Tuesday, 8 May 2012


Our new shelves meant that we finally went through all the boxes that have been stacked up in our conservatory since we moved in five months ago.  As well as books I found a little stash of notebooks.

Some of these were from my days working a The Independent newspaper.  They are strange mix of ideas for cartoons and illustrations I knew I would have to do, and of short stories and ideas as well as diary notes and observations.

Some were earlier though, going back to the early 1980s.  One of them contains a very early version of the story The Path from Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror.  None of these stories were ever intended for children.  I don't think it had occurred to me to write for children when I was that age.

I had tried to write novels before.  I wrote a large part of a fantasy novel when I was about sixteen or seventeen.  I started to write another more autobiographical novel at college but I burned that one in a saucepan in a Woody Allenesque grand gesture.

I intended to write another autobiographical novel based on my time working in a steelworks in the summer of 1979 but it did not get further than a few notes.  Other than that almost all my output was in short story form.

I read a huge amount of short stories and always had done - sci-fi and horror stories in my teens and then later, everything from Kafka to Carver.  My own short story ideas are equally diverse.  Although my recent output for children has been entirely in the genre of horror, at this time I was also writing stories that were more influenced by reading modern American writers and which did not have any fantastical or uncanny element at all.

Sometimes I worry about this.  I am the same as a visual artist.  I do not have one clear single vision for my work as a painter or an illustrator.  I wish I did.  It must make life easier.  But I don't.

Neither do I run on a single set of lines when I write.  My head is buzzing with ideas at the moment, but only some of those ideas are in any way connected with my previous work.  It is understandably thought desirable, career-wise, if you can successfully brand yourself in some way, in terms of genre.

It is harder, though much more desirable, to brand yourself as a good writer, regardless of genre.

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