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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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The covers are shockingly bad - possibly made by children with pasta shapes and Pritstick. The formats are annoying - why is Volume 4 a different size? But behind the covers are a real surprise. First, let's step back a bit. The nation went into mourning when it heard that Arthur Conan Doyle was not planning to write any more Holmes adventures, so the young American writer August Derleth wrote to…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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The steps between thoughts must be cut shallow. I was once in California and made the mistake of walking across a part of the beach surfers considered to be theirs. They threw rocks at me until I retreated cut and bruised. I had never really encountered aggressively stupid people before and it came as a shock to me. A few years ago I had the temerity to write a novel that the SF community decided…
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The Sand Men
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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This is the first of a new series that I hope will explore the actual experience of writing, from the first word to publication. So, What Do You Do Apart From Just Writing Books? I love that question. I get asked it a lot. Some people are surprised that what they consider a hobby can consume your life. Writing is more than a career - it can become a vocation. Yet there are writers I know who have…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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Being a contrarian, I probably wasn't the first choice to be placed on a crime writers' panel dedicated to Agatha Christie. I wasn't prepared to sit there praising her uncritically, but I figured her audience was there to hear exactly that, so when official Christie doyenne Sophie Hannah declared that there was no other author worth reading in the world, I admit I lost it a little and we argued -…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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Yes, that's Bryant & May in Lego, sent by superfan David Bond. Apart from anything else, the lighting is perfect. He tells me he's working on another one. This sort of thing doesn't usually happen in crime novels. 'You can say whatever you like so long as you keep a straight face' is an old rule in murder mystery writing. Imagine the curse of the writer who uses comedy as a tool. At festivals we…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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I am a driven scribomaniac to the detriment of my personal life. For many authors 2019 was another annus horribilis, as publishers exercised caution in a retrenched market. The competition grew fiercer but the books published (far too many of them) became tamer, and it often felt as if they failed to exist in our modern world. This is partly because of the minimum two-year lead time to publish a…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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I promised to post a Christmas fairytale this season. It was written to commission, the brief being to twist a traditional story. There are certain styles you can adopt very easily, the Sherlock Holmes approach for example, and fairy tales have a rhythm all their own that dates back to their Victorian translators. And can I just say, if you're ever looking for fairytale stock shots, virtually all…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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Let's imagine you're cast away on a tropic isle and are still consumed with a burning desire to write. What do you take with you when you leave that burning ship and strike out for the beach? OK, the island has broadband - yes, and shops, let's not push the analogy too far. My real question is, what are your writing essentials? Whenever I go to a new place, I get a notebook. They fill up quickly…
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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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It's only been a short while that we've been woke to questions of gender and already the complaints have started from certain male critics. The BBC's new version of 'War of the Worlds' has a pregnant female lead living sinfully in Woking as the Martians arrive. And why not? Wells was always a bit thin on the ground when it came to interesting characters (except perhaps for 'The History of Mr Polly…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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In uncertain times we demand more rules, not fewer The history of fiction, by which I mean all fiction - I'm not interested in separating 'literature' from 'genre' - follows the growth pattern of all the arts; rules are established, traditional forms are developed, rules are broken. But something odd happened in fiction that did not happen in art or music. In the early 20th century technology…
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