Quick round-up

I should be busy packing since I’m heading off tomorrow to this year’s Crime & Publishment weekend at The Mill Forge in Gretna Green, Scotland.  I went last year, had an absolute blast, met some wonderful people, and picked up all sorts of weird and wonderful facts about crime writing, so I’m really looking forward to repeating the experience.

However, there is just time to round up a few bits and pieces of news before I bury myself in a heap of suitcases.

First, a couple more reviews of anthologies I have stories in.  This one, very thoughtful, about Exiles: An Outsider Anthology; and this one about Drag Noir.  I’m especially pleased with the latter because the reviewer has been so kind about my story, ‘Wheel Man’.

Second, it’s now less than a month until the Rogue anthology hits the streets.  This collection of stories featuring a flawed central character includes work from some of the (literary!) heavyweights of the genre, including Paul D Brazill, Ryan Bracha, Aidan Thorn and Gareth Spark.  And, er, me.  My story ‘Singing From the Same Sheet’ explores the differences between good and evil, and how they may be closer than we think.  The book’s due out on April 2nd so keep watching this space.

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Another great review

I haven’t been posting as much on here lately because I’ve had my head down, writing furiously, trying to finish my latest novella by Easter if at all possible.

I’m still scribbling today, but thought I would just dash in to share this super review of Drag Noir which featured in Starburst Magazine the other day.  As well as the overall write-up there are well-deserved mentions for several of the authors and their stories.

Right, back to that novella.  Well, it won’t write itself…

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Rabbitting good news

rabbitstewI’m dashing in with some good news about the fate of my short story ‘Rabbit Stew’, which has just been accepted to appear in Cannibal Cookbook, edited by Dana Kabel and published by Gutter Books.

The story was inspired by the old wartime joke ‘fifty fifty, guv, one horse, one rabbit’ but the reality is much, much worse!

No firm details yet on when the book’s due but as usual I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops as soon as I know.

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What price the library

Forgive me if I’m being thick, but what exactly is the point of spending £189 million on a brand new library in Birmingham, if less than two years after it opens you’re going to halve the hours it’s available to the public from over 70 a week to 40?  I haven’t seen any details of the revised opening hours, but that’s basically eight hours a day for five days a week, so presumably it’s going to be shut in the evenings and at weekends – which is when most working folk have the time to visit it.

This BBC article points up some of the risks, including damage to Birmingham’s international reputation.  And then of course there’s the thought that the city is throwing good money after bad in demolishing the old library to make way for yet another massive re-development… which may very well go the same way as the new library in terms of costs.

I can’t help thinking somebody didn’t get their sums right…

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Rogue cover

That isn’t “a” rogue cover, by the way, it’s “the” Rogue cover.  As in, the brand new cover artwork for the Rogue anthology, which is due pretty soon from Gritfiction Press.  I’m delighted to say I have a story in the collection, ‘Singing From the Same Sheet’, and I’m even more delighted that the cover artwork is so darned good.  See for yourself:


You can find out more about the anthology over at the Gritfiction Press webpage.  No firm release date yet* but I’ll post updates as soon as I hear anything definite.

*Edited to add: I’m reliably informed (by one of the editors, no less, and he should know!) that the book is due out on 2nd April.  So that’s even better news!

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Body of evidence

When I first wrote my short story ‘Badge of Honour’ I was concerned that it might seem rather far-fetched.  True, teenage lads being fascinated by death is nothing new, but it isn’t very socially acceptable and tends to get swept under the nearest carpet, so I felt readers might not believe that Jed would use his discovery in such a macabre way.

It seems I needn’t have worried.  This rather strange article has turned up on the BBC website, detailing a case in America where police actually tracked a young murderer down after he took a selfie of himself with his victim’s body… and posted it online.

In ‘Badge of Honour’ Jed hasn’t killed anyone (he just uses the body to further his own ends) so this is one step further down the road to weirdsville.   It just goes to show that whatever we writers dream up, there’s always something worse happening in real life.

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Updates for 2015

Just a quick heads-up to say that I’ve finally got round to updating the ‘in the works’ page with details of the stories I’ve had accepted and which will be appearing (God, editors and real life willing!) in various anthologies and magazines during 2015.

Head to In the Works via the menu link at the top of the page to see more.

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Dead Man jumping up and down

exiles-cover-small-2There’s a terrific new review of Exiles: An Outsider Anthology over at Crimepieces, Sarah Ward’s blog of crime writing, reading and review.  I’m absolutely delighted to see that my story ‘Dead Man Walking’ gets a specific mention, alongside stories by Paul D Brazill, Kate Laity, and Nick Sweeney, whose ‘Place of the Dead’ was one of my own favourites.

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Those yobs

I always have a good chuckle at the Yobs cartoon strip in Private Eye, but the one in the current issue almost split my sides.  I can’t link to it as they haven’t published it online this time, but here it is, in cut-down form and minus Husband’s oddly loveable drawings.

Two coppers turn up on yob’s doorstep.  “We’re arresting you for stealing a red Audi, parked over there.”

Yob, looking fed up: “Oh yeah, well how do you know I nicked it, dickhead?”

Police, with grins: “Cos you typed your address into the sat nav to get home, dickhead.”

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Bank robbery for dummies

There’s another marvellous ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ story in the local news for Birmingham today.

A novice criminal downloaded a pile of ‘how to’ material onto his mobile phone to prepare himself for robbing banks.  Following instructions from manuals such as ‘How to Rob a Bank’, he successfully targeted a number of banks of building societies before being arrested in a suburb of Birmingham, when he tried to use a taxi as a getaway vehicle.

The story’s entertaining in itself but two things worry me.  One, that these self-help crime manuals exist at all, and two, that the authorities seem so unaware of them.  Why are service providers not deleting the material?  Or at the very least, why aren’t the police downloading the same material and using it to spot newbie criminals from their ‘M.O’?  Maybe then they wouldn’t have needed to rely on a helpful taxi driver to catch the guy…

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Scorpio update

Somewhere along the line I seem to have missed passing on the news about my short story ‘Scorpio’, which was due to appear in the online magazine Thrills, Kills ‘n’ Chaos early this year.

Sadly, the news isn’t good.  The editor of the magazine has been hit hard by that old rogue, Real Life, and has understandably decided to give the magazine a sabbatical while he catches up.  I have every sympathy with him; in another life I ran on online zine myself for a number of years and know exactly how much of a time-suck it can be.  The break may or may not be permanent, and all rights have been returned to their relevant authors (a nice touch, many editors never bother), all of which means that ‘Scorpio’ is currently without a home.

Hopefully I’ll find it another place soon.  Even more hopefully, the famed ‘Tess kiss of death’ won’t apply to any of the other stories I have slated to appear during the year…

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Head over heels…

…but not with love.  This chap got himself stuck in a window while trying to break into student accommodation at Nottingham University, and wasn’t discovered for five hours.  The two students who found him thought he was another undergraduate who’d got drunk or tried to get through the window for a lark.  But once the emergency services had finished extricating him, he was charged with attempted burglary and led firmly off to the nearest police station.  A case of ‘look before you leap’, perhaps?

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