Blog Posts

Pennsylvanian Folklore

October 2020 Newsletter. 1 Recent goings on. Hello. It’s late October. It’s dark. It’s raining. I am sitting in the conservatory. My next book, the second in the “Cape Misfortune” trilogy, is very nearly finished. 2. For the dreamers. Advice on writing from Bob Dylan. “Once a month, write a poem in blood. Use your […]

East Sussex Sheep

Teachable moments this Summer

1 Recent goings on. Wishing you a healthy and happy August! I’m writing this while staying in an East Sussex house that adjoins a farm. The sun is bathing the fields in light and warmth. Newly-shorn sheep and lambs are contentedly grazing and bleating at each other. There is a timeless quality.It reminds me of […]

White Beach Oil Painting

The White Beach

The White Beach, oil on canvas, 2020. Dreaming of the“Spaggio Bianco” [White Beach] on Lipari,, an island off the coast of Sicily.

July Newsletter

July – keeping it real.

Recent goings on. Hello! July is happening. When the sun comes out I’ve been mostly hanging around in the countryside. The villages are pretty, the wheat fields are full of life. The landscapes are all familiar – but we are living in a very different country now.I grew up in an army family. We once […]


Bumblebees and Barroom Tales

 1. Recent goings on. Hello! So, June 2020. Currently Covid-19 is slowing in the UK, which gives us a little hope. In the absence of a vaccine it’s frightening to think of a future where we can’t physically touch anyone who isn’t isolating with us. I am two weeks into an online mindfulness course I am […]

Woodland tree

Woodlands and Daily Rituals

So, May 2020. 1 Hello! ‘Shinrin Yoku’ is a Japanese noun which means, ‘A visit to a forest for relaxation’. It originated in the 1980’s as a reaction to urbanization and disconnection from the land. I vote we add it to English!  I’ve been leaving the house and experiencing the socially-distanced paradise of walking amongst trees. […]

My first Newsletter: Orwell, Oregon and more.

Recent goings-on. Starting a newsletter during a health emergency seems frivolous somehow. But even in quarantine life goes on. So I sit in the garden, drinking in pale afternoon sunshine while April birdsong fills the air. Also the next door neighbour’s lawnmower fills the air. Fiction I am on a laptop writing a sequel to […]

Michael’s Advice.

The most valuable piece of advice anyone ever gave me came from a nurse called Michael in psychiatric hospital. He wore tinted glasses and had a loud, biblical voice. At that time I had been ill with M.E for more than a decade, and it had made me acutely depressed. He said all of us […]

Some Meandering Thoughts on Michaelmas

It’s Michaelmas today (September 29th), traditionally marking the end of harvest. At this time the number of animals kept over winter (and fodder needed to feed them) was worked out. It is also a day associated with the beginning of autumn. It is with a touch of melancholy I must report, that, as I type […]

Audiobooks and me.

Audiobooks Saved my Life. I lay silent for months, unable to move. Then, one day, words come out of the darkness and exploded in my ears. Not everyone likes talking books. “You’re not getting the whole thing”, my friend Dave once claimed, “just an actor’s interpretation of it. I want to read it for myself.” […]

Drawing “Cape Misfortune.”

I drew sketches on a tablet at the beginning of writing “Cape Misfortune” to help immerse myself into the the world(s) of the book. They can  be characters, maps, locations or anything, really.  Here are a few… Other writers use drawing. Günter Grass claimed, “Invariably the first drafts of my poems combine drawings and verse, […]

Interesting chat with fellow author Justin Alcala

Read the interview on Justin’s website Oh the magic of books. What would life be without them? More importantly, where would we be without their authors? We take for granted all of the dreamed up stories on our bookshelves and iPads. We forget about all of the work, love and struggles that goes into each […]

Interviewed in the Tough Luck Lounge

I’ve just spent some time in the Tough Luck Lounge, hosted by the delightful Lois Crockett, author of “Tough Luck Lane.” Welcome One and All to the Tough Luck Lounge, your virtual Tiki Bar in the Tough Luck world. Let’s grab a bar stool and have Stacey Jennifer Longacre, our bartender and drunk-wrangler extraordinaire, pour […]

“Everyone is human even if they have become zombies.” Interview with Linda Lingle.

Interviewed by talented author Linda Lingle. I discuss the origin of “Cape Misfortune” and claim, amongst other things, “everyone is human, even if they have become zombies.” TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW BOOK. “Cape Misfortune” is a fantasy adventure about a disgraced Sheriff’s deputy on the foggy Pacific Northwest coast. Her world is turned […]

A Cape Misfortune Playlist

Cape Misfortune FM – broadcasting to the foggy Pacific Northwest coast. Some local tunes and old favourites. Listen to the Spotify Playlist Doug Barnett – Southern Oregon 6AM Bernard Herrmann – Kidnapped (From “North by Northwest”) Yukno – Distanz Aaron Tippin – You’ve Got to Stand for Something Pdx – Oregon Fukkk Offf – Pacific […]

Cape Misfortune is released!

My new book “Cape Misfortune” is out! “Welcome to beautiful Cape Misfortune. Come for the rugged coastline and unspoiled beaches. Stay for the quaint customs and friendly welcome.” Just don’t ask about the people who are going missing… Link

Looking Something Up in an Actual Book.

