Posted in Know Your History

Know Your History – 9th September – James Hilton born

know your history - writingOn this day… 9th September, 1900 – James Hilton born.

James Hilton (9 September 1900 – 20 December 1954) was an English novelist best remembered for several best-sellers, including Lost Horizon and Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

He also wrote Hollywood screenplays.

About Writing

In 1933 would ensure that Hilton had finally arrived. He was asked to write a 3,000 word short story for the magazine The British Weekly. After a week without inspiration he went cycling “in a blue funk” on a foggy winter James_Hilton_small_townmorning in Epping Forest until “suddenly an idea bobbed up and (he) saw the whole story in a flash”. In four days he had written a story about an elderly, much-loved schoolmaster which he entitled Goodbye, Mr Chips.

It was an immediate success both in Britain and America and by early 1934 Hilton was a best-selling author. There was an insatiable appetite to read his work and all of his earlier novels were reissued.

Did You Know?..

Hilton’s first novel, Catherine Herself, was published in 1920 while he was still an undergraduate.

Posted in Know Your History

Know Your History – 7th September – Taylor Caldwell born

know your history - writingOn this day… 7th September, 1900 – Taylor Caldwell born.

Janet Miriam Holland Taylor Caldwell (September 7, 1900 – August 30, 1985) was an Anglo-American novelist and prolific author of popular fiction, also known by the pen names Marcus Holland and Max Reiner, and by her married name of J. Miriam Reback.

In her fiction, she often used real historical events or persons. Taylor Caldwell’s best-known works include Dynasty of Death, Dear and Glorious Physician (about Saint Luke), Ceremony of the Innocent, Pillars of Iron, The Earth is the Lord’s (about Ghengis Khan) and The Captains and the Kings. Her last major novel, Answer as a Man, appeared in 1980.Taylor Caldwell - rose tinted glasses

About Writing

Tay­lor used real his­tor­i­cal events and per­sons in her works which were known to be intri­cate and suspenseful.

Cald­well was a cre­ative child and started writ­ing sto­ries at the age of eight. How­ever, by the time she was a teen her par­ents didn’t think she’d be able to make a liv­ing as an author and took her writ­ing uten­sils away.

Did You Know?..

Tay­lor was born in Man­ches­ter Eng­land but her fam­ily was a descen­dent from the Scot­tish Clan of MacGregor.

Posted in Know Your History

Know Your History – 6th September – Alice Sebold born

know your history - writingOn this day… 6th September, 1963 – Alice Sebold born.

Alice Sebold (born September 6, 1963) is an American writer. She has published three books: Lucky (1999), The Lovely Bones (2002), and The Almost Moon (2007).

About Writing

Sebold began writing the book that would become Lucky in New York, as a ten-page assignment for her class. In its first drafts, the book was a fictionalized version of her rape and its aftermath; while in graduate school, Sebold turned the book into a “misery memoir.” The book’s title came from a policeman who had told Sebold that she was lucky to be alive, since Alice Sebold - Dreamsanother young woman had been killed and dismembered in the same tunnel.

At age 33, Sebold then began writing a novel called Monsters, about the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl. The story was based on her realization that “within the suburban world of my upbringing there was as many strange stories as there were in the more romanticized parts of the world.” The novel eventually became The Lovely Bones. The New York Times observed that “Ms. Sebold [has] the ability to capture both the ordinary and the extraordinary, the banal and the horrific, in lyrical, unsentimental prose.”

Did You Know?..

Her advice to writers is to get a dog, so that you can “have a relationship that’s nothing to do with words”.

Posted in Know Your History

Know Your History – 5th September – Arthur Koestler born

know your history - writingOn this day… 5th September, 1905 – Arthur Koestler born.

Arthur Koestler, CBE (5 September 1905 – 1 March 1983) was a Hungarian-British author and journalist. Koestler was born in Budapest and, apart from his early school years, was educated in Austria. In 1931 Koestler joined the Communist Party of Germany until, disillusioned by Stalinism, he resigned in 1938. In 1940 he published his novel Darkness at Noon, an anti-totalitarian work that gained him international fame. Over the next 43 years, from his residence in Britain, Koestler espoused many political causes, and wrote novels, memoirs, biographies and numerous essays. In 1968 he was awarded the Sonning Prize “for [his] outstanding contribution to European culture” and in 1972 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).Arthur Koestler

About Writing

Arthur Koestler, who founded the Koestler Awards in 1962, was one of the key writers and thinkers of the mid 20th century. His experiences as a political prisoner gave him exceptional insight into the relationship between imprisonment and creativity, and he is famous for the classic prison novel Darkness at Noon.

