Deborah Moggach | Best-selling Author

An extraordinary thing happened with The Carer. Within an hour of my appearing on BBC Breakfast TV it shot to number 1 on Amazon. It didn’t stay there long but it was rather thrilling, and just shows the power of TV. In fact the show was a hoot – I did Sky Breakfast too – because I made my hosts laugh and you always meet such an odd mix of people in the green room. And you get a free, professional make-up that lasts all day and makes you look twenty years younger.

The novel also made the Sunday Times Bestseller list for several weeks, which was equally thrilling. I think it touched a nerve – I never realized how many people are looking after an elderly relative, or indeed are that elderly relative themselves. How many people feel guilty/resentful/jealous/deeply deeply grateful, when a carer enters into the heart of their home and takes that relative over. I heard lots of stories – one, for instance, about a 90-year-old who had always been a very difficult mother – cold, indeed quite cruel – but when she got a carer she changed completely, becoming warm and chatty and telling the carer all sorts of revealing stuff about her own childhood – something she’d never told anyone in her family. Imagine the complex emotions that produced. Meat and drink to a novelist, of course.

I think it helps that the novel is funny. It can be such a stressful, painful and sometimes tragic situation that reading about it, and being able to laugh, is hugely companionable. Despite feeling isolated, people realize they’re not alone. That’s the wonderful thing about novels.

So it’s been an amazing few weeks, since publication. Tinder Press have been marvellous. Novelists can be terrible moaners – it’s something to do with being cooped up all day in a confined space, paranoia breeds like mushrooms – but Tinder have been a breeze. And they’ve got me a lot of forthcoming events – Cheltenham literary festival, North Cornwall, Manchester, a literary lunch in Guildford, all in October, and more later in the autumn. I’ll post details on my next blog.

Meanwhile enjoy the rest of the summer and do get in touch if you fancy, I always like to hear from you, just email me at

As summer hots up (at last) events are hotting up for the publication of The Carer on 8 July. If you’re in the West Country, or the Cotswolds, I’m appearing at the wonderful Ways With Words literary festival at Dartington, on 8 July. Then I’m doing evening readings at Waterstones in Yeovil on 16 July, Hunting-Raven bookshop, Frome, on 17 July, Toppings bookshop in Bath on 18 July and the Yellow Lighted bookshop in Tetbury on 19 July.

I’m also doing events at the Keats Community Library in Hampstead, London, on 9 July, and Chorleywood bookshop on the 10 July. And I’m doing a book signing at the Deal Bookshop, Kent, at 11.30 on 27 July. I’ll tell you later events in a later posting.

I’m also appearing on BBC Breakfast TV on 9 July, and Radio 4’s Front Row on 12 July.

As for magazines and newspapers, I’ve got articles and interviews in Red, Good Housekeeping, the Daily Mail, the Times and various other publications.

Phew. It’s all rather promising. Slightly nerve-wracking too. I love speaking in public and meeting my readers, that’s never a problem. It’s the thought of the reviews that bring me out in a sweat. Or, worse still, no reviews at all.

It’s funny how one copes with this. If it’s a bad review I’ll think Oh, nobody reads that newspaper anyway/everyone’s away on holiday and will miss it/never mind, it’ll be wrapping fish and chips tomorrow/everybody’s too upset about Brexit to read anything at all. If it’s a good one, I’ll think just the opposite. Pathetic, really. And I really should have got used to it by now.

Anyway, do come to see me, if you’re around on any of those dates and not on holiday. Or indeed, having a holiday in the gorgeous West Country, because who wants to fly nowadays? It would be lovely to see you, and if not, it would also be lovely to hear from you so do email me at

Things are revving up for the publication of The Carer in July. I’m doing a special early-publication gig at the Hay Festival on 2 June, where copies will be available hot off the press.

If any of you haven’t been to Hay, I’d urge you to give it a go. It’s in the most sensational countryside and the whole town is buzzing – I’ll always remember seeing Maya Angelou sitting in the pub next to an elderly Welsh farmer.

I’m also doing an event there with Tracy Chevalier on 28 May about our two novels, Tulip Fever and Girl with a Pearl Earring, which should be fun. And talking of this, the movie of Tulip Fever is opening the new season of films at the Astor Arts Centre, Deal, on 20 May, where there’s drinks to start, and I’m doing a Q&A at the end.

Last month Christies auction house did a screening of the film, complete with spotlit reproductions of Dutch paintings and a classy cocktail bar. It was really rather magical, as I’d brought along the original painting that inspired the book, which I’d bought at Christies twenty years earlier (see the Books section, for a reproduction of the painting).

