Reading & Writing

Writing That’s So Bad It’s Good

There’s a healthy market for bad books. Game of Thrones fans were so upset by the final series of the epic show that they started trolling the two scriptwriters. When you Googled ‘bad writers’ that month, the first thing that came up was a photograph of the pair. Viewers were upset that their invested time […]

Hipsterism For Beginners

‘If you’re woke, you dig it.’ Well, that answers the question; the word ‘woke’ first appeared in 1962, after William Melvin Kelley said it in a New York Times article that suggested beatniks had appropriated slang from African-Americans. Kelley was 24 at the time and lived ‘uptown, way uptown.’ He was interested in idiomatic language, […]

Inside Writing 3: A Blank Page

There remains, clear like an adventure, the day.  Today I started the 20th Bryant & May novel, to be published in 2021, which may seem a long way off to you but is actually a little behind schedule, which is why author’s works continue to appear after they drop dead. A blank page, then. How to mark […]

Gags By Gaslight

The covers are shockingly bad – possibly made by children with pasta shapes and Pritstick. The formats are annoying – why is Volume 4 a different size? But behind the covers are a real surprise. First, let’s step back a bit. The nation went into mourning when it heard that Arthur Conan Doyle was not […]

Inside Writing 2: Why You Need To Know What You’ve Written

The steps between thoughts must be cut shallow. I was once in California and made the mistake of walking across a part of the beach surfers considered to be theirs. They threw rocks at me until I retreated cut and bruised. I had never really encountered aggressively stupid people before and it came as a […]

Inside Writing 1: The Things That Did Not Happen

This is the first of a new series that I hope will explore the actual experience of writing, from the first word to publication. So, What Do You Do Apart From Just Writing Books? I love that question. I get asked it a lot. Some people are surprised that what they consider a hobby can […]

The 5 Creepiest Agatha Christie Books

Being a contrarian, I probably wasn’t the first choice to be placed on a crime writers’ panel dedicated to Agatha Christie. I wasn’t prepared to sit there praising her uncritically, but I figured her audience was there to hear exactly that, so when official Christie doyenne Sophie Hannah declared that there was no other author […]

Modern Murder Mysteries Pt 2: The Butler Didn’t Do It

Yes, that’s Bryant & May in Lego, sent by superfan David Bond. Apart from anything else, the lighting is perfect. He tells me he’s working on another one. This sort of thing doesn’t usually happen in crime novels. ‘You can say whatever you like so long as you keep a straight face’ is an old […]

Is It Too Early To Mention Next Year?

I am a driven scribomaniac to the detriment of my personal life.   For many authors 2019 was another annus horribilis, as publishers exercised caution in a retrenched market. The competition grew fiercer but the books published (far too many of them) became tamer, and it often felt as if they failed to exist in […]

A Fairytale For Christmas

I promised to post a Christmas fairytale this season. It was written to commission, the brief being to twist a traditional story. There are certain styles you can adopt very easily, the Sherlock Holmes approach for example, and fairy tales have a rhythm all their own that dates back to their Victorian translators. And can […]