Monthly Archives: February 2014

Where The Ideas Start Out

  I mentioned that I was always filling books with stories as a child. I still have some of them (see left). They’re densely plotted, drawn with an autistic eye for detail. There’s not really much point in keeping them as they’re juvenilia (I cut up one volume recently and stuck its pages inside books […]

Bryant & May 11: ‘The Bleeding Heart’ Arrives March 27th

  Writers are always working a year ahead. I’m currently on 2015, but simultaneously proofing the US edition of ‘The Bleeding Heart’, which arrives much earlier here in the UK, on March 27th. The series feels as if it is really evolving now with the plots being driven by the characters, not the other way […]

Quotes From My Non-Bryant & May Books No.9: ‘Calabash’

By this time, having thoroughly confused my publishers about the direction in which my career was going, I decided to throw them for a loop and write a novel about a teenager who falls off a pier in the 1970s and wakes up in 13th century Persia. As you do. I think at this point […]

Hard Times For Writers In British Film

It’s official; the British film industry is in the toilet again. In my career I’ve heard this maybe two dozen times, but something has really gone wrong in this decade. It turns out that only 7% of British films have made any kind of a profit in the past ten years and the number in […]

Quotes From My Non-Bryant & May Books No.8: ‘Soho Black’

  This novel was my heartfelt response to working in a trivial industry (film media in London’s Soho) at a very specific time and place. My more perspicacious readers also understood that it was a study of mortality, and how one responds to the threat of life slowly ending. The director Stephen Daldry fell in […]

Vietnam 3: Heading South

We’ve now reached Central Vietnam, and it’s still hard to equate the reality with the image I grew up with from American newsreels, especially as I’m reading Vietnamese literature.The jungles have been hacked back to more than 70 kilometres from the towns, so we look out at flat fields, rice paddies and the odd slash […]

London Eccentrics: The Protein Man

  Most Londoners who were familiar with Oxford Street between 1968 and 1993 will remember the Protein Man, who paraded up and down every day with his placard, ‘Less Passion from Less Protein’. I always liked the way ‘And sitting’ was dropped onto the end of his billboard as an afterthought. As he passed on […]

Crossing The Road At Night in Vietnam

Two skills learned in London come in useful here. One is ordering Vietnamese food, the other is staring down traffic.

Vietnam 2: State Of The Art

‘Those are the hidden police,’ says Tung. ‘Everyone knows them.’ They’re really not very hidden, and nor is the Communist propaganda, but seeing Communism from this side takes the bogeyman status out of it a little. Yes, there are probably too many ‘improving’  workers’ statues around, but since 2005’s Open Door policy things have changed, […]

How Walt Disney Championed Novelists

  As we know from ‘Saving Mr Banks’, Walt Disney was good at persuading authors that he could turn their treasured works into films, but Pamela Travers was not his only conquest. Nobody now remembers the Swiss beekeeping pastor Johann David Weiss, but in the late 18th century he was so impressed by ‘Robinson Crusoe’ […]