My Life in 8 Words
Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. Whose turn is it to put the kettle on?
Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. Writing for Smith & Jones on BBC 1 when I was 18. All downhill since then!
Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. Singing without making people run for cover and screaming.
Q. What do you regret most?
A. Not learning how to write novels earlier.
Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. Cardiacs, tea, dinosaurs, Doctor Who, muffins, wine, gin, tonic, diet.
June 24, 2013"The philosophy exam was a piece of cake -- which was a bit of a surprise I was expecting a sheet of paper with some questions on it."
Twenty years ago or so I wrote some material (including the above one-liner) for Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones's BBC 1 comedy sketch show "Smith & Jones". I was a mere spotty youth of 18 at the time and had already been contributing material to a couple of comedy shows on radio for about a year. I ended up getting a smidgen of material in the following two series of "Smith & Jones" and, while not exactly raking in enough to retire on, the gig certainly sat very pleasingly on my nascent CV... see more
April 05, 2013Writing has, until recently, been something I fitted in around 'proper' work. I held down a full-time job and still managed to bang out four novels and a few plays. Nothing so amazing in that. If you're a writer you just sit down and get on with it whenever you can. It's people who describe themselves as 'aspiring writers' or 'budding writers' who always moan about never having the time to write. If you really want to write, you do. I hear Noel Gallagher wrote 'Definitely Maybe' the platinum-selling first Oasis album while working full-time for British Gas. I wonder if they had Muzak versions of Beatles tunes piped... see more
May 14, 2012It was one of those Monday mornings when you find yourself in a church talking to 300 children about space lizards.
It was the first event of my author mini-tour for Space Lizards Stole My Brain! Three hundred kids from 9 different schools had squeezed into Christ Church in Wesham, Lancashire to hear me read from my novel and talk about writing comedy. I could tell it was going to be a rather surreal event when I arrived at the church and found the shelves on either side of the altar were lined, not with hymn books, but with copies of Space Lizards. It was hard not to imagine being on some weird alternate Earth... see more
May 14, 2012How do you achieve the impossible?
Surely in fantasy fiction it's easy? Anything can happen, can't it? Perhaps. But if your story is to be appear real and not the febrile outpourings of an overheated brain (yes, I'm looking at you, the film Avatar), it pays to keep two factors in mind.
The first is to place your fantasy within a believable setting. Jaws works so well because the (pretty fake looking shark) inhabits a world steeped in 1970s realism, with unstarry actors messing about with semi-improvised dialogue. Compare this to 2005's War of the Worlds. Tom Cruise is so uncannily perfect a specimen... see more