Monthly Archives: July 2022

The Subversiveness Of Superheroes

As a writer of popular fiction (as opposed to literature) I keep myself familiar with other popular forms of entertainment. For this reason alone I sat through most of Netflix’s most expensive film, ‘The Gray (sic) Man’, which comprised a parade of postcard European locations, firepower and exploding vehicles destroyed by cut-out characters in search […]

What Makes A Novel Great?

The author and literary historian John Sutherland asks the question, and answers it himself with ‘How To Be Well Read’, a guide to 500 novels he considers to be great. What defines greatness? A book that is a world first? A game changer? A source of controversy? A novel of immense popularity? Of critical acclaim? […]

All Aboard For Something New

Free at last. No more hospitals for now. Apart from the unappealing carrot of another experimental trial (this one with even lower survival odds and half of it placebos) happening at the other end of the city there’s nothing else, so I’m letting nature take its course. This doesn’t automatically mean I’m going to vanish […]

Holidays From Hell

‘Where was the busload of nuns you ran off the road in a past life that caused you to get this shit?’ asked my friend Roger. He was referring to my holiday text. After receiving the devastating news that my life was not being renewed for another season, I had taken off for the coast […]

Why I Published This Piece

I was very touched to see the comments to this column. I’m lucky to have some of the very kindest readers. I had written the piece out of necessity. When I sat down to look at the jumble of short stories, articles and novels I’d left on my laptop I had an epiphany;  Ie. ‘This […]

Just The A’s

As part of my life laundry, I’m attempting to be more selective in my viewing/ reading and therefore getting rid of anything that has dated badly. Or in the case of Spike Milligan’s ‘Q’ shows (a very long-running anarchic comedy sketch series), very badly indeed, with its comedy blackface and sexism not really making up […]

London, City Of Lies

While I was writing ‘Bryant & May’s Peculiar London’ it became clear that most of what I knew about the city was wrong. In any single story I investigated, the facts changed from decade to decade. Worse, they continue to change to the present day, so that I was rewriting sections right up until we […]

Three Frequently Asked Writer Questions

‘Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?’ This old chestnut crops up from experts and amateurs alike, and with such regularity that the creation of any work of fiction is clearly a source of continuing interest. Whether you relish the planning process or prefer to throw all your cards in the air and see what […]

Experiences For Sale

I remember early trips to the London Dungeon, especially when they had the terrifying Jabberwocky (a gigantic puppet used in the Terry Gilliam film) snarling inside a cave. It was a peculiar, vaguely disreputable experience that always felt a little unpredictable and dangerous – sadly now replaced with a tamer tourist attraction. I thought that […]