Related to: 'Is It Just Me?'

Miranda Hart

Miranda Hart made her mark appearing in shows including Smack the Pony, Absolutely Fabulous and Not Going Out. But when her sitcom Miranda burst on to our screens in 2009, her popularity rocketed. Miranda has since been crowned the Queen of Comedy at the British Comedy Awards and the hit series Miranda has won two further comedy awards, two RTS Awards, and been nominated for four BAFTAs. Miranda is currently filming a drama for BBC based on the bestselling memoir Call the Midwife. The third series of Miranda will air in autumn 2012. Follow Miranda on Twitter www.twitter.com/mermhart or vist her website www.mirandahart.com

Chapter One: Mary

SNAKE ROPES, by Jess Richards

Read the first chapter of Jess Richards' SNAKE ROPES.

Hodder & Stoughton

The Best of Miranda

Miranda Hart

For the first time, Miranda Hart invites you to share in the world of her award-winning sitcom Miranda.At last, you can chortle at, revel in, and - if you wish - re-enact Miranda's favourite moments at your leisure.Specially designed for all those hard-to-reach places that it's hard for your screen to, um, reach, The Best of Miranda brings you the gossip from behind the scenes, the never-before-seen snaps, the secrets of her inspiration, the bits that didn't make it, and - such fun! - scripts of the ones that did.*More than just a Miranthology, it's a treat for all the family - or (if you're really good at voices) to keep all to yourself. We thank you.*step-by-step guide to how to make your own vegetapals comes as standard.

Hodder & Stoughton

Roasted

Andy Riley
@mermhart

Follow Miranda on Twitter

Follow Miranda on Twitter for the latest news from Britain's favourite comedienne.

Things you overhear as a thriller writer. . .

Overheard conversations

IF YOU are interested in the ins and outs of human behaviour, few things are more fascinating than the conversations of people sitting next to you in a cafe. It is part crossword puzzle - the deciphering of this particular relationship - and part psychoanalysis. Why did she say that? What is he really getting at? The way we can say one thing and mean another: this truism is so much more obvious when you are not actually engaged in the conversation yourself. Or to me it is. Weirdly, as we are leaving, I often discover my partner doesn’t share my opinion about the marriage of the couple at the next table. Sometimes he hasn’t even noticed there [start itals]was[end itals] a couple at the next table. I have spent a lot more time than usual in cafes over the last few weeks. I have a novel to finish, a thriller, and we have the builders in. The house is noisy and a man is liable to appear at a window at any moment. Normally I wouldn’t mind a man appearing at the window, but it can be disarming when you are in the middle of a creepy passage. My new book is about an abusive relationship, the possibility of pseudosuicide (pretending you are dead when you are not), the dark side of human nature, but I have been writing it in cosy nooks in south London, helped on my way by a nice cup of coffee and the smell of baking. And the thing is - and I know it might be because, as I am supposed to be working, I am, unusually, trying [start itals]not[end itals] to listen - but I have noticed this odd thing. The conversations around me have started to take a rather sinister turn.  The other day, I was in Lavish Habit in Balham where they sell jewellery and bits of vintage furniture (as well as delicious coconut toast). A young couple eating lunch were idly discussing their future (“I think I could live in Bath”; “Yeah. I could live in Bath. But not ‘til I’m much older, like 30”) when the woman, a petite brunette in clumpy wedge shoes, mentioned she had just declined a party invitation. The man put down his knife and fork and adjusted the neck of his close-fitting polo-shirt. “Did you even mention me?”  “Why? You’ve got to come up with your own excuse.” “We’re a couple aren’t we? We either go together or not at all. Not to is ... it’s not... coupling.” “I’d still go if you were busy.” “Would you?” “Yes.” “You wouldn’t.”
“I would.”
“You wouldn’t.” I felt uncomfortable. Was I just imagining the threat implicit in the repetition of “wouldn’t”? He was just staring at her. She just carried on eating her quiche and salad, but in my own head I fast-forwarded to their life in Bath, aged 30, her isolated from her friends, her family, his increasing demands... Later, three women with babies bustled through the door - a lot of pram negotiation, and chair-scraping. They sat right close to my desk (I mean table), which seemed slightly aggressive in itself, though I was probably being paranoid. I think they had just had been into the nail bar next door, because one of them had the leaflet, and they were looking at it while they talked. Their main topic was another woman they all knew.  “Hannah was quiet for Hannah.” “She’s usually... such a character.” (Small laugh.) “Her heart’s in the right place.” “How is her mother?” “Not long left.” “N’ah. Shame. Particularly as she’s lost just her father as well.” “God, pedicures are expensive.” How extraordinary, I thought, that they could be so callous, move so effortlessly from the death of a friend’s two parents to the price of a gel nail. And not just that. On the surface, they had appeared to be complimentary about poor Hannah - ‘“such a character”,  “her heart’s in the right place” - and yet both comments were actually barbed and not really very kind at all. And if I was Hannah, deranged by grief, and I knew that these smug women with their leisurely lives and their pedicure leaflets were talking about me in that way, well, I wouldn’t like to predict the consequences. I left that cafe, and I went somewhere else the next day - Deli Boutique in Clapham, a new French-run establishment that serves crepes to school children after 3.30pm. It was quiet enough in the morning, though a woman next to me did keep talking about how “disgusting”  it was that her daughter’s teacher didn’t return her emails. (The teeth-clenched force behind that most visceral of adjectives suggested a more generalised anger that could do with specialist help). Lunchtime, though, I became aware of latent violence in many of the throwaway remarks wafting over the aroma of  hot cheese and ham croissant. “I’m going to have to say something. I can’t live like this.” And “It’s the groaning I can’t bear.” And: “If this job doesn’t come up trumps I’m going to slit my wrists.”  Two men in jeans were standing at the counter, waiting for a takeaway chicken pie.  “Who’s left of your team now Andy’s ...gone?” one of them said casually to the other. “Just me and Layla,” the second man said. The first man's mouth dropped open.  “You’re all that’s left?” Left where? I mean, probably they were just talking about work, redundancies, but I didn’t like the rigid fix of the second man’s jaw. Who was Layla? Did she mind being on her own with him? What had happened to all the others? I walked home a little after that - a nice walk across the common. A man with a beard in a heavy camouflage jacket was talking loudly just ahead of me his mobile phone. “Are you still going on about the kitchen?” he was saying. He had a forthright posh accent. “Are you still complaining? What do you want now? I trust them OK?” He listened for a bit and then started really shouting. “I cannot listen to this any more. I have a troop to organise to Afghanistan. Do you really think I care about the kitchen? Just shut up. OK. SHUT UP. If you don’t shut up I’m going to come home and blow your head off. Do you hear me? Blow your head off.” Well. I scurried across the grass pretty quickly after that. I actually think he was  following me because he left the path too, and I don’t know why he would have done that otherwise. I was out of breath when I reached the safety of the main road. A friend was waiting with her dog to cross at the lights. I told her what I had just overheard. I didn’t think he was a real soldier, I said. He was clearly mad. Dangerous. She looked at me and then she looked back over the common. The sun had come out, dappling through the leaves. A few ducks idly floated on the pond. “How’s the book?” she said.

