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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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 of interest in Golden Age detective stories, the locked room mystery. In 1979 the first UK hardback edition of…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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 write a few more in-depth pieces, like the ones I used to write about London…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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 find enough evidence to support any argument for or…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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, after he moves house. Or countries. We've been having this conversation for about ten years…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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 enough colour in it to be woven into something interesting. This is literally true of a novel I'm working on in…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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 currently sit, but a desk looks ridiculous plonked into the room, and I want to live in a home, not an office…
27 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Books & Reading & Writing
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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 Lonely Hour', possibly the darkest and least amusing of all the Bryant & Mays (somebody has a warped sense of…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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 style in her lifetime. The author was one of the grandes…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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The brutality of tropical life shocked the unprepared British I'm not sure I can sustain the image of a rainswept London for much longer in my fiction. It's rapidly ceasing to exist. This year London has been hotter than Ibiza; nearly three months of blazing sun so far, crystal skies, birdsong and emerald fecundity. The 5:00am traffic sussurance is slowly building, like a slightly out-of-use…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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My parents owned a forbidden book. I could see it from where I sat in the little reading chair they had bought me for my seventh birthday. On the top shelf of the bookcase was a massive brick with a heavy-looking matt-black canvas cover. The title was printed in silver and was too small to read from down here, and I was not allowed to touch it because it was for adults only and my fragile child's…
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