All of a twitter

The post title sums it up, really, because I’ve just launched myself into the world of Twitterdom.  Or should that be Tweetdom?

Anyhoo, after months of sheer terror about the whole Twitter thing, I’ve finally plucked up courage and joined.  And found that like most things, it’s nowhere near as scary as you might think.  In fact, it’s fun.  If a little addictive.

There are benefits to having such an unusual name, one of which is that I get first choice of user name.  So I’m on there as @tessmakovesky.  I do hope you’ll drop by, find me and perhaps even follow me.  If you do, thanks, and see you there.  Once I’ve stopped twittering on, that is.

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Exiles is back

exiles-new-coverOne of the first stories I had accepted in print was ‘Dead Man Walking’, in Paul D Brazill’s excellent collection of ‘outsider’ themed stories, Exiles: An Outsider Anthology.

I’ve always been fond of the story, and of the anthology overall, which is stuffed with really good, well written, thought-provoking stories about how it feels to be an outsider in today’s society.  With a bit of sleaze, action and fun thrown in.

So it’s great to see that the book, which had been temporarily unavailable, is now back with a new, eye-catching cover but the same contents (and the same charity beneficiary, the Marfan Foundation) as before.

Currently, it’s available in digital format from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01I5O70LY), and there are also plans afoot to resurrect the print version as well.

‘Dead Man Walking’ focuses on Johnny, an overly optimistic armed robber with a plan for the perfect alibi – until it all goes horribly wrong.  After all, you can’t be done for murder if you’re dead…

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Good news

Raise the Blade FrontThings have been a little… unusual here in Britain lately, so it’s nice to have some really good news to liven up the gloom and uncertainty.

And I have.  Caffeine Nights Publishing have just confirmed that  ‘Raise the Blade’ is due out by late summer, which is now only a few weeks away.

As you can imagine, I’m really excited.  As far as I’m concerned late summer can’t come soon enough – although in reality it will take time to arrange a book launch (and hopefully a few book signings) and sort out all the other arrangements and preparations that having a new book out entails.  So I guess that, like everyone else, I’ll just have to wait!

In the meantime, here’s a reminder of that pretty cover Caffeine Nights designed for me, and a brief teaser of the book’s first few words.  I’ll be revealing more… gradually… over the next few weeks.  Oo-er!

Duncan raises the blade and watches the parcel squirm.  He’s going to love the next few hours…

 

 

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The Last Laugh

lastlaughI’ve just finished this super collection of noir short stories from the master of Brit-Grit Paul D Brazill, and thoroughly enjoyed the lot.  You can read my full review over at Goodreads – and check the book out if you want a good, gallows-humour giggle.  The collection really lives up to its own title!

Hmm.  WordPress isn’t letting me use ‘hidden links’ at the moment, so here’s the url for the review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1635156425?book_show_action=false

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The train now arriving…

5138DIydzwLGood news this morning – I have a brand new short story available.  It’s called ‘The Train Now Leaving’, it’s a dark little tale about a teenager leaving home for university and the rather unexpected effect that has on his mother.  And it features in the first ever anthology produced as a result of the Crime and Publishment writing course, held every year at Gretna Green.

‘Happily Never After’ is a collection of 22 stories from writers published and new on the theme of crime and marriage – a hat-tip in the direction of Gretna’s other claim to fame as a marriage emporium.  This dates back several hundred years, to a time when the village blacksmith held a licence to conduct weddings outside of consecrated ground, and as a result couples who wanted to elope often ended up there.  All very romantic, but I’m sure some of the participants came to suitably sticky ends and this collection takes shameless advantage of that.

Featured authors include Graham Smith, Mike Craven and Lucy Cameron, as well as a host of other Crime and Publishment attendees.  Some are less well known than others, but all are talented writers and you can bet this will be a clever and entertaining collection.

Even better, all proceeds will go to Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, a charity which trains dogs to help deaf people in their own homes and in the wider world outside.  Their work is incredible and provides a lifeline of independence for people who might otherwise struggle to connect.  So hurry along, order your Kindle copy today at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01HIT9YI4/ref=cm_sw_r_apa_0ISBxbDBXHEWE, and make a real difference to peoples’ lives in the process.

