In the pink

About the book

In this wry, comic entertainment set in the early 1980s it’s just three years since art historian Anthony Blunt was publicly unmasked in 1979 as the fourth man in a ring of British spies that had worked for the Soviet Union as KGB operatives.
Dame Marjorie Sandringham is a delightful and distinguished former diplomat and later Mistress of St. Ethelreda’s College, Oxford, until her recent retirement. Now she’s Chair of ISAS (the International Sisterhood for Action and Solidarity) but there’s more to her than meets the eye...
Rhoda Ribteen, Chair of the ISAS Grants and Publicity Committees attends a conference in Washington and finds herself sharing a room with Winifred Hokeki, a matronly woman from Maphutsana in southern Africa. With a sudden flash of her native initiative Rhoda offers her the ISAS scholarship for developing countries for her daughter, Kezzia, to come to England and study rural development. Maphutsana is strategically the key to Africa, and is the last remaining British colony in Africa. It ‘s due to become independent and already the Maphutsana cabal headed by Dr Bible Uvengi is intriguing for power while Romeo Alfaemzo, the guerrilla leader is backed by China. 
Dame Marjorie supports Rhoda's offer and it's not long before the plump and permanently bumbling Annie Pettifer, secretary to the ISAS Grants Committee has the task of making travel arrangements for Kezzia and meeting her off the international flight. Hovering over Annie’s every move like the sword of Damocles is sharp-tongued Verene Widmer, the Swiss General Secretary of ISAS.
Kezzia proves sublime. At the Agricultural College, the Honourable Eustace Darracott and Joe Lister fight for her favours and she runs away with the succeeding days. With this success in the bag, Rhoda backs Dame Marjorie for the Presidency of ISAS. Dame Marjorie is standing against Mrs Wilmer T. Swatz of the United States, who considerably stirred up the ISAS Congress in Brussels at the Palais des Nations by daily issuing campaign leaflets canvassing for herself. 
Dame Marjorie wins the contest and the way is open for a fundraising drive for Maphutsana. Grace Crackenthorpe, now eighty and a member of the ISAS Grants Committee, who has spent most of her life as a science organiser in foreign fields, is despatched there. She gets a Maphutsana branch of ISAS off the ground, totally constitutional, and the money, thanks to Kezzia's impassioned advocacy pours in. Most of all there is Dame Marjorie's brainwave, the huge Sinking Fund out of which a preliminary cash injection is given to the hopeless and homeless to get them to participate in self-help.
Cut to the following Summer when Annie's friend, the journalist Francis Best, is being seen off at the airport by his girl friend, Honor Grenville, to cover Maphutsana for a television feature at the same time as ISAS is bidding farewell to Kezzia, who has Eustace and Joe in tow. Honor and Dame Marjorie recognise one another from the time Dame Marjorie was Ambassador to Ecuador and Honor's husband Colin (from whom she has separated) was Third Secretary. Eustace, whose father is Foreign Affairs spokesman in the Lords has pulled a string or two to ensure that Kezzia will be back as an Observer at the Constitutional Conference to be held at Marlborough House. Joe, not to be outdone, has volunteered for VSO in Maphutsana.
Nobody, least of all Francis, expects the result of the Maphutsanan elections to turn out as it does. Kezzia, who formed a Women's Party, only two weeks before polling day, sweeps to power in a landslide victory and is elected President of the country. She is self-confessedly non-aligned, but the day afterwards does the little favour she has agreed with Dame Marjorie. 
You quick witted reader will have cottoned on before half the book and half the manoeuvring is completed... But everybody wins in his or her own way.

About the author

Serena Fairfax spent her childhood in India, qualified as a Lawyer in England and joined a  London law firm.

Romance is hardwired into her DNA so her novels include a strong romantic theme. However, she broke out of the romance bubble with one  (you’ll see which one when you visit the Books page), which is a quirky departure in style and content.

She’s also authored several short stories that feature on her blog

Fast forward to a sabbatical from the day job when she traded in bricks and mortar for a houseboat which, for a hardened land lubber like her, turned out to be a big adventure.

Apart from writing and reading (all kinds of books), a few of her favorite things are collecting old masks, singing (in the rain) and exploring off the beaten track.

She’s  a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, which is a very supportive organization.  She and her  golden retriever, Inspector Morse, who can't wait to unleash his own Facebook page, divide their time between London and rural Kent. (Charles Dickens said: Kent, sir. Everybody knows Kent. Apples, cherries, hops and women).










Welcome to Allthingsbookie Serena


Can you tell us what prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?

English essays at school. The first piece I wrote was about horses and the wonderful feeling of a trot turning into a canter.  

Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words?

TANGO is the latest.   A dilemma  - should she risk her heart or claim her freedom?

What was the inspiration for this book?

Eavesdropping  a  conversation on a bus between two women. I had to stay on way past my stop till they’d alighted in order to  hear the entire story.

Did you do any research for the book? 

Not much.

What does a typical writing day involve for you?

It’s a nine to five job.

How do you decide on the names for your characters?

Rather like the ManBooker  I draw up a longlist that’s whittled down to a shortlist. Sometimes the chosen names get changed  during the course of the story depending on how the characters are misbehaving.

Which writers have influenced your own writing?

Every good writer influences one by a sort of osmosis but it’s difficult to be  specific. 

What are you working on next? Do you have a WIP?

I’m into a romantic suspense- another challenge- as I’m told this is difficult to master. It’s very much a WIP with highs and lows. The fingers aren’t exactly flying over the keyboard.

What has been the best part of the writing process…and the worst?

The best of times is putting down the bare bones and the worst of times is “killing one’s darlings” in the editing process.

Tell us about your travels.

Generally off the beaten track. From Burma to Burundi, from rocky mountains to coral strands, from deserts to frozen wastes.

Tell us about your childhood.

This was spent in India. It was a magical place to be brought up  - a place bursting with colour and myths and exotic food. Small wonder it was the Jewel in the Crown.

 Most writers have some quirks – what are yours?

 I’d feel lost if I started to write without putting on my earrings. And I skip ( I love buying skipping ropes) quite often during the day.

Do you plot your novels or allow them to develop as you write?

I started off as a punster, progressed to being a plotter, now I’m a bit of both.

Have you taken any creative writing courses and would you recommend them?

I once went on a creative writing course but that was in respect of a certain genre that I decided not to pursue.  It’s horses for courses, really. I think they’re very useful for a complete beginner but shouldn’t be a substitute for actually sitting down and getting that book finished. ‘How To’ books are very helpful.

What book(s) are you reading at the moment?

Madame Bovary and  Easy Guide to Treehouse Construction.  

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take three books with you, what would they be and why?

The Oxford Book of Quotations – bite sized and easy to digest nuggets.

The Canterbury Tales – all human life portrayed  and plenty of inspiration there for the next  book.

Macbeth – an ace thriller and, without fear or favour, I could cast myself in the  leading roles.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Write, write, write. Read, read, read. Don’t give up.

















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JB JOHNSTON | Reply 04.10.2014 12.52

Great interview ladies. x

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Latest comments

Yesterday | 22:25

Wonderful review, for a wonderful lady and Author.

Yesterday | 20:12

Great review for an equally great book by Mary

Yesterday | 18:26

When reading all the reviews I just can not wait to read this for myself. I adore stories of hardship and how they unfold and hopefully have a good ending.

Yesterday | 17:22

Another great review for a brilliant author.

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