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My abiding memory of 7/7 is of the silence. I was at home, around 3 miles from Edgware Road tube where one of the first bombs went off. My mother was dying in hospital, my then toddler happily playing at her nursery school. It was like walking in a forest and suddenly realising the birds had stopped singing. The ever-present background hum of traffic ceased and then the distant wail of sirens sliced through the air. I tried my mobile....

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This is a highly topical and really moving TED talk on a subject that means a lot to me as it sits at the heart of my new book. Human trafficking, smuggling – call it what you like – is one of the basest forms of abuse against our fellow world citizens practised on the planet today. These people are often desperate and destitute. Hundreds are feared dead only this morning after a boat carrying 700 migrants sank off...

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My friend Katya kidnapped me. They do that a lot in Bulgaria. She swooped down and insisted we all come for dinner at her father’s farmhouse even though we already had plans. The new Russian neighbours would be there apparently. And she was preparing a feast. Katya’s a great cook. How could we resist? So it was that having stuffed down an enormous steak in a local restaurant we then hit the dirt road to Andre’s place. Actually,...

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In Bulgaria they hang dead people on trees, not to mention walls, doors and, in particular, on the gate to their former home. Not literally, you understand, although my  daughter is inclined to believe otherwise. These necrologs are sheets of paper depicting the deceased and mostly set out in a standard format. The word is derived from the Greek ‘necro’ meaning dead or death. Uniquely, the first of these paeans to the dead to be...

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So…where do you get your ideas from? Stock author question. My stock answer is that I get them in the bath and that’s true a lot of the time. With my new book, however, it all started in a hammock. Or rather, that’s where it came together. Books, you see, come together a bit like patchwork – or at least, mine do. A fragment of conversation here, a person spied in passing there. And no, I am not going to put you in one of my books. Not...

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