Reading & Writing

Tiny Fools & Billionaires

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 […]

The Reichenbach Falls Moment

The Death of Sherlock Holmes

At the peak of his popularity, Sean Connery walked away from James Bond, and failed to make the best film in the series to date, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’. Instead, the producers opted for ‘Big Fry Man’ George Lazenby, whose personality proved so unpleasant that Diana Rigg ate garlic before having to kiss him. […]

Writing A Novel In One Draft

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Some books are written like butter melting in a frying pan – smooth, fast and easy. Others are stubborn and keep you awake at night for months. The book I’m just finishing this month (probably for 2016) has been through seven drafts, to the point where I can no longer read it objectively. Does that […]

Criminal Consequences As Specsavers Readers Choose The Plot

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The game of Consequences – finishing something started by someone else – has long been popular among crime writers. Charles Dickens had, in a way, inspired the idea in another form with books like ‘Mugby Junction’ and ‘The Haunted House’. In these he started off a story and had other writers deliver additional episodes which […]

Conversations With My Agent

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In 1963 Mel Brooks’ comedy partner Carl Reiner wrote the autobiographical ‘Enter Laughing’, about being a young TV scriptwriter working on live TV comedy for a showrunner described as ‘the Ulcer That Walks Like A Man’. Forced to write up his ideas just minutes ahead of the performers going in front of the cameras, he […]

Where Ideas For Creepy Plots Start…

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So, on Saturday night I go to a party in Brussels with my partner and good friends. A mutual friend is having a big birthday in the parental home, where almost everyone in attendance is united by a common factor – a life or a background in multiple countries. There is a Brazilian film producer […]