Monthly Archives: April 2013

No Cannes Do – Again!

In ‘Film Freak’ I lead off a chapter about the Cannes Film Festival with this sentence; ‘Every Cannes Film Festival is announced with the same pair of newspaper headlines. If it’s going to be a good year, the line is ‘In The Cannes’. If it’s bad, it’s ‘No Cannes Do’. ‘ Well, ‘No Cannes Do’ […]

Whatever Happened To The Art Of The Con?

Here’s an article I wrote for yesterday’s ‘Independent’ on confidence tricksters. The Indie had to edit it for lack of space, but now you can see the full piece here: The invention seemed just plausible enough to work. Sold in thousands, it was a bogus bomb detector made of parts cribbed from a novelty golf […]

Well Worth A Deep Sea Diver

 The fiver has a new face – Sir Winston Churchill. He’s certainly had his detractors in the past, but what a life! His ‘History of the Second World War’ is not only a staggering achievement but also very funny. Setting aside his governance of Britain and roles in two world wars for a moment (because […]

Word Of The Week: ‘Skeuomorphic’

I love this word. It means; when something copies the original functional image of what it’s replicating. So, for example, a Kindle protective cover has cross-stitching that makes it look like a book, or an electric kettle continues to look like one that belongs on a stove even though it doesn’t go near a flame. When […]

Does Anyone Still Read Short Stories?

(This article contains an edited version of a passage in ‘Paperboy’) With the arrival of e-reading I’ve found that short story anthologies seem to have largely vanished from shop shelves. My first break into fiction was via a collection of short stories, and I went on to produce ten volumes of them, most of which […]

How Do You Doodle?

In times of economic crisis, people get creative. When the book trade became threatened by the rise of e-books, Claire Main did a smart thing – she came up with an idea to add value to paper books as desirable objects. She asked authors to write inside them and draw a doodle that represents something […]

The Openings Of 5 Great Suspense Novels No.1

I have to review a lot of thrillers. Many start out with a paragraph describing the weather. They go in the bin. Others starts with a cop pulling on a cigarette and staring at a dead body. Just as predictable as the weather – bin. But it shouldn’t be like this, particularly in a thriller. […]

Finally Visible In The US

  See what they’ve done here, our friends across the Atlantic? They’ve dropped the words ‘Bryant & May’ from the cover but have hidden their initials in the stained glass window. It’s an elegant solution to the age-old problem; how do you keep refreshing a series? Every time a new volume comes out, the sales […]

Saying No To Work

I come from a generation that never said no to any job, no matter how crummy it was. It took me many years to figure out that this is not necessarily a good thing. Admittedly, it’s different when you’re managing your own career. If you attain a modicum of minor success, people ask you to […]

Re:View – ‘La Chispa De La Vida’ (The Spark of Life)

Alex de la Iglesia is one of my favourite directors. Not everything he does works – witness the drab version of ‘The Oxford Murders’, his only film in English – and I wasn’t over-struck on ‘Perdita Durango’, the prequel to ‘Wild At Heart’. But the hits, like ‘Day of the Beast’, ‘La Comunidad’, ‘800 Bullets’ […]