~ Hazel Harps On

Good And Lovely Things

It's immense, isn't it? When the year began we never imagined life would change so much. We're all finding different ways of coping. Mine is to try and focus on the good and lovely things.

Fortunate as I am in so many ways, I'm desperately sad for anyone who is alone, scared, ill, overworked, financially threatened or grieving for loved ones at this time. I also feel for anyone undergoing lockdown without a garden or access to countryside. While I worry this might rub it in, I’m going to risk posting some Exmoor nature photos - because I'm keen to share what I can of the good and lovely things. They cheer me along and I hope they might cheer you along too.

So, without further ado…

There's good and lovely human activity going on around the world, too. How wonderful to read about the hundred-year-old Captain Tom Moore who raised all those millions for NHS charities! And there are countless unsung acts of heroism happening every day, people helping each other out as never before.

Another lovely thing: Creativity is blossoming during lockdown. I’ve seen many instances of people learning a new instrument, taking up painting, or being able to spend time at last on reading and on writing.

Over the last month I’ve been glad (and very moved) to hear that my novel, AWAY WITH THE PENGUINS, is playing a part, too. Reviews have included comments like:

A gloriously quirky and life-affirming story

If you are after something to take you away from the tough reality of life right now, this couldn’t be a better read

I truly enjoyed every single word

(Excuse me while I just wipe a tear from my eye.)

AWAY WITH THE PENGUINS is now out in audiobook, and I've only just had my first listen. The actors have done an incredible job, really getting inside the characters, bringing it alive. It's hard to express how much this means to me...

Warning: we are now entering Super-Smug Zone and excessive exclamation marks will be used, but I have to mention my best and most beautiful personal news (and a huge boost to a worried writer like me): AWAY WITH THE PENGUINS was selected by the Reading Agency for Radio 2's book club! This meant a reading from the book - with me reading it - and playing the harp at the same time - was broadcast on Radio 2!! AND I had a phone interview live on air with Jo Whiley!!! I was so nervous I could hardly breathe but wow, what an opportunity!

In the interview I talked about my friend, Ursula, whose true life story of finding redemption through birdlife inspired my novel. In turn, maybe, just maybe, my writing will inspire readers towards something positive. After all, it is a story about hope, survival and beating the odds. And what could be more good and lovely than 5,000 penguins? As John Ruskin said (and I begin my book with this quote): I find penguins at present the only comfort in life... one can't be angry when one looks at a penguin.

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