And another…

Back from a week’s holiday by the sea to find some great news – Out of the Gutter Online have accepted a flash ficlet called ‘The Drop’, based on a piece I wrote for an exercise at this year’s Crime and Publishment event.  The story revolves around a pervert and a dropped mobile phone… and as usual all is not as it first seems.

Watch out for further updates on when the story will be appearing in the Gutter.

Right, where did I pack that sun lotion…?  (I’m joking.  This was the English seaside.  But still a lovely week.)

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New trick

Just dashing in, mid-way through travelling, to say that Spelk Fiction have accepted ‘Trick of the Trade’ for their online magazine.  This is a short, wry highwayman tale with a modern twist and an unexpected ending, and should be appearing in August this year.

As usual, more details nearer the time…

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Praise for Betty Fedora

bettyfedora1Decent reviews are starting to stack up for this brand new magazine; readers seem to love the whole concept of ‘kickass women’ in crime.

Here’s a couple of comments, nicked at random from Amazon:  “…enjoyably feminist crime fiction that has a wry sense of humour…”; and “…an interesting collection that is not more of the same.”

The book is still on my ‘to be read’ pile (a tottering heap by the side of the bed) so I can’t comment on the stories myself.  But I have read the foreword, which is excellent: feisty, feminist-flavoured, but above all great fun.  The editor, Kristen Valentine, is anxious to move away from stereotypical females in crime fiction: “…the victim; the unsympathetic wife who doesn’t understand the Demands of the Job; the sympathetic lover who exists only to show our complicated hero’s tender side…; the bitchy boss; the femme fatale…”

Interestingly, the featured stories are written by both male and female authors, so it’s by no means a women-only venture, just an attempt to publish work with more rounded, believable female characters.

And judging by the feedback, it’s already proving popular.

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S’no joke…

Good news on the submissions front, as I’ve just had a story accepted for the charity anthology ‘The Last Word’, being put together by Joyride Press.

‘Snow Joke’ is a very tongue-in-cheek tale about two burglars in a snowstorm, inspired by a comment made by a mate who’s a serving police officer, which attempts to answer the question, ‘do the police respond to emergency calls in heavy snow?’

You can find out the answer to that one (or my twisted take on it, at any rate) when the book comes out later on this year.  More details soon.

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I spy with my little eye…

I’m really enjoying the new BBC cold war spy thriller, The Game.  It has atmosphere in spades, a great ‘feel’ for the period, and some nicely bleak humour, as well as sharp writing that’s still keeping me guessing as to what’s going on and where all the major players’ loyalties lie.  Is young Joe really as staunchly British as he seems, or was he turned by the Poles?  Is the MI5 boss ‘Daddy’ quite the avuncular sweetie he appears?  Is there a mole in the department, and if so, who?  (Current favourite for that role in the Makovesky household is the young assistant Jenny, simply because she seems so damned unlikely, but we shall see.)

However, what’s also catching my eye is some of the settings.  The series is supposedly set in 1970s London and producers are strangely coy about the filming locations, but if I’m not mistaken, it looks an awful lot like Birmingham.  There’s the canal snaking off under a vast stilted motorway (Spaghetti Junction).  There’s the flashback scene where young Joe devises a chalk graffiti code to alert his Polish colleague (surely Key Hill cemetery in the Jewellery Quarter).  And unless my eyes totally deceive me, that looks like the ‘upturned ziggurat’ of Birmingham’s old library, cleverly spliced into a London skyline and masquerading as MI5’s headquarters.

I can’t wait for future episodes, to see if I’m right and if I can spot any more odd corners of Brum filling in for its more southerly counterpart.  And to watch the rest of an excellent, intelligent series, of course.

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Next off the conveyor belt

I’m feeling tired but happy this afternoon, because I’ve just written the last sentence in the first draft of my latest novella, ‘Gravy Train’.

The book tells the story of a bag of money, which is chased around Birmingham, often unintentionally, by various criminals and low-lifes, all intent on their own nefarious ends.  Will any of them end up with the cash?  Will the undercover police officer save the day?

The story was partly inspired by various local news items about bags of money being found in Birmingham’s canals, as well as stories in the press about sports betting scams and the shenanigans of undercover police.  I had an absolute blast with it and have rarely written the best part of 30,000 words so quickly, which I’m hoping will be a good sign.

Of course, the glow of finishing it will soon wear off and the hard work of editing will start.  But it’s a very nice feeling while it lasts.

