Matt Gemmell

TOLL is available now!

An action-thriller novel — book 2 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon

Keyboard-Driven Cross-Linking in Drafts

development & tech 4 min read

I use Drafts as my text-processing tool of choice. I do all my actual writing in Ulysses, but when it’s time to prepare articles for my blog, my weekly site-members’ newsletter and so on, it’s Drafts I turn to. I think of it as the BBEdit for my iPad.

With the recent version 20.0, Drafts introduced cross-linking. You can use wiki-style links to open other documents (also called drafts, by the way) within the app; for example, a link like this: [[Some Other File]] can be tapped or clicked to open the draft entitled “Some Other File” (creating it if necessary). Needless to say, this is very useful for creating a repository of knowledge, a body of research, a plain-text household database, and so on.

Drafts is also very scriptable and customisable, so I decided to extend this functionality to fit how I work. First and foremost, I don’t like to take my hands off the keyboard, so I needed a way to navigate cross-links without needing to use a pointing device. I created an action for Drafts to do that, to which you can assign whatever keyboard shortcut you prefer. It works on a link that’s either part of the text selection in the frontmost draft, or is immediately adjacent to the selection or the insertion point. There are various other options you can tweak for yourself, as detailed below.

Pointer Control

tech & ipad-only 4 min read

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


I’d like to share a few thoughts about pointer control on the iPad. My perspective is narrow and specific: I’ve been using an iPad as my full-time computer for three and a half years, and my job is writing books. The iPad does everything I need it to, and I’ve written a lot already about why it’s the right device for me.

In particular, I wrote a piece about the weird disconnect of pointer-driven interfaces, which only really becomes apparent when you move away from the familiarity of pointing devices. Switching entirely to the iPad meant committing to many new ways of doing things, to the extent that I now find traditional computers a bit awkward to use. They feel like machines with interfaces designed to let you use the pointer, rather than with a pointer designed to let you use the interface. And of course that’s exactly what they are, because it’s logical to make the software capitalise on the nature of the hardware.

In Theory

personal 5 min read

Can I be honest with you?

I hope so. In my writing, here and otherwise, it’s all I try to do. Truth in fiction is about verisimilitude, and clarity, and refinement of ideas. Truth in real life, though, is a bit different.

Once Upon A Time Volume 2

writing & books 1 min read

The second volume of my anthology of ultra-short sci-fi / horror / etc stories is out now! You can find on Amazon/Kindle, Apple Books, and as a ePub ebook file (either as-is, or a special autographed-cover edition!). Once Upon A Time is a collection of flash fiction: standalone tales of 1,000–3,000 words, in genres including science fiction, horror, and the supernatural! The anthology also includes author’s notes on each tale, describing inspiration and background.

Once Upon A Time Volume 1

writing & books 1 min read

It’s a strange time for the world right now. Dystopian fiction has become reality, and the future has suddenly become a lot more hazy. The very best coping mechanism I’ve ever found is to distract myself with a story. It works for TV, movies, video games, and books; they’re all absolutely valid narrative forms. We need our imaginations to get us through difficult times, and I think that bite-sized chunks of make-believe can sometimes be even more effective than entire novels. They’re like breathing exercises for the mind.

Accordingly, I’m delighted to announce the release of Once Upon A Time, an anthology of flash fiction: standalone tales of 1,000–3,000 words, in genres including science fiction, horror, and the supernatural! You might call them scenes, vignettes, fragments, flash fiction… there are lots of terms to choose from. The important thing is that there are more than fifteen ultra-brief stories to spark the imagination, and provide respite from the world when you need it. The anthology also includes author’s notes on each tale, describing inspiration and background.

KESTREL is going Kindle-exclusive for ebooks

writing, kestrel & books 2 min read

Starting about a week from now, and continuing for the next few months at least, the two existing books in my KESTREL technothrillers series will be Kindle-exclusive for ebooks. Paperbacks will continue to be available, of course, but in ebook format the books will solely be available on Kindle. This is an experiment, and I’m trying it for a few reasons. This does not affect any future/new book releases, which will continue to be launched on all the usual platforms.

One Silver Shilling

writing & fiction 8 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. You can also take a look at my books!


Wednesday, 11th April, 1821

My dear friend William,

I hope this letter finds you in both good spirits and rude health, and I must convey my most sincere apologies for the unavoidable delay in sending it.

I find myself at last back on the mainland, and have dispatched this letter from a small town but scant miles from the port where I spent last night. Our ordeal in reaching it was considerable, and it is on that topic that I wished immediately to write to you, lest with the passing of further days it might begin to fade from my own memory. Committed to ink and paper, and thus shared with you, perhaps I can begin to find peace with the experience I have had. But you must wonder at my hesitant words. Let me start at the beginning, save to say this:

Those islands to the north are a haunted place.

An incredible gift

writing, tech & ipad-only 2 min read

I received an astonishing gift recently, and I want to share the story with you. When I showed my wife, it made her cry — more than once.

I’m a novelist. I’ve written two technothrillers in a series, with the third in progress. I have a background in tech, and I have a membership/patronage programme on my site, where kind readers can support my writing. I write to them every week, with a story or an essay.

On Thursday of last week, a mysterious package arrived. Heavy. Solid. But I have no particular enemies at the moment, I opened it with curiosity. And I saw… this. It’s a custom-built mechanical keyboard, and I do mean custom. Let me tell you more about it.

Cover reveal: KESTREL Book Three

writing & kestrel 1 min read

Friends, it’s time to reveal some info about KESTREL book three, following CHANGER and TOLL! As a quick reminder, the KESTREL series is a set of EU-based technothrillers, which can be read either in sequence or as standalone books. You can find out about the KESTREL series here.

Several weeks after the events of TOLL, the KESTREL team are still on leave when early one morning they receive an urgent summons. One of their own has been involved in an accident — or was it? Taking place virtually simultaneously with two other lethal cases of apparent bad luck, a common thread unites all three victims.

When Greenwood and her team discover that the deaths weren’t by chance, they find themselves up against a new and terrifying enemy, directed by a seemingly all-seeing mastermind who already knows exactly who KESTREL are, where they’re going, and many of their deepest secrets.

Nothing stays hidden forever, and the line between privacy and liberty is razor-thin.

I’m excited to reveal the title and cover artwork for KESTREL Book Three: JINX.

My new office

writing, tech & ipad-only 4 min read

We moved to a new house last Christmas, and we’ve been slowly getting things sorted out since then. We had a big list of preferences and managed to satisfy virtually all of them. Private parking with adjacent space for visitors’ vehicles, a garden with a greenhouse and a deck, a park nearby for Whisky, a bigger kitchen with room to grow, two bathrooms, a large living room for entertaining and a dining area, a master bedroom plus a permanent and dedicated spare bedroom, an office for me, and a multipurpose room that would primarily be a home office for Lauren and a gym, and could also be an additional guest bedroom.

Having redecorated the master bedroom and the living room before we properly moved in, we waited until after the new year to completely redo the upstairs bathroom. Then we had a break, before redecorating the spare bedroom and getting it set up. Then another break, and we tackled the downstairs bathroom over a long weekend. A further break, and then during the course of three weeks we did Lauren’s office and finally my new office, back to back.

During that whole time — eight months — I’ve been working in the living room each day, using my iPad Pro in a Smart Keyboard Folio. Now, I finally have my own desk back.