The Writers’ Best Tool

In all of the self-help writing books that teach technique, plot structure and overcoming writer’s block (to readers who haven’t yet started writing!) hardly anyone addresses the one thing would-be authors need more than anything else. Take a look at the photograph and ask what you see. This was my secondhand paperback haul on Saturday […]

Write? But I’m A Working Mum!

Whenever I trawl through past books I can’t help noticing how many women writers gave up because the demands of looking after a parent or children prevented them from putting their thoughts on paper. For many, writing was one of the few ‘respectable’ jobs for a young woman, on a par with being a governess, […]

I Am Curious, Giallo

Every movie lover has pet hates. The two genres of film I least enjoy are chick-flicks and westerns, although there are a tiny number of both I’ve admired, ‘Prelude To A Kiss’ and ‘When Harry Met Sally’, ‘The Big Country’ and ‘The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford’ among them. I grew […]

Fiction Gets Woke

The idea of being ‘woke’ isn’t so much new jargon, but a way of rebottling old wine with new subtleties. The word, which is African-American in origin, concerns the perceived awareness of issues concerning social, feminist and racial identity but is expanding to include all consciousness-raising matters. One can trace the racial use back to the […]

Comedy Not Funny: Official

An interesting piece in the London Times this morning. Shane Allen, Head of BBC comedy, has declared old comedy dead and says that shows like Monty Python which feature ‘six white Oxbridge males’ wouldn’t be commissioned now, and that in future there will be more diversity, with the all-black show ‘Famalam’ proving popular. Now, there […]

Should We Talk About The World Cup?

(No. Ed)

Ten Day Book Challenge: The Final Run

It looks nice outside. I wish I was there. While I’ve been entombed in the flat, locked away like a lighthouse keeper, summer has kicked in, late this year but welcome. London is hotter, bizarrely, but here there is silence. I live in the old town where there are no cars, so the only sounds […]

‘The Staircase’ Isn’t A Whodunnit

No Spoilers Netflix’s new documentary series isn’t new or theirs; it was made by a man with the Frenchest name in the world, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, over many years and has been screened in parts before on the BBC and in France. It has also been the subject of numerous true-crime TV shows, books and podcasts. […]

10 Day Book Challenge: Everyone’s A Critic

I set out to write the final draft of my latest novel in ten days. Now read on: Everybody’s a critic. Yesterday while I was working on the balcony, a parrot flew past and delivered a review. Thank god it missed the keyboard. I’m halfway through my self-imposed time limit on the new book and […]

What’s Your Favourite Spot?

  If you’ve ever been hypnotised, you’ll know that one of the first things you’re asked is to think of your favourite spot. Familiarity is calming. Favourite places change, I suspect, throughout your life. As a child mine was a small daisy-covered green patch behind my infants’ school where we were allowed to read on […]