It was 1989. I was about to take the Bar Final exam. He was a barrister and we drove through Birmingham with Supertramp’s Breakfast in America blaring out of the car radio that we’d hidden under the seat while we were in the restaurant in case it got nicked. The journey lasted the length of most of the remaining tracks on the album. They filled our souls with happiness and, hearts filled with love, in 1990 we were married.

We were lucky. In the words of poet Andrew Marvell, we had both ‘world enough and time’. The barrister later took silk, became a Circuit judge, Recorder of Birmingham, then a High Court judge. I was a criminal barrister and might have continued after having children but that option was even more difficult than it is today. I became a full-time mother, then deployed my barrister’s toolkit to writing and performing for theatre. Now I’m a novelist.

Musically, we brought separate baggage. His was Joni Mitchell and Bach’s cello concertos. Mine, The Pet Shop Boys and choral music. The two choral pieces I’ll take to my desert island will be those I memorised as a member of the City of Birmingham Choir: Handel’s Messiah and Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. Come unto Him, the soprano aria from Messiah, transports me to the terrifying, characterless room in which I sang it as my audition piece for the choir. Whenever I hear it, I recall my own breathless rendition with grotesque embarrassment. I first heard Gerontius from a record player in a terraced house near the Birmingham Oratory where the original score is held. It was written in Malvern, close to my school and the hills which lowered over it.

Every year the Welsh National Opera came to the Birmingham Hippodrome. I’d told the barrister I later married that I hated opera. He bought tickets anyway. Gradually I became a convert and, although I haven’t achieved sophisticated tastes, I am moved to sigh in peaceful contentment at the beauty of Soave Sia Il Vento from Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutti. For years I had no idea what the words meant, so I learned Italian and realised that Mozart had some pretty tart things to say about women, to sublime accompaniment.

There is a relatively obscure song called Kiss Me by Sixpence None The Richer. In 2008 I took my first one-woman play to the Edinburgh Fringe. My space in Surgeon’s Hall, Teviot Place sat 46 people if you brought in extra chairs. Kiss Me was the play-in music, inseparably linked to my memory of standing in the wings, fuelled by adrenalin, listening to the audience assembling, gauging their mood and hearing the front of house staff bring in extra seats every day for what became a sell-out show. It set me up to become a full-time writer and performer for theatre.

Back to poetry. Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb, the poem she wrote for Biden’s inauguration, is inspirational – all the more so for having been written by someone so young. Surely it is incumbent on society not to shatter the dream of the girl who in 2021 writes: ‘For there is always light / If only we’re brave enough to see it / If only we’re brave enough to be it.’ Her poem references Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, an amazing piece of musical theatre in which everything comes together in brilliance.

Theatre is my passion: London Road – a piece so challenging that cast members were reduced to tears in rehearsal; Othello starring Rory Kinnear and Adrian Lester; any production my son Ralph, a professional actor, has been in; Lear at the Globe; Tamburlaine and Timon at the RST; and Lehman Brothers – remarkable.

In 2020 I took up running during breaks from writing my novel, which is partly set on Regent’s Canal and features the death of a homeless man. When I completed the novel I ran the length of the canal as a fundraiser for St Mungo’s homeless charity. Runners often listen to music. I listen to novels. I’d always been a bit of a snob about audiobooks, but now I have absorbed more literature through this medium than I could have achieved through reading. My desert island storytellers are Lionel Shriver for her wit and intelligence, Edith Wharton for her descriptive skill. There are many more titles to list: American Dirt, Where The Crawdads Sing, City of Girls, Water for Elephants. I have lost myself in all of these worlds and emerged, always enriched.

What can’t I live without? Toffees. 

What Lies Beneath the Surface by Ginny Davis
Patrick Kingdom QC has it all; large house, happy family and a beautiful lover. A misdirected email changes everything. After a tramp’s body is pulled from the Regent’s Canal Patrick, his lover and his friend, a High Court judge are caught up in the investigation. All three have reason to lie. As Patrick’s world threatens to collapse, they are forced to weigh the personal impacts of truth-telling. Is it paramount? Or are some secrets better kept hidden? Now available on Amazon and Kindle. For more information see: