Tickled Pink…

85183245_hi018536501Having been a massive fan of all things Pink Floyd for most of my adult life, on Saturday I was really excited to be heading for a concert by Think Floyd, one of the top British tribute bands featuring their music.

We’d originally been going back in the autumn but the concert was postponed due to a band member’s ill health, and Saturday was the re-scheduled date.  We’d never seen Think Floyd before and weren’t quite sure what to expect, but boy, was it worth the wait!

The concert took the unusual path of playing at least one track from each of Pink Floyd’s fifteen studio albums, from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn all the way to The Endless River.  Along the way the band visited some of the iconic tracks (‘Comfortably Numb’, ‘Breathe’) but also played some less well known stuff – so much so I’d never heard one or two tracks before.

The four main musicians were perhaps a little less comfortable with the earlier music, with its heavy folk influence courtesy of Syd Barrett.  But once they got onto ‘One of These Days’ from Meddle they suddenly hit their stride, and went from playing cover versions of Floyd tracks, to recreating with meticulous detail the whole Floyd sound and experience.  And when they got onto Dark Side of the Moon, from which they played pretty much the whole of the first side, they were a revelation.  Even better, their rendition of ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ was just brilliant – the best I have heard, anywhere including Floyd’s own concerts, with the exception of the original.  Most modern versions include two separate vocalists due to the sheer complexity of the track, but the young lass singing here managed it on her own, note (and perhaps more importantly, emotion) perfect, and got a standing ovation for her efforts.

And I was absolutely delighted when they also treated us to ‘Brain Damage’, one of my favourite tracks and the inspiration behind ‘Raise the Blade’!

Of course, they aren’t Pink Floyd and nobody but Pink Floyd ever will be.  The show also suffered very slightly, in my opinion, from a tiny (if immaculate) venue with a small stage, which couldn’t live up to the massive stadium concerts Floyd themselves put on.  If nothing else, there was no space for an inflatable pig – or any other sort of animal!  But they were a very, very close second, and since Floyd themselves rarely-to-never perform together (all the more so since the death of keyboardist Richard Wright), it’s a wonderful way of experiencing their music, live, all over again.  We would definitely recommend Think Floyd, and definitely go to see them again ourselves.  And it tickles me er, pink, to be able to say that.

New reviews

There’s a couple of really nice mentions for my stuff turned up in the last few days.

Raise the Blade FrontFirst, Graham Wynd has included ‘Raise the Blade’ in his list of favourite books of 2016, with a great write-up that had me glowing.  You can find the list here; do take time to read all the entries because there’s some other great books featured, including titles by Richard Godwin and Renato Bratkovic, and the Dark Minds anthology.

Second, and rather a long time after publication but still a very welcome surprise, there’s this from the British Fantasy Society about the Drag Noir anthology, which featured my story ‘Wheel Man’ amongst many others.  The reviewer has some nice things to say about the story, although there’s a spoiler alert if you haven’t yet read it yourself because they do rather give away the plot!


Belated Christmas present

Raise the Blade FrontI’m back from a complete (and much-needed) break over Christmas, following a thoroughly unpleasant bout of flu, with batteries re-charged (bzz) and a lot more energy.  And absolutely delighted to find this gem of a belated Christmas pressie in my inbox today – a super new review of ‘Raise the Blade’ over at Relax and Read Reviews.

You may remember that this excellent review blog was kind enough to publish my guest post – a character spotlight featuring Gillian from ‘Raise the Blade’ – a few months ago.  Now I’m delighted to announce that Joseph has read the book himself, and written an in-depth review about what he liked (and didn’t like, to be entirely fair!) about it.

To say I’m over the moon is quite an understatement.  It’s a very nice discovery to come back to!

Music to write books by…

Raise the Blade FrontToday I’m featured over at Sarah Ward’s excellent Crimepieces blog as part of her regular ‘Music to Write Books By’ series.  Although I don’t often listen to music while I write, that doesn’t mean my work isn’t inspired by it – and here I explain how Pink Floyd in general, and their brilliant track ‘Brain Damage’ in particular, helped to inspire my psychological noir novella ‘Raise the Blade’.

Floyd fans and the keen eyed amongst you will spot the obvious quote in the title, but it went quite a bit deeper than that with all sorts of hidden references (although no actual lyrics, for obvious copyright reasons).  I don’t spill the beans on what the references are (you can have fun spotting them when you read the book) but I do explain more about how the track worked its magic on me while I was writing the book.

You can find the post here, and many thanks to Sarah for taking the time out from Iceland Noir to host me, which can’t have been easy!

Interviewed… round the block

Raise the Blade FrontI’m delighted to announce that I’m interviewed at Christina Philippou’s super book blog ‘Writing Round the Block’ today.

