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...]

Reading at the Literary Kitchen Festival, London, 20 June 2014

Literary Kitchen banner

I'll be reading alongside Stuart Evers, Naomi Wood and Douglas Cowie at the Literary Kitchen Festival on Friday 20 June. The event runs 7–11 at The Peckham Pelican. Tickets are £5/£3 concessions. Full event details and booking here. The festival is on 16–22 June 2014, and includes open-studio workshops; readings from folk such as Evie Wyld, Adam … [Read more...]

How do you like your story endings, open or closed?

Story endings

Do you want clear answers at the end of a story, or do you prefer doing a little investigative work and close reading to unpick the clues, or do you dig story endings that are wide open, where you can chew over the story and make your own interpretation? I ask because I got another email this week from someone who'd read my story, The Stormchasers, … [Read more...]