What’s Happening To British Food?


First Great Britain had a brilliant national cuisine utilising all of the colours and flavours of a country with four distinct seasons (and you could eat a swan). Then it was wrecked by two devastating wars and the arrival of bullying supermarkets. Americans teased us about our national food, forgetting that rationing rules shuttered restaurants […]

‘The Sand Men’ Is Out Today!


I had a lot of self-doubt while writing The Sand Men. It doesn’t conform to the traditional shape of a novel, and it has an unusual trick up its sleeve. There are two central dramas, one of which is resolved, and one of which is left open. There’s also a third puzzle in the book […]

Mad Tales Of London No.1: The Berners Street House


This is an occasional series I’m starting to inspire you (and me!) about London, and to remind us that it can be as mad as an old man’s trousers. In 1810 the chap above, Theodore Hook, had a wager with a mate, Sam Beazley – that he could make any house in London the most […]

What Can I Call Bryant & May Fans?

Perfect match

It all started with a marketing campaign for ‘Glee’ and the creation of a fanbase known as ‘Gleeks’. Soon enough Sherlock Holmes had his (somewhat dubious) ‘Cumberbitches’ and Dexter had his ‘Dexheads’. So when a friend asked me ‘What do your fans call themselves, then?’ I answered, ‘Personally I’m just grateful to have any at […]



I’ve come to the party rather late on this one, I know, probably because it was a little overlooked here in the UK, where it didn’t even get shown at Frightfest, but ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’ from director Ana Lily Amirpouris is one of the most interesting vampire films to come along […]

The Lavender Song


I stumbled across this on one of my freefalling internet music trawls. “Das Lila Lied” (“The Lavender Song”) is an astonishing German cabaret song that was written in 1920, and was rerecorded by Berlin cabaret artiste Ute Lemper. The 1920s produced some very sophisticated and very funny songs about sexual politics (there are several albums of them […]

Strange Thames


I’m not always able to use up all the research I do on my books – the novels would become dry tomes indeed if they just consisted of wall-to-wall facts (cf. Dorothy L Sayers’ ‘The Nine Taylors, with more info on campanology than anyone could ever want). So a lot gets left out. Next year […]

Books About Books


Here are three more for the pile, old and new. First up is ‘That Glimpse Of Truth’, a set of stories chosen as perfect examples of the short form, selected by David Miller. His range is fairly startling and in places rather strange, but in a good way. He starts out with the Book of […]

Kurt Vonnegut Explains All Stories

**FILE**Author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is shown in New York City in 1979. Kurt Vonnegut's wife says the satirical novelist of works such as "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle" has died Wednesday Aprill 11, 2007 at age 84. (AP Photo/Marty Reichenthal-File)

This weekend I’m heading for Leeds to teach a class about telling scary short stories at SlungLow’s Fun Palace. After I’d written what I was going to say, this came to my attention via a guy called Ian Mason, who suggested that Christopher Booker’s ‘The Seven Basic Plots’ was a rip-off of this clip (not […]

A Theme For Our Times?


Have you ever noticed how every James Bond title track reflects its time? ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Thunderball’ hit the sublimely brassy, sexy peak of the sixties, McCartney’s ‘Live And Let Die’ captured the escapist mood of the otherwise grim early seventies, A-Ha’s ‘The Living Daylights’ matches the watered-down sounds of the selling-out 80s that were also […]