Monthly Archives: April 2014

Sing Another Funny Song

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After posting about the peculiar world of comedy songs recently, a few other examples came to mind, including ‘Come Outside’ by Mike Sarne (who went on to direct the Hollywood disaster ‘Myra Breckinridge’) and Wendy Richards. Similarly, Hylda Baker and Arthur Mullard produced their own gruesome take on ‘You’re The One That I Want’ from […]

The Real-Life Inspirations For Bryant & May Characters

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I’ve been meaning to do this for ages, after someone suggested I couldn’t possibly know anyone as strange as some of my characters, so here are a few of the real-life figures who got re-invented as characters in the Bryant & May novels. At the moment I’m limited to people I have photos of, but […]

Sing A Funny Song

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Where do we first gain our love of words? For my mother, who lived in Brighton as a girl, the seaside Pierrots (see a modern-day version, the Pier-Echoes, above) taught her funny songs. These traditionally-dressed troupes toured all the seaside towns and are immortalised in the novel ‘The Good Companions’ as the Dinky-Doos. Many kids […]

Killing For Charity

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Okay, not just killing but robbing, blackmailing, committing all kinds of heinous dishonests – and it’s all in a good cause. Ian Rankin introduces a collection of crime writing that’s an Oxfam charity fundraiser, featuring a compelling (it says here) cast of 27 suspects that includes George Pellecanos, Mark Billingham, Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh, Denise Mina, […]

Creating Strong Female Characters

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The old rule of thumb is that you should have your females talking about something other than men. I’ve never had a problem with this; if anything, it’s been hard to make them talk about men at all. I enjoy writing strong women. Many of the main characters in my books have been like June […]

Great London Pubs No. 2: The Prospect of Whitby

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The Prospect of Whitby is London’s oldest riverside pub – the pub site dates back to 1520. The original flagstone floor survives and the pub also has a rare pewter-topped bar, as well as old barrels and ships’ masts built into the structure. The pub has great views over the Thames, from the beer garden […]

Letter From BCN No.1

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How could you not love a centuries-old tradition that combines love, literature and flowers? April 23rd is St Jordi’s Day, and the city turns into a very romantic party. Like many other countries in Europe, Spain shares a common legend with England, that of St George fighting the dragon. The Spanish version cleaves closely to […]

To Stay Or To Go?

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My partner says he never heard the word ‘inside’ used to mean at home before he came to the UK. It’s true, we grew up thinking of us as being at home and everyone else as foreign. I blame the Victorians. I arrived back in Barcelona feeling virus-filled and exhausted, but after watching people in […]

The Strange Story of ‘The Birds’

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I greatly enjoyed Stephen King’s  ‘Salem’s Lot’ and ‘The Shining’, but found much of the rest of his prose too eager to please, too Gawk-Tousle-And-Shucks for my tastes. I wasn’t long out of school, I was heavily into Dickens and Waugh, and would have simply placed King in the cool holiday reading category if critics […]

Great London Pubs No. 1: The Pineapple

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I’ve written about this one before, but it seems right to kick off a new series with it. North London’s Kentish Town has always been the home of penniless artists, writers, ruffians, mountebanks and charlatans, not to mention stoners, loners and ladies of slender means. But over the years it has lost many of its […]