Author Archives: Alison Ripley Cubitt

About Alison Ripley Cubitt

Alison Ripley Cubitt blogs about writing, film and TV with the occasional piece on food as even writers gotta eat! Author, screenwriter & novelist co-writing thrillers as Lambert Nagle (with Sean Cubitt). Loves horseriding and walking in the countryside. Sean is Professor of Film & TV at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has been published by Routlege, Macmillan, Sage & MIT Press. Read his blog at The Conversation. Alison started out in TV documentaries but somehow ended up working in entertainment on The Big Breakfast then for Walt Disney (UK). She wrote the screenplay for Waves, a short film drama and winner, Special Jury Prize Remi and Worldfest, Houston. She was the screenwriting columnist for Writing Magazine for 9 years and is the author of two lifestyle and travel titles published by Vacation Work. We are currently working on Fractured - a short story prequel to our first novel as well as Nighthawks, the second book in the Stephen Connor trilogy. Revolution Earth on Amazon:

A wrong cover and a revamp – case study of rebranding an indie novel

The story of our cover redesign – thanks Roz Morris!

Nail Your Novel

bookshop 12 april 023 smlYou know my bookseller friend Peter Snell, of Barton’s in Leatherhead? (He’s the co-host of our Surrey Hills Radio show So You Want To be A Writer.) Peter is a staunch supporter of indie authors, and he mentioned to me that he’d been talking to an indie writer I know who wanted advice on revamping her novel cover.

Oh you mean Alison Ripley Cubitt, I said. Her science fiction novel?

It’s not science fiction, said Peter. It’s a contemporary eco-thriller.

And therein lay Alison’s biggest problem.

So how did she end up with a cover that sent the wrong message? How was she persuaded to change it – because she’d made that choice for a good reason. And what did she change it to?

I thought this would make a useful case study. Publishers often rebrand covers if they keep a title in print a long time, and…

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London Author Fair at Foyles & Indie Recon

In the Author Lounge at London Book Fair I kept my mouth shut (for once) while being told that indie authors need to a)stop being so arrogant and b) indie book covers aren’t nearly as professional as properly published books.

Publishing still seems like a dinosaur profession to me. It’s so different from the tv and film world from which I hail. There, independents are admired as mavericks,risk takers, who challenge the status quo. Yet indie authors are regarded with suspicion (still) by the publishing industry.

So it was a great relief then to go to Indie Recon at Foyles on Friday and listen to the stars of the indie publishing world – CJ Lyons, Nick Stephenson, Rachel Abbott, JF Penn and Steena Holmes tell us that all that matters is your reader.

At the Author Fair (organised by author collective Triskele)

Lambert Nagle Book Signing @ Foyles

Lambert Nagle Book Signing @ Foyles

where we members of ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) got the chance to sell our books to the public, I came away from there determined to make a go of getting the print copy of Revolution Earth into bookshops and libraries.

Across the Mekong River

Across the Mekong River is the story of a refugee family from Laos, who had to flee to the refugee camps in Thailand when the Vietnam war ended. The Communist regime hunted down their own people and killed those who fought on the side of the Americans. It is only thanks to their sponsorship by an American soldier that the family are permitted to resettle in America.

The story centres on daughter Nao’s struggles to bridge two opposing cultures. Her Hmong family believe women are subservient to men, whereas all Nao wants to do is to go to college and lead an independent life. Nao so desperately wants to fit in at school she calls herself Laura and hides this from her parents.

It is not exclusively written from Nao’s point-of-view as author Elaine Russell gives a voice to Nao’s mother Yer and her father Pao. Yer’s tale is of a paradise lost. Her beautiful homeland – a land of ‘gentle streams and green forests, ‘ has been invaded by a succession of foreigners – Thai, Khmer, French then Japanese. Pao, the patriarch in the family, left his fields to take up arms against the communists in the Vietnam War.

Nao, Pao and Yer are convincing characters who speak believable dialogue. Written in a compelling and convincing style, the author gives voice to all those displaced people who find themselves adrift in a newly adopted homeland, struggling to adapt to a new language and culture. Across the Mekong River is really the story of America.

