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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Six Wonderful Canadian Fantasy Novels for Children and Teens

I love to read widely, but keep coming back to speculative fiction for children and teens. That’s no big surprise, since it’s also what I write. I adore the more literary end of the spectrum, and am amazed at the quality in Canada alone.

Below are six recent fantasy novels that represent the tiniest tip of a spectacular Canadian iceberg. There are so many more I could add here (and probably will, in later posts), but I’ve gone with six that have stuck with me, mostly due to the breath of their imaginative scope and the quality of the writing. Continue reading

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Bad Writing Advice And Why It’s Sometimes Right.

Anyone who has tried to write has been deluged with writing advice. Books to read, structures to follow and oft-quoted ‘truths’. Many of these are just plain wrong, but a few have some truth at their core. Below are five common ‘rules’ of writing that you should mostly ignore – and the situations when you should heed them. Continue reading

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Four Facts about the Barbican Estate

There’s no place quite like the Barbican. A brutalist conglomeration of terraces and tower blocks in Central London, it was built in the 1960s and 70s on a World War II bomb site.

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It’s an astonishing place. A labyrinth of walkways and terraced squares watched over by three looming skyscrapers. I have got lost every single time I’ve been. Continue reading

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Transferral – my debut novel

So, the big news is that my debut young adult novel, Transferral, will be coming out with DCB (Dancing Cat Books) this autumn.

I am hugely excited/terrified about this. Links for pre-order on the right.

London, England, present day. This is the world as we know it, but with one key difference: medical science has found a way to remove diseases from the sick. The catch? They can only transfer the diseases into other living humans. The government now uses the technology to cure the innocent by infecting criminals.

It is into this world that Talia Hale is born. Now sixteen and the daughter of a prime ministerial candidate, she discovers that the effort to ensure that bad things happen only to bad people has turned a once-thriving community into a slum, and has made life perilous for two new friends.

When Talia’s father makes an election promise to send in the police to crack down on this community, Talia can only think of how much worse things will be for her friends. Will she defy her father to protect them, even if it means costing him the election?

Transferral is a chilling look at a world gone wrong because of its efforts to do right.

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