Gravy Train cover reveal

Regular readers will remember that I mentioned a few months back that my first ever full-length novel, ‘Gravy Train’, is due out from All Due Respect in November.

Well, work has been going on in the background ever since and the big news is that the book now has a cover. And here it is.

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I love it. I love the grungy look, I love the sense of speed conjured in the top image, I love the fact that it could easily be a street corner pub in Birmingham. I even love the font, which is similar enough to the one used on ‘Raise the Blade’ to be something of a Tess Makovesky brand. Many thanks to Eric Beetner for all his hard work in conjuring this up from not much more than a blurb and some vague mumblings from me.

November might sound like ages away yet but it’s only five months and the time will pass in the same high-speed blur as the cars on that photo. I’m already getting excited – I hope you are too.

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2017: the good bits

Yes, yet another review of the year – but I will at least keep this short by just picking out a few of the year’s highlights! Here goes:

Best crime book: ‘Coffin Road‘ by Peter May – an ingenious mix of crime, amnesia and bee-keeping (yes, really!) set against the stunning backdrop of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

Best noir book: ‘Too Many Crooks‘ by Paul D Brazill – tongue-in-cheek Brit-Grit that hurtles between London and Warsaw, where neither the bad guys nor the good guys get what they deserve!

Best movie: Not sure if it quite counts as crime but I’ll say it anyway – Dr Strange, with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role. I loved the historical/fantasy elements and it was much more intelligent than the usual frantic Marvel fare.

Best TV series: Follow the Money 2: another great slice of Scandi-noir but with fraud and money-laundering as the central themes rather than murder. Every bit as gripping as the first series with some knock-out performances from the two lead actors, Thomas Bo Larsen and Thomas Hwan, plus a surprisingly moving ending.

Best writing event: a toss-up between Crime & Publishment (friends new and old, valuable insights into the world of writing and publishing); and Mike Craven’s book launch for ‘Body Breaker‘ in Carlisle (witty banter between Mike and fellow author Michael J Malone plus a great night out).

Best non-writing event: the Pink Floyd ‘Their Mortal Remains‘ exhibition at the V&A Museum. Huge set pieces combined with smaller, more intimate exhibits that really gave an insight into the band. A real once-in-a-lifetime event.

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Best news story (national): Probably this one, about yet another bungling criminal stuck in a window in Birmingham for five hours. Puns about ‘being framed’ spring to mind…

Best news story (friends): My writer friend Lucy Cameron getting her debut crime novel ‘Night is Watching‘ published by Caffeine Nights earlier this year. I missed the launch (drat) but I know how excited she was!

Best news story (me): Well, I had to say it, didn’t I? For me the highlight of the whole year was the news that All Due Respect have accepted my first crime novel, ‘Gravy Train’, for publication in November next year. I can’t wait!

So, how was your year? Good, I hope – and here’s hoping 2018 will be every bit as exciting/successful/interesting as this one has been, for all of us.

Exciting news

Yesterday I had official confirmation of the good news I’ve known about for a few weeks now, which is that my first crime novel, ‘Gravy Train’, has been accepted for publication in 2018 by All Due Respect (an imprint of Down and Out Books).

The book is a comedie noir romp in which a bunch of dodgy characters chase a bag of ill-gotten gains around Birmingham’s back streets and canals. As with my last book ‘Raise the Blade’ the title is nicked from a Pink Floyd track, this time the rather appropriate Have a Cigar.

gravy_train

To say I’m over the moon is an understatement. Until recently I wasn’t sure I could write a whole crime novel, and it took the combined nagging of three writer friends (Linda Wright, Irene Paterson and Jackie Baldwin) before I even tried. After much head-scratching, crossing-out and sheer hard work, I’d increased the novella version of Gravy Train to double its original size, but still wasn’t sure it was suitable, enjoyable, or even much good.

But I’m delighted to say that All Due Respect loved its breathless pace and offbeat characters, and felt it fitted well with their ‘low-life’, noir ethos.

The book is due out in November next year, which seems like ages to wait but will no doubt whisk past in no time at all. In the meantime, here’s a brief blurb so you know what all the fuss is about.

“Who’ll take a slice of their pie?

Crime pays. So barmaid Sandra thinks when she overhears details of a betting scam and wins herself and fat husband Mike eighty thousand pounds. But they’ve reckoned without mugger Lenny, lying in wait outside the betting shop door. And he’s reckoned without a top-notch car thief, his own devious boss, and Sandra’s unpleasant almost-uncle George.

Mayhem ensues as a bunch of disparate – and desperate – characters chase the bag of money around Birmingham’s back streets. Plenty of them help themselves to the cash, but none of them are any good at hanging onto it. As they hurtle towards a chaotic showdown on the banks of the local canal, will any of them see their ill-gotten gains again? Or will their precious gravy train come shuddering to a halt?”

All Due Respect

All Due Respect issue #1The first issue of this brand new crime magazine has just hit the streets, and very good it looks too. Nice ‘pulp’ style cover, a mix of fiction and articles, and stories by some of the big names in the genre: Thuglit editor Todd Robinson, king of Brit-grit Paul D Brazill to name just two. As the editors themselves say, “All Due Respect and your eyes: a combination even better than doughnuts and coffee.” Although I might pass on the doughnuts, thanks. Bit too stodgy for my liking.

Sticky buns aside, if you want to get your mitts on a copy of the magazine the digital version is already available on Amazon. Print version to follow soon. More details (of the zine, if not the doughnuts) at the All Due Respect website.