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 …

Jack Maggs: A problem of expectations

The problem with Jack Maggs (Kindle) isn’t really a problem with the novel – it’s the expectations it’s sold with. The description suggests it’s a “variation on Great Expectations, in which Dickens’s tale is told from the viewpoint of Australian convict Abel Magwitch which isn’t really what I got. What I expected was a close relation. What I got was more like a third cousin twice removed. There are similarities; Maggs is a convict, transported for life, and has made good in Australia. He’s given a young man, Henry Phipps, a good education and a home to live in (which Maggs …