Date Archives September 2013

What’s the book you turn to?

Do you have a particular book that you turn to when you’re feeling lost or confused? Something that you’ve read or dipped into dozens of times, and that always makes you feel better? For me, that book is the Tao Te Ching. I’m not a Taoist. I’m not an anything-ist. I just find that this particular book contains a lot of things that make sense to me, and that reading it helps me sort the important things from the distractions (hint: the important things are usually the ones I’ve lost… Read More

Generalities are the enemy of good writing

That was quite a general statement, so let me explain. Good writing involves seeing something in a fresh way, and that means seeing it for itself, not for its category. I was sitting here writing this morning, and saw a fly land on my desk. I was about to swat it away, but then I stopped seeing it as a fly, and started to see it as an individual creature. I watched it closely. I watched it reach up and clean its wings with its back legs. I watched it… Read More

Interview with a writer (and his cat): James Higgerson

Check out this short interview I recorded the other day with James Higgerson, Manchester-based author of The Almost Lizard. In the interview, James tells us how he wrote the novel, what he wanted to communicate, and what most surprised him about getting published. He also gives us a sneak preview of his next novel, Kid Gloves, inspired by Britain’s tabloid-fuelled obsession with child protection. And watch out for some unscheduled guest appearances by his cat, Omar… For more information about The Almost Lizard, you can: Read the review I wrote on… Read More

Rutherford Park by Elizabeth Cooke

Do you ever get the feeling that you’re not the target audience for a particular book? The cover of this one set my alarm bells ringing with its references to Downton Abbey and Catherine Cookson and Edwardian English country houses. It’s not that I’ve got anything against the “English country house” novel. It’s just that I think it’s been written already, multiple times, and I don’t need to read it again. As for Downton Abbey, well, don’t get me started… I read Rutherford Park because the author asked me very… Read More

The ten rules of writing fiction

There’s an old Guardian article I’ve used a few times when giving talks on the craft of writing. It was called The Ten Rules of Writing Fiction. The Guardian asked a whole load of famous novelists for their advice, and then printed each novelist’s top ten rules. When I first read it, it made a lot of sense. But then I rearranged the piece a little, and started to see a strange pattern. See if you can spot it… Roddy Doyle says to “Fill pages as quickly as possible –… Read More