Art Attack

artattackMy latest short story, ‘Art Attack’, is out today at British crime magazine Near to the Knuckle.

The story is loosely based on real life: a news item about a sculpture created from knives handed in during a police amnesty.  The real story ended well (and the sculpture is impressive to say the least) but I’m afraid as usual my mind wandered off to some very dark places, and ‘Art Attack’ is the result.  Apologies to the sculptor and the people who dreamed up the original, very laudable scheme for any liberties I took!

You can read the story at Near to the Knuckle (free) – I just hope it doesn’t put you off art for life!

Bar room bestie

Ed from Byker Books posed an intriguing question earlier today – which of your fictional characters would you most want by your side during a bar room brawl?

I had a good think about this one.  Although I write about lots of nefarious characters, many of them are deeply flawed and would probably run for the hills (or the nearest dark alley) at the first sign of real, you know, actual violence.

But there are a handful who are made of sterner stuff.  Interestingly, several of them are women.  Tina from ‘Going Off the Deep End’ (Betty Fedora #1) likes getting her own way and wouldn’t be fazed by a broken finger nail or two on route.  The nameless ‘heroine’ in ‘Last Chance Saloon’ (Betty Fedora #2) is ruthless when faced with a cheating boyfriend and wouldn’t let a few drunken thugs stand in her way.  And Jo the probation officer in ‘Raise the Blade’ (due from Caffeine Nights very soon) is brave, resourceful and sensible enough to know when to call someone else for help.

But the stand-out candidate from all my stories to date has to be the main character in ‘Singing From the Same Sheet’ in the Rogue anthology from Near to the Knuckle.  He’s a law unto himself, violent and uncompromising, and not all that different to the baddies.  And as he himself says, it’s amazing what he can hide under that robe.

So how about your own characters?  Anyone in particular you’d like fighting at your side, for all the right reasons – or even all the wrong ones?

And the winner is…

Those nice guys at Near to the Knuckle have put together a writing competition for the end of the year, and to celebrate their fourth anniversary.

You can read all the shortlisted entries at the magazine’s web site – all are on the edgy side but some of ’em are an absolute blast.

I didn’t take part in the end.  I had the best intentions, but managed to add over 400 words to the story I was trying to prune down to the 1,000 word maximum word count.  Since it was already over the limit, I clearly flunked.

But congratulations to Craig Furchtenicht, who caught the judges’ eye with his entry ‘Black Lung Gang’.  You can read that over at the magazine too.

And a very happy fourth birthday to Near to the Knuckle.  What a nice way to celebrate.


White knuckles?

Just in time for Halloween, the guys at Near to the Knuckle are running a scary special, with a whole bunch of tales to make your blood run cold over the weekend.

See the stories at Near to the Knuckle magazine, and just to add to the atmosphere each tale is available on audio as well.  Just follow the link on the individual story page.

“Happy reading” may not be entirely appropriate but miss this at your peril, as weird things may start slithering out of your closet if you do!

Dead Man… Reading?

exiles-cover-preview-2This is something a bit special – the first ever audio version of one of my stories, courtesy of Darren Sant and the guys at Near to the Knuckle.

Darren reads ‘Dead Man Walking’, the story featured in ‘Exiles: An Outsiders Anthology’ last year.  It’s a particularly fast-paced, action-packed story which I thought might be ideal for audio treatment; you’ll have to listen in to see whether you agree with me.

Many thanks to Darren for this opportunity.  I’ve never heard my work read aloud before (apart from the odd snippet at writing courses, usually followed by the words ‘Now, what’s wrong with that?’) so this is a completely new experience for me.  It’s a little… odd hearing my words echoing back at me, but tremendous fun.  Presumably this is how playwrights and screenwriters feel when they hear actors taking over their lines.

If you’d like to hear the story for yourselves then head over to Soundcloud.  Don’t forget to turn your computer’s sound up  nice and high – but do watch out for the loud music once the story’s finished, which made me jump!

This is only one out of the twenty-plus stories in the ‘Exiles’ anthology so if it tickles your fancy, why not pick up the book?  All proceeds go to charity (the Marfan Foundation) so you know the money’s going to a really good cause.

Rogue excerpt

rogueI thought it was about time I shared a snippet from ‘Singing From the Same Sheet’, the story I’ve just had published in ‘Rogue’ from Near to the Knuckle.  So here you go!  Hope you enjoy it, and if you’d like to buy it, check out the links here.

Eddie Monack. They called him The Monk, behind his back. Partly the name, partly the spreading bald patch the exact same shape and size as a medieval tonsure. Mostly because he spent his Sundays singing hymns in a loud and tuneless voice in his local church, as though he was a good and holy man.

Monday mornings he was straight back to work, though, and there was nothing good or holy about what he did. ‘Looking after people’, he liked to call it, but there wasn’t much care involved. Or only the kind that cared about its own ends, about making the most money in the least amount of time. The kind that says ‘pay up and we won’t actually break your other leg’.

I’d heard the name before, and the frightened whisperings, mostly from the guy’s victims. I get to meet quite a few of those in my line of work. But the first time I really took notice was when the boss called me in.

“This Monk character. Got a bit out of hand. If you know what I mean.”

I knew. The boss has to be careful. Can’t say too much in case it gets back to him. There’d be an outcry, if people found out what we get up to. Police, the media, decent folk shocked to the core. And quite right too.  A few more details might be helpful, though. It’s always nice to know what you’re letting yourself in for. “What’s he done?”

No more delays, Rogue is here!

Tnew rogue coverhe editors of the ‘Rogue’ anthology must have paid a sizeable bribe, threatened Amazon with a fate worse than death, or generally bust a gut, because against all the odds the anthology has been published today after all!

To say I’m delighted is a massive understatement.  The book contains a grand total of 22 stories by some of the biggest names in the genre (Paul D Brazill, Aidan Thorn, Gareth Spark, Keith Nixon, Graham Wynd, Ryan Bracha… the list goes on…), so my story ‘Singing From the Same Sheet’ is in exalted company.

As you might expect from a title like ‘Rogue’, my “hero” is really anything but, and the story itself treads some fairly dodgy moral ground – as any good noir story should.

You can find out more over at my website, or head to Amazon to get your sticky mitts on your very own Kindle version of ‘Rogue’ for only £2.49.  Bargain!

Forgive the delay…

roguecoverThe anthology ‘Rogue’, from Near to the Knuckle, was on track for release today, complete with my short story ‘Singing From the Same Sheet’, and a whole heap of other stories from some fantastic writers.

Sadly, Amazon are currently Experiencing Technical Issues, which is delaying what’s usually a 12-hour process by as much as a week.  Lots of other people with books due out are affected, and apparently there’s no way of telling whether Rogue will be available today, tomorrow, or a month on Sunday.

It’s very frustrating, particularly for the editors who have put in a huge amount of work getting the anthology ready and publicising the release.  But I promise that the minute Amazon pull out their collective fingers and the book’s available, you’ll be the first to know…

Come and get some

roguecoverWow, those guys at Near to the Knuckle really know a thing or two about promotion.  The ‘Rogue’ anthology hasn’t even hit the streets yet, but we have our very own video on YouTube!

Go here to have a look for yourselves.  It’s pretty amazing and I’m delighted to be #2 on such a fantastic list of authors.

Come and get some indeed.

A word of warning: you might need sunglasses for the first few seconds…!