Stickers on Book Covers


Stickers (or more likely pretend stickers) are all the rage on book covers. Those little bright circles used to contain important additional information, such as a shortlisting for a literary prize, but now it can be almost anything including frequent claims that the latest release is the new Gone Girl or for fans of The Girl on the Train or Stieg Larsson.

Anyway, I can hardly complain since I have joined in with my own circular cry for attention, but why stop at one? Perhaps I could coat my entire book cover in circles filled with the best and most exciting quotes?

Meet the Author on BookFabulous

Version 2Rana Asfour is featuring a Q & A with me on BookFabulous.

Rana writes: ‘One of the most exciting thrillers to come out in 2015, I Came to Find a Girl by Jaq Hazell (aka Jacqui Hazell) is the one you should be reaching for if dark, intense crime fiction is your thing. This deliciously intense novel about female art student Mia, and her entanglement with award-winning, renowned super artist Jack Flood has hit the shelves to very high praise.

‘Described by The Telegraph as ‘Dark, haunting, twisted’, and listed in their top best crime fiction for 2015, and described by yours truly as ‘a disturbing reflective book that will refuse to loosen its grip on you for some time’, BookFabulous thought it fitting that more be known about the author, her book and her writing in general.’ Read the full interview on BookFabulous.

#amwriting #amnotwriting

IMG_2677#amnotwriting days can be as useful as #amwriting days. Tuesday, for instance, I took half the day off to meet writer friends for lunch. We’ve known each other for years, having met through various writing classes and friends, and were part of a supportive writing group that met regularly for over a decade.

In recent years, having gone in different literary directions, we meet less often, but when we do get together it’s always inspiring, informative and fun. And whatever we talk about (the state of publishing, finding your audience, literary gossip) it always helps to talk to fellow writers, people that understand how hard it is to not only finish a novel, but to market it and make it discoverable. There are no easy answers, but there is comradeship, and that can fire you up for the writing days like today.

Waiting for Rain

London from the parkI am waiting for rain. I’m looking forward to it. I’m scanning the weather reports, and even managing to listen to the weather on TV without glazing over. I have to know when?

Weird I know, seeing as I’m British and as these things go the British are absurdly grateful for one fine day, let alone over a week of good weather, but I am hoping for rain. It’s April and I’m in England, so what is going on? The showers should be frequent, but so far they are falling elsewhere.

This is not a gardening issue, it’s a writerly one. And I don’t mean the usual summer conundrum that writers have to solve on a sunny day, as in you really should stay in and work but you feel you have to go out because in the UK one or two hot days can make a summer, and that’s your lot. No, it’s more straightforward than that. I’ve got it in my head that the cover for my short story collection, London Tsunami & Other Stories, should involve a shot of a wet London street by night.

Should be easy, I thought, it rains all the time, only all of a sudden it’s London street fine weatherstopped.

Never mind, I’ll bide my time, I’m sure that perfect shot of a damp lamplit London street can only be a matter of days away, although apparently not according to the weather forecast.

For more information about London Tsunami & Other Stories click here.

Writers, Dogs and the Tsunami that is Ill Health


My dog Basil is always with me whether I’m walking, writing, cooking etc. He’s a constant.

Yesterday, however, things changed, and the only walk Basil had was in my arms, wrapped in an old towel, straight to the vet’s where he remained.

Illness can hit like a tsunami. After an average day of walking, writing and more walking, Basil threw up, and in the early hours he repeatedly excreted blood.

With Basil at the vet’s on a drip etc, I didn’t even try to write. How could I concentrate without my little friend? Instead I worked on a linocut for the cover of my upcoming book, London Tsunami.

Linocut in progress
Linocut in progress

The title story, London Tsunami, is about a woman whose partner, without warning, becomes dangerously ill. Whilst other stories in the collection deal with similarly sudden and unexpected shifts in reality.

Cover designToday is of course another day and after a night on intravenous antibiotics Basil has bounced back. He’s now home and although he’s a little quieter and skinnier than normal he’s well on his way back to good health.

The Importance of Writer Friends

Writing is by its very nature a lonely business. Solitude helps. Somehow, at some point after spending time alone, the magic happens: words, paragraphs, chapters and novels finally emerge to do what they will.

As Anne Enright says in The Guardian’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction, ‘The first 12 years are the worst. If you sit at your desk for 15 or 20 years, every day… it changes you… It makes you free.’

After a day spent home alone writing it’s good to meet with writer friends. These are people that understand what it’s like to start from scratch and go on to create an imagined world. They also write and rewrite until it works (and hopefully sings), and send out until there’s a positive response.


London literary event The Books that Built Me seemed like a good excuse to get together with writer friends Stephanie Zia and Jacqui Lofthouse.

Writer and playwright Samantha Ellis discussed the books that have had a major influence on who she is and in turn inspired her to write How to be a Heroine.

The Modigliani GirlHer choices ranged from Henny Penny to Lace and personal favourite, Wuthering Heights – always worth revisiting. And more importantly, it was a good opportunity to celebrate the publication of Jacqui’s latest book, The Modigliani Girl. On a sadder note, I heard from another friend who has had to bow out of our writing group due to ill health. He’ll be missed.

The Six-Day Writing Week

Since recently increasing my writing week to six days rather than five my output has greatly increased. The two-day pause of the traditional weekend is, for me, too long making Mondays a wasted day as I struggle to reacquaint myself with whatever project I’m on.

“Total Immersion” is the answer. Writing in The Guardian, Kazuo Ishiguro recently revealed that a process he refers to as the “crash” meant that for a number of weeks he wrote from Monday to Saturday, 9am-10.30pm and that’s how The Remains of the Day came to fruition.

Well, if it’s good enough for Ishiguro it’s got to be worth a go, though I’m not sure his hours would fit in with my family. Even so, squeezing in a couple of hours on a Saturday can make all the difference when it comes to maintaining momentum to make Mondays more productive.



The Slow, Meticulous, Slog of Editing

Writing is hard, and rewriting and editing can be even harder. I’m nearing the end of yet another rewrite of a novel that’s taken me way longer than I care to admit, but what’s important is that I’m determined to finish it. In fact, I’m determined to finish all the projects I’ve started, and there are quite a few. Last year I was at Damian Barr’s Literary Salon when Colm Toibin was asked what advice he would give to other writers. Firstly, he said, ‘What are you doing here? Go home and write,’ and he also said, ‘finish everything you start, because then you have something you can sell.’