It took me months to pluck up the courage to watch The Cove. During the time I hesitated I couldn’t help but hear of it – this place where each year hundreds of dolphins are rounded up, pushed into a small inlet and butchered with long poles, the sea turning crimson around them. This was a real horror movie, and I don’t even like the ones that are made up.

I’m not sure why I eventually sat down and switched it on. It may have been the urging from other conservationists to ‘be informed’. It may have been because I felt uncomfortable about looking away. Or that I shouldn’t speak out if I didn’t know what I was talking about. But when I did look it was just as terrible as I feared. I cried for much of the movie.

Since then, it is one of the issues I cannot turn away from. I want to write about it, and talk about it. At the end of last year I visited Taiji. I spent the morning watching the fishermen go out on their daily hunt, returning empty handed. Later I was taken to visit the ‘training pools’ – small roped-off squares where dolphins are trained to become captive performers. They are starved unless they do tricks. They swallow the detritus in the pool and have hands plunged into their stomachs to pull it out. Sometimes they go mad or waste away – those dolphins disappear overnight.  They have all witnessed the deaths of their pod members – who are their families, bonded from birth. Dolphins do not suffer silently, and their noises of distress and pain are much like our own.

These dolphins are all destined for the entertainment industry – to be ogled, and petted, and ‘loved’. Some go to other parts of Japan, and all over the world – if you have been to a dolphin show, you may have unknowingly seen dolphins who have been through the tragedy of the Cove.

There is a difference between witnessing distress and experiencing helplessness. I looked away at a time when I felt powerless to do anything – but now I don’t believe anyone is powerless, especially when they join forces and stand together as they do on Japan Dolphin Day. I want to use the anger and pain at what I witnessed to galvanise efforts to work for compassionate, lasting change – whether that’s through writing, supporting a cause, signing petitions, or making donations. I am learning to withstand my fears and take a closer look at things that trouble me. Already, life seems much more rewarding that way.

Over the next few days there are peaceful protests about Taiji in 93 different cities. The one in Perth is at 1pm outside the Consulate General of Japan, 111 Colin Street, please join us if you are able. You can view the events in other cities here:

1st September is the first day of the dolphin hunting season, which runs through to March.col-md-2

If you buy Beneath the Shadows or Come Back to Me from this website over the next week, $5 for every book sold will go to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, to support Indigenous Literacy Day 2012. (Australia only). Check out the bookstore, where you can buy the books separately or as a bundle. Many thanks for your support.col-md-2

A handbook for the happy, and a bible for the broken-hearted, The Alphabet of the Human Heart is an enchanting and enriching journey through the upside and the downside of what it means to be human…

I love this little gem. It shows that a few words can pack enormous meaning. It’s a beautiful book when you’re feeling up, and a comforting one when you’re down. The illustrations are superb, and it would make a great gift for someone going through a tough time.col-md-2

Here’s a sneak preview of the cover of my new book, Shallow Breath, and the back blurb. The book will be out in the shops in Australia in December…


How far would you go to save someone you love?

Two years ago, Desi Priest made a horrific mistake and destroyed her family.

Now, she is coming home to make amends: to her daughter Maya, who’s nurturing her own dangerous plan; to her brother Jackson, who blames himself; and to her close friend Pete, who has spent years shielding her from a devastating truth.

But as Desi returns to her beloved house by the ocean, there is a stranger waiting for her. Someone who needs her help. Someone whose arrival will reveal a chain of secrets hidden for over twenty years.

And one by one the family will be forced to confront the possibility that they have somehow got things terribly, tragically wrong …

Set across five continents, Shallow Breath is a compelling novel of dashed dreams and second chances. But most of all it is a story about love, and what it really means to be free.col-md-2

When Mike and Gally Martin move to a cottage in Somerset, it’s to make a new start. But the relationship comes under strain when Gally forms an increasingly close attachment to an old countryman, Ferney, who seems to know everything about her. What is it that draws them together? Reluctantly at first, then with more urgency as he feels time slipping away, Ferney compels Gally to understand their connection – and to face an inexplicable truth about their shared past.

It is great to see Ferney being re-released in the UK. HarperCollins published this book not long before I began working there back in 2000, and I know the publisher felt that it should have had more attention than it got. I read it over ten years ago, and the ending is still particularly vivid. The love story is absolutely original – a forerunner to The Time Traveller’s Wife – with a beautiful English countryside setting. I won’t give any more away, but if you can find it, read it!

NB: There’s also a sequel, called The Lives She Left Behind, which I’ll be looking out for. Check out details for both books, and Sarah Broadhurst’s review, on the lovereading website.


 “If ever there was a tale for a moonless night, a high wind and a creaking floor, this is it … I don’t expect to read a more frightening novel this year.” STEPHEN KING

For decades, the faded, rural upstate New York village of Aurelius has lain dormant – until it is stirred to life when, one by one, three young girls vanish…

Nightmares are turned into horrifying reality when their corpses are found, brutally murdered, each missing their left hand…

As the search for a madman gets underway, suspicion shrouds the quiet streets of Aurelius when its residents soon realize that monster lives amongst them…

I don’t read much in the way of gory crime at the moment, but in the days when I did I thought this book was one of the best. The small town claustrophobia is brilliantly done, the narrator is fascinating, and the whole thing gave me the creeps all the way through. It’s been some years since I read it and I can still remember the chilling last few lines. Don’t read it on your own at night!col-md-2

Nothing can break the bond between sisters …When Beatrice gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch to say that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home to London. But as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her sister’s disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister’s life – and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must now face. The police, Beatrice’s fiance and even their mother accept they have lost Tess but Beatrice refuses to give up on her. So she embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth, no matter the cost.

I was on my sickbed when I read this book, and it completely distracted me from the fact that the rest of the family had gone whale watching without me! This Not only does this book have an absorbing mystery, with fascinating character dynamics, but it’s also got one of those rare finishes – a brilliant twist.col-md-2