Then on 8 June I’m appearing at Stoke-on-Trent, with Celia Imrie, to talk about our books. This is an intriguing-sounding festival run by Emma Bridgewater, whose pottery is in Stoke. In fact the events take place in her factory. Google it (Festival in a Factory) to find out more. Celia is a hoot and a sport; at the premiere of Bext Exotic Marigold Hotel she was appearing at the Old Vic, but when the curtain came down she tore off her costume, stuck on a sari, jumped on the back of a motorbike and whizzed across London to the party – in freezing mid-winter too. We like that sort of thing.

I’m doing a lot more events in July, including Ways With Words, one of my favourites, but I’ll post info about them later. Meanwhile Red magazine, Good Housekeeping, The Times, The Daily Mail and hopefully some more newspapers are doing interviews or running articles connected to The Carer. My official Facebook page will also keep you up to date.

And in June Daunt Books are publishing At The Pond. This is a collection of essays by various writers, including me, about the Ladies Pond on Hampstead Heath – one of the most glorious places on earth. If you’ve never been, just go. You swim amongst the ducks, the weeds brushing your legs, and sometimes see a kingfisher. In this dire time, it washes away all the ugliness and confusion and restores ones sanity.

Remember – do email me if you fancy at

I’m gearing up for The Carer’s publication in July with various events and festivals planned – Wrexham on April 29th, Hay in May/June, Emma Bridgewater’s Festival in Stoke on 8 June (where I’m appearing with Celia Imrie) and lots more during the summer – I’ll post links and details later.

And the ill-fated film of Tulip Fever, about which you’ve heard so much, is showing at the Courtyard in Hereford on 16th April, where I’ll be giving a talk. As you know, its distribution has been sparse and erratic, due to all the scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein, but it does pop up here and there – my husband watched it on a flight to Japan the other day. I could write a book about its 20-year saga, if it weren’t so tragic – just thinking about it, and all the wasted work of its talented cast and crew, makes me feel too sad. And the movie is pretty good! That’s the awful thing.

Meanwhile I’ve been adapting The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as a stage play for Chichester Theatre, for next year. This is being more complicated than I thought, as of course the elderly residents were created nearly twenty years ago, and would be rather different people were they in their seventies today. In the book they reminisce about Lyons Corner houses and Nye Bevan, which would make them about a hundred years old in 2019. In fact, much to my mortification they would be about my age (70) and my generation is very different to the one before. Some of us are old hippies, for goodness sake! So adjustments have to be made.

I’m also updating another stage play of mine, Double Take. This was performed in the 1980s in Liverpool and Chichester but I’ve been asked to revive it. It’s a comedy about a woman who has an affair, and in Act Two lives her life again, as it would have been if she’d been married to her lover – a sort of “Sliding Doors”, I guess.

What’s fascinating is how some things in the original play still seem contemporary – for instance, there’s a mention of some trendy restaurant having “the most obscure mineral water in London”, and Covent Garden buskers doing interminable mimes. But other things are terribly dated – cheque books, for instance. Landlines and missed calls when we all have mobile phones. However, it’s the sexist remarks that really grate. Post #Metoo some fairly mild flirting sounds wildly inappropriate, indeed sleazy. I can’t believe my admittedly raffish lover said, on the phone to some woman, “what colour are they today? Oh you naughty girl!” Simply reading that turns my stomach. And even some of the lesser remarks seem patronizing.

This cheers me up. We’ve come a very long way since the eighties and in these ghastly times that, at least, is cause for celebration.

Do email me if you fancy, at

And check out my official Facebook postings, there’s all sorts of interesting stuff going on there.

I’ve just got proof copies of my new novel The Carer– nice and early as it’s not published until July. I described it in my last posting – basically it’s a comedy about class, and death, and family secrets. And quite a lot about guilt. And it has a great big twist in the middle. But it got me thinking about writing contemporary fiction at this point in time, during these ghastly unfolding events, and how much one reflects these in ones story.

For instance, just typing the word “Trump” makes me feel nauseous; it’s like finding a slug in ones salad. I simply don’t want him there in my novel, amongst my characters. Nor do I want the B word mentioned. This is partly because events are moving so swiftly that by July, and indeed the months and years beyond that, our country might become unrecognizable, and my book will seem dated.

Yet not acknowledging these elephants in the room also seems rather perverse. Some writers have dashed off Brexit novels and good for them; I can’t do it without sounding pompous and clichéd.

