Bridging the gap

'Out of the Smoke' Author's Commentary Chapter 5: The Eagle and Child The two boys left Aggie's shop with their pockets heavy and their hearts light.'Out of the Smoke' Chapter 5: The Eagle and Child When JRR Tolkien was writing 'The Two Towers' he came to an impasse at the end of the first half,... Continue Reading →

The convenience of eavesdropping

'Out of the Smoke' Author's Commentary Chapter 4: Aggie The shop was narrow, but deceptively deep; Aggie's counter lay at the far end, through a dusty maze of ancient display cabinets. A gas-lamp burned in the depths, barely illuminating the cave. Aggie's voice dropped low and continued speaking, picking up the conversation from which it... Continue Reading →

Creating a villain

'Out of the Smoke' Author's Commentary Chapter 3: The Devil's Lads Halfway across the river Tosher nudged Billy again."Look out," he muttered, and this time there was no humour in his voice. "Here comes trouble."A rabble of boys and young men was striding along the pavement towards them, spread out from the parapet to the... Continue Reading →

A life of grime

'Out of the Smoke' Author's Commentary Chapter 2: The Silver Spoon The journey down was, if anything, more dangerous than the journey up. Flues did not exist in isolation: they ran up the backbone of the house like a river with many tributaries, the flues from three or four different fireplaces all merging together as... Continue Reading →

Begin at the beginning

'Out of the Smoke' Author's Commentary Chapter 1: Up, Up, Up "Get in there!"Gerard tightened the rope around Billy's ankle with a sharp tug and shoved him towards the sheet-draped fireplace. Billy stumbled and almost fell, but he bit back the retort that came all too easily to his lips. It wasn't worth arguing with... 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 →

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 →

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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