My week at Swanwick: The Writers’ Summer School

I'm back! Full of inspiration and raring to write. Last week, I was at the Swanwick Writers' Summer School and I had the most amazing time. As a writer, it will probably stand one of the most important weeks in my writing career. The realizations I came to, the people I met and the courage I gathered … Continue reading My week at Swanwick: The Writers’ Summer School

Top 10# Female Heroes of Literature

Elizabeth Bennet by Jane Austen (as depicted here by Jennifer Ehle) One of my favourite heroines. Elizabeth Bennet is a character who has echoed down the ages purely because of how human she is. She's not at all perfect, laden with pride (and prejudice, surprisingly...), refuses to be stereotyped or dedicated to, but remains a woman … Continue reading Top 10# Female Heroes of Literature

I can’t stop buying books. Is there a book for that?

Let me explain to you my relationship with books. I want books. All the books. I haven't got time to read them, but I want them. I'm going to buy them and worry about reading them later. They're wonderful, they make me smile. I want to be surrounded by books I don't have time to … Continue reading I can’t stop buying books. Is there a book for that?

Review: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (Novel)

Ever late to the party, this is one of the classics which I haven't read before. The Book Club I go to decided on My Cousin Rachel this month, partly due to the film now being in cinemas. I'm one of those people who hate seeing a movie based on a book without having read the … Continue reading Review: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (Novel)

The Bechdel–Wallace test and how it can help us

I briefly spoke about the Bechdel–Wallace test in my post about complex and powerful female characters, which you can read here. But as it's such an interesting idea, I wanted to talk about it in depth. The Bechdel–Wallace test was created by the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel. It first appeared in 1985 in her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For.  Basically … Continue reading The Bechdel–Wallace test and how it can help us

Without hesitation, repetition or deviation

We've all been there. We see a competition for a short story and we're suddenly inspired by the topic. Clearly, cognitive dissonance has already set in, because on some level we know we're going to hate it by the time we've written it. But at the first rush of feeling, ideas like fireworks are lighting your … Continue reading Without hesitation, repetition or deviation

Thanks, Isaac Asimov, but what robots need is Shakespeare

I don't often find something which speaks to my two loves, sci-fi and Shakespeare, but last week the Guardian kindly obliged with their article We need robots to have morals. Could Shakespeare and Austen help? written by John Mullan. It's a great article, you should give it a read. Briefly, scientists are starting to think about how artificial … Continue reading Thanks, Isaac Asimov, but what robots need is Shakespeare

John Finnemore, the spinner of tales.

John Finnemore is one of the best comedy writers currently working. He mostly writes for radio and created Cabin Pressure, John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, and Double Acts. His true talent is one all good writers should aspire to; he invites you to listen to his story, holds your attention for as long as he's asked … Continue reading John Finnemore, the spinner of tales.

STRONG female characters? How about we just write better.

This is a post I'd been working on for about two weeks before the new Doctor was announced, which I wrote about last week. I bumped up this post today as I think it ties in well about our changing view of female characters. Strong female characters, or the lack thereof, has been a hot … Continue reading STRONG female characters? How about we just write better.

Cast off your crutches

I'd be the first to say I'm a naturally apologetic person. I tend to apologise that I'm so apologetic. I'm the person who apologises when someone steps on my foot on the tube. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I've come to realise that it's killing my writing. Everything I wrote … Continue reading Cast off your crutches

Steampunk: The Where and When

This is the next in my series of  Steampunk postings. If you'd like to read the introduction to the kooky world of Steampunk first, click here. And if you’re having any trouble visualising this aesthetic, I run a Pinterest board for all things Steampunk. Check it out here! So you've decided to write a steampunk … Continue reading Steampunk: The Where and When

Harnessing the Completion Principle to enthral and annoy your readers

This post is a continuation of what I was exploring last Monday with my post Viral Fiction, like measles, is worth catching. You can read this on its own though!  This has happened to me and I'm sure it's happened to you. Let's say you've been to see a movie and now you're walking home. … Continue reading Harnessing the Completion Principle to enthral and annoy your readers

Not all Classics are created equal

Does anyone find that they the story, but not necessarily the book? Those occasions where a story transcends its source material to take on a life of its own. Perhaps you like West Side Story, but you’d never read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Perhaps you love Bridget Jones’s Diary, but would never read Jane Austen's … Continue reading Not all Classics are created equal

Viral fiction, like measles, is worth catching

Why do some stories hang around and others fizzle out into nothing? Since the rise of the internet, there is no better way to track what we're interested in and what we're not. The story 'Politician exposed for tax evasion' will run its course over a week or two. But the belief that Walt Disney … Continue reading Viral fiction, like measles, is worth catching

Give your character some good old fashion vices

My degree was Classical Studies - Ancient Greeks and Romans. And a lot of what I learned shaped my understanding of literature. You’d be amazed at how much influence 5th-century Athenian literature has had on us, from tragedy to comedy. And probably the most famous know-it-alls of all time, Aristotle, still has a lot to teach … Continue reading Give your character some good old fashion vices

5 books which have influenced me

The Kingfisher Book of Myths and Legends by Anthony Horowitz You know those treasured books which have been with you forever? This is one of my earliest and most beloved books. Back in Primary school, I was a bit of a mystery to my teachers. My reading age was significantly higher than my spelling age, which made … Continue reading 5 books which have influenced me

