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I woke up in the middle of the night last night, to discover a message froma friend on Facebook. he’d been thinking of writing a novel, he said, and wondered what advice I had. This is what I wrote back, still half asleep.

Write what you love to read. I’ve read a ton of [...]

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

My review on Goodreads -

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A really magical and mesmerising read. The book opens and closes with an adult narrator who has gone back home for a funeral. He has an impulse to escape and he finds himself back in the [...]

Room at the Bottom

of the class… I am re-reading John Braine’s book, How to write a novel.

The first time I read it was in 1976, or so.  It was a school library book, and I remember I kept it for far too long, and read it twice. If only that had been enough…  Reading it again so many [...]

“The civilising effect of literature”

is dicussed in this fascinating interview with Martin Amis. He is always provocative, but in spite of the fact that I frequently find myself rising to the provocation, he is always interesting.

I didn’t much enjoy his novel, Lionel Asbo. He talks here about the importance of empathy, but although his fiction is witty and sharply [...]

Why do we love stories?

Because we do all love stories, don’t we? Whether it’s a book or a film, a TV series or the bones of a long dead king dug up in car park, we are endlessly fascinated by people, and what happened next, and why it happened.

A friend posted this quotation from Carlos Ruiz Zafón on Facebook yesterday. [...]

The Big Fight

Only the start of February, and already Ryan and I have had one of our occasional big fights.

It was about nothing of any importance, really. Just that he did something unthinking that reminded me of stuff my stepmother used to do all the time, and I responded by saying something horrible that reminded him of [...]

The best books about writing

OK, I know. Reading about writing is not writing. Writing about writing isn’t much better…

But as I work to get better at writing, I have spent quite a few procrastinating hours with some helpful books. The best kind of procrastination this – it has a useful payoff. So I thought I’d make an attempt at [...]

Perchance to dream

Vivid, memorable dreams – the enjoyable side effect of amitriptyline.

This morning I woke up in the middle of dreaming about Mrs B, our landlady when we lived in a bedsit in Wolverhampton. After University we found a flat in Liverpool 5, near the Piggeries. All demolished now, of course, which was probably A Good Thing [...]

Living with the Wolf

That’s how I’ve come to think of it, over the years. I’ve lived with SLE, lupus, for over half my life now, and it’s not getting easier. Casting it as my own personal fairy tale used to leave me feeling that I have some influence, some control. The sad truth is, that I have very [...]

Alternate Histories

I am currently reading Dominion, by CJ Sansom.  “All events that take place after 5 p.m. on 9th May 1940 are imaginary,” we readers are warned as the story begins at 4.30 p.m. that same day.  The key difference is the outcome of the cabinet meeting – in reality Churchill became head of the National [...]