Monthly Archives: April 2017

Why Don’t Undead Tales Die?

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There were only ever a handful of monsters in movies and books. In the 1930s Universal Pictures cemented the main ones into place, although mummies and werewolves proved harder to make scary than vampires and hand-stitched creations. Zombies were left out on a limb after ‘White Zombie’ and ‘I Walked With A Zombie’, until George […]

Withnail’s 30th Birthday

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Whenever a low-budget British film screened at our office, we virtually had to hold a lottery to find anyone who’d sit through it. Most of them were so astoundingly bad that we gave them to the junior staffers to handle. Anyone remember ‘Car Trouble’, in which  air traffic controller Ian Charleson is so annoyed with […]

The Walled City Of London

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I’m plotting a fantasy novel – don’t laugh, it’ll be another of my ‘One Off’ books to sit beside my crime novels – and was reminding myself about the early days of London. It’s easy to forget that our 2000 year+ city was as much of a walled city as any in Spain, Tunisia or […]

Ambler & The Pink Thief

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The talents of many 20th century writers were tempered in the heat of conflict. Aldiss, Asimov, Ballard, Heinlein, Heller, Vonnegut, Mailer and Nevil Shute were just a few of the novelists shaped by wartime experiences. Many were not adversely affected and produced fiction that was almost nostalgic for combat. Eric Ambler came from a London […]

Wait, Who Am I Here?

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This year you’d be forgiven for thinking I’d gone into hyperdrive with my writing – a new Bryant & May novel (the longest yet), a new collection of short stories (‘Frightening’), a non-fiction book, ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’ – and a psychological thriller. Wait, you didn’t know about that last one? It turns out […]

Celebrating 20 E-Books: ‘Frightening’

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We all have very different ideas about what frightens us. A few years ago I judged a competition in which we asked first-time writers to produce a piece of fiction about something that genuinely scares them. Fifty years earlier their list might have included fear of poverty, starvation, ghosts, darkness, war, old houses. But now, […]

The Comfort Of Airports

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I’m typing this in Comptoir, the Lebanese restaurant at Gatwick airside – yes, Mr Trump, we have a cafe full of Arabs inside an English airport – shaking with fear yet? When it comes to airports, I’m on author Brigid Brophy’s page. You may remember (at least, one or two of you may) that she […]

Goodbye, Big Screen

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Remember when Hollywood kept trying to turn video games into films and the results were nearly always horrible?Once again the press is crying out that Hollywood is about to collapse – there are no new ideas left, digital spectacles have replaced all other kinds of film, leading to a top ten that consists of nothing but […]

‘Get Out’ Goes For The Throat

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It was one of the odder double-bills of the year. On a baking Saturday afternoon (London hotter than Ibiza shock! in April!) I saw ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (another Disney live-actionification that’s gaudily unbearable for anyone over nine, but I was there in a research capacity) and ‘Get Out’, about which I knew little other than […]

The Full English

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One of the very few things I liked about living in Los Angeles were the breakfasts, vast profligate platefuls in Carmen Miranda colours, sometimes also sporting bits of fruit. Before I went there I had never heard of a three egg omelette, let alone an egg-white one (hey, if you’ve that big a cholesterol problem, […]