Thinking about Plots – part 1

I’m going to start talking about plots by quoting an incredibly smug man who makes the seemingly proud boast that he has only ever read one book. (An article I read the other day said that President Trump is only thought to have read three pieces of fiction. And you really don’t want to be…

Succubus Dreams by Richelle Mead

Even though I’ll easily go a year without reading books in this series, I really enjoy Richelle Mead’s Succubus novels. Heading back to Seattle to hang out with Georgina Kincaid, succubus supreme, is something I look forward to and which – if I’m honest – I feel like I’ve delayed far too long. In some…

Hollywood & Crime

Inspiration can come from funny places. It can be from reading a newspaper article, or hearing a song on the radio, or simply seeing the way people act with each other on the train in the morning. If you’re attuned to it, inspiration can strike from anywhere. Or alternatively, you can just seek out things…

Me, Writing Series, in 2018

I’m taking a break from writing about ideas this week, to give an update on where I am with my own writing. The short answer is: really busy. Really, really busy. So busy I fear, in worried thoughts in the early hours of the morning, that I may have taken on too much. But still…

Licence Renewed by John Gardner

Once upon a time there used to be a bookshop on Charing Cross Road which focused solely on crime fiction. Going through its doors and seeing its crammed to the ceiling shelves and smelling its slightly musty smell was like entering an Aladdin’s Cave for bibliophiles. There you could find hundreds, if not thousands, of…

Children of the Dust by Louise Lawrence

Along with Z FOR ZACHARIAH, this was one of my wife’s favourite books from childhood. A book she loved so much in the school library, that lived so alive in her imagination, she sought it out as an adult and devoured it hungrily again. I can only say that the fact they’re both post-nuclear apocalypse…

Turning Ideas into Books – part 4

“But what happens if I just end up with a series of disconnected chapters?” I hear you ask. And that danger does exist, I won’t lie to you. Particularly if you’re only writing every couple of days or so, if you’re just dipping into it and then dipping out of it when the whim takes…

Colonel Sun by Robert Markham (Kingsley Amis)

There was all that fuss a few years back about Sebastian Faulks and William Boyd, actual literary authors (unlike John Gardner or Raymond Benson, or – let’s be fair – Anthony Horowitz) being hired to write a James Bond novel. Wasn't it incredible? Proof of the high esteem in which Fleming's writing is held. But…

Mission Prague by Nic Morton

When I picked up this novel about psychic British spy, Tania Standish, and her adventures in 1970’s Czechoslovakia, the spy template I thought it would adhere to is the James Bond one. After all, that is already an outsized world and surely a beautiful spy with precognitive abilities could be dropped in fairly seamlessly. But…

Turning Ideas into Books – part 3

They say you should never meet your heroes. Sometimes you shouldn’t find out too much about them either. I grew up reading Raymond Chandler’s seven novels again and again (well, the first six, I’m not sure anyone reads PLAYBACK more than once). Even though I’ve not now looked at them in years, I still have…