An interest in Buddhism, a fluctuating chronic illness and a near-fatal bout of cancer has left me with a feeling that belongings aren’t terribly important. However, probably because I studied English at University,  I absolutely love my bonkers, hard-to-use, compact Oxford English Dictionary. We’ve been through a lot together. The complete twenty volumes of the […]

Iced Tea Guidelines

Summer is coming – my taken on this refreshing drink. – Ingredients: 6(ish) tea bags – experiment with mix of fruit, black tea 2 pints nearly-boiled water 2 pints room temperature water (Cold water makes the tea cloudy) Metal or glass receptacles for steeping (NEVER plastic) – Instructions Bring 2 pints water near to boiling […]

Exclusive Supernatural Short Story!

An original supernatural tale for readers of this website. In “The Spa” a terminally-ill journalist investigates a story about the murderous ghost of a local businessman. Read The Spa

Edgar Allan Poe’s Less Successful First Detective.

It is often claimed Edgar Allan Poe invented the modern detective story in “The Murder in the Rue Morgue.” When the character of C. Auguste Dupin first appeared in 1841, the word detective did not yet exist. Poe claimed this new type of story was a tale of “ratiocination”- in which the main concern of […]

Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Green Tea” and The Horror of Psychological Horror

There are no monsters in real-life, right? No ghosts, vampires or werewolves? So to avoid being laughed at some supernatural writers choose to go down the psychological route. As is the case, for instance, in the short story “Green Tea,” written by Irish author Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (text here.) In the tale – first published in […]

The Word Pool

All speech acts are goal-oriented.

What Our Monsters Possibly Might Tell Us

There are monsters around this time of year. Creatures of folklore and horror fiction. All of them presumably had creators at some point -people  who had to puzzle and make creative decisions about their monstrous imaginary progeny. Which made me ask a few rhetorical questions to myself, starting with this one – what kind of […]

Grammar -What Is It Good For?

Towards the end of the eighteenth century the innocent, care-free days of English grammar were coming to an end. Grammarians had made strenuous efforts to “ascertain” the language and bring order to a riotous body of previously lawless syntax. There were dissenting voices. Liberals like Joseph Priestley wrote in 1762 that it was “absurd” to […]

The Nurse Who Would Not Meet My Eye

The nurse would not meet my eye. Somehow that seemed fraught with meaning. “I am so dead,” I thought. I stood outside the door of my oncology consultant. The waiting area behind me had a central garden with a fountain in it. Dozens of men and women sat patiently marking time before attending the periodic  life-or-death consultations […]

A playlist of music that loosely influenced “The Mouth”

“The Mouth” is out now. To celebrate, here are some songs that vaguely inspired it. This playlist is available on Spotify 1. “Slow boat to China” performed by Freddy Martin. It didn’t survive the final draft but this was playing on the gramaphone in the collaborator’s living room. 2. “I Fought the Law” by the Bobby Fuller Four. The Clash […]

The Characters are Ruining It

It’s probably not going to be an Internet-breaking observation that characters can sometimes seem to take on a life of their own when you are writing fiction. Writing day-in and day- out for months some characters (more often primary than secondary) start to become almost as “real” to you as anyone else in your life. […]

Red Sand Forts

Some Interesting Locations In “The Mouth”

A few locations that inspired my new novel (and thus became imaginary places whose similarities to actual real places are entirely co-incidental) The Maunsell Sea Forts The Maunsell Sea Forts are armed towers built in the Thames and Mersey estuaries during the Second World War. The Red Sands Fort is in the book. There are six anti-aircraft towers situated nine […]

Triumph of the Goths!

Gothic was named after the Visigoths, the barbarian European tribes who defeated and sacked Ancient Rome. The eighteenth-century European enlightenment looked to Rome as a model of order and refinement. The Visigoths were seen as crude and irrational –their world-view grounded in romance and folklore. Horace Walpole, whose 1764 novel “The Castle of Otranto” ushered […]

Not Judging Your Characters

I remember during a stint in news reporting realising stories had a better chance of being picked up by the news editor (city editor in US) if they provoked some sort of emotion in the reader. Being journalism it was often fear or anger! But isn’t a news story just be a selection of facts […]

A Suit of Armour

Its probably fair to say Ben Jonson found criticism challenging. According to contemporary accounts the Renaissance playwright was quick to anger and killed two men in duels. The actor playing the Prologue in Jonson’s play Poetaster arrives on stage in a suit of armour, which is “Forty-fold proof against the conjuring means/Of base detractors, and illiterate apes” […]

Writing in the Language of Angels

One of the big problems when writing about the after life or spiritual realms is that the afterlife, if there is one, is an unknown quantity. An author can’t meet up and interview a spiritual being for research in the way they would, say, a police officer. John Milton faced this problem when composing his […]

Edgar Allan Poe and “Genre” Writing.

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” was published in 1845. In the story a mesmerist (a kind of hypnotist) puts a dying man called Valdemar in a suspended hypnotic state at the moment of death. The man’s body becomes cold and inert. It is left for months. Finally […]

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