Tuesday, 26 December 2017

New Art Social in The Crack Mag

On 5th January I'm starting a new night for Creative Writers called New Art Social. It'll be a place for emerging writers to share their work alongside more established novelists and poets. I'm keen to start to break down the boundaries between writers, given we all share the same challenges, and I'm excited by the writers who are signed up for the night. 

John Challis (recipient of a Northern Writers Award and author of 'The Black Cab' and Kris Johnson (who's been featured in Poetry London and The Irish Literary Review) head up the poetry component. Emily Anderson will be reading samples of humorous writing from WW1, which her PhD is concerned with. Amy Mccadden and Genna Godley (whose work is on ‘weirding’ or reconstructing the human body) will also read poetry, alonside David Bell, whose work ‘dispels silly local fantasies’. On the prose side Chris Fuller and Nikita Garner will be reading. Also featured are Unthanks Books' Sarah Dobbs, New Writing North awardee and author of 'Fontoon' John Schoneboom and Booker longlisted author Andrew Crumey. The event takes place in the beautiful downstairs cinema at Quilliam Bros Newcastle (see picture for details). It starts at 7pm, tickets £3. If you would like your work featured contact newartsocial@gmail.com or go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/newartsocial/

Here's the wonderful Crack magazine with a feature on the night...

Friday, 25 August 2017

A Number One Novel...

With 'An Honest Deceit' having recently been re-released as an Audiobook (narrated by Ian Rankin's excellent narrator Chris Reilly) it was truly great to see that the book has just reached number one in quite a few of Amazon's charts-

You can buy it as a novel, for the Kindle, or (if you're more of a listener) as an Audiobook on the link above. Thanks to all those who've bought it and made it my most reviewed book so far. 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

How I Left The National Grid: A Creative Writing PhD on Self-Design and Post-Punk

I thought a blog post making my PhD readily available online might be helpful. This was a Creative Writing PhD on self-design in the post-punk movement. The novel component of the PhD, entitled 'How I Left The National Grid', is available as a free preview on Google Books, here- 


Through creative and critical practice, this PhD makes an original contribution by developing theories of self-design in relation to understandings and creative representations of the post-punk movement. These materials inform the creative component of this PhD, a novel entitled How I Left The National Grid (hereafter, HILTNG). Broadly, speaking, the results, discussion and conclusion for the PhD are as follows:The term ‘self-design’ builds upon the research of Stephen Greenblatt (1980). Greenblatt used the term ‘self-fashioning’ to explore the how people in the Renaissance created their own identities in relation to ideological structures and social pressures, in a manner we recognise today. This idea of self-design recurs in the context of the punk movement, drawing from the work of Dick Hebdige (1979). This PhD uses Stuart Hall’s (2000) theories of articulation in reference to post-punk bands such as Joy Division. This allows for a more ‘post-punk’ understanding and contextualistion of self-design. This is partly possible because Hall’s consideration of ‘landscapes’ within an artists’ work led to a theoretical consideration of how post- punk musicians used landscapes as part of their identity.

Drawing from the work of Dick Hebdige (1979) and Stuart Hall (1989), self-design is thereby understood as a consequence of cultural moments in which self-expression becomes an acute concern. The historical research of Andy Beckett (2010) is drawn from. This allows the PhD to offer a context regarding how self-design has become most important during post-war, and recession-era Britain. This PhD also considers novels about contemporary music. The resulting analyses offer an insight into how works of fiction have creatively portrayed self-design in music and post-punk. Such books also offer a context to situate how HILTNG portrays the post-punk movement.

Thesis available here-

Thursday, 20 July 2017


Was recently asked to contribute to a textbook which has a chapter on author's notebooks and how they use them. It was a request which threw up some interesting stuff once I went into my box of notebooks...

Notebooks for How I Left The National Grid (Roundfire, 2015)-

Notebook for Letters from Yelena (2012)-

Creative Writing Links For My Students

I’m currently teaching creative writing for Penguin Random House (Writing for Beginner's and currently Constructing A Novel), the Open College of the Arts (Writing Skills and Scriptwriting) and elsewhere. I often have students asking questions along similar lines and having written some blogs on the various aspects of creative writing I thought I should create a go-to place where these can be easily found. So without further ado here are links on various subjects (click on the links in bold)…

Writing short fiction-


How can experts enrich your writing-


Developing your voice

Overcoming writer’s block

Using memory in fiction

Making the most of your narrative 

Monday, 10 April 2017

New review of An Honest Deceit from The Book Magnet

'An Honest Deceit is an absolutely breathtaking, outstanding and powerful book that hooks you very quickly, so you could easily read it in one day. It evoked such strong emotions that I had to wait a while before writing my review'- 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Mark Fisher, Neo-liberalism and The Hall of Mirrors

On the night I heard that the brilliant Mark Fisher (author of Capitalist Realism and the wonderful Ghosts Of My Life), had suddenly died I stayed up late and wrote this piece on his legacy. 3:am magazine published it the very next day here. It's a piece that takes in the effects of Donald Trump, Jeremy Hunt's destruction of the NHS, and the Iraq war using the lens of Capitalist Realism that Fisher offered us. It also looks at what we can do about the current situation that neo-liberalism put us in. There may be plenty to resist, but the next generation that will be in power gives me lots to be positive about.

'We are living in an era in which the unacceptable is expected to be accepted 'just because' certain people say so.' 

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

'Once I remember well, life was a feast...'

Thought I'd mention two articles that radical Parisian literature magazine 3:am published of mine on subjects dear to my heart. As any fule no I'm a long term Richey Edwards fan, so was honoured to discuss the man's literary legacy with Daniel Lukes, co-author of Repeater Books' forthcoming collection about Manic Street Preachers' masterpiece The Holy Bible, entitled 'Tryptych'.

The connection came about as a result of Lukes mentioning in 'Tryptych' that my novel, 'How I Left The National Grid' was influenced by Edwards. What followed is a chat about Kurt Cobain, Nine Inch Nails, JG Ballard, Franz Kafka and other artists who impacted upon the mysterious lyricist-

I also wrote a review of Repeaters excellent volume 'Post Punk: Then And Now'- commenting 'regarding the nebulous concept of post-punk, there are still many questions left unanswered. Post Punk Then And Now aligns these questions with admirable verve and versatility, carrying the intriguing discourse that is post-punk a few steps forward.'