London Stories: The Big Frieze

I set stories in London because when it comes to fables, legends and historical tidbits the city offers up an infinite and continuous supply. London has always been a working city, its streets, wards, neighbourhoods and boroughs defined by the trades of the people who lived in them – but no more. When everyone seems […]

Go Mad Or Go Home

Every time I sit down to write a novel I come up against the same question; how realistic should I make it? How fantastical? How believable should it be? How mad? How down to earth? I’ve written here before about how so-called ‘gritty’ thrillers and crime procedurals are usually nothing of a kind. We see […]

Vanished London Street Jobs

When I was a child my father and I would go to the East End’s Petticoat Lane and see the canary sellers, who had dozens of caged birds on display in the street. The last time I went to Bermondsey Market they still had sarsaparilla sellers, and it made me wonder which other jobs have […]

Writers’ Physical Problems Solved Here

Coleridge was a druggie, Joyce and Faulkner were functioning alcoholics, Sylvia Plath was bipolar, Swift, Milton, and Emily Brontë most likely had Asperger’s, Melville and Proust were depressed, Kafka was a mess. Most jobs carry a physical cost. In London my living room overlooks the Guardian building, and I see the journalists slumped at their […]

On The Tip Of Your tongue: More Forgotten Authors

  It seems I may have overestimated the number of readers interested in rediscovering forgotten authors, and it’s unlikely that there’ll be a second volume, which is a shame because it was finished and all ready to go – so from time to time I’ll pop a few of the authors in here, in the […]

BFI Puts London On Film

The British Film Institute is doing a great job of cleaning up, restoring and reissuing some overlooked British films at the moment, and it’s hard to watch them without mixed emotions – this is the world in which I grew up, now unimaginable and alien. In these films London is a character, overbearing and inescapable, […]

In Celebration Of World Book Day

Seeing as I keep getting friends wishing me happy World Book Day (something I barely knew existed because authors never hear about anything in the publishing world unless it’s really bad news), here’s a list of the books Arthur Bryant is happy promoting on this auspicious occasion. They stand on the shelves behind his desk […]

A Cover Is Not A Book…Part 2

It is perhaps the most imaginatively redesigned book of them all. George Orwell’s 1984 has become a symbol of surveillance and oppression that speaks out to everyone, even though it now reads very much as a reflection of its time. The US pulp cover above is probably the strangest attempt made at portraying the events […]

A Cover Is Not A Book…(Part 1)

…so open it up and take a look,’ sings Lin Manuel-Miranda, but in the hands of a good designer a cover can be a powerfully persuasive tool. In a modern bookshop with limited space covers must communicate a lot to browsers, and I have often been compelled to buy a book by its cover. Natasha […]

Back To Work! Here’s What’s Coming Up…

First, a few details about the book which is landing here in just three weeks’ time… ‘The Lonely Hour‘ is the biggest Bryant & May novel yet, and sees the detectives back in the present day after the sixties romp of ‘Hall of Mirrors’. In fact it picks up right where Wild Chamber ended, with […]