Reading & Writing

How To Exercise Without Leaving The House

So I was wandering about on Amazon, cruising for a casual pick-up in the world of literature, and stumbled across (then purchased) Christopher Hart’s ‘Lost Children’, a novel which has one of those chapters destined to be forever engraved in your mind – this one involves a terrified, unqualified British doctor and a very angry […]

Incoming!

Sally, my PA, says it’s now officially autumn in London. I’m not buying this, as I’ve yet to have my summer holiday (I go next week, off to try some refreshing wines in the delightful vineyards of the Spanish countryside). London is glorious at the moment, fecund and lush and warm, but soon will come […]

The Ideas That Didn’t Make It

For every plot I come up with that makes it into a book, there are twenty that don’t make the cut. Because I’ve paced technology throughout my career, I’ve changed systems with each new technological development and have no hard copies or online files from the past, so I’ve not been able to save these […]

Writing For The Few, Not The Many

  I once wrote a book I couldn’t sell (not once actually – about a quarter of all my novels go through this ‘nobody-in-their-right-mind-will-publish-this’ phase). ‘Calabash’ was a coming-of-age novel about a clever, lonely teenager who accidentally falls between a rundown British seaside town in the 1970s and a fantastical version of ancient Persia, where […]

Where To Set Your Story

So I’m sitting in a seafront restaurant and friends explain why we’re here at this awkward location; a scene from John Le Carré’s ‘The Night Manager’ was set here. It never occurred to me to set books anywhere other than London. I remembered the opening chapters of John Wyndham’s ‘The Day of the Triffids’, in […]

Clerihews And Clues

Books are often dedicated to other writers. GK Chesteron’s strange novel about anarchist terrorism, ‘The Man Who Was Thursday’, is dedicated to EC Bentley, born in 1875. The pair had met as schoolboys at St Paul’s and became fast friends. Bentley went to Oxford, but left law studies to become a journalist, in which profession he […]

The Writers’ Best Tool

In all of the self-help writing books that teach technique, plot structure and overcoming writer’s block (to readers who haven’t yet started writing!) hardly anyone addresses the one thing would-be authors need more than anything else. Take a look at the photograph and ask what you see. This was my secondhand paperback haul on Saturday […]

Ten Day Book Challenge: The Final Run

It looks nice outside. I wish I was there. While I’ve been entombed in the flat, locked away like a lighthouse keeper, summer has kicked in, late this year but welcome. London is hotter, bizarrely, but here there is silence. I live in the old town where there are no cars, so the only sounds […]

10 Day Book Challenge: Everyone’s A Critic

I set out to write the final draft of my latest novel in ten days. Now read on: Everybody’s a critic. Yesterday while I was working on the balcony, a parrot flew past and delivered a review. Thank god it missed the keyboard. I’m halfway through my self-imposed time limit on the new book and […]

10 Day Book Challenge: Day 3

So I’m up there, Piso 2, in the dark, at the laptop. It’s lower on the desk than my London screen so I hunch over. I have to lie on my back twice a day and push back my shoulders to prevent my old RSI from returning. You train for these big finishes like an […]