How to become a bestselling crime writer

How to become a bestselling crime writer

Crime is now the most popular fiction genre, with new female writers breaking through 
every month. Charlotte Philby, whose debut spy novel is published later this year, asked 
some of the most established names for their tips on how to pen a killer thriller

Val McDermid

‘The best crime novels are like a three-legged stool – they depend on character, story and setting. You have to create characters that your readers think are plausible; they don’t have to love them but they have to care about their fate. Don’t underestimate the power of setting, too. Everybody knows murders are not solved the way we write about them in books. If we wrote about the reality it would be boring, so we have to persuade the reader to come with us on a journey of suspension of disbelief. If you write about place in a way that for someone who knows that place, they’re absolutely there with you, then they trust you with everything else you’re telling them.’

Sophie Hannah

‘For me, a great crime novel starts with an irresistible hook – not simply a dead body, with the mystery being who killed them. I like something more mysterious, where the reader can’t think of any possible explanation. I also love opening scenarios that appear impossible. Unpredictability is crucial to a good thriller. If the reader can second-guess the author, he or she is likely to be disappointed. Originality is vital to feel you’re reading a unique story. Often, this comes down to narrative ambition – going to places that no one else in the genre has gone to before. Finally, the crime novels that offer the most narrative satisfaction are the ones readers love most, whether that comes from an amazing twist or simply that feeling of “that was the perfect ending”.’

Stella Duffy OBE

‘Write what interests you. All too many will-be writers are more interested in the idea of being a writer than in the actual long slog of writing a novel. Most writers take anything from many months to several years to write a book, so the content has to interest you. Don’t try to second-guess the market. What is a trend now will be long gone by the time you finish, edit, sell and publish your book. Just try to write as well as you can. The real work is in the edit. That first draft that you enjoyed writing so much? That’s only the beginning. In the edit you can tighten gaps, get rid of the lovely long passages of elegant prose you’re so fond of that do nothing to move the story forward. Make sure your work is the very best it can be.’

Charlotte Philby’s novel The Most Difficult Thing is published by HarperCollins on 11 July. Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival runs from 18-21 July in Harrogate, Yorkshire (

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Author Lucy Foley on how to craft the perfect country house murder mystery

Author Lucy Foley on how to craft the perfect country house murder mystery

Next up in our Writers Bloc series, Lucy Foley, author of the highly-anticipated The Hunting Party, shares the tricks of her trade

lucy foley

Lucy Foley worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry – during which time she also wrote the historical novel The Book of Lost and Found, which was a bestselling debut of 2015. Lucy, 32, lives in London and writes full-time. Her fourth novel The Hunting Party is published by HarperCollins in January 2019. Buy the ebook here

Where do you write? Are you one of those novelists who can write anywhere, or do you have a special place where your mind focuses best?
‘Mainly places with background noise and coffee on tap. I have several favourite cafes across London where there’s a happy confluence of great music, caffeine and Wi-Fi. Bars work, too, if they’re not too drunken. And I love going on a cheap mini-break on my own, somewhere like Rome or Paris, and lugging my notebook around the city to work in different spots, or writing in my Airbnb. There’s something about being away from home and all the paraphernalia of life and demands on your time that’s very freeing.’

What inspires you? Do your books tend to start as the kernel of an idea and develop as you start to write, or do you plot meticulously before you dive in?
‘There’s always a kernel. It might be a place — that was the case with The Hunting Party. I was staying in a cottage on a remote, snowy estate in the Scottish Highlands and thought it would be a great spot to get a group of friends up to see in the New Year. Then I thought it would be a perfect setting for a murder mystery, and the two ideas converged… In terms of plot, I have an idea of where things will begin and end, and vaguely how I will get from A to B, but I don’t plot it all out on a board or anything like that. In The Hunting Party I knew from the beginning ‘whodunnit’ and who had been murdered, and what some of the big reveals would be, but I left the rest to work itself out more organically. I’ve tried meticulous plotting out in the past and have realised I’ll never stick to it all once I actually start writing. Your characters surprise you, or new — and perhaps better — ideas creep in. I want to leave room to accommodate those, so I find it better to keep it fluid.’

