Reading & Writing

History Should Never Be Dull

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I’m a big believer in kids’ books like the Horrible Histories series, which give children the history bug at an early age. My school history teacher was a man of such tedious, plodding tones that it’s a miracle we managed to stay awake, let alone learn anything. It wasn’t until I discovered Christopher Hibbert in […]

Does Rowling Destroy Other Writers?

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The historical mystery author Lynn Shepherd has caused outrage by suggesting that JK Rowling’s move into adult fiction is drawing away money from new writers. Having seen inside the publishing house that handles her marketing, you’d be forgiven for thinking so. I took a look at Shepherd’s author page on Amazon.com and found that her books […]

Our Friends In The North

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Being a Londoner, this blog inevitably gets Londoncentric, but I have a great affinity with the North. Londoners trot out lazy, obvious prejudices about much of the North, forgetting that it was the great Victorian driver of international commerce, through industries like wool, shipbuilding, steel, coal and china. Every major city had grand civic buildings […]

Some People Will Read Anything

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When you write your first novel, you have to be very careful deciding who you’re aiming it at, because it will probably become your best-remembered work. I can say this from examining the careers of hundreds of authors for my weekly ‘Invisible Ink’ column in the Independent on Sunday. If it’s a big hit and […]

Whatever Happened To Anthologies?

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I grew up reading the Pan Books of Horror (see columns passim) and eventually entered their hallowed pages as an author, which was a great thrill. After they ended, I continued to collect anthologies (not collections – they’re stories from a single writer), often working for the passionate anthologist editor Stephen Jones, but recently the […]

My Favourite Moments In Novels No.4

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Robert Bruce Montgomery, born 1921, was the organist and choirmaster of St John’s College, Oxford. This spirited, funny man turned to composing movie music and wrote six scores for the ‘Carry On’ films. He also wrote the Gervase Fen books, eleven joyous volumes, all but one of which were produced between 1945 and 1951. The […]

My Favourite Moments In Novels No.3

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We need to talk about Dickens. There’s such a range of moments available to choose from (let’s not have the death of Little Nell or the bludgeoning of Nancy) that it’s quite impossible to narrow down the selection, so let’s have an opening, and it would have to be from ‘Bleak House’, simply because with […]

My Favourite Moments In Novels No.2

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Some years ago I wrote an essay on Gormenghast and why I loved it so much (naturally, I’ve lost the book it appeared in, and have no recollection of its title). I first read Mervyn Peake’s pinnacle of British fantasy writing when I was about fifteen, and it has lived with me ever since. There […]

New Look, New Books

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Welcome to the new website, where you’ll find all of the content that was here before, plus new features. Play around with it, and let me know what you think (as if I could stop you). On March 27th the next Bryant & May novel, ‘The Bleeding Heart’, arrives from Transworld in stores as a […]

My Favourite Moments In Novels No. 1

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In George Orwell’s ’1984′ Winston Smith rents a shabby room in the Proles’ part of town where he can conduct his illicit trysts. I suppose now one looks back and sees how much middle-class guilt informed the writing, never more so than in the moment when Smith looks out of the window of his room […]