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Back to school

I've spent the last couple of weeks teaching creative writing and storytelling at Tiverton High School, and it's been quite an experience!

Firstly, contrary to the impression some newspapers seem to want to create about youngsters today, I wasn't once threatened with a gun or knife, and neither was I mugged or abused.  In fact - and sorry to spoil the myth of many a hack - I met lots of keen, polite and very bright and enthusiastic kids, who it was a pleasure to work with.

I'm very new to this teaching thing, so I suspect I'm learning... Read more

Some simple sums

Excuse the alliteration, but I'm off work for a few days and it can put you in a frivolous mood.

A question has descended upon me, and it's one I've heard a few times when I've done talks about the tvdetective books. It's this - how do I find the time to write a novel?

In fact, the more common form of the question is - I'd love to try to write a book, but I could never find the time.  Well, this is what I've come to consider to be the best answer to that.

We're well on our... Read more

Balance of Guilt

It's now been a couple of months since The Balance of Guilt came out.  A fair few people have read it, and the feedback has been positive.  Which equals - a large phew!

It's such a peculiar feeling.  All the work goes into planning and writing the book, then rewriting and editing it, and when finally it's published... it's like taking a very deep breath, handing this precious, very personal thing over to a group of strangers and saying - go on then, here it is, tell me what you think.  And because of all that work, you're always nervous... Read more

A holiday - not!

I'm officially on hols for a couple of weeks, but that doesn't mean I'm taking it easy and relaxing, by no means.

Firstly, I'm teaching at Tiverton High School this fortnight, on a project to encourage and improve creative writing.  The theme is superstition and beliefs, which gives us plenty of scope.  It's great fun and very rewarding, but also tiring - the kids are such a bundle of energy and ideas!  Every time I work in a school, I come away with more and more admiration for the wonderful work that teachers do, and Tiverton is no different.

... Read more

Readers' groups, wine and supper

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to receive a very kind email from a readers' group, who had enjoyed The Balance of Guilt, and wanted to ask me some questions about it.

A few I was able to help with, as they seemed simple points of detail, others I was not - because you know what we writer types are like.  We revel in the mystery thing about our books and like to leave plenty of room for readers to imagine, discuss and debate.

Howsoever, the point of this blog is thus.  After an exchange of emails... Read more

Armistice Day

This is a day which always makes me feel reflective, so please excuse a more serious blog than usual.

My grandfather, Percy, was a gunner in the Second World War.  He survived, but the noise of the guns left him profoundly deaf for the rest of his life. I always think of him today, and how his story is just one of the many millions of sacrifices men and women of our past have made for our future.

As regular readers will know, I rarely talk about my day job in my blog, but on this occasion please indulge me.... Read more

Settings and seasons

A confession (isn't it odd how this blog so often turns into a confessional?)

I was doing some wandering around the shops in Exeter yesterday afternoon, when I... and steady yourself for this... are you ready?  You sure?!  Ok then, when I...

...did some Xmas shopping!

How's that for organised?  Or just oddly premature?!

It wasn't deliberate, I was just looking in some windows in Gandy Street (for those who don't know it, that's our little avenue full of distinctive, independent stores) and came upon a jeweller's.  I saw something which I thought would make a great gift for my... Read more

Dreams and notebooks

A funny thing happened to me last night, as the old saying goes.  Fear not, you can read on, it's not that distressing.

I had a bizarre dream, which took me back 20 years and more to my university days.  I don't know if I mentioned before, but I started in the media business by becoming a DJ, and I began spinning the "platters that matter" on the "wheels of steel" as it were at the college radio station.

In the dream I was back on air, aged 19 or 20, and I kept reliving every mistake I made, whether... Read more

A strange attraction

Thanks to everyone who came to the Poole Literary Festival yesterday, and to the organisers for such a fine event.  I very much enjoyed it and hope everyone who toddled along did too.

A very good question was raised at the Crime Writing Panel, and it was this - can you explain the continuing appeal of crime in literature, particularly when the subject matter can be so very shocking and distressing?

It set me thinking, so I'll do my best to try to venture an answer, in my humble view anyway.

Firstly, if we're honest, I think there's an element... Read more