Write What You Don’t Know

Writers are allowed to make shit up. What made me decide to set one of my first short stories in New York, when at that point I hadn’t been to America? It felt right for the tale but I got the details wrong. Luckily a good editor bailed me out and made it more authentic. […]

My Favourite London Art Installations

The challenge of filling the Tate Modern’s vast turbine hall has only been met with complete success a couple of times. many of the installations have looked lost in the space. Kara Walker’s giant ceramic fountain fits well inside the hall, but its meaning – something to do with slavery – is obscure and it’s […]

Kicking Christie

Into this fan frenzy steps muggins… Yesterday I was on a panel at London’s literary crime festival in the Grand Connaught Hotel (as featured in Sherlock Holmes stories), discussing her with four aficionados; her being Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE, 1890-1976, known for 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. The panel, […]

They Don’t Get Out Much

Some authors treat public events as pyramid-selling sessions In yesterday’s Comments section, Ian Luck possibly overestimates the ‘incestuous circles’ in which writers move. In my experience very few of us even speak to each other. It’s true that there are a small handful of writers who make up for their woefully inadequate books by glad-handing […]

A Foot In The Door

I still remember very clearly what it’s like to be an outsider, thinking that although I wrote I was not a real writer. I imagine all authors go through this stage except the most supremely self-assured. At one of my very first publishing parties, I found myself among a group of Very Assured Ones who […]

October Events

Autumn, season of football, theatre and book launches! This is the month of the Frankfurt Book Fair, of the early Christmas book launches, of Oscar-contending films and ooh, let’s see *riffles through diary* why, the publication of ‘England’s Finest’! Yes, it’s the second volume of Bryant & May’s missing cases, twelve new cases, with all […]

Inarticulate Men

It seems we all enjoy stories about the Inarticulate Male. On TV they’re never women, who might be clumsy (‘Miranda’) or venal (‘Nighty Night’), but are never incoherent. Males, particularly funny ones, have a long history of being annoying and hard to understand, from British TV shows featuring forgetful, confusing Harry Worth and Charlie Drake’s […]

H-H-H-He’s Back

Sometimes it’s best not to revisit favourite old books, films and TV shows, but my eidetic mind requires that I keep a catalogue of everything that has influenced me – then ideally alphabetise it in storage boxes. Let’s not go there. One’s attitude to these favourite things can change over time. The comedian Tony Hancock, […]

Selling Snake Oil

In yesterday’s news, Donald Trump snubbed a climate change meeting to attend a prayer meeting. Belief, which once drove the world, has turned into a poison that is destabilising our lives. From the overabundance of information that inspires incontinent thinking, to the storming of Area 51 and the bizarre rumours about the MMR jab, the […]

Fire Festival!

No post today – autumn is being celebrated across Southern Europe with fire festivals, and I’m off to one. Back in a day or so. Two words; Dragon breasts.