Wet money and ducks

P1000417No, not my Christmas wish list, but a few of the things mentioned in my latest interview. And it’s an interview with a notable (perhaps even bonkers) difference, because I’ve been interviewing myself!

This is all thanks to fellow crime writer Nigel Bird, who runs a feature on his blog called ‘Dancing with Myself’, where authors both ask, and answer, their own questions. It’s a fun way of getting us to talk about ourselves, and previous victims have included Lisa de Nikolits, David Simms and Tom Leins, all of them worth checking out.

In my case I chatted (wittered?) about where the idea for ‘Gravy Train’ first came from, whether the characters were based on real people or not, what the link to Pink Floyd is, and what I’m working on now.

The picture shows the actual (ahem) bench that I used, in Birmingham’s Cannon Hill park. You can follow the trail at Nigel’s blog. Just watch out for that duck!

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What a thrill!

GTcropThe latest issue of The Big Thrill (the monthly magazine for International Thriller Writers members) has just dropped into my inbox with a clatter and caused some excitement – because for the first time ever, I have an interview in it!

My interrogator Tim O’Mara asked some great questions about ‘Gravy Train’ and the way I write, and I had a huge amount of fun answering them. Thanks to Tim for making the whole process, which could have been quite daunting, so enjoyable. Topics include why I used present tense for one of the characters, why there’s an element of optimism in such a noir book, and whether I think there’s a difference between crime fiction in the UK and America.

You don’t seem to need to be a member of the ITW in order to read the interview so do head over and take a peek. Hopefully you’ll be glad you made the trip!

 

Gravy Train sets off

GT v5Exciting news today – my novel ‘Gravy Train’ has just set off on its travels, courtesy of All Due Respect (Down & Out Books).

£80,000. Seven people want it. Will any of them get it? That’s the tag line for the book, which features a bunch of losers chasing a bag of money (the aforementioned £80,000 no less) around the back streets of Birmingham. All of them are good at nicking it, but not so much at hanging onto it. And when it all blows up into a watery showdown on the banks of the local canal, it’s more a case of whether any of them can keep their hands on it at all.

To follow the adventures of barmaid Sandra, fat husband Mike, streetwise mugger Lenny, car thief Justine, crime boss Ballsy McBollockface and the rest, head for a station near you. The gravy train will be calling at Amazon US, Amazon UK, and all good book shops and suppliers. So hop on board and shunt your engine over there now. Just make sure you get off at the right stop, and mind the gap between the train doors and the platform…

Less interview, more interrogation!

interrogation-room-tess-makoveskyI’ve been interrogated! But don’t worry, there wasn’t a roll of gaffer tape or a pair of rusty pliers in sight – it was just fellow crime writer Tom Leins asking me some good hard searching questions about my books, my writing and pretty much everything else besides over at his blog The Interrogation Room.

Tom grilled me on all kinds of topics including how I’d pitch ‘Gravy Train’, what I hope readers will take away from the book, which other Birmingham crime writers I can recommend, and which other current crime writers I ‘grew up’ with. Head over to Tom’s blog to read my replies – or just to pick over my poor dead carcase. Just mind you don’t trip over the trailing flex from the cattle prod on your way in…

While you’re at it, you might like to check out the first review for ‘Gravy Train’, courtesy of another crime writer, Jason Beech, over at Goodreads. I realise the book isn’t even out yet but this isn’t cheating – Jason was one of the readers I sent advance copies out to – and he loved the book so much he couldn’t wait to post the review! Do pop along and have a quick look…

That Voodoo That You Do

AR-180318931What do Blazing Saddles, Voodoo and knitting needles have in common? Quick answer – they all feature in my latest short story, which is currently darkening the pages of Punk Noir magazine.

‘That Voodoo That You Do’ is a tongue in cheek earlier episode or ‘missing scene’ from ‘Gravy Train’ which might help to explain some of the antagonism between Ballsy McBollockface and the unfortunate Bradley. It was inspired (if that’s the right word) by the wonderful Hedy Lamarr remark in Blazing Saddles, and by a rather left-of-field conversation I recently had with my Other Half.

You can find the story at Punk Noir magazine now. I hope you like it, and that it’ll whet your appetite for more of the same humour in the rest of the novel, which is due out in less than two weeks’ time. And that it won’t put you off watching such a classic film ever again.

Gravy Train has a web page

pre_order_posterA quick update today: I’ve created a standalone web page for my novel ‘Gravy Train’. It has the full blurb, some nice quotes from lucky (or otherwise!) people who’ve read the book, a few links to articles and interviews, and best of all, an excerpt so you can ‘try before you buy’.

I do hope you’ll shunt over to my website and take a quick look. Don’t forget – the book is already available to pre-order, and will be out ‘for real’ exactly two weeks today.