How many drafts do you tend to write, and do you edit as you go or prefer to push through to the end and work through any problems in rewrites?
‘Probably three drafts in total. I tend to write in my notebook and then, when I come to type it up, there’s an automatic editing process that occurs. Then I’ll edit further once I’ve got it all typed up and organised, so the whole thing has really been edited twice before I send it to my editor.’

Are you a plotter or do you let the story unfold in the writing of it?
‘A bit of both. I have the shape of the story in my head, but with room to breathe, so things can change and surprise me as I write. That’s part of the joy of the whole process, for me. With The Hunting Party, certain characters surprised me: suddenly new, surprising aspects of their personalities came to me, or important secrets they had been keeping from one another (and from me!). There were also a couple of big twists that didn’t surface in my mind until the final stages of writing.
Editing is always painful. For me that’s the part of writing that feels like work. It’s difficult. And perhaps it should be, because that’s where you’re shaping your book into the best it can be, and that doesn’t happen without some hard graft.’

Have you ever suffered from imposter syndrome, and if so, how did/do you overcome that?
‘I still do! I suppose with each book it feels a little more familiar, like this is my actual job — at the beginning I was too grateful and surprised that someone wanted to publish me to fully believe it. It felt like a fluke. Now, when I’m feeling like I can’t do it, that I don’t have the “qualifications” to write (whatever they may be!) I remind myself that I’ve felt exactly the same way before, and have always managed to produce a book at the end of it. But when I’ve read interviews with other authors I still find myself unfavourably comparing my own writing process, thinking that the way they say they go about their work must be the “right” way of doing things, and I’m just an amateur. I have to remind myself that everyone’s different.’

What does your writing schedule look like – are you a believer in the mythical golden hour or tend to work nine-to-five, or something else entirely?
‘I used to try to do the nine-to-five, mainly because I’d come from working in an office, so that was my only conception of a working day. But I’ve realised I don’t work best like that. Now I tend to base my goals on word count: I aim for 2000 words a day, give or take. Some days that takes me ten hours, another day it might take me an hour, leaving me time to do other related things — plotting, research… or maybe a cheeky trip to the cinema (it’s all inspiration!). I never write until I exhaust myself — I think it’s best to have something left in the tank for the next time I sit down and write.’

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring writer, what would that be?
‘Just write! And write regularly – every day, if you can. I know it sounds obvious, but I can’t stress the importance of getting into the habit of getting words on the page. If you have that perfect idea that you’ve been carrying around in your head for ages, start writing it down. You’ll immediately find — in my experience at least — that it starts feeling more tangled and messy, but that’s part of the awkward and essential process of bringing it into the real world. And you may hate what you write at first, but you’ll get better. You’ll feel your way into it, and suddenly those daily words will be something you have to do, a compulsion. I think you need that compulsion to finish a whole novel. Oh, and appoint someone who you totally trust to be honest with you as your first reader!’

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Aldi is selling the best Christmas present for Harry Potter fans

Aldi is selling the best Christmas present for Harry Potter fans


harry potter costumes

The Harry Potter movies are a Christmas countdown staple. Now that it’s December, it’s officially time to get into the festive spirit – we’ve got Harry Potter baubles on the tree, we’ve booked to go to this Harry Potter bar and we’re ordering wrapping paper with Hermione’s face on it because we really are that extra.

But for anyone who is also fond of the books, you’ll have thumbed through your copies so many times that the ink is starting to rub off. And if you’re one of those people who properly cracks the spine and folds the corners of the pages (shudder), then you’re definitely in need of a new set.

Most importantly, you need to ensure your copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is in top condition because it’s the best one. No wait, maybe it’s Half Blood Prince. Actually we’re going to go with Deathly Hallows.

