Blog -


My little book

...isn't black, in the traditional manner, but silver.

And if you're wondering what I'm talking about - and my friends do say that's a familiar feeling - I've been asked how many more books I think I can write about the adventures of Dan and Adam.

The answer is quite a few.  Just about everywhere I go I carry my little silver pocket notebook, for handy jottings down when an idea bites - and they can do so at the oddest of times.  These thoughts can be tiny, like a little mannerism for a new character, or an observation on a piece of architecture or scenery, or they can be far grander, like a potential new plot.

So, in answer to the question, I've been having a quick look through the notes, and I think there are outline ideas for at least another half dozen books there, and possibly even more.  The reason I can't be precise is that sometimes I find I have an idea, get myself all excited about it, then start to work it up as a plot and find it doesn't have quite enough to it to make a book.  So about, kind of approximately, roughly half a dozen is the best I can manage in terms of the answer.

It is remarkable how one single idea can carry a book if it's strong enough - I'd say that was the case with Death Pictures, the whole novel revolving around that strand of the riddle, what the answer was, and what it all meant.  Sometimes the characters themselves can carry a book, as with Evil Valley and how it's dominated by the person we're hunting - I won't name them in case you haven't read it - don't want to spoil it for you!

As for The Judgement Book, all I'm saying is that what carries it is probably a mix of some of the new characters you're about to meet (along with those you already know, of course) and the plot too, but in this case it's a little different, as it's the first time I've made a character of something inanimate - the Judgement Book itself.

6 weeks to go until it's released - and I have to confess, I'm getting a little excited about it...

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My call to the Samaritans

....went very well indeed, in my humble opinion.

Many thanks to all who came to the event in Plymouth yesterday.  I had a splendid time meeting you, and doing what many observers seem to think this writer / broadcaster enjoys the most, that is, naturally, talking about himself.

I'm glad to see the Samaritans' 24/7 campaign to raise awareness of their work got plenty of media and community interest, as indeed it should.  The fine and invaluable service they provide is well worth taking note of, and I was delighted to be involved.

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Don't forget....

The talk I'm doing for the Samaritans in Plymouth tomorrow (Friday, 24th).  It's at the Theatre Royal at 2pm and is free.

I know plenty of people will be struggling to keep children entertained over the long summer hols, so I've made sure it'll be child friendly, should you want to bring youngsters along.

I've just about finished writing the talk - although I always find I manage to ambush / waylay / distract myself with a few digressions along the way - and I've got quite a fresh new things to tell you about, whether it's the new book or some of my escapades over the past few months.

Copies of my books will be on sale, courtesy of the kind folk at Waterstone's, which I'll be very happy to sign for you.

I'm looking forward to it - although I always get a little nervous before these things! - and I'd be delighted to see you there.

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The list of events to promote The Judgement Book is now up on the site -

Have a look, and if there's one near you and you fancy coming along, please do, I'd be delighted to see you.  I've got quite a few new stories to share!

It promises to be a busy, but entertaining couple of weeks.  Thanks to everyone who's been kind enough to invite me to come and do an event, I'm very much looking forward to it. 


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Apologies for being out of touch for a while, but I've been away on hols - just a few days visiting my parents (Sussex) and a highly enjoyable little break in the lovely Lyme Regis.

Apart from being a refreshing rest, it's helped me to work up some ideas for new books.  I don't mean to be a tease, but I think I've got the outlines for a couple now, although no more details at the moment - I'm still simmering the ideas to see how they come along!

It also gave me time to work on the talks I'll be doing to support The Judgement Book, when it comes out on Sept 7th.  Only 7 weeks now...

If you've come to one of my talks before, then I'm afraid that's not going to be an excuse for not coming along to one of the new ones.  I've got lots of fresh stuff to tell you about, which I hope will at least be mildly entertaining! The list of dates will be going up on the site in the next few days. 

Finally, on the subject of which, please don't forget the talk I'm doing to support the Samaritans in Plymouth next week (Fri 24th July, 2pm at the Theatre Royal).  They're a great bunch who do some wonderful work, so the more people who turn out to support them the better.  I'd be very grateful and pleased to see you there.


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Skeletons and structures

How do I go about writing a book, I'm asked?  Good question!

