Archive for June, 2012

OK – so I’m going to make a confession. I have just read the latest publishing ‘sensation’ – 50 Shades of Grey by E.L James. She appears to have made a fortune from it so congratulations to her for that – but that is as far as my good will goes … seeing as I have just contributed to said fortune by downloading it onto my Kindle. Well, I wouldn’t want anyone to know that I’d bought it, now, would I? Not because of its sexual content but rather because it is just not very good.

It is allegedly a love story. You know the sort of thing. Girl meets boy. Boy shows girl round play room full of sexual…well let’s just say ‘equipment’ … Girl legs it. Except of course she doesn’t.  Instead we are subjected to endless, cliche ridden descriptions of their relationship with a few tediously anatomically detailed sex scenes thrown in. He’s rich and pretty, granted, but not only is he constantly nagging her about chewing her bottom lip, he also utters the words “nipple clamp” without even the ghost of a smile … Really it’s a no- brainer.

The problem is that, apart from this, nothing happens … at all. They go up in a glider, and no, they don’t ‘do it’ while they’re up there (now that might have been a bit interesting, not to say challenging – if you manacle each other, who’s going to fly the plane?)  They have dinner … well, he has dinner and she nibbles annoyingly on a bit of food.  She sells him some ironmongery.  And that  … is … it. When I got to the end (after what seemed like a century), I thought my Kindle had gone wrong and that there was another chapter where something actually happened.  But no.  And there are another two volumes of this!  And maybe a film!!  Hours and hours of nothing happening at all except fine dining, sado- masochistic sex and bottom lip biting – and all done with no sense of humour whatsoever.  By the end I was biting my own bottom lip in an effort to stay conscious. There is only so much fun to be got out of trying to work out exactly who is doing what to whom and whether it is actually possible to get one’s body to do this, that and very much the other. If you’ve got no story and cardboard characters then sex is not going to stop you from ending up with a boring book. It will however make you a fortune.  Now, where did I put those nipple clamps?


The Devil’s City

Posted: June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

Winning a competition is weird but wonderful, particularly when it brings a prize that makes a dream come true. I have won the Good Housekeeping Magazine Novel Writing Competition.  I entered earlier this year along with 7,000 other people and didn’t expect to hear another thing. I never win anything usually – not so much as £10 on the lottery – so this came as a complete shock. “Are you sitting down?” I was asked by GH’s features director, Andreina Cordani, when she finally tracked me down to give me the news. I have to say that it was just as well that I was.
I have been writing fiction in a desultory, dabbling, rather vague kind of way for as long as I can remember. But I’d never really finished anything and lacked the confidence to take it any further. I decided to do a Master’s in Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth, where I lecture in criminology and criminal justice. This changed absolutely everything for me – and not just because I won the competition. It taught me the skills I needed to produce a finished piece and also through the feedback of my tutors and fellow students, gave me confidence in my writing.

My novel is a historical crime thriller set in Turin in 1887. A young Scottish doctor has journeyed to Italy to study with the world’s first criminologist – Cesare Lombroso. But soon the city – reputed to be the location of the gates of Hell – is rocked by a series of macabre murders.
It will be out next year – published by Orion Books – but if you want a preview – an extract appears in this month’s issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine – out on Monday 2nd July. Happy reading!!