"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
July 2015
A subtle undertaking

A subtle undertaking

Paddy Buckley and his story with Vincent Cullen has been with me for twenty-three years. The basic spine of the plot came to me as a single idea while I was sitting with a bereaved family, making arrangements for their son, who’d been killed in a hit-and-run accident the night before. As I sat there...
Being both

Being both

I love learning and that’s why I write novels. I’m not talking about research. I’m talking about the process when I sit down to write and empty my mind of everything I’ve ever known in order to make space for stories to emerge from within me. That’s when the real learning happens. It’s at these...
A road less travelled

A road less travelled

When, in May 2013, in the middle of a deserted Polish forest 662 miles from home, I found myself being pulled to the ground by a salivating Alsatian intent it seemed on either wrestling the bag from my back or sinking its teeth into my arm, I remember very clearly having two distinct thoughts. One,...
Housewarming

Housewarming

His grin shows off his molars, and he grips you with a handshake that could hold up a bridge. He announces his name like he’s its proud parent, and then holds your gaze in a vice so that when you mumble your own name back to him, it sounds like ‘Uncle’. When you turn a...
Friday in the park

Friday in the park

On the third Friday in June, Stephen decided it would be as good as time as any to leave the house. See, Stephen had been inside for nearly a month. That’s what happens after guys like Stephen lose their jobs. Get fired. Go home. Stay there. Indefinitely. Stephen had gained, I don’t know, maybe twenty...
Tania James: 'Lion and Panther in London'

Tania James: ‘Lion and Panther in London’

Some short stories exist as fragments of time, giving you the middle of a moment, letting you figure out what brought people to that moment and what will become of them long after that fragment. Some short stories are static, in a head, in a simple interaction. If written badly, uncontrolled or imprecisely, these short...
Hunters and hunted

Hunters and hunted

“Every morning the gazelle wakes up knowing that it has to run more swiftly than the lion or it will be killed. Every morning the lion awakens knowing that it has to run faster than the gazelle or it will die of hunger. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle: When the...
Campfire tales

Campfire tales

My bandanna is rolled on the diagonal and retains water fairly well. I keep it knotted around my head, and now and again dip it into the river. The water is forty-six degrees. Against the temples, it is refrigerant and relieving. This has done away with the headaches that the sun caused in days before....
Jim Shepard: Some kind of hero

Jim Shepard: Some kind of hero

Jim Shepard’s The Book of Aron is a remarkable portrait of the complicated nature of heroism and courage in the face of human atrocity. His fictional commemoration of philanthropist and children’s educator-activist Dr Janusz Korczak is told through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy forced to live on his wits, who ends up in Korczak’s...