Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2021

Utterly Dark & the Face of the Deep

It was always at sundown they were seen. In that twilight hour, when the walls between the worlds grew thin, strange things might slip through the cracks. Sometimes then, so the stories went, enchanted islands would appear in the empty ocean to the west of Wildsea…     I have a new novel coming out in September! The cover (above) is by Paddy Donnelly (who is also working on some chapter-head vignettes), and it will be published by David Fickling Books . Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep takes place in the early 1800s on the remote island of Wildsea. For centuries, the Dark family have acted as Watchers, keeping a look-out for mysterious islands which are believed to appear from time to time on the western sea, and guarding Wildsea against a terrible monster which is said to live on them. When the current Watcher mysteriously drowns, his young ward Utterly takes over his duties. Gradually, she starts to discover her strange connection with the forces which dwell in the deep ocean.

The Dig

  I don’t tend to associate 21st Century British films with a deep sense of landscape. Don't @ me - I know I’m probably ignoring all sorts of bracingly challenging art house offerings, and I’m aware there’s a whole genre called ‘folk horror’ built around the deep unease which grips townies when they find themselves anywhere that doesn’t have street lights, but most of the more mainstream Brit-pics that cross my radar are set on estates. Sometimes they’re estates of the council variety, where chipper youngsters fresh from drama school are struggling against homophobia or racism to make a name for themselves as dancers, footballers, or singers. Sometimes they’re estates of the Balmoral, Sandringham, or Castle Howard sort, where slightly more established actresses in empire-line frocks are emoting their way through another Jane Austen, or Judi Dench is being Queen Victoria again. But whichever sort of estate it is, the setting is seldom much more than a backdrop: I don’t think the fir

On Adam Curtis

  Adam Curtis is back (with a new six part series on iplayer, Can’t Get You Out Of My Head ) and a lot of us seem to have had enough of his nonsense - all I’m seeing on my corner of social media is people disparaging him as pretentious, boring, or a charlatan. Pretentious he may be, and boring he can be (when his films were shown on TV rather than relegated to iplayer-only they definitely benefited from having to be squeezed into 30 or 50 minute time-slots). But a lot of my favourite artists are at least partly charlatans and none the worse for it, so I feel moved to spring to his defence. I think a lot of people approach Curtis’s films as if they’re documentaries, and find their arguments tenuous and unconvincing. But while they use a documentary format, and Curtis’s sonorous voice sounds like that of a reliable BBC narrator, I think they’re really best appreciated as a sort of surrealist collage or William Burroughs-style cut-up fiction. Assembled entirely out of odds-and-ends of ar