Improving Routine

This week my writing was more productive than usual. I am attributing this to better preparation. Previously my practice was to write whenever I had spare time at weekends and in the evening. Now I am allocating set times in blocks of two hours. Outside of those blocks I do the other things that I […]

To publish or not to publish

  This week I republished my Jack the Ripper suspect encyclopedia through Kindle Direct, due to an issue with the original publisher. Times have changed. In the early 1990s I was taught that self-publishing was for failed writers who couldn’t convince publishers of their talent. The suspect encyclopedia passed that test but yet I still […]

One down, twelve to go

In January 2018 I decided to watch every episode of Doctor Who in chronological order, at the rate of one each week. Last week I reached the end of the first Doctor’s era. Earlier this year Doctor Who Magazine ran a World Cup of that era, with readers voting on their favourite stories. Opinions are […]

The forgotten victim

On this day in 1889 Alice McKenzie was buried in Plaistow, a week after she was murdered in Whitechapel. Eight months after Jack the Ripper’s autumn of terror she died in a similar way and in the same area. Doctor Phillips who had been involved in some of the earlier cases noted similarities, including a […]

What are you afraid of?

This week I was interviewed about Jack the Ripper for episode 144 of the podcast What are you Afraid of? In 1888 people were terrified of Jack the Ripper. One woman even died of fright after reading about his exploits in the newspapers. Today he is long dead but the name still conjures up terror. […]

New article on The Carmarthen Mystery

Next Tuesday, 14 July, is the publication date for The Best New True Crime Stories: Small Towns, which includes my article on the Carmarthen mystery. This is an offshoot of my research into the identify of Jack the Ripper’s final victim. Following her death one man, John Rees, came forward to confirm her story that […]

Jill the Ripper

Last week I was asked about the theory that Jack the Ripper was a woman. This comes from the supposition that a woman, or a man dressed as a woman, could have walked away from the crime scenes without attracting suspicion. Midwives were later suggested, based on the false idea that one of the victims […]

Know the character’s background

Your story is designed to tell the reader about something extraordinary that happened to the character. Usually it involves a change or journey, separated from their normal and dull routine. Yet that routine shapes their behaviour and response to the new events, being itself shaped by the character’s past. If you want to convince the […]

Use the right name

Every character needs the right name. Sometimes the name comes first, and writers draft the person behind it. Sometimes they start with the person’s attributes then pick a name that suits. Readers will make assumptions of age, religion, class, and culture based on that name. Writers can either endorse those perceptions or challenging them by […]