The 2020 Emmy Awards sees Killing Eve in the running for eight Emmys including both lead actors (Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh) nominated for best Lead Actress in a drama series. Jodie Comer won it in 2019. Good luck to Villanelle and Eve!
To celebrate, Behind Blue, my Killing Eve-meets-Game of Thrones AI hybrid reverse harem series is reduced to 99 cents (99p in the UK) on Kindle during the Emmy Awards weekend. Check it out if you like complex women characters or convincing psychopaths.
Remembering the tens of thousands of victims of genocide in Bosnia; and standing in solidarity with the Mars Mira walkers who each year commemorate the attempted escape of thousands of civilians from the massacres.
Genocide in Europe — only 1,200 miles from London — took place in the 1990s when heavily-armed Serbian militia, led by convicted-war-criminal Ratko Mladić, massacred 9,000 unarmed Muslim children and men at Srebrenica, Bosnia, on 11th July 1995.
Last year, the Dutch Supreme Court upheld a ruling that the Netherlands was partially responsible for the Srebrenica genocide because a company of Dutch troops ejected 500 of the victims from a UN Forces compound – into the hands of Serbian militia intent on murdering them.
Srebrenica was an official UN safe haven for tens of thousands of unarmed civilians trying to escape from waves of ethnic cleaning being carried out by Serb militia and paramilitaries. Despite this, the UN failed to protect the boys and men who were selected by right wing General Ratko Mladić and his officers for mass executions. In scenes more reminiscent of 1945 Nazi death camps than 1995 Europe, the boys and men were taken to isolated forests and warehouses where they were systematically murdered over a four day period. Many thousands of girl and women civilians were subjected to rape and sexual assault by the Serb militias. And there are hundreds of verified recorded cases of babies being murdered, and even of foetuses being cut out from pregnant women.
VE Day 75 years on was a welcome relief from SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus. But, lest we also forget the others… the Channel Islands which were not liberated from their five years of Nazi occupation until today — the 9th May — and the brave American, British, and Commonwealth forces who fought on for another three months of World War II in Asia and the Pacific.
My publisher’s son showed me this hilarious meme above. Just as well scissors beats paper.
Incidentally, for any history scholars, the game Scissors, Paper, Stone, was brought to Europe from China by sailors in the 19th century. In its ancient more complicated form in China, it has five elements rather than the three we know. They correspond to the five Taoist elements of Wood (paper), Fire, Earth (stone), Metal (scissors), and Water.
Just a few months into the pandemic, combined U.S. and U.K. deaths pass 100,000 with children now in the front line with new illnesses caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus striking them down. The 100,000 number will be an underestimate – as testing for the virus is still sketchy, and many death certificates do not mention the virus as cause of death. For example: during today, the U.K.’s figures were increased by 4,000 when the National Statistics Office added figures from deaths earlier in April which occured outside hospitals. With coronavirus pandemic deaths now sure to pass a million in the three expected phases of the epidemic worldwide, it’s probably time to make the truth more visible.
What is the truth about SARS 2? Well, here are some of the myths which are not true, and which have hampered the world’s response to the virus: it is like flu; I don’t know anyone who has had it; it doesn’t affect children; it only kills old people who would have died anyway; we won’t get it.
One myth which has been busted today by the WHO is that it came to Europe in January. French biologists have run tests on pneumonia patients’ samples from December, which have tested positive, showing that SARS-CoV-2 was in Europe in December. One pneumonia patient had not travelled abroad since July 2019. “This gives a whole new picture on everything,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a UN briefing in Geneva.
The truth is out there but it’s difficult to find. Chinese, European and U.S. governments underplayed the danger of the virus for at least two months, losing all hope of saving deaths by early quarantine measures, and testing, and allowing air travel by human carriers of the virus to continue even to the present day. Hilariously, the U.K. hasn’t even started checking people arriving into its country by air to see if they have obvious symptoms like fever (as of 5th May). Even the scientific name of the virus has been hidden from the public in an attempt to “manage them.” It is called SARS-CoV-2 (Nature, WHO), and its DNA is 80% identical to SARS 1 (The trinity of COVID-19: immunity, inflammation and intervention in Nature Reviews Immunology 28 April). So let’s just call a spade a spade: It’s SARS 2 plain and simple.
