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 […]

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 […]

High Culture, Low Culture

….the recent talk of books and football brings us on to the next point several of you raised yesterday, viz, that you can read Proust and also read Viz. But conformity is pushed onto us in the world of books too. There’s a distinctly middle-class feel to many literary festivals (Cheltenham is probably the most […]

Reading A Book? You Loser!

  Reading VS Football Part 2. It was the game that had all English football fans dreaming, said the BBC, then the co-commentator Martin Keown launch a bizarre attack on book-lovers. The former Arsenal defender took umbrage at people who preferred to read rather than watch the England-Sweden quarter-final of the World Cup. ‘There might be someone […]

Six Strange Summer Reads

It’s the time of year when every newspaper gives us a list of summer reads, books selected – sometimes with the publishers’ collusion – to appeal to its particular demographic, so romances in Tuscan villas for the Sunday Times, and First World War exploits for the Telegraph. There are plenty of good reads around this […]

This Is My 30th Anniversary As A Writer!

An article in the London Times by James Marriot this morning gets the day off to a depressing start. It was inspired by the fact – long known to us authors – that the average writer earns less than minimum wage. Earnings for professional writers have fallen by a staggering 42% since 2005, just as […]

The Illustrated London News

The Illustrated London News first appeared on Saturday 14 May 1842, as the world’s first illustrated weekly news magazine. It appeared weekly until 1971, then less frequently, and finally ceased publication as late as 2003, although the company continues today as a content and digital agency which holds the archives of the magazine. By 1863 the magazine was […]

Write? But I’m A Working Mum!

Whenever I trawl through past books I can’t help noticing how many women writers gave up because the demands of looking after a parent or children prevented them from putting their thoughts on paper. For many, writing was one of the few ‘respectable’ jobs for a young woman, on a par with being a governess, […]

Fiction Gets Woke

The idea of being ‘woke’ isn’t so much new jargon, but a way of rebottling old wine with new subtleties. The word, which is African-American in origin, concerns the perceived awareness of issues concerning social, feminist and racial identity but is expanding to include all consciousness-raising matters. One can trace the racial use back to the […]