How to Write the Perfect Christmas Ghost Story

My latest for the Wordsworth Blog, on writing tips from M.R. James... ‘There must be something ghostly in the air of Christmas,’ wrote Jerome K. Jerome in the introduction to his darkly comic collection Told After Supper (1891), ‘something about the close, muggy atmosphere that draws up the ghosts, like the dampness of the summer… Continue reading How to Write the Perfect Christmas Ghost Story

Has My Idea Been Done Before?

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 to your knees. How many promising projects have you abandoned because the… Continue reading Has My Idea Been Done Before?

My Favourite Reads of 2017

This is a New Year tradition at the Unthank School of Writing... Slightly later than usual, I return to the school tradition of tutors listing five of their favourite reads of the previous year. This is not, you’ll recall, your standard list of the ‘best books’ of 2017, but rather simply what we’ve been reading… Continue reading My Favourite Reads of 2017

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

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

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

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.

Five Favourite Reads: 2016

Writing this list is beginning to feel like a Christmas tradition, alongside the good single malt and the seasonal ghost story. As ever, reading for pleasure has been mediated and muddled by research and editorial work, and I honestly couldn’t tell you how many books I’ve read in the last year.

A Story for Halloween

I was having had a spot of bother with a rich man’s wife. She was older than me but I didn’t care. I just wanted her, like some strange and terrible drug. It was the usual story. She’d married young, enticed by the charm of a mature and successful man, and the stability that comes of secure investments. The age gap had not seemed so much when she was twenty and he was fit and fifty.

Mockingbird’s End – Part One

There were at least five ways home from The Saracen’s Head, and Stan couldn’t think of any of them. He adjusted to the sharp shock of the winter darkness instead, lit a fag, and smoked it savagely as if it had in some way done him greatly wrong. Behind himself, the lights of the pub shut off one by one. Loneliness bit down. Stan Metcalf stoically lit another off the butt of the first. It was late, he was in trouble. Ruby would be waiting.