Reading & Writing

Dark Talk with Hull Noir

  A lovely book discussion from members of the online crime fiction festival Hull Noir, feat. the superlative dame noir Cathi Unsworth, author of the knockout Bad Penny Blues, here banging on about Bryant & May…

Short Story: ‘The Scent Of Roses’

Short stories are not making a comeback, they’re still unpopular, but being a great fan of all things unpopular I still write them. A few years ago I wrote this amuse-bouche, and have since discovered that there may be more of a back-story to it than I realised. I’ve added a postscript.          The Scent […]

There’s Not Always A Word For It

  A letter reaches me from reader John Healey in South Australia who has twigged one of the longest-running games I’ve been playing in my novels. My love of esoteric language has occasionally encouraged me to add rare words, and to sometimes make them up. I figured that if Billy Shakespeare could invent over 1,700 […]

Tomorrow Is Another Story

I’m tempted to write a literary book about stasis Today I stumbled across a great file of film pitches for ‘Roofworld’, ‘Spanky’, ‘Calabash’ and many others. I have files full of such presentations, most of which you can date at a glance. Few of them ever got beyond the script stage. One or two are […]

Popping Out For A Spell

Writing is a craft first and an art second. It happens every few years; someone suggests we abandon correct spelling in schools to ‘liberate’ children from rules and level the literacy playing field. This month, in a clickbait story designed to have Daily Telegraph readers clutching their pearls, universities have been talking about abandoning correct […]

The Enemy Of The Comma

The Ending Soars into Very English Tragedy ‘A novel from the author of several previous books,’ said the Amazon logline about ‘Jubb’, one of Keith Waterhouse’s astonishing black comedies. Was there ever a less appealing biography? I’m not sure I want to live in a world where ‘bibulous hack’ Waterhouse is out of print. His […]

Writing About People Like Us Part 2

To write a family scene I really have to use my imagination ‘Don’t show me pictures of your baby,’ says Brendon Gleeson in ‘The Guard’, ‘they’re all the same except the really ugly ones.’ For a couple of decades selfish London urbanites looked upon children as if they were visitors from Mars. ‘Are they dwarves?’ […]

Some Crime Authors Deserve To Be Locked Up

A lengthy conversation with my agent this morning on the subject of writing (what else?). I’ve been receiving review copies of lots of crime novels, many of which I find completely unreadable. Partly this is down to their authors’ use of cliché, but often it’s the sheer unreality of everything, as if it’s all been […]

You Too Can Be A Writer!

Let’s have a laugh at some would-be writers who spend their precious time sending out unsolicited manuscripts with lines like these, from an editor who wishes to remain anonymous…   David wasn’t much, she admitted, but at least he was an up-and-coming businessman or lawyer. She screamed in the soprano range until her diners came […]

Beyond The Lockdown

The news this morning that people are frantically booking their post-lockdown flights felt predictable. Imagining perhaps some sunlit moment when the shackles of the world are released and we all dance away into the Elysian Fields, it seems increasingly unlikely that such a scenario will unfold. The idea of attending a fiesta in Seville, say, […]