After the War, Koestler lived in Wales, France and New Jersey before settling in London to pursue a huge range of literary, political and social activities. The Koestler Awards grew out of his work to abolish hanging. His books of essays included The Ghost in the Machine (1967), which analysed the anxieties of the nuclear age and later lent its title to an album by The Police.

Did You Know?..

In 1983 Arthur and his wife killed themselves at their home in London.

Posted in Know Your History

Know Your History – 3rd September – Malcolm Gladwell

know your history - writingOn this day… 3rd September, 1963 – Malcolm Gladwell born.

Malcolm Timothy Gladwell, CM (born September 3, 1963) is a Canadian journalist, bestselling author, and speaker. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. He has written five books, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000), Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005), Outliers: The Story of Success (2008), What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (2009), a collection of his journalism, and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (2013). All five books were on The New York Times Best Seller list.

About Writing

Gladwell’s signature style—using data to turn long-held beliefs on their malcolm gladwellhead—has made him a best-seller four times over. In his latest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and The Art of Battling Giants, inspired by the biblical story of a lowly shepherd boy’s battle with Philistine’s version of The Hulk, the tome—in a nutshell—examines the advantages of disadvantages.

The book is full of interesting facts about turning disadvantages into advantages for example

Did You Know?..

About 30 percent of successful entrepreneurs are dyslexic.

You can count Richard Branson, Charles Schwab, and Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn among high-profile business leaders who suffer from the learning disorder (which affects about 10 to 15 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Dyslexia Research Institute). Depending on how you look at it, you could say these entrepreneurs succeeded in spite of their dyslexia or, in part, because of their dyslexia. (If you’re Gladwell, you’ll likely assert the latter, as this is a book about turning disadvantages into advantages, after all.)

Posted in Know Your History

Know Your History – 2nd September – Joseph Roth born

know your history - writingOn this day… 2nd September, 1894 – Joseph Roth born.

Joseph Roth, born Moses Joseph Roth (September 2, 1894 – May 27, 1939), was an Austrian-Jewish journalist and novelist, best known for his family saga Radetzky March (1932), about the decline and fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, his novel of Jewish life, Job (1930), and his seminal essay “Juden auf Wanderschaft” (1927; translated into English in The Wandering Jews), a fragmented account of the Jewish migrations from eastern to western Europe in the aftermath of World War I and the Russian Revolution. In the 21st century, publications in English of Radetzky March and of collections of his journalism from Berlin and Paris created a revival of interest in Roth.

About Writing

In 1923, Roth’s first (unfinished) novel, The Spider’s Web, was serialized in an Austrian newspaper. He went on to achieve moderate success as a novelist with a series of books exploring life in post-war Europe, but only upon publication of Job and Radetzky March did he achieve acclaim for his fiction rather than his journalism.

In his later works, Roth appeared to wish that the monarchy could be restored. His longing for a more tolerant past may be partly explained as a reaction against the nationalism of the time, which culminated in Nazism. joseph roth quoteThe novel Radetzky March (1932) and the story “The Bust of the Emperor” (1935) are typical of this late phase. In another novel, The Emperor’s Tomb (1938), Roth describes the fate of a cousin of the hero of Radetzky March up to Germany’s annexation of Austria in 1938.

Astonishingly, after his wife’s death he continued to write novels and other books every year, simply to scrape a living. In January 1939 Roth received an invitation from his translator Dorothy Thompson to attend the World Congress of Writers in New York, which might have enabled him to open a new chapter in the New World. However strapped to his pauper’s hospital bed in Paris with delirium tremens, having just finished his last book, The Legend of the Holy Drinker, Joseph Roth died a squalid death. He was only forty-four.

Did You Know?..

Roth’s wife was murdered by Nazis as part of their euthanasia of the mentally ill.

Posted in Know Your History

Know Your History – 1st September – Edgar Rice Burroughs

know your history - writingOn this day… 1st September, 1875 – Edgar Rice Burroughs born.