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“The End”

It’s an odd feeling when you get to type those words at the end of your latest manuscript.  On the one hand, you’re delirious and/or relieved that you’ve got another book finished (at least to first draft).  On the other, you’re drained and somehow at a loss, as the sheer concentration of the last few weeks and months peters out, leaving a book-shaped void in its wake.

I got to type ‘The End’ earlier today, on the latest work to roll off the Makovesky conveyor belt.  Admittedly it’s a slow and jerky conveyor belt, but it’s been behaving itself rather better for the last couple of years with a total of three novellas completed and two more on their way.

This one, called ‘Consumed by Slow Decay’, is another psychological noir, a hard-hitting examination of just what it would take to tip an ordinary person over the edge.  They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions… but what if those intentions take over, and force someone to do something terrible?  Just what effect would that have?

The editing, as ever, starts tomorrow, with a few big leaks to plug and a good deal of tidying up.  But for now I’m savouring the satisfaction, and trying not to think about the void.

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More questions than answers…

kendal-castle-5566Sometimes, the interesting thing about a news article is what it doesn’t say, rather than what it does.  This is very much the case with this strange little piece in local Cumbrian newspaper the Westmorland Gazette.

On the face of it, it’s a good solid piece of reporting about a concerned citizen finding delinquent behaviour amongst teenagers at a local beauty spot.  But then you start to read between the lines, and some serious questions pop up.

First, look at the time difference between when the guy arrived and when he says he left.  It’s over six hours.  There is almost nothing to do or see at Kendal Castle – it’s a photogenic ruin on the top of a hill but there are no facilities.  So, er, what exactly was he doing up there for such a long time, at night?

Second, he mentions some very specific illegal drugs.  My immediate reaction was to ask how he knew what they were.  The old tv standby of sticking a finger in the substance and licking it is complete nonsense, and even an expert needs some pretty impressive kit to identify individual drugs.  And I can’t imagine anyone going out for an evening stroll with a pocket-full of test tubes and a Basic Chemistry set.

Lastly, if he was so concerned about the health of the young people and/or their illegal behaviour, it seems odd that he didn’t call either an ambulance, or the local police.  Surely that would be the normal reaction to a young girl collapsing in a remote place after taking drugs.

I’m absolutely not suggesting here that Mr Dixon was doing anything untoward.  But the article, as a piece of reporting, does throw up some fascinating  questions.  And I’m sure crime writers could have a field day coming up with some answers of their own!

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Second time lucky

Those nice people at Noir at the Bar: NE have been very forgiving.  Not only have they invited me to the next one, they’re even going to let me read at it.

You may remember (since it was only about ten days ago) that I was all set to read at the first ever Newcastle event, but had to pull out at the last minute after I fell and badly bruised my arm.

Now, I get another chance.  So stand by on Wednesday 7th September, when (disasters permitting) I’ll be at the Town Wall bar in Newcastle to try again.  This time, I hope to get further than my own front door.  This time, I hope to regale you all with five minutes of something suitably nasty from ‘Raise the Blade’.

And if I have to live in a plastic bubble for the next three months to stop myself hurting anything else, I bloomin’ well will.

There’ll be further details in due course, especially about who else will be appearing at the event.  But in the meantime, you might want to pencil me into your diaries.  Just in case I break, sprain or twist anything else.

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Dicte…

dicte-s1-dvdHmm.  Not all Scandi drama is as good as The Killing.  The other night we sat down with a recording of the first episode of a brand new Danish drama, Dicte.  This features a female journalist, Dicte Svendsen, who has recently moved back to her home town of Aarhus to work on a provincial newspaper following a divorce.

The Radio Times preview wasn’t enthusiastic but we thought we’d give it a go anyway.  And for the first hour and a half of a two hour episode, it wasn’t bad.  A little ‘soapy’, perhaps, but then first episodes often need to establish the characters and set up the situations that will run smoothly through the rest of a series.

So, we had Dicte herself, a feisty type used to the more underhand journalistic techniques prevalent in big city newspapers, who isn’t afraid to lie, scheme or schmaltz her way to a good, crime-related story.  She also has an unhappy secret, as she’s trying to track down the son she gave away for adoption as a baby and hasn’t seen since.  On top of that there’s an ex-husband who clearly still adores her, a couple of loyal female friends, a prickly detective and his bantering side-kick, and a dishy but arrogant doctor at the local hospital who seems to have time to stitch Dicte back together again (and engage in a little horizontal wrestling) even in the middle of his shift.

