Tag Archives: book

Graham Norton – Can celebrities write good books?

Graham Norton is on the latest We’d Like A Word podcast and radio show that I present with Stevyn Colgan. We know that celebrity sells books, but do celebrities write good books? Books worth reading? I’m thinking fiction in particular.

I’m asking because although Graham Norton is well known as a comedian, a TV chat show host and forever immortalised as Fr Noel Furlong in Father Ted, he’s also an author. Two novels – Holding and A Keeper. I’ve read both. But are they any good? (Spoiler alert: They are. Especially A Keeper.)

Martine McCutcheon – yes, her off Love Actually

And even if Graham Norton can write, (he can), what about other celebs who’ve done it. Like Martine McCutcheon, who had a terrible public hammering for her efforts, and for whom I have a soft spot myself. And fair play to her for actually writing The Mistress herself. Unlike another celeb author who, when asked if she had written her novel herself, responded: “Write it? I didn’t even read it.”

There’s a celebrity authors subsection of Irish comedians who definitely can write fiction. As well as Graham Norton, you have Sean Hughes (The Detainees) and Ardal O’Hanlon (The Talk of the Town). But anyone else?

So you’ll be wanting to hear me and Stevyn Colgan and Graham Norton chatting about his books, how he writes them, the influence of Ireland and his Mum, and how linked they are to his public comedic personna. There’s a competition too, but you have to listen to hear about it. Click on the link here, or search for We’d Like A Word wherever you listen to podcasts.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your best and worst experiences of celebrity authored fiction.

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Filed under art, We'd Like A Word

Creeps and how to use them to your advantage

Here’s a writing tip from an expert – Scandi Noir thriller writer Will Dean. He has what he calls a “creeps book”, in which he notes down anything odd, unsettling or eerie he encounters. Each time he writes a new book, he sifts through them and sprinkles them through the narrative. It works especially well with dialogue and things seen by characters – a distinctive scarecrow that gives ones one an uneasy feeling perhaps – something to set a tone without having to spell it out.

And the same applies to anything interesting and potentially useful that you see, hear, hear of or.. smell perhaps?

But enough of me – here’s Will himself. Have a look/listen. It’s about a minute long.

You can hear more of Will Dean, me and Steve on the podcast at https://anchor.fm/wed-like-a-word/episodes/2–Will-Dean—the-author-leading-the-British-invasion-into-Scandi-Noir–Nordic-Noir-e3k730/a-acjt4q

The full podcast with Will Dean is here.

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We’d Like A Word…

We'd Like A Word - with Paul Waters and Stevyn Colgan

…about all sorts to do with authors, books, readers, editors, publishers, agents, lyricists, poets and script writers. We’d Like A Word is the title of the new fortnightly podcast and radio show I’m presenting with my mate Stevyn Colgan. Steve’s an interesting fella, ex cop, ex QI elf, ex Met Police Problem Solving Unit, cosy crime fiction writer with a wealth a odd personal anecdotes.

Our first episode is out today! The topic: Is Scandi Noir still Scandi Noir if the writer is a Brit? And the excellent star guest who is taking part in this episode is Will Dean, the author of Dark Pines and Red Snow, the first two books in the Tuva Moodyson thriller series. The books are set in the Swedish forest – which is also where Will lives in reality. He built himself a cabin in the woods with trees and moose for company.

106F1571-CD8F-4825-8C50-4E1AB0C15B29His books are gripping, atmospheric, convincing and refreshingly innovative. And he’s a very accomodating interviewee, revealing much about his technique and tricks. Watch out you don’t find yourself in his creep book.

You can hear the podcast by clicking on the link below or searching for it wherever you listen to your podcasts. (We’re also lucky enough to be broadcast on Wycombe Sound FM 106.6 in England.) You can find out more at the We’d Like A Word website or follow us on Twitter or Facebook @wedlikeaword

Your input, comments, questions or competition entries are welcome. You can email via wedlikeaword@gmail.com There’ll be a new episode every other Thursday.

