Reading & Writing

Three Frequently Asked Writer Questions

‘Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?’ This old chestnut crops up from experts and amateurs alike, and with such regularity that the creation of any work of fiction is clearly a source of continuing interest. Whether you relish the planning process or prefer to throw all your cards in the air and see what […]

The Author In Decline

‘Word Monkey’, my third and final memoir, will be about writing – not about how you become a debut author but what you do next, and next after that. It’s something few people are prepared to discuss. We always hear about the muse and the imagination but rarely about making a living in this peculiar […]

A Little Piece About Writing

I’m working on the final part of my trilogy-memoir ‘Word Monkey’ today, and therefore thinking about writing. A surprising amount of popular fiction is lazily, not to say badly, written. Want to write a quick bestseller? Try putting it in first person/present tense and you can get around the need for eloquence or better still, […]

RIP Writers’ Websites?

(My photo shows the cemetery where most of my family is buried) I’ve been blogging since (I think) 2006, starting on the site that preceded this one. It might have been earlier – the old site was far more complex and had revolving views of nighttime London built on Flash (remember that?), but was too […]

Should Crime Novels Reflect The Times?

How much of the times can you reflect? For most of the twentieth century the crime novel has been timeless, a place you could go where nothing much ever changed. Crime novels do reveal when they were written, of course. I instinctively place a pre- or post-war bracket on the older books I read. And […]

Home Is Where The Books Are

It turns out people aren’t comfortable just being with themselves. Blaise Pascal said, ‘All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,’ and the figures back him up. 95% of adults say they found time for a leisure activity in the previous 24 hours, but 83% said they’d spent no […]

Third Time Lucky

When I began my first memoir, ‘Paperboy’, about craving books and growing up in a home without them, I faced a problem. I had kept notebooks filled with fiction but never wrote down what actually happened within our family. The reason is clear to me now; I felt more comfortable inside a fantastical world than […]

Between Genres At The Moment

I’m in hospital again today with a tube hanging out of my arm so I’m typing this with one hand. The nurse isn’t coming around for an hour so I’ve time to bang this out. I’m writing a third volume of my award-winning memoirs (my agent insists on me adding that phrase). For those of […]

We’re Not On The Same Page Anymore

‘I got halfway through and stopped reading,’ said my New York agent. He was talking about my new manuscript. ‘There’s no market for it over here.’ ‘Things must be pretty bad when your own agent fires you,’ said a friend. ‘Why don’t you write to their market?’ ‘I don’t know what their market is anymore,’ […]

History & Mystery

My hair, the one change everyone swore they could predict, never fell out. But it did turn white. Now it’s starting to turn black. Every day’s a surprise in C-Land. As my fuzzy head clears and I build up a head of steam to write, the question is no longer ‘Can I?’ but ‘What should […]