Reading & Writing

Is There Another Way To Create A Heroine?


They’re known as WIP films, and have been around as long as cinema. I suppose my favourite Women In Peril films would include ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, ‘Link’, ‘Wait Until Dark’, ‘The Hidden Face’, ‘Suspiria’, ‘Julia’s Eyes’, ‘Panic Room’, ‘The Hidden Face’ and ‘Penumbra’, but there are many others. One could even describe ‘Aliens’ as a WIP […]

Wrestling The Monster


There was a film by Nick Broomfield about Spalding Gray’s attempt to write a new novel called ‘Monster In A Box’, which struck a horrible chord of familiarity with me. I’ve never had writer’s block as such, but I believe there are ‘easy’ books and ‘hard’ books. The former are smooth to write, come in […]

Make Money As An Author: Die Young


Seriously, they’ll be able to republish your first novel while people are feeling sorry for you. It’ll be a good career move. It’s a long-standing maxim that while ‘no man except a blockhead ever wrote except for money’ (cf. Samuel Johnson), no-one can really make a living doing it. The traditional answer to that statement […]

Permission To Laugh


An alarming idea today: Are readers and audiences now obeying demographics, which were once designed to categorise their tastes? It strikes me because, when I analyse successful entertainment (as all writers are prone to do) I can see a huge new change in our habits. Prior to the compartmentalisation of consumption, we enjoyed a book […]

What Makes Appealing Writing?

paperboy 2004

A question: Do you want to try and get rich or do you want to be satisfied? Surprisingly, there are many writers who still believe that this is even a viable choice. Nobody who’s creative can ‘decide’ to get rich. Many writers who set out with supposedly killer hooks for their books quickly come a […]

The Rules Of Crime


Ronald Arbuthnott Knox was a Catholic priest known for his theological scholarship. He single-handedly re-translated the Latin Vulgate Bible into English, and often wrote on religious themes. But he was also an editor, literary critic and humourist who wrote six decent mystery novels and three volumes of short stories, starting in the late 1920s. According […]

How Much Do Readers ‘Get’?


I don’t believe in lowest-common-demonenator writing. There should be books we’ll never fully understand and tales of such complexity we have to wrestle with them, even though there are fears that the days of complex or obscure writing are coming to an end, partly due to the new ADD that has replaced quiet contemplation (there’s […]

A Short Horror Story In 50 Words


Many years ago I was asked to write a short horror story with a catch; it had to be no more or less than fifty words. I have no idea what the book was because I must have torn out my entry from it (clearly didn’t think much of the others) and stuck it behind […]

Mad, Mad Michael Moorcock


First, an apology for the shot of Jon Finch; it seems insulting to start a piece on Michael Moorcock with a still of the film he must hate (‘The Final Programme’) – but  it’s not easy to pin down quicksilver. For a long time he was seen as primarily a fantasy writer – a genre […]

Death By Snobbery: The Strange Story of JBP


When I asked if my mother wanted something to read, she instantly requested JB Priestley. ‘The plays?’ I suggested. ‘No,’ she replied, ‘the novels.’ If John Boynton Priestley has undergone something of a rediscovery lately it’s because of his theatre work, but Priestley was known to the older generation for some 26 novels that contained […]