Thursday, 21 April 2011

Sea Change

A new book from me up on Amazon, but something a little different to the usual stuff.

The sharp-eyed amongst you might have noticed that the name on the cover is a little different. Sea Change is a novel aimed at the young adult market, so I thought that it was sensible to release it under a slightly different name to the adult crime fiction.

The genesis of the novel was a weekend away I spent with my wife in Staithes, a fishing village on the North Yorkshire coast. The village was a maze of narrow streets and mysterious alleyways, and it seemed that wherever we went we were followed by a black dog, that was able to be behind us one moment and ahead of us the next. A while later I spent a fantastic weekend in Robin Hood's Bay with some good people from the Storyville writers mailing list, and the look and atmosphere of the two villages merged together with the eerie ur-village in my head and ended up as the location for Sea Change. Not sure how to classify it, other than to say it's a ghost story without any ghosts and a fantasy but set very firmly in this world, and maybe in the end, horror is the best description. There's also a strange black dog.

Amazon UK | US | Smashwords

Good things

Good things recently:

Gentleman Jeff Vandermeer getting the cover story in F&SF, a market he has somehow never been published in until now, despite getting into print just about everywhere else in existence (and a couple of places that aren't, but I better not mention those because of the whole rupturing the fabric of time thing).

Sea fret. Scorching sunny day, then come 4pm the fog comes in off the sea, the temperature plummets, the foghorn starts to low, visibility drops to next to nothing...excellent.

Another good review for Nowhere To Go. (Does seem daft though that reviews posted on Amazon UK don't show up on Amazon US and vice versa).

Getting another book into circulation (more on which later).

Seeing Neil Williamson's short story collection The Ephemera released from Infinity Plus.

Shallow trivia warning: finding a pair of brown boots that I really like. I am particular about boots and have been looking for a long time.

This clarification of AV from B3ta.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Infinities and beyond

Way back, more years than I choose to remember accurately (OK, 1983), one of my LPs had a sticker on it that said 'pay no more than 99p for this record'.

The LP was a sampler album from Cherry Red Records called Pillows and Prayers, and featured a very eclectic range of artists from Tracey Thorn to the Monochrome Set, Attila the Stockbroker to Quentin Crisp.

Keith Brooke at Infinity Plus has put together a sampler for IP's ebook publications. It contains excerpts from novels or short stories from collections published through Infinity Plus, plus some additional material from friends of Infinity Plus. Full contents below.

It goes one better than the Cherry Red sampler though, because if you could put a sticker on an ebook, this one would say 'Pay No More Than Nothing For This Book'. Download a copy for yourself at the Infinity Plus website.



Keith Brooke: five volumes of short stories (science fiction, fantasy and horror)
— infinities includes complete short story The Man Who Built Heaven.

Eric Brown: a novella and a collection of short stories (science fiction and fantasy)
— infinities includes complete short story Venus Macabre and an extract from short novel A Writer's Life.

John Grant: a short novel and novella double and a collection of short stories (science fiction and fantasy)
— infinities includes complete novelette Wooden Horse.

Garry Kilworth: a collection of short stories (science fiction and fantasy)
— infinities includes complete short story Phoenix Man.

Kaitlin Queen: a novel (crime)
— infinities includes an extract from the novel One More Unfortunate.

Iain Rowan: a collection of short stories (crime)
— infinities includes complete short story One Step Closer.

Anna Tambour: a novel and a collection of short stories (literary fantasy and satire)
— infinities includes an extract from the novel Spotted Lily.

friends of infinity plus

Linda Nagata
— infinities includes an extract from the novel Memory.

Scott Nicholson
— infinities includes an extract from the novel The Red Church.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch
— infinities includes an extract from the novel The Disappeared.

Steven Savile
— infinities includes an extract from the novel The Immortal.

and if you really want to know more:
about infinity plus

Sunday, 10 April 2011

One Step Closer

I've put out a free taster for my crime collection, Nowhere To Go. One Step Closer was first published in 2006, and won the Derringer for best short story.

You can get it at Smashwords: versions for Kindle, Sony, Apple, and other e-readers, as well as in pdf.

Cover photo: Brian Lary.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Aristotle vs gibbons

Enough about writing for a moment. Here's a post about being happy.

An interesting blog I read is Jules Evans' The Politics Of Wellbeing. The main focus of it is the search for the good life, from the philosophy of Epictetus and the Stoics, through to the modern political fascination with happiness: what it is, how to measure it, and does the State have a role in fostering it. The most recent article talks about whether the polytheism of the early Ancient Greeks maps better on to what neuroscience is telling us about how the mind works, than does the monotheism of the rational philosophers from Plato through to the evolution of modern liberalism. Earlier articles look at what government is trying to do when it gets itself involved in the business of happiness, and . Thoughtful, interesting, and well worth a read.

