"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
A writer’s life
Seeking the zing

Seeking the zing

Shanthi Sekaran’s second novel Lucky Boy is a moving and timely account of motherhood, immigration, infertility, adoption and minority life in contemporary America. It’s an eventful road trip from the Mexican border to Silicon Valley, told with verve and love. Her precious writing time is usually spent among trusted friends. Where are you now? I’m...
Keeping it pastoral

Keeping it pastoral

Tim Pears’ spellbinding new novel The Horseman tells the story of a touching, unexpected friendship between a carter’s son and a landowner’s daughter. It’s the first book in a planned trilogy that begins in a remote valley on the Devon–Somerset border in the early years of the twentieth century. He fills us in on his...
Still exploring

Still exploring

Robert Olen Butler’s latest novel Perfume River is a poignant examination of an ageing couple and a wider family fractured by the lingering fallout of the Vietnam War. After three historical novels featuring WWI correspondent Christopher Marlowe Cobb, he returns to contemporary fiction with trademark tenderness and suspense. Here are some notes from his workspace....
After dark

After dark

Chris Whitaker’s debut novel Tall Oaks is a suspenseful, sinister and hilarious story of a small town in the full glare of the world’s media after the mysterious disappearance of a young boy. He gives us the inside track on his writing and reading habits, big influences and favourite writers. Where are you now? At...
Lifting the lid

Lifting the lid

Sophia Khan’s debut novel Dear Yasmeen is the story of Irenie, a young girl in upstate New York whose charismatic mother disappeared five years ago, and her distant, eccentric father James, who refuses to open up about the past. As Irenie digs around for details of her mother’s life, she uncovers love letters written between...
Putting the pieces together

Putting the pieces together

K J Orr’s short fiction has won the Dan Hemingway Prize and a Bridport Prize, been Pushcart Prize nominated, and shortlisted for awards including the BBC National Short Story Award, the Asham Award, the London Short Story Prize and the KWS Hilary Mantel International Short Story Prize. Her debut collection Light Box is out now...
Being marvellous

Being marvellous

Sarah Winman’s captivating second novel A Year of Marvellous Ways, now out in paperback, is following the trajectory of her debut bestseller When God Was a Rabbit, with a swift appearance in the Sunday Times Fiction Top Ten and a spring selection for Richard & Judy’s Book Club. She emerges from the duvet to give...
Intrigue and discovery

Intrigue and discovery

Helen Dunmore’s latest novel Exposure is a spellbinding, multilayered tale of love, betrayal, vulnerability and fierce loyalties at the height of the Cold War. As spy fever dominates the news headlines a sensitive government file goes missing and a swift arrest is made, but recent events suggest a cover-up. She lets us in on her...
In service of the voice

In service of the voice

Tim Baker’s debut novel, the much-discussed thriller Fever City, follows the desperate efforts of a disgraced ex-cop and a ruthless mob hitman to rescue the kidnapped son of America’s richest man. But the two men soon become ensnared by a sinister cabal intent on seizing power by killing President Kennedy. Where are you now? At...
Lost in story

Lost in story

Peter Swanson’s gripping new thriller The Kind Worth Killing, containing a satisfyingly twisted and murderous plot with nods to Patricia Highsmith, Agatha Christie and James M. Cain, has become an immediate bestseller and is shortlisted for the 2015 Ian Fleming Silver Dagger. He tells us about his influences and reading habits, and about delving into...