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First make them laugh

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.

Everything is happening now – the present tense in fiction

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?

Precocious talents - Lessing, Galgut, Catton

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.

Tracking - a new project

21st, Oct 2013

'Tracking' is a new project about learning to track animals, and more broadly about becoming a Trails guide - someone who takes people on guided nature walks in the African bush. 

The Logic of Summer - summer idyll novels

25th, Aug 2013

A student of mine on the Masters in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia once summarised her idea for a new novel as ‘A house, a lake, a summer. That’s all I know.’

            A house, a lake, summer. What more could be required for a novel?          

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