Edgar Rice Burroughs (September 1, 1875 – March 19, 1950) was an American writer best known for his creations of the jungle hero Tarzan and the heroic Mars adventurer John Carter, although he produced works in many genres. Ray Bradbury called Tarzan’s creator ‘probably the most influential writer in the entire history of the world.’

About Writing

When Burroughs became depressed he would often sketch darkly humorous cartoons or write fantastic fairy tales of other worlds. Much later, he was to confirm the fact that he wrote all his stories, particularly those of other worlds, as much for his own entertainment as for that of his readers.Edgar Rice Burroughs - Writing

“In all these years I have not learned one single rule for writing fiction. I still write as I did 30 years ago; stories which I feel would entertain me and give me mental relaxation, knowing that there are millions of people just like me who will like the same things I like. Anyway, I have great fun with my imaginings, and I can appreciate–in a small way–the swell time God had in creating the Universe.”

Did You Know?..

Tarzan’s real name is John Clayton, Viscount Greystoke. Tarzan is his ape name; his English name was revealed by Burroughs in Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle.

For this and other interesting facts on Tarzan visit:- Interesting Literature’s wordpress blog.

Posted in Writing Tools

Inspiration Tip for Writers – The Random Decision Maker

A quick post today as I came across this little beauty and thought others might like it. It is a random decision maker.

As a writer you have a lot of decisions to make and sometimes those can take way too long to decide.

What colour eyes should a character have?

How did she get hurt so that she can’t run away fast when that monster comes to get her later on?

Who did he unload his troubles too, to help him realise she was the one?


Sometimes you just need something to put in as a place holder to come back later or as an experiment of ideas you wouldn’t normally try. Well this little tool is free and can be quite liberating, think of it as a magic-8 ball with options. 🙂

Anyway, I thought it could be a useful writers’ resource.


Posted in Know Your History

Know Your History – 31st August – William Saroyan born

know your history - writing On this day… 31st August, 1908 – William Saroyan born.

William Saroyan (August 31, 1908 – May 18, 1981) was an American dramatist and author. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1940, and in 1943 won the Academy Award for Best Story for the film adaptation of his novel The Human Comedy.

An Armenian American, Saroyan wrote extensively about the Armenian immigrant life in California. Many of his stories and plays are set in his native Fresno. Some of his best-known works are The Time of Your Life, My Name Is Aram and My Heart’s in the Highlands.william saroyan - Hate

He is recognized as “one of the most prominent literary figures of the mid-20th century.” Stephen Fry describes Saroyan as “one of the most underrated writers of the [20th] century.” Fry suggests that “he takes his place naturally alongside Hemingway, Steinbeck and Faulkner.”

About Writing

Saroyan’s advice to a young writer was:

“Try to learn to breathe deeply; really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as pos­si­ble to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell”.

Did You Know?..

The author hardly edited his text.

For this and other interesting facts about visit:-

Posted in Know Your History

Know Your History – 30th August – Mary Shelley born

know your history - writingOn this day… 30th August, 1797 – Mary Shelley born.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (née Godwin; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley.

About Writing

In the summer of 1816, Mary Godwin, her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont (Mary’s step-sister) visited Lord Byron in Geneva, Switzerland. The idea was to relax and enjoy the mild mary shelley - fearlessSwiss summer, but that summer was especially dreary. Unable to enjoy the outdoors, the group mostly read German ghost stories to entertain themselves. It was that reading that inspired Byron to propose that the group write their own supernatural stories and see who could come up with the best one.

Byron wrote only fragments. Polidori really didn’t come up with anything, but came up with something later based on Byron’s ideas. Mary retired for the evening and had a dream of a corpse that came back to life. Based on that dream she wrote Frankenstein. Percy concentrated on facilitating his soon-to-be-wife’s story. She imagined it as a short story, and wrote the first few chapters in a relatively short time. With Percy’s encouragement and editing, she fleshed out the story over the next year or so and turned it into a full-fledged novel.

Did You Know?..

Frankenstein was first published anonymously.

Frankenstein was published three times in the 19th century—anonymously in 1818, in 1823 after it first appeared on stage, and again in 1831, with significant changes to the 1818 text. The original included an introduction’s from Mary’s husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Most critics at the time assumed that it was Percy who had written the book, but modern critics cite the long narratives and triple narrator as evidence of an inexperienced writer, which is exactly what Mary was. She first received a writing credit on the 1823 reprint.

For other interesting facts you might not know about Frankenstein visit:-