News and Pictures


October 18, 2013 by Lydia Syson


Huge thanks to everyone who came to Review bookshop to welcome That Burning Summer into the world on October 4th – was that really a fortnight ago? And was it really only a year since we’d been at Cable Street, singing and celebrating the birth of A World Between Us, Hot Key’s fourth ever title? keep reading

New book, new look!


October 3, 2013 by Lydia Syson


I’m delighted with the new design of this website – huge thanks to Jan Bielecki and Cait Davies in particular for making it happen. And on a day which is anything but burning or summery, it has been lovely just now to walk into a nearby bookshop and see a copy of my newborn title nestling happily on the shelf next to A World Between Us.  The shop was Dulwich Books, as it happens (as you may

keep reading

Journey to Hill 481


October 1, 2013 by Lydia Syson


Last week’s experience of visiting some of the settings for key events in A World Between Us was extremely powerful. It’s certainly a strange sensation to go to a real place for the first time after having imagined it so intensely and for so long. These are all places of real and terrible tragedies, yet hope and idealism are equally significant elements in their histories.   keep reading

The cave hospital, at last.


September 27, 2013 by Lydia Syson

Cave hospital, La Bisbal

‘This hospital is in a cave.   When Felix heard, she imagined a storybook kind of cave, where dragons lurk on piles of gold at the end of winding tunnels.  Theirs is a great horizontal gash in the rock face of a hillside, an unhappy open mouth.  But its roof is solid stone.  And it won’t be far from the fighting. keep reading

Remembering the Battle of the Ebro, September 1938


September 26, 2013 by Lydia Syson


‘On the other side of the river, spirits are high. They’ve driven Franco’s forces from the steep hillsides outside Corbera.  But everyone knows Fascist reinforcements will soon arrive and it’s no surprise when the crash and boom of bombardments steps up a day later.  The men scan the skies, and wonder if the German and Italian planes have got the trick of breeding.  Nat sees fear rising in the eyes of lads who have not fought before, and he does his best to steady their nerves.

These rocky slopes give little reassurance.keep reading

In praise of cross-fertilisation


September 10, 2013 by Lydia Syson

From Paula Rego, 'The Guardian', from Jane Eyre. Lithographs. Copyright the artist. All images courtesy of Marlborough Fine Art. 'Loving Bewick' (2001)_web

In the past week my work as a writer has taken me to Edinburgh to participate in a conference on transgressive sexualities in the eighteenth century, to the opening of a new exhibition at London’s Guildhall (Victoriana: The Art of Revival) and on Friday, to my first ever football match – England at Wembley, no less.  Before the game, a lively Moldovan folk band swapped tunes and dance styles with English brassplayers and bodypoppers.  There is a theme here, I promise you. keep reading

Book Genes


August 5, 2013 by Lydia Syson


Every book has its own peculiar literary heritage, a kind of textual DNA that can be as hard to map as the Genome Project. I’m in danger of muddling my metaphors here, but I thought I’d write today about some of the book genes that have fed into That Burning Summer, books I first read or had read to me so long ago they were half-forgotten when I started writing this new novel.  I was vaguely conscious of a few of these influences from the outset; others gradually dawned on me as I wrote, or have even been revealed since. keep reading

This Burning Summer


July 23, 2013 by Lydia Syson


I remember last July as dreary and overcast. When I went walking on Romney Marsh, trying to soak up the atmosphere for the new novel I was writing, it was hard to summon up a real sense of ‘that torturingly beautiful summer’ of 1940, as H.E.Bates described it in his autobiography,The Ripening World.  keep reading

Branford Boase Award Party


July 19, 2013 by Lydia Syson


A week on and I’m still getting over the glorious celebration of books, reading, writing and above all editing for children that is the Branford Boase Award and Henrietta Branford Writing Competition. The BBA winning double-act of Dave Shelton and David Fickling said it all: their chalk-and-cheese speeches gave a brilliant flavour of the kind of chemistry between author and editor that gets results as superbly maverick as A Boy and a Bear in a Boat,  keep reading

‘Deberemos resistir! We must resist!’


June 28, 2013 by Lydia Syson


I don’t know if you remember the moment in A World Between Us when George, walking along a street in besieged Madrid, finds himself humming along to ‘Ay Carmela’, one of the best known Republican songs of the Spanish Civil War. Well, now’s the time to join in too – if not with the song, then with the sentiment. keep reading