Watching Chess

I watch a lot of chess. (I also watch skateboarding and, more recently, surfing.) I mean on YouTube mostly, though sometimes live. I’m not a good chess player, and although I’ve learned something about openings, tactics, strategy and endgames, I’m still a patzer. (Chess word for rubbish player.) I’m not sure exactly what it is […]

High-Rise, Ballard and the 1970s – An Exchange with Adam Roberts

I wrote an article titled ‘Sourcedness’ on Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of High-Rise for Critical Quarterly. It’s here. (It’s also here, until Critical Quarterly say no.) A Facebook post by Adam Roberts on 20th April 2017 seemed to be thinking along the same lines: The Alec Guinness/BBC “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, set in the 1970s, […]

Success!!!

EUSTON STATION A year or so ago, inside Euston Station, I bumped into a former student from the Birkbeck Creative Writing MA – Nicole Burstein. Since I first met Nicole she had gone, I hope she won’t mind me saying, from submitting some very angsty, introspective, scrappy prose for her first Writing and Reading workshop to […]

How to Tell a Story to Save the World

Normally, when people come along to a creative writing class, they are hoping to learn how to write better, not how to save the planet. A couple of years ago, I was teaching a Guardian Masterclass on ‘Storytelling Secrets’. Among those attending were three representatives of an international environmental activist network. They were young, casually […]

Writing Well and Writing to Get Well: A series of events on Creative Writing and Mental Health

Along with my colleagues at Birkbeck College, Richard Hamblyn and Lily Dunn, I have been organising a big series of events to deal with this question – What can writers and teachers of Creative Writing learn from psychiatry, neuroscience, and other medical disciplines about the links between creativity and mental illness? We are delighted to announce […]

9 Things You Need to Write a Novel (#NaNoWriMo2016 repost)

  The first thing you need to write a novel is… Time. The second thing you need to write a novel is… More Time. And the third thing you need to write a novel is… Even More Time. This perhaps seems a bit obvious. But let me explain. Time, More Time and Even More Time are all necessary. […]

9 Things Not to Do in NaNoWriMo

It’s NaNoWriMo 2017, so I’m quickly reposting these 9 Things Not to Do in NaNoWriMo, along with a brief mention for my slightly less stern 9 Things You Need to Write a Novel. I hope you find them useful. They’re based on the bits of advice I most often find myself giving students on the Creative Writing MA. Any […]

Music Sounds Better With You

Sometimes someone says something you’ve been trying to say (to yourself as much as anyone) for years. In a recent issue of Wire magazine (well, November 2015), Bridget Hayden supplied the copy for their Inner Sleeve column. This feature allows a musician or producer to talk about the cover art, usually to an L.P., that has meant the […]