A Crime in My Stockings #4: Tess Makovesky

GT v5Don’t worry, there are still plenty of other authors to feature on this little series, but I thought perhaps it was time I put my money where my mouth is. So here’s my own reply – and if you fancy having a look at my noir romp ‘Gravy Train‘ while you’re at it then thank you!

The book I’d most like in my Christmas stocking is a brand new noir novel from Joel Lane, because I absolutely love his ‘From Blue to Black’ and because it would mean he was here and writing books again. Sadly that isn’t going to happen (he died in 2013) so I have to choose a real, genuine, actual book instead. Since I really enjoyed ‘The Chalk Man’ by C J Tudor recently, I’m going for ‘The Hiding Place’ by the same author – it sounds every bit as good.

A Crime in My Stockings #3: Beau Johnson

betterhateBeau provides endless support for other crime writers, and seems to get less credit for it than he ought to! He writes noir stories that are on the blacker edge of dark, and you can find a collection of them in his book ‘A Better Kind of Hate‘.

Here’s what he said about the book he’d like to find in his Christmas stocking:

“Can I pick just one, that’s the question. If I must, I must. Having just finished reading S.A Cosby’s MY DARKEST PRAYER I will have to go with Shawn for the win. A high octane, unstoppable juggernaut of a tale with a voice I’m sure I will hear for years. So yeah, if I had to pick just one book, that’d be it. Go forth, seek out, and give someone the gift of greatness this year. Fun will be had!”

A criminally good Christmas meal?

For once there was no snow, no ice, no flooding (just about), and no sign of any nasty flu bugs, so yesterday Other Half and I drove to Gretna Green for the annual Crime & Publishment Christmas bash. This is, believe it or not, the third year in succession that we’ve made it, having missed several before that for the above reasons, sometimes all at once!

This year there were slightly fewer attendees than sometimes thanks to work commitments and ill health, but those of us who turned up more than made up for their absence. The meal was its usual high standard, served like clockwork by the ever-efficient and friendly staff, and it was lovely to catch up with everyone again.

This year’s high point during the round-the-table news catch-up was hearing about Mike Craven, who has just won the CWS Gold Dagger award for his book ‘The Puppet Show’, but everyone had something new to share, be it short stories accepted, novels sent out to agents, or even finding the time to write something… anything. In my own case I was able to mention finishing the first draft of ‘Embers of Bridges’, and getting a short story accepted for an anthology which I’m not allowed to say anything about yet… More news on that in the new year!

 

A Crime in My Stockings #2: Graham Smith

fearlakesThe second in my series where authors choose the one book they’d like in their Christmas stocking this year, and it’s the turn of Graham Smith. Graham writes crime novels that are mostly set in the English Lake District and his latest, ‘Fear in the Lakes‘, is no exception. Here’s what Graham chose, and I must admit I’m intrigued by his description…

“I am going to choose ‘The Accident Man’ by Tom Cain. The first in his Sam Carver series, The Accident Man is by far the best conspiracy theory I’ve ever read and tells the story of a hitman paid to take out a target travelling through a Parisian tunnel in a black Mercedes. I’ve read the entire series and I still think about the events depicted in the final book.”

A Crime in my Stockings #1: Nick Kolakowski

Drum roll please… because as promised, it’s time for my Christmas season of book recommendations to begin. A week or so ago I asked a whole bunch of fellow authors one simple question: if you could have just ONE crime book in your Christmas stocking this year, what would it be, and why? And a bunch of fellow authors have come up with some fascinating replies.

doomsdayFirst on the list is Nick Kolakowski. Nick’s own book ‘Maxine Unleashes Doomsday‘ is currently available from Down & Out Books (and was reviewed by me on Goodreads a few weeks ago).

“What book would I want in my Christmas stocking? That’s the very definition of a difficult question, but looking at my current bookshelf gives me an answer. I have a very old copy of Hammett’s “Red Harvest” on my shelf, and it’s truly undergone the ravages of multiple re-reads: dogeared pages, a softened spine, and a cover that’s seen better days (it’s the Black Lizard edition). In a magical world, I’d find a first edition copy, pristine, with Hammett’s signature scrawled on the inside. That’d be one heck of a gift.”

Wot no Crime and Publishment?

Sadly, it’s true. It looks very much as though I won’t be attending the annual Crime and Publishment event in Gretna next year, for the first time since I started going five years ago. And it’s entirely my fault. I logged out of Facebook for a few days and missed organiser Graham Smith’s update that there were only three places left. By the time I logged back in again the inevitable had happened – those three places had been booked up.

I live too far from the venue to commute each day, so will have to content myself with reading about the whole thing from those lucky enough to go along. I’ll really miss it. It’s been a fixture for the last few years and one I can’t recommend strongly enough. Not just for the speakers and sessions, excellent though those are, but for the sense of belonging: the chance to mix with like-minded people, to network, to make friends and pick up tips and new ideas.

You could say, anyway, that I’ve had my “turn” and it’s time to let someone else have a go. So whoever got my slot, I really hope you enjoy it and make the most of it – and watch out, because I may well be back in 2021 to fight you for the privilege!