The same scientific paper reveals that a gene on the human X sex chromosome – called ACE2 is probably accounting for the difference in fatality rate with females being only 60% as much at risk as males.
In the attack on our cells, the “spikes” on the SARS-CoV-2 virus bind to ACE2 as its host cell target receptor, which starts the infection process. “As ACE2 is located on the X chromosome, there may be alleles that confer resistance, explaining the lower fatality rate in females,” write the authors.
Love this dress very much XX ! I Hope You Like Missionary Position brings us to the conclusion of Killing Eve Series 2—Spoiler Alert!—although Villanelle gets her own back on Eve, Eve isn’t dead! She’s working in a Chinese restaurant in London! There’s been some criticism of Seasons 2 and 3 but the shows are good at stretching our limits, and taking us a little out of our comfort zones. If you want more of these complex women characters and, particularly, congruent assassins, spies, and woman-on-woman relationships—check out the six women and the lesbian ménage à quatre love triangle in my bestselling HAIL THE QUEEN series of novels. GIRL WHO FELL 1: Behind Blue by Raechel Sands. Use the usual links above…
Jodie Comer has a cool new look as van delivery driver in Girona, Catalonia, Spain, in Killing Eve 3 episode 1. Here (below) is my favourite Villanelle look from the last season. Love this dress very much XX as you all know by now. For an even more complex psychopath and assassin—check out La Bombe—in my Girl Who Fell novels LINK ABOVE…
I Hope You Like Missionary Position brought us to the conclusion of Killing Eve 2—and the shooting of Eve! But, spoiler alert… she’s not dead… she’s just working in a pre-Coronavirus Chinese restaurant! Long live Eve or, as Suzi Feay says in the Financial Times this week: “Don’t get too attached to anyone; gruesome exits come as standard, except for Eve, who may very well turn out to be immortal.”
In my Girl Who Fell books (LINK BELOW) the hero Blanka is addicted to chocolate! And, in fact, for over three thousand years chocolate has been the most desired food in the whole world! Read the “Brief History of Chocolate” here…
The earliest known use of chocolate was by the Olmec civilization of Mesoamerica around 2000 BC. The Olmecs would ceremonially drink it hot from tecomates, a special round jar, but it was a bitter brew! The Mayans used tall cylindrical cups for drinking chocolate and these had elaborate text on the rim. Much later, from around 1400 AD, it was the Aztecs of Mexico who first consumed chocolate in cold form, and they had richly decorated tall beakers specifically reserved for enjoying the prized drink, and impressing others in their society that they had the status to consume it.
It was in the Aztec Empire, etymologists believe, that their names for the cacao bean — “cacahuatl” and “xocoatl” — formed the basis for the word “chocolate” which is now a favourite luxury food consumed in every country in the world. Xocoatl was drunk by the Aztec upper classes, and consumed after meals. Citizens of poorer classes enjoyed it mixed with maize gruel at important events such as weddings, but many scholars maintain that the pure xocoatl drink was an exclusive status symbol of the nobility. However, it was also given to favoured sacrificial victims as a final treat before they departed this world.
The Aztecs associated xocoatl with the god Quetzacoatl, whom they believed had been condemned by the other gods for sharing chocolate with humans. But they were not able to grow the cacao bean themselves, and imported it from more southerly nations which they conquered. The Aztecs created a tax, a “tribute,” which the subject peoples were required to pay — in cacao beans. The cacao bean thus became a form of currency.
When the Spanish conquistadors and Catholic missionaries arrived from Europe, they made records of the value of the cacao bean, noting for instance that 100 cacao beans could purchase a canoe filled with freshwater, or a turkey hen. Spain began importing chocolate from South America in 1585. No one quite knows the complete story of how chocolate got to Spain, but it quickly became a much-loved indulgence of the Spanish court.
But European palates weren’t satisfied with the traditional bitter Aztec xocoatl-chocolate drink recipe, and they soon started seeking a sweeter version, making their own varieties of hot chocolate with cane sugar, cinnamon and other common spices and flavorings.
