The Gothic novel, then and now

One thing you can say about Gothic –whether you’re a reader or a writer – it’s the gift that keeps on giving – from Hammer to The Hunger to the seemingly endless series Frankenstein remakes. And of course we have the vampire vibe that refuses to die – not just Twilight and True Blood, butContinue reading “The Gothic novel, then and now”

‘Originally known as’: Famous books and their original titles

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but surely you should be able to judge it by its title? Titles are so definitive, so inseparable from a book’s very soul, that it’s hard to imagine any author leaving it to the last minute – or allowing someone else to decide for themContinue reading “‘Originally known as’: Famous books and their original titles”

Even great writers get panned: One-star reviews for ten classic books

Everyone tells you not to do it, and yet you do it all the same. Taking a deep breath as you load the page, then scrolling down with mounting apprehension, and ending up – at least some of the time – wanting to sob/shout/shove the darn computer out of the nearest window (delete as appropriate).Continue reading “Even great writers get panned: One-star reviews for ten classic books”

Authenticity: The pleasures and perils of writing historical fiction

Authenticity. A word that, for a writer of historical fiction can be at one and the same time an inspiration, a labour (whether of love or hate), and the most enormous elephant trap. An inspiration, because if you’re anything like me,  the more you learn about the past, the more fascinating it becomes, and theContinue reading “Authenticity: The pleasures and perils of writing historical fiction”

My five favourite fictional monsters

Frankenstein’s monsterMy new book, A Treacherous Likeness, is inspired by the lives of the Shelleys – Percy and Mary – and includes my own version of that famous summer on Lake Geneva in 1816, when Frankenstein was conceived. So it’s no surprise that I’m choosing Frankenstein’s monster as the first on my list. We’ve all seen so many filmContinue reading “My five favourite fictional monsters”

‘The poet’s truth’: Or why it’s the big picture that matters in a Big Picture

This post was written just after the 2013 Oscar announcement Three of the films up for best picture in this year’s Oscars were re-creations of actual historical events, from the 19th century bio-epic Lincoln, to the tracking and capture of Osama bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty, to Ben Affleck’s Argo, which dramatized the plan to rescue sixContinue reading “‘The poet’s truth’: Or why it’s the big picture that matters in a Big Picture”

Five literary greats and five great screen adaptations

When the nominations were announced for this year’s Oscars, one of the first things the media noticed was the number of nominees that were based on books. Eleven films shortlisted in the major award categories, and two-thirds of the Best Picture candidates were literary adaptations, including War Horse, The Descendants, and The Help. So with that in mindContinue reading “Five literary greats and five great screen adaptations”