Books

The Books That Defined The ‘Lifestyle Choice’ Era

In 1977, Cyra McFadden’s novel ‘The Serial’ satirized the self-obsessed new-age lifestyles of affluent residents in Marin County, just North of San Francisco, with their organic vegetable gardens, tantric sex sessions and bicycle races to work. ‘I thought I was discovering myself,’ says one character, ‘but it turns out I was having a nervous breakdown.’ […]

Holmes Sweet Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is far, far more than a brand now; he’s an international industry. He’s the reason why many Chinese visitors come to London. He has branches of his fan club in Argentina and Madrid. Like it or not, he represents a certain type of England. Soon after 1891, when ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ […]

Like Dickens? You May Also Like…

I hate those Amazon pop-ups that recommend other books, because the algorithms completely misunderstand my reading habits – which are lateral-swinging, to say the least. Here are some rivals to Dickens that you might consider instead. George W M Reynolds Charles Dickens, whom he outsold, despised him. The literary establishment wrote him out of literary […]

Books VS Kindle: Round Two

  Here we go again. The Guardian just ran an article excoriating the Kindle experience in the wake of lowered sales, accusing it of being ugly, clunky, unhip and lacking in user friendliness, and welcoming back the dear old print book. In some respects, of course, it’s absolutely right. But the picture is a bit more […]

Same Book, Different Countries…

People often ask me if I’m published in other languages. The answer is yes – but I often don’t see the finished books. There was a time when I didn’t even see some of the different English language versions. Some from Eastern Europe had covers that were hotchpotches of old pirated film posters. One looked […]

That Mystery Book Explained

Some while back I set out to write the kind of book that’s fairly alien to me in its construction; a psychological thriller. While I love them (especially those by Margaret Millar, a forgotten author just coming back into print), I don’t usually write them. I tend to construct matrices of facts rather than delving […]

A Very English Way Of Doing Things

So Britain is to have another election – hardly any surprise there, as the current leader of the opposition is a phantom who has all but destroyed Labour’s core voter base. Jeremy Corbyn is a career politician with the magnetic presence of a retired postman and is unable to make a stand for or against […]

Celebrating 20 E-Books: ‘Frightening’

We all have very different ideas about what frightens us. A few years ago I judged a competition in which we asked first-time writers to produce a piece of fiction about something that genuinely scares them. Fifty years earlier their list might have included fear of poverty, starvation, ghosts, darkness, war, old houses. But now, […]

Celebrating 20 E-Books: The Curse Of Snakes

Well, this novel was the one that got away. A supposedly YA book that had the misfortune to open between two (rotten) Medusa films. Everything conspired against me in the writing of it. First, I hit the problem of readers’ ages. ‘The Curse of Snakes’ was intended as a novel that anyone at any age […]

Some Notes On Reading

I stumbled across the Amazon bestsellers list last week and checked out the most popular subjects in the Amazon table; rebel girls, dieting, Mother’s Day, Fearne Cotton, big knickers, more mums. We all need to relax, so I’m not criticising the reading quality (although it does set a pretty low bar), but what struck me […]