Sunday, 15 July 2012


Blurbs, I suspect, are notoriously difficult to get right. You want to give a sense of the book’s style, genre, its essence. You want to pique readers’ interest with a summary that’s compelling, evocative and informative, without giving too much away. They’re very different creatures to synopses, though each may contain aspects of the other. Together with the title and cover, the blurb is the first sense the reader gets of a book. It had better be good.

So here’s what my publisher has come up with for my debut novel, out next spring. I rather like it. What do you think?

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


In case you haven't heard, we're not getting a summer this year in the UK. Instead we have to listen to parents' reminisces of endless heatwaves in the seventies, when hosepipe bans were the norm and people covered themselves in vegetable oil, slowly cooking next to an egg that fried on the pavement, while dogs panted in the withering heat and children's ice creams slid down their fingers before they could eat them.

And so I'm off for a fortnight in search of a hole in the clouds that I believe sits above southern France. (All that sun and they hardly even play cricket.) Here's my reading pile thus far.

Winner of this year's Edge Hill Prize

Debut thriller with great reviews

Dark Icelandic novel, recently translated
by friend and colleague Lytton Smith

Great cover and blurb alone saw me buy this

Rare bit of non-fiction

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


Looking down on the ground
I played cricket on Sunday for an Authors XI at the iconic Valley of the Rocks. The team is the revival of a side that last played a hundred years ago, when the likes of PG Wodehouse and Arthur Conan Doyle would turn out against teams of actors or publishers. Other incumbents included AA Milne and JM Barrie, the team finally disbanding in 1912. A ‘summer’ of fixtures is well under way now, including a match at Lord’s, with each game carefully chosen to illustrate an aspect of cricket. One of our side will write a chapter about each match. Alongside the book, we will be raising money for two charities – First Story and Chance to Shine – which promote literacy and cricket respectively.

The Authors XI (front row) 1903
Sunday’s game began auspiciously enough, the ground, which had resembled a lake the previous day, bathed in what would turn out to be a four-hour heat wave (don't knock it). Losing the toss, however, signalled a decline in fortune, the result a hard-fought defeat and one of our key players dispatched to hospital with a broken collar bone.

The 2012 team
I don’t think I disgraced myself and the final overs slipped by just before the sky emptied on us again. The book about the season will be published by Bloomsbury's Wisden imprint in 2013.