The Busy Bee

The Busy Bee The busy bee, bright brown and yellow, Flits from flower to flower in industrial glee, With not a care in the world. Just like my neighbour, Mrs Cassidy. The busy bee, ungainly and urgent, Buzzes and bounces against glass panes, Knocking and fussing. Just like my neighbour, Mrs Cassidy. I should probably … Continue reading The Busy Bee

When you forget how to read

Around the beginning of 2016, something awful happened. I stopped reading. I wasn't sure why, but I couldn't pick up a book anymore. I've been an avid reader my whole life and it was pretty startling to realise that three months, four months, six months had gone by without me opening a new book. In retrospect, there were … Continue reading When you forget how to read

Annual Bloggers Bash Award 2017

Last Saturday, I went to the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards. And I think I found my mothership. A few weeks ago, I was chatting over email with Sacha Black and she invited me. As well as the author of the brilliant 13 Steps to Evil (which I reviewed here on my blog), she also a blogger and … Continue reading Annual Bloggers Bash Award 2017

This post was six weeks away from retirement

Ah, cliché. That old unwanted friend who turns up at your party, but you've known them forever and it's too much effort to get them to leave. Terry Pratchett summarised it best: Clichés are the hammer and screwdriver in the toolbox of communication. Read any 'how to write' guide and they'll tell you that clichés … Continue reading This post was six weeks away from retirement

Steampunk: Origins

I'm currently writing a steampunk novel with a working title of Masquerade. It's actually been in the works for about four years now. But finally, I’ve given myself a deadline of 13th August to finish the first official draft. You might notice the great big bloody timer on the bottom right of my homepage (I … Continue reading Steampunk: Origins

Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Shadow's life is turned upside down when he finds out his wife Laura has died in a car crash. Directionless, only just released from prison, a man called Mr Wednesday offers him a job. Shadow finds himself in the centre of a mysterious and unseen war between the American Gods, old and new. American Gods … Continue reading Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Speculative fiction can do what no other genre can

When I tell people when I'm writing a steampunk novel, I've accepted they're going to look blank. Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and not widely read. In the UK, at least. But why when I say 'fantasy' do they all look disappointed? Someone once told me they only watched soaps and dramas because shows … Continue reading Speculative fiction can do what no other genre can

I’m a Londoner

I'm a Londoner. This is our city and we share it with 10.5 million people. We live, work and play in 607 square miles. And for the most part, we get along, like siblings sharing a room. We are inclusive and welcoming to all, we celebrate difference and uniqueness. We have for hundreds of years, … Continue reading I’m a Londoner

Is there too much flashing in modern literature?

Flashbacks and flashforwards. Why, what did you think I meant? Flashbacks and flashforwards have become a significant part of the language of modern fiction. I hadn't thought too much about until this weekend when I saw the Guardian article Bad memories: Colm Tóibín urges authors to lose the flashbacks. At the Hay Festival last weekend, Colm Tóibín, … Continue reading Is there too much flashing in modern literature?

Review: Sam Hain – Occult Detective: #1 All Hallows’ Eve

Sam Hain - Occult Detective: #1 All Hallows' Eve by Bron James is a book I picked up at London ComicCon last weekend. It's a well written urban fantasy short story at about 54 pages. In a brief summary, Alice Carroll, your average London gal working a normal job before, you guessed it, the inciting … Continue reading Review: Sam Hain – Occult Detective: #1 All Hallows’ Eve

Review: 13 Steps to Evil – How to Craft Superbad Villains by Sacha Black

I’m so excited as I feel like I’ve been waiting for this book forever. Or, more accurately, since last September when I first discovered Sacha Black's website. I received a free ebook copy in exchange for an honest review, but truly, I loved it so much I've already brought my paper copy. 13 Steps To Evil - How To … Continue reading Review: 13 Steps to Evil – How to Craft Superbad Villains by Sacha Black

Remember these four elements of good storytelling

Pick up any two guides to writing, or check out any number of blogs and you'll see 'the X elements of good story telling'. These range from three to twelve or more. And all of them are different. Hum. It's almost as though storytelling is a subjective art... I spend a lot of time picking … Continue reading Remember these four elements of good storytelling

Fake News. Probably the most successful fiction there is

Did you know that during President Donald Trump’s campaign, he offered to pay for one-way plane tickets of anyone of African or Mexican descent wanting to leave America? Well no, he didn’t. But this article by tmzhiphop.com got 802,000 reactions online. Why does fake news have such a readership? Why did an article in thevalleyreport.com … Continue reading Fake News. Probably the most successful fiction there is

The Glorious 25th of May

Truth! Justice! Freedom! Reasonably priced love and a hard-boiled egg. Today is when we remember the People's Revolution of the Glorious 25th of May. Or you do if you're a Terry Pratchett fan. I'm wearing the lilac today - which in this case is a pin badge. In Terry Pratchett's Discworld, the lilac is worn by people … Continue reading The Glorious 25th of May

Forget the idiom, we DO judge a book by its cover

The Guardian published the article How real books have trumped ebooks celebrating the recent and hopefully continued uptick in sales of physical books over ebooks. In this article, James Daunt, the chief executive of Waterstones makes a wonderful point about selling books: A very large part of the way I sell books has been about how you … Continue reading Forget the idiom, we DO judge a book by its cover

Moana: could she be the best Disney princess?

Some of you out there may be Dinsey nuts. Some of you may be Dinsey haters. Some may think Disney is for children, some of you may have had Disney themed weddings. But regardless, Disney is important, shaping the minds of children. And since 1937 with 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' it has been … Continue reading Moana: could she be the best Disney princess?