Reading & Writing

Oh Miss Porter! The Author Nobody’s Ever Heard Of


To my knowledge, at least, no-one has ever read her except me – somebody prove me wrong! What sort of writer numbers their books One, Two and Three instead of coming up with proper titles? And who would deliberately go against all the traditional tropes of the mystery genre? I have to admit I’d never […]

The Story Behind The Sand Men


If you care to cast your orbs to the far right of this page, to the bit no-one ever looks at (I assume) you’ll find the first chapter of my next novel posted (hopefully) for your delectation. Those who care for the futurologist Mr JG Ballard may especially enjoy the book, but actually but it’s […]

How To Start A Story 1: Don’t Mention The Weather


It’s usually a bad sign when a novel opens with a description of the weather. With so many ways available of capturing the reader’s attention, why start with one we can all see? The exception is the famous opening of ‘Bleak House’ (which I parodied in the opening of ‘The Burning Man’), because Dickens manages […]

Why Ballard’s Still The Boss


It is now six years since Jim Ballard died. In a world with few heroes, he was one of mine. He began writing short stories in 1956, part of SF’s ‘new wave’, in which space ships and intergallactic battles were eschewed in favour of 20th century problems taken to extremes. His work is therefore more […]

England & The Tropics


For an author who is continually associated with London, I’m desirous of leaving it a lot. The city is perfectly pitched at a central point for travelling, and as it’s possible to reach anywhere in Europe by simply catching a train at a station just a 10 minute walk from my front door, the temptation […]

Collecting Reprinted Stories


Readers always express surprise when they discover a writer has prolific output; it’s as if a good book should take a defined number of years to mature, but this is not the case at all. We each work at our own speed, according to what we can manage. Our normal lives still have to be […]

Crime Collectives: Why ‘Killer Men’ Wouldn’t Work

Killer Women

Crime fiction accounts for a third of all UK fiction sold, and the majority of its readers are women. As the crime festival season gets into gear this weekend, starting with Bristol Crimefest, a new collective of crime writers has formed called Killer Women. A vast swathe of novels fall into the mid-list category, where […]

Those Nominations In Full

Shortlisted Author collage

  Just a sounding-own-trumpet heads-up on the following news just in. ‘Bryant & May: The Bleeding Heart’ has now been nominated for; Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival Novel Of The Year Longlist Bristol Crimefest Last Laugh Award CWA Dagger In The Library Award And I’ve just been shortlisted for the Margery Allingham Short Story […]

Perry In Seraglio (Part 2 of 2)


This is the concluding part of one of my earliest short stories, the first part of which ran yesterday in the ‘Reading & Writing’ section of my blog. “Half a hit, that can’t do you any harm.” “Acid always leaves me wasted the next morning.” “So what are you rushing to get up for tomorrow, […]

Perry In Seraglio (Part 1 of 2)


As my missing books get digitised this year, I’ll be posting some short stories from them. This is one of my very first tales, taken from ‘City Jitters’. I haven’t read it in decades and have no idea if it’s absolutely terrible or just slightly terrible. Read it by all means, but you have been […]