All posts by Anne

Happy New Year!

New Year is just a social construct, and yet, like so many other social constructs, we choose to give it significance. We do this because it’s good for us to have a time to put bad memories behind us, and to create for ourselves new beginnings, new plans, the hope of happier times ahead. These things exist only because we choose to believe in them. We dream them into existence. We choose to hope, and to change, and to dream, and in dreaming, we change our reality.

So, don’t let anyone tell you that your dreams and your feelings don’t matter. They do. In dreaming, we change our world.

All power to your dreaming.

Vianne’s spiced hot chocolate

People are always asking me what Vianne puts in her hot chocolate. The answer varies according to people’s tastes – but this is the classic recipe: rich, sweet and with just a kick of chilli.



For two people, you’ll need:

500ml (18fl oz) full-fat milk
½ a cinnamon stick
1 chilli, halved and deseeded
100g (3½oz) dark chocolate, broken into small, even-sized pieces
Unrefined brown sugar, to taste
A dash of Cognac, Amaretto, Cointreau or Tia Maria, to taste
100ml (3½fl oz) whipped double cream

½tsp cocoa powder, or grated chocolate

Heat the milk in a saucepan with the cinnamon stick and chilli. Bring to a shivering simmer.
Remove from the heat and add the chocolate to the milk. Blend until it melts. Add sugar to taste and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Reheat to a simmer, strain and pour into mugs. Add a dash of your favourite liqueur for a more grown-up taste, and top with whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa or grated chocolate.

November 15th

Chocolate chestnut truffles!

As you know, I’m highly light-sensitive, and the failing light always makes me crave certain kinds of food, so here’s another cheering recipe for those miserable days between Hallowe’en and Christmas, when the sun scarcely ever seems to rise, and even cooking seems too much of an effort.

These gorgeous truffles are easy to make – and nicely-wrapped, make terrific gifts!

Chocolat, author, Joanne Harris, recipes, The Little Book of Chocolat, Aldo Zilli

You’ll need…

200g dark chocolate, broken into small, even-sized pieces

100g chestnut purée

200g double cream

75g unrefined light brown sugar

25g cocoa powder





Line a baking tray approximately 20 x 16cm with baking parchment.

Place the chocolate, chestnut purée, cream and sugar in a bain-marie and heat gently until melted. Remove from the bain-marie and mix until evenly blended.

Place in the fridge until firmly set (at least 1 hour). When set, use a teaspoon to scoop out evenly-sized balls and roll them between your palms one at a time.

Put the cocoa in a shallow bowl and toss each truffle in the powder. Repeat until all are coated. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week (assuming you can resist them that long).

And in case you need encouragement, here’s a sunny, cheery little video of me and Fran Warde in the kitchen together, talking ALL THINGS CHOCOLATE…


It’s getting to the darkest part of the year, and the creative part of me is finding it harder and harder to function. I combat my tendency to just hibernate on dull days with SAD lamps, comfort food and a promise to myself to take Vitamin D, exercise every day, and go for a walk whenever I can (natural light is so important, and even fifteen minutes outdoors makes an enormous difference to me).

For those of you who feel the same way about winter, I’ll be posting some of the things I find helpful on here over the next few weeks, so keep an eye on what’s going on. And to start us off, here’s my favourite chocolate mug cake recipe, from my friend, the chocolate chef David Greenwood-Haigh. It takes five minutes, it’s simple, and it’s the perfect brain food for those lightless, wintry days…


  • 30g plain flour
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/4 tspn baking powder
  • 30 g butter
  • 40g chocolate


Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave in short 30 second bursts

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well.

Add the egg and mix thoroughly.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high).
(The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t worry!)
Allow to cool a little, and eat it straight from the mug. Enjoy!


Members of the Society of Authors, we have our annual AGM on November 17th.

Usually, only a hundred or so members choose to attend the AGM, but this year is going to be different. This year, we face a well-organized attempt by a relatively small group of members to take over the AGM and push through two resolutions.

The meeting is virtual, so you can attend by Zoom. You can also vote on resolutions by proxy as long as you do so before the 15th.

Before we start, this post is mine, and not an official SOA statement. But –

As members of our union, there are a number of important resolutions for you to look at during this year’s AGM, which will help shape the future of the organization. I urge you to look at them all, and especially at resolutions 6 and 7, submitted by a group headed by some prominent gender critical members.

You’ve probably noticed that this year, there has been a great deal of attention given to our little group by a (mostly hostile) media. Much of it centres on me personally, and much of what they say is typically misleading, incomplete or untrue. Most of it has been driven by social media, where for several years I have been the target of abuse and attacks by gender critical people. I believe that the two following resolutions come as a direct result of this.

