"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
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....
Elsa Drucaroff, Rodolfo Walsh and Argentina

Elsa Drucaroff, Rodolfo Walsh and Argentina

The years of the military Junta cast a very long shadow in Argentina, and it’s thoroughly poignant that Rodolfo Walsh’s Last Case appears in English just as the country has taken a swerve in a desperate new direction. I had never heard of Rodolfo Walsh. That was put right by...
Kate Brody: Missing people, muddled lives

Kate Brody: Missing people, muddled lives

Kate Brody’s pacy debut thriller is a novel of our times. A missing woman, social media conspiracy theories, mental health issues, suspicion, trust, self-harm and family trauma are woven together to give us a troubling, riveting and sharply written noir set on America’s East Coast. What’s the worst that can...
No I won't 'calm down' about Greta Gerwig

No I won’t ‘calm down’ about Greta Gerwig

On my desktop is an unfinished essay, a file called Greta Gerwig Won’t Win. I’ve been trying to write about Gerwig for some time, but I only started this version recently – post-Golden Globes, Oscars rumours simmering. I thought Gerwig would be nominated for directing but have no chance of...
Latest entries
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...
A jumble of many things

A jumble of many things

Agnes Arnold-Forster’s Nostalgia: A History of a Dangerous Emotion explores what nostalgia means and how it’s defined. The book takes us through the history from when it was deemed an illness and could have you sent away to hospital, to today’s obsession with marketing nostalgia to sell products to making countries great again! This is...
The Tree of Ecstasy and Unbearable Sadness

The Tree of Ecstasy and Unbearable Sadness

THE TREE OF ECSTASY AND UNBEARABLE SADNESS is a groundbreaking, large-scale intermodal project weaving together the worlds of art, music and literature in the poignant story of one boy’s journey into mental illness. Readers and listeners are offered a mesmerising visual and auditory tour de force about beauty and resilience, society and belief, that at...
Those who serve

Those who serve

In a world where you could be anything, who would be a fictional servant? They fetch and carry, are paid a pittance, and they only get a half day off. It would be understandable if fictional servants just drifted in and out of rooms proffering food and drink, with hardly a thought or feeling between...
Homunculus

Homunculus

“Her hair was blonde, but more white-blonde than yellow, see?” Charles focuses on where the man’s shaking finger stabs the photograph. Its subject is wrapped in a red sundress with daisies vivid enough to be real raining diagonally across the fabric. Strands fly loose from her ponytail like wisps of raw cotton in the wind....
The new censor

The new censor

The new censor was late to his office. He had stood too long, rooted to the ground in front of the Censorship Authority building, trying to guess the number of floors it contained. A few meters from the entrance, counting on his fingers, he was certain there were at least thirty-six floors. But the elevator...
An experiment in history

An experiment in history

Set in 1830s British North America, my debut novel, The Voyageur, is about an orphan named Alex who falls in love with a rum-guzzling fur trader and follows the older man into the hallucinogenic wilderness of the Great Lakes, only to be shot in the stomach when a trading-post robbery goes off the rails. Present...