"To write anything worth reading you have to put everything you have into every sentence. There can be no lazy thinking, no clichés, no borrowed tropes, no third-hand experience; there can be no hiding.” Miranda Darling
Susan Muaddi Darraj: Origins and uncertainties

Susan Muaddi Darraj: Origins and uncertainties

Susan Muaddi Darraj began her debut novel Behind You Is the Sea six years ago, as a series of interlinked portraits of daily life among the Palestinian diaspora in Baltimore. The stories that make up the novel are centred on three Palestinian American families who are rooted in a common...
Holding on to the plot

Holding on to the plot

“My marriage ended because I was cruel. Or because I ate in bed. Or because he liked electronic music and difficult films about men in nature. Or because I did not. Or because I was anxious, and this made me controlling. Or because red wine makes me critical. Or because...
One person trying to be three or four

One person trying to be three or four

Not many of my days are the same but the range they cycle through remains consistently varied. Let’s take a random sample, say, yesterday, and see what happened in 24 hours of my writing life… Weather: 15 degrees and torrential rain. Bondi Beach, Edge of the World. It hasn’t stopped raining for four days, the sort...
All You Have to Do Is Care

All You Have to Do Is Care

Salena Godden’s latest poetry collection With Love, Grief and Fury gives an ample and elemental display of her deepest passions. Filled with the vulnerability, rage and dismay that define contemporary living, it also delivers a stirring dose of inspiration, hope and empathy. Personal and political, the subjects range from civil...
Anatomy of an obsession

Anatomy of an obsession

You’re likely wondering what all this is about – my aim in contacting you. It’s been three years since rain flicked our glasses as we stood inches apart and I stared at your quivering upper lip, which always reminded me of the tilde: ~. Last week, a journalist contacted me....
Latest entries
Righting the canoe

Righting the canoe

I WEPT WHEN I SAW the picture of the overturned canoe at the entrance to Treasure Beach. I knew Hurricane Beryl had hit Jamaica’s south coast hard, but I had not yet seen many pictures of what had happened partly because communications were – are – still down. I knew that there is no electricity...
Vial

Vial

I was loading the dishwasher when the clinic rang.‘I don’t know how to say this,’ she said, which seemed a strange opening sentence for a medical professional,‘… but did you use a sperm donor three years ago? Vial 2360?’ ‘Yes,’ I said. I didn’t particularly like thinking about the donor. It wasn’t something I thought...
Meeting Monsieur

Meeting Monsieur

Drawing on Victor Hugo’s cryptic diary entries and letters from his wife, Catherine Axelrad’s Célina builds a snapshot of a teenage chambermaid in the Hugo household during the author’s exile in Guernsey, who was apparently prey to the great man’s gargantuan sexual appetites. With a mix of mischief, naivety, pragmatism and curiosity, Célina’s account of...
Dark mysteries on Gothic shores

Dark mysteries on Gothic shores

I grew up on the island of Guernsey, in a house perched high on a cliff, and much as I’ve always loved the sea, I know to be afraid of it. I’ve watched how quickly a calm, clear morning can be swallowed by a storm, how a rogue wave or rip tide will catch you...
Before my story had a hero, it had a villain

Before my story had a hero, it had a villain

My debut novel, The Grief Doctor, follows Arthur Mason, a man consumed by the recent loss of his wife Julia. In the pit of his desperation, a lifeline descends in the form of Dr Elizabeth Codelle, a visionary psychiatrist with a private practice off the North Wales coast. Seeking an end to his turmoil, Arthur...
Among the Hemingways

Among the Hemingways

Tim Marshall is a leading authority on geopolitics whose previous books include Prisoners of Geography and The Power of Geography. The Future of Geography: How Power and Politics in Space Will Change Our World (Elliott & Thompson), a Sunday Times bestseller and Book of the Year, is shortlisted in the Non-Fiction category of the 2024...
Bent coppers

Bent coppers

Remember when the police used to be the good guys? From virtuous sheriffs in Westerns willing to lay down their life in a last-gasp shoot-out, to honest and methodical detectives such as Inspector French in Freeman Wills Crofts’ classic series of books, these were the people we depended on to keep us safe. But the...
'Yellow Peril'

‘Yellow Peril’

Amongst the many novelties of the 1871 Crystal Palace cat show were two Siamese cats, which ‘are said to be the first of the kind ever brought to this country’. Owned by a Mr Maxwell, about whom little is known, the animals were described by one journalist as ‘singular and elegant, in their smooth skins...
From Still City: Diary of an Invasion

From Still City: Diary of an Invasion

Still City, Oksana Maksymchuk’s debut poetry collection in English, reflects life in the wake of extreme and unpredictable violence. Drawing on sources including social media, news coverage, witness accounts, recorded oral histories, photographs, drone video footage, intercepted communication and official documents, Maksymchuk tells the shared experience of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “By calling it...
Too many and not enough

Too many and not enough

On 30 April 2024, the Booksellers’ Association announced Fleur Sinclair of Sevenoaks Bookshop as its new president, having served since 2020 as one of two vice-presidents. When we heard the news, we wanted to ask Fleur for an insight in how she keeps and curates her own books… Tell us about the bookshelves in your...
Look to nature

Look to nature

Writing fiction – especially during the early, inspiration-seeking moments – requires establishing your personal preconditions for creativity, and preparing to inhabit different states of being. Each element of the writing process has its own energy and it helps to recognise what stage you are at, and what you need to draw inspiration from to move...
Catskills karma

Catskills karma

In 1973 my family spent a summer in the Catskills, upstate New York. One afternoon I peeped through the fence of our front yard as a woman with long yellow hair lay down in the middle of the road. My mother said there was a house near the river where the hippies lived. They did...