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Christopher Fowler
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Last year I wrote about the shaping of words, and how we can learn from music and the spoken word when writing books. Scriptwriters Galton & Simpson explained how long they argued over the word 'very' in the sentence, 'Why, that's very nearly an armful!' in their famous radio/TV episode 'The Blood Donor'. The trick of this was in the performer's desperate attempt at precision in a moment of…
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Christopher Fowler
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The Arts
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Everyone of a certain age can remember the theme music to 'The Saint'. The creator of the quintessentially English stiff-upper-lipped hero was Leslie Charteris, born in Singapore in 1907. His experiences working on a rubber plantation, in a tin mine, as a gold prospector, fairground carnie, bus driver, pearl fisher, bartender and professional bridge player gave him experiences he later used (I…
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Christopher Fowler
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I'm sitting before the blank screen about to type the title of the 20th Bryant & May book. It's a good time to reflect on what I'm doing and whether I should even be doing it at all. My mystery series is deliberately, perversely esoteric. Does that make it elitist? It also features a pair of old white males. Does this make me a dinosaur? And it has a healthy readership but never breaks into the…
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Christopher Fowler
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Dracula and I have a long history. I had read the book at an early age - it was the sort of novel my mother preferred to keep over say, 'Pride and Prejudice'. I was not old enough to see the definitive Hammer Dracula - I'd watched the Bela Lugosi version on TV and found it stultifyingly boring - but I had been able to sneak in underage and see Hammer's first Christopher Lee sequel, 'Dracula…
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Christopher Fowler
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As much as I love Golden Age mysteries and 1950s thrillers, they have to be considered in the zeitgeist of the times. The shocking secrets hidden by murderers and their victims are no longer shocking. The motives that women concealed from men and vice versa were once the stuff of great mysteries. Murderous impulses could often be traced to the covering up of sexual indiscretions; secret abortions…
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Christopher Fowler
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The Arts
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Recently I wrote an article for US website CrimeReads, trimming it for space, so I thought I'd revisit the piece here with new information. Interviewed after 'The Wolf of Wall Street', Leonardo DiCaprio complained that he'd seen a lot of his heroes disappear. He was not referring to his own role as a stock fraudster who becomes the embodiment of greed but to role models in general. It's not just…
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Christopher Fowler
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Bear with me; I'm going to push this analogy. If stories are a window to a different world, the reader or viewer has to be allowed to open the window and step through it for a while, returning just before it closes again. This isn't a Joseph Campbell theory, it's common sense. Frightening stories work because you are secure knowing you can get out. Fantasies work because you're sad knowing you…
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Christopher Fowler
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My English teacher told me: 'Specialise. Nobody likes a good all-rounder.' Of course I was filled with youthful stupidity and ignored him, wasting years trying to please everyone instead of myself. During this time I had ample opportunity to study other writers and quickly identified an odd group. Instead of talking about the craft they obsessed over bestseller lists, ranking other authors…
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Christopher Fowler
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The Arts
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As wary as I am of seeing shows with proven track records and pots of money to keep them in theatres past their sell-by dates (step forward 'The Book of Mormon'), I was intrigued by 'Dear Evan Hansen', which clearly connects to East Coast Gen Xers in much the same way that 'Everybody's Talking About Jamie' touches many a young British nerve. 'Dear Evan Hansen' is a love letter to a lost generation…
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Christopher Fowler
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Peter Barnes is a writer who's still misunderstood by critics seeking easy tags. His work was elaborately constructed, intellectually rigorous and controversial, his language exact and demanding. But it must also have been a bugger to memorize. Barnes was born in Bow in 1931, but his parents soon moved to a geriatric coastal town to run an amusement arcade. Appropriately, his writing links death…
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