Reading & Writing

Home Is Where The Books Are

It turns out people aren’t comfortable just being with themselves. Blaise Pascal said, ‘All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,’ and the figures back him up. 95% of adults say they found time for a leisure activity in the previous 24 hours, but 83% said they’d spent no […]

Third Time Lucky

When I began my first memoir, ‘Paperboy’, about craving books and growing up in a home without them, I faced a problem. I had kept notebooks filled with fiction but never wrote down what actually happened within our family. The reason is clear to me now; I felt more comfortable inside a fantastical world than […]

Between Genres At The Moment

I’m in hospital again today with a tube hanging out of my arm so I’m typing this with one hand. The nurse isn’t coming around for an hour so I’ve time to bang this out. I’m writing a third volume of my award-winning memoirs (my agent insists on me adding that phrase). For those of […]

We’re Not On The Same Page Anymore

‘I got halfway through and stopped reading,’ said my New York agent. He was talking about my new manuscript. ‘There’s no market for it over here.’ ‘Things must be pretty bad when your own agent fires you,’ said a friend. ‘Why don’t you write to their market?’ ‘I don’t know what their market is anymore,’ […]

History & Mystery

My hair, the one change everyone swore they could predict, never fell out. But it did turn white. Now it’s starting to turn black. Every day’s a surprise in C-Land. As my fuzzy head clears and I build up a head of steam to write, the question is no longer ‘Can I?’ but ‘What should […]

The Matchbox

It was larger than I remembered. Deeper, with bigger matches. The box was a gift to me – it’s the first matchbox I’ve ever received – from my lovely neighbour Lou. It says on the front: ‘Quis Separabit’ – ‘Who will separate us?’ from Romans 8:35. It refers to the union and is usually decorated […]

It’s All Just Words

Pressing The Nib I’m bored of writing about illness so let’s discuss more interesting subjects. Did the above sentence bother you? The ‘of’ instead of ‘with’? I notice the Youngs are using it. Does it matter? The flickering intricacies of the English language would test the patience of a poet. We learn to write in […]

Rereading: It’s Like Buying Pre-Owned Fashion

Nobody in my family ever dies. My mother made it past 90 with a cheery smile on her enormous false teeth. My Uncle John is a fit, happy, tanned and laughing marvel at 91 (he sent a text to his son the other day. ‘Have you got my extension ladder?’) My feisty non-nonsense Auntie Doreen […]

Writing: The Planning Stage

Serendipity plays a large part in finding inspiration I’m thinking of starting another book, and to do so I’m going through the hunter/gatherer process that always occurs at this stage. It’s complicated and works differently every time, but part of it involves churning through the work of many writers and thinking about the way they […]

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…