Okay, fine, they’re all great and we can’t actually choose.

harry potter robbery

Arnold Slater/REX/Shutterstock

But we’ve got some great news. Aldi is now selling the entire collection for less than £30. And it’s worth considering that reading Harry Potter apparently makes you a better person according to science, so reading the books multiple times surely makes you an even better person – no?

You can get your hands on all seven instalments for just £29.99, making each one just over £4. Bargain or what?

While it’s been 21 years since the first book was released (yes, really), our love for these magical stories is not dying down with Bloomsbury revealing that sales of the series have exceeded 500 million worldwide. Pretty impressive, but we can’t say we’re too surprised – they are still our absolute favourites.

The book set is available from Aldi both online and in stores, but once they’re gone they’re gone so get down to your nearest store and accio that set, pronto.

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Jack Reacher author Lee Child on why he never plots his novels

‘If I were to plan it out first I would be bored of the story by the time I started writing’, bestselling author Lee Child tells Charlotte Philby

Mandatory Credit: Photo by imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock (2028809a)
Bookcase, wall shelf with German Fiction

Lee Child is the author of the hugely successful Jack Reacher novels, the Hollywood adaptations of which star Tom Cruise. He lives between his apartment in Manhattan, New York City, and a number of houses across the UK, where he grew up, and the South of France. He is married with a grown up daughter, and was talking to Charlotte Philby at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, which returns 18-21 July 2019 at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, with special guests including Jo Nesbo. Visit or follow @TheakstonsCrime for author announcements.

You’ve written 23 Jack Reacher novels, as well as a number of short stories. What is your advice to aspiring writers who think they have an idea but don’t know where to start?
The best piece of advice is to ignore my advice. What makes a book work is if it is an organic thing with a vivid beating heart of its own, and the only way of guaranteeing that is to make it the unlimited product of one imagination i.e. yours. If you have a great idea and a great story, and you know how you want to tell it, then you should absolutely do it your own way, even if you’re certain that everybody’s going to hate it, because human nature being what it is, everybody is an individual but you’re not that different from anybody else. If you write a book that you’re 100 per cent satisfied with then there will be other people equally satisfied. But if you do it by committee and allow all those doubts to creep in, then nobody will like it.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Charlotte Graham/REX/Shutterstock (9766337a)
Lee Child
Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate, Yorkshire, UK – 20 Jul 2018What is the writing process for you?






Everybody hates some aspect of writing. Some people absolutely love the unfettered freedom of the first draft, then they come to the rewriting and hate that, or when they come to the promotion and publication they hate that part; some people struggle to do the first draft but absolutely love the rewriting. Nobody loves the process from beginning to end. I have never met a professional writer who writes for a living who does this so-called ‘compelled to write’ thing. I don’t think that’s a professional characteristic; the problem with being a writer is, or the funny thing about being a writer is, there are certain things that are sometimes quite contradictory and you’ve got to believe them all, and you’ve got to believe them all 100 per cent. It’s not that you believe 50/50, you’ve got to believe everything 100 per cent. 100 per cent yes it’s a craft, it’s an art, it’s a fabulous tradition stretching back hundreds of years, it’s all those good things, but it’s also a business and you have to believe that 100 per cent. So it’s almost like the opposite of schizophrenic; you’re not divided, it’s superimposed, you’re 100 per cent an artist, you’re 100 per cent a business person, you’re 100 per cent a private thinker, 100 per cent a public speaker, it’s all of those things all at once.

Where and how do you work best?
I write in the back bedroom of my apartment in NYC, which is set up as an office. But really it doesn’t really matter where you work because you’re working in your head the whole time. I’m not a planner at all. I live for the story; if I were to plan it all out on a spreadsheet or index cards first then I’ve told myself the story, I’m bored with it, I’m ready for the next story… So the way I do it is I just start somewhere, somewhere that feels good, and then literally think ‘Alright now what happens?’ So a million times in the process it’s a question of ‘Alright now what happens?’ and so the story tells itself. Other writers would feel hopelessly adrift doing it that way, but for me it means I sit down to work with exactly the same feeling of anticipation that the reader does when they pick up the book again and think ‘OK great, what’s going to happen now?’

