lucky to be able to spend time with her out there.

And now I’m waiting for the plane home to see my heroic husband and the four kids he’s been single-handedly looking after. And I still can’t stop smiling.

Thank you for having me, NY.