Reading & Writing

Kurt Vonnegut Explains All Stories

**FILE**Author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is shown in New York City in 1979. Kurt Vonnegut's wife says the satirical novelist of works such as "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle" has died Wednesday Aprill 11, 2007 at age 84. (AP Photo/Marty Reichenthal-File)

This weekend I’m heading for Leeds to teach a class about telling scary short stories at SlungLow’s Fun Palace. After I’d written what I was going to say, this came to my attention via a guy called Ian Mason, who suggested that Christopher Booker’s ‘The Seven Basic Plots’ was a rip-off of this clip (not […]

There Really Was A Golden Age Of Murder


As some of you know, I write a weekly column for the Independent on Sunday called ‘Invisible Ink’, about once massively popular authors who have now become a minority taste or who have vanished altogether. I thought carefully about including Margery Allingham in the column. She’s hardly ever out of print, and readers certainly know her […]

Upcoming Launches & Signings

Signing @ FP

Two for the diary if you’re in London;  there’ll be a signing at Forbidden Planet probably on October 18th – I’ll confirm this in the next few days – for ‘The Sand Men’, and I daresay we’ll be having a few beers after in a nearby pub, probably The Angel – all welcome (I always assume my […]

Anthologies VS Collections


Readers have asked me about this a number of times, so here’s an answer to a recurring question: Anthologies are not collections. The former are compilations from a variety of authors under the aegis of an editor who (hopefully) makes an intelligent selection, and the latter stem from a single writer. Collections are less popular […]

Frightening Is Coming


After 13 collections of short stories I swore I’d never write another – particularly after my disastrous decision to go with small press for ‘Red Gloves’, a massive double-sided book which look stunning but which never reached bookshops. However, with the approaching arrival of my backlist of 19 books as e-publications it made sense to […]

Sand Storm Coming In!


My thriller ‘The Sand Men’ is heading this way at the start of October from Rebellion Press, and that strange cracking noise is me breaking out of yet another pigeonhole. This time the demographic lines are really blurred. Is it SF? Yes and no; it’s set in the present day but explores themes close to […]

Books I Fight To Finish


Writers are not supposed to name the books they don’t like; it’s an unwritten law, as if by doing so we’ll somehow damage the trade. All writers have flaws and quirks; it’s what makes them individual and interesting, and is why instructional books like Joseph Campbell’s ‘The Hero’s Journey’ cannot be applied to the letter, […]

I Don’t Know How To Write


I’m not a huge believer in How To Write guides. I’ve tried to read several books on writing novels, but the only one I enjoyed was Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, because it’s more of a pulpy, bouncy memoir about being a popular writer than a proscriptive list of dry rules for story structure academics. In […]

Writing Lesson: Killing Your Darlings


An art teacher once gave one of her pupils a consistently brilliant score. One day she left and her star pupil got a new teacher. His scores plummeted. The upset parent sought out the first teacher and asked; ‘Why did my son get better scores under you?’ She replied; ‘I knew when to take his […]

When The Devil Isn’t In The Detail


Poor old Oscar, endlessly quoted, and not always accurately. I wonder what he would have made of the modern Twitterverse? Would he have loved dropping aphorisms onto it or would he have been horrified by its egalitarianism? I really enjoyed Jon Ronson’s ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’, an exploration of modern-day online witch-hunts which could not […]