Reading & Writing

Why Each Book Needs A Single Memorable Moment

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I have a friend who wants to be a writer. He tells me he’s about to start ‘a huge series of books, which will be better when they film it as a series’. He still hasn’t started a single one after ten years, despite being obsessed by the idea of quantity. The author Magnus Mills […]

The Reichenbach Falls Moment

The Death of Sherlock Holmes

At the peak of his popularity, Sean Connery walked away from James Bond, and failed to make the best film in the series to date, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’. Instead, the producers opted for ‘Big Fry Man’ George Lazenby, whose personality proved so unpleasant that Diana Rigg ate garlic before having to kiss him. […]

Writing A Novel In One Draft

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Some books are written like butter melting in a frying pan – smooth, fast and easy. Others are stubborn and keep you awake at night for months. The book I’m just finishing this month (probably for 2016) has been through seven drafts, to the point where I can no longer read it objectively. Does that […]

Criminal Consequences As Specsavers Readers Choose The Plot

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The game of Consequences – finishing something started by someone else – has long been popular among crime writers. Charles Dickens had, in a way, inspired the idea in another form with books like ‘Mugby Junction’ and ‘The Haunted House’. In these he started off a story and had other writers deliver additional episodes which […]

Conversations With My Agent

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In 1963 Mel Brooks’ comedy partner Carl Reiner wrote the autobiographical ‘Enter Laughing’, about being a young TV scriptwriter working on live TV comedy for a showrunner described as ‘the Ulcer That Walks Like A Man’. Forced to write up his ideas just minutes ahead of the performers going in front of the cameras, he […]

Where Ideas For Creepy Plots Start…

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So, on Saturday night I go to a party in Brussels with my partner and good friends. A mutual friend is having a big birthday in the parental home, where almost everyone in attendance is united by a common factor – a life or a background in multiple countries. There is a Brazilian film producer […]

Hell Train Now Stops In Germany

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The Germans, do you know them at all? Lovely literate people, smart and terribly self-deprecating. Berliners, awesomely friendly folks. I just went to Oktoberfest (in September and in Tokyo, I admit) but all those oompah-tunes and gallons of great beer and sausages (a bugger to eat with chopsticks) – what’s not to love? And they […]

Chosen Your Plot Yet?

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The launch of the Dead Good and Specsavers #ChooseThePlotcampaign has taken place, and up and down the country people are deciding who I should kill. Following on from Michael Joseph’s success in 2013 with #YouDunnit, a crowd-sourced Twitter novella, this year Specsavers (who do an excellent job of sponsoring crime writers) approached me to tell a story […]

What Does A Publishing PR Do?

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Publishing PRs can be a bit of a punchline; there are plenty of jokes about posh girls called Daisy or Emma looking to fill the time between finishing school and marriage to a trustafarian, but in reality a good PR is worth her weight in diamonds (they’re usually women, although I know a few male […]

What Does A Copy Editor Do?

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I suppose they used to be called proof readers, and their role is subtly different from that undertaken by the main book editor. Once the manuscript reaches them, the main themes have been addressed (in my experience there’s very little editorial interference, more a matter of advice) so they can concentrate on the flow of […]