And in another way the world is seeping more and more into ones work, whether or not it’s reflected in ones novels. I’ve just done an interview for The Society of Authors magazine, and when asked about the biggest problem for novelists, wrote “The internet: loss of concentration, and loathsome Amazon”. By “loathsome” I meant all those things we know so well: the horribly seductive, cheap and easy way of ordering books, the loss of bookshops, the scandal of Amazon’s tax avoidance, and so on. (The real rot set in with the abandonment of the Net Book Agreement in the 1990s)

The loss of concentration has been more subtle. We all know the thrumming temptations within our laptops, the world of possibilities that are waiting to disrupt our working day. Lots of writers switch off the internet completely, when they’re working. I haven’t joined Twitter because I know I’d spend all my time thinking up clever things to put on it, or start galloping off on other people’s trails of witticisms. I try not to noodle around on the internet. And until now I haven’t joined Facebook.

But I’ve recently succumbed, and joined an outfit that not only joins me to Facebook but sets up all sorts of links to me and my books. For those of you on Facebook, it takes you into a rather marvellous trail of extracts, competitions and whatnot, and hopefully will enlarge and entertain my readership, and introduce more of them to my work. I’ve been a Luddite for far too long.

So I hope you enjoy it. At the moment I’m working on my stage adaptation of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, for Chichester Theatre next year, which is rather thrilling. I’ve gone back to the book, which is rather different to the film, and have been re-aquainting myself with my original characters and their stories.

And, coming up, I’ll be appearing at lots of events as publication day for “The Carer” draws nearer. I’ll post these soon, and indeed will be reviving this website by many more news blogs, to keep you in touch.

Remember, too, that I love to hear from you, so do email me if you fancy, at

Much to my astonishment, ‘Tulip Fever’ is apparently coming to cinemas on 7 December. This whole twenty-year-old saga (see previous postings) might be coming to an end at last. It has been both bizarre and gruelling, to say the least, but now you might actually be able to see the film, which really is rather great, and with the most amazing cast – Judi Dench, Alicia Vikander, Cara Delevigne, Tom Hollander, Christoph Walz and even me, playing my favourite part, an old crone drinking beer and smoking a clay pipe. So do go, if it comes to a cinema near you. The ghastly Weinstein scandal nearly scuppered it, but it’s actually very beautiful, and takes us right into 17th century Amsterdam, as if we’re walking into a Vermeer painting.

It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything, but I’ve been adapting ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ into a stage play, for Chichester Theatre, and also writing another novel. It’s called ‘The Carer’.

Old age is not for cissies. Being a carer’s not for cissies either. Most of us can’t cope with it and employ somebody else to do the dirty work. This is what I did, when my mother developed dementia. Three cheerful Irish women took over, in rotation, and left me free to carry on with my life. And what a rollercoaster of emotions this released! I adored them, they were life-savers, and we had some surprisingly larky times together. I was deeply grateful to them, whilst also, ridiculously, resenting their increasing intimacy with someone who was withdrawing from me into her final illness. I disapproved of the way they infantilized her, even the way they dressed her, whilst realizing that I had no right to criticize, no right at all. Needless to say, I felt chronically guilty. And sometimes I even felt jealous that she seemed fonder of them than of me, rather like a child loving its nanny more than its parents. Because they were earning her love, even as she was subtly changing and becoming – well, theirs.

In other words, I was locked into a relationship that’s becoming increasingly common as the elderly population explodes. But few people talk about it. We rely more and more on these strangers who enter into the heart of our families and get to know our secrets.

So I decided to write a novel about it. Mandy from Solihull is the bouncy, chatty godsend who rescues a middle-class brother and sister from the burden of looking after their old Dad. She quickly becomes indispensible and is almost eerily good at her job, anticipating the old boy’s needs and reorganizing his life. Under her care he starts subtly changing, to his children’s mystification, and then something happens which detonates a crisis and throws the family into confusion.

Do we really know our nearest and dearest? ‘The Carer’ explores this unsettling question. I’ve moved publishers and it’s coming out next summer under the Tinder Press imprint.

Otherwise I’m appearing at the Mumbai LitFest, in November, if any of you happen to be there. Well, why not? It’ll be nice and sunny and nobody will be talking about Brexit.

Do email me, I love to hear from you…..

James is getting on a bit and needs full-time help. So Phoebe and Robert, his middle-aged offspring, employ Mandy, who seems willing to take him off their hands. But as James regales his family with tales of Mandy’s virtues, their shopping trips, and the shared pleasure of their journeys to garden centres, Phoebe and Robert sense something is amiss. Is this really their father, the distant figure who never once turned up for a sports day, now happily chortling over cuckoo clocks and television soaps?

Then something happens that throws everything into new relief, and Phoebe and Robert discover that life most definitely does not stop for the elderly. It just moves onto a very different plane – changing all the stories they thought they knew so well.

