Books

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 […]

Coming Attractions

‘Sunday For Seven Days’ – that’s what it used to say on cinema trailers. I’m aiming to spread the work over a rather lengthier time frame. First up this year will be the paperback version of ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’ in October, and I believe it’s going to contain some extra material that wasn’t […]

The Best Way To Read Is On A Toaster

The first electric toaster in the world was Scottish; it was invented by Alan Macmasters in Edinburgh in 1893. General Electric swiped the idea in 1909 and the thing went global. It became ubiquitous in kitchens (and remains so) because it can only do one thing. It cooks bread. A child can use it safely, […]

Unsentimental Sentiments: The Work Of Lissa Evans

The British don’t do warm writing. We are allergic to excessive displays of sentiment, a wartime hangover from not making a fuss and just getting on with it. We play things down. When a deranged neighbour firebombed her front garden, my old agent dismissed the incident by waving her hand and saying, ‘It merely singed […]

When Wives Go Wild

‘No woman in 20th century American mystery writing is more important than Margaret Millar.’ So said HRF Keating (and he should know) in his overview of crime and mystery, ‘Whodunnit?’ Millar was born in Kitchener, Ontario in 1915, but moved to the US and married the crime writer Ross Macdonald (who wisely changed his name […]

Christopher & Peter

After I wrote the horror romp ‘Hell Train’ I never really went back to it. I don’t think it was a huge success (although there’s a nice German edition), partly because I went with a small publishing house, partly because it was a bit too clever for the market. The plot concerns a writer hired […]

This Year’s Hottest Novel Is [Untitled]

A book never sells on its title alone, but a good one can really help. The mass-market success of the rudimentary thriller The Girl on the Train is down to its perfect title, two nouns and a clear image, destined to be bought by every girl who ever caught a train. Titles are probably more […]