Monthly Archives: July 2017

Shagged Out

Mrs Lovett (to Sweeney Todd) ‘My, you do like a good story, don’t you?’ Like Sweeney, I do like a good story. I admire depth of characterisation, mise-en-scene, twists and turns in a well-wrought plot. What I don’t much care for is all the f*cking. It’s not a new thing. I always felt like this. […]

The Miscellany Of My Mind

What’s in the picture-book today? A miscellany – some thoughts passing through my head as I sit in my study trying to cool down enough to concentrate on writing a new novel. ——————– Writers produce a lot of work that’s not published. For years I kept drawerfuls of abandoned manuscripts, movie scripts, TV productions, radio […]

What I’m Watching/Reading This Week

‘The Chocolate Cobweb’ is a taut novel by Charlotte Armstrong (most recently filmed with Isabel Huppert in the lead) adding a strange froideur to its very 1950s storyline, which involves a poisoning interrupted by a neighbour, who unwittingly removes the evidence in a handkerchief (the contents of a spilled chocolate cup). Domestic suspense is very […]


What makes a book, a film, a scene, a song or a play stay in the mind? It’s a question writers wrestle with constantly. Often it’s a case of the ‘sevens’; when you’re seven years old everything is exciting and new, and any old rubbish sticks with you forever. I’m horrified at how often the […]

Mind The Gap

Outside the station today, people are pavement-preaching with signs reading ‘Mind the (God) Gap’. A quick check reveals they’re an unaffiliated, vague religious group with a website that fails to answer any of the questions they pose. Under ‘Who Are We?’ they offer; has been created to give Londoners access the good news about […]

Books At The Back Of The Shelf

Hopefully you’ll find ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’ a new twist on the unearth-an-old-book idea, but I’m not the first to dig into the shelves and find gems.  In ‘Books To Die For’, John Connolly and Declan Burke worked their way through some marvellous novels that have been overlooked. The murder mystery has an enduring appeal […]

Support Your Local Theatre!

Turning out some old boxes the other day (something I do not recommend unless you are in a very good mood) I found an awful lot of old press clippings talking lots of rubbish about me in interviews, some lovely correspondence from writers as diverse as Tanith Lee, JG Ballard and Victoria Wood, and this […]

The Man Who Didn’t Exist

It’s rare that you encounter this problem, where the very act of writing a book could play into the hands of the true-life character it concerns, but author Emmanuel Carrére has had to cope with such an issue. His subject in ‘The Adversary: A True Story of Monstrous Deception’, is Jean-Claude Romand, who lived on […]

A Machine For Living Part 2

  I had lived in the cluttered little Kentish Town house above for 25 years, and the move to an apartment came as a shock. You can’t really change the layout of a terraced house without compromising it. They weren’t built to be messed about with. I had tried removing walls, but my actual use […]

A Machine For Living Part 1

I was raised in the street above, in a small terraced house of the type that existed all across London, with a front room, a back room, a kitchen and scullery down three hall steps, a first floor landing with two rooms leading from it, two more bedrooms and a sloping tiled roof. Such houses […]