Monthly Archives: March 2016

Is This The Least Discovered Square In Europe?

  Our Easter tour of Romania and Transylvania held many surprises – one of the best was Viscri, a 12th century church and fortress still run by a tiny old lady who’ll tear your ticket and share stories. Reaching this out-of-the-way spot along an avenue of mistletoe-covered trees and finding such an untouched and barely […]

Staking Out Castle Dracula

Transylvania’s Castle Bran is only the fictional home of Count Dracula, but Bram Stoker used it as a direct model for his novel, which grants it an awkward place in Romania’s history. The government would rather remember Queen Marie than a British pulp author, but the image stuck in the public consciousness, and therefore it’s […]

Back To The Salt Mine…

We’ve just concluded our epic tour of Romania and Transylvania (mostly without wi-fi), and for me this country came out very high in the list of central/East & Baltic places I’ve been visiting in the last few years. It felt a little like touring India; there were so few of us visiting from the UK […]

Off For Easter, Fang You Very Much

Bram Stoker never visited Romania. He depicted Dracula’s castle based on a description of Bran Castle that was available to him at the time of writing, so now I’m going to put that right. I’ll be writing a novella for the Mysterious Bookshop in NYC, and am off to do my research. My Easter journey […]

On Terrorism

I live in one of the West’s epicentres for terrorist attacks, at the confluence of three major railway stations, and along with my family and friends, we have had to live with bombing campaigns all of our adult lives. On the 7th of September 2005 four Islamist extremists separately detonated three bombs in quick succession aboard underground trains […]

Six Reasons Why You Should Read Dickens

  As I start packing up my books in preparation to moving house (just for six months) I try once more to reduce my library to the bare essentials. There’s no point in keeping dead books, ones you have enjoyed but to which you will never return, and so mine is a living library. I […]

Invisible Ink Will Live On Here

Never one to leave a good idea alone, now that the column and its paper have gone I’ll be posting an Invisible Ink column each week here. There will be a collection of the columns, much expanded (I’ve written it, we just have to sell it) but in the meantime you can get your fix […]

My Obituary

So they’ve closed their doors after 26 years. The Independent on Sunday was conceived as a writers’ paper, but over its 26 years it built a reputation for its strikingly individual tone and balanced liberal stance. It was the first quality Sunday to go compact in 2004, but even before that it was at the […]

Toward A Ballardian Future

The problem with J G Ballard, from a filmmaker’s perspective, is that he does not tell stories. He suggests futures and new psychologies. His characters are ciphers, his plots are liminal and his prose is exquisite, none of which makes him easy to adapt. Spielberg made a fine job of ‘Empire Of The Sun’, although […]

Why I’m Following In The Footsteps Of Dracula

  Bram Stoker’s novel has somewhat paradoxically become one of the most influential novels of the last century, considering it was written as a melodrama and went head-to-head with Richard Marsh’s ‘The Beetle’. ‘The Beetle’ was a bizarre hybrid novel of supernatural romantic mystery published in 1897, the same year as ‘Dracula’, and initially it […]