You always have to always remember who you’re writing for; you’re writing for a reader, and you’ll never be, a novelist unless you’ve been a reader so what you need to do is examine your feelings and reactions as a reader, and exploit them. The beginning is super, super important. You know that first line, that first paragraph, that sets up how you feel about that book? As a reader you may not overtly realise it, but if you’re really intrigued by that first sentence and first paragraph, you have a really warm and interested feeling about that book; if you’re not really that convinced by the opening, you might well struggle on out of a sense of duty, but you haven’t fallen in love with the book and you react to it differently. So top tip, especially these days when our attention spans are so super short and there’s so much competition for your attention – it’s all about the first line, the first paragraph, and in a way that’s how my method benefits me because I just write a great opening line, or a great opening paragraph, and then I think ‘Alright now what do I do with this?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by People Picture/Norbert Kesten/REX/Shutterstock (6593062f)
Cobie Smulders, Tom Cruise, Danika Yarosh
‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’ film premiere, Berlin, Germany – 21 Oct 2016

There is a great deal of background detail in your books. How do you approach research?
Ask questions. When you’re a novel writer, people will often speak to you. For instance, the FBI in America has a press office; if you called it as a journalist they’re going to treat you differently to if I call, when they might realise this is coming in from a different angle. They’re pretty used to it and they will tell you certain things; they will make it reflect well on themselves obviously, so you have to be a bit aware of that, but they will generally give you interesting information. That is an essential distinction to make: there’s a big difference between accuracy and plausibility.

As a journalist, you’re sworn to be accurate, but a novelist needs to be plausible, which is something completely different. For instance, police work is incredibly bureaucratic, very long and drawn out; we’re in the age of DNA now and of very sophisticated forensic science, and the reality of that is if you get a droplet of blood or a clue or something like that, you send it to the lab, it’s going to take four months, possibly longer, to come back with results because everything’s underfunded and the queues are very long. That’s reality, but that’s hopeless for a novel, you know you can’t have a novel where you’ve got this big pacey investigation and then you stop for four months – it just doesn’t work. For this reason, sometimes you have to abandon accuracy and go for the shortcuts that sound more plausible.

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Study says that if you’ve read Harry Potter, you’re probably a better person

Study says that if you’ve read Harry Potter, you’re probably a better person


Ah, Harry Potter. The cornerstone of any good Christmas telly binge. As the cold nights draw in and the John Lewis Christmas advert starts playing during every ad break, you’ll find us snuggled up on the sofa drinking a glass of red (probably from our Aldi wine advert calendar) and listening to Mariah Carey on repeat.

But the countdown really isn’t the same without the magical wizarding world. Without HP and the gang, is it really even December? Well, no, it’s not but it will be soon.

And let’s not forget about the fact that J. K. Rowling’s spin-off series, Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them, is a huge success – and the latest instalment has just hit cinemas, making it the perfect excuse to go to the movies this winter.

Popcorn and Jude Law? Yes please.

And Potterheads will be glad to know that those who have read the books are actually nicer people according to a recent study. Knew it.

harry potter stamps

Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology claims that HP fans are more accepting and understanding of others, due to the nature of the subject matter. In the books, Voldemort is attempting to rule the wizarding world and those within the magical realm who are not ‘pure blood’ witches and wizards are often looked down upon. Hermione Granger, a witch with ‘muggle’ parents, is mocked by Draco Malfoy and called a ‘mudblood’ – a highly derogatory term.

According to the report, ‘reading the Harry Potter series significantly improved young people’s perception of stigmatised groups like immigrants, homosexuals or refugees.’

J. K. is very vocal about what she stands for, consistently promoting tolerance and social justice on Twitter and other social media platforms, so it makes sense that her books would also encourage the readers to do the same.

