Art Attack

artattackMy latest short story, ‘Art Attack’, is out today at British crime magazine Near to the Knuckle.

The story is loosely based on real life: a news item about a sculpture created from knives handed in during a police amnesty.  The real story ended well (and the sculpture is impressive to say the least) but I’m afraid as usual my mind wandered off to some very dark places, and ‘Art Attack’ is the result.  Apologies to the sculptor and the people who dreamed up the original, very laudable scheme for any liberties I took!

You can read the story at Near to the Knuckle (free) – I just hope it doesn’t put you off art for life!

Crime and Publishment 2017

I’m up with the larks this morning (or more accurately, next door’s yowling cats), after a brilliant weekend at this year’s Crime and Publishment writing course.

I’ve been three times before and have always loved it, but I think this one was the best yet.  All the old faces were there, plus lots of new people to meet and make friends with, and a set of truly inspirational speakers in Lin Anderson, Tom Harper, Michael J Malone, Paul Finch and agent Simon Trewin.  All five were fascinating on their own subjects (including forensics, adding tension and suspense, the art of positive thinking, and how to write a horror/crime novel).  Paul in particular was so passionate that he’s convinced me to try my hand at a horror novel – and I don’t even like horror!  And Simon gave us some valuable insights into the way literary agents work, and how to get on their good side.

As ever the sheer friendliness and opportunity to chat to fellow, like-minded authors was equally invaluable and I’ve come away fired with enthusiasm to finish ‘Gravy Train’ so I can start submitting it.

Many thanks to Graham Smith as ever for organising such an informative and above all enjoyable weekend.  If you can put up with me I’ll be back next year for sure!

Tickled Pink…

85183245_hi018536501Having been a massive fan of all things Pink Floyd for most of my adult life, on Saturday I was really excited to be heading for a concert by Think Floyd, one of the top British tribute bands featuring their music.

We’d originally been going back in the autumn but the concert was postponed due to a band member’s ill health, and Saturday was the re-scheduled date.  We’d never seen Think Floyd before and weren’t quite sure what to expect, but boy, was it worth the wait!

The concert took the unusual path of playing at least one track from each of Pink Floyd’s fifteen studio albums, from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn all the way to The Endless River.  Along the way the band visited some of the iconic tracks (‘Comfortably Numb’, ‘Breathe’) but also played some less well known stuff – so much so I’d never heard one or two tracks before.

The four main musicians were perhaps a little less comfortable with the earlier music, with its heavy folk influence courtesy of Syd Barrett.  But once they got onto ‘One of These Days’ from Meddle they suddenly hit their stride, and went from playing cover versions of Floyd tracks, to recreating with meticulous detail the whole Floyd sound and experience.  And when they got onto Dark Side of the Moon, from which they played pretty much the whole of the first side, they were a revelation.  Even better, their rendition of ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ was just brilliant – the best I have heard, anywhere including Floyd’s own concerts, with the exception of the original.  Most modern versions include two separate vocalists due to the sheer complexity of the track, but the young lass singing here managed it on her own, note (and perhaps more importantly, emotion) perfect, and got a standing ovation for her efforts.

And I was absolutely delighted when they also treated us to ‘Brain Damage’, one of my favourite tracks and the inspiration behind ‘Raise the Blade’!

Of course, they aren’t Pink Floyd and nobody but Pink Floyd ever will be.  The show also suffered very slightly, in my opinion, from a tiny (if immaculate) venue with a small stage, which couldn’t live up to the massive stadium concerts Floyd themselves put on.  If nothing else, there was no space for an inflatable pig – or any other sort of animal!  But they were a very, very close second, and since Floyd themselves rarely-to-never perform together (all the more so since the death of keyboardist Richard Wright), it’s a wonderful way of experiencing their music, live, all over again.  We would definitely recommend Think Floyd, and definitely go to see them again ourselves.  And it tickles me er, pink, to be able to say that.

Why do I write crime?

Just why15020912313713_l does a nice girl (ahem) like me write dark, gritty crime and noir?  It’s a question I often ask myself – and it’s a question I was recently asked by Simona, of Simona’s Corner of Dreams book blog.

I thought about the answers quite carefully and realised it dates back not just to when I started writing, but all the way to my childhood – the flames stoked by crime novels and series on TV.