Rather thrillingly – very thrillingly – I’ve been given an OBE (“for services to literature and drama”). It actually made the front page of our local paper here in Wales, the Powys County Times, underneath photographs of the recent Tractor Rally. Most novelists I know feel like imposters – we create characters who don’t exist and expect people to believe in them; one day somebody’s going to call our bluff. So it’s particularly gratifying to have such a grown-up recognition of what I do for a living. Because, of course, the imagination is the point of everything.

Some things are so bizarre, however, that you couldn’t make them up because nobody would believe them. The tragi-comedy of “Tulip Fever”, my disaster movie, took another turn when the Weinstein revelations destroyed any hope of its opening in cinemas here in the UK, at least for now. Previous postings have followed its rollercoaster will it/won’t it journey, and I still have hopes that it will be screened – it’s really rather good, looks magical, and has a stellar cast. But your guess is as good as mine. I just grieve for all those talented people whose work might not be seen – actors, designers, crew members, costumiers – casualties of so many productions which have been destroyed by the recent sex scandals.

Another bizarre event in my life, my mother’s trial for murder, has resulted in a play that’s opening this winter. It’s called The Promise and it’s at the New Diorama Theatre in Regent’s Park, London, on 21 and 23 February, and then, hopefully, touring. A group of actors heard about my mother’s case: some 35 years ago she helped an old lady die, and was arrested and sent to prison. It was big news at the time; the actors used transcripts from the trial, and it’s sure to fuel the debate about assisted suicide. Legislation lags so far behind public opinion on this matter, and every bit helps.

Meanwhile I’m working on The Great Escaper for the BBC. It’s the true story of Bernie Jordan, an 89-year-old D Day veteran, who in 2014 went AWOL from his care home and made his way to France, to take part in the 70th anniversary celebrations. It’s another story that hit the headlines – indeed, another story about courage – and I hope to do it justice.

Happy new year to you all and do get in touch if you fancy, you know the address:

With Tulip Fever’s imminent release in the UK, here’s a piece I wrote for the Hollywood Reporter (the film has already been released in the USA and other territories). At the time of writing (Sept 8) we still don’t have a firm date for the UK, a source of some frustration. Anyway, here’s the article:

It all started twenty years ago when I bought a painting at auction – a Dutch painting, dating from Vermeer’s era, of a woman getting ready to go out. Her maid was bringing her a necklace, her manservant was bringing her a glass of wine. Something in her expression intrigued me. She looked as if she was off on an assignation – something illicit, something furtive.

I hung her in my sitting room and gazed into her face. There was a story behind there somewhere. I longed to step into the painting, into her life, and disappear into those rooms with their chequerboard floors and marble fireplaces. So I decided to write a novel about an adulterous love affair set in Amsterdam during the Golden Age.

When I started my research I discovered that something extraordinary happened around 1636. The whole country was gripped by a craze for gambling on tulip bulbs – “Tulip mania”, it was called. Huge fortunes were made and lost as people made bets on what colour the blooms would be – the most valuable being “broken” or striped petals. It was the first great speculative bubble, a foretaste of the dot-com and property bubbles, and I thought it would make a marvelous plot for a novel, demonstrating, as it did, the human capacity for self-deception, greed, and lust for beauty.

So I made up a story about an elderly merchant, his trophy wife and a handsome young artist who arrives to paint their portrait. He falls in love with the wife, Sophia, and they decide to run away together, gambling on tulip bulbs to make their fortune. It all goes disastrously wrong.

The moment I’d finished writing my novel ‘Tulip Fever’ the phone rang. It was Steven Spielberg, speaking from his car. Within days he’d snapped up the movie rights and I was flying to Hollywood for a script meeting. My great adventure had begun.

Events moved fast and soon the movie was in pre-production. It was to be a $48 million film, the biggest UK film of the year. Tanks were sunk to create the canals of Amsterdam, sets were built, the stars assembled – Keira Knightley, Jim Broadbent and Jude Law. 12,000 tulips were planted, for their roles in the drama. It was thrilling beyond belief.

And then, a few days before it was due to start shooting, the British Chancellor, Gordon Brown, suddenly closed a tax loophole for funding movies and the film collapsed. Scores of talented people lost their jobs. The only survivors were some of those 12,000 tulips, which I gave to my neighbours in London. They planted them in their gardens and each spring I watched my horticultural cast burst into bloom – a bittersweet sight.

It took many years for the film to be resurrected, this time with Harvey Weinstein in charge. The whole laborious process began all over again. Another vast canal was dug, this time in Kent. The cloisters of Norwich Cathedral were transformed into tulip beds. Pinewood Studios were magicked into the most beautiful Dutch interiors, smokey rooms hung with paintings, sunlight streaming through the windows and pewter mugs on the shelves.

