Monthly Archives: April 2018

An Interesting Question

  On Saturday I appeared at the Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival. I haven’t been to Stratford for a while (not that it’s very far away; I’m just lazy) and the only thing that has changed is the number of Japanese tourists delightedly visiting the Bard’s home town. The event had a terrific lineup of guests, and […]

What You’re Reading: Results

Well, yesterday’s exercise has proven to be a fascinating experience, both here and on Twitter. The heartening news is that we all seem to be reading far above the national average (perhaps it’s just readers on this site and similar book sites). But I’m more interested in the quite extraordinary range of reading. There’s very […]

How Much Are You Reading?

Are the British the only people who read walking along the street? I’m surrounded by people who do so, and indeed I’m one of them. The perils (lampposts, light bruising, other people thoughtlessly getting in the way, rude cyclists, buses, those low metal boxes randomly placed along the pavement by electrical companies) are outweighed by […]

London In Six Sculptures

London has so many statues that no-one notices two-thirds of them. Putting up a public figure always courts controversy, which is why we ended up with the Princess Diana Drainage Ditch of Doom (so-called because children kept falling over in it). The design ‘aims to reflect Diana’s life’; it feels almost embarrassed to be there. […]

Creativity Versus Fish

It happened again last week. Someone threw the example of the fishing industry at me in their argument for Brexit. Passion always overrides the facts; they had passion. I had facts. I knew I would lose, because nobody wants facts thrown at them. They only confuse people; look at Mr Trump. So, a few facts. […]

The Evolution Of Suspense

I consider myself a bit of an expert in scaring people. I spent my whole childhood in a state of irrational fear, and started writing horror stories as a way of exploring my own worst-case scenarios, and by doing so curing them. There are a couple of hundred short stories of mine knocking around, although […]

Chapter One: ‘Nyctophobia’

Solaris Books have a brilliant art department whose ingenious covers really help to sell a book. When I came to write my next novel for them, they took the idea of fear of the dark literally with their lightbulb image (left), which I loved. Originality often goes against the grain for book illustration, which tends […]

Fishes Out Of Water

Apart from ‘Boy Meets Girl’ there are very few plots that have names, but ‘Fish Out Of Water’ is one of them. What is it about this time-honoured idea that plays so well again and again? Comedy is largely about discomfort and embarrassment, elements that dominate many comedies. Lately, there have been several transplanted wholesale […]

London: Deaths, Executions, Markets Etc

More wanderings toward the Thames bring me to the Bourne Estate, not the name of a film starring Matt Damon but an Edwardian housing estate in the middle of Holborn that few office workers get to see. Constructed from 1905–1909, it’s regarded as one of London’s best examples of tenement housing. Most of the blocks are […]

The Friday Song

While turning out some boxes (mostly binning old British newspaper interviews full of ludicrous misinformation about me) I came across a letter from a friend who was saying farewell to all of his pals. He had grown up in a small American town where he was mercilessly bullied about his sexuality, so he moved to […]