24th, Nov 2014

We have become used to illustrating our lives. If we want to buy a new digital camera, we take a photo of it in the shop with our smartphone and send it to our friend the digital camera whizz to advise.

26th, Oct 2014

‘Prepare for the unavoidable, avoid the unmanageable’.

21st, Sep 2014

Does ‘the African expatriate novel’ exist? Living and working in Africa – as well as reading and writing there – has led me to reflect on novels which share this basic premise.

15th, Aug 2014

Sokoke Scops-Owl pair by Andrew McNaughton

We walk single file in silence, threading our way through the wispy trees that line the perimeter of the forest, David, our guide, leading the way. He comes to a sudden halt in a small clearing and looks at us expectantly.

09th, Jul 2014

What can we know about the lives of animals? Not much, it seems, although we are trying – to parse the diction in the high-frequency calls of Orcas, to decode the complex physical language of Bonobos.

13th, Jun 2014

How to be funny, as writers - or funnier, at least? This was a surprise topic of discussion on a recent week-long residential fiction writing course I co-tutored at Ty Newydd, the National Writers' Centre of Wales.

16th, May 2014

I have always had trouble fully locating the present moment. This is worrying, given that we are supposed to live in the present. If the present moment is our only home but I can’t grasp it, then what’s left to inhabit – a continual reminiscence or an anticipation of the future?

06th, Apr 2014

There are few professions that reward youth less than being a writer. Prodigies abound in music, mathematics, even painting, but writing a literary novel of depth, perception, intelligence and ambition is usually seen as a product of experience. And, as we know, experience takes time.

06th, Mar 2014

I’ve heard the same story now from several writers of literary fiction. You might have heard it too. Let's say Writer A submits her latest novel to her agent and/or editor. Then follows the deadening wait for the verdict, like awaiting the results of a medical test.

26th, Feb 2014

It is 4.30am and we are zipping down the coastal highway on Kenya’s Indian ocean. Our little Maruti (the ‘cash-strapped NGO 4 wheel drive of choice’) judders over speed bumps. There is hardly any traffic competition at this hour. Not even the birds are up.