Feeling pretty smug now, Potterhead? Same.

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How to write a bestselling novel by Cecelia Ahern (who wrote her first aged 21)

How to write a bestselling novel by Cecelia Ahern (who wrote her first aged 21)

Her first bestselling novel P.S. I Love You was published in 2002, and she has since written 15 books. For this week’s Writers Bloc series, Cecelia Ahern reveals the secret to producing one novel a year

Mandatory Credit: Photo by John Powell/REX/Shutterstock (522360w)

Cecelia Ahern’s first novel P.S. I Love You was published when she was 21 years old. Now 37 and living in Dublin, Ireland with her husband and two children, she has since written 15 books, which have been translated into thirty languages and have sold more than twenty-five million copies in over forty countries. ROAR, ‘a collection of stories for every woman’, is published by HarperCollins, £12.99.

You have been a full-time writer for most of your adult life. What is your routine?

My writing hours have adjusted over the years to work with my life. I wrote my first novel 15 years ago during the night from 10pm to 4am because it suited me to work that way then and that’s when I felt inspired and alive, but it’s not a practical time to be working when you have other commitments during the day. I now write from 9am to 5pm, four days a week. I begin a novel in January, it’s due in June, I edit during Summer and it’s published in Autumn. As I write a novel a year, it’s a very disciplined and precise schedule but thankfully it has worked for me and changing my hours hasn’t meddled with my creativity; if anything, having a routine has made me more focused.

I leave my house to go to work in an office. I used to work from home but I felt it was important to have a creative space separate from my living environment. It means that I focus better when I’m at work, but it also means that there is a separation between my life and work. When I lock the door to my office, it’s time to stop working and return to life, and when I step into the office, it’s a lovely free space to create, with a calm atmosphere that allows time and freedom for my mind to explore. With boundaries I can properly be in each moment as I should be without feeling conflicted.

My stories begin as an idea. I ask myself, who would find themselves in this situation and then the idea inspires the characters. The development of my characters then help the idea and story to grow so they both feed off one another. One of the most exciting parts of being a writer is that moment of coming up with an idea. I get an adrenaline buzz in that instant when I feel I’ve created something original and unique, and I’m eager to make a note of it and research it so that I don’t lose the thought. I keep a notebook of ideas because no matter how fresh I think they are, I do forget them and also because it’s not always the right time to begin the story.

Cecelia Ahern writes one book a year

How many drafts do you tend to write, and do you edit as you go or prefer to push through to the end and work through any problems in rewrites?

I write the zero draft for myself first. I find that in my excitement to just get the story out of me, I do a fast first draft that is full of heart but full of holes. I write first with the heart and then go back and write with the head. I go over it and over it and then send the second draft to my publishers. They provide a general overview at first, pointing out the larger structural issues and then I write another draft. It’s on the third draft when it has come together as it should be that we get into the nitty gritty. I work on a fourth draft and then we move to copy edits, page proofs etc. I don’t put pressure on myself about making the first draft perfect, I need to see how the story comes together first and if it’s working for me, before perfecting every detail.

I plot the story before I write – and of course this helps develop it further as well as acknowledging the problems and needing to solve them. Some ideas are great ideas but they don’t have characters or aren’t meaty enough to be novels, and so some ideas have been with me for years before I’ve found the missing part that can help bring them on. Others can develop very quickly, and I write them within months of thinking of them. I tend to come up with different ways to structure a novel, like an overall concept, but I don’t have a story. Every idea is different.

I plot the novel first, writing out in point form the characters and storylines, however most of my favourite pieces are the spontaneous sentences that flow as I’m writing. I can plot storyline but I can’t plot how I’m going to phrase it or what tone it will take, and so it’s important to me that I plot but also allow the story to naturally unfold and evolve as I write. A story is a living, breathing, ever changing thing and as characters evolve, so does the plot, as the plot thickens, so do the characters and that’s not always possible to predict.

What is your favourite part of the process?

