Blog

Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
Image
When it comes to self-help books, there's no category trickier than the creative writing category. There's no quick fix for bad writing other than to keep on until it gets less bad. Similarly, idea-creation cannot be taught, so all those boxes of flashcards can be thrown out of the window. There's no single system that can be learned, guaranteed to solve all writing dilemmas. But there are two far…
10 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
Image
'Don't get too political,' is a classic writing rule. Readers are also voters of every hue, and you risk offending them. But if you're going to write a crime novel set in modern-day Britain, you have to at least touch on ordinary life around you to set the story in context. If you overdo it, you'll have too much political content and will turn readers off. If you're writing a satire or an overtly…
15 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
Image
When Mad magazine grew too tame for me I ended up reading National Lampoon, which grew out of the Harvard Lampoon and became a powerhouse of intelligent satire at a time when the USA needed an opposing voice. NatLamp parodied the presidencies through Vietnam, Kent State, Spiro Agnew, Watergate and every other social/ political disaster to hit America with an astonishing team of writers and artists…
7 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
Image
We look back on authors' lives and judge them according to popularity and success, but the picture is of course more complicated than that. Bowen is an author whose life was as fascinating as her output. She was born Margaret Gabrielle Vere Campbell Long in 1885 on Hayling Island, Hampshire (that picture above looks surprisingly modern). Her mother had literary aspirations and her father was an…
4 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
Image
Some authors are chameleons; they'll write for decades and never produce a piece of work that defines them to a readership. Others create something so much from the heart that the work takes on a larger life and defines an era. Martino Crowley is from Vicksburg, Mississippi. Born in 1935, he grew up to love film and theatre, majored in drama and went to New York City. He remembered meeting Elia…
7 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
Image
It's interesting that in all of the Brexit arguments no-one has brought up the word 'Kafkaesque'. 'Byzantine', 'paradoxical', 'labyrinthine', yes. But Brexit is Kafkaesque in every way - populated by perverse people, based on impossibilities, an insoluble knot filled with barely glimpsed mysteries. The poor little Prague clerk-turned-writer Franz Kafka, in death as in life, has been poorly served…
9 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
Image
'Nobody likes a good all-rounder.' My English teacher once told that. It's advice I've taken to heart. Over the years, my tastes have become ever more abstruse. Maybe yours have too. Perhaps I'm not the only author who has Gilbert & Sullivan, Steve Reichs, hi-BPM hard house and Count Arthur Strong on his playlist, but in Waterstones the man at the till looked at the two books I was buying, 'Louder…
2 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
Image
A few years ago I was very ill indeed and spent a lot of time in hospitals, so I always kept a book with me for those 'surprise' waiting times when you think you're about to be seen by a doctor but are sent to sit in another corridor instead. I do remember what I read when I was ill, though, and I wonder if one concentrates harder because of it. For example, I remember reading William Boyd's…
12 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
Image
In a time of fake news, the story couldn't be more timely. In America, an article written for a magazine spawned a play and an essay about the negotiability of facts in non-fiction. In 2003 John D'Agata, a writer from the American school of factual overload had an essay spiked for inaccuracies. The piece ostensibly concerned a boy who committed suicide from a tower in Las Vegas. His fact-checker…
6 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
Image
On a rainy night in King's Cross, London about eight years ago I wandered past the Shaw Theatre, a backstreet venue mostly used for corporate presentations, and saw that Michel Legrand and his orchestra were appearing there. In his eighties then, he was onstage for at least three hours and worked his way through an entrancing back catalogue that included music for The Thomas Crown Affair, The…
5 comments

Years