A year ago last week, we wrapped our Faber Academy course. To mark the occasion, the wonderful folk at Allen & Unwin organised an alumni event for the various intakes to spur us on.It was wonderful to see my old classmates, and hear how people were progressing with their masterpieces. Both tutors, James Bradley (my […]


I’ve been thinking about that old chestnut – can writing be taught – since reading this article featuring UK writers who have good things to say about courses they’ve done. It seems pretty obvious, to anyone who spends time around kids, that everything, really, is taught. When you cover off the necessities of life, if […]


So much of our focus in writing favours beginnings. We’re told again and again you have to have a great first line, a great first paragraph, and that your first chapter has to lure (then arrest) your reader. The implication is that if you can’t win readers over in the first five pages, you’re sunk. […]

Fresh start

A new year always brings the expectation of a fresh start. It’s almost mid-January, and I’ve been back at work a week, but I still don’t feel I’ve had much chance to take stock. Yet when I think of this time last year, I hadn’t even started this blog, let alone the novel I’m now […]

Lessons from NaNoWriMo

Like all writing, NaNoWriMo teaches you things about yourself, and things about your book. This was my third NaNoWriMo, and each one has taught me something different. As a first-timer, I was fuelled by a fear of the unknown: could I really write 50,000 words in a month? Second time around was about testing if […]