My real thrill is in writing the first draft. That’s the one that comes with the rush of adrenaline and emotion, the one that is fresh and new and exciting and I allow the pen to take over and go with the flow. Finishing the first draft is an amazing feeling, such a rush of adrenaline and emotion and relief, too. Polishing for me is hugely important, but it’s the part that I have to use the other side of my brain for. It feels like a more mechanical process. I find the first 25,000 words of any novel the easiest because the first ideas are flowing, everything is being set up, it’s new, and the story is wide open before you. After that first section I usually pause, look ahead at how much further I have to go and wonder if I can do it. Then I remind myself that I feel like this during every single book and I have to push on through to the finish line.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring writer, what would that be?

When we’re reading we are drawn not just to the plot and characters but how an author tells a story, so the voice is an important one to get right. I believe it’s important to be authentic and original. Write what moves you, what intrigues you. Write with the voice that you think with because that internal voice is yours, it’s original, because nobody thinks like you, and therefore will immediately set you apart from others.

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The Adults author, Caroline Hulse, on overcoming Imposter Syndrome

The Adults author, Caroline Hulse, on overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Next in our Writers Bloc series, Charlotte Philby speaks to The Adults author, Caroline Hulse, about plot inspiration and the dreaded ‘Imposter Syndrome’

Caroline Hulse

Caroline Hulse, 41, worked in Human Resources for nearly twenty years before becoming a full-time writer. Her debut novel The Adults is published by Orion, and she lives in Manchester with her husband and dog.

How long have you been writing full-time, and how do you approach your work?
After nearly twenty years working in HR, I am now a full-time writer. I may go back to HR work soon – for material, for cash, or for social interaction and routine. But, for now, I’m a full-time writer. I get up as if I’m going to an office job, then try to work in about a five-hour morning chunk of writing before spending the rest of the day doing tax/admin/publicity stuff/housework/gym/walking the dog/reading/catching up with friends. If I’m loving it or in the editing stage, I will do another chunk in the afternoon/evening. I may, or may not, do the same at weekends, depending on mood, deadline, and the stage of the process I’m at.
Some weeks I don’t get going at all, and just mess about doing other stuff until I have a stern word with myself. This is the danger of self-employment, and having deadlines that are several months away. I crave someone to stand over my desk with a big stick. I find self-motivation the hardest bit of being a writer. It’s like going to the gym: you know you want to do it, and you know it will make you feel better. You know you will probably even enjoy it when you’re there, but…

Where do you write? Are you one of those novelists who can write anywhere, or do you have a special place where your mind focuses best?
There’s a paradox here. My best writing happens in the house, in silence, on my own. However, I can only spend so much time in my house, in silence, on my own. I either write from cafés (less effective than home) or, if I work from home, I force myself to stop writing by mid-afternoon and get out of the house, as this is the tipping point of the day when I start feeling lonely. I then often start working again late aft/evening, once I’ve got my social/movement fix and am re-energised by remembering there’s a world beyond my laptop. I’ve learnt this from experience. It doesn’t matter how much I like writing, spending all day, every day on my own does not make me happy. That is the trade-off.

Caroline Hulse

What inspires your plots?
Ideas can start anywhere, but they are usually prompted by newspaper articles/TV shows/books – something sparks a thought, then I take it and run with it. For The Adults, I was trying to think of a domestic suspense plot and happened to be watching the first series of Doctor Foster at the time. As the credits rolled on the last-but-one episode, I thought ‘I love how the writer is building to this massive point of conflict.’ So I thought about how the writer did that, and put that idea with ideas I had until it was a ‘thing’. (And – disclaimer – The Adults didn’t turn out to be a domestic suspense. And it’s nothing like Doctor Foster – it’s comedy, and has a completely different storyline entirely! But I knew I wanted to create an unbearably socially-awkward climax scene, and built from there.)

