The Seven Ages of Authorhood

  1 Even as a mewling and puking infant, he shows signs that one day he will be an author. There is something about how he grips his copy of The Cuddly Cloth Kitten in his little hand, the way he looks out of his cot, observing the world around him with oddly knowing eyes. […]

There’s no snob quite like a book snob

The book fair crowd was streaming past me on their way to the Edinburgh International Book Festival. That evening, in another part of the city, I would be performing a musical show about writing and the life of an author as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. I had thought, in my innocence, that readers and […]

Top Nine Writer’s Rules #7: Fear

It will catch any serious writer in the end: that familiar dread of the blank or page or screen as it stares back at you, daring you to give it  some words which, the blank page just knows, will be disappointing, or surprisingly weak, or in some way inferior to everything you have written before. […]

Remembering Paul Sidey

Some time in the early 1990s, the writer Willie Donaldson devoted his weekly column in the Independent to an account of how the editor who had commissioned him to write his memoirs was so desperate to get the book delivered that he had committed him to an addiction clinic run by mad Christians: ‘Paul Sidey […]

Top Nine Writer’s Rules #6: Confidence

It is an undeniable (and frankly rather unattractive) aspect of a writer’s character that it needs to be finely balanced between  arrogance and insecurity. Confidence is needed to write in the first place; a degree of self-doubt is necessary for what is written not to be preeningly complacent and indulgent. From Anthony Trollope to Caitlin […]

Clean, lean, terrifically digital – welcome to the new me

The general consensus around here was that an image re-think was in order. The brand needed to be refreshed. And because a website can sometimes seem like a visible, external version of your professional  life, the best place to start was here, online. I have  a new website and with it (the master-plan) a new […]

Why writers are mugging each other

Today marks the end of a peculiar, but increasingly popular, annual event: national novel-writing month is almost over. Heads down, fingers pounding away at their keyboards, would-be writers here and in America will be racing for the finishing line, having almost completed a novel of some kind or other in 30 days. The words of […]

Stand by for the new Hollywood hero – the publisher…

Even coming from the weird and wacked-out world of Tinseltown, the news that Sean Penn is to appear in a Hollywood biopic of Maxwell Perkins is somewhat startling. Perkins was a mild, courteous, self-effacing publisher’s editor. He was, admittedly, such a brilliant editor that he has been a touchstone of quality and seriousness for those […]

It’s time for an authors’ revolution

Here is my ‘Endpaper’ piece for the summer edition of The Author, the magazine published for professional writers by the Society of Authors. Is it just me, or has everything  suddenly gone rather quiet?  Authors are used to hearing that the trade is dead, that bookshops are spookily deserted (it usually happens the week one […]

Hail Hilary, the scourge of literary oozers

There are few professions quite as innately snobbish as publishing. In the world of books, two areas of potential snootiness, the commercial and the literary, combine to create a feudal hierarchy of brutal divisiveness.   The system flourishes from generation to generation because those absorbed into the aristocracy quickly and effortlessly assume the attitudes of […]