Category Archives: Fiction

An honest opinion

In the mail last week I received a parcel from France. It contained a paperback novel with an attractive jacket featuring bands of medieval illumination enclosing the image of a lone fortress on a hilltop. I knew at once what … Continue reading

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Spanish Crossings

A couple of years ago, on our advanced course in Spain, my Dark Angels partner John Simmons woke up one morning with a line in his head. It stayed with him and today, in summer 2017, it’s the opening sentence … Continue reading

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The Gutenbergs

No one would deny that Gutenberg is a name with which to conjure. Johannes Gutenberg transformed society with his invention of mechanical printing in the 1440s. Half a millenium later, in 1971, Michael Hart, an American student, wangled himself time … Continue reading

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The stories we tell

Here is a story. Fifteen years ago, Catherine Lockerbie, then the literary editor of The Scotsman, was appointed director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. For several years I had regularly written book reviews for her. We had also sat … Continue reading

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Be prepared

It’s nearly book festival time again – by which I mean the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Every August, Charlotte Square Gardens sprout canvas and are transformed into a kind of intellectual carnival of some 800 events that seem between them … Continue reading

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Publishing pains

Longstanding readers of A Few Kind Words will be familiar with the saga of The Artefact, the third in a series of young adult novels, with which I have been grappling for a number of years. To wind back a … Continue reading

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Competing realities

This time last week, all being well, we would have been preparing to receive the novelist Philip Pullman as our guest speaker for the Dark Angels masterclass at Merton College, Oxford. Sadly, all was not well. Poor Philip had been … Continue reading

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