Reading & Writing

Why Jack The Ripper Sends Men Mad


Do you remember David Icke? He was a footballer, then a sports broadcaster and spokesman for the Green Party, so not a great thinker but at least relatively normal. Then one day he went mad. In 1990 a psychic told him that he was a healer who had been placed on Earth for a purpose, and that […]

On Top Of The British Library


There’s a lovely cartoon by John Glashan showing cashiers waltzing through a grand old building. It’s called; ‘Few people know what goes on in banks after they shut.’ I feel like that about libraries. When I was a child I read a disturbing story about a man who lived in the book stacks. So I’ve […]

Exercises For Writers


No, not writing exercises, these are ways to stop you cramping up in writing, or any desk job where you’re sedentary for large portions of the day. 1. If You’re Stiff, It May Be Your Glasses Back, neck, shoulders tight after writing? Get someone to photograph you from side on. If you’re craning forward it may […]

Oi, Oyster-Face! The Power Of Slang


Words – I’m drowning in them, realising just how poorer our once-ripe language is becoming as online-speak drains the strength from our dialogue. What brought this on? I just tracked down a Penguin paperback copy of ‘A Dictionary of Historical Slang’, an immense tome by Eric Partridge (well over a thousand pages – and abridged!) […]

The Mystery Surrounding ‘The Sand Men’


Before the incredible review for ‘The Sand Men’ in Starburst came in, a pricey new magazine called Crime Scene reviewed it, and for the most part was a rave, with one cavil; a worry from reviewer David Bradley that it has ‘no clear ending’. Personally, I think it has a very clear ending – I’ve […]

The Story Workshop


After attending SlungLow’s arts workshops in Leeds last week I promised to put my notes online, so here is the essence of what I said – the idea was to inspire the young groups to write a scary story.   This is a crash course with a specific aim; finding a practical way to write […]

‘The Sand Men’ Is Out Today!


I had a lot of self-doubt while writing The Sand Men. It doesn’t conform to the traditional shape of a novel, and it has an unusual trick up its sleeve. There are two central dramas, one of which is resolved, and one of which is left open. There’s also a third puzzle in the book […]

Kurt Vonnegut Explains All Stories

**FILE**Author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is shown in New York City in 1979. Kurt Vonnegut's wife says the satirical novelist of works such as "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle" has died Wednesday Aprill 11, 2007 at age 84. (AP Photo/Marty Reichenthal-File)

This weekend I’m heading for Leeds to teach a class about telling scary short stories at SlungLow’s Fun Palace. After I’d written what I was going to say, this came to my attention via a guy called Ian Mason, who suggested that Christopher Booker’s ‘The Seven Basic Plots’ was a rip-off of this clip (not […]

There Really Was A Golden Age Of Murder


As some of you know, I write a weekly column for the Independent on Sunday called ‘Invisible Ink’, about once massively popular authors who have now become a minority taste or who have vanished altogether. I thought carefully about including Margery Allingham in the column. She’s hardly ever out of print, and readers certainly know her […]

Upcoming Launches & Signings

Signing @ FP

Two for the diary if you’re in London;  there’ll be a signing at Forbidden Planet probably on October 18th – I’ll confirm this in the next few days – for ‘The Sand Men’, and I daresay we’ll be having a few beers after in a nearby pub, probably The Angel – all welcome (I always assume my […]