Reviews

‘a delightful amateur sleuth novel with a well balanced mix of domestic and academic life and a strong sense of place.’ [Stage Fright]

- EUROCRIME.CO.UK

The Blitz Spirit?

Last year the comparisons were often made between the pandemic and Blitz in WWII. I thought of that recently as I read Margaret Kennedy’s Where Stands a Winged Sentry, her splendid memoir of the months between May and September 1940, when German invasion appeared imminent and it seemed likely that Britain would lose the war. […]

I’ve started, so I’ll finish?

Posted on Mar 5, 2021 in Bookshops, Finishing a book, James Joyce, Ulysses | 16 Comments

Certainly there was a time when I felt duty-bound to finish a book once I had started it. I am not quite sure when that stopped. Certainly I felt that way as a conscientious student doing an English degree. Once I had started something – Paradise Lost, War and Peace, all Shakespeare’s plays which I […]

Writing in lockdown, or Cassandra redux

Or should that be NOT writing, or at least, not writing a great detail. Last year’s tally included two short stories and a fair amount of work on a novel, including a lot of research and a synopis. However to date I have only written about 5,000 words of that novel. Not a lot to […]

Sarah Ward, also writing as Rhiannon Ward, is my guest

Posted on Dec 7, 2020 in Sarah Ward | 8 Comments

I loved Sarah’s first four novels which were police procedurals set in the Peak District where we both live. Her most recent novel, The Quickening, is a gripping and atmospheric Gothic tale, published under the name Rhiannon Ward. It’s a pleasure to interview her. Your most recent novel, The Quickening, is a new departure. Where […]

Favourite books on how to write

I’ve got far more books on writing than I can care to admit to. There’s some justification. Some of them have been essential tools in learning how to write. And then too writing is a solitary occupation and it’s good to have a few old friends to turn to when I grind to a halt. […]

Be afraid . . .

Posted on Oct 30, 2020 in Strangers, Taichi Yamada, The New Abject | 6 Comments

It’s nearly Halloween so now seems a good time to review an absolutely cracking ghost story, Strangers (1987), by Japanese writer, Taichi Tamada. It is a novella and can easily be read in a couple of hours. The narrator, a middle-aged scriptwriter, divorced, disillusioned, takes a sentimental journey to the Toyko suburb where he grew […]

A masterclass in suspense

Recently rereading one of my favourite M. R. James’s stories, ‘Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook,’ I realised all over again what a master James is. The story is a lesson in suspense, but there is also so much to enjoy in the tone of the writing and the characterisation. Dennistoun is a middle-aged don, rather fussy, sceptical, […]

Scary stories

I’ve recently written a horror story for an anthology, The New Abject, that will be published by Comma Press on 29th October and it has set me thinking about my favourite scary stories. It is the measure of a good one that it lingers in the mind for years after you have read it. I […]

Surrealism has caught up with us

Posted on Sep 23, 2020 in Buñuel, Inez Holden, Magritte, Max Ernst | 9 Comments

Last week I was reading Inez Holden’s diary of the Blitz, It was Different at the Time, published in 1943. This is from the entry of a day after a night of particularly heavy bombardment: ‘One morning I walked back through the park, and saw the highest branches of a tree draped with . . . […]

A journey into the past

In the later 1940s after the illness of their daughter Sarah, Barbara Hepworth and her husband, the artist Ben Nicholson, became friends with Norman Capener, the surgeon who had treated their child at the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital in Exeter. He invited her to witness a variety of surgical procedures and Hepworth produced a series […]