Dead Ringer (M.C.Beaton) – REVIEW

At our writing group, the Lichfield Writers, one of our members mentioned how much she enjoyed M.C.Beaton’s books. As we were going out of the library where we meet, I noticed the latest Beaton, Dead Ringer, on the Rapid Reads shelf (books which have just come in and you must get through them in a week because other people want to get hold of them). So I picked it up, and…

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So much for that, she thought

I’ve been increasingly irritated recently by the use of italics to indicate thoughtlines, I thought to myself this morning.

I’ve been reading quite a few things, where it seems that the authors have never heard of “indirect speech” when it comes to internal thoughts. Quite apart from the typographic convention of using italics for unspoken words, which I dislike, I think there are some serious problems here. Continue reading “So much for that, she thought”

Let’s do the time warp again

I have often felt myself (and described myself) as a Rip van Winkle character – someone who’s been asleep for a long time and wakes up to find the world has changed around him. This is due to my having lived in the isolated Galapagos Islands (aka Japan) for the best part of 30 years.

This has meant (for better or worse) that I never lived in the UK under John Major, Tony Blair, or Gordon Brown, and under David Cameron for one week only. My British cultural life has likewise been circumscribed (not that it was ever up to much in the first place). For example… Continue reading “Let’s do the time warp again”

On a small island

I am currently on an island smaller than the one where I usually live. Quite a bit smaller, in fact. And it’s a very interesting experience. Something is different. There’s a sense of isolation here, and almost one of pride, in being rather cut off from the world. I get the feeling everyone knows everyone else (of course, they don’t) and that it is indeed a small and self-sufficient little world (again, it’s obvious that it’s not self-sufficient).

And at the same time, it’s very cosmopolitan. I’m surrounded by English and French voices, and even street and family names, and there are a lot of Flemish/Dutch speakers around. So I’m intrigued by the whole concept of an island community – and in a sense, this is a great place for a locked-room mystery – on a very large scale.

I might not want to live here, but I’d be fascinated to spend a little more time here watching and learning.

 

Do reviews matter?

As someone who has been asked to provide reviews of others’ books (and has sometimes failed to provide them – mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa), and also as someone who writes books and welcomes reviews, this is a subject about which I have opinions.

When I published my first book, Beneath Gray Skies, I was convinced, as are all new authors, that I had written a masterpiece, and that the hundreds of positive four- and five-star reviews it would garner would send it to the top of the best-seller lists.

By the way, this old promotional video uses an old URL – this site is now the place to be!
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The Assassin’s Coin – John Linwood Grant – Review

John Linwood Grant and I have been friends on Facebook for some time now. We share a love of books, of the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras, and a sense of the surreal and absurd, and he has interviewed me on the subject of Sherlock Holmes pastiches, and been kind enough to write things about another of my books. He, however, has lurchers and a beard, as the biography at the end of his latest book, The Assassin’s Coin, reveals – I have neither.

I was going to buy the ebook edition of this book, but since the only ebook edition appears to be in Kindle format, and I don’t own a Kindle, I went for the printed paperback, and I’m glad I did. It’s a nicely produced slim volume, with no glaring typos or other print-based infelicities, and it’s of a length to be read in one sitting. However, I took a couple of evenings to finish it – it was a book that made me put it down, think, and then take it up again.

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The future as seen from the past

Two years ago I was invited to talk in London about science and literature. Being someone who lives in the past (at least in a literary sense), I decided to talk about Jules Verne and H.G.Wells, and if possible to bring in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

3men.png

It seemed a fairly straightforward sort of thing to be talking about, but in the end, it turned out to be a little more complex than I had imagined.

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Here we go again (and what the last time did for my writing?)…

In 2008, I was living in Japan, and making my living as a freelance writer. One of the assignments that came my way was the editing of an investment bank’s English-language marketing materials, prior to their translation into Japanese. However, something got in the way… Continue reading “Here we go again (and what the last time did for my writing?)…”

Secrets known to a few…

I don’t watch many films, but when I do, it’s usually on planes. Why I don’t watch many films is a mystery shrouded in the mists of time… Actually, it’s more to do with attention span and imagination, I think. I prefer, on the whole, to read for myself (fast) and imagine action, rather than to watch it (slowly) on screen. It was the same at college – I preferred to read my lecturers’ books rather than attend their lectures which basically only rehashed the books.

Anyway, back to films… the few I have seen recently seem to be more along similar lines. I tend not to choose to watch romances, remakes of classics, or action movies. Historical, yes, and various kinds of “other” productions, including childrens’ films (I like the Minions and Despicable Mes, for example).

A few that I have watched recently all seem to fit the same pattern, though, and I think it is a reflection of the current state of affairs in the world. Or maybe the world is being influenced by them, and people are emulating the stars and the plots of these films, but I think this is Hollywood doing what it has done for a long time – providing viewers with the realisation of their fantasies.

Continue reading “Secrets known to a few…”

My blog (such as it is)

This site allows me to share my thoughts as a writer, and to tell you something about my books, and the processes behind their creation.

I also hope that in the future, I will be able to publish my conversations with other authors on here and provide considerably more general information on books, writing, and life, the universe and everything.

In the meantime, enjoy looking round the site.

 

And that’s probably it for today

Banana choco
A weird, but seemingly popular, food sold at festivals etc. in Japan. I’ve never had the courage to try one!

I’ve come further with this site than I thought I would. Just put up another page of unclassifiable books. Since I don’t stick to one genre all the time, it’s inevitable that there will be some outliers which refuse to fall neatly into one category.

However, some of these have been the most fun to write, and have attracted a fair amount of critical acclaim. Tales of Old Japanese gets almost universal praise, and I suppose it is the most “literary” of all my published writing. You might want to give it a go – although the protagonists of the stories are older Japanese people, you might find yourself identifying with them and their predicaments.

There’s also an attempt at a Father Brown pastiche. Much more difficult than a Sherlock Holmes pastiche for a variety of reasons.