The Arts

20 Years Of Bryant & May!

I’m sitting before the blank screen about to type the title of the 20th Bryant & May book. It’s a good time to reflect on what I’m doing and whether I should even be doing it at all. My mystery series is deliberately, perversely esoteric. Does that make it elitist? It also features a pair of […]

Dracula AD.2020

Dracula and I have a long history. I had read the book at an early age – it was the sort of novel my mother preferred to keep over say, ‘Pride and Prejudice’. I was not old enough to see the definitive Hammer Dracula – I’d watched the Bela Lugosi version on TV and found […]

Modern Murder Mysteries Pt.3: The Spy With Breathing Problems

As much as I love Golden Age mysteries and 1950s thrillers, they have to be considered in the zeitgeist of the times. The shocking secrets hidden by murderers and their victims are no longer shocking. The motives that women concealed from men and vice versa were once the stuff of great mysteries. Murderous impulses could […]

Modern Murder Mysteries Pt 1: Razors & Rozzers

Recently I wrote an article for US website CrimeReads, trimming it for space, so I thought I’d revisit the piece here with new information. Interviewed after ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, Leonardo DiCaprio complained that he’d seen a lot of his heroes disappear. He was not referring to his own role as a stock fraudster […]

When The Window Doesn’t Open

Bear with me; I’m going to push this analogy. If stories are a window to a different world, the reader or viewer has to be allowed to open the window and step through it for a while, returning just before it closes again. This isn’t a Joseph Campbell theory, it’s common sense. Frightening stories work […]

The Obsession That Wrecks Writers

My English teacher told me: ‘Specialise. Nobody likes a good all-rounder.’ Of course I was filled with youthful stupidity and ignored him, wasting years trying to please everyone instead of myself.  During this time I had ample opportunity to study other writers and quickly identified an odd group. Instead of talking about the craft they obsessed […]

We Need To Talk About Evan Hansen

As wary as I am of seeing shows with proven track records and pots of money to keep them in theatres past their sell-by dates (step forward ‘The Book of Mormon’), I was intrigued by ‘Dear Evan Hansen’, which clearly connects to East Coast Gen Xers in much the same way that ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ […]

Rotten To The Core

Peter Barnes is a writer who’s still misunderstood by critics seeking easy tags. His work was elaborately constructed, intellectually rigorous and controversial, his language exact and demanding. But it must also have been a bugger to memorize. Barnes was born in Bow in 1931, but his parents soon moved to a geriatric coastal town to […]

Thinking About Film 2: Unreal & Over-Familiar

Stars make love fully dressed and shrug off bullets as if they were mosquito bites One of the problems with present-day entertainment is that Hollywood long ago won a determined and heavily funded cultural war. American lifestyles dominate global TV and film to the point where we hardly see anything else. I’ve watched too many […]

Writer’s Rules: Not Everything Needs Explaining

Not everything needs spelling out. During America’s Great Depression, MGM and Warner Brothers made a fortune from relentlessly upbeat musicals. After Watergate came a slew of films that explored and explained how things became so broken. And now, when the young are facing the kind of crises they really shouldn’t have to worry about until […]