We have some other great guests coming up too – Graham Norton (can celebs write good fiction?), Anthony Horowitz (giving life after death to characters once their original author is dead – James Bond, Sherlock Holmes), Adrian McKinty, Aidan Conway, Denise Mina, Brian McGilloway, Belinda Bauer, Dr Erica McAlister (The Secret Life of Flies), Eoin McNamee, David Quantick, Gerard Brennan, Alan Drew, John McCarthy, Shiulie Ghosh, Angela McMahon and many more.

We may be, ahem, a little rough around the edges to begin with, but I hope you give it a wee listen some time. (In the image link below won’t load, the Will Dean episode is here.)

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My favourite book

Sam "Remember the Alamo!" Houston - who used to be an American Indian, according to the Childcraft Encyclopedia.

Sam “Remember the Alamo!” Houston – who used to be an American Indian, according to the Childcraft Encyclopedia.

I think the sequence of my favourite books may have gone something like this…

The Biography volume of the Childcraft Encyclopedia (or was it Cyclopedia?) – the obscure pasts of famous Americans.

Followed by Ulster, A Sunday Times Insight Investigation – oh look, they’re writing about us.

For a while it was… The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I found it in an odd place. “It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard‘.”

Then it was… Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis – happy endings, but don’t read while hung over: “He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police.”

It is (and has been for a while)… A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor – robust and exquisite. (And I want part 3 for Christmas.)

But the best books I’ve read lately are The Little Friend by Donna Tartt and We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I was late getting to both of them. Both arrestingly good. (Never mind the reviews to which I’ve linked.)

But if I really really have to choose one, from the very very many I value and return to, it would be Continue reading

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Filed under D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, What I'm Reading

Don’t forget your shovel…

Man shovelling. Shhh!

Aah… the weekend. Time to relax. Recharge. Rejuvenate.

Re… reach for a shovel. (Wasn’t that an S Club 7 song?)

Lift the sewer access hatch.

And start digging.

Through packed “sludge”.

There’s nothing like blocked drains to remind you of one of the essentials of civilisation – good plumbing Continue reading

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Filed under life, My Writing, Obituarist

Scary and shocking times with Buzz Aldrin

Steve Dodds (THE Steve Dodds) and an astronaut called Buzz Aldrin. You might have heard of him.

Quick! Give me something to calm me down! I can’t cope with the excitement – the surprise – and the fear! (Not to mention the exclamation marks!)

First it was Buzz Aldrin – I encountered him through work today.

Buzz Aldrin. THE Buzz Aldrin. Buzz Aldrin!

Buzz Aldrin in his work clothes. Yup. He’s on the moon.

He was charming, chatty, understated and interesting – as you’d expect. He was supporting the Aerobility charity effort to raise funds for a flight simulator for people with disabilities.

So he talked about that a bit. But I have to admit I was thinking the whole time – but what about space, the rocket, THE MOON!!!    We did get on to that Continue reading

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Mornings at Blackwater

Mary Oliver

I’ve written a thriller called Blackwatertown. Some pivotal action, romance and revelation takes place at the local Blackwater Lake. So I was very pleased to receive from my mate Kirsty, some poems her Dad had spotted.

They’re by Mary Oliver and talk about her own Blackwater Pond and the wonder and joy and challenge of living.

My Blackwater is both real and fictional and can be found inside my book and on the Irish border. I’m not sure where Mary Oliver’s Blackwater is. Can anyone enlighten me?

Mary herself is an acclaimed poet from Ohio. Here are two of her poems.

Mornings at Blackwater

For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.

And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,

and put your lips to the world.
And live
your life.

The third stanza, darling citizen, is wonderful, is it not? I have a quotation from Napoleon at the beginning of my story at the moment: “What is history but a fable agreed upon?” Maybe I should change it – or add to it Continue reading

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