To Plan or Not to Plan? Arguing with Lee Child by Joseph Finder

I’ve long had an argument with Lee Child—a friendly argument, since he’s a friend of mine—about one of the oldest questions in the mystery/thriller genre: To outline, or not?

Like all novelists, Lee starts with a premise, a “What If?” question, and he answers it by the end of the novel. But he doesn’t know where he’s going until he sits down to write.  He leaves himself open to serendipity. My way is different: I don’t start writing a book until I know how it ends.  And I like to know the main plot points before I start. 

Kevin Birmingham on Joyce's Struggles to Publish Dubliners

Miss Weaver knew she was courting danger by publishing James Joyce’s work. After all, the entire first printing of his debut book of fiction had been destroyed. In November 1905, when Joyce was twenty-three, he sent the manuscript of Dubliners to a London publisher named Grant Richards. Richards responded nearly three months later to say that Dubliners had many problems. It was about Ireland, and no one wanted to buy a book about Ireland. It was a collection of short stories, and no one wanted to buy a collection of short stories. But he admired it so much that he was willing to publish it under modest terms. Joyce would get no advance and no royalties from the first five hundred copies sold. He would receive 10 percent from the sales on the first one thousand copies after that, though he would omit every thirteenth copy from the total. Several weeks later, however, Richards returned his manuscript and demanded changes.

'It's 1-1, you Aussie Bastard' Rob Smyth on One of the All-time Great Matches

Ten years ago, one of cricket's all-time great matches played itself out in Birmingham

The biggest turning point of the greatest cricket series ever played came during a game of rugby. Australia were warming up on the morning of the second Test at Edgbaston, playing touch rugby, when Glenn McGrath trod on a stray cricket ball and badly injured his ankle. As word spread that McGrath would miss the match, the whole of England celebrated like a dictator had been overthrown.

Barbara Ewing on the Novel She Didn't Mean to Write

did not mean to write this novel!  

I was writing a novel about something else set in 1870 and although all my historical novels at least begin in London I always make myself look at whatever else was going on at the time: in England  - and in the rest of the world since I come from the other side of it!  This means I’m eternally coming across all sorts of interesting by-ways and avenues that I can’t always keep myself from exploring (even when the information is totally useless!)

Dan Jones on what is the Magna Carta and why there is a Google Doodle?

The Magna Carta was granted 800 years ago. A series of events are taking place on the anniversary to mark the occasion, including a flotilla of boats sailing down the Thames and a royal appearance in Runnymede, the site of the charter's sealing all those years ago.

Google has marked the occasion with one of its trademark doodles.

The animated doodle shows King John signing the Magna Carta, meaning ‘The Great Charter’ - which is one of the most famous documents in the world.
So what is it, how did it come about, and what does it do today?

The Gower Street Dental Student and his Detective; M.R.C. Kasasian on living with his Characters

I did not have to think very long about where I wanted to place my detective Sidney Grice. Like most authors I needed to feel confident about the location and Gower Street was one area I knew very well. I had lived in what was then the Medical School Hostel at No 125 for the best part of 5 years.

Holidays From Hell; Jane Lythell on After the Storm

After The Storm is about a holiday in Central America that goes wrong. The locations are Belize City and the island of Roatan off Honduras in the Caribbean Sea. I have done the 140 mile sail from Belize to Roatan and always felt it would make a great setting for a novel. I kept a journal and took photos and these helped me create the atmosphere of the island. The Roatan in my novel is sun-soaked and stunning on the surface but with something dark underneath

Diney Costeloe on Finding the Throwaway Children

After reading my book about Jewish refugee children sent from Germany on the Kindertransport trains, a friend suggested that I might consider the plight of child migrants sent, alone, to Australia. Interested, I began researching the subject. The first book I read was ‘Empty Cradles’ by Margaret Humphreys and from then on I was hooked. Margaret Humphreys, a Nottingham a social worker, set about tracing the families of unaccompanied child migrants, and her book is a fascinating account of her work.