Matt Gemmell

My new book CHANGER is out now!

An action-thriller novel — book 1 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon

Self Care

personal & briefly 1 min read

I’ve already written about recent world events. For all the calmness and stoicism of the piece, I’m still reeling. Anxiety spirals, dark thoughts, paranoia, bad dreams, compulsive behaviour… all present. It’s going to be a difficult time, for quite a while.

So, please set aside some time for self care. Acknowledge that events in your life are causing emotional trauma, and take active steps to let yourself adjust. It’s absolutely OK to convalesce; to get your strength back. It doesn’t mean we’re giving up, or burying our heads in the sand. We’re hurt, and we’ll heal, but we need the time and space to allow it.

Do what you need to do. Get away from the news for a while. Watch some movies. Play some games. Eat some food that’s bad for you. Read a book. It’s completely alright to give yourself time to process, accept, and adapt.

It’ll all still be here when you get back, but you’ll be more able to handle it.

Denning's Walk

writing & fiction 19 min read

This brief tale was written for members of this site. Membership includes a weekly newsletter with exclusive essays, stories, updates on my writing projects, and more.

If you’d like to read it as an ePub, you can download it here. Be sure to also take a look at my books.


“What you have to understand is nothing was actually stolen. And nobody laid a finger on him. I just want to be clear about that.”

Denning shifted in the uncomfortable plastic seat, as the police officer across the desk nodded while jotting down today’s date on a yellow form.

“So you said, sir,” the policeman replied. His name was James Rowney, and he was the duty desk-sergeant for the evening shift. Denning watched as he ticked a couple of boxes, then looked up again impassively. Rowney was a stockily-built man, with a bristly black moustache. He was all hard edges, and had an air of quiet efficiency and control. He also looked like the sort of man who didn’t tolerate any nonsense.

Just the sort of copper the Brits love, Denning thought.

Weltschmerz

politics 7 min read

When the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month arrived this year, I was feeling uncharacteristically unenthusiastic about lunch. The two-minute silence for Armistice Day passed without remark. I was on my exercise bike, as it happens, but without any music playing. The sound would’ve been inappropriate, in an unspecified sort of way.

My digestion hasn’t been quite right for a few days now. I have to be more careful about food than usual, which of course is the opposite of what I feel like doing. It’ll go away soon enough, though. These days, this is just how it is at times like this.

The big American vote of “collective insanity”, as one UK newspaper put it, was last Tuesday. I felt the same as this after the Brexit referendum here too, almost five months ago. Then the Prime Minister ran away, and gradually people came to wonder what all the fuss was about, because the majority of the fallout won’t arrive for another couple of years.

It’s not just my digestion, though. Mood is the main casualty. I’m given to introspection at the best of times, but this week I’ve (again) been morose, or shuttered, or irritable. It’s a response to shock — but less so than last time. I think I’m beginning to get used to it.

Using the iPad for: Writing Novels

tech & ipad-only 6 min read

This article is part of a series on going iPad-only.

If you’re a maker of iPad apps that my readers would be interested in, you can sponsor this site for a week.


I write books, and writing is one task that the iPad is ideally suited for. Even the on-screen keyboard is very usable with practice, though you’ll certainly want a physical keyboard for serious typing, and there are a wealth of apps available to help you get words down in a focused environment.

For years, my writing tool of choice on the Mac has been Scrivener, and the iOS version was released at last in July this year. It’s how I work on novels on the iPad. Let me tell you a bit more about it.

Using the iPad for: Web Development

tech & ipad-only 2 min read

This article is part of a series on going iPad-only.

If you’re a maker of iPad apps that my readers would be interested in, you can sponsor this site for a week.


I wrote previously about how I write blog posts and deploy my (statically-generated) site using an iPad. That article also covers how I stage the site; i.e. create a temporary test version of it while I make edits, to check how everything looks before I actually update the main site.

That’s all well and good for writing articles, but periodically I make tweaks to the site’s appearance, design, and structure. While I could certainly do so using the workflow I described in the aforementioned piece, there are better options available — without leaving the iPad.

Lifting the Mouse

tech & ipad-only 8 min read

This article is part of a series on going iPad-only.

If you’re a maker of iPad apps that my readers would be interested in, you can sponsor this site for a week.


It’s been eleven days since I switched from a 12” MacBook to a 9.7” iPad Pro, full time. I work in a coffee shop every afternoon, and I haven’t taken the MacBook with me since I got the iPad. I’ve not used the MacBook in the mornings or evenings, either. My total time on a laptop over the last week and a half has been maybe ten minutes — and that was to refer to some app-specific automation scripts that I was porting over to the new device and its own apps.

I’ve read articles about people who went “iPad only” for one day per week, and wrote about it effusively. That’s not going iPad only; it’s dabbling. I decided that if this was going to work, I had to commit — so here I am. It’s been eleven days, solidly. I haven’t looked back.

What I have done, though, and what I’m continuing to do right now, is try to work out why this thing appeals to me so damned much. Indulge me for a bit while I think out loud.

Using the iPad for: Blogging with Jekyll

tech & ipad-only 3 min read

This article is part of a series on going iPad-only.

If you’re a maker of iPad apps that my readers would be interested in, you can sponsor this site for a week.


This entire site is built using Jekyll, a static site generator written in Ruby. I have custom templates, CSS, and even several Ruby plugins, and I’m pretty pleased with it. It lets me keep all my content in Markdown, and edit posts in any text editor.

My host is Linode (oh how I love them), and I have a fully iPad-only workflow for blogging and updating the site.

Using the iPad for: email newsletters in Markdown and HTML

tech & ipad-only 4 min read

This article is part of a series on going iPad-only.

If you’re a maker of iPad apps that my readers would be interested in, you can sponsor this site for a week.


I offer a membership option for this site, which comes with some cool benefits including an email newsletter every Monday morning (with an exclusive essay, and behind-the-scenes info on my current writing projects, amongst other things).

Because my beloved members support my writing during the long periods between releasing novels, finding a workflow for preparing the weekly newsletter was my first priority for going iPad-only.

Rediscovering the iPad

tech & ipad-only 6 min read

This article is part of a series on going iPad-only.

If you’re a maker of iPad apps that my readers would be interested in, you can sponsor this site for a week.


It started with two unpleasant feelings: It’s not reliable anymore, and It needs too much babysitting.

Harsh, but also fair. My beloved 2015 MacBook 12”, along with its complimentary 2016-model replacement, has been the source of conflicting emotions over the past year. A series of breakdowns on the controversy-stirring new keyboard, with week-long service times on each occasion. After more than two months, the 2016 replacement is behaving just fine, but still. My confidence in the machine has been damaged.

Then there’s the inconsistent state of software on the Mac platform, with some apps provided via Apple’s Mac App Store, and some sold directly by their developers — often because of limitations, prohibitions and frustrations of the aforementioned Store. The proliferation of menubar status items, and the essentially unchanged nature of the interface. Windows and pointers. Interfaces from several different eras. The baggage it carries along with it. The computer-ness of it all.

The MacBook is certainly portable; no question about that. Small and light and beautiful. But it also has a weight that’s not from its mass.