A Short Guide to Writers


For the readers and writers tuning in, this week I’m going to poke a bit of fun at our chosen profession. Writing can be an isolating job with large amounts of time spent crafting characters and stories in our own minds. For that reason, I think it’s important that we keep it real and learn to laugh at ourselves, lest we start to take ourselves too seriously!

The following list is by no means exhaustive, but I will venture to say that every writer will, at one time or another, display tendencies of each…

  1. The Wide-Eyed Innocent

This is one of the most common breeds of writer in the UK and beyond. Typically, they come to the profession fresh-faced from university, where they most likely studied English, read Kerouac and spent much of that time in a haze of marijuana smoke (optional). The idealistic nature of their existence leads them to turn their noses up at piddling little things like marketing, sales figures and – worst of all – deadlines, which are to be viewed as the dictatorial imposition of neo-Fascist ideas designed to curb one’s natural creativity.

When they aren’t contemplating writing the Next Great Novel, which would naturally reduce the average drinker of fine wine to emotional tears and have them reaching for the Booker hotline, this breed is likely to be found strumming an acoustic guitar or taking long strolls along the riverbank musing about the vagaries of life.

  1. The Romantic

Writers of this breed spend much of their lives perpetually re-enacting scenes from Down and Out in Paris and London, and making a home for themselves inside independent coffee shops – the more rustic, the better. Heaven forbid, they should wander into a chain. The Romantic is a rare breed of writer, usually talented in the crafting of high literature, but sadly lacking in confidence, which leads them never to show any of their work to any kind of audience except their mother (to whom they are devoted).

When they aren’t lamenting their woeful lack of vision, these wordsmiths are usually to be found touting vintage goods and listening to moody jazz. They are also likely to sport a beard (unisex) and to wear at least one corduroy item of clothing.


Yes, I’ve done my fair share of romanticising Paris and London

  1. The Passive Aggressive

This breed is very common and displays marked signs of their defining trait once they have experienced a small taste of literary success, which they guard jealously like a mother hen. They regard each new generation of writers with strong suspicion, fearing that they will poach their readership. No amount of cajoling, flattery, or factual statistics about the many millions of readers and books available will alter this inherent viewpoint. The Passive Aggressive fears ‘modern’ enterprises, such as social media and digital publishing, which they consider the Devil’s Work, whilst at the same time longing to be part of it.

When they aren’t refreshing their sales screens or practicing their selfie technique, this breed of writer can readily be found lurking inside bookshops re-arranging the paperbacks to their satisfaction or listening to classical music.

  1. The High Flyer

This is a pedigree breed of writer. Following many years of careful tutelage in the ways of crafting a novel (and marketing it effectively), they finally burst out of the nether with a game-changing work of fiction which appeals to the current mood of society and also works nicely as a screenplay. They are not always easy to spot; some are flamboyant and enjoy the celebrity of their status, whilst others become reclusive and take to wearing organic cotton and bare feet at all times.

When they aren’t travelling for nine months of the year, they can be found dodging armies of devoted fans (or seeking them out, depending on preference) whilst wearing large sunglasses and listening to Chesney Hawkes.

I will leave it to you to decide whether you fall into any of these categories, but, for now, I’m off to brush up on my Orwell and book some guitar lessons…

Catch you later!








Sycamore Gap


(c) Roger Clegg Photography

Before I begin my usual rant about the ups and downs of moving from being a lawyer to writing novels, let me take a moment to introduce you to the work of Roger Clegg, a fantastic photographer based in the North East who is well known for his stunning work in and around Hadrian’s Wall, as well as the wider scenery of Northumberland.

It is his photograph of Sycamore Gap (above) which graces my Twitter account and will soon form the basis for the cover of my next book, conveniently titled, ‘Sycamore Gap: A DCI Ryan Mystery’, after some tinkering with text and all that jazz which I shall happily leave to a more qualified person!

This award-winning photograph was captured with the last light on Midsummer’s Night and took two years for the conditions to be just right. I am therefore delighted that he is happy for it now to grace the cover of my next novel – many thanks to him.

If you would like to have a look at this or any of the other beautiful pictures of the region, check out his website: www.northern-horizons.co.uk.

Now, onto the writing itself.

What a bloomin’ minefield it is, writing a sequel! Gone are those heady, blissful days of ignorance which I enjoyed before the success of Holy Island. Not that I’m complaining, you understand, but now I have something to live up to. I have to say that DCI Ryan has been drinking a lot more caffeine (mirroring the writer herself) and is somewhat grumpier than usual (again, I am guilty of this) in this second book. Coincidence?

Jokes aside, part of me wondered whether I would enjoy writing a second book as much as I enjoyed writing the first. I am happy to say that, for all the pressure, the re-writes, the second-guessing and creative tantrums (I admit it), this job still gets two thumbs up from me. The relative solitude isn’t suited to everyone, but being a largely antisocial git, it suits me to lose myself in a story for hours at a time and then to enjoy spending the rest of the time with family and friends. It takes inordinately high levels of concentration, to cut everything else out of my mind in order to sit and write for long periods of time, but it’s worth missing Geordie Shore for that. Let’s face it, practically anything would be worth missing Geordie Shore (sorry, reality TV fans!)

With that in mind, better get off and do some work!

Hope you all have a great week.