Reading & Writing

Why You Should Write For Nothing

Freewriting

We’ve just had the Frankfurt Book Fair, where rights are sold, and new trends emerge. I am now a long way into my career, with dozens of published books and an uncountable number of unmade film scripts, and selling each novel is a new challenge. Writers complain that the market is hard, genre is disrespected, […]

A Writer’s Life: Why You Need A Good Editor

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In today’s world has everywhere been written about? I’ve read novels set in North Korea and among ancient tribes. What about the modern state of how we live now in the UK, our relationships and confusions, and the way in which ‘career portfolios’ replace traditional jobs? US novelists write state-of-the-nation books very well, but we […]

The Mystery of George Langelaan

ca.0905.fly.1--A scene from the 20th Century-Fox Production "THE FLY". Vincent Price (R) Herbert Marshall (L) and Charles Herbert.

Although he was born in Paris in 1908, Langelaan was British, and lived a life far stranger than almost any of his fictions. By my reckoning, he didn’t get published until he was approaching fifty – so what was he doing in the intervening years? Well, he began as a newspaper writer until the start […]

English As Sheer Spoke

Grammar

Tip of the hat to the BBC’s Matthew Anderson for finding this tip on the unspoken rules of English grammar. All contrary examples accepted!

Capital Crimes

Unknown

The British Library has been unearthing forgotten murder mysteries from its stacks for a while now, all with delicious matching covers that look like the old paintings you used to get in separate railway carriages (Anyone remember? Bueller? Anyone?) To be honest they’ve been a mixed bunch, with some dated stinkers mixed in with the […]

So You’re Going To Write A Book…

Dinner talk

No wonder they describe plays as having ‘a run’; actors often compare performing eight shows a week to training for a marathon; they exercise, diet, stop socialising and commit themselves to continual practice. Writers do it as well. A book you care about writing consumes you. It’s the job you bring home from work and […]

A Little Summer Reading

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It’s a beautiful sunny day in August, just before London turns overbaked and blowsy in the protracted death of summer. I’ve been wandering in Regent’s Park, and am now sitting in a chest-high lavender field in King’s Cross, London, where armchairs have thoughtfully been provided for passers-by. I’m reading another book by Jim Shepard. I […]

An Adventure Into The Fantastic

one457

  It goes without saying that writing fantasy is very different to writing a crime novel. But I didn’t realise just how different it was until I attempted one. It not only doesn’t read like any other kind of literature; it doesn’t write like one either. My favourites in this genre would include ‘Gormenghast’, ‘The […]

Want To Be A Writer? Prepare To Be Lonely

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‘This has given me friends all over the world’, says Tony Hancock, patting his radio transmitter. ‘None in this country, just all over the world.’ Social media gives you a false sense of what friends is all about. But consider the writer; you work alone, at home or in a quiet place, and your head […]

Plugging Into The Public

Wood Green Fest

Church hall. Rainy Sunday. Hardly any audience. We’ve all been there (luckily the very funny Lloyd Shepherd was there). Every author will tell you the same thing; in general, meeting the public is a fantastic experience, but every now and again you get someone who makes you question why you bother. I once had a […]