A Little Piece About Writing

I’m working on the final part of my trilogy-memoir ‘Word Monkey’ today, and therefore thinking about writing. A surprising amount of popular fiction is lazily, not to say badly, written. Want to write a quick bestseller? Try putting it in first person/present tense and you can get around the need for eloquence or better still, […]

RIP Writers’ Websites?

(My photo shows the cemetery where most of my family is buried) I’ve been blogging since (I think) 2006, starting on the site that preceded this one. It might have been earlier – the old site was far more complex and had revolving views of nighttime London built on Flash (remember that?), but was too […]

Living In The Past For One Long Weekend

(Most embarrassing Jubilee product tie-in this week: Krispy Kreme’s pathetic memorial doughnut) I’m not braving the crowds to stare at an LED screen. I know I spent the Queen’s Silver Jubilee on some kind of march in Windsor because there’s an old photograph of me (tall and impossibly rangy, with long hair) outside a Windsor bookshop […]

A Message From Mr Bryant On Peculiar London

Hullo there. I put my glasses down a minute ago and now I can’t find them. I’ve been asked by Transworld, who are publishing ‘Bryant & May’s Peculiar London’ in July, to say something about the capital’s places and its people that we can be proud of (not the lad above, thankfully). What they mean […]

Why Have Men Stopped Reading?

The pandemic encouraged people around the world to read more books than ever before. There have been some changes. Amazon is pushing audiobooks, where their profits are higher. Hardbacks have picked up sales and e-books have fallen since no longer being promoted by Amazon. But all the academic data I’ve read shows that the gender gap has […]

Should Crime Novels Reflect The Times?

How much of the times can you reflect? For most of the twentieth century the crime novel has been timeless, a place you could go where nothing much ever changed. Crime novels do reveal when they were written, of course. I instinctively place a pre- or post-war bracket on the older books I read. And […]

What’s Been, What’s Coming

Hot Enough For May Southern Europe is experiencing an unpleasant, debilitating heatwave. This afternoon in Barcelona’s Palo Alto market a young woman fainted in front of me and was instantly attended by an ambulance team. Instead of being concerned for her I could only think that the NHS would have warned her of a two-hour […]

Why I Am Not Sally Rooney

May feels like a quiet time for books, although my reading continues at the same throughout the year. According to a GQ survey, men only account for a fifth of literary fiction readers. In 2000 men wrote 61% of the top-selling hardbacks. Now it’s lower than 43%. Changing demographics, cultural diversity and female readers’ preferences […]

Today’s Conversation Pieces

Morocco Is Timeless Yet Fast Evolving Travel has become more complicated since Brexit. Now that the UK is designated as a ‘third country’ we have different entry requirements and are checked separately. For many travel is no longer the get-up-and-go experience of the past but an elaborate and expensive maze of paperwork. Officials in other […]

Morocco Bound

‘Fez is for culture, Casablanca is for trade, Marrakech is for tourism,’ said the driver. Marrakech is a city of two halves; the post-colonial remnants of its former French incarnation and a far older Berber Medina of clay walls, narrow souks, feral cats, bread-carts, overladen motorbikes and those old men who sit in hatches surrounded […]