The right words in the right order

typewriter 4

Welcome to my site. Thanks for dropping in. Do take a look around. I hope you like what I’ve done with the place.

You’ll find blogs on my favourite writers and on the craft and graft of writing, top tips I’ve been taught about the spooky art, and things I learned myself the hard way. I hope you find some of it chimes with you.

I also write stories and sometimes they’re published. You’re welcome to read them here. And if you like what you find, or want to take me to task, I’d love to hear from you.

New story Plane Spotting published

Birmingham Cities cover image

My short story Plane Spotting was published in the Dostoyevsky Wannabe Cities: Birmingham anthology in March.

Dostoyevsky Wannabe is a Manchester-based independent publisher, with simple, eye-catching cover design and uses Amazon’s print-on-demand service. This means only books that are bought are printed, so there’s no need for heavy investment in long print runs that may never sell through. The books are then made available at a very low price (Dostoyevsky Wannabe Cities: Birmingham is just £4). It’s a great platform for exciting new and different literature. Continue reading

New story What Do You Really Think Of Me, Really? published

Forecast cover

I love to read good short stories and relish the struggle of writing them too. I know when a story I read is good, but not when it comes to my own short stories. I know when I’ve missed the mark but I don’t often know why.

So I went on a short story writing course, to learn the rules if there are any. And it turns out, there are quite a few.

The course was run by CD Rose (a writer I rate – check out the wildly playful Who’s Who When Everyone is Someone Else) for indie publisher Comma Press. And it led eventually to my story What Do You Really Think Of Me, Really? being published in a nicely put together digital story collection titled Forecast. Continue reading

New story American Boy published in pamphlet for Birmingham Literature Festival 2017

Five stories cover & inside

One of the major highlights of my 2017 was a commission from the West Midlands Readers’ Network (WMRN), which led to publication and performance during the October Birmingham Literature Festival 2017.

Each year the WMRN pairs regional writers with reading groups, to work together to produce a story. And behind it all is the support of Writing West Midlands, the regional agency for literature development. Continue reading

The importance of Self interest

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Will Self, Creative Commons, Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography

There’s a big difference between reading a story you’ve written and performing it. I’ve learned this the hard way these last 12 months by taking part in a number of spoken word events, including telling true stories live.

From my experiences as an audience member at countless author readings, writers are often guilty of reading head down, and fail to modulate their voice or make any eye contact with their audience.

I’ve watched lots of authors read at various festivals down the years. One author and one reading stands out – a performance by Will Self. Continue reading

True stories, Herbert and Mee

mee-club-wrap-party-imageI spent Sunday afternoon at an end-of-season Mee Club party at the Herbert in Coventry.

Those who’d taken part in the once-a-month ‘true stories, told live’ events, or in the workshops set up to help first-time story tellers bash and chisel their ideas into shape, were invited to come along and perform new stories in front of a friendly crowd, or cast an eye back over their experiences. Continue reading

Writer in development

April is the cruellest month said TS Eliot, and it’s arguably one of the most famous lines of modern poetry.

Not for me, Tom, April has been the coolest month – it’s made me more optimistic about my fiction writing than I’ve felt for several years.

Two great things happened.

First, I was selected for Room 204 by Writing West Midlands, which is the region’s literature development agency: it’s a year-long programme to support talented, emerging writers in the region to develop their work and their career opportunities. Continue reading

My Desert Island Discs dozen castaway novelists

Desert Island

Mrs eNil, Creative Commons

Since the Desert Island Discs archive was digitised, making recordings of around 1500 castaways interviewed since 1942 available for download, I’ve been steadily making my way through the pick of them.

The interview format is timeless and still smart to this day: the music often prompts an emotion or a recollection that a short interview would otherwise struggle to do.

What’s more, there are hundreds with interviewees I admire, and from time to time the interviews are genuinely illuminating, peppered with insight and warmth, a whole biography writ small.

I love the different interviewer styles too: Posh Roy Plomley with his shambolic shortfall in research; urbane and wise Parky; go-for-the-jugular Sue Lawley; and slick Kirsty Young.

The 12 interviews with writers that I’ve chosen here are the best, most touching, most revealing, most surprising and thought provoking of those I’ve heard to date. Continue reading