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Why do I write?

"What good is love if it is not shared?"

(from "This Bitter Earth" by Dinah Washington)

Writing — like love — is nothing if it is not shared. Even the most private diary has an audience — an other to whom it is addressed. To write is to make words flesh, to take them out of the realm of private thoughts, fears and imaginings and to offer them to the world as an incarnate love offering. Like love, writing makes us vulnerable and exposes us in ways we would rather keep hidden. It sometimes goes wrong and brings disappointment and a sense of betrayal. To write is to reach out in trust to an unknown other with a yearning to communicate and to be understood, knowing that one might be rejected. But the ecstacy of communion is always worth the risk of rejection. 

Christabel Press—Writing for Life

"Some books are undeservedly forgotten. None are undeservedly remembered."

(W.H. Auden)

Independent publishing is a growing trend among writers weary of the competition to find agents and publishers in an over-crowded market. To go it alone without the support of an agent and a mainstream publisher is a risk and an act of self-exposure, but in the end it respects the judgement of readers over professsionals, who often put commercial considerations before the quality and significance of the manuscripts they receive. 

I published The Good Priest independently through Troubador and was delighted with the result. The response to that novel has inspired me to be a bit more daring about publishing under my own imprint. 

Christabel is the name of a female character in Samuel Taylor Colerdige's poem of the same name. The poem is an unsettling story of the encounter between good and evil, feminine virtue personified by Christabel and dark female sexuality personified by a supernatural woman called Geraldine. My name before marriage was Christina Bell, so Christabel has many resonances both as a name and as a story of female ambiguity in literary works.

Published by Troubador (2019)

"John's limbs are still stiff with cold. He dreads going out there. He has a sudden horror of finding them all dead or disappeared. The silence is so absolute. ..."

What horrors have come to haunt Father John as he hears confessions on Ash Wednesday? Who is the stranger in the confessional threatening to do "pure evil", and what does this haunting appearance have to do with the traumas of John's past?

As Lent unfolds, John finds himself caught up in events beyond his worst imaginings or fears. Surely, the serial murders of prostitutes have nothing to do with his ordinary parish and his priestly calling?

Or do they? ...

I would place this book in the top three fiction books I have read .....I speak as a theologian whose first degree involved a study of English Literature ! (John McLorinan, GoodReads​)


Coming soon - the second edition of this popular fictionalised account of The Last Supper imagined from the perspectives of the women who were there, first published by Continuum (New York and London) in 2001.

.. powerful, moving, original and well-written. ... This is a lovely book. ... It is both bold and beautiful ... theology and poetry and humanity met together.' —Sara Maitland

Tina Beattie reinterprets the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper from the perspectives of the women who were there. She draws her inspiraton from the characters and events of the Bible, but she introduces a rich imaginary theme into the story in order to explore the passions, yearnings and fears that surrounded Jesus before the crucfixion. Sisters Martha and Mary alternate as narrators, speaking of their memories and hopes, their doubts and anxieties, as the tensions mount and a terrible sense of foreboding grips the small group of friends gathered to celebrate the Passover.

Setting aside all knowledge of how the evening will end, this imaginative retelling of a familiar story invites the reader to reflect anew on what it might have been like for those who were there.

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Publication date February 2022

Between Two Rivers

A powerful story of love and war, race and empire, set between 1956 and 1977 amidst the domestic and political turbulence of then Rhodesia's gradual disintegration from the faux idyll of white colonial life to the terrors of civil war. 

Between Two Rivers is a compelling and captivating read ... The story is a fascinating weave of black and white characters for two decades to the end of the war. .... a truly commendable read. (Angus Shaw, Zimbabwean writer and war correspondent)