Hilary Mantel

Fact VS Fiction II: Lying For A Living

The great thing about children is that they talk rubbish with more conviction than politicians. Lies, fantasies and half-truths are glued into a kind of surreal pudding that defies you to disbelieve your ears. I should know; at the age of the boy in this story I used to tell the kind of whoppers that […]


What makes a book, a film, a scene, a song or a play stay in the mind? It’s a question writers wrestle with constantly. Often it’s a case of the ‘sevens’; when you’re seven years old everything is exciting and new, and any old rubbish sticks with you forever. I’m horrified at how often the […]

Are Bryant & May ‘Cosies’?

  I’m at Bristol Crimefest on Friday 16th May, where I’m on a panel about ‘cosies’. ‘Cosies’ are a form of crime-writing that remind readers of Agatha Christie’s safe, ‘nice’ stories, and it’s a tag I vehemently resist (so it should be a feisty panel). The Bryant & May books are most decidedly not cosies, […]

Mantel’s Magical Writing

The first book I read by Hilary Mantel was ‘Eight Months On Gaza Street’, a brilliantly disturbing account of a woman’s time in Saudi Arabia and the clash between her beliefs and those of her Arabic neighbours. It was short, tense and oddly disturbing. Her double-Booker winning Thomas Cromwell story has yet to be finished, […]

On Being A Professional Writer No.4: Creating Characters

Classics are good for you, like losing weight and eating vegetables, which is why no child wants to read them. But you don’t just learn from the classics. I learned a lot from reading ridiculously square-jawed adventures as a child, particularly the stories of Jules Verne and virtually lost novels like ‘Coral Island’ and ‘The […]

Books For Non-Readers

I don’t approve of reviewing terrible books; The William McGonagalls of the world have always been with us, and press space is at such a premium that I usually make sure I’m recommending something good rather than complaining about lousy writing. But over the last few years a pattern has emerged whereby a poorly written […]

In Praise Of Hilary Mantel

I brought an awful lot of books away with me (don’t say ‘Kindle’ – most of them aren’t out yet; I’m judging) and there were a lot of awful books. Not that I had time to do any reading on this trip. The hotel libraries I checked had books in English, Japanese, French and German […]