A new director, Justin Chadwick, came on board, Tom Stoppard and I wrote the script and a new cast was assembled – Alicia Vikander as the young wife, Christoph Waltz as her husband, Dane Dehaan as the sexy young painter and Judi Dench as a tulip-obsessed abbess. Other players included Tom Hollander, Cara Devigne, Jack O’Connell and Holliday Grainger.

I’ve always been an extra in my own films. Writing’s a solitary business and I’m pathetically eager to become part of a gang. Besides, actors are invariably charming and call one “darling”. So I nabbed the part of an old crone sitting in a tavern, puffing on a clay pipe and drinking a glass of beer – a role to which I’m only too well suited.

So one thrilling morning, at Pinewood Studios, I dressed up in costume and finally fulfilled my dream. I walked into a Dutch painting – the most beautiful interior, straight out of a Vermeer painting. Or indeed my own. Events had come full circle.

Movie-making is beset with the most monumental obstacles. I’m always amazed that anything manages to get made at all. Our ‘Tulip Fever’ has had a rockier ride than most, and even after its completion there have been further obstacles to its release. Actors’ commitments, publicity schedules, distribution setbacks – it seems there’s always been yet another hurdle after the very last one. But, like childbirth, this pain will soon be forgotten, for the end result is worth the wait – it’s truly a glorious film, and a tribute to one of the more bizarre episodes in human history.

Anyway, I’ve been busy writing other things – principally a novel, which I’ve halted while I write a script about a D Day veteran. It’s been a weird summer, hasn’t it? The world seems in such a tumultuous state that trying to work feels like attempting to peg a tent in a howling gale. In fact, writing about D Day is quite a relief, after tackling contemporary life – though hardly a relief for those involved. My father was a fighter pilot during the last years of the War, when life expectancy was nineteen days. Difficult to resume a normal life after that.

On a cheerier note, I’m hosting a Best Exotic Marigold tour of Rajasthan in November, where we visit several of the locations and stay in the hotel where the movie was filmed. For an Indian take on death and hospitality, do try and see Hotel Salvation. It’s set in a shabby hotel in Varanasi, where guests arrive to die – and is a lot more life-affirming than it sounds.

Do email me if you fancy, it would be great to hear from you.

[Me as an extra on the set of Tulip Fever]

It’s been ages since my last posting, but that’s partly because I still hadn’t been given a release date for “Tulip Fever”. Thank God we seem to have one, at last – the end of August. This is apparently a good time as everyone will be fed up with all those summer blockbusters and franchises and will be longing for something arty and intelligent. Anyway, let’s hope it’s true – and that the date is at last set in stone. And that everybody’s back from their holidays by then. And that they like the film. And that there’s no heatwave that weekend. And that Mr Trump hasn’t blown us all up.

My other film and TV projects are stuttering and stumbling along. I’ve actually retreated from that world for a few months as I’m writing a novel, which is a huge relief. At last one’s in control, and living in a secret world. God knows if it will be any good but at least I’m enjoying it. As David Mamet said, when work is going well it’s more fun than fun.

Not that it always goes well, of course. God, no. Who said it was like banging your head against your computer until your forehead bleeds? But it’s been a long time since I’ve written a novel and I really thought I’d lost the plot. The weird thing is that such earth-shaking and indeed cataclysmic events have happened recently that it’s hard not to incorporate them into ones story. But I simply cannot bear to type Trump’s name, it poisons my work, it’s like letting a psycho into my children’s bedroom. I wonder if other novelists are feeling this?

More excitingly, my daughter Lottie Moggach’s novel “Kiss Me First” is being filmed by Netflix and Channel 4. There’s a big buzz around it already and it will be shown early next year, apparently it’ll reach 29 million people (Why not 30?).

Do get in touch if you feel like it, or have any questions, I’d love to hear from you –


By the way, I’m appearing at the Stoke-by-Nayland ISBN Festival on 10 June. This is a new festival in Suffolk, so if you live round there visit their website here and see what’s on, they have several fabulous authors including the multi-talented Terence Blacker.

And if you’re around in London on 5 July I’m giving at talk as part of the Primrose Hill Lecture Series, at St Mary’s Church, Primrose Hill. 7pm. They have a good line-up too, for their other speakers, so visit their website here and have a look.

The paperback of my latest novel, “Something To Hide,” is in the shops now – do buy it! – and I’m adapting it for BBC Films. It’s complicated, as it takes place in Beijing, Texas, a fictitious African country and Pimlico. Juggling the story-lines is a bit of a challenge but then I think of some of my favourite films – “Short Cuts,” “Babel” and “Syriana” – which weave in multiple plots and realize that when it’s done well it’s thrilling. I’m constantly astonished by the way our lives are linked, how coincidences pop up in the most unlikely places and how globalization has shrunk the world, and I love stories that reflect this.