Carrot Cake for Comic Relief

Dame Edna was all set for a lovely retirement of book clubs and chardonnay in Moonee Ponds, Melbourne, when she got the call from the dame of baking himself, Paul Hollywood. If Dame Edna can steal the show for the Great British Comic Relief Bakeoff then sure as hell, I can make carrot cake.

But baking does require the decorative skills of a good plasterer – or of a woman who loves the colour wisteria so much she matches her hair with her icing. And sadly these are skills I have never mastered. In fact presentation just doesn’t come easily at all to someone who hated art class so much that I used to cry until the ordeal was over.

But then there is the science and precision bit in baking, which I can do when pushed. But it’s the requirement for exact measurements that puzzles me most when reading American cookbooks, as measurements are given by volume, not weight. Even Dame Martha Stewart does this, and she’s such a perfectionist she probably stencils the insides of her rubbish bin. Yet how much exactly is a cup of grated carrot? Surely that depends on how tightly you pack the cup?

This recipe, adapted from Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins The Silver Palate Cookbook2015-02-17 11.13.37-1, is given in volume and weight measurements.


360g/3 cups unbleached flour
360g/3 cups granulated sugar
375 ml 1 ½ cups rice bran oil or a similar flavourless vegetable oil
1tsp salt
1tbs baking soda
1tbs ground cinnamon
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1tbs vanilla extract
180gm/ 1 ½ cups walnut pieces
180gm/ 1 ½ cups shredded coconut
180 gm/ 1 ½ cups grated carrot
100gm/ ¾ cup unsweetened and drained tinned pineapple


1. Preheat the oven to 165C/350F (fan assisted). Grease two 8-inch springform pans.
2. Sift dry ingredients into food mixer bowl. Add oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple with large metal spoon.
3. Divide mixture evenly and pour into the prepared pans. Bake for 50 minutes, until the cake has pulled away from sides and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
4. Cool on a cake rack for at least two hours. Fill cake and frost the sides with cream-cheese frosting. Then decorate the hell out of it, if you’re the arty type.

8 oz cream cheese
6 tbs butter at room temperature
360g/3 cups icing/confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
juice of ½ a lemon
1. In the food mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
2. Slowly sift in icing sugar and continue to beat until mixture is smooth and without lumps.
3. Add the lemon juice and vanilla.

So what could possibly go wrong? Plenty – as I found out when I went to put the frosting on. The cake kept sliding off as the layers were different sizes. So I slapped on more of the frosting to hold the two layers together. Then I bunged the cake in the fridge to try to see if that would help cement it together. It worked – until I had to get the cake out and cut it. As it had serious subsidence, I fobbed it off on the family, who were far too polite to say anything about it’s leaning tower of Pisa tendencies.

After my own baking comedy of errors, I’m grateful to all those willing contestants, prepared to make complete tits of themselves on national television.

The final of the Great Comic Relief Bakeoff is on Wednesday 4th March and if you’re in the UK why not sling them some money, as Comic Relief is a great cause. Text £5 to– BAKE (70005).

LOCATION, LOCUTION: Kiwi-Brit author team produce first in eco-thriller series spanning continents where they’ve lived

Thanks to JJ Marsh for featuring us in The Displaced Nation where we discuss creating a sense of place.

The Displaced Nation

JJ LN Collage Columnist JJ Marsh (left) talks to Lambert Nagle, Kiwi/Brit co-writers of international thrillers.

Today we welcome JJ Marsh back to the Displaced Nation for this month’s “Location, Locution.” If you are new to the site, JJ, who is a crime series writer (see her bio below), talks to fellow fiction writers about their methods for portraying place in their works. We’re excited that her guest today is the better half of a husband-wife team who have composed an eco-thriller that takes place all over the world, including places where they’ve been expats.

—ML Awanohara

Lambert Nagle is the pen name of co-authors Alison Ripley Cubitt and Sean Cubitt. They write thrillers set in sunny climes.

Sean’s day job is Professor of Film and Television, Goldsmiths, University of London. He has been published by leading academic publishers.

Alison worked in TV and film production for companies including the…

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