Chapter One

UNEXPECTED LESSONS IN LOVE, by Bernardine Bishop

Read the first chapter of Bernardine Bishop's new book, UNEXPECTED LESSONS IN LOVE, published by John Murray in January 2013.

Teach Yourself

Body Language Secrets: Teach Yourself Ebook Epub

Diana Mather
Teach Yourself

Body Language Secrets: Teach Yourself

Diana Mather
Chapter One

COLD GRAVE by Kathryn Fox

Read the first chapter of Kathryn Fox's latest thriller, COLD GRAVE.

Hodder & Stoughton

The Broken Woman

Pam Ayres
Chapter One

SUNNYSIDE, by Glen David Gold

Read the first chapter of Glen David Gold's SUNNYSIDE.

I. The Bride for Whom We Dance. The Eleventh Year of the Era of Kansei. 1799.

THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET, by David Mitchell

Read the first chapter of David Mitchell's brilliant THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET.

Chapter One: Murdering Mrs Durance

THE DAUGHTERS OF MARS, by Thomas Keneally

Read the first chapter of Sceptre Booker prize-winning author Thomas Keneally's newest novel, THE DAUGHTERS OF MARS.

Hodder Paperbacks

Girl Meets Ape

Chrissie Manby
Extract

GOLD by Chris Cleave

Read an excerpt of Chris Cleave's GOLD.

Prologue + Chapter One

COLD LIGHT, by Jenn Ashworth

Read the prologue and first chapter of Jenn Ashworth's compelling COLD LIGHT.

Reading Group Guide

MISERY by Stephen King

Reading guide for use alongside Stephen King's MISERY.

John Murray

Pol Pot

Philip Short

Pol Pot was an idealistic, reclusive figure with great charisma and personal charm. He initiated a revolution whose radical egalitarianism exceeded any other in history. But in the process, Cambodia desended into madness and his name became a byword for oppression.In the three-and-a-half years of his rule, more than a million people, a fifth of Cambodia's population, were executed or died from hunger and disease. A supposedly gentle, carefree land of slumbering temples and smiling peasants became a concentration camp of the mind, a slave state in which absolute obedience was enforced on the 'killing fields'. Why did it happen? How did an idealistic dream of justice and prosperity mutate into one of humanity's worst nightmares? Philip Short, the biographer of Mao, has spent four years travelling the length of Cambodia, interviewing surviving leaders of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge movement and sifting through previously closed archives. Here, the former Khmer Rouge Head of State, Pol's brother-in-law and scores of lesser figures speak for the first time at length about their beliefs and motives.

Chapter One

THE NOBODIES ALBUM, by Carolyn Parkhurst

Read the first chapter of Carolyn Parkhurst's THE NOBODIES ALBUM.