In 1828, Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten discovered a way to treat cacao beans with alkaline salts to make a powdered chocolate that was easier to mix with water. The process became known as “Dutch processing” and the chocolate produced was called “cacao powder” or “Dutch cocoa.” This was the beginning of chocolate no longer being a luxury just for the rich.
In 1847, British chocolatier J.S. Fry and Sons created the first chocolate bar — molded from a paste made of sugar, chocolate liquor and cocoa butter.
Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter is generally credited for adding dried milk powder to chocolate to create milk chocolate in 1876. Chocolate had come a long way during the 19th century, but it was still hard and difficult to chew!
The final chapter of the story makes my hero Blanka quiver with excitement! In 1879, a man — who Blanka regards as nothing short of an awesome god — another Swiss chocolatier — Rudolf Lindt, invented the conch machine which mixed and aerated chocolate giving it the smooth, melt-in-your-mouth consistency that blended well with the other ingredients, and which we all know and love today! “Bim, bam, boom!” Blanka says. “Maybe Villanelle loves chocolate as much as me. Let’s hope we find out in Killing Eve Season 3!”
That was a brief history of chocolate. Read the Girl Who Fell books… Hail the Queen…
My heart goes out to everyone ill or frightened by the growing pandemic. As the death toll passes 5,500, with Italy heading for 20,000 identified cases, here are two pieces of good news about the virus. Yes, you read right! Good news! With regard to the possible, partial “home cure,” please remember I am not endorsing any product, I am simply passing on information—some of it buried away but available on the UK’s NHS website! I am not suggesting an alternative to medical treatment or hospital treatment for the virus; the information is about boosting your immune system. I am, however, the Helen of Troy magic realism writer of a gripping thriller/lesbian fiction/SF series featuring a terrible virus killer (first released in paperback in 2017, and a bestseller in 2018 and 2019)! Until the Audiobooks are out in May, the Kindles are available at the ridiculous price of 0.99—so click the UK or USA link below and distract yourself for a pound or a dollar 20. The good news science is below the book links.
First, scientists from Sunnybrook Research Institute, McMaster University, and the University of Toronto, in Canada, have isolated the current strains of coronavirus, and cultivated it in a secure containment facility. The virus strains are known collectively by scientists as Sars-CoV-2—quite clearly a close relative of the original SARS. Covid-19 is the name given to the clinical illness these viruses cause, which will probably have claimed 6,000 victims by the time you read this. Of course there may actually be many more… people die in the normal run of life and doctors are somewhat notorious for putting down the wrong cause of death, heart failure etc instead of the underlying cause. As a sufferer for several years from another terrible illness, the more mild Lyme Disease, I can confirm that doctors and scientists don’t know everything!
The second good news is about a possible, a maybe, partial protection from coronavirus using an herb from a flower to help your immune system be at 100% to fight the virus. Bear in mind that with any virus—antibiotics do not help (as they only fight bacteria, which are cells, and about ten times larger, and can be seen under optical microscopes). So viruses are harder to fight. Think Smallpox, think Polio, think Ebola, think HIV! So maybe we could do with a little help from outside the global medical/pharmaceutical industry. Some would say mainstream scientists and doctors have had 102 years to prepare for another virus plague like the 1918 Spanish Flu (another virus), and have done very little to prepare, even after the first SARS (this is SARS 2 the WHO say). You be the judge of that…
The evidence is based on this flower’s proven efficacy in augmenting the ability of the human immune system to fight the common cold. But, here’s the thing. The common cold is a type of coronavirus, just as SARS and this Wuhan novel Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus are (see the WHO definitions at the end.) So on the basis of, ‘What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,’ what works for one coronavirus may, might, possibly could work for another. Stocks are certainly running out. So if it appeals to you, hurry! Again, I am a thriller writer not a doctor or scientist. I’m not selling or endorsing any product—except my Girl Who Fell 1: Behind Blue novels and its sequels, which I guarantee will distract you from this gloom!!! The science links are all at the end. A study of 900 patients. The UK’s NHS website. The WHO on corona viruses. Now for the flower….
