Reading & Writing

Why Authors Are Forgotten: Part 1


Over the next six days I’m doing something different here; I’m going to publish a version of the talk I gave around the country on the subject of authors we have loved and misplaced. I started from a template and tended to spring off in different directions for each talk, depending on the mood of […]

Weirdly Forgotten: The Eventful Life Of Algernon Blackwood


In the league table of lately obscure British writers, the name of Algernon Blackwood ranks pretty highly. When you try to remember him, images from a handful of strange short stories might come to mind, and such memories may only have stayed with you at a subconscious level because his tales were collected in the […]

The Secret Life Of Objects


Objects. You only have to use them. We writers have to describe them, over and over again. After a while you start to run out of ways to describe a table or a coat or a drink or rain. Weather conditions crop up in every book, and colours are so frequently required that you end […]

Think You’ve Mastered English? Read This.


  This is not a piece designed to show off clever long words, but to reveal that English is more complex than you’d imagine. In the process we’ll go from Virginia Woolf to Tom Jones. Follow me there. An article republished from a US journal appeared in the Guardian this morning. Researchers have been trying […]

On Tour With The Author


There was a time when authors were regularly packed off around the UK and the USA to talk to the grand matrons of the book clubs. There are authors who still get the star-treatment world tours, but they’re the famous ones, the centres of the Venn diagrams, the movers and shakers who have their own […]

Blog Tour Update


Apart from the physical tour starting next week, I’m being personally interviewed on all of these sites – many of which have terrific questions to ask. There’s a lot of good writing out there!

The Secrets Of A Pseudonym


One of the first questions you get asked as a writer is ‘Do you write under your own name? Considering I know a great many writers and none of them has a pseudonym it’s an odd thing to ask. I had certainly never considered adopting a pen name, because you spend years building a reputation […]

How I Came To Do This


My father once told me ‘We are a nation of creators. What we fail to do is raise enough money to develop and distribute our creations. The Americans do that part brilliantly. They’re very clever at buying talent. They succeed by taking ideas to people.’ It stuck with me when I read about the histories […]

UK Writers Like A Challenge. Well, They Have One Now.


I’ve always thought of myself as European but I’m not, of course. Bryant & May are only a very slight exaggeration of my relatives (although I have some German blood – ‘Like the royal family’, my mum said). I came from a solid middle-class if slightly desperate family who would have loved to go to […]

Reader Poll: Collected Short Fiction


Recently I tried to collect all of the stories that Shirley Jackson wrote. It’s impossible to do so without getting overlaps. As a collector I find this very annoying. The complete short stories of JG Ballard are available in two volumes, but the stories of Daphne de Maurier are all over the shop and set […]