Writers, Why Don’t You Write More?

I I have a new hero. It’s the terrifyingly prolific British playwright James Graham, theatre’s Boy Wonder (at 36) who tends to have multiple plays running at once. I was astounding by ‘Ink’, his play about Rupert Murdoch and The Sun newspaper, not just because it was intelligent but because it was a smash hit […]

Six Things I Carry Everywhere

Whenever I travel I spent the hours before my flight in a frenzy of charging-up. It seems that travelling light now involves carrying 10 kgs of tech around, and it all has to be filled with ‘the new electricity’, as my great-grandmother called it. But there are a few essential items I need to keep […]

Did A Newspaper Help Start The First World War?

In case you think the social panic leading to Brexit is new, here’s the story of an earlier one that had grave consequences. In the months before war broke out in 1914, the United Kingdom underwent a social panic. People started imagining that British towns and villages were hotbeds of German spies. At that time […]

Still Undecided About E-Books?

A couple of days ago the author Jake Arnott and I hung out for the day, to talk about books in more depth; most of us bump into each other at events in the UK and don’t get a chance to properly chew the fat. He surprised me by mentioning that he doesn’t read e-books. […]

How To Exercise Without Leaving The House

So I was wandering about on Amazon, cruising for a casual pick-up in the world of literature, and stumbled across (then purchased) Christopher Hart’s ‘Lost Children’, a novel which has one of those chapters destined to be forever engraved in your mind – this one involves a terrified, unqualified British doctor and a very angry […]

And I Thought I Hated Rom-Coms…

‘Pretty Woman?’ I’d rather have 90 minutes of kidney dialysis than sit through that once more. ‘Notting Hill’? Pull my teeth out with rusty pliers, just don’t make me see it again. It’s safe to say that rom-coms and I don’t get on, from the first klutzy meet-cute to the final airport dash and the […]

Autumn’s coming. Kill Me Now.

Everyone else seems to love it, but I dread autumn. The first brown leaves send a chill down my spine. I’ve already had the season’s first cold (caught in the UK, of course) and now the nights are shortening, filling me with thoughts of the grave. This depression arises for several reasons; partly, it’s the […]

Southern Forgotten

When we trimmed down authors for ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’, two thirds were back-burnered because of information overload; there was a general feeling that we’d have turned off readers. I reluctantly removed Terry Southern even though he was such an interesting candidate. Few people now recall the name of Terry Southern, but he was […]

Wish I Was There: Why We Love Exotic Fiction

The first time I went to Greece, I was in my early twenties and working insane hours. We covered four islands a day via ferries and cargo planes, and everywhere we went the locals would come out of their houses and give us flowers or offer coffee. As most islands had no hotels we were […]

On Or Off The Beaten Track?

I’m here in Spain visiting monasteries and vineyards, and should probably not be standing on a rock protruding over a sheer drop when there’s work to be done. Priorat has not yet become a popular region to visit. Like Penedes, it’s home to some of the finest cellars in the world, has fabulous restaurants, walks […]