A panacea /pænəˈsiːə/, named after the Greek goddess of universal remedy Panacea, is any supposed remedy that is claimed (for example) to cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely. It was in the past sought in connection with the philosopher’s stone, a mythical substance. The humble flower, Echinacea, is certainly no panacea. Regarded in folklore as a “cure” for colds and flu, you can even grow it in your garden (back yard in North America)! But, surprisingly to the general refuseniks and media, in 2012 the herbal remedy made from it showed in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 900 people a reduction in the severity of cold symptoms of 26%.
26% I hear you say. So what? Yeah, well, what if it did that with the symptoms of a virus more dangerous than the common cold? Check out the science papers below, and maybe take a high dose of Echinacea. In the trial they took around double the dose usually recommended by the sellers. I’m eating fruit, and taking vitamin C with zinc too. And, whatever you do, check out my first novel Girl Who Fell 1: Behind Blue. It’s only available on Amazon (probably like Echinacea now). At a time of such financial uncertainty, possibly a sound investment for your sanity: at 0.99
My heart goes out to everyone ill or frightened by the virus pandemic. As the death toll nudges 4,000, here is an awesome, fun, Harry Potter-like story! Now, you’ve all heard of magenta a.k.a. Fuchsia—the color that the Villanelle dress above is dyed. But I bet you didn’t know that the color was only created 150 years ago, and is named after a town in northern Italy!
In my Girl Who Fell magical realism thrillers, Magenta is the name of the Graham Norton-like sidekick to the villain. (Click above to get the Kindles @ 0.99, or wait a little for the Audiobooks.) But did you know that magenta really doesn’t exist? It’s literally “all in the mind!” It has no frequency or wavelength of light… But, we’re all familiar with the magenta‘M’ of CMYC colors and printing. It’s defined as a purplish-red, located between red and blue on the color wheel. So, how come it’s not a color? Well, the magic that led to magenta‘s creation is just amazing…
In the mid-19th century, there was a great rush to invent things, and the industrial chemical revolution actually began with the serendipitous invention of the dye for mauve—by a real life Harry Potter.
This apprentice magician… okay, apprentice chemist… called William Perkin, a teenager in London, was trying to synthesize the medicine quinine for the treatment of another terrible disease—malaria.
One night in 1856, William was performing experiments in his crude laboratory in the attic of his home in Cable Street, east London. Suddenly, he noticed a thick purple compound bubbling from the apparatus! It was so bright a purple he thought it was magic! And it was! William had created the first synthetic fixed dye in history.
It was stable, and didn’t fade in sunlight, so Young William knew he was on to a winner. Producing more of the chemical in his parents’ garden shed with two friends, William went on to patent the first aniline dye in the world, as ‘Mauvine,’ when he turned 18.
Public demand for the dye was increased when Queen Victoria in Britain, and Empress Eugénie (wife of Napoleon III) in France, wore these purple colors; and when the crinoline or hooped-skirt, whose manufacture used a large quantity of cloth, became fashionable. William made his fortune, and is remembered as one of the great pioneers of chemistry.
With Mauvine’s huge popularity, the search was on all over the world to develop more new colors. In France, in 1858, François-Emmanuel Verguin was not far behind. Being French, he was inspired by a flower—the Fuchsia—and managed to create a matching synthetic dye, and new color, that was to become a major part of the color wheel and of our language!
First named ‘Fuchine’ by François in 1859, after the flower, the dye and color was renamed—Magenta: after the Italian-French victory at the battle of Magenta in Lombardy, Italy!
So magenta had its name and, the rest, as they say, is history! It went on to become one of the most famous and used colors in the world. However, magenta is an extra special and extra-spectral color— it is not a hue associated with any visible light.
Magenta has no wavelengths of its own. It is evoked by light having less power in green wavelengths than in blue and red. In terms of brain physiology, the color magenta and all of its shades from purple to red, is simulated in our brains! When the eye reports the lack of green, but the presence of red and blue, the brain magically creates the hues and shades of magenta to exist in our minds. Now that’s what I call magical realism!