"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
Posts tagged "Top Tens"
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...
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...
Barmaids and landladies in fiction

Barmaids and landladies in fiction

My new psychological thriller What We Did in the Storm is set on the beautiful Isles of Scilly, pitching dark secrets and even darker deeds against stunning scenery. My lead character happens to be a barmaid working on the island, so I blithely suggested compiling a Top Ten list of fictional barmaids and landladies. Easy,...
Grief is the word

Grief is the word

Losing your mother and then a best friend to cancer within a short timeframe does strange things to you. Like motivate you to finally get round to writing the novel you’ve always wanted to write because – cliché alert – Life Is Short. So my debut novel Tell Me How This Ends was born of...
Suspicious minds, alternative truths

Suspicious minds, alternative truths

Berlin is a city with drama at its heart, and it’s impossible not be drawn in by the charisma of it. I first arrived there on a three-month scholarship to research the book that would become I Laugh Me Broken but then I found I was unable to leave. I was never quite finished with trying to...
Murder, mystery and mind games

Murder, mystery and mind games

The time when writers regarded television sceptically – either as a threat to the storytelling dominance of novels or even, in some cases, as a form of lowbrow entertainment – seems far away now. It’s hard to believe that as recently as David Foster Wallace, writers were expressing anxiety about the relationship between fiction and...
Embracing the dread

Embracing the dread

Horror novels have an incredible ability to take us out of our lives and excite our imaginations. Reading a novel is great exercise for the mind as we build images in our heads of the worlds on the page, and this becomes even more pertinent when we read horror and our brains start to spawn...
Serving up justice

Serving up justice

An Enid Blyton Secret Seven story about a jewel thief with, in my eight-year-old eyes, the cleverest twist, marked the beginning of my lifelong fascination with crime. So it is probably no surprise that I became a Scenes of Crime Officer with the police, spent over twenty years as a police and crime journalist and...
Books as a Covid passport

Books as a Covid passport

Earlier this year, my novel The Butchers won the 2021 RSL Ondaatje Prize, awarded to the book which best evokes ‘the spirit of a place’. The prize seems like a lovely thing at the best of times – I am a big believer in the transportive power of books – but this year it felt...
What are you playing at?

What are you playing at?

What is the opposite of a game? Work? Reality? Real life? Read the books on this list and you’ll be even less certain. From a teacher lured into a game of make-believe (or is it?) on a Greek island, to the S&M mind games of The Image, to Professor Johan Huizinga’s seminal Homo Ludens, the...
Groundbreaking women

Groundbreaking women

What does it mean to break ground? To make an incision in soil so that building can begin or, more loosely, a reference to genius or creative prowess – some kind of innovation. What does it connote for the female body, given it’s a rare woman that hasn’t been told to lie down on the...
Fiction at work

Fiction at work

‘Workplace’ is a vague, literal term. It’s too broad to conjure an image, though it might summon a feeling. (For some: not here again, for others: here we go!). Nowadays my workplace is also my dinner table, the place where I wrapped Christmas presents I’m yet to give. But old, paused office life was fertile,...