Monthly Archives: July 2018

Should Cities Limit Their Nightlife?

Parts of cities in the UK operate under ‘Controlled Drinking’ hours, with zones where you can’t walk about with bottles. A recent trip to Cardiff revealed two cities; one with rolling parkland, a beautiful castle, winding lanes and hip cafes, the other a booze-sodden avenue of bad cocktail bars and clubs pumping out competing sounds […]

Writing For The Few, Not The Many

  I once wrote a book I couldn’t sell (not once actually – about a quarter of all my novels go through this ‘nobody-in-their-right-mind-will-publish-this’ phase). ‘Calabash’ was a coming-of-age novel about a clever, lonely teenager who accidentally falls between a rundown British seaside town in the 1970s and a fantastical version of ancient Persia, where […]

Everybody Loves A Villain

‘And thus I clothe my naked villainy With odd old ends stol’n out of holy writ; And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.’ Richard III was not stupid; villains rarely are. They’re vain, pompous, blind, flawed, egotistical and psychotically ambitious. One of the most fun villains for Londoners has been Boris Johnson, […]

The Supernatural On Film Part 2

Films can shape writers as much as books. My love of the supernatural stems from the earliest films I saw, although none were from Hollywood except ‘The Haunting’. On Sundays we always had double cinema bills of old – sometimes very old – films. It was a great cheap way of catching up with what […]

A Step In The Dark For Man Booker Prize

As the Man Booker Prize for literature announces its annual long list, it has once more made headlines for taking an unusual step. The Booker is one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world (I would include it in a list that features the Pulitzer, Nobel and Neustadt awards) but it has not always […]

Is Reading About It As Good As Going There?

Readers often prefer books to be set where they live, so that they can easily identify with surroundings. Something wonderful can happen when you read someone else’s take on the streets you know. ‘Rosie Hogarth’, ‘Hangover Square’, ‘The Low Life’ and even ‘101 Dalmations’ are all books that allow Londoners to see familiar places afresh. […]

What Is Authorial Voice?

A story is just a story until you learn to sense the writer behind the words, and that is something experience (ie. a massive amount of reading) refines for you. Why should you need to hear the author’s voice at all? Because it adds a new dimension to what you read. An author can act […]

My Four Solaris Books

There’s not been enough talk about books in these columns lately. Let’s start to remedy that. Last week I was in a delightful old bookshop in Palma with a friend when the bookshop owner asked me, ‘Are you famous?’ Mischievously, I looked at my friend. ‘Am I famous?’ She considered the question. ‘Well,’ she said […]

‘Overtourist’ Is Now A Verb

Above shows a serene Tokyo photograph, but it’s the top half only – I’ve divided it into two. For the other half, see the bottom of the article. There have been some fascinating press pieces this month on a global problem that has been building for many years. Even in the times of the Grand […]

What’s A Signed Book Worth?

There’s nothing so cruel as finding out that your ‘valuable’ signed book is worthless. The BBC asked booksellers how much they gain by selling a signed edition, but the answer is driven entirely by public demand. Inevitably JK Rowling features heavily, drawings add more value to signatures and the most highly prized signed book is one […]