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On dead frogs and cheap gags

On dead frogs and cheap gags

Earlier in January, I took part in a Creative Lab Workshop on comedy and sketch writing, organised by the very talented Blewbury Players. It was a fun evening and I had a good time chatting about my experiences as a BBC scriptwriter. Thank you Blewbury…
Sad news to start the year

Sad news to start the year

The New Year started for me with very sad news. The wonderful novelist Maureen Lee died on New Year’s Eve. Maureen was a best-selling author, writing and publishing many short stories, and some 24 novels in her long life, including the enthralling family sagas set…
Goodbye 2020. Welcome 2021, but only if you behave!

Goodbye 2020. Welcome 2021, but only if you behave!

No need to state the obvious about the weirdness of the year. I’m going to take this chance to look back and find some positives and say some thank yous instead. The biggest positive of 2020 for me, of course, is that Note to Boy…
The overnight success of Shuggie Bain

The overnight success of Shuggie Bain

Did you hear that sound, the evening in October when Douglas Stuart was pronounced the winner of the prestigious 2020 Booker Prize for his novel, Shuggie Bain? Faint but insistent, that was the sound of hard-working, ever-hopeful, but so far unrecognised, writers up and down…
Help your local bookshop

Help your local bookshop

What do authors David Nicholls, Marian Keyes, Matt Haig, Malorie Blackman and Adam Kay have in common? They are among the three hundred authors who’ve come together to help local bookshops during lockdown. Make that three-hundred and one. I’ve joined in. Indie bookshops, like all…
Some good news (for a change)

Some good news (for a change)

Writers have a dilemma when it comes to the big online retailers (you know who you are!). On the one hand we want to support independent bookshops; on the other, the e-behemoths are so dominant, we need them if we want to get our books…
Making the Grade - a short story

Making the Grade - a short story

This is a piece I wrote recently for the excellent website, Memoirist, the home of literary, autobiographical writing. Hope you enjoy it. Adolescence is a strange time, full of swagger and self doubt. I wanted to capture a little of that mood, as well as…
What's Abingdon's secret?

What's Abingdon's secret?

What is it about the seemingly quiet Oxfordshire market town of Abingdon? Not only is it a beautiful place to live – particularly in autumn – but it also punches way beyond its weight when it comes to creativity. Off the top of my head,…
Rain, reading and reviewing

Rain, reading and reviewing

A week away in the rain has given me the chance to finish reading the books I had on the go. I like to read outside my comfort zone, opening my mind and gaining new perspectives by exploring new genres. All right. I’ll come clean.…
Eloise and Count Arthur, a match made in hell?

Eloise and Count Arthur, a match made in hell?

Would Eloise Slaughter and Count Arthur Strong get on in real life? What if they – perish the thought – met up and became a couple? The possibilities for word-mangling chaos would be never-ending. And imagine how much fun Eloise would have exploiting the title…