Monthly Archives: January 2018

When Authors Hide Secrets Part 1

When I began writing ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’, I quickly learned to decode newspaper articles about writers. There were men who were ‘intensely private’ and women who ‘never married’. The words ‘sapphic’ and ‘bachelor’ tended to crop up, used knowingly. These writers were devoted to their mothers and never gave personal interviews. They lived […]

Give Yourself A Word Workout

In these post-Christmas weeks, everyone’s going on about weight and healthy eating, but nobody worries about developing language and communication. We only use a fraction of the words available to us. The Oxford English Dictionary currently holds 171,476 words in regular use and 47,156 obsolete words. By comparison, the Chinese dictionary has 370,000 words. We have a regular […]

What’s On In London?

As a writer you have to keep your mind alive and fresh, but living in London creates a unique problem; like museums that only display 5% of their treasures, I find I have little time to experience what’s going on in an average London week. Yesterday I decided to have a virtual flick-through and see […]

Chang-Siu And The Blade Of Grass

Following on from yesterday, here’s a story that was grouped under the banner of ‘horror stories’ when the collection should really have been labelled ‘Stories of the Fantastic’. I wrote it because I like Marguerite Yourcenar’s style of writing, and wanted to catch something of the same tone. See what you think.   Long, long […]

‘Don’t You Write Horror Stories?’

I was once at a literary gathering – this was very early on in my career – and rather nervous about being in the company of so many university Eng. Lit. graduates. Back then it was a much rarer privilege to go to university. This particular group of three with whom I was standing talked […]

Where Can You Find Forgotten Authors?

The same question keeps coming up when I do Q&As; Where can I find more forgotten authors? Luckily, books seem to be going through a boom time in the UK, with many new bookshops opening.Electronic reading has found its rightful place, as a useful travelling companion, and has increased the sales of physical books. There […]

The Slow Death Of A Library

It should have had a poster in its window: Kids! Read Books Here Without Paying For Them! Instead were just warnings and notices of shorter opening times. A disfiguring red plastic sign had been affixed above the door, information without grace. Libraries always held a sacred place in my heart. They are utilities as necessary as […]

Are Critics Getting Less Critical?

Halfway through director Sally Potter’s critically-feted ‘The Party’, the feeling came over me that I was watching a terrible film. Six guests gather for a dinner party to celebrate Kristen Scott-Thomas becoming the Shadow Health Minister, but secrets tumble out within seconds of their arrival. The guests are archetypes; Cillian Murphy tips up with a […]

The Saturday Song

It used to be the Friday Song, but this is an easy way for me to cover part of the weekend because I’m proofing at the moment and it’s very time consuming. And I do like a good ear-worm while I’m working. This week I’m still playing Mexican music at home, and was enchanted by […]

Read The Book Or Wait For The Film?

I recently saw ‘The Limehouse Golem’, the film based on Peter Ackroyd’s ‘Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem’. I’d loved the book – Ackroyd in a more whimsical vein, playing with history, but was unprepared for the sheer awfulness of the adaptation. Despite its sumptuous trappings you can instantly spot the fault; it lay with […]