Where the heck Wednesday: Tess Makovesky

Great news everyone, the semi-regular Wednesday feature is back, with some fascinating guests planned over the next few months. And I’m kick-starting it with a quick look at myself, because I realised I never took that opportunity last time round. So, without further ado, let’s stoke the engines, release the brakes, and let the ‘Gravy Train’ steam into town…

Book Title: Gravy Train

Setting: Birmingham (UK)

Author: Tess Makovesky

http://www.tessmakovesky.com / Facebook / Twitter

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So, why pick Birmingham as a location, I hear you ask? After all, it’s the dullest place on earth – nothing but Spaghetti Junction, motorways, factories, and endless 1960s concrete.

Well, no, actually. Birmingham is the UK’s second city – and quite probably the one with the least-deserved reputation. There is concrete (show me a British city without the stuff), but there’s also so much more. The tightly-packed city centre is a wonderful assortment of old and new, with everything from the gleamingly modern Grand Central station/shopping mall to the Town Hall, designed by the same bloke who came up with the Hansom cab.

Beyond that there are swathes of Victorian and Edwardian suburbs, scattered with gems from earlier times: churches, medieval manor houses, a mill that made it into The Lord of the Rings, even an ancient pub or two. And then – pure joy for crime writers like myself – there are the maze-like back streets, the vast parks, and best of all the canals. Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice; they stitch the industrial towns of the Black Country together and form their own pasta-like sprawl across the landscape. There are canal-feeder reservoirs, bridges, tunnels; there are places where one whole canal system goes over or under another; there are entire sections in the city centre that are almost lost, and only reappear as ghostly imprints in the canyons between office blocks every now and again.

When I lived in Birmingham I found it hard to write about the city. There was a sense of it being a comfortable place to call home, rather like an old pair of slippers, and it was hard to see past that to view the place objectively. However, once I moved away the over-familiarity wore off and I began to set more of my stories and books there. ‘Wheel Man’ in the Drag Noir anthology from Fox Spirit Books uses the suburb of Acocks Green. My novella ‘Raise the Blade’ is set in various locations including the well-hidden Edgbaston Reservoir and Highgate park. ‘Gravy Train’ starts and terminates in the inner city district of Hockley (home of the world famous Jewellery Quarter) but stops off at Cannon Hill Park, the leafy suburb of Moseley, and Broad Street’s “entertainment quarter” along the way.

And, oh, those canals. The Worcester & Birmingham branch has a body fished out of it in ‘Raise the Blade’. And ‘Gravy Train’ makes equally good use of them, for all sorts of nefarious purposes. The old Gas Street basin, originally used for turning narrowboats around, gains a new function as a handy dumping ground for incriminating evidence. And when crime bosses George Leary and Vernon Ball set up a meeting to hand over some stolen cash, it’s the basin they choose, with all sorts of unexpected consequences.

I had a lot of fun writing about the various locations, and more fun re-visiting them recently to take lots of photographs. I’ll be posting those on my blog over the next few weeks and months, but in the meantime if you’d like to find out more about Birmingham, then take the train. Just please make sure it’s the ‘Gravy Train’!

Vital Crime Fiction

Just swooping in to announce that I have an interview up at fellow crime writer Matt Phillips’ blog today.

He asked some decidedly soul-searching, even hair-hurting, but fun questions which really made me think. So to find out more about my grandma’s secret stash of crime fiction, or why I write so many revenge stories – or just to learn more about my soon-to-be-published noir novel ‘Gravy Train’ – head to Matt’s blog now. I hope you enjoy the read.

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ps if you like what you hear about ‘Gravy Train’, don’t forget it’s currently available for pre-order and will be on sale 30th November…

Pre-order Gravy Train

pre_order_poster_plainExciting news this week – my debut crime novel ‘Gravy Train’ is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Wanna find out why seven different people are chasing a bag of money round the back streets of Birmingham? Wanna know how far they’d go for £80,000? Then shunt your engine over to Amazon and stake your claim – before this particular gravy train runs off the rails!

You can find the book on both Amazon UK and Amazon US. Why not make one of them your “next station stop”?

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.

Podcast!

Shure_mikrofon_55SThanks to an invitation from Eric Beetner and the nice folk at Writer Types, I have suddenly become Tech Girl.

Well, not exactly, but after much battling with software and microphones, I did manage to record two minutes of myself talking about the locations in my upcoming novel ‘Gravy Train’, which has now been included in Writer Types’ latest podcast.

You can find the podcast here – and don’t worry, it’s not just me waffling on, but includes loads of other cool stuff too including fellow debut novelists Aimee Fix and Michael Pool, plus music, plus author interviews, plus… well, head over there and you can see for yourselves!

In my case I’m talking about Birmingham’s canal network, which is a real hidden gem of the city and provides a major part of the backdrop for ‘Gravy Train’.

I’ve never done this recording/podcast stuff before, so I’m oddly proud of the result!