We’re with stupid – the seductive lure of idiocy on the left and the right

Soon after the death of Fidel Castro, I pointed out somewhere online that, for all its brave resistance to the crude might of the United States, the Cuban regime did have the unpleasant habit of locking up those who disagreed with it.  Kangaroo courts had sentenced writers, academics, teachers and librarians for up to 28 […]

The art of not writing – some practical guidance

  I recently came across a literary quotation by Hugh Grant. Asked by an interviewer about whether he wanted to write, he came up with an impressively honest answer. ‘It’s actually more comfortable to think I could write a novel than to discover that you can’t,’ he said. That spoke to me, as I go […]

Crossing the line: when local politicians go bonkers

First, an apology. This is a small story. It is about a village, its school, some houses and a white line. It would not be out of place in one of the quieter episodes of The Archers. To some, the fact that I want to write about it may seem like the final, irrefutable evidence […]

The wind whistling past your ears: dealing with the post-novel blues

It has gone. The piece of work which has occupied over the past couple of years, a novel, has left my desk to make its way in the blustery, chilly outside world. Almost certainly it will be back, nagging for attention of some kind, but right now I’m in that odd, conflicted state of mind […]

‘Lady in Blue, Unidentified’ – a little vampire story for Halloween

I write this report on Christmas day in the library of Oxburgh Hall, an agreeable late-medieval moated house in Norfolk where I have been a guest for these past five days. By the end of this week, I am confident that my task will be complete. The vampires will be dead. No, please don’t be […]

They’re off! My story RACING MANHATTAN is published today.

I was born into a family that loved horses. My father was an international show-jumper and amateur jockey. My mother was a brilliant horsewoman who had ridden all her life. My brother Philip and I hadn’t been long in this world before we were sitting on a small felt saddle on top of a pony. […]

‘Tricked once more…’. Happy birthday, Dr Dylan

Today’s the birthday of Bob Dylan. Here’s a piece I wrote in 2005 when Dylan was nominated (unsuccessfully – again) for the Nobel Prize: It was an odd kind of funeral. The deceased had lived a full and somewhat rackety life, and most of those who had come to bid farewell were, like him, brave […]

The underdog bites the dust

It was April 1998. I was living in a flat in London after my marriage had gone belly-up. I had been working on my novel Kill Your Darlings and was so stuck that it felt as if it was killing me. I was not, as they say, in a good place. Simon Kelner had just been […]