‘Don’t You Write Horror Stories?’


I was once at a literary gathering – this was very early on in my career – and rather nervous about being in the company of so many university Eng. Lit. graduates. Back then it was a much rarer privilege to go to university. This particular group of three with whom I was standing talked […]

Where Can You Find Forgotten Authors?


The same question keeps coming up when I do Q&As; Where can I find more forgotten authors? Luckily, books seem to be going through a boom time in the UK, with many new bookshops opening.Electronic reading has found its rightful place, as a useful travelling companion, and has increased the sales of physical books. There […]

The Slow Death Of A Library


It should have had a poster in its window:┬áKids! Read Books Here Without Paying For Them! Instead were just warnings and notices of shorter opening times. A disfiguring red plastic sign had been affixed above the door, information without grace. Libraries always held a sacred place in my heart. They are utilities as necessary as […]

Are Critics Getting Less Critical?


Halfway through director Sally Potter’s critically-feted ‘The Party’, the feeling came over me that I was watching a terrible film. Six guests gather for a dinner party to celebrate Kristen Scott-Thomas becoming the Shadow Health Minister, but secrets tumble out within seconds of their arrival. The guests are archetypes; Cillian Murphy tips up with a […]

The Saturday Song


It used to be the Friday Song, but this is an easy way for me to cover part of the weekend because I’m proofing at the moment and it’s very time consuming. And I do like a good ear-worm while I’m working. This week I’m still playing Mexican music at home, and was enchanted by […]

Read The Book Or Wait For The Film?


I recently saw ‘The Limehouse Golem’, the film based on Peter Ackroyd’s ‘Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem’. I’d loved the book – Ackroyd in a more whimsical vein, playing with history, but was unprepared for the sheer awfulness of the adaptation. Despite its sumptuous trappings you can instantly spot the fault; it lay with […]

Finding A Balance


Some of my, ahem, more mature readers might recall that I began writing in places of extreme darkness. I’ve never worked out which of my short stories is the bleakest because a good dozen would tie for first place. Over the coming weeks I may try to reproduce a couple of them here in a […]

&!*$! Words

Up Yer Bum

A librarian once took me to one side and said,’ One of the reasons we like you is because you never make the characters use swearwords.’ It was a conscious decision on my part; most swearing is unimaginative (except when spectacularly released by my pal Simon ‘Pottymouth’ Rennie) and too easy. I’ve always taken a […]



I received an online comment from someone who admired my ‘eclectic mind’, to which I replied that I was simply a scatterbrain. The brain is a selective organ. Some receive data but don’t sense atmospheres, others over-empathise without understanding facts. It seems that when we are young we’re generally emotional and impulsive, and as we […]

From The Slush Pile II


A few more gems from the stack of unsolicited manuscripts that reach publishers, giving an insight into how the minds of some would-be writers work… ‘You didn’t have to be an in-law to hate her guts,’ said Chester, ‘no pun intended.’ His pen poised, John hesitated over the white breast of the page. Immediately after […]