How to Write a Novel

When I decided to write a novel, I sat down and wrote it. This turned out to be a terrible idea. The draft I ended up with was unreadable. It contained every obvious rookie mistake. Then I started to learn to write properly, and redrafted my book along the way.

It took ten years.

I submitted the finished novel about 20 times and got praise and ‘almost but not quite’ replies from publishers and agents. So I wrote another book, using everything I’d learned. This one took just over a year, and the first publisher I sent it to bought it. (Transferral is available now,  from Chapters/Indigo, or pre-order from Barnes and Noble, if you’re interested.)

I wouldn’t recommend doing it this way. If you want to write, here is my advice.

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Transferral Book Launch!

I’m so excited to announce my official book launch. This is all really happening!


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Alternate Versions of London in Film and TV

A little while ago, I posted about my favourite novels featuring alternative versions of London (other than mine). I promised a follow-up post on alternative film and TV versions of London.

It’s a slightly shorter list, I’m afraid. I’m more a reader more than a filmgoer. So I’ll start with films and TV shows that are books too. Continue reading

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On the Hugo Awards and Villainy

I don’t believe that anyone is a write-off as a human. Especially not thousands of people. Yet, in the recent Hugo Awards, around 1,800 people voted for the slate of the Sad/Rabid Puppies. A group that most media outlets have tagged as sexist at least, and are frequently called racist, misogynistic and trans/homophobic. Continue reading

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Word on the Street

I’m going to be on a panel at the Word on the Street Toronto festival on Sunday September 27th. It’s being held at Harbourfront.

I love Word on the Street. It’s a festival I’ve attended regularly for years. I’ve gone on my own, brought my daughter and mother, and brought my Little Sister (with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto). I’ve had a Margaret Atwood book signed there, listened to some of my favourite authors talk, discovered all kinds of good books and supported friends at their readings and panels. So it’s extremely exciting to be on stage there myself.

Especially because of who I’ve been programmed with.

I’m going to be on the This is Not the Shakespeare Stage at 1.30pm-2.30pm along with Erin Bow and Eve Silver. We will be discussing the ‘Politics of a Parallel World’. Continue reading

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7 Things Aspiring Authors & Would-be Stand-ups Have in Common

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been taking a stand-up course. I did my first ever set in a small club on Monday, and I’ll be doing my grad show on Sunday (and then I’ll stop – it’s been fun but I don’t the time to pursue comedy seriously). Throughout the course it has struck me how much learning stand-up is like learning to write. Here are seven things that both comics and authors must do. Continue reading

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Disease and Punishment – The Intertwined Histories of The Old Bailey and St. Bartholomew’s Hospital

In Transferral, I’ve used the real locations of The Old Bailey  and St. Bartholomew’s Hospital because, historically and geographically, they embody the connection between sickness and crime that is central to the book. Continue reading

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Four Miracle Products for Writers

Empathix cream

Empathix CreamWhy work hard on a well-rounded character, when you can use Empathix? Rub a generous amount of Empathix over your character’s main features to make them more attractive to readers. Covers up inconsistencies in personality while giving the illusion of intriguing contradictions. Continue reading

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Five Things Successful Creative People Do

I’ve seen a lot of blogs posts lately on how ‘creatives’ simply can’t be punctual, pay attention to practical details or meet deadlines. Because their creativity makes it impossible to show consideration for the needs of the people they are working with. (It’s not their fault. Creatives apparently feel things more than those dull, numb ordinary people.)

The thing is, I know a lot of people doing well in creative fields – including writers, film-makers, actors, and comedians. And they don’t behave the way those blog posts describe ‘creatives’ behaving.

There are exceptions, but here these five things I find separate the professionals from the hobbyists. Continue reading

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Alternate London Novels

I’ve always loved alternate versions of familiar places. Books that add the strange, the horrific or the magical to the everyday. It’s one of the reasons I set Transferral in a London that’s recognizably ours, but with one major difference.

There are more versions of London than I can count, in films, television and books. Here I’ve listed a few of my favourite alt London novels. I’ll follow up with films and TV in a later post. Continue reading

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