Reading & Writing

The Author As Lighthouse Keeper

Last week our London flat was besieged; there was drilling from the gutted apartment below, hammering from the roofers above and steeplejacks were clambering past all the windows. The once-every-7-years building renovation had coincided with neighbours’ makeovers. Electric saws were operating at variable pitches, sounding like bassoons on feedback. I’m not normally sensitive to such […]

Scoured Silk

Bob Low recommended this surprising story by Margery Bowen in yesterday’s comments section, so I tracked it down for you (legally!)  This is a tale that might be told in many ways and from various points of view; it has to be gathered from here and there — a letter, a report, a diary, a […]

Our Forgotten Friends In The North

A mate of mine regularly bombards me with examples of bleak local humour, from the Manchester Evening News headline ‘Man’s legs stolen – wedding dream shattered’ to the York Evening Press competition to ‘Win a trip out with the city’s road gritting team!’ Northern journalists soon started writing novels with such a dark sense of […]

The Girl Who Loved French Films

I’m off for a week, heading to a small hotel in the sun to decompress before returning to finish my thriller and start the 2020 Bryant & May novel, which I hope is going to be a cracker. This means a little less blogging this week, although I’ll have my laptop and nearly 2,000 books […]

Back To The Office

I have two office chairs; this is the relaxing one. It sits on a tiny balcony in the sun, and is waiting for me at the end of each working day in Barcelona. I escaped here because the flat below ours in London is being gutted, and the noise makes it impossible to concentrate. My working […]

Why We Need To Start Slow Reading

It’s the fault of that bloody woman, Marie Kondo, forcing us all to chuck out our stuff and live with the things that give us joy. ‘Nobody needs more than 30 books,’ she says. Hey Marie, I have news for you. I ‘need’ at least a couple of thousand books, okay? It used to be […]

The Short Story’s Shelf Life Comes To An End

You Have To Love Something Enough To Kill It Martin Scorsese said that. It’s how I feel about short fiction, which I love writing. Above are some of the giants who have created complete short story collections. The era of the short story is not quite over – the Sunday Times still offers the biggest […]

Writers And The Subconscious

You need the pieces on the board before you can capture enemies I’m currently grappling with a slippery opponent; my new novel. So this is one of those articles in which I try to get at what happens inside the brain of any creative person when they’re trying to make something from nothing. If there’s […]

My 10 Best Pieces Of Writing Advice For 2019

Every year teaches me something new about the writing trade. I feel guilty that I have few discernible skills other than being a writer and being able to draw a bit (I’ve tried learning everything from windsurfing to piano and failed) but here at least I can offer a few words of advice to writers […]

‘Don’t Try Anything Funny’

‘Having a pronounced sense of humour is not a job qualification,’ a teacher once told me. I could have replied that having a low droning voice like a distant lawnmower was not a teacher’s job qualification, but I fear that would have proved his point.   Problem is, my desire for high learning is tempered […]