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Category Archives: On Writing


On winning literary prizes

One of the defining characteristics of life, whether it is the life of a crocus or the life of a capitalist, is competition. The flower that blooms is the winner in a series of contests; the businessperson of the year, likewise. The winner is the one that … Read more »

A messy kind of sense: Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts

Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts has been trailing me. It’s marked-up, Post-it noted, and dog-eared. I’ve scribbled notes about it. I’ve made a diagram. And still, there’s something gorgeously unresolved about this book. I think it’s to do with love—and hair. Sea Hearts (a YA book which has … Read more »

How my call centre job helped me get published

I had my first novel accepted by Sleepers Publishing about three months ago, just after my twenty-seventh birthday. The age I do things doesn’t really matter to me that much, but I’m quite certain I would have finished a successful novel quite a bit earlier had I … Read more »

On reading

Ever since I learned how, I have read quite a lot. The childhood habit of reading for half an hour before sleep waned a little in my early twenties (when neither reading nor sleeping were high on an evening’s priorities) but has reasserted itself in recent years. … Read more »

Literary fashions: on writing historical fiction

In her excellent collection of essays, On Histories And Stories, AS Byatt quotes an interview with various British novelists about why they were writing historical novels. According to Byatt, the interviewer, journalist Chris Peachment, expected ‘some answer about paradigms of contemporary reality, and got the same answer … Read more »

Blogging a novel, and the 14 years in between

Fourteen years is more than enough time to turn procrastination into a profession. And from the outside maybe that’s what it looks like I’ve been doing, at least when it comes to writing fiction. My first novel, Burning Sunday, came out in 99. This month I embarked … Read more »

The beginnings of a professional lunatic

I went mad in 1976. It changed my life beyond recognition. Doors closed. I lost my identity. I was so invisible in the world I walked in the shadows of others and cast none of my own. My friends around me got on with their lives and … Read more »

On writing: Amal Awad

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m of the Guilty Pleasure bunch – the type who pretend chick-lit is just an occasional indulgence because they’ve misplaced their Jonathan Franzen. It’s not like I’ve ever stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, precariously positioned on my … Read more »

On Writing: Ruby Murray

For me, reading and writing are flip sides of the same coin. When I was seven or eight, my parents moved to the South of France to try and save their marriage, which in retrospect seems like a crazy idea, but then: they were crazy. We lived … Read more »

On Writing: Chris Flynn

I’ve always felt deeply ambivalent about ‘the process’, mainly because most of the time it sounds like a load of horseshit to me. I never held much of a romantic attachment to this idea of the anguished writer locked in their garret or remote cabin in the … Read more »