What is your writing process, from inception to completion?
I edit as I go through the first draft – lots of false starts/back-pedalling/days of procrastination where I go back and rip up or tweak my work. Even with all that, my first draft is never something I’d send to my agent or editor. By the time I send my ‘first draft’ over, it will usually be my third. I show it to others only when I think ‘right, I’ve got the plot about as good as I can on my own’. It is not the most efficient way of working, but it’s the way I get results, so I am happy with it.
I’m also a real plotter. I don’t know how others writers work without a plan – how do they keep track of arcs, e.g. ‘character Z’ or ‘subplot 3’? My head won’t hold that much stuff! I hate doing the first drafts. I used to love them, years ago, long before I got published – but that was before I realised how bad my first drafts were. Back then they were a fun, creative flight of fancy, an escape from real life. Now, sadly, they aren’t. But I love the structural edit stage. By then I have a workable draft, it’s not total rubbish anymore, and now there’s an opportunity to get other people involved and see how much better it can be. The worst thing for me about being a writer is how long you have to be on your own with your work before you can talk about it!

Have you ever suffered from Imposter Syndrome, and if so, how did/do you over come that?
Hahaha. YES. I suffer from this on a daily basis, still, and haven’t overcome it. I suspect this is for several reasons: The first is linked to my answer above about first drafts – I have to write badly before I can write well, and that means I spend a lot of time looking at my stuff and thinking ‘nope, not good enough. I’ve lost my mojo’. Having worked for nearly twenty years in my old career, I had expertise of the culture, the norms, the commercial expectations, the things so ‘obvious’ that no-one even mentioned them. With publishing, it’s different. Beyond reading and writing books in private, I had no knowledge of the industry, or even other writers. There are lots of norms that aren’t intuitive, but which the people you deal with seem to know. This can add to the ‘fish out of water’ feeling.
The vast majority of writers on social media appear to be having a wonderful time, loving their job and the writing, and this enthusiasm is real and natural. And we definitely don’t want to sound ungrateful and entitled when we’re doing many people’s ‘dream job’. But this can sometimes also make other writers (e.g. me) think ‘well, this clearly isn’t for me then, because I’m having a bad day, so I can’t be a proper writer’. In my experience, all this can add up to making you feel a bit of a fraud. When imposter syndrome hits, I have to take a break, have a word with myself, re-set, and plough on.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring writer, what would that be?
Tip One:
In my experience, ‘writing’ means different things to different people. So you need to be clear why why you want to write to make sure you focus on the right outcomes for you. Is it a diverting pastime, pleasure for its own sake? Is it to help you process your thoughts? Is it to produce books for your family and friends? Are you hoping to see your name in print, once, or are you trying to find a ‘way in’ to the industry for life? Is it to be widely published? Is it even to make money, to have a long-term career? (And, if it’s this are you happy to make the career/life/potential artistic sacrifices required? To deal with the insecurity/lack of guarantee it will ever happen/knowledge it may happen and then be taken away?)
Different aims have different levels of achievability and require different approaches. Everything is a trade-off, and it will help you manage your expectations to know why you’re writing, and to be happy when you hit your goals, not anyone else’s.
Tip Two: ‘Don’t listen to anyone else’s writing tips’. Not even mine. Find what works for you.

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Three new Harry Potter books are coming and we cannot wait

Three new Harry Potter books are coming and we cannot wait

Well this is exciting

harry potter costumes

Did you know that Harry Potter readers are nicer? Yep, that’s right – the Potterheads among you will be happy to know that according to research in a paper called The Greatest Magic Of Harry Potter: Reducing Prejudicepeople who have read the series are actually nicer than those who haven’t.

So what better reason do we need to celebrate the fact that there will be three more Harry Potter books coming to us in time for Christmas.

For anyone who has missed the wizarding world and all that’s in it, the new books will reignite your love for all things magical.

