New Author Website – Including a Free Book

author websiteI’m happy to announce the launch of my new author website, at It’s a project I’ve been working on for the past month or so, putting all my novels in one place with a dedicated mailing list. Sign up there and you can receive a free copy of A Most Apocalyptic Christmas, my madcap dystopian adventure. Subscribers will also be the first to hear of (and receive) two new novellas I’ve got in the mix. Continue reading

A Lesson in Exposition from The Chrysalids

chrysalids john wyndhamI’d urge anyone who’s looking for an example of how to build a world without describing it to read this classic novel and take notes. I only recently read John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids, a dystopian tale about a group of children in a world where deviations are being bred out of society. It’s not a long novel, at 200 pages, and that’s very much to its credit. Given the vastly different society the characters inhabit, and a world with a widely unexplained history, one of its many merits is a very limited use of exposition. Continue reading

Do you always finish reading a novel?

should you finish reading novelsI’ve encountered more than a few people who say they don’t. Who believe it’s only polite to see a book through, no matter how unenjoyable you find it or how dull it seems. I’ve seen a few such books all the way through myself, but I usually end up skimming sizeable parts of them. And even then it’s only so I can fairly go away and explain why I didn’t like the novel. But it’s bad practice, I think, to keep reading a novel you don’t like, for completion’s sake, for one simple reason: it cheats you of time you could be spending on a good book.
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What a professional book editor does for writing

An editor with an idea, I suppose. Hiring a professional book editor is one of the biggest investments for the independent author, and one of the most important. I’m not talking about formatting and style issues, but copy-editing in the sense of having someone analysing the narrative for all flaws, big and small. Wixon’s Day was the first book I had professionally edited – it gave me both the confidence to publish it and the wherewithal to know that I need to edit all my books with the help of a professional. Here’s why: Continue reading

How to write a book: secrets of my style

How to write a novel, writer, typing away.“How do you do write so many books?” I’m often asked, over the tip of a wine glass at a high-grade business event. Or “How do you write so fast?” Whatever my answer, the response is usually “Oh I wish I could write a book,” without much care for what I actually say. So my usual response is “I don’t know. It just happens.” But that’s actually a carefully engineered lie to avoid an extensive explanation that people at high-grade business events don’t really want to hear. In fact, I do know how to write a book. It’s a delicate and complicated process that I make look easy. Because I did the hard work a long, long time ago. Continue reading

What Kurt Vonnegut taught me about writing dialogue

Kurt Vonnegut and writing dialogue.

When I first started reading the works of Kurt Vonnegut, his style was a revelation to me. His novels tackle complex ideas, but the prose is simple and clear, the stories often very short. For example, Slaughterhouse-5 is a stark contrast to the complexity of Catch-22, despite similar themes, but is just as effective (hence both are included in my recommended reading list). One thing stood out for me more than anything in the way Vonnegut wrote, a very simple dialogue technique. The response: “Um.” Continue reading