You can read about those early influences, and a whole lot more besides, at Simona’s blog today.  I hope you enjoy it, and that it stirs a few memories for others as well.

Oh – and mea culpa.  I accidentally said ‘Cuthbert’s Law’ when I obviously meant ‘Sutherland’s Law’.  This was a series set in Scotland, featuring the work of a Procurator Fiscal, and starring the late, lamented Iain Cuthbertson.  Hence my stupid slip…

Interrogating Tess…

The lovely Kerry Parsons has grilled me on a wide range of subjects, both writing-related and more general, at her book blog Chat About Books today.

Her questions were so challenging she had me sucking the end of my pen trying to answer them!

So, to find out which author and I’d to meet and what I’d ask them, or who I’d invite for coffee and where, or what I’m working on at the moment – plus  heaps more – head over to Kerry’s blog now.

And don’t forget to have a poke round while you’re there as she’s interviewed lots of other authors too.

Troubled Waters

4303225_origGood news this morning – I have a new short story available at Pulp Metal Magazine.

‘Troubled Waters’ (the plural is deliberate!) is set in Liverpool during the recent riots, with flashbacks to the Toxteth riots in the early 1980s.  I arrived at university in the city less than a year after those riots and I can still remember the burned-out cinema and a feeling of quiet anger on the streets.  I’ve tried to capture some of that atmosphere in the story – let me know if I succeeded.

As well as riots, the story features Simon & Garfunkel, the Pied Piper of Hamelin, and a magic flute!  Not bad in something dark, poignant and disturbing…

You can find the story here and I hope you enjoy it.

Can’t talk. Writing.

essay_writingDon’t worry, I’m still alive!  But likely to be a little quieter on here than usual, because after a longish break for flu and the holidays, I’ve finally got going on my writing again.

The current work in progress is yet another rewrite on my canal-boat-getaway-crime-book, ‘Embers of Bridges’.  I’ve tried, twice, and failed to get across what I really wanted to say.  Now it’s third time lucky and so far, it’s going much better than before.  So well, in fact, that I’m spending most of my working day scribbling, and have added four or five chapters since Christmas.

It’s good news for the book, less so for keeping the blog (and all my other social media!) up to date.  So if I’m a bit silent, please bear with me.  It’ll be worth it if I get a new book out of it at the end.

New reviews

There’s a couple of really nice mentions for my stuff turned up in the last few days.

Raise the Blade FrontFirst, Graham Wynd has included ‘Raise the Blade’ in his list of favourite books of 2016, with a great write-up that had me glowing.  You can find the list here; do take time to read all the entries because there’s some other great books featured, including titles by Richard Godwin and Renato Bratkovic, and the Dark Minds anthology.

Second, and rather a long time after publication but still a very welcome surprise, there’s this from the British Fantasy Society about the Drag Noir anthology, which featured my story ‘Wheel Man’ amongst many others.  The reviewer has some nice things to say about the story, although there’s a spoiler alert if you haven’t yet read it yourself because they do rather give away the plot!

 

Belated Christmas present

Raise the Blade FrontI’m back from a complete (and much-needed) break over Christmas, following a thoroughly unpleasant bout of flu, with batteries re-charged (bzz) and a lot more energy.  And absolutely delighted to find this gem of a belated Christmas pressie in my inbox today – a super new review of ‘Raise the Blade’ over at Relax and Read Reviews.

You may remember that this excellent review blog was kind enough to publish my guest post – a character spotlight featuring Gillian from ‘Raise the Blade’ – a few months ago.  Now I’m delighted to announce that Joseph has read the book himself, and written an in-depth review about what he liked (and didn’t like, to be entirely fair!) about it.

To say I’m over the moon is quite an understatement.  It’s a very nice discovery to come back to!

Hospice aid

darkmindsThere’s a news item in The Guardian this morning about a charity which has run into difficulties over the amount it’s being charged by a marketing company.

The name of the charity, Hospice Aid UK, is quite similar to the charity the Dark Minds anthology is donating a share of its proceeds to.  However, please rest assured that the two are NOT the same!  I’m delighted to say we’re giving to Hospice UK, which is a completely different organisation.  So you can ignore that Guardian piece and buy the book with a clear conscience!  And yes, that was a hint, by the way.  😉