Reading & Writing

I Don’t Know How To Write


I’m not a huge believer in How To Write guides. I’ve tried to read several books on writing novels, but the only one I enjoyed was Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, because it’s more of a pulpy, bouncy memoir about being a popular writer than a proscriptive list of dry rules for story structure academics. In […]

Writing Lesson: Killing Your Darlings


An art teacher once gave one of her pupils a consistently brilliant score. One day she left and her star pupil got a new teacher. His scores plummeted. The upset parent sought out the first teacher and asked; ‘Why did my son get better scores under you?’ She replied; ‘I knew when to take his […]

When The Devil Isn’t In The Detail


Poor old Oscar, endlessly quoted, and not always accurately. I wonder what he would have made of the modern Twitterverse? Would he have loved dropping aphorisms onto it or would he have been horrified by its egalitarianism? I really enjoyed Jon Ronson’s ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’, an exploration of modern-day online witch-hunts which could not […]

Trubble With Wordz


With so many other more pressing things to worry about in the world, shouldn’t we not be more flexible about our language? After all, it wasn’t so very long ago that people had alternative spellings of their own names. It’s not written in stone, is it? Well it is, kind of, in the 42 volume […]

Does Geography Affect Creativity?

London storms

Readers have noticed that there’s an awful lot of rain in my mystery novels. That’s because they’re set in London, which – although drier now than ever before – is still a city of dark skies. I’m noticing a distinct correlation between my output and the weather, and not in the way you’d expect. Working […]

Bryant & May Move Into Twisted Territory

B&M Audio

I’ve now delivered two new Bryant & May books; the first is for the Christmas season, and is entitled ‘Bryant & May: London’s Glory’. It will be out on November the 5th, and will be a collection of eleven missing cases, along with various oddities, background history, an essay on Golden Age detectives and the […]

More Bad Writing


If you hired a carpenter and he built you some shelves that subsequently collapsed when you stood books on them, you’d call him a bad carpenter. So in yesterday’s article about bad writers I was interested by a number of comments (some of which I didn’t publish because they were from online trolls) which argued […]

Is This The World’s Best Bad Writer?


It’s an excitingly rich field that started with William McGonagall and has reached its ne plus ultra with the wonderful, appalling ‘Sherry Silver’. Her prose is so staggeringly inept that I’ve sort of fallen in love with her, as I did with Jacqueline Suzanne and Dan Brown. Ms Silver sounds like a perfectly nice, normal kind […]

Harrogate & The Gender Balance


Every year Harrogate hosts Britain’s biggest gathering of crime writers and their readers at the Old Swan Hotel, and the four-day event, called the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, is usually a sell-out. People in Yorkshire are avid readers (and drinkers of the eponymous beer) but there are also visitors from all over the […]

Eight Great Forgotten Anthologies


Anthologies are not collections. The former are compilations from a variety of authors under the aegis of an editor who makes the selections, and the latter stem from a single writer. Anthologies were once hugely popular in the UK and provided an inexpensive way of discovering new writers; a task now performed by e-readers. Consequently […]