Reading & Writing

You’re Invited to ‘The Burning Man’

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One reader points out, ‘You’re running an authors website, how about some book news?’ Fair point well made. Okay, first out of the gate for 2015 is ‘Bryant & May and the Burning Man’, which inconveniently launches on my birthday, March 26th (inconvenient because it turns out there was a secret restaurant booking made some […]

Blog From The Bog: Meeting Galton & Simpson

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In this occasional series I revisit past blog entries with further comments. Recently I read Graham Mccann’s ‘Spike & Co’, about the working life of Associated London Scripts, a company that included Eric Sykes, Johnny Speight, Spike Milligan and Galton & Simpson. As I get older I appreciate those last two more and more, especially […]

The Key To A Great Mystery

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When it came to filling in the Crime Writer’s Association form for which sub-genre of crime I wrote in, I had to stop and think for a minute. I suddenly felt like Hamlet and the players discussing types of play; comedy-pastoral-allegorical and so on. What was I? Not procedural, that’s for sure, not cosies either, […]

The Ladies Who Were World-Class Killers

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The world of mystery novels is now subdivided into a huge number of categories, ranging from alternative histories to supernatural thrillers, but the film version of ‘Gone Girl’ has reawakened an interest in Domestic Suspense. These are stories which only minimally involve the police, and are often based around marital suspicion and the tensions that […]

When Hollywood Comes Calling On British Writers

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How dumb of me – there I’ve been keeping mum for months instead of shooting my mouth off like I usually do, carefully avoiding any mention of what occurs in ‘Bryant & May 12: The Burning Man’ and what happens? I forget that the ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) have gone out this week! The cover […]

A Writer’s Life: Nuns, Bats & A Visit To Estonia

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They say writers are planners or gardeners, ie. that they either blueprint every last detail of a novel or throw a handful of seeds at the ground to see what will grow. I’m very much the latter, but after I can see what’s coming up, judicious pruning and killing off of weak ideas leaves me […]

The Other Frankenstein

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Gustav Meyer’s photograph shows a fresh, innocent face above a tightly buttoned coat with the world’s smallest lapels; he looks about 23, which would have placed him in Prague and made the year 1889. Meyer was the bastard son of Baron Karl von Varnbüler und zu Hemmingen (try saying that while eating a chocolate biscuit), and […]

Another Rare Author Returns

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Never say this blog is not ahead of the curve, me hearties. First it points you to Hans Fallada’s astonishing ‘Alone in Berlin’, only for the book to be announced as an upcoming Emma Thompson film, and now, after years of nagging people about the wonderful, obscure writer Michael McDowell, I’ve discovered that all of […]

The Forgotten Dickens Christmas Books

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In a strange way, popularity was the worst thing that could have happened to ‘A Christmas Carol’. After performances by Charles Dickens himself, a long history of bowdlerised versions, parodies, satires and remakes eventually led to the Muppets, by which time the story’s fierce sense of social injustice had vanished. We tend to forget now […]

Tiny Fools & Billionaires

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Compared to other nations, the British reading public has a very odd attitude towards comics, cartoons and graphic novels. The bande dessinée art of France and Belgium is regarded as obscure and downright peculiar, Italy’s fumetti are seen as excuses for sexist male fantasies and Japan’s manga comics, read by adults on every Tokyo subway, […]