Monthly Archives: October 2017

Are The Days Of Bookshop Readings Ending?

There was a time when it was very common for the bigger UK authors to tour American bookshops. Over here I spent part of every year touring UK bookstores giving talks, conducting Q&As and signing, but never got offered a US tour. Knowing you can’t pull a big crowd certainly stops you from getting a big […]

A Dazzling, Cerebral Vision Of The Future

NO SPOILERS The figures are in; Americans do not love ‘Blade Runner 2049’. They clearly prefer to see a film about a monster clown living in a drain. The opening weekend for the noir SF sequel was dismal. However it has had a huge opening in the UK and will make back its cost internationally. In an […]

No Known Address

I was tooling through the online version of ‘A Topographical Dictionary of London and Its Environs’ by James Elmes (as you do), which lists all of the streets and squares, alleys and wharves now largely lost to London, and my reading coincided with an article in Red Herrings, the ‘Confidential Monthly Bulletin of the Crime […]

Think Literacy Levels Are Fine? Read This

Ah, England, home of Shakespeare! Also, a land where people apparently can’t string two words together, a country with a literacy rate that places us 44th in the world order, rather a long way behind, say, Latvia and Moldova, not quite as low as Tunisia or Papua New Guinea. The source for literacy rates is here although […]

Don’t Forget This: It’s Out Now!

  The journey of writing a book doesn’t end on its publication day. It’s where the real journey begins. And I feel this is doubly so for ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’, which is out today. Once there were popular novels almost everyone owned. Mum had Georgette Heyer, Dad had Eric Ambler, I had Dennis […]

London’s Other Theatre World

It’s autumn; the season when you can’t get into a play. So here’s another way of looking at it. One of the things that makes British theatre special is the way in which shows can still start small, filtering from tiny tryouts to larger venues. Productions can begin at a grass roots level in Scotland, […]

Jack And Stephen

When you type in ‘Whitechapel’, an American deathcore band from Knoxville, Tennessee pops up in Google instead of the real Whitechapel, ‘deathcore’ being a type of thrashy music performed by middle-aged men who like to pretend they’re edgy. But Gentle Author‘s stash of rare market photos in the press yesterday reminded me that the actual […]

Why A Writer Needs A Retreat

  A calm spot where you can sit and think – it should be easy to find, shouldn’t it? But if you live in a city, beset by sirens, trucks, people and (in London) weird weather, it’s not quite so simple. The idea that space is all writers need can be misleading. I never intended […]

The Pleasure Of Leaving Things Alone

Growing up in London gets you used to impermanence. Overnight your favourite shop, cafe or pub will simply disappear after being on the same spot for a few hundred years. There has never been much sense of preservation here. For generations architects have frowned upon the idea, as if restoring an old building (or god […]