As can be seen from Jules' blog, people from Aristole to David Cameron (now there's a sentence I never anticipated writing) have long debated what happiness is, and what the true route to it might be.

There is perhaps an simpler answer than can be found in philosophy: happiness is watching the best animals on earth. Happiness is watching gibbons. If one day I find myself rich, I am going to build a gibbon sanctuary, and people who are feeling melancholy can come to it and watch the gibbons for a while, and go away happier than when they came.

Some people will argue that a gibbon is not the best animal on earth. They will talk about power, and speed, and grace, and they will argue that the tiger is in fact the best animal (there are, it is said, some people who say lion, but they are of course freaks and should be shunned). As conclusive proof that all these people are wrong, today I leave you with:

Gibbon taunting tigers.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The milkman of human kindness

...has left an extra pint today. Nowhere To Go got its first review on Amazon, and it's a very positive one. Which I'm pleased about, obviously, but it's also considered and thoughtful, which is also good.

A shameless plea to readers: most people who read books don't leave a review on Amazon. But reviews do make a real difference to how Amazon's mysterious recommendation engine does its secret and mysterious recommending business, so if you read any of my stuff and feel strongly enough about it to have an opinion then please think about taking a minute to add a review. It all helps, and you can have the satisfaction of knowing you made my day. Or, if you hate me and loathe my writing with a passion which is almost violent and write a review to match, of having the satisfaction that you've made me sulk.

Hollywood or bust (it's bust)

To avoid disappointment in the reader, it's best to be clear from the start that this story ends with bust.

One of the stories in Nowhere To Go is a short story called The Chain which was published in Ellery Queen's a few years ago. The readers of EQMM must have liked it, because they voted it into their top ten stories of the year.

A year or so later, I was contacted by a screenwriter who was interested in whether the film rights to the story were available. It was all very exciting for a while, but the more experienced writers I know counselled that these things often come to nothing, and they were not wrong. Still, like buying a lottery ticket, you can at least enjoy the fantasy even if you know that you will end up hurling the ticket into a bin on Monday morning as you stand in the rain waiting for a bus.

Then a couple of years ago, out of the blue I was contacted by a producer and director of an indie film who were thinking about their next project and wondered if the film rights to The Chain were available. I've been here before, I thought. So I won't get excited at all, I thought. I failed. But I did at least keep it in check, so when it didn't get anywhere I was philosophical, rather than like a kid who's just been told that Santa's crashed his sleigh whilst drunk and won't be coming this year, and maybe not at all. And by the way, in the crash he wiped out the Easter Bunny.

It's interesting though, that the same story has attracted that kind of interest twice. Interesting particularly because reading it through I can't see that it's particularly more filmic than any of my other stories, and I can't identify what made this. I'm aware though that this is maybe why I write stories, and don't make films.

So, that's the story of how I came this close to Hollywood glory. You'll have to imagine that when I'm saying 'this close' I'm also holding my hands a really, really long way apart, like I'm trying to hug an elephant. But still, it's all fun. And an object lesson to all writers: one of the beauties of having stories out there is that you never know when something unexpected might happen.

Monday, 4 April 2011


"Alex thought of his grandfather, of the way that the river at home curved between the fields and shone secret and silver in the light of the moon, of the trains full of soldiers that rattled off up into the hills towards the mud and the fear, and of the dead that walked the city."

Although a lot of my focus these days is on crime fiction, I've written some stories in the past that are...not. I have trouble deciding what they are, because I find it hard to call them horror because they're not particularly scary and there's no gore, squamous and rugose old ones, or vampires. And I find it hard to call them dark fantasy because, well, there's no vampires. Some of them are easy to classify, because they're traditional ghost stories of a sort, and if you like James, and Blackwood, you might like them. Others, aren't.

Lilies is one of the ones that aren't. It was first published in Pete Crowther's Postscripts. It was long-listed for the British Fantasy Society's best short story, and later republished in Stephen Jones' Mammoth Book of Best New Horror. If you fancy reading it, it's on Amazon UK | US and Smashwords. If you read it, let me know what you think.

Separated at birth

Crime writer and demon dog James Ellroy, and Guardian political editor Michael White.

If the two agreed a job-swap then the novels might lose some of their edge, but I would pay very good money to read the political comment in the Guardian. Very good money.