Head to Fred’s

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Just a quick update today, with some news I forgot to mention a couple of weeks ago. This is that signed copies of both ‘Raise the Blade’ and ‘Gravy Train’ are now available to buy at Fred’s Bookshop (formerly Fred Holdsworth Books) in Ambleside. So if you’re in the Lake District over the coming weeks/months, on holiday or just visiting, you can pop in and pick up a copy to read in your hotel/guest house/tent.

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The bookshop is well worth a visit anyway. It may be tiny, but it’s in a nice old building and is absolutely crammed with books. Many of these have a local connection (local authors, Cumbrian settings, walk books, cycling books, books about sheep etc etc) but there’s also a good range of more general stuff, both fiction and non-fiction, to browse. And manager Steve is both friendly and knowledgeable, and always ready to help with queries or recommendations.

 

Sorry – and watch out for the stockings!

It’s been an absolute age since I wrote anything on here. Partly that’s due to Real Life getting in the way – we’ve had major surgery on the house, plus a family bereavement to deal with. Partly it’s due to dissatisfaction with my writing. I finished the first draft of a new book earlier in the year and disliked it so much that it made me rather despondent, and I’ve been avoiding things ever since!

So, sorry for the long silence, but hopefully normal service will now be resumed. And to kick things off again, here’s some advance news on something I’ll have coming to the blog in December. Called A Crime in My Stockings, it will feature a whole bunch of crime and noir authors talking about the one crime book they’d like to receive in their Christmas stocking – and why.

The answers are flooding in as we speak and I’ll be publishing them throughout the coming month, so do stay tuned to see who turns up and what books they’ll be recommending. It’s sure to be entertaining!

Reflection on graffiti

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I’ve been using this as a kind of brand image for some time now.  I liked it for a number of reasons. First, it’s urban street art, which always seems to sum up the gritty feel of my writing. Second, it’s in Birmingham, which is where most of my stuff is set. And third, it looks like a Pink Floyd album cover, and we all know how I feel about them!

I first stumbled across the picture in the wilds of the internet, while searching for something else (as you do). It was being used as a header by the Birmingham Updates account on Twitter, and a bit of judicious digging showed that the photo was taken by Harrison Cantel. Other than that, I knew virtually nothing about it. Until this morning.

Searching for the original picture again in order to set it as wallpaper on my phone, I came across a slightly different version, on Pinterest, with a bit more information. It seems the original artwork is by Lucy McLauchlan, a contemporary artist specialising in large-scale, mostly-monochrome murals. I’ve seen her work before and loved it – these rather amazing birds on the sides of the old Birmingham library before it (and the art) was bulldozed.

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If you head to Lucy’s website and click on ‘selected works’ and then ‘murals’, you’ll see the canal artwork along with many similar pieces on the walls of houses and factories across Birmingham, the UK and even Europe.

As for the canal art location, this is also in Birmingham. Specifically, under a bridge on the Digbeth Branch Canal, a short stretch linking two other canals on the eastern side of the city centre. Completed in 1799, it has six locks and a banana warehouse (!) and lies within the Warwick Bar conservation area which includes a variety of listed canal buildings. I’ve never visited this particular spot before but it looks fascinating and I’m adding it to the list for the next time I go to Birmingham. Who knows, I might even get my own photo of the image I’ve been using for so long!

And thanks to Bethany R on Pinterest for pointing me in the right direction.

Voodoo curse?

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That story missing from my website that I mentioned yesterday? It was none other than ‘That Voodoo That You Do’, a hilariously horrible “missing scene” from ‘Gravy Train’ that I wrote a few months ago and had published in Punk Noir magazine.

It sheds a little light on the strained relationship between Vernon Ball and his chauffeur-cum-dogsbody Bradley, a guy Ball describes as “not the brightest sixpence in the collection plate”. Just why did the two of them fall out? Why did it nearly ruin Ball’s shoes? And will you ever be able to watch Blazing Saddles again?

I think the story’s title must have exerted its own voodoo curse on me, because for some reason I completely forgot to add it to the list of all my other stories on the website. That’s now fixed, and you can follow the link to read the story for yourselves. I hope you enjoy it!

Shiny new website

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Dashing in to let everyone know that I’ve just updated my website with a new design which will hopefully be clearer and easier to use.

I’ve also fixed a few broken links, taken down details of one short story that had mysteriously disappeared, and added another that I’d somehow forgotten to list. I seem to have more short stories available to read than I’d ever realised!

Do pop along and have a look: tessmakovesky.com.

The artwork is, of course, still the same image I had on the old site. It’s a picture (taken by Harrison Cantel) of some amazing street art on one of Birmingham’s many canals. I liked it because it reminded me of a Pink Floyd album cover!

 

 

Special offer on Gravy Train

AUGUST SPECIAL OFFER2

So suddenly it’s the first of August. No, I can’t quite believe it either – where has the year gone?! But there is good news too. Because it means that the month-long special offer on the e-book of ‘Gravy Train’ has just kicked off.

Want to take advantage of the offer? Then hurry along to Amazon UK, where you can get the Kindle version for just £4.70 – that’s more than a quid off the normal price. And a long way off the £80,000 the book’s characters are chasing around after!