Sunday, 29 April 2012

On rewriting

Have posted this week's story over at 52 Songs, 52 Stories, with inspiration this week from Mogwai's 'We're No Here'.

I'd written this story a couple of days ago, and kept it in a draft post on Blogger which for some unknown reason then decided to eat all the content, and leave a draft post with the title intact, but nothing else. Only discovered it this morning, when I went to write it, and so had to write it again from scratch.

I've done this before, and it's a frustrating position to be in, because when I rewrite that accidentally-deleted story or scene, it never feels as good as the original. My suspicion is that this is entirely self-deception, and that if you made a bunch of writers do this and then posted their rewritten work together with their sneakily-restored first drafts, no-one would be able to consistently tell which is which. Still, it always feels that something is missing.

Anyway, it's done, and as I posted it I realised that this is the last story for April, and so I've managed to get through a third of the year keeping to the idea behind 52 songs of writing and posting one story a week. Which is something of a surprise for two reasons - firstly, that I've managed to stick to it which is a minor miracle in itself, and secondly, in my head it feels like we are a few weeks past Christmas, and suddenly a third of the year has gone.

April's been a good month for me. My sales are up across all of my books, although One of Us is having  depressingly slow start. Some reviews should be coming through soon, which may help that. But the rest are doing well...nothing spectacular, but each month since the start of the year has been better than the last, and if that continues I'll be very happy. I entered a piece of flash fiction in the Flashbang competition (crime story in no more than 150 words), first prize a couple of tickets to CrimeFest 2012 down in Bristol, and made the longlist of 20, shortlist of 8 to be announced on Friday, and winner later in May. Think all the shortlist win things like a DVD of The Killing or some crime novels, so if I make the shortlist, it will be good regardless.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Mean Mode Median

Aliyah Whiteley's an excellent writer, and for the next three days you can pick up the Kindle edition of her novel Mean Mode Median for free at Amazon. So, what are you still here for?

Friday, 20 April 2012

Penny Dreadnought: Uncommitted Crimes

“Behind every work of art lies an uncommitted crime” 

From the criminal minds of the Abominable Gentlemen come four tales of murder, malfeasance and malarky:

"Occupational Hazard" by Iain Rowan
"The Aerialist" by Alan Ryker
"Packob's Reward" by James Everington
"Poe's Blender" by Aaron Polson

Penny Dreadnought: Uncommitted Crimes contains approximately 14,000 words of both new and previously published fiction. You can buy it at:

Amazon [US | UK]

Thursday, 12 April 2012

I'm interviewed over at Darren Sant's blog today. I talk about what my biggest weakness is (as a writer, the internet's not big enough for the rest), where inspiration comes from, and what the soundtrack to my novel would include.

Speaking of which...if you want to read the first chapter, Keith Brooke's posted it as an extract. If you read it and enjoy it, it just so happens that there's some links afterwards that will take you to where you can get the book. An uncanny coincidence.

 And to fit with tomorrow being Friday 13th, my collection of eight strange and chilling short stories, Ice Age, is going to be free on Amazon for two days. Tell your friends. Actually, feel free to tell complete strangers on public transport, too.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Easter round-up

This week's story is up over at 52 Songs, 52 Stories: this week, it's based on the Tom Waits song Way Down In The Hole. No-one throws a rock at a security camera in it, though.

The free promo for Nowhere To Go went well - towards the end of the promo period it sneaked into the top #100 Kindle fiction list, and was #1 in the Amazon US short stories list (for free books, both). In the UK it made it to #2 in the short stories list, but wouldn't quite take that last step. Over 3000 copies overall, but now to see if it has an impact in sales now that it has gone back to full price. First day has been promising.

For the rest of today, Ray Banks' Dead Money is free on Amazon, and because he and the Blasted Heathens crew are the warm-hearted bunnies that they are, they're throwing in his novella Gun too (which I reviewed, here, and very good it was too).. Find out how to get them both here.

Now, off to look for chocolate.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Google knows

When you type words into the google search box in my browser it gives you popular search phrases you can pick to save having to type out the full thing. I wanted to know something about setting up mail on my new toy, and I got as far as typing in "how know if" and the first suggestions from Google have a kind of sad poetry to them, particularly in the order they come in.

- how know if a girl likes you

- how know if a guy likes you

- how know if you are pregnant

- how know if you have HIV

- how know if your in love

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Step Right Up

Gas lighters, three for a pahnd -- no, sorry, hang on.

What I meant to say, is that between now and Friday, you can get the bargain of a lifetime and pick up Nowhere To Go for absolutely nothing from Amazon (Amazon US here). Eleven quality crime stories for  free.

Not only does that save you money that you could then put on a lottery ticket which wins you millions making me directly responsible for changing your life, but if you are in the UK as it's free you will pay no VAT and so you will make George Osborne sad, and that will make lots of other people happy.