The latest books to honour the series come from Insight Editions, and while they weren’t written by J.K Rowling herself, they are epic imaginings of the original books which come complete with pop-up illustrations.


harry potter bar london

Photo by Getty Images

From October 23rd you can get your hands on Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Guide to Hogwarts by Matthew Reinhart, which features all your favourite wizarding world locations, from the Hogwarts hot spots to the Forbidden Forest.

The second book, which will be available from mid-November, is Harry Potter: Creatures: A Paper Scene Book and focuses on all the amazing creatures from the franchise. It’s also out in time for the next instalment of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, so that’s pretty handy.

Lastly, there’s Harry Potter: Imagining Hogwarts: A Beginner’s Guide to Moviemaking by Bryan Michael Stoller which will go on sale October 30th. It shows fans how to storyboard a movie and create the amazing costumes.

The set is a little on the costly side, totalling around £96 for all three. BUT you must admit – they do look pretty cool.

With Christmas just around the corner, we’re suggesting you just leave this page open on your loved ones devices…

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This absolute classic has been voted the UK’s favourite book

This absolute classic has been voted the UK’s favourite book

We can totally see why

books to read before you die

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a bookworm, you’ll probably know that Harry Potter readers are nicer than their muggle counterparts, and you’ll no doubt have read up on how to write your first novel.

You’ll also be clued up on the best break-up books, to the best thrillers, to books about bravery and self help.

But which books top the list when it comes to the UK’s favourites? Does your favourite make the cut? And which authors are the nation’s favourites?

Wordery conducted a survey to find out more about the UK’s reading habits, as well as to discover their favourite books and authors of all time.

And the results may not be too surprising…

Topping the list is the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling, with The Lord of the Rings coming in a close second, and The Da Vinci Code placing third.

Let’s take a look at the top 10.


  1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien
  3. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L James
  5. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S Lewis
  6. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
  7. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  8. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  9. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  10. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

The UK also voted for their favourite authors, and once again J.K Rowling topped the list for 16 – 44 year olds, whereas Agatha Christie took the top spot for the over 45’s.

Barry Magennis, spokesperson for Wordery, said: ‘It’s great to see that so many people still love to get lost in a good book and it’s not surprising that for so many of us it’s a really important way to relax and unwind.

‘The survey provides a fascinating insight into what the British public think are the best books and authors.

‘There’s a few non-surprises; The Harry Potter series as number one for instance, but it’s also great to see some literary classics make the top 10 top book, like A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.’

How many of the top ten have you read?

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We’ve all been saying this Harry Potter character’s name wrong

We’ve all been saying this Harry Potter character’s name wrong


Words by Jadie Troy-Pryde

When it comes to Harry Potter, you’re probably pretty confident that you know everything. You’ll be clued up on the Hermione theory, you’ll have read about why Rupert Grint almost quit the movies after Goblet of Fire, and you probably use these inspirational Harry Potter quotes on the regular.

And the real hardcore Potterheads among you will even have stocked up on these Harry Potter baubles, because who doesn’t want a magically dressed Christmas tree?

However, it turns out that we’ve had it all wrong when it comes to one key player in the wizarding world.

Who? Voldemort.

He Who Must Not Be Named has actually been named all wrong, and we had absolutely no idea.

Harry Potter fans will undoubtedly pronounce the ‘t’ at the end of Voldemort because, let’s face it, that’s how they say it in the movies, too.

But it turns out that the ‘t’ is supposed to be silent, making it ‘Vol-de-mor’ instead.

How do we know this? Well, recently List25 tweeted: ‘#DidYouKnow Contrary to popular belief, the ‘t’ at the end of Voldemort is silent. The name comes from the French words meaning ‘flight of death’.’

And J.K. Rowling herself admitted that the villain’s moniker should be said that way.

A fan tweeted: “One piece of Harry Potter trivia I always forget to mention: the ‘t’ is silent in Voldemort.

J.K. then replied: “… but I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who pronounces it that way.”

While this exchange happened back in 2015, people are only just starting to realise that they’ve been saying Voldemort wrong this whole time.

Brb, we’re re-evaluating everything right now.

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