Many years ago when I was studying at University, during holidays I used to work in a bookmakers. It was a wonderful experience for a young man learning about people and life. ‘Welshman’ is a short story based on those experiences, and whilst it is not a retelling of a specific event nor portraying real… Read More ‘Welshman’ – new podcast episode
If you’ve read my previous reviews – all the way back into 2018! – you’ll know that I loved Natasha Pulley’s “The Watchmaker of Filigree Street” and “The Bedlam Stacks”. Sadly I can’t say the same of “The Kingdoms”. The beginning of the book is something of a confused muddle. I know the main character… Read More “The Kingdoms”
Last week I had the great privilege of mentoring at another Writers’ Retreat. In addition to a couple of workshop sessions, at the core of my mentoring are 1-2-1 sessions with each of the attendees during which we discuss their current and future projects. Sometimes they arrived burdened with uncertainty over what to do next,… Read More Another great mentoring experience!
Jon McGregor is nothing if not inventive and challenging – and “Lean Fall Stand” is both of those things. Spoiler alert! The primary action of the novel (covered in the ‘Lean’ part of the story) concerns an ill-fated expedition in Antarctica. The rest of the novel – ‘Fall’ and ‘Stand’ – narrates the post-expedition experiences… Read More “Lean Fall Stand”
“you have to make an effort when putting pen to paper; it’s more meaningful; you leave something of yourself in the marks you make” Caroline, in my forthcoming story “Smoking in the Park”
I like to add some variety to my working routine. Often – as this morning – I make my way first thing to the café in one of our local supermarkets. Usually first or second to be served (black Americano and an almond croissant), I plant myself at the far corner table and open my… Read More Working in ‘the office’…
On Thursday next week I embark on another three-day gig as on-site mentor for a writers’ retreat. The commitment involves running a couple of workshops, some evening sessions – ice-breakers, readings etc. – and individual 1-2-1s with the participants. Based on my experiences thus far, I am probably looking forward to the 1-2-1s most of… Read More Looking forward to mentoring again…
If you were looking for a collection of short stories with a somewhat dizzying array of themes, characters and styles, you could do a lot worse than take a look at Daniel Mason’s “A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth”. Thanks to the variety in the nine stories offered us, it is actually very… Read More “A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth”
The other day I read my short story “Park’n’Ride” at a local writing group. Someone whose opinion I respect described it as ‘brilliant’. It was – needless to say – a real boost! Of course it was also a demonstration of how subjective our appreciation of writing – or any art – is. “Park’n’Ride” has… Read More One little word…
I have just published two new episodes on my “Walking Thru’ Fire” podcast; both are short stories. “Downsizing” – sometimes short stories can surprise you, emerging not from specific ideas or experiences, but growing organically from seeds which you are later unable to identify or remember. “Downsizing” is one such story. It will be included… Read More Two New Podcast Episodes
The stories in David Constantine’s “Tea at the Midland” are a little like stained glass windows: sometimes you see fully formed portals through which the sun shines, and on other occasions just a fragment or two of glass glinting in the sun. As a consequence – and as I may have said before – don’t… Read More “Tea at the Midland”
The best part of a week since I returned from my retreat and, in terms of ‘what next?’, things are now clearly in focus. Which was one of the things the retreat was all about, to answer questions like that. And the ‘what next’ things are tangible and solid. Firstly: finish my next novel; second… Read More After the dust settles…
06:55 – 13th May 2022 Another decent day yesterday with the majority of my time spent on editing ‘Reunion’. Some work on the Sonnets as I edge closer to drafting #80. Plus I started work on my Reviewers’ list by reestablishing control over my Goodreads author profile. I think I’ll be doing some work on… Read More Retreat – Day 3
I was left strangely underwhelmed by Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Klara and the Sun”. It wasn’t the quality or style of Ishiguro’s writing (which to my mind has only failed to come up to scratch in “The Unconsoled”), nor in the inventiveness of the basic premise. I think I felt left down by the way the plot… Read More “Klara and the Sun”
A good day yesterday. Most of the creative effort went into editing “Reunion” plus some sonnet-dabbling. Had a snooze after lunch to try and catch-up on Tuesday’s poor night’s sleep, and another short walk before dinner for cobweb-blowing. The highlight was the ‘open mic’ though. I read my short story “Downsizing”, two sonnets – “Pilgrimage”… Read More Retreat – Day 2
07:15 – 10th May 2022 (Day 1) So what does today hold? A walk up to the station after lunch to remind myself of the genesis of ‘Degrees of Separation’. A certainty if it’s dry (it was damp yesterday eve and is gusty this morning – typical edge of Pennines/Cumbria weather). Options: start revision of… Read More Retreat – Day 1
Often the challenge with ‘portmanteau’ novels such as Robert Seethaler’s “The Field” is one of maintaining a cohesive narrative thread throughout the work in order to prevent it from fragmenting into discrete and inadequately connected portraits. The premise behind “The Field” – the deceased, all buried in the same graveyard in a small European town,… Read More “The Field”
It is difficult to like Jonathan Walker’s “The Angels of L19” – in the sense of the novel giving you a warm, comfortable, fuzzy feeling – but impossible not to admire it. Without doubt it is a real pressure-cooker of a book: intense, unrelenting, dark, ominous, ambiguous, challenging. Perhaps the latter most of all. Not… Read More “The Angels of L19”
For as long as I can remember, when it comes to my writing I have always found myself desperate for positive endorsement – both my own and from others. In the first instance we’re talking about self-esteem; in the second, about reviews, comments, feedback, sales. Actually in my case it’s about more than just endorsement;… Read More Imposter Syndrome – the worst possible thing for a Writer?
A small number of places remain on Writers’ Retreat UK’s June retreat in Lincolnshire. Having been on a number of retreats now, I know just how stimulating and rewarding – and productive! – such retreats can be. You can find details of the retreat here.