I went to hear Joanna Trollope OBE give a talk and book reading at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing last night (thanks to my little sister for getting the tickets and coming with me). I confess that I haven’t read any of her books, but I enjoyed her talk and she gave an entertaining insight into life as a writer. It was interesting to see that there were quite a few men as well as women in the audience. Joanna writes contemporary fiction and she was there to promote her latest book, Balancing Act. Her first books to be published were historical romance novels written under the pseudonym Caroline Harvey (both her parent’s first names apparently). A member of the audience asked why she stopped writing historical fiction and she replied along the lines that contemporary fiction gave her more scope and she liked writing about modern life and its challenges. She has recently written a contemporary reworking of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, which sounds interesting. She read two extracts from her latest novel Balancing Act, about Susie Moran who runs a successful pottery company along with her daughters. The novel is set in Stoke-on-Trent and Joanna said that she visited the Emma Bridgewater factory there to gain an insight into the pottery business. I guess the internet is all very well, but it’s hard to capture the essence of a place without visiting it for real. So now I'm thinking - do I need to visit the countries I am writing about in The Salvesen Sisters? There again, Yokohama today will be very different to Yokohama in 1913 and there is no chance of me boarding the Trans Siberian Express anytime soon so I guess I will make do with old photos, postcards, books and, of course, the internet!