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 →

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 →

Things that get in the way

I'll say this for working at a school: the holidays are well-earned. It's quite popular these days to bash teachers and teaching staff for the amount of time they get off, but believe me: they deserve it. Imagine trying to do your job (whatever you do), with all of its paperwork, admin, on-line and off-line... Continue Reading →

Me, Myself and I

I. It's the smallest word in the English language, yet it has the biggest implications. As writers we are concerned with the idea of self: what it means to be a human being, how people grow and develop, how we cope with problems and how we overcome adversity. Of all the viewpoints in which we... Continue Reading →

There’s More Than One Of Everything

The title of this post comes from Fringe, the excellent sci-fi show about parallel universes. I used it because this post concerns parallel universes of a sort: the kind that come about in different drafts of a novel. Things can change drastically from one draft to the next, and I believe the draft below demonstrates... Continue Reading →

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