Reading & Writing

Reader Poll: Collected Short Fiction


Recently I tried to collect all of the stories that Shirley Jackson wrote. It’s impossible to do so without getting overlaps. As a collector I find this very annoying. The complete short stories of JG Ballard are available in two volumes, but the stories of Daphne de Maurier are all over the shop and set […]

Can Supernatural Mysteries Ever Play Fair?


In real life, crimes are frightening; they upset and disorient and rob you of faith in your fellow humans. There’s an element of fatality and strangeness and ‘Why me?’-ism that encourages superstitious thinking. We don’t tell ourselves that in say, London, which is nudging 9 million, it’s statistically amazing that there are 90 gun crimes […]

A Writer’s Life: The Unmentioned Side Effects


There are a million books that will tell you how to write a novel (95% of them useless) but very few authors talk about the side effects of choosing such a career. The following ramble comes as I get ready to start the outline for a new thriller but end up watching the rain fall. […]

Little Boy Found: Verdict In

Little Boy Found

I always read my reviews – don’t believe authors who tell you they don’t ever look at them – and provide as much feedback as I have time for to readers, especially if they’re confused about a book’s effects. But I was more than a little trepidatious about publishing a suspense novel under a pen […]

The Miscellany Of My Mind

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What’s in the picture-book today? A miscellany – some thoughts passing through my head as I sit in my study trying to cool down enough to concentrate on writing a new novel. ——————– Writers produce a lot of work that’s not published. For years I kept drawerfuls of abandoned manuscripts, movie scripts, TV productions, radio […]

Is This The Best Short Story Ever Written?


A short while ago I gave a talk about short stories that touched me and I remembered this one, which I first read as a child. It’s a small story about a big thing – life. The start of the 20th century was a glorious time to be writing. There were lots of publishing outlets, […]

Smaller Subjects, Bigger Ideas


‘You can get away with anything if you keep a straight face.’ – Galton & Simpson Serious writers win the big awards. America has a history of excellence in the Big Fiction stakes, consistently producing intelligent, analytical, clear-eyed novels that look at the bigger picture, exploring the themes of the times. These books are often […]

No Art Without Craft


I’m still asked on a regular basis if I have advice for writers. Yes, and I think the advice is changing a little. If you believe a poll that ran in the Independent and the Guardian this week, British productivity is the lowest in Europe. We’re all working from home now, having decided that being […]

First Words: Starting Your Story


I recently discovered a short book called ‘Plotting & Writing Suspense Fiction’ by Patricia Highsmith. I’ve always enjoyed her lean, mean fiction, and feel she was (as she says) lucky to be working in a time when you could attract a director like Alfred Hitchcock to film a tale. Her book is a simply written […]

A Guide To The Bryant & May Characters

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By now I assume you know quite a lot about my aged detectives Arthur Bryant & John May, and a little about their team at the Peculiar Crimes Unit, Janice Longbright, Raymond Land, Colin Bimsley, Meera Mangeshkar, Jack Renfield, Dan Banbury and Giles Kershaw. But there are many, many others who help or obstruct their […]