Resolution 6 is an attempt to get rid of me as Chair because of my “documented behaviour and comments”, which I take to mean my statements on social media in favour of trans rights, as well as my support of the three writers of colour who received racist abuse in the wake of the Kate Clanchy affair last year.

Resolution 7 includes a demand for a commitment to free speech, which, though it may seem reasonable in principle, in this context shows a basic lack of understanding of what the SOA already does for free speech, and implies that there is bias against certain groups within the organization.

First, let’s have a look at this accusation of bias, which runs through the whole proposal. Some of the people behind these two motions have made it clear that they think that my personal opinions, as tweeted on my personal account, somehow make me unable to exercise impartiality in my capacity as SOA chair.

Okay. Let’s look at my personal opinions. I have a lot of them, and I tweet a lot. I’m a Remainer. I’m left-wing. I’m pro-choice. I wear a mask in public places. I support trans rights. I’m afraid of climate change. I hate racism in all its forms. I really like musical theatre, and (full disclosure) once unfollowed someone on Twitter for saying they hated Les Mis. But the thing I keep being accused of bias over is – you guessed it – trans rights.

This harassment by the gender critical lobby has been going on for a long, long time. Here’s Graham Linehan calling for my resignation as early as October 2020: in spite of never having been an SOA member, and clearly having no idea what an SOA chair actually does.

Two years later, it’s still going on. If you look at the list of people proposing these motions (and if you take a glance at their Twitter profiles), you’ll find some prominent gender critical voices there. And all this has become part of a right-wing culture wars agenda that sees me as part of “a contamination by the woke”,  as this blog post (one of many) typifies.

The way I see it, this targeting of the SOA is part of a wider attempt to force the organization to abandon its impartiality and to pander to the demands of the right wing, via the gender critical movement – demands that, in this case, amount to removing a democratically elected Chair, and effectively giving preferential treatment to people with gender critical beliefs.

I don’t think that having openly pro-trans beliefs is a reason to stand down as Chair. I don’t think that anyone would insist on this if I held any other belief – if I were Jewish, for instance. But having a trans son, and supporting his rights, is enough in the eyes of these people to justify this unfounded claim – a claim that either by expression my opinions, or by not supporting theirs, I have somehow “allowed” gender critical authors to be cancelled or to lose work, because of their gender critical beliefs.

This is utter nonsense. My Twitter is a personal account, like the rest of my social media. I don’t bring my clashes on Twitter into SOA meetings, or expect the SOA to defend me against criticism or abuse. Nor should anyone else: it’s not within the remit of the SOA to supervise social media, or to comment when authors disagree.

What the SOA is very good at is resolving contractual complaints. But anyone needing this kind of help needs to ask the SOA for help, not complain on social media that they weren’t offered any. If my car gets a flat tyre, I don’t complain to the management of my local Toyota garage that they didn’t help me – unless I’ve actually been there first. I wouldn’t expect them to look on social media to find out if I needed repairs. Why? Because what I say on Twitter doesn’t concern my local Toyota garage. For a start, they probably don’t follow me on Twitter.  And I wouldn’t expect them to intervene if someone on Twitter complained that I’d left my Toyota blocking their drive, or if someone had left a rude message on the windscreen. Because – guess what? It isn’t their job. They’re a garage, not The Batman.

So, what do I actually do at the SOA? Well, I chair the Management Committee. We deal with finances and strategy, prizes and grants. We help direct policy and, with the help of the SOA staff, determine how best to serve the members. We are not a political party, though we do lobby politicians of all parties on issues that concern our members. We do not debate “what makes a woman” because the SOA has 12,000 members, including trans people and gender critical people, and we want to serve them all. The gender critical lobby has – or so it seems to me – consistently refused to understand this. I have been asked repeatedly to debate with them on Twitter over trans rights. I have been threatened over my refusal to sign a petition that I felt legitimized JK Rowling’s comments on gender. I have received death threats and abuse. I have been told that as Chair of the SOA I must engage with this debate, and then, when I have expressed opinions, have been told by the same people that I shouldn’t have said anything. But here’s the thing. Free speech is for all, even in the case of those with whom you disagree. And a democracy treats people equally, regardless of their status.

The gender critical lobby seems also not to understand this. It may have the support of some very powerful and well-connected people, but that doesn’t make their voices any more important than those of our other members. That’s why the SOA remains neutral in disagreements between individuals, whilst still supporting the free speech of everyone concerned. I’m very sure that if my opinion had swung towards the gender-critical side, no-one would be trying to claim that I was biased now. And I think that where there has been prejudice, it has been directed at me, for exercising my right to a belief that a very well-connected group of people in the media feel I simply shouldn’t hold.

