I’ve been reading this blog on twitter (@HanifKureishi). Kureishi, having written so many great stories over the last 40 years, became paralysed recently in Italy, where he remains in hospital. He dictates his blog to his son. Full of great descriptions of his new situation as well as reflections on life, I love it. He’s also started to write a blog on substack which is more writing-focused.
Just an update. I’ve parted company with my publisher, so at the moment there’s no date for a new Arrowood book. I will be writing another at some point, and am really looking forward to getting back into that world, but I’m not sure when that will be. At the moment, I’m writing a crime book set in the modern day. My agent, Jo Unwin, has seen a first draft and been very positive. She’s suggested some revisions, which I’m working on, probably until February. It has the same spirit as the Arrowood books, but with a very different character and setting. I’ll provide more updates when I have them. Many thanks to all the readers who have supported Arrowood so far. I really appreciate it.
The good people at Shepherd Books have published a short list of recommendations from me of books that describe the lives of the poor in Victorian London. There are lots of other interesting book lists from other authors on the site too. Here’s the link.
For other books about the history of London, check out this bookshelf.
Sat Oct 1, 2022, 10am-8pm
Very near to Royston, Hertfordshire. Do come along if you can – lots of interesting talks. Mine is 1pm.
Author panel event at the Cambridge Festival.
Sat April 9, 2022, 2.45-3.45pm.
Authors who are also psychologists discuss how they use psychology in writing fiction followed by booksigning. Philippa East, Paddy Magrane, Mick Finlay and one other (name coming soon!)
Free event but register here: https://www.festival.cam.ac.uk/…/psychology-and-writing…
Cambridge, London, Crime Fiction, Event, Authors, Literature, Novels, Psychology, Writing
I was delighted to discover that Arrowood and the Thames Corpses has been shortlisted for the HWA Historical Novel of the Year. There are some great books here, so it’s a massive honour.
It’s been a terrific year for this book, which was also longlisted for the CWA Crime Novel of the Year.
Thanks to all the judges and panel chairs.
I had an enjoyable interview with Mark Stay at the Bestseller Experiment Podcast the other day. You can find it here. We talked about a lot of things, including using psychology in writing, my time working on a market stall, and using history in the Arrowood series. This is an amazing podcast series, with over 300 interviews with writers, agents and editors.
Arrowood and the Meeting House Murders was chosen as audiobook of the week in The Times this week. You can see the review here. It’s behind a paywall, though!
This is down to Malk Williams, the multi-voiced actor/narrator who has done all the Arrowood books. Two of the previous books won Audiofile Magazine’s Earphone Awards as well. Great job, Malk!
It feels like it’s been a long time coming, but it’s actually been no longer than the first three books. It’s just one of the illusions created by all the months in lockdown, plus other personal things that have happened in my life and the additional experience of having the book vetted by a sensitivity consultant.
There are now four Arrowood books in the series, a fact that seems utterly fantastical to me. I wish my parents were alive to see it, but they both died before I’d first imagined Arrowood and his world. I know they were always worried about me, and this would have reassured them.
Arrowood was published in 2017, four years ago. Each book is set about six months after the one before, and in each there are significant developments in the lives of the main characters, William, Norman and Ettie. Although I’m now writing a stand-alone book, I’ve already written the first line of Arrowood 5 and am foolishly proud of it. It’s only three words.
I hope the Meeting Hours Murders goes down well. It deals with aspects of British colonial history, and features four Zulu characters recently arrived in London. The book is inspired by the true story of five Zulu men who appeared in the London Police Courts in 1879, and who had been imprisoned by a showman wanting to exhibit them in an ‘ethnic exhibition’.
I’m anxious about its reception as there is a whole world of sensitivities and complications that arise when a white writer represents black characters. In one way it’s the same as representing any other person whose experience is far from my own. Those readers familiar with the earlier Arrowood books will know that they contain many characters from minority and marginalised groups, all living 120 years ago, and all with lives very different to mine. You can’t write about London without recognising the multiple identities of its inhabitants. Representing people with different lives to yourself is also a necessary part of writing fiction, one which all writers need to approach with respect, care, and a willingness to seek out information and learn. Although the social and political upheavals that are happening now, and the extra scrutiny that books are under, make it seem especially important these days, it has always been important, and the experience of having this book evaluated by a sensitivity consultant has been a good reminder of my duty as an author.
And so, after two years of holding onto this story and its characters, I have to let it go. I hope you enjoy reading it, find it interesting, smile occasionally, feel sad and angry sometimes, and feel it was time well spent. That’s asking a lot, I know. But whatever you feel, I thank you for reading it.
You can buy Arrowood and the Meeting House Murders here:
sensitivity consultant / arrowood and the meeting house murders / race and writing fiction / crime / historical / victorian / quakers / ethnic exhibitions / freak shows / london
In March, I hosted an event in the Cambridge Festival with fellow crime writers Cathi Unsworth and Syd Moore. Each of us talked for 15 minutes about the strange and gruesome history behind some of our stories (with pictures!), followed by a Q&A. We were amazed by the reception to the event, with over 1,200 people registering. You can watch a recording of the event here.