My Life in 8 Words
Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. Never feel satisfied with what you've done - always believe you could have done just that little bit better.
Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. Water tanks. I'm completely neurotic about water tanks - there's something sinister about all that silent mass of water in shadowy roof spaces and cobwebby airing cupboards. I'm not very keen on spiders, either - a friend suggested I gave them names to make them human, but the thought of human spiders was even worse - specially since she suggested calling them names like Arthur. I once had a very proper uncle called Arthur.
Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Harriet Vane.
Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. Can I have the use of a time machine for this one? If so, I'd make it the early years of the twentieth century.
Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. Finishing a book, and knowing I've got another plot already in my mind... Sitting down to dinner with a group of friends - specially if I haven't had to cook...
July 18, 2011For me, it’s usually a building that inspires the plot of a book. But for What Lies Beneath it was an entire village.
Quite near to where I live is a beautiful and mostly unspoilt village. It’s chockfull of history – it’s home to the 1,000 year-old Horn Dance; it’s mentioned in the Domesday Book, Henry VIII dissolved its monastery, and Dick Turpin stabled his horse at the local inn. In the best tradition of all self-respecting English villages, it had a feudal family of overlords who have now almost died out.
On the outskirts of this village is a massive reservoir, and there’s an elusive but... see more
January 27, 2011The voice at the other end of the phone sounded distinctly suspicious.
‘What kind of research for a book?’
‘I need to know if a church organ can make any kind of sound after it’s been abandoned for about fifty years.’
‘Do you mean somebody dumped a church organ somewhere?’ said the voice, clearly visualising an ecclesiastical version of Sainsbury’s car park.
‘No. The church – well, actually an entire village – was abandoned after chemical warfare testing in the 1960s. In my book, I mean.’
‘Oh, I see. Like Sellafield... see more
August 12, 2010Sometimes the shadows can be mightier than the substance.
Nearly ninety years ago the German film-maker F.W. Murnau chilled cinema audiences with the 1922 silent movie, Nosferatu. It’s still chilling people today, and the creepiest scene of all is where the vampiric Count Orlok steals up the dark stairway, only his shadow visible on the wall. Thus sparking off a tradition that was to go from Hammer to Twilight, and provide a stream of starring roles for actors capable of turning on sinister charm at the drop of a garlic clove.
In the 1960s film-makers again became aware that what you don’t see is often scarier than... see more
August 02, 2010It was not a day on which I was expecting to meet a ghost.
It was, in fact, a perfectly normal working morning. There was half a chapter to get into shape – an interesting, not too taxing, scene in House of the Lost, describing how the main character is singled out by a lady as being a very desirable property…
Actually, I had singled him out a very desirable property, as well. It’s a sad fact of life but writers are fickle and heartless – in love with the current hero for as long as the book lasts, then on to the next one. Asked about the previous hero or heroine, they’re apt to say,... see more