Monthly Archives: September 2017

Portrait Of The Writer As A Young Twerp

Your first novel sticks to you forever. I thought I’d go to my grave being described as ‘The author of ‘Roofworld’. In fact, it was the fourth book I wrote but the first that came with expectations and a decent publicity budget. The book was about gangs on rooftops, but if I was rewriting it […]

Cafe Society, London Style

They always say you don’t know what makes a city special until it’s not there anymore, and in London, cafe society has a very different meaning. There’s one on every high street, and they all have the same menu. I’m not talking about funky cafes like the J&A, Apres Food or the Modern Society, or […]

Shooting The Bridge

Once there was a problem with London Bridge. By the time of the Tudors there were over 200 buildings on it. Some stood seven storeys high. They overhung the river by seven feet while others dangled over the road, forming a dark tunnel through which all traffic had to pass. The roadway was just 12 feet […]

How I Came To Do This

My father once told me ‘We are a nation of creators. What we fail to do is raise enough money to develop and distribute our creations. The Americans do that part brilliantly. They’re very clever at buying talent. They succeed by taking ideas to people.’ It stuck with me when I read about the histories […]

The Good, The Bad And The Censored

I regularly wrote the ‘Cinema Book Roundup’ column for the Independent on Sunday and can’t break myself of the habit, which clearly comes from spending so much time working in the industry. These days tell-all biographies have fallen from fashion, to be replaced by studio-sanctioned coffee-table volumes of photographs, but there are plenty of other […]

Wise Words About The Blog…

Crikey, I’m glad I checked with you lot, as I was hitting despair-level workload yesterday and was very serious about binning the blog. I’m still meeting publishers to see what they think, but I learned a lot from your feedback. First, lack of response never bothers me – some subjects don’t really require a response. […]

To Blog Or Not To Blog?

When I first thought about starting a blog, there was much that didn’t appeal about the idea. I didn’t want to create great swathes of type about the Brontë sisters or Pushkin. There are too many academics and historical non-fiction writers who are doing a far, far better job than I ever could, and my personal reading […]

Let’s Have A Song!

Remember the Friday Song? When there was still enough hope and joy in the world for me to feel like posting a happy upbeat musical number every now and again? (Newbies, run a search over there on the right.) I recently watched a Blu-Ray of the Milos Forman version of ‘Hair’, choreographed by the astonishing […]

Another Skirmish In The Battle

I sometimes think I am fated to live at the heart of terrible life-changing events, always in cities caught up in change. Never having been one for a quiet life in the country, I’ve been too close to too many epicentres for comfort, but tonight is one that stirs the heart. In Barcelona I live beside […]

‘Dialogue Is Not Conversation’

This is a nugget of wisdom that I vaguely recall comes from the marvellous Kenneth Tynan (although I may be wrong – he delivered far too many bon mots). I was thinking about this because I’m writing a dialogue-heavy book at the moment, and also posted Maggie Armitage’s texts, which I trimmed for content but […]