The story, involving young girls forced, seduced or paid into surrogate motherhood (which is illegal in Denmark) was moving and the plot was reasonably exciting, if a bit stereotypical with its fashionable links to the Eastern European mafia.  But then, with about half an hour left to run, things went downhill.  Fast.  Dicte rushed in, like a ministering angel, where everyone else would have enough sense not to tread.  Needless to say she got herself kidnapped by said Eastern European mafia, but luckily they were so inept they were easily overpowered by the prickly detective and his partner, who seem to represent the entire police force of Aarhus.  Back-up?  What back-up?  What uniformed police?  No, just send in two detectives with guns to an armed siege situation.  No way will they get the hostages killed.

The episode wrapped up with Dicte herself battered and bruised, but clearly not put off life or journalism in Aarhus.  I’m not so sure about us, though.  The main trouble with the programme’s format is that it’s a crime drama with a protagonist who isn’t a crime professional (police officer, detective, agent, PI).  That’s going to make things difficult.  Because the writers are always going to be fishing for reasons to have Dicte in on the action at the denouement, and as a journalist she quite often wouldn’t be.  That means shoe-horning her into the scenery with increasingly unlikely or unrealistic devices – and that, for us, spells a massive turn-off.  You can forgive someone rushing in to a dangerous situation once, but week in, week out?  It all gets too silly, and far too predictable.  I’m not sure we’ll be bothering with Dicte again.  Which is a shame, because some of the writing – especially the humorous touches which are missing in other, darker Scandi dramas – was rather nice.

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What we missed…

For anyone else who couldn’t get to Noir at the Bar: NE in Newcastle on Wednesday, you can now read a full review of the event over at Vic Watson’s blog.  Vic is the tireless organiser/supporter and general hand-holder of the event, so who better to report on the triumphs of the evening.  It sounds as though it was entertaining, fun, and thoroughly evil.  Which is just what you need for a noir event.

And there are pictures.  Lots and lots of pictures, of all the authors taking part, and of venue the Town Wall bar, which looks very smart.

I’m still very disappointed to have missed the whole thing, but have been reliably informed that I’m welcome to take part in the next one.  I just have to refrain from hurling myself at the furniture in the meantime!

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Gutted

I’m a bit miserable this morning because I can’t make Noir at the Bar: NE after all.  I was really looking forward to meeting everyone and joining in the fun, but yesterday I had a silly accident at home and fell heavily on my right arm.  I don’t think anything is broken, but I have a lump the size of a duck egg, lots of spectacular bruising, a wrenched shoulder, and very little movement in my fingers.

None of that would have affected me reading, of course, but there was the little matter of lugging a suitcase three quarters of a mile uphill to the station, and on and off three different trains, and as I couldn’t pick up my breakfast cuppa this morning I really didn’t fancy my chances.

I’m gutted to have to let everyone down, and just hope they’ll let me back in for another go once I have two working arms again!

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Shouting from the… town walls

newcastlenoirOr Town Wall to be precise.  Tomorrow night I’ll be appearing, along with a bunch of brilliant crime and noir writers, at the Town Wall bar in Newcastle for the latest Noir at the Bar event.

This one is tagged ‘Noir at the Bar: North East’ and will be the first of (hopefully!) many to be held in Newcastle, the latest venue in the popular format which kicked off in the US but has travelled to the UK via Glasgow and Carlisle.

Organised by Vic Watson and Jackeeta Collins, tomorrow’s session features nine authors reading from their work as well as a lucky dip member of the audience.  The nine lined up are: Eileen Wharton, Patrick Welsh, me, Graham Smith, Sheila Quigley, Bea Davenport, Martyn Taylor, Danielle Ramsay and Janet O’Kane.  If it’s anything like the Carlisle version a few weeks back it’s going to be an absolute blast, so if you’re anywhere near Newcastle tomorrow evening then do pop along to the Town Wall (Pink Street, Newcastle) from 7pm.  It’s free, it’s a great chance to meet the authors, chat, and hear their work.  We’d all love to see you and you’ll be kicking yourselves if you miss the fun.

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