Reading & Writing

No Time To Read?

When I was young I used to have a framed print of Charles Edward Perugini’s ‘Girl Reading’ on my wall. It’s amazing how many paintings there are of women reading – perhaps because it was considered a genteel, passive image, demure, ladylike and calming. It also suggests virginity or purity; the girl in white, the […]

Fancy Words & Plain English

This is the latest in an occasional round-up on readers and writers, books and their readability or unreadability, general discussion points for us all. First up; Are you a book snob? Recent reports suggest that one reason for not buying e-books is that others don’t know what you’re reading. Women find men who carry books […]

Death Under Lock And Key

Meet the king of the keys… He was the bard of the barred, the lord of the locked-up, the king of the keys. Robert Adey worked what I could only call an extreme niche of the murder mystery writing trade. Throughout his life (he died in 2015) he had collected notes on his particular area […]

Random Weekend Thoughts

Could Less Be More? I’ve been thinking about posting longer articles with less frequency. A piece every day, in days which are sometimes fraught with meetings and a tight writing schedule, plus the everyday bore of household chores, is manageable but tends to take the edge off my regular word count. Also, I’d like to […]

My Favourite Books About Dickens

Writing about Charles Dickens is almost as big an industry as books venerating the Brontë sisters. Every age takes an appropriate critical view that chimes with current obsessions, but where, say, Jane Austen unites critics in worship, Dickens divides for the simple reason that he is so profligate with contrary opinions that it’s possible to […]

Wherever You Can, Whenever You Can

A dear friend tells me he is writing a cycle of seven books. He has never written longform before and shows no inclination to do so. He’s decided to start his career with a world-and-ages-spanning epic that has a vast cast of intergalactic characters. He says he’s just waiting for the right time to start, […]

The Thread Of The Tapestry

In every magazine about writing the question comes up with dispiriting regularity; where do you get your ideas from? And every answer must be different. For me it’s not a spark, an image or a snippet of dialogue that sets me off on the trail of a new story. It’s a twist of thread with […]

Trouble At The Home Office

  This week’s challenge is to create two separate offices in one open-plan flat without damaging the way either of us work. We don’t want to wreck the design integrity or leave cables and peripherals all over the place. The first idea was to fit a desk where those two sofa units at the front […]

Back In The Jug Agane

The healing process is not quite as linear as I’d hoped it would be. Not to sound too Blanche Dubois, but there are good days and ones where the mirrors must be turned… So let’s look at the good news. I’ve been nominated for several awards. The Last Laugh for Best Comic Novel, for ‘The […]

The Voice Behind The Prose

I finally understand what I like about her most. She was cruelly funny. Cynical. Erudite. Surreal. Succinct. A blunt-spoken woman with a chaotic love life, two suicide attempts, twenty novels and a love of Liverpool pubs, and she wrote less like an angel than a demon. There were plenty of attempts to nail down Beryl Bainbridge’s writing […]