The Gilder’s Apprentice, a new short story commissioned by The Independent for the New Year’s Day issue.
A lovely commission, with an open brief, that came as we were performing TaniwhaThames, while I was working on Purple Shroud edits, and the story needed to be in by the Christmas week, so they could give it to the illustrator Simon Pemberton (I love the images he’s done for it) … so I said yes. Of course I did, yes being bigger than no and all that … but a week before delivery, I still had no Idea. I wanted something a bit magical, a bit hopeful, but a bit dark too, like a good old traditional slightly-ghosty seasonal short story.
Then I took this brilliant Martin O’Neill piece in to get framed, and the man in the framing shop told me he trained as a gilder. Which gave me the beginning. Story done in a week, delivered exactly on time.

Sometimes, if you know what you have to write, and you know what it wants to be like, all you need is a title …