Review: Strange Meeting by Susan Hill

Susan Hill’s novel set in World War One takes its name from a Wilfred Owen poem – Strange Meeting – but, as she says in an author’s afterword, there’s very little else to connect the novel and poem together. Written in 1971, it tells the story of John Hilliard, a soldier who, in the first few pages, is wounded and returns to England. He spends a little time there, then goes back to the front where he meets David Barton, a new officer yet to experience battle. The two of them become very close; at some points it seems that they’re …

Review: On Writing (Stephen King)

You must not come lightly to the blank page. Stephen King‘s book about writing – On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – is part autobiography and part advice manual. It’s a great read for anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of writing and looking for some practical, down-to-earth suggestions. The first section is the autobiography – what got King into writing the books he does, his long love of horror films and horror novels, his first attempts at submitting stories to magazines in his teens, gathering a large collection of rejection slips on a nail in his bedroom, through submitting …

Review: Wide Sargasso Sea

The prequel to Jane Eyre is often hailed a classic of post-colonial literature: does it live up to the name? Wide Sargasso Sea (Penguin Modern Classics) is the story of Bertha Mason, Rochester’s unfortunate wife who ends up locked in the attic at Thornfield, a ghostly presence tormenting Jane – and Rochester – throughout the book. According to the student edition (an excellent version for anyone interested in studying this text) Jean Rhys disliked the way that Charlotte Bronte had demonised her character from the West Indies, and thought that her presentation suggested racism endemic in the British Empire. To an …

Shadowed: published ebook

Shadowed – buy on kindle   My second e-book is quite different to the first. It was inspired by a conversation with a friend who did some work in a mental hospital, and came across a woman who thought she could see that people were being possessed – her medication stopped her seeing the possessing creatures, but that didn’t mean she stopped believing that they existed. That was a terrifying thought; what would someone do in that situation? It took about a week to write the first draft, which is quite quick for me. Perhaps a sign that my writing …

The Fault in Our Stars

Buy at Amazon John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars was recommended by a sixth form student, who said reading it had changed her life. Any book that can be that influential is worth reading, so I downloaded it to my kindle as soon as I got home. It coincided with a Times article about how this ‘nerd’ had become a teen-lit favourite, and I’d watched his ted-talk about Paper Towns (the title of one of his books) and how online education has the potential to change the world (he is apparently also a prolific vlogger, having tutored his brother …