Monthly Archives: September 2015

Kurt Vonnegut Explains All Stories

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 […]

‘London’s Nightly Carnival’

London is not ‘the city that never sleeps’. It has an engine – the low hum of business – that awakes at around 5:30am, and goes to sleep again towards midnight. The timings have always been the same, although before the wars of the 20th century and the rationing of travel Londoners ate much later. […]

‘The Burning Man’ Comes True

It’s the fiery season – a time of insurrection and flame. In ‘The Burning Man’, Bryant & May’s twelfth outing, London is on fire. Rioters are protesting against a banking scandal that has allowed a financier to make a fortune from insider trading. The book was based on the recent banking riots and suggested that […]

The Return Of Piccadilly’s Cinemas

A boxy screen and sticky steps, shuffling punters and fag smoke…the old cinemas of Piccadilly Circus were drenched in melancholy, a place where loners passed time waiting for homegoing trains, most of which were one an hour. The shows were each an hour in length and showed cartoons and newsreels. The cinemas also attracted lonely […]

Attempting The Impossible

When you write stand-alone novels, they live or die on their believability, their premise, their atmosphere, and the trickiest part is getting all the elements in balance first time around (there’s usually no second chance for a standalone, although John Fowles rewrote ‘The Magus’). With a series, if you’re lucky and it doesn’t damage sales, […]

The Dreamliner Of Space

When space was still the ultimate goal and perfect fantasy, Concorde was a dream come true. Now a group of Concorde fans have raised £120 million to try and get one of the decommissioned Concorde aircraft back in the skies by 2019. They’re ex-captains, ex-charterers and people passionate about Concorde, and the models they want are […]

The End Of Summer

I’ve just woken up. It’s hot, but the air has changed. Summer is dying. It’s not something we particularly celebrate or commemorate in any form in London, but across Europe the end of summer is a special event in the calendar. In Spain and Italy it’s marked by fireworks, bonfires and festivals. In France the […]

There Really Was A Golden Age Of Murder

As some of you know, I write a weekly column for the Independent on Sunday called ‘Invisible Ink’, about once massively popular authors who have now become a minority taste or who have vanished altogether. I thought carefully about including Margery Allingham in the column. She’s hardly ever out of print, and readers certainly know her […]

Upcoming Launches & Signings

Two for the diary if you’re in London;  there’ll be a signing at Forbidden Planet probably on October 18th – I’ll confirm this in the next few days – for ‘The Sand Men’, and I daresay we’ll be having a few beers after in a nearby pub, probably The Angel – all welcome (I always assume my […]