So, get rich, make people happy, pick up a copy today.

It's currently standing at #2 in the Amazon UK short story charts, and it would be very nice for it to get to #1.

Now, where was I. Santy hats, santy hats, pahnd for yer santy hats.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Let's Stop Here

Eva Dolan's running a series over at her blog in which assorted writers describe favourite literary crime fiction. My turn, this week. I outline a dark and noirish crime story about the lust for power, what it makes people do, and the inevitable descent into violence and tragedy. Plus it has witches and moving trees. Keith Brooke talks about Seven Things He Hates About E-Publishing, which he follows up by publishing an interview with me. Hmm.

I went off to one of my favourite buildings last night, to see Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells play the small Sage hall. Same venue I saw King Creosote and Jon Hopkins in back in January, and I really like the place. Is small, and intimate, perfect for this kind of gig.

The support act was RM Hubbert, who was new to me. It's one of the things I like about some gigs; finding someone I hadn't heard before, and I liked his percussive, sometimes flamenco, sometimes Celtic acoustic guitar mixed with diffident, amusing confessional interludes and an extended coughing solo. Most of the set was instrumental, but he ought to sing more, as when he did it was excellent. As a closer, Moffat came on to do the vocals on the terrific Car Song, from Hubbert's last album Thirteen Lost and Found (produced by Alex Kapranos, who also contributes to Car Song).

Everything's Getting Older was one of my three favourite albums in 2011. There simply isn't a better lyricist writing today than Aidan Moffat, and given the age I'm at, a lot of his preoccupations have real resonance. As well as insight though, he's scabrously funny.

They played as a four piece, Moffat singing and playing a couple of toms, a couple of cymbals, a harmonium and a transistor radio. Not all at once. Bill Wells stayed at the piano, Stevie James played double bass, and just about every track was lit up by Robert Henderson's muted trumpet. He added an additional hand to the piano on The Copper Top and held his trumpet in the other for a solo at the same time. Now that's multitasking.

The set was all of Everything's Getting Older, plus the Cruel Summer EP: yes, a cover of the Bananarama song of the same name, along with Box It Up and Man Of The Cloth, a typically Moffat story of dressing up as a priest for a fancy dress party, pulling Barbarella, and then flirting in Safeways with a shopper who thinks he's a real priest).

 Terrific stuff, and I hope the two of them are working on a second album.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Sample Sunday - One Of Us

One of Us is my debut crime novel, published by infinityplus. An excerpt here, for Sample Sunday. 

Anna's a former medical student who had to flee her own country when the police there murdered her brother and imprisoned her father.  Anna has been trying to get fake papers so she can stay in the UK, but she doesn't have the money. She's offered a deal - she is needed right now for her medical skills, and if she agrees to do the work, she will be provided with a legitimate identity. Her work turns out not to be a one off, and she is trapped into doing more in return for the papers she desperately needs. As she does, she starts to realise what kind of people she is working for.


The next time was easy. Easy for me, not so easy for the big man with a dislocated arm.

"Fell off a horse," he said, and grinned. Then he tried to look down my t-shirt as I bent over.

"I am going to put your arm back into place," I told him.

"You can do what you like with me, love, I'm all yours. Does it hurt much then? Don't mind a bit of pain, know what I mean. What about you, love?" He laughed like a pig snorts, and sat with his fat legs wide open so I had to lean against them with mine to get close to him.

"No, it does not hurt," I said to him, and to his friends who were watching. "I did this once for a little girl. She had fallen off her bicycle. She was very brave, and I did it and she did not make a single sound. After I was finished, I gave her a lollipop for being so good. Do you think you can be as tough as a little girl?"

I put his shoulder back where it should be.

"No lollipop for you," I said.

The next time they sent me to see a girl who thought she had a venereal disease. She was small and blonde, and she did not stop drumming her fingers for a moment, even when I was examining her. Her cheek bore the mark of a fading bruise, but there was not anything that I could do for that. She told me that her name was Maja, and that she was from Slovenia.

"How did you end up here?" I asked.

The man sitting reading a newspaper and pretending not to watch my examination coughed. Maja glanced at him, and did not say anything more, she just drummed away on the bed frame, like she was tapping out a distress signal in morse code.

When I was finished I told her that she did not have a venereal disease that I could see, she had a very bad case of thrush, and what she should do about it. But I also told her that this did not mean that she did not have any diseases that I could not see.

"Have you been to a clinic?" I asked her.

She shook her head. "Not allowed. This is why I see you."

I shook my head. This was madness. "Tell Corgan," I told the man. "Tell him she needs to see a proper doctor. She can go to a clinic, it will be anonymous, she won't get reported to anyone if you need to keep this all so secret. Tell him."

He laughed. "I'm not going to tell Corgan anything. I'd wash your hands now love, if I were you."

"Why?" I said to him. "I haven't touched you."