A research trip and baby turtles

Baby turtles at the rescue centre

I just got home from a research trip to Turkey. I was at a little town I've visited three or four times before, but always with my holiday head on. This was my first trip there with my writing head on. I've used the town as a starting point for the setting of my current writing project, and there were a few places I'd written about that didn't feel … [Read more...]

Would you like me to mentor you?

WordFactory.tv logo

**Please note, the deadline for apprenticeship applications has now passed and the mentees have been chosen, but WordFactory will be looking for two new apprentices next year** I'm going to be mentoring one short story writer over six months as part of the WordFactory apprenticeship scheme. We'll meet or chat on the phone/over email every … [Read more...]

What we can tell about Haruki Murakami’s new novel from its girth

Colorless Tsukuru cover design

On 12 August, Haruki Murakami's new novel: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage comes out in the UK. What will it be like? Impatient to get my hands on a copy, I've made predictions about the book in the same way that sports commentators make predictions about games – I've done a statistical analysis of Murakami's novels to date … [Read more...]

Joan Wilder vs Palpatine, and a weekend of London lit fests

Bakersfield Mist

It was so exciting last night to see two huge characters from my childhood on stage together: Kathleen Turner, who I will always think of first as romance novelist  Joan Wilder from Romancing the Stone, and Ian McDiarmid, the dreaded evil emperor Palpatine from the Star Wars movies. The play was Bakersfield Mist. Joan Wilder plays a boozy trailer … [Read more...]

Weirdest nesting material ever?

Power Ranger in a blackbird nest

I have a creative blackbird nesting in my garden. This week, I was hanging my washing on the line, when I heard something drop down inside the overgrown ivy and creepers that cover the whole of my side wall - it was a blackbird chick fledging the nest. Later, when the chick was gone, I looked into the ivy and found the nest. Woven into it was … [Read more...]

Goodbye Rik Mayall

Rik Mayall University Challenge

I just heard the news about Rik Mayall and I'm so sad. When I was 10, I used to strut around the playground sticking two fingers up at people and snorting and calling them fascist and Thatcher and drawing anarchy signs on my homework diary because I wanted to be Rick from The Young Ones. I had no idea who Trotsky was but thanks to Rik Mayall, … [Read more...]

Short stories come in pairs

Alternating short story drafts

When I write short stories, I write them in pairs. This is why: I think the best gift a writer could have would be the ability to read their own work as if they'd never seen it before. But a truly objective perspective on your own work is impossible. It helps to leave a draft in the draw for a few days, weeks or months, but I've found that if I … [Read more...]

Reading and workshop at the London Short Story Festival, 21 June 2014

London Short Story Festival

I'll be reading at an event called 'The weird and wonderful world of short stories' alongside fellow reality-benders Dan Powell and Robert Shearman at The London Short Story Festival on 21 June 2014, 11am–12pm. We'll be chaired by Tania Hershman. The event is at Waterstones Piccadilly. Tickets are £8. Full event details and booking here. An hour … [Read more...]