WRITER'S BLOG

December 2, 2018

Gothic Horror and Science Fiction.

Recently I decided to reread both Dracula and Frankenstein. I first tackled them in my early twenties Ė a long time ago. Now they both seemed unfamiliar.

I think thatís because when I was twenty I was both depressed and impatient. I did not recognize large chunks of both books. In the case of Dracula that must be because the seductions were too slow and the activity too long coming. With Frankenstein the reason must have been because Mary Shelley was even more depressed when she wrote the book than I was when I read it.

Itís time to confess that I skipped a lot.

This time I didnít skip a single sentence. This time I really appreciated the slow pace of Dracula. We seem to have lost the art of the long, teasing seduction in literature. But what startled me was Bram Stokerís description of the Count as ugly and grotesque. These days Iím so accustomed to vampires being sexy high school kids with pain and love in their hearts. Itís so much more interesting to read about how mesmerising the ugly old Count is than to witness the banal sight of beautiful people falling in and out of lust.

Mary Shelley, however, is still a source of great heartache Ė not surprising when you consider her life. Then too, she was doing something a lot more complicated than Bram Stoker. She was inventing a whole new genre: science fiction. She was looking at the consequences of man playing God, and she saw it in terms of a child being utterly rejected by a father. How could she not? But consider how many synonyms she brought to bear on words like Ďgriefí and Ďpainí. The woman was a Thesaurus.

Both books are hard going for a modern reader, but worth the effort.

Selected Works

Don't judge a book by its cover, or a bag lady by her appearance. "I didn't always look like this," she says. "Being barmy doesn't mean I'm stupid." Lady Bag does have her problems - her close relationship with cheap red wine, for example. When she gets hammered she talks to her dog. When she's extra-hammered her dog talks to her. Guess who makes better sense. She and her greyhound, Electra, wander through the streets of London, seeing a Dickensian side of the capital city that's only visible to the homeless. Together they accept the kindness or unkindness of strangers with the same wry patience. Until, on one dreadful day, they meet the Devil outside the National Portrait Gallery.
All Birdie Walker wants is some justice for her husband, Jack. But since Jack was a rock star and the justice has to come from the music business, Birdie absolutely has to take some extreme measures.Click on the title for more information.
Short stories
All my short stories up to 2003 are in this collection. It includes two written specially. Click on the title for a bit about how I came to write short stories and more information.
The Anna Lee series
I wrote six novels about Anna Lee. Click on the titles for more information.
The Bucket Nut Trilogy
Professional wrestler Eva Wylie appeared in three novels in the '90s. Click on the titles for more information.
Other stand-alone novels
RIFT is set in the Ethiopia of the 1970s. BALLAD is the story of a girl with a miraculous musical talent. MISS TERRY is the story of what happens to someone who looks different from her neighbours when a grisly discovery is made. Click on the titles for more information.
The story collections I co-edited for Britain's Crime Writers' Association.
In the early '90s I helped edit these three books - aiming them to be more annuals than anthologies. They include many things we're proud to have published. Click on the titles for more information.