Reading & Writing

Male & Female Reading


Despite the new century’s welcome seismic shift in sexual equality, we all know there are gender divisions in reading. Or as my father once put it; ‘Romantic novels are for middle-aged women who hate their husbands.’  I’ve met few men who profess to having read ‘Jane Eyre’, a novel I find turgid and deeply peculiar, […]

Want To Write? Try Joining The Club


At one of the first publishing parties I ever attended, I found myself among a group of bright young things discussing new books. I felt a little out of my depth because the BYTs all worked for literary publications and were littering the floor with Latin phrases and the titles of philosophical novels I hadn’t […]

Whatever Happened To ‘Darkest Day’?


I often get asked about this book, and a couple of readers have asked me why it’s not being included in the complete run of e-books coming later this year. When the Bryant & May novel Seventy-Seven Clocks appeared in hardback a few years ago, it caused a bit of a rumpus. In the planning […]

If You Have An e-Reader You May Like This


I’m busy writing 20 introductions to the e-versions of my past novels and short story collections that will be coming out later this year. One of the things I’m trying to do for these intros is to recall all of the films, plays, shorts and audio adaptations that have been made from the stories. I […]

Word On The Street


The Londonist points me toward a new map which places works of fiction in their correct city locations, and I’m a bit on the thrilled side to say I’ve made the cut (although I haven’t seen the finished thing yet). The Map of Fictional London takes you from The Wombles to Dracula, and provides a […]

The First Schoolboy Hero


The heroic English schoolboy is an archetype that has survived for two centuries, finding its most recent incarnation in the form of Harry Potter, a perfectly adequate avatar for a generation of middle-class children who wanted stories set in a rigorously ordered society of loyalties and hierarchies. But the story of the English schoolboy goes […]

‘Watchmaker’ Runs Like Clockwork


It’s taken a long time for critics to realise that some of the finest writing in the world is – and always has been – fantasy literature, and that it takes many forms, from, say, John Crowley’s ‘Little, Big’ to Natsume Soseki’s ‘I Am A Cat’. But how do you attract the right readership? It’s […]

The Greatest British Novel – A Travesty


So, the BBC commissioned 81 respected book critics (odd number and no details of the selection but never mind) from around the world to help decide the greatest British novel of all time – I know, the whole thing is spurious to say the least, but it’s a fun talking point – and each one […]

Minding Our Language


Me, I’m the master of the split infinitive, can’t spell ‘receive’ and still sometimes get confused about when to put full stops inside brackets, but other than that, my editor doesn’t have to waste much biro ink on me. Or should that be Biro ink? However, while I’m as exercised as anyone by signs like […]

Authors Made Visible


When I started my ‘Invisible Ink’ column in the UK’s Independent On Sunday, it seemed that I might be able to direct a few readers who showed an interest toward authors they had missed. When the column began, it seemed an intriguing idea to find out what happened to some of the popular authors whose books […]