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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 […]

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I’ve never felt more like singing the (solo) blues

I am feeling a little bit jilted. An important relationship has recently come to an end. Already I find I am missing the old familiar things we did – our meetings once or twice a week, our plans, our outings, the way things changed between us over time.  It has been a couple of weeks […]

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For a gentler, kinder 2016, it’s time to liberate your inner Corbyn

It is the time of the year when, in homes across the country, moods will be on the turn. The cards, decorations and little lights which, a matter of hours ago, conveyed seasonal jolliness now represent yet another dreary housekeeping task to be completed before the return to work. The pleasure of human company may […]

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Why do it? Notes from a writer’s shed

Beyond the daily grind of the thousand words, there is a rhythm to life as a writer. The commission of the moment (if there is one),  the pressure of the work in progress, the seductive possibilities of those what-if, why-not?, would-be projects that you always mean to get around to writing: these tasks impose a […]

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Drugs, desire and one straight Englishman: a memory of Paris, 1972

The smile was almost the same. Those heavy-lidded dark brown eyes may have become a rather warier over the twenty years since we had last met. The handsome black face was a little more lined, but still conveyed interest, affection, mild amusement. It was my old friend Pierre’s front teeth that were different. He had […]

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From cats to editors – a top 10 of authors’ little helpers

The page before you is blank. When you try to write a sentence, it is like dragging your feet through a quagmire. With every slurpy step, the idea that you are a writer seems more absurd. Story? Hah! Who is going to read this stuff anyway? An hour ticks by. You write a sentence. You […]

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The rise and rise of the celebrity bully

There was once a man called Jimmy Savile. He was powerful and did bad things. Although some people suspected as much, he was allowed to continue being powerful and doing bad things for two main reasons: he was a bully, and he was popular with the public. Those  were the bad old days. Nothing like […]

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