Please don’t see this an an invitation to attack these people on social media. Whatever they may have said about me, whatever lies and smears they have used to make their case, I do not condone attacks or abuse in my name. If you feel there is a legitimate complaint to be made about anyone, then please do so via the SOA, according to their Dignity & Respect policy, not on Twitter.  Twitter can be ugly, and things can quickly get out of hand there.

When I was elected to the Management Committee, I promised to concentrate on promoting diverse voices and ensuring that the SOA was an inclusive, fair and welcoming environment for every kind of writer. This current attack on our democracy by a vocal group of ideologues not only threatens that promise, but uses up valuable resources of time, expense and energy that would be better spent dealing with the needs of our members.

If you agree, please consider voting against Resolutions 6 and 7, either in person at the AGM, or by proxy.

Here’s the link to register:  

And here’s a cat eating a cupcake.

An award from Pink News!

I’m so happy and honoured to receive this award – Ally of the Year – from Pink News. It means so much to me to be welcomed by the LGBT+ community in this way. Thank you, everyone, for your support, your warmth and your acceptance…


The Shed Calendar

Finally, Bonnie’s Kickstarter page for the Shed Calendar has gone live!

Bonnie has worked incredibly hard on this project, which includes: a Shed every month, plus some wonderful artwork from Bonnie and an unpublished short story from me. You’ll get this lovely 2023 calendar, plus the chance to score some additional merch, including signed postcards and some of Bonnie’s original artwork…

We have 29 days to raise sufficient funds to make this project happen!

Join the Kickstarter campaign here!

Celsius 2022

I’m just back from the fabulous Celsius festival of SFF in Aviles, Spain. I had the most marvellous time talking to fans, old friends (and new ones). Thank you to Diego, Jorge, Cristina and everyone from the festival for inviting me; to all the readers for your marvellous welcome, and to my friends and colleagues for being such fantastic company. I hope I get the chance to come back next year!

And I’ve just announced my new novel, BROKEN LIGHT, due out in summer 2023. Proofs will be available to media in autumn, but until then, here’s a taste of what’s to come

RSL Summer Party

I’m delighted to be able to announce that I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature last night – thank you to everyone for your wonderful welcome, and for the chance to sign the register with Lord Byron’s very own (and very fancy) pen…

Spring Awakening

With the change of the seasons, I can feel myself starting to come back to life. I’ve finished the first draft of my new book, and started to write another: it will be a long time before it’s finished, but it’s good to plant something now, and to feel it growing. It’s an excellent time for making new plans and devising new projects; change is in the air, and hope: and the promise of adventure.

I’ve just begun to advertise live as well as online events for this spring and summer: check where I am to find out if there’s something happening near you!

I recorded a radio show about runes a few month ago: it airs this Sunday. Details here.

And A NARROW DOOR is preparing to come out in paperback on May 12th: you can pre-order a copy here.


Plus, the Storytime Band and I are playing live at Seven Arts in Leeds on May 21st, alongside the John Hackett Band. We’ll be performing A POCKETFUL OF CROWS, plus stories and songs from HONEYCOMB, and we’ll be joined by a new band member, Duncan Parsons on bass, so do please join us if you can!


Finally, after what seems to have been an interminable winter, spring is starting to appear. The deadline for my new book is creeping slowly closer, and though I still don’t have a title, I do have a few ideas. Bonnie and I are still working on the 2023 Shed Calendar project, and I’ll be touring from next month for the paperback of A NARROW DOOR. The Storytime Band is playing two venues in April, and we’ll hopefully be doing some recording this spring, too. And my TBR pile is filled with exciting things – all I need is the time to read them…

Summer dreams…

Literary Trip to the Southwest of France…

I know it seems kind of early to start thinking of summer holidays, but here’s a head’s-up on something I’ll be doing this July. It’s a guided, gourmet package trip to the Southwest of France, during which I’ll be talking about my Lansquenet books, and showing some of you around  the real-life places that inspired them.

Sound good?

To know more, and for booking details, click here.

On January 4th, 2022, A NARROW DOOR comes out in the US!

You can pre-order it online here

Read the Publishers Weekly review here

Or read more about the book here.

Either way, I hope you’ll enjoy it. Happy reading!


And here’s a bit of excellent news about a terrific new project that Bonnie and I have been planning. Listen to me explaining about it here – and make sure you sign up to Bonnie’s newsletter for updates on the artwork – including the chance to vote for what makes the final edit!

December in the Shed

And it’s starting to look a lot like December in the Shed: there’s snow in the air, and a scent of smoke, and a sense of expectation.

On Twitter, from December 1st, #Shedvent begins, with a little surprise or gift behind each door.

