Reading & Writing

Conversations With My Agent


In 1963 Mel Brooks’ comedy partner Carl Reiner wrote the autobiographical ‘Enter Laughing’, about being a young TV scriptwriter working on live TV comedy for a showrunner described as ‘the Ulcer That Walks Like A Man’. Forced to write up his ideas just minutes ahead of the performers going in front of the cameras, he […]

Where Ideas For Creepy Plots Start…


So, on Saturday night I go to a party in Brussels with my partner and good friends. A mutual friend is having a big birthday in the parental home, where almost everyone in attendance is united by a common factor – a life or a background in multiple countries. There is a Brazilian film producer […]

Hell Train Now Stops In Germany


The Germans, do you know them at all? Lovely literate people, smart and terribly self-deprecating. Berliners, awesomely friendly folks. I just went to Oktoberfest (in September and in Tokyo, I admit) but all those oompah-tunes and gallons of great beer and sausages (a bugger to eat with chopsticks) – what’s not to love? And they […]

Chosen Your Plot Yet?


The launch of the Dead Good and Specsavers #ChooseThePlotcampaign has taken place, and up and down the country people are deciding who I should kill. Following on from Michael Joseph’s success in 2013 with #YouDunnit, a crowd-sourced Twitter novella, this year Specsavers (who do an excellent job of sponsoring crime writers) approached me to tell a story […]

What Does A Publishing PR Do?


Publishing PRs can be a bit of a punchline; there are plenty of jokes about posh girls called Daisy or Emma looking to fill the time between finishing school and marriage to a trustafarian, but in reality a good PR is worth her weight in diamonds (they’re usually women, although I know a few male […]

What Does A Copy Editor Do?


I suppose they used to be called proof readers, and their role is subtly different from that undertaken by the main book editor. Once the manuscript reaches them, the main themes have been addressed (in my experience there’s very little editorial interference, more a matter of advice) so they can concentrate on the flow of […]

What Does An Editor Do?


Your editor will most likely be the person who brought you into the publishing house.  You are their discovery, and therefore you’ll work closely with them, so you’ll need to be compatible. I’ve known a couple of editors who have put up with badly behaved writers, but generally there’s an atmosphere of mutual respect. First […]

What Does An Agent Do?


I’ve been asked this so many times – ‘Do I need an agent? Don’t they just take a percentage from you and do nothing for it?’ To which I can only answer, absolutely not, the good ones don’t. Just because Amazon has promoted some amateur writers who have got to the top of their Direct-To-Ebook […]

Should Writers Read Their Reviews?


Any writer who says s/he doesn’t read press reviews is a liar. We all do, without fail, because it’s human nature (also, if they’re good they get forwarded on by all sorts of people). What we should never do is over-analyse them. Or believe in them. I know how hard it is to get reviewed […]

The Writing Process: Where It Begins


For the first time in an age I find myself seated at my desk with a clean slate and an empty screen. True, there are five titles sitting in a folder, possible ideas for new books, and at least two of these are workable. But my agent has asked me what I would like to […]