Backstories To The Bryant & May Books No.1

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This is the start of a short series of backstories to the Bryant & May novels, explaining how I came to write them. Full Dark House My father was a scientist who worked in an experimental wartime communications unit. He and his colleagues were very young, and – it turns out – were working towards […]

Ideals On Wheels: Why Mobile Libraries Need Your Help

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There’s a vague feeling in the UK that libraries have had their day, that Oxfam and Kindle have jointly conspired to eliminate the need for borrowing books. It suits our present government to believe that private enterprise has proven effective and can reduce state spending, but if you reduce the visibility of books, you remove […]

Where Have All The Heist Films Gone?

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There’s nothing like a good robbery, so long as you’re only watching it. From the silent era onwards we’ve loved watching the fallout from a caper. A proper heist movie has to pull off a complex trick. It needs to make you care about the game-players, keep the stakes high and provide a satisfying outcome, […]

London Bridges Are Going Up

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There’s a new free exhibition devoted to London’s bridges at the Museum of London Docklands. Here’s what I’ve learned. For 1,700 years there was only one bridge over the Thames, roughly where London Bridge is today, virtually dating back to the birth of Christ (there was also a prehistoric one around Vauxhall, but no sign […]

Quality Of Life, What’s That Then?

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If there’s one magazine that seems specifically designed to get me riled, it’s ‘Monocle’, Tyler Broolay’s (can’t be bothered finding the accents on this laptop) gigantic style-bible of all things cool in the world, usually featuring decommissioned concrete factories in the Ukraine that have been turned into gin bars. A flip through the pages goes […]

Wrestling The Monster

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There was a film by Nick Broomfield about Spalding Gray’s attempt to write a new novel called ‘Monster In A Box’, which struck a horrible chord of familiarity with me. I’ve never had writer’s block as such, but I believe there are ‘easy’ books and ‘hard’ books. The former are smooth to write, come in […]

My All-Time Summer Discs

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I had no idea that the show ‘Desert Island Discs’ was still going. The last time I tuned in, Roy Plomley was interviewing people who always seemed to choose the Grenadier Guards playing something hideously patriotic. Given that my musical tastes fluctuate whimsically, it’s hard to pull together a definitive top ten for the summer, […]

Bryant & May Location No. 4

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The Savoy theatre and hotel both feature heavily in ‘Seventy Seven Clocks’, the theatre especially because of its unique place in world history. Sir Richard D’Oyly Carte was ahead of his time (we honour him now in rhyming slang, the ultimate accolade, although I’m not sure he’d agree). His theatre was the home of Gilbert […]

Make Money As An Author: Die Young

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Seriously, they’ll be able to republish your first novel while people are feeling sorry for you. It’ll be a good career move. It’s a long-standing maxim that while ‘no man except a blockhead ever wrote except for money’ (cf. Samuel Johnson), no-one can really make a living doing it. The traditional answer to that statement […]

London Takes Back The Night

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I recall a particularly grim night spent outside in London at a Midsummer Eve festival in Greenwich Park, when the winds suddenly turned arctic, it rained torrentially and the taxis home vanished. You book outside events in our summer at your peril. Back then, the choice was limited to a few parks, pub gardens and […]