Reading & Writing

When Hollywood Comes Calling On British Writers

FIN06_Mortdecai_1Sht_JD_26x39-w

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

TallinnGates

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

golem_still1

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

Unknown

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

02

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

JG

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, […]

Goodbye PD James, Queen Of Crime

Unknown

Phyllis Dorothy James, the grande-dame of crime writing, has died at 94. Until pretty recently she was still attending events, which may be proof that writing keeps you young. My pal Barry Forshaw met her many times and is now writing about her in today’s Independent. Psychological suspensers make more sense to me than police procedurals, partly […]

The Eureka Moment

IMG_3874

Today the T-shirt says it all. I’m not having any Eureka moments. Staring out of the window is what I often have to do as part of my job. And today, the worst part, the staring bit, is here again. A runway of blank white paper stretches before me. I’ve delivered a new novel, and […]

A Question For Readers

Solar Topee Pith Helmet

Recently someone asked me if my books were set in America, because she didn’t want to read anything that wasn’t set in places she couldn’t recognise and identify with. I had to admit that the Bryant & May books were mostly set in London. I can sympathise with this point of view. Comedians often use observational […]

Why Each Book Needs A Single Memorable Moment

7491700

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 […]