Happy New Year! Welcome to my first blog of 2016.
    One of my favourite television dramas in the run-up to Christmas was series three of The Bridge. Everything about it was excellent–the performances, the lighting, and particularly the script, which was full of twists and turns that kept the viewers guessing, and taut dialogue. No doubt the writing was top notch in this and other Scandinavian crime novels and series, but does this alone account for the explosion in their popularity? Do all these writers spring fully formed from the slush pile?
    Having listened to the Book Programme on BBC Radio 4 on 20th December, I think not. Norwegian authors receive a government grant for one to five years to help them hone their craft, the government buys 1,000 copies of each book published that meets its quality control or 1,550 copies of children's books. It's also required to keep a copy of all published material in its libraries.
    Given all this, I have to ask myself whether I'm living in the wrong country. How much easier it would be to justify spending time writing instead of getting a 'proper' job with a guaranteed income. Without the distraction of wondering how you're going to pay the bills, concentrating would be a doddle. Getting your work noticed wouldn't be a problem either when you have at least 1,000 readymade readers. Or would my time be frittered away dreaming, changing my mind and procrastinating? I'm unlikely to get the chance to find out. However, in the last few days my copies of the 12th Binnacle Ultra-short competition anthology have arrived, which include my Editors' Choice entry, 'Harvest-time', and more than 50 other entries. That's enough to encourage anyone.