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 […]

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 […]

The Book That Was Not To Be Touched

My parents owned a forbidden book. I could see it from where I sat in the little reading chair they’d bought me, on the top shelf of the bookcase. It was massive brick with a heavy-looking matt blue cover. The title was printed in gold and was too small to read from down here, and […]

Whatever Happened To Mr Temple?

I suspect there are a few readers out there who not only remember Francis Durbridge’s books but who can also whistle his theme tune, which was either ‘Coronation Scot’ by Vivian Ellis, or Rimski-Korsakov’s ‘Scheherezade’, depending on your age. The author and playwright was born in Hull in 1912 and died in 1998. His output […]

Nothing Happens

Sometimes a novel can benefit from a little less action. You often find that the best bits of books, films, plays or sitcoms are the parts near the beginning where nothing much happens, the calm before the storm. I like these quiet moments because characters still have room to breathe before becoming subject to the […]

Don’t Tell Them Everything

Good books have an inner life; you can’t see all the way in. The pages become windows that throw light onto landscapes and into rooms, but keep some secrets hidden from view. Perhaps they reveal more at second glance – perhaps they leave the reader to deduce more. The reader certainly doesn’t need to know […]

‘The Lonely Hour’ Full Cover

One of the happiest experiences in my publishing life has been watching the Bryant & May covers mature and remain remarkably consistent. This is now my favourite cover of them all. If we could just repaint No.2, ‘The Water Room’ and get rid of the Simpsons I’d be even happier. Semiotically, the covers send out […]

What The Author Did Next

  Christmas is approaching – it’s the time from which writers theoretically derive most of their earnings. This isn’t usually the case for me because my books tend to be published in spring and autumn. I don’t have the weight to punch through the scrum of summer holiday/ Christmas publications. This year and next year, […]

Wanted: Braver Bloggers

 Book Bloggers, It’s Time To Raise Your Game I have always trusted the American press over its British equivalent – that is, until Mr Trump decided to invent a new form of the fourth estate by making shit up. Now I’m not sure whom I should trust, although I tend toward the New York Times […]

My Home Library Part 3

I filled my entire house with built-in bookcases Yesterday’s comments reminded me of something I hadn’t thought about for years. When I moved into my last house in Kentish Town, it was in a cobbled backstreet mostly still filled with Irish families, and the properties were still council. Opposite me was – I kid you […]