Tuesday, 20 October 2009


Chambers are one of the great names in publishing, and they've been based in Scotland for the best part of two centuries. More recently, they took an even more cherished imprint, Brewer's, under their wing in Edinburgh.

Now their parent company, Hachette UK, wants to close down the Edinburgh office, which will see a large number of staff laid off, and the identities of Chambers and Brewer's diluted.

I have a personal interest, since I have a contract to write a book for Brewer's, but even beyond that it seems to me the move by Hachette is another symbol of the growing homogenization of the publishing industry, and it's at least worth registering one's opposition.

So do feel free to sign this petition calling on Hachette to reconsider their decision.

Friday, 9 October 2009


I'm much amused to be told that I now have my very own page on the excellent IMBd site.

I use IMBd on an almost daily basis, since it's one of the best online reference sources, but as I don't subscribe, I've never understood the percentage figures they quote at the top of each page. However, no doubt it's very good news that I'm up 147% in popularity this week. Whatever it means.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The Summer of 2009

It’s been an awful long time since I posted anything here (though strangely the world appears to have continued turning in my absence).

The reason for the prolonged absence is that I’ve been extraordinarily busy writing a couple of books, and I find it increasingly hard to write in more than one medium at a time. I get so involved in the project I’m on – not to mention the day-job of writing games – that everything else takes back-seat. Consequently I’ve been neglecting everything else, from emails to blogs.

The first book that will emerge from this period of work is a sequel to Halfway to Paradise: The Birth of British Rock, which came out last year telling the story of rock and roll in Britain from 1954-64. The new book, due out from V&A Publishing next Spring, is My Generation: The Glory Years of British Rock, covering 1964-74. It’s centred on the photography of Harry Goodwin, the resident stills photographer on Top of the Pops for its first decade, including this shot of David Bowie and Mick Ronson miming to Starman in 1972:

Put together by the usual team – design by Isobel Gillan, editing by Clare Collinson, all under the direction of Mark Eastment – this is going to be a fine-looking book, I think. And it’ll be accompanied by an exhibition at the V&A, which will then tour around the country.

Talking of exhibitions, the photos of the great Harry Hammond are currently on show as part of the British Music Experience at the O2 Centre in London. I haven’t been to see it yet, but no doubt it’s very wonderful indeed. That exhibition will also be touring the country shortly – dates to be confirmed, but Cardiff next, I believe.

Around the same time as My Generation comes out, there will appear (I hope) my sequel to Crisis? What Crisis? Britain in the 1970s. Predictably, then, it’ll be about Britain during the Thatcher years. I’ve only just submitted the first draft of the text to my editor, Graham Coster at Aurum, so there will be more work to be done before it’s all wrapped up, but it’s been a major undertaking by my standards, the longest book I’ve ever written.

And finally, to wrap up my current book production, I’m signed up to do a book with Brewer’s. But there are upheavals at the parent company that owns this venerable imprint, so I’m not sure how that’s going to work out.