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Expectation vs Reality

I was recently invited to write a short article for the book blogging website, 'Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books', about my experiences debuting in a global pandemic. It's been a long and very interesting year, and it was nice to have a chance to reflect on the process. Here's the first couple of paragraphs. You can... Continue Reading →

Lord Shaftesbury: A Biography

Lord Shaftesbury was born Anthony Ashley Cooper in 1801. His father was Cropley Ashley Cooper, the Sixth Earl of Shaftesbury, and Anthony's childhood was one of "great severity, moral and physical." Anthony’s parents spent their time and money on themselves, and their children were often hungry and cold, left in the care of the servants... Continue Reading →

Finding the Gaps

Writing historical fiction is a strange process. You might suppose (as I did) that it’s a fairly boring task, with no room for inspiration. These people lived and died, their lives are a matter of record, and all there is to do is to recount those lives in so many words and try to be... Continue Reading →

‘Out of the Smoke’ – Extract

This is the beginning of my latest novel, released in October 2020 and available to order now. It was inspired by the life and work of the Victorian MP and philanthropist Anthony Ashley Cooper, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. The book follows eleven-year-old Billy, a chimney sweep (or 'climbing boy' as they were known) as... Continue Reading →

Writing Update

I've just come back to this website after a couple of years away. After finding the right keys and shoving the door open past the pile of letters on the mat, I've begun blowing away the cobwebs and taking off the dust-sheets, and I've realised that a lot has happened in the intervening time. Endever... Continue Reading →

Trust me, I’m an author

I remembered being just sixteen, and kissing red-cheeked, fair-haired Callie Anders, who lived there, and whose family would soon move to the Shetlands, and I would never kiss her or see her again. This sentence just doesn't seem right to me. There are too many sub-clauses, the clauses don't seem to relate to each other... Continue Reading →

My Writing Resolutions

I'm currently going through the Endever Process with what now feels like my first actual novel (the others, it turns out, were all just pretend — or at best they were exercises to get me warmed up for the real thing). In practical terms, this means the manuscript is opened up to the bullpen of... Continue Reading →

Walking the Line

"Say what happened, and let the reader know when it happened and what caused it and what the consequences were, and tell me where the characters were and who else was present – and while you're at it, I'd like to know what they looked like and whether it was raining." - Philip Pullman The above... Continue Reading →

Writing and Technophilia

I love technology This feels like some kind of ‘Technophiliacs Anonymous’ group meeting: “Hi, my name’s Matt and I love technology.” To many of my friends and associates, technology is a dirty word. They don’t see the benefit in fiddling around with a computer or a smartphone when a piece of paper never runs out... Continue Reading →

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