I’m also adapting “In The Dark,” my novel set in the First World War, for the BBC, and “Heartbreak Hotel” for ITV. Because I’m doing this, I now have a faintly seasick feeling about the original novels. The plots have shifted around and the characters have morphed into different people during the sea-change that takes place when one turns a novel into a screenplay. As draft follows draft, this intensifies – and then, with any luck, actors will arrive to bring their own transformations.

Hopefully, one or more of these projects might actually get filmed. I’m so longing to step onto a set again, as I did with “Tulip Fever,” where I was an extra, playing a 17th century Amsterdam matron, complete with ruff and clay pipe. The sets were truly magical, it was like walking into a Vermeer painting. It’s been quite a rollercoaster, the whole process, as the book was written eighteen years ago and it’s taken this long to get it to the screen –  I’ve written about this drama in earlier blogs. Hopefully the film will be released early next year – at last! It’s very beautiful and really worth the wait.

Meanwhile I’m appearing at various literary festivals this autumn – Budleigh Salterton on 15 September, Wigtown on 1 October, Cheltenham on 8 October, Wells on 16 October and Cardiff on 30 October. Do come along to one of them if you can – Google them for details.

I hope you’ve had a great summer. Do email me if you fancy at

I keep delaying this blog in case I’ve heard something about the release date for the film of ‘Tulip Fever’. Well, I still haven’t. Hopefully it will be sometime this spring, which I can’t help noticing is almost upon us if those daffodils are anything to go by. But then it has been a weird winter all round.

‘Something To Hide’ is coming out in paperback in June; meanwhile I’ve been adapting it as a movie for BBC Films. It spans continents – China, Africa, the USA and the UK – but knowing the ingenuity of film-makers that won’t be a problem. After all, a scene set in Beijing could just be a skyscraper and a lot of smog. It’s been a pleasure to adapt because it has two stonking parts for women of a certain age – as we know, there are not a lot of those around. Parts, not women. And both these women have a huge secret; there’s nothing an actor likes more than to not say what they mean – the mouth says one thing and the eyes another.

I’ve also been adapting ‘In the Dark’, my novel set in a shabby boarding house in Southwark during the First World War. I could never write about what happened in the trenches; like the Holocaust, it seems simply indescribable – by me, anyway. But I was interested in what was happening on the Home Front. My grandmother was born in 1890 and remembered it well; her first husband in fact was killed in action – as was her brother, and eleven cousins. So though those years have now slipped out of memory and into history I still remember her words so vividly I had to write a story that drew on her experiences. It’s grimy and sooty and very filmic; I can picture those dank alleyways with a glint of the river beyond, and the tenements hung with washing, and singing heard in the pubs, and the urgency of illicit sex when one might be blown to smithereens the next day.

The other adaptation I’ve done is ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, which I’ve been writing for ITV. After months of struggle – I simply couldn’t nail it – suddenly it became the most enormous fun and fell into place. It’s strange how that happens, and thank God that sometimes it does. Often one simply needs a break. William Trevor used to put a short story into a drawer for months, then take it out and start work on it all over again.

Otherwise I’m appearing at the Aldeburgh Literary Festival on March 6, and various venues from Leominster to Warsaw in the next few months, will keep you posted. Meanwhile do email me if you fancy on

Well, the film of “Tulip Fever” is now pretty well completed and it should be released this autumn. It looks pretty wonderful, from what I’ve seen. Sixteen years in the making, but I think it’s worth the wait….More later, when I’ve seen the final version.

Meanwhile the sequel to “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is hitting the cinemas, with the hilarious addition of the pulse-quickening Richard Gere. Tamsin Greg is fantastic in it, too; otherwise it’s the original cast minus Thingy, who died in the first film – I say Thingy in case you haven’t seen it yet.

I went to the Royal Premiere, where Leicester Square was bedecked with marigolds and rickshaws and the stars tripped along the red carpet to the popping of a squillion flashbulbs. Charles and Camilla were there, too – well, it is  their age group. Judi Dench is in both “Tulip Fever” AND “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, how great is that?

My new novel, “Something to Hide”, is published in July.  I’m a news junkie and spend far too much time reading the papers when I should be writing. Just occasionally, however, something triggers my imagination and I ferret it away for future use. This novel started like that.

Many years ago I read a newspaper article about “hoodia”, a plant eaten by the Kalahari bushmen which was snapped up by some pharmaceutical corporation and marketed in the USA as an appetite suppressant for the overweight. The corporation was sued by the tribesmen, who won their case. This fascinated me on many levels – David versus Goliath, the obesity epidemic, the magical landscape of Africa. I kept thinking it would make a marvelous film – those sunsets, those animals! – but then other plots crept in.

