"I expect you’ll be becoming a schoolmaster, sir. That’s what most of the gentlemen does, sir, that gets sent down for indecent behaviour.” Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall
Influences
Sophisticated murder

Sophisticated murder

I was ten years old, living in England due to my father’s job transfer, when I first saw an Alfred Hitchcock film. That film was Dial M for Murder, Hitchcock’s 1954 adaptation of Frederick Knott’s stage play. If I were introducing the films of Alfred Hitchcock to a ten-year-old boy, Dial M for Murder would...
Imaginary friends

Imaginary friends

I’ve always surrounded myself with books. As a child they weren’t just my respite and my escape, they were larger than my reality and they fuelled my passion for, and the expectation of, the unlikely. Nor were their authors my heroes in the current understanding of the role. I didn’t expect to meet them in...
Ghosts of New York

Ghosts of New York

I have an American heiress to thank for leading me to Edith Wharton. I was a teenager – lank-haired, history addict, eye for drama – and I was visiting Blenheim Palace with my parents when I caught sight of a creature from the Gilded Age. Consuelo Vanderbilt, wife of the 9th Duke of Marlborough, looked...
The tricycle man

The tricycle man

I arrived at boarding school in England a few weeks short of my twelfth birthday. I’d spent my childhood switching friends, schools, houses, countries, continents (my father was a diplomat) and at some point all this had begun to pall. I wanted things to stay the same: the same faces every term, the same rooms...
Lawyers that thrill

Lawyers that thrill

Not too many years ago, an influential editor told me that the legal thriller was dead. Readers were bored. They wanted to read about ‘real people’, not a bunch of lawyers. Well, since then, readers have proven that editor wrong. They have fallen in love with Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller, watching the defense attorney struggle...
Month-to-month loyalties

Month-to-month loyalties

I cannot recall a specific moment in which I told myself that I would become a writer. But I know I was twenty, taking a bath in a crappy apartment in Columbus, Ohio, the first time I read something that made me feel the author was writing for me alone. I was reading Joan Didion’s...
Real writers

Real writers

I began with a storm. Not my choice – I was seven, we were writing poems in class, and storms were our topic. I can’t remember writing anything creative before, and I didn’t know much about poetry. My poem began: Thunder lightning crash Stones and pebbles splash I thought it would be brave Not to...
Finding magic in the boneyard

Finding magic in the boneyard

I have difficulty reading for pleasure now that I’m writing full-time. This was probably brought on by the endless rewrites I did getting my first novel Bone Dust White ready for publication. I’m hoping it’s temporary, but for the time being my editor has taken up residence in my head and he will not be...
Unknown knowns

Unknown knowns

When I began writing my story collection The UnAmericans I was blissfully ignorant of all things publishing-related. I’d never considered the difference between a commercial or independent press, or publishing stories in magazines versus small journals – reading was, at that time in my life, a completely personal and haphazard experience. I’d wander into a...