Monthly Archives: February 2019

The Books You’ll Never Finish

The illusion of choice is particularly applicable to books because you can buy them for small change when you’re tempted by momentary fancies. They’re still the best value impulse purchase of all. Trouble is, you sometimes put your book on a shelf where it sits for years, unopened. For me it’s even worse, because writers […]

Back To The Office

I have two office chairs; this is the relaxing one. It sits on a tiny balcony in the sun, and is waiting for me at the end of each working day in Barcelona. I escaped here because the flat below ours in London is being gutted, and the noise makes it impossible to concentrate. My working […]

William The Conkerer

In a world where everyone in media is searching for intellectual properties coming out of copyright, here’s a character who has hardly ever been away. Writers of children’s books have to tread a fine line. They need their lead characters to be interesting and a little wayward, but if they’re too wild the wrath of […]

Writers’ Advice: Go Niche Or Go Home

‘Nobody likes a good all-rounder.’ My English teacher once told that. It’s advice I’ve taken to heart. Over the years, my tastes have become ever more abstruse. Maybe yours have too. Perhaps I’m not the only author who has Gilbert & Sullivan, Steve Reichs, hi-BPM hard house and Count Arthur Strong on his playlist, but […]

Strange Times IV: Nothing Changes

And finally… Skin colour matters. It transpired that Tanzanian albinos were living in fear of their lives because people were seeking their body parts for witchcraft. There are over 200,000 albinos in the country, and with over 30 murders in 10 months, many were frightened they would be skinned alive and partially dismembered. Meanwhile, Southern […]

Strange Times III: The Ideal News Story

So the pattern started to become clear about what makes the perfect news story. In the Daily Mail’s own words, you need to create a sense of outrage and fearfulness, but it helps if the main perpetrator is incompetent. The Czech artist David Cerny was paid £350,000 to commission artworks forming a huge sculpture of […]

Strange Times II: The New Normal

In this morning’s press, six police officers gun down a sleeping black man in his car at a Taco Bell. There should be riots on the streets over this, but it’s too frequent a news item to gain traction. In the UK knife crime has reached a high, but exclusively among ethnic street gangs, and while […]

Strange Times 1: Here’s What You Missed

This morning’s round-up of bizarre Brexit stories include the ‘Leave’ voters who live in Spain but have just changed their minds upon discovering that their pets will have no passports. One said, ‘Oh, I’m definitely voting Stay now,’ seeming to assume that the binding nature of the democratic process is not applicable to them. And […]

Bryant & May’s London

The London of the first book is different to London now I’ve just started researching the 2020 Bryant & May novel, the final one in the series that I’m currently contracted to write for Random House. I have the basic outline, but will need to research its seven main locations, and intend to start doing […]

The Bedazzling Ms Bainbridge

It’s been a long time since a book has left me in such a mess as this. I cannot shake it from my head, and feel really saddened. Although I’ve long been a fan of Beryl Bainbridge, the Liverpudlian writer whose messy, boozy life was a world apart from her brilliant, wrenching books, I had […]