Has My Idea Been Done Before?

Professor Chaos

This is a new piece for the Unthank School of Writing Blog... When Professor Chaos first hit South Park, he was hampered in his evil schemes by the realisation, at every turn, that ‘The Simpsons already did it.’ And as any writer or criminal genius will tell you, the quest for originality routinely brings you… Continue reading Has My Idea Been Done Before?


Blue Christmas – A Winter Solstice Ghost Story

Stone Henge in winter

Despite several theories to the contrary, the priapic spirit that has in the last few years been seen at Stone Henge during the winter solstice is not, in fact, a druid. Accounts of the apparition vary, but common features suggest a tall, emaciated male figure, naked from the waist down and usually described as somewhat… Continue reading Blue Christmas – A Winter Solstice Ghost Story

Fighting Cancer with Culture: The Colin Phillips Project

Colin Phillips

You might remember that last year my old friend Colin Phillips passed away after a long battle with cancer. We went to university together, and had known each other for over thirty years. Colin was one of those people that are just larger than life. Even now, almost a year after his death, it’s still… Continue reading Fighting Cancer with Culture: The Colin Phillips Project

Student Experiences: Priceless Advice

From the Unthank School of Writing blog, Eilidh Horder of Riverstudios talks about the Online Fiction Workshop with Stephen Carver... For anyone considering the Unthank School Online Fiction Workshop, I unreservedly encourage you to do so. I originally signed up for the How to Write a Novel course, as I, well, wanted to learn how to… Continue reading Student Experiences: Priceless Advice

Between Workshops

Here's something I wrote for the Unthank School of Writing blog about the range of student writing projects that made up my last online workshop... My latest online workshop cycle finished last month. It’ll start again in September, so for August I’m not teaching. This is a long break for me and already I miss… Continue reading Between Workshops

Student Experiences: Turning an Idea into Reality

From the Unthank School of Writing blog, Zoe Bell talks about how our Online Fiction Workshop has helped her grow and shape her novel... Before I attended the Unthank Online Fiction Workshop I thought I could do it on my own: a biology degree and a career at a multinational corporation were adequate preparation for writing historical… Continue reading Student Experiences: Turning an Idea into Reality

The Wife of an Honourable Counsellor

Sea of sand

Many years ago, the wife of an honourable counsellor took great pride in the completion of a lavish family vault in a fashionable cemetery. It was important to enjoy one’s monuments before occupation, and here, she felt, was a burial chamber in which the couple and their descendants could be laid to rest in a… Continue reading The Wife of an Honourable Counsellor

Where I Write

When I started working on the project that became Shark Alley I still had a fifth-floor office at the University of Fukui, writing at an old metal desk by a huge window, its massive concrete sill cracked by earthquakes, looking out across a vast cityscape towards snow-capped mountains and the Sea of Japan.

Becoming a Writer: The Four Difficulties

In writing a novel, it is not just your protagonist that embarks on a journey but you, walking alongside your fictional companion like a medieval hero and his chronicler. This is a long road so imagine it as you like; perhaps carrying a shield upon your back and a sword in your hand, hiking in the woods with your best friend, or maybe doggedly pushing a shopping cart with your kid through an apocalyptic wasteland armed only with a revolver and two shells.

A Stroll On The Heath

This is another fragment found amongst the Jack Vincent Papers, the first volume of which I edited and published last year. Like the story of the murderer George Slaughter, this curious little anecdote was not part of the packet containing the second memoir, and I confess that I am not entirely sure where it belongs. I’ve decided to share it here because it confirms my theory that Jack Vincent and the author and traveller George Borrow knew each other, while also providing an interesting portrait of my hometown, Norwich, in the early-1850s…