Reading & Writing

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 […]

Invisible Ink 5: Kenneth Anglemeyer


If ever there was a case of adopting an apt pseudonym, Anglemeyer had it. Born into a middle class family in Santa Monica, California, he quickly became the author of his own legend and rechristened himself Kenneth Anger. Setting out to become a child actor and then a filmmaker, he managed to acquit himself after […]

Weird Word Fact Of The Week


This came from but is too good not to share. Do you know what a mondegreen is? It means a word that has reached us through mispronunciation. That’s how we got what was once the 27th letter of the alphabet. It used to follow Z, and its shape is one and a half thousand […]

Invisible Ink 4: Virginia Andrews


Sometimes an author’s work lives on, but here’s the first example I found of an author living beyond her death (the practice is commonplace now). Or rather, not – because the real Virginia Andrews has been forgotten and was replaced by a ghost writer called Andrew Neiderman, who penned over 40 subsequent volumes in her […]

Invisible Ink 3: Eric Ambler & Neville Shute


While neither of these classic authors is truly forgotten – in the UK at least – their words have faded to a faintness only discerned by loyal fans, and most modern readers would be hard-pressed to recall them. Reprints are available and second-hand copies lie in Oxfam shops, but both have been caught out by […]

Oh God, I’ve Just Found My Unpublished Novels


You all know the story about the Beatles and Hamburg, about how awful they sounded before they left and how professional they were when they returned after playing hundreds of gigs. The same applies to writers. Good first novels never materialise out of nowhere. They’re reached after many many hours, days, months, years of writing. […]

Invisible Ink 2: Margery Allingham


Margery Allingham   I thought carefully about including Margery Allingham in my list of forgotten authors, so let’s address the problem right at the start. She’s hardly ever out of print, and many readers know her name even if they haven’t read her. However, very few of them have really got to grips with her […]

Writing Lessons: Finding The Idea


Writing is like cooking. When you love both, you quickly notice the similarities. They involve assembling the ingredients, tasting the concoction, trying it on friends, offering it to a wider audience. The difference is the imposition of the publisher in the process of writing, who helps to refine the recipe. But in cooking you don’t […]

Why Everyone’s An Author Now


The Observer just ran an interesting article that confirmed my suspicions. A marketeer uploaded a fake book onto Amazon, took a photo of his foot for the cover and added it into Amazon’s format, bought three copies and was awarded a ‘Number 1 Amazon Bestseller’ banner by the company. What he did was tick two […]