Reading & Writing

Invisible Ink: Richard Bach


There are certain books that only college students have the patience to read. In the seventies ‘Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask’ and ‘Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance’ were romping up the book charts in university towns. Each generation of wide-eyed freshers promotes one of these […]

Should You Write Ideas Or Action?


You have a great idea for a novel. You want to explore a particular theme. As you develop your characters, who adopt alternative viewpoints and lay out their arguments that you have spent a long time researching, you start to worry if the tale is becoming too dry. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of putting […]

Invisible Ink 9: Stacy Aumonier


There’s something twinkling and Christmassy and resolutely English about Stacy Aumonier. His ‘Extremely Entertaining Short Stories’ feel as if they should be read aloud by a roaring fire. Why is he so little known? He was born near Regent’s Park into a family of craftsmen and artists in 1877, and reached 51 before dying of […]

Invisible Ink 8: Lady Cynthia Asquith

by Walter Benington, for  Elliott & Fry, chlorobromide print, mid 1930s

  I often think that female authors from the past excel at cruel stories with emotional and possibly supernatural tints, using apparitions, fears and forebodings to indicate heightened states of unspoken emotional distress. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ (now a staple on every English student’s comparative literature list), a wife possibly suffering from […]

Taking The Lid Off LitFests


One of the peculiarities of appearing at literary festivals is that people always ask you if you’re having a great time, to which my pal Joanne Harris replied with just the right amount of testiness; ‘We’re working at the weekend.’ Usually for nothing more than the love of books and (hopefully, if they’ve been ordered) […]

Invisible Ink 7: Charlotte Armstrong

night call

She should have been regarded as the Mistress of Suspense, but instead her name is all but lost. Charlotte Armstrong was born in the iron-mining territory of Vulcan, Michigan, in 1905, and worked in the classified ads department of the New York Times before hitting her stride as a playwright and mystery writer. She adopted […]

Me & Joanne


Both Joanne Harris and I started in the rougher end of murder and mayhem. She began writing with ‘The Bad Seed’ and ‘Sleep, Pale Sister’, two darkly horrific novels. I began with books like ‘Roofworld’ and ‘Spanky’, mixes of dark satire, fantasy and horror. We have both tackled other genres, Joanne with ‘Runemarks’, me with […]

‘Roofworld’ And ‘Spanky’ Are Both Back


‘The lightness of the author’s touch conceals an underlying narrative of alienation,’ fellow author Joanne Harris says about me, adding, ‘perhaps this is why, in spite of having won countless genre awards, he has never received the mainstream acclaim he so deserves. Perhaps it is the sheer scope and variety of his output that continue […]

Invisible Ink 6: Michael Arlen


‘For King and cocktails!’ cries Marley, the aristocrat whose futile life is dissected in the novel ‘Piracy’. The world of Mayfair between the wars can make for a stifling read; all those debs and ballrooms, the spiteful point-scoring of titled couples, the calibrated snobbery of the Empire almost on its uppers now provides us with […]

Back Into Print: 20 Titles From My Past


On May 12th, the first of my redesigned and reformatted novels make an appearance on as e-books for the low price of £2.99. ‘Roofworld’ and ‘Spanky’ were both big hits for me, but have been out of print for years. There will be twenty volumes in all, including novels and short story collections, featuring new […]