Period and prejudice

One of the great pleasures of being a history buff is mining seams – themes, periods, countries – you love. One of the great handicaps of being a history buff is refusing to mine new ones. I’ve loved Bernard Cornwell’s novels for thirty years, but can’t get into his Arthurian or American civil war fiction – a rejection I can only ascribe to some kind of period prejudice; after all, he’s deploying the same ingredients as in the Sharpe and Uhtred novels, and is certainly applying the same enviable skill…

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Spook-y beginnings

When I was eight we went on a family holiday to Italy, and as a treat beforehand my parents let me and my brother choose a few books in the old Blackwells paperback bookshop on Broad Street in Oxford. I can’t remember what I got, but I do remember that among my parents’ booty was a clutch of Gavin Lyall thrillers…     

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Way-stations

If, like me, you've taken a while to get your first book out, you spend a lot of time feeling a bit of a fraud.  Failure to deliver makes you wonder if you ever will; mention the book in conversations with new acquaintances and the lack of a publication date can generate a glint of scepticism in their eyes.  ('Ah yes, I'm not writing one either.')  Only in the last two months has that feeling gradually dissipated…

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Dominick Donald
The Importance of Proof(s)

The path to getting published is a constant education.  Things I had no idea of until this year included crime writing festivals (I’m a fan and I’d never heard of such a thing); the particular skill of fiction copy editors, who put my previous lodestar for omniscience, the newspaper sub – now endangered – in the shade; and the importance of bound proofs…

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The Conference Game

I’m not a novice at the conference game.  In my parallel incarnation as someone who does political risk analysis for a living, I’ve attended God knows how many symposia in places ranging from the exotic (Tashkent, anyone?) to the very very prosaic (the two-day session at a Toronto airport hotel offered no diversions at all).  But they all tended to have certain things in common…

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