A few years later I went to Ghana as a guest of Plan International, to visit women in various villages and write a story about them. When I was there I chanced upon a mobile phone charging booth, in a market. Mobiles are a lifeline in rural Africa but there’s a chronic lack of electricity, so on market day people get theirs charged up at one of these booths. What happened, I wondered, if the booth-owner started listening to the messages and reading the texts? What mischief could he wreak?

Then I read another story, this time about the Chinese using American surrogate mothers in order to get US citizenship for their child.  This, too, triggered all sorts of thoughts, but how on earth could I knit all these elements together?

In stepped Petra. She’s a woman I know well – my sort of age, living in London, a veteran of various romantic disasters and emotionally pretty fragile. She’s not quite me, but she was familiar enough to lead me into foreign territory and these big global plots.

Petra suffers the most terrible emotional battering but I was with her every inch of the way – hardly surprising, as I wrote her – and grew very fond of her. She’s not perfect – who is? But I hope you enjoy her companionship as she takes you on a journey into a modern Heart of Darkness. And there’s some fun to be had, on the way.

So far, I’m appearing at the Chagford Literary Festival in March, the Bridport Film Festival in April, the Hay Festival in May…more to come, and I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile do got in touch if you fancy,

The thrilling news is that “Tulip Fever” is going to be filmed at last….fifteen years after it was destroyed by Gordon Brown in his tax clampdown. I really thought it would never happen, so it’s fantastic that the cameras will start rolling on 19 May. Three cheers for its producer Alison Owen, who has at long last got this off the ground through sheer passion and perseverance, and for Harvey Weinstein. Justin Chadwick will direct – he directed “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” , and has done some wonderful TV work including “Bleak House”, one of my favourite series of all time. Christopher Waltz will play Cornelis, Alicia Vikander will play Sophia and Dane deHaan will play the young artist. This is extremely interesting casting as the two younger actors are rising stars, just on the cusp, and by the time the film is made they’ll be familiar names. And Christopher Waltz, who has appeared most recently in the last two Tarantino films, is simply dazzling.  So phew all round.

Meanwhile the sequel to “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is shooting in India; in addition to the original cast they have Richard Gere, David Strathairn and Tamsin Grieg (who, incidentally, played Mrs Frank in my adaptation of “Anne Frank’s Diary”).

Talking of films, I was on the jury at the London Film Festival and we awarded Best Film to “Ida”, directed by the marvellous Pawel Pawlikowski. When it’s released you must see it – we all agreed unanimously that it was a rare and deeply affecting movie. It’s set after the War, in Poland, and tells the story of a young novitiate nun, her raddled and world-weary aunt, and the secrets they discover about their Jewish past. It’s shot in black-and-white with a largely non-professional cast. Another film we loved wa the Indian movie “The Lunchbox”, about a lonely young wife in Mumbai – great film-making in the humanist, Ray tradition. Watch out for them.

For the past couple of months I’ve been sitting at my desk trying to think up a plot for my next novel. Sitting at ones desk is not the best way to do it. Those of you who write, know that ideas don’t come when you try to think of them, they ambush you unawares. Still, my Puritan work ethic stops me from gallivanting around in the mornings, hoping for lightening to strike. During this fallow period, however, a couple of nice things have happened.

I’ve been awarded, of all things, the Daily Telegraph Churchill prize for being a Power-Pensioner! In other words, it’s for achieving stuff at an advanced age. Some of my fellow winners, in other categories, are Nicholas Parsons (90 years old, unbelievably), Dame Helen Mirren, the great John Byrne (Art) and Sir Alex Ferguson (Sport). It also honours local heroes. I was especially glad about Peter Neal (75) who organized the anti-Tesco protest in Sherborne (the town’s first demo since their riot over the 1832 Reform Act), which saw off the monster supermarket and saved the small shops.

We need people like him to join the growing opposition to the utterly insane HS2 rail project. It’s only recently that people have seen the true scale of destruction that it would cause, should it go ahead – to thousands of lives, homes and businesses in North London; to thirty ancient woodlands…Do Google it and lend your voice to the opposition.

Anyway, the other nice thing is that my daughter Lottie’s first novel, “Kiss Me First” has not only been shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award but she’s won the Specsavers New Writer of the Year prize. It’s just out in paperback. Do visit her website, And you can find out more about my son Tom Moggach’s book, “The Urban Kitchen Gardener” on his website, I’m very proud of both of them, needless to say.

