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


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

A True Story for Halloween


It was hard to live in the country, and Celia had been there her whole life. After eight children, she remained what people called a handsome woman. Despite aprons, a thickening waist, barge arse and silver stretch marks, all of which George claimed he never noticed, her pale skin was soft and wanton beneath the… Continue reading A True Story for Halloween

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

The Strange Fiction of Oliver Onions

Wordsworth Editions Oliver Onions

Guest post for Wordsworth Editions... Oliver Onions did not believe in ghosts. Nonetheless, as a prolific author of popular fiction across genres in the first half of the twentieth century, if he is remembered at all these days, it is as a writer of startling and original ghost stories. Historically, these were not easy to… Continue reading The Strange Fiction of Oliver Onions

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.