On Kofi, I’ll be posting a new chapter of my serial story every week, as well as a few little seasonal extras.

On Bandcamp, I’ve reduced the price of both STORYTIME and A POCKETFUL OF CROWS to a piffling £5 each, so there’s no excuse not to indulge.

On Amazon Kindle, CHOCOLAT is on offer at only 99p, but if you’re not into e-books, just check out this gorgeous new jacket design!

And if you’ve had a look at HONEYCOMB and decided how gorgeous it would look under a loved one’s Christmas tree, I’ll be sending out signed bookplates to anyone who would like one. Just buy me a coffee (or two, if you’re outside the UK) to pay for postage, e-mail me your address at – plus any name or message you’d like included – and I’ll pop one in the post for you.

Otherwise, I’ll be mostly hard at work in the Shed, surrounded by books, SAD lamps, blankets, hot water bottles and cashmere socks and fingerless gloves. Winter doesn’t stand a chance: I’ve got this.

And here, just for you, is my ultimate winter hot chocolate recipe, best enjoyed during the dark months, with all the sprinkles and whipped cream and brandy and marshmallows you can fit into one giant mug…

Recipe:  Vianne’s Spiced Hot Chocolate (serves 2, or 1 if you’re in the mood)

  • 1 2/3 cups milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 hot red chilli, halved and seeded
  • 3 1/2 ounces bittersweet (70 percent) chocolate
  • brown sugar to taste (optional)
  • whipped cream, chocolate curls, cognac or Amaretto to serve
  • Place the milk in a saucepan, add the vanilla bean, cinnamon stick and chilli and gently bring it to a shivering simmer for 1 minute.
  • Grate the chocolate and whisk it in until it melts.
  • Add brown sugar to taste.
  • Take off the heat and allow it to infuse for 10 minutes,then remove the vanilla, cinnamon and chilli.
  • Return to the heat and bring gently back to a simmer.
  • Serve in mugs topped with whipped cream, chocolate curls or a dash of cognac or Amaretto.


Here comes November; and with the dying of the light, I’m bringing out my SAD lamps, my big jumpers and cashmere socks, and my favourite comfort-food recipes.

Here’s one: my easy chocolate cheesecake recipe, available, like all of my other recipes with Fran Warde, on the CBK app.

And this week I have a nice piece of news: I’ll be a guest on Radio 4’s DESERT ISLAND DISCS on November 7th: if you’re not able to tune in, you can find it in the archive.

Also, HONEYCOMB has been chosen by Publishing News as one of the best books of 2021! More details here.

Check it out on! Or find it here on Amazon UK (and don’t forget the audiobook, narrated by Yours Truly…)

Also, A NARROW DOOR has earned a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly; good news for my readers in the US, where the book is being published on January 4th.

Pre-order a copy here!

And I wrote a piece for Certain Age about the Shed – find it here!



And here comes October in its cloak of leaves, and I’m starting to think about warm slippers, hot chocolate and delicious things made with spices.

I’m also hard at work on my two works-in-progress – I have no idea which one will be finished first, but it feels like having two children, both vying for my attention. Plus I’m still waiting, five months down the line, for the results of the genetic tests which will tell me if Mr C is likely to be just a casual visitor, or a repeat offender. I know it’s not a priority for doctors right now, but I’m on the edge of my seat…

Last week I went back to live events in Ely, Edinburgh, St Andrews, Todmorden and Charleston – thank you so much to everyone who came. And there are more lined up for this autumn, including Murder One online – please check out my Events page to see if there’s one that suits you.

And if you can’t make a reading, don’t feel left out – here’s a seasonal recipe from my French cookbook on CBK: Vianne’s spiced hot chocolate, just like in the movie. Enjoy!



I always think of September as a time of new beginnings. Maybe that’s why I keep starting new projects. I’ve been working almost simultaneously on at least three things recently, including this one on ko-fi,  a companion-piece to HONEYCOMB, which I’m posting on a  chapter-by-chapter basis as I go along.

Looking to the future, I’m starting to take bookings for Storytime, mostly for next year, but there might be something this Christmas, too.

And it’s also a time I associate with going back to school – as an ex-teacher, I still always feel that urge in September to buy new diaries, notebooks, pencils and pens. Which is quite appropriate right now: the leaves are turning, the mists are setting in, the blackberries are ripe, and the world of St Oswald’s feels very close. I’m  starting to do in-person events for A NARROW DOOR, so maybe watch my Events page to check if there’s one you can get to.

And if you’re in a reading group, under Extras, you’ll find reading-group guides to A NARROW DOOR as well as almost all my books, including background, questions for discussion and recipes for themed snacks  and cocktails (because all books are better with snacks, right?).