The start can often be just one simple basic idea - as with the riddle of the Death Pictures - and the rest of the book then gets built around that.  It's fairly similar with Evil Valley, as that too is built on one central premise, the man who's gone badly off the rails and what that then means for the people who come into contact with him.

After the initial idea I sketch out sub plots, to give the book pace and variety, thoughts on what new characters I'll need, and what they'll be like, and what's going on in the lives of the usual gang, Dan, Adam, Claire El, Lizzie and all. Combine that together and you've got the ingredients for a book.

Then comes the skelton, or structure.  I write down pages of notes about what will happen to start with, how the story will progress and then ultimately end.  Around that evolve the sub plots and the characters' lives, but with a mind to always work back towards that skeleton of the narrative.

However!  There is an oddity to all this - I've never yet written a book which has followed my planned structure entirely.  Things tend to happen as you write which you don't expect, and can lead the book off in odd direction - it's usually the characters which cause this little problem.

And so arises an interesting / worrying question.  If they're my characters, and I'm supposed (nominally, at least) to be in charge of what's going on, how come they seem to manage to live for themselves and end up doing their own thing.

And to that, despite many hours of thought, as with many of the strange things that go on in my head, I still have no answer...

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I'm hoping I don't sound like your boss/partner/mother, but a quick reminder for you -

I'm doing a little talk and book signing in the Oxfam Bookstore, in South St, Exeter, on Saturday (11th) at 4pm.

It's part of Oxfam's Bookfest campaign, to help raise money to alleviate poverty around the world.

It's a great cause, so if you can come along, please do.  I'd be delighted to see you.

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The Judgement Book

The manuscript for The Judgement Book arrived from the publishers at the weekend.

It makes quite a thud, coming through the letterbox, and I have to confess, has me scampering for the door to get it, not to mention clawing at the packaging to open.

It's the old "Child at Xmas" syndrome - some things we never grow out of!

Seeing the book properly set up and formatted, albeit in loose leaf form, is quite a thrill.  I can now reveal it goes on for 329 pages, and I'm already almost half way into the read through.

This is more like a detailed examination than a leisurely read - I'm looking for any spelling or punctuation errors, missing words, things like that.  Following this, we do yet another read through (both myself and the publishers), then we're set to get the thing out there.

All is still on track for Sept 7th.

Back to the reading then...

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Samaritans event

For a group of people who go about doing a wonderful job with remarkable humility and modesty, it's hard to beat the Samaritans.  So it was a very easy question to answer when I was asked if I would do a talk to support the National Samaritans Day, a programme of events to raise awareness of their work.

It's at the Theatre Royal, in Plymouth, on Friday, 24th July, at 2pm.  There's more on the events page -

I'm just working on the talk now.  For those of you who have suffered my rantings before and thus are weighing up whether to come along then fear not - I can promise you some fresh anecdotes from my strange life, plus an insight into my new novel, The Judgement Book, which is published on Sept 7th.  By the time of the talk, the final edits should be done and the book ready to go - or so I hope.  I'll update you on the day!

There'll also be copies of my previous books on sale, which I'll be very happy to dedicate for you. My publishers have kindly provided some freebie bookmarks to hand out too - call it your reward for sitting through one of my talks!

As you'll probably know from the books, Dan has a tendency to depression, which has led him to some very dark corners in life.   It's for him, and the countless many like him that the Samaritans are always there, ready to listen but never judge.

I'm extremely proud to be supporting them.

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Life's little embarrassments

You know I mentioned the talk I was doing in the Oxfam Bookstore in Exeter on July 11th?

I walked past the store one evening at the weekend, going into town with some friends, and lo!  There was piled a load of my books, plus a picture of your truly leering out from the window.

Apart from frightening the children, it also caused much amusement amongst said friends.

Not to mention much embarrassment for me.

As if it isn't bad enough seeing myself on the TV...

However!  I am, of course, very grateful to Oxfam for their support, and am much looking forward to the event.  If you're about in Exeter that Saturday (4pm) please come along.  Oxfam do wonderful work in trying to relieve poverty across the world, so I'd .like to try to raise as much money as possible. 

Aside from a little chat from me, there'll be lots of copies of my books to sell, which I'm very happy to dedicate to whoever you like for a small extra contribution to Oxfam...

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