Books

A Sheffield Talk 2

(This article is continued) Arthur Upfield inspired a killer to copy his fictional perfect murder. Kathleen Winsor became the subject of a sex scandal. Other authors like Simon Raven never learned how to deal with sudden success and succumbed to a variety of hideous fates. Some were simply unlucky, some shied from the spotlight and […]

A Sheffield Talk

Some while back I gave a talk about forgotten authors in Sheffield. I’m not sure I’ve published it before, probably not in this form. It may be of passing interest only, but here it is; Once there were popular novels almost everyone owned. Mum had Georgette Heyer, Dad had Eric Ambler, kids had Billy Bunter […]

Behind The Scenes At The Cheltenham Literary Festival

The smaller literary festivals – the ones where you have to stay overnight in a hotel room that still has a trouser press – are a bit like attending a bathroom fittings convention. We drink too much, stay up too late and have a good moan about work. The Cheltenham Literary Festival is not like that. […]

Why Does Dracula Never Grow Old?

He’s the IP that never needs fresh blood. His fans still lap him up. What’s the appeal? The thirst for new material from the old Hammer Films studio is extraordinary, and an entire industry built up around this esoteric corner of the entertainment industry. The above volumes have been republished with new sections bringing the […]

Writing: The State Of Play

A quick health check on the average writer reveals that the patient is not doing so well. The average median income from writing for those who spend more than half their working life on books is around £10,000 p.a. It gets worse; Between 2006 and 2018 the average income for authors fell by 42%, according […]

Wartime Laughs and Horrors

Yesterday I swung from the hospital, where I was getting my usual dose of radioactivity for another scan, through a rainstorm to the cult paperback pulp fair, which has moved homes from Bloomsbury to Great Portland Street. Except that hardly anyone was there, the tables were empty, the punters absent. No dealers or buyers, thanks […]

Me & Mr Coe

Has He Reached ‘National Treasure’ Status? They always say it about Alan Bennett, although his field of interest, outside of his wonderful diaries and his fascination with Kafka, eventually returned to being more parochial. Mr Jonathan Coe is another matter entirely. He eschews intellectual chilliness at the risk of being excluded from the so-called literary […]

Prising The Pen From My Cold Dead Hand

As the very first copies of the new Bryant & May novel start to go out, I know I’m about to face a few questions. The very first is going to be, what happens now? Here’s the state of play.  Intimation of mortality concentrates the mind wonderfully, so I’ve been very busy. Pre-pandemic, I set […]

Writers Who Haunt Their Readers

The steps between thoughts must be cut shallow to travel. Several years ago I ran a free writing course, some of it I posted here. Although I have taught before I have no formal qualifications to teach, so I should probably shut up. Still, I thought I might periodically add writing thoughts and notes on […]

The Cons Of Prose

Things like this can make you paranoid.  Let’s be clear; books are published to make money. I’m lucky to have Transworld behind me, a company with integrity and admirable loyalty to their authors. Not everyone is quite so traditional in their outlook. I was shocked when the ‘sock puppet’ scandal broke (authors leaving nasty reviews […]