Welcome to House With No Name. I write about everything from books and films to education, family and France.

Jenni Murray and the art of the interview

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Thursday 16th June 2011

Interviewing is an awful lot harder than it looks. When I hear someone doing it brilliantly – like John Humphrys or Olivia O’Leary – I’m so gripped by what the interviewee is saying that I barely even notice how skilful the interviewer is. When I hear someone doing it badly – sorry to say this, Christine Bleakley, when you’ve just announced your engagement – it is excruciating. But the newly ...keep reading

An exciting new literary talent

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Wednesday 8th June 2011

“The Tiger’s Wife is an exceptional book and Téa Obreht is a truly exciting new talent. Obreht’s powers of observation and her understanding of the world are remarkable. By skilfully spinning a series of magical tales she has managed to bring the tragedy of chronic Balkan conflict thumping into our front rooms with a bittersweet vivacity.” That’s how historian Bettany Hughes, the chair of the 2011 Orange Prize judges, summed ...keep reading

The trials and tribulations of self publishing

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Saturday 4th June 2011

Self publishing gets a terrible press. SoI’m always pleased to hear of a writer who’s self-published a book and sold heaps of copies. The latest success story is Dan Holloway, whose thriller, The Company of Fellows, sold a magnificent 1,766 copies last month in the UK alone. Not only that, it’s just topped a Blackwell’s Bookshop online poll to find readers’ favourite Oxford novel – no mean feat when it ...keep reading

The day that changed their lives

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Friday 27th May 2011

The sense of excitement in Oxford on Wednesday afternoon was palpable. Police in fluorescent jackets lined St Aldate’s, a helicopter hovered overhead and an acrobat walked across a tight rope on Cornmarket. Oh yes, and just down the road at Christ Church, Michelle Obama was encouraging a generation of schoolgirls to aim high and achieve their potential. The First Lady’s connection with girls from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Language College in ...keep reading

The fabulous RNA

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Saturday 21st May 2011

Romantic fiction often gets slated – largely due, as Joanna Trollope once said, to snobbery and the genre’s pink covers, embossed lettering and “cartoon drawings of cocktail glasses and handbags and ditsy girls falling off their designer heels.” But so much of the criticism is downright unfair. A total of 25 million romantic novels are bought by readers in the UK every year and romantic fiction boasts some of the ...keep reading

The press pack

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Saturday 14th May 2011

Working from home is a double-edged sword. I can start work when I want, wear what I please, chat to my son when he gets in from school and fix coffee with friends without a clock-watching news editor yelling at me for being late back. All good, but I still hanker after office life – the gossip, the banter, the buzz. The best place I ever worked was the Evening ...keep reading

Chocolate biscuits, nagging and getting through exams

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Thursday 12th May 2011

Revision fever is rife at House with No Name towers. With two teenagers working towards exams, you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. Desperate to help (something they don’t want at all!), I appealed for advice on Twitter. Answers came back thick and fast, ranging from “nag them about tidying their rooms – they’ll prefer to revise” to “don’t insist that they can revise continuously – build in plenty ...keep reading

Vast skies and searing heat

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Sunday 8th May 2011

Amazingly, it’s nearly 30 years since Barbara Trapido’s first novel, Brother of the More Famous Jack, was published to huge acclaim. Since then she’s produced just six more. But trust me, her latest, Sex and Stravinsky, is well worth the wait. At first glance, Oxford headteacher Caroline Silver is one of those annoying women who’s clever, beautiful and selfless. She’s an amazing cook, makes her own clothes (for goodness sake!) ...keep reading

How it all began

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Friday 6th May 2011

I’m so excited. Five years after I bought the House with No Name, the first phase of the renovation is almost complete and we’ll be staying there this summer. Our architect and builder friends have worked miracles, keeping its character while transforming it into a place of charm. Lots of readers have asked how I came to buy it in the first place so I’ve gone back to my old ...keep reading

From Rory Balniel to Rupert Campbell-Black

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Wednesday 4th May 2011

I’ve loved Jilly Cooper’s books since I was a teenager. Emily, her very first novel, started life as a serial called Circles that she wrote for 19 magazine. She later completely rewrote it, and like every other reader I was hooked from the memorable first line – “If Nina hadn’t bugged me, I’d never have gone to Annie Richmond’s party.” And if that hadn’t happened, as you’ll no doubt remember, ...keep reading

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