March 18, 2016

On how I grappled for a gun - but could never use it in a book ...

Let me tell you a story, and before we get started, let’s break all the rules and list the main characters.

The first is a retired American naval officer called Tom. He is based in Madrid, and is an offic...

November 20, 2015


As Alfred Hitchcock once said, people tend to be most frightened not when something happens, but when they are waiting for it to happen.


So it was in the early autumn of 1979.


Everyone in Iran knew that, sooner or later, the Shah would fall, but apart from a few demon...

November 13, 2015


When he was sixteen, Alan applied for a scholarship at Atlantic College, the international sixth form boarding school in Wales, which, at the time, was more expensive than Eton. The school had both an outward bound and academic ethos, and given that his grades were fa...

October 30, 2015


It is hard for most people to comprehend what a grip Francisco Franco had on Spain, but perhaps one story will illustrate it.


Franco would not allow X films to be shown in the country, but when he fell into a coma, the cinemas ordered them from abroad. Yet they still...

October 23, 2015

Alan (aka Sally Spencer, in case you didn't know) was born, a few years after the end of the Second World War, in Marston, a salt panning village in Cheshire. It's between Northwich and Great Budworth on the map above, and is the basis of Salton in "The Salton Killings...

September 23, 2015


Actually, the Shahbanou - Empress of Iran - comes calling.


The school where we worked was on a new development at the edge of the desert, and could only be reached by a rough track. Then, one day, it was announced that the Empress would be visiting, and a road appeare...

September 22, 2015


As you can see, Tehran is surrounded by mountains, making its airport one of the most dangerous in the world to land at. In 1976, when we arrived, it was a city of three- and four-storey apartment blocks, with a single family occupying each floor.


It was a boom town....

September 21, 2015


My readers devote several hours of their valuable time to reading something I have written – so how could I not love them?


But there are just a few (a very few) who really get up my nose – and they are the ones who cannot distinguish between what one of my characters...

September 20, 2015


Somerset Maughan once said "there are only three rules to writing, but unfortunately nobody knows what they are". And he was dead right about that. It’s a funny business to be in, and often, I find, a business that you’re not really in control of. If you’re a lorry dr...

September 12, 2015


When I first started writing, books stayed in print for several years, but over time the publishing/book selling processes have accelerated, so that now, unless you’re a very famous writer, a book will be out of print in a year, or even less.


I can see the logic behin...

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