How Is Fiction Ever Believable?

In fiction you can take your reader on the most fantastical journeys providing you give them something to believe in at the outset. When this doesn’t happen you end up with MCU movies, which are based on old comics from the 1960s/1970s and have very little to do with reality. When ‘Spiderman’ began, the main […]

Write What You Like No.2: What On Earth Was I Thinking?

Fret not, for ‘The Foot on the Crown’ (official title) will be published, although now you have me thinking about splitting it into two volumes. I never write long, which makes me suspicious that I had too much fun with this – probably more than the average reader can stand. (Not, dear fellows, that I […]

Write What You Like No.1: When Authors Go Mad

I’ve just put a title to Chapter 81. ‘Nuns At War’. This is my seventh draft of The Epic. It didn’t start out as that. I must be insane. What happened was. Back in oh, probably the nineties, I wrote a short story called ‘Tales of Britannica Castle’. It became a favourite of the more […]

Why Have Men Stopped Reading?

The pandemic encouraged people around the world to read more books than ever before. There have been some changes. Amazon is pushing audiobooks, where their profits are higher. Hardbacks have picked up sales and e-books have fallen since no longer being promoted by Amazon. But all the academic data I’ve read shows that the gender gap has […]

Why I Am Not Sally Rooney

May feels like a quiet time for books, although my reading continues at the same throughout the year. According to a GQ survey, men only account for a fifth of literary fiction readers. In 2000 men wrote 61% of the top-selling hardbacks. Now it’s lower than 43%. Changing demographics, cultural diversity and female readers’ preferences […]

Pages & Pictures: What I’ve Been Reading & Watching This Week

Slow Horses – Mick Herron A confession; I struggled with the first of Herron’s Slough House books, thrown by its jocular tone, and decided to wait for the televised version instead. I’m glad I did, because the series seems different to what I read. Herron’s natural joviality and quirkily dark sense of humour shone from […]

Writer’s Block? Let’s Call It Something Else.

I’ve no doubt that writers’ block is real but the name covers a host of symptoms. As someone who has been linguistically incontinent since age six I was never able to understand how some writers could complain of bunged-up word pipes. It seems such a vague condition. Block just means you’re unable to write for […]

Dysfiction! (Dysfunctional Families In Fiction)

Of course the question should really be, ‘Whose family in fiction is not dysfunctional?’ Conflict drives a story, and so much of that begins at home. The subject offers rich pickings for authors and you can always bring things to a head with an uncomfortable revelation. Family conflict is there in most crime fiction, although […]

What Gives A Story ‘Stickability’?

What makes a scene from a book, a film or a play stick 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 stays with you forever. I’m horrified at how often the things […]

What Comes Next

The state of play, as of March 3, is that my new thriller ‘Hot Water’ is out, although I still haven’t seen a copy of it. Next up is ‘Bryant & May’s Peculiar London’, being launched on July 14, which I’m shortly to start line-editing. The finished cover is by Max Schindler, the Bryant & […]