Why I Am Not Sally Rooney

May feels like a quiet time for books, although my reading continues at the same throughout the year. According to a GQ survey, men only account for a fifth of literary fiction readers. In 2000 men wrote 61% of the top-selling hardbacks. Now it’s lower than 43%. Changing demographics, cultural diversity and female readers’ preferences […]

Today’s Conversation Pieces

Morocco Is Timeless Yet Fast Evolving Travel has become more complicated since Brexit. Now that the UK is designated as a ‘third country’ we have different entry requirements and are checked separately. For many travel is no longer the get-up-and-go experience of the past but an elaborate and expensive maze of paperwork. Officials in other […]

Morocco Bound

‘Fez is for culture, Casablanca is for trade, Marrakech is for tourism,’ said the driver. Marrakech is a city of two halves; the post-colonial remnants of its former French incarnation and a far older Berber Medina of clay walls, narrow souks, feral cats, bread-carts, overladen motorbikes and those old men who sit in hatches surrounded […]

Call Me Scheherazade

Good morning. There’s an old Stanley Holloway music hall song called ‘My word, you do look ill’, in which Holloway is stopped by various acquaintances who tell him he looks terrible, until one says he never looked better in his life. It’s amazing how easily we can be affected by outside news and the opinions […]

The Never-Ending Story

Imagine writing a book on a subject that fascinates you – a famous sports ground, vintage cars, town planning, movie stars. You research it for years, write it, rewrite and edit and proof it, and after you’ve finished and the book has just gone to press you discover that a new piece of information – […]

The Tube Gets An Upgrade

  ‘Take Every Englishman And Twist Him By The Neck’ I spend far too much of my time in London’s tube system. From the age of two I’d been taken on tube trains at regular intervals (although my mother had preferred the old trams) and by my eighth year I was on them by myself. […]

One Hundred Years Of Evil

  ‘The absence of love is the most abject pain…’ Last night I attended a centenary screening of a masterpiece of German expressionist cinema, Murnau’s ‘Nosferatu’, with live orchestral accompaniment. There’s nothing new in this; many scores have been written for the film, one of the best being by James Bernard, Hammer’s greatest composer. It’s […]

‘Bryant & May’s Peculiar London’ Is Officially Volume 21

If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know that ‘Bryant & May’s Peculiar London’ is not a traditional murder mystery like the other volumes in the series but an investigation of an altogether different kind. The suspect is London itself, with the detectives, along with Janice, Meera, Colin, Dan, Sid, Maggie and various other characters […]

US Editions VS UK Editions

One Bryant & May book didn’t get published in the US. If you’re a career writer and manage to sell a few books over the years, you’ll be shocked at the space they take up. I live in a flat, so room is at a premium and international editions can’t be kept. I tried separating […]

Pages & Pictures: What I’ve Been Reading & Watching This Week

Slow Horses – Mick Herron A confession; I struggled with the first of Herron’s Slough House books, thrown by its jocular tone, and decided to wait for the televised version instead. I’m glad I did, because the series seems different to what I read. Herron’s natural joviality and quirkily dark sense of humour shone from […]