London Fables 2

Some more gems from Brewer’s London Phrase & Fable… When it goes off and people start ‘avin’ a pop at each other, this is known as ‘the devil among the tailors’. The devil was a spinning top knocking down pins called tailors. It came to mean a fracas because in 1830 a benefit performance of […]

The Kipper: A Brief History

Kipper: A whole herring, a small, smelly, oily fish that has been split from tail to head along the dorsal ridge, gutted, salted or pickled, and smoked over oak woodchips to produce a slimy, emetic meat some people insist on eating for breakfast. Not to be confused with; UKipper: A far-right racist also known for its unpleasant […]

London Fables 1

  One of the most useful compendiums for the London writer is ‘Brewer’s Dictionary of London Phrase & Fable’. Compiled by Russ Willey, it’s not as well known as the other volumes but is well worth diving into, because it’s extremely quirky. Here are my comments on a few entries. ‘I’ll give you my mother […]

New Cover Revealed

‘England’s Finest’ is out in October, and I know this is still a rough and I probably shouldn’t be showing it yet but I’m so excited and love it so much. Once again showing the flagrant disregard for geographical accuracy that has been with us from ‘Strange Tide’ onwards, ‘England’s Finest’ offers a wonky view […]

You Couldn’t Make It Up. But I Might Try.

I’m thinking of writing a new detective series very different from the present one. Let me explain why. Never live in a country that wants to be a world power. The power-hungry nation will focus its attention on everything except its residents. It will involve itself in the wars of those it wants something from, […]

London: What Was Not Lost

  When it comes to talking about old London – the London of pre-war, pre-bombing, pre-developer destruction, we tend to lament what was lost because an astonishing number of buildings were condemned as unsafe and levelled, to the convenience of town planners who couldn’t wait to whack up their Corbusier-influenced concrete social experiments. Nobody knew […]

‘Midsommar’ And The Rise Of Folk Horror

It must be frustrating for Adam Scovell. Having written a fascinating and insightful volume called ‘Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange’, along has come the mother of all films folk-horrorish. Folk horror has always existed in some form or another, from spots where runic symbols are carved to rural areas of supposed mystical significance. […]

Bryant & May: World-Building For Beginners Part 2

As we saw yesterday, world-building comes in all shapes and sizes, from the epic to the miniaturised. Which brings me to the Bryant & May novels. There was a little controversy in this site’s comments about proofing which has a direct connection to world-building. I base everything on known historical facts – often there are direct […]

Bryant & May: World-Building For Beginners Part 1

  Which books have created a world for you? It’s not just for fantasy writers. The creator of every story has to make his or her world convincing. The most extreme examples are practiced by authors like John Crowley, Ursula LeGuin  and Paul McAuley, but we all have to do it to different degrees. The […]

Nursery Rhymes: Not For Children?

You’ll guess I’m researching again when you read this. Most nursery rhymes have a reason for their existence. They didn’t simply appear. Some are based on the sing-song two-note repetitive motion of rocking a baby, like ‘Cry Baby Bunting’. There are rarely words used with more than two syllables, and some are based on peels […]