Meanwhile, if you want to get in touch, do email me at It’s always nice to hear from you.

The most thrilling news this autumn is that my daughter Lottie’s novel, “Kiss Me First”, has been shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. This covers both fiction and non-fiction, and is voted for by book clubs – in other words, normal readers – as well as professionals. At this very moment her book is also top of the Amazon Literary Fiction list. It’s an extraordinary novel and very different to anything I’ve written which is a relief I think for both of us. It’s a complex situation, having a parent who’s a writer – I should know, as both of my parents were writers too. She’s negotiated this with spectacular results, so do read her novel – “Kiss Me First” by Lottie Moggach.

As you might know, my son Tom has also written a book. “The Urban Kitchen Gardener” was published last year and is filled with entertaining information on how to grow food in the city – he works in primary schools, encouraging children to learn about plants and cooking. There are lots of interesting recipes too. That’s your Christmas sorted.

Other news is that the sequel to “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, which is called – not hugely unsurprisingly – “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”,  is due to start filming in India in the New Year. It’s the same cast on board – all except for Tom Wilkinson, for the simple reason that his character died  in the first film. There are also rumours that Richard Gere is going to join the cast, which would give even more of a zip to things. Lucky them, I say, spending two months in Jaipur with their mates…

I’m busy trying to adapt “Heartbreak Hotel” as a movie. This is more difficult than I thought as there’s a huge amount of back-story in the novel, which of course one can’t put into a film, so the present-day, ongoing action has to be beefed up. This leads to all sorts of changes, which also alter the characters – would they really do that? Where will that lead them? In a book, characters can have muddled motives – the author might not even know what they are – but in a film script the writer has to be absolutely confident of what it’s all about – if not, how can the actors get their heads around it? So it’s turning out to be an interesting process but not without its problems.

I’m also adapting a novel called “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson. It’s been a big bestseller, and features a crusty old Major who falls in love with the Pakistani woman who runs the village shop. I can see why people love the book – it’s charming and funny and touches lightly on themes of racism, both overt and subconscious, as well as love in later years, which seems to be becoming something of a speciality of mine  (both on and off the page, as I’ve just got married again at the ripe age of 65).

There are also murmurings about “Tulip Fever” and I will hopefully have some news on that soon. Meanwhile I’m trying to think of a new novel whilst also whizzing around the country performing at events and also trying to learn the tango for a cameo appearance in the Presteigne panto – how closely does life resemble “The Archers”! Or indeed visa versa. (Presteigne, by the way, is the town known at Knockton in “Heartbreak Hotel”).
Meanwhile I send you my best wishes and do get in touch if you feel like it, at

Heartbreak Hotel is just out in paperback, and has also been chosen for the W H Smith/Richard and Judy Book Club, which is great – do have a look at their website as there’s lots of extra stuff about the book: podcasts, Q&As and whatnot. Their edition of the paperback also has extra content, and even a new short story I’ve written, set in the fictional town of Knockton.
This is where the novel is set. In real life this is Presteigne, Powys, one of my favourite places in the world. It’s gone through a sea-change, however, and now exists in two dimensions – in my novel and in reality. This will soon be joined by the television Knockton  as I’m adapting the novel for the BBC and have just finished Episode One. It’s been a weird process because the characters have slightly changed, as indeed have the events, so I now have three Knocktons lying on top of each other like holograms.
Those of you familiar with the plot know that it’s about Courses for Divorces. People who’ve just split up enrol on a residential course – Car Maintenance, Cookery for Beginners and so on – to learn the skill the other person had in the relationship. In the TV drama I hope to open each episode with an explosive row. In quarrels, of course, all sorts of accusations come pouring out, so we can learn the couple’s back-story as the plates are flying. Then we have the titles and get into the episode proper.  I loved this technique in Six Feet Under, the terrific American TV drama about an undertakers, which started with the person’s death.
I’ve been whizzing all over the country this summer doing events, and there are still several to go – see that section of the website. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve even done a couple of them with my daughter Lottie, whose novel “Kiss Me First” has also been published this year to huge acclaim – and has just been longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. I’m hugely proud of her, and indeed of my son Tom, who sets up vegetable gardens in primary schools and whose book, The Urban Kitchen Gardener was published last year. That’s three generations of writers as my parents also wrote – my father calculated that he must have written 120 books. That’s an awful lot of trees.
I hope you’ve been having a great summer. It’s been such wonderful weather that I’ve been swimming every day in the ponds on Hampstead Heath, which is the most magical experience, and even better when the fairground is in full swing in the nearby meadow and one can have a ride on the dodgems afterwards. Who needs Abroad?
Do get in touch if you fancy, I enjoy hearing from you. Just email