Monthly Archives: January 2018

Finding A Balance

Some of my, ahem, more mature readers might recall that I began writing in places of extreme darkness. I’ve never worked out which of my short stories is the bleakest because a good dozen would tie for first place. Over the coming weeks I may try to reproduce a couple of them here in a […]

&!*$! Words

A librarian once took me to one side and said,’ One of the reasons we like you is because you never make the characters use swearwords.’ It was a conscious decision on my part; most swearing is unimaginative (except when spectacularly released by my pal Simon ‘Pottymouth’ Rennie) and too easy. I’ve always taken a […]

Scatterbrain

I received an online comment from someone who admired my ‘eclectic mind’, to which I replied that I was simply a scatterbrain. The brain is a selective organ. Some receive data but don’t sense atmospheres, others over-empathise without understanding facts. It seems that when we are young we’re generally emotional and impulsive, and as we […]

From The Slush Pile II

A few more gems from the stack of unsolicited manuscripts that reach publishers, giving an insight into how the minds of some would-be writers work… ‘You didn’t have to be an in-law to hate her guts,’ said Chester, ‘no pun intended.’ His pen poised, John hesitated over the white breast of the page. Immediately after […]

From The Slush Pile…

At this time of the year agents and editorial assistants heave a sigh and turn to the great stack of manuscripts that have been emailed to them over Christmas. The truth about the slush pile is that actually agents quite like them, but discard 95% of all submissions within a page or two because the […]

Cruel, Surreal, Disturbing: The Oddities Of British Humour

Two British things are especially hard to explain and often impossible to understand; cricket and comedy. My mantra on the subject is that slapstick travels across cultural barriers but wit does not. Reading Norman Collins’ ‘The Three Friends’, published in 1935, I find myself noting certain phrases he uses because they are funny while being […]

The Year I Finally Lost Faith In British Politics

There had been times before; notably, when Edward Heath’s electability as Prime Minister hung on his ability to win a yacht race for the electorate, and again when the grey accountant John Major filled the country with red tape-bound middle managers. And who could forget Gordon Brown, fine as a best supporting actor but useless […]

The Perfect Cocktail: Words, Music & Images

I play music while I work, to the point where I suspect I can’t work without it. First, its cadences seem to help the rhythm of language. Second, it masks my tinnitus. Lyrics tend to interfere, and I’ve often found them an annoyance. So, it seems, do other people; the lyricists of ‘La La Land’ […]

How Authors Were Shaped By Their Readers

I still search for reasons why men aren’t reading fiction, and wonder if the time-consuming habit of box set bingeing has made a difference. Apart from the vast difference between enjoying prose and watching images, is watching the whole of ‘The Night Manager’ different to reading the novel in one sitting? How does anyone find […]

My iPhone X Review

I know, it’s just a phone. But in the same way that Lyra, the heroine of ‘His Dark Materials’ has a daemon always at her side, phones have become our inseparable equivalent.  I have a very few bits of tech I keep up to date, but this is one. It’s already a cliche, but the […]