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Running late

shp-bbv3-locked-loaded-front-cover-c2That’s both the title of my latest short story, and me for not posting about it sooner.

‘Running Late’ features in the new ‘Locked and Loaded’ anthology from Shotgun Honey/One Eye Press, along with a bumper 24 other stories of mayhem and desperation.

Cop Zak isn’t averse to bending a few rules here and there, until a local crime gang call time on him.  Will he be able to save his kidnapped partner’s life, or will he be too late?  Find out in ‘Shotgun Honey Presents: Locked and Loaded’, available now on Amazon in either print or Kindle.

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Smack at school

Quite an eyebrow-raising little piece from the BBC this week on the discovery of drugs being brought into school by the kids.  And not just a bit of weed, either, but really hard drugs including heroin and crack cocaine.

How things have changed.  In my day (not *that* long ago, before anyone says it…) a smack was something you got round the lugholes for not paying attention, and the worst ‘drug’ was usually a quick fag behind the bike sheds at break.

School was a difficult enough place at times; on balance I’m glad I’m not having to go there now with all these added pressures.

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Locked & Loaded… almost here

shp-bbv3-locked-loaded-front-cover-c2The excitement is building in the Makovesky household – it’s now less than a week until the launch of Shotgun Honey’s latest anthology, ‘Locked & Loaded’.

You may remember me mentioning once or twice (cough) that this book includes my short story ‘Running Late’, which features Zak, a cop who isn’t averse to breaking a few rules until the local gang call time on him.

There are also 24 other stories from a host of well-respected authors, and you can get your hands on the whole thing next Tuesday, 28th April.  I can hardly wait!

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It’s elementary…

100Drag NoirI didn’t get a chance to mention it over the weekend, but on Sunday I was hosted at Vic Watson’s Elementary V Watson blog with a post about re-cycling characters.

You know how it is.  You come up with a character for a book or story, and for whatever reason they stay with you.  So – do you go on re-using them in other things?  Or can that bring too many problems of its own?

I’ve been trying to fit Justine from ‘Wheel Man’ into my current novella, and it ain’t as easy as it sounds.  You can see whether I think I’ve succeeded or not over at Vic’s blog.  Feel free to leave a comment either there or here…

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Rogue excerpt

rogueI thought it was about time I shared a snippet from ‘Singing From the Same Sheet’, the story I’ve just had published in ‘Rogue’ from Near to the Knuckle.  So here you go!  Hope you enjoy it, and if you’d like to buy it, check out the links here.

Eddie Monack. They called him The Monk, behind his back. Partly the name, partly the spreading bald patch the exact same shape and size as a medieval tonsure. Mostly because he spent his Sundays singing hymns in a loud and tuneless voice in his local church, as though he was a good and holy man.

Monday mornings he was straight back to work, though, and there was nothing good or holy about what he did. ‘Looking after people’, he liked to call it, but there wasn’t much care involved. Or only the kind that cared about its own ends, about making the most money in the least amount of time. The kind that says ‘pay up and we won’t actually break your other leg’.

I’d heard the name before, and the frightened whisperings, mostly from the guy’s victims. I get to meet quite a few of those in my line of work. But the first time I really took notice was when the boss called me in.

“This Monk character. Got a bit out of hand. If you know what I mean.”

I knew. The boss has to be careful. Can’t say too much in case it gets back to him. There’d be an outcry, if people found out what we get up to. Police, the media, decent folk shocked to the core. And quite right too.  A few more details might be helpful, though. It’s always nice to know what you’re letting yourself in for. “What’s he done?”

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Got any spare criminals?

Then send them to the Netherlands.

No, I haven’t gone mad, or developed a sudden dislike of the Dutch.  This is actually a brief article in a recent edition of the ‘i’ newspaper, which explains that falling crime rates in the country have led to a problem with unemployment for prison officers and other related staff.  As the article explains, “…they have come up with an innovative solution… justice officials from the Netherlands and Norway met… and signed a deal: the Dutch will provide the cells if the Norwegians provide the inmates.”

Pretty eye-blinking stuff, really, but this wasn’t even published on April Fools Day and appears to be quite serious, and quite genuine.  About 250 convicts from Norway will be transported to the Netherlands to serve out their sentences at Norgerhaven prison, which will safeguard the jobs of around 240 Dutch people.

There’s no mention of any language barriers or arrangements for visiting family and friends, and it does raise a few spectres of the mass transportation of criminals that went on from Britain to Australia in the 19th century.  But I guess if you’ve got the spare capacity you might as well use it…

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