Christina asked a whole range of simple yet surprisingly-tricky-to-answer questions which had me scratching my head and sucking the end of my pen.  Questions such as where I write, when I write, who my author heroes are, and what the inspiration behind ‘Raise the Blade’ was.

You can find my eventual responses, plus a whole lot of other wittering, over at Writing Round the Block.  I hope you enjoy the insight!

Raise the Blade – the Scariest Part!

Raise the Blade FrontThose of you who’ve read ‘Raise the Blade’ know that it’s a little gruesome in places.  Quite a lot gruesome, in fact.  So much so it was edging me towards the very limits of my comfort zone, and as a sensitive flower (ahem) I had to push myself to write the more disturbing sections.

Because the book is written in reverse, with more details about the killer’s methods revealed in each new chapter, it got harder and harder to write.  But which chapter out of all them was the worst?  Well, there is one, but to find out you’ll have to head for Nicholas Kaufmann’s excellent blog The Scariest Part, where all will be revealed.  Not just the identity of the most distressing character to write about, but also what that character’s experiences are based on, and what that meant for me.

There’s also some more detail about the Pink Floyd track ‘Brain Damage’, which formed a significant part of the inspiration for the book.

So to find out all this and more, head over to The Scariest Part right now.  I hope it doesn’t disturb your sleep!

Scary stuff!

And it isn’t even Halloween yet…

However, I’m delighted to share the brand new book trailer/video for ‘Raise the Blade’, courtesy of Darren Laws at Caffeine Nights Publishing.

It’s a creepy little offering which perfectly captures the dark, claustrophobic atmosphere of the book.  It gave me a shiver or two whilst watching it – and I knew roughly what to expect!  Even the music is suitably scary.

Pop along to either Animoto or my very first YouTube video to see the clip for yourself.  Happy viewing, preferably from behind a cushion or underneath the sofa.

Raise the Blade in Ambleside

fredbookshopToday is Bookshop Day, apparently, when readers everywhere celebrate their favourite/local bookshops.  Sadly, independent ‘real life’ bookshops are a dying breed, but there are still a few brightly-burning stars out there.  In my area that includes Bookends at both Carlisle and Keswick, and Fred Holdsworth in Ambleside.

The latter is tiny, but a typical old-fashioned store simply stuffed with books from floor to ceiling.  They stock everything from local maps and guides to the Lakeland fells, to fiction, to Buddhism for Sheep.  And from today, they’re stocking signed copies of ‘Raise the Blade’ too.

Ambleside is a stunningly beautiful small town set amid some of the most picturesque scenery in England.  So if you want a good excuse to visit, and to get your sticky mitts on one of my books while you’re at it, now’s your chance!  “Fred’s” is located right on the main street, in between an art gallery and a specialist deli selling a range of delicious home-made foods, so there’s something for everyone!

And if you do go along and buy my book – thanks, and please tell them I sent you!

Location shots

Several months ago, you may remember I shot off to Birmingham to take some photos of the locations I’d used in ‘Raise the Blade’.  They came out remarkably well and I was able to use some of them for a display at the book launch, which seemed to be quite popular.

Now, for those of you who couldn’t be at the launch, I’m posting some of them on here, complete with appropriate snippets from the book itself.  Hopefully it’ll give a better idea of the various settings I used, and the atmosphere.  Although I have to say it’s very hard to drum up spooky evening atmosphere in Highbury Park on a gloriously sunny morning… but you’ll just have to blame the weather for that!  Best laid plans…

Anyway, here, in no particular order, are the shots:


Edgbaston Reservoir: The property backed onto the reservoir, so presumably that fence in the distance, beyond the clump of conifers, was where Brian had got in…


City Centre Gardens: ‘Over there’ proved to be behind them, in the narrow space between bench and road, bounded by thick bushes and a low brick wall…


Birmingham & Worcester canal: …stuck on the towpath with nothing but trees for miles.  Or at least that’s what it looked like, although in reality they were only a mile or so from the centre of town…


Highbury Park: It was quiet tonight.  A duck quacked, and out in the water something plopped, but there was nobody else about…


“Floyd Road, Hall Green” (not a real location, but might look something like this): The house looked ordinary enough – one neat semi in among all the rest.


Noir at the Bar x2

noirnewcastleTomorrow sees me and my Other Half heading for Newcastle, for the second Noir at the Bar: NE event.

This will be my second attempt at getting there, after an unfortunate tussle with some furniture last time round.  This time, I’m hoping for an accident-free day so I can get there in one piece, have a meal, meet lots of my Facebook and Twitter friends, and read another piece from ‘Raise the Blade’.

Do come along if you’re anywhere near the area, as these events are great fun and the quality of the readings from the authors involved is very high.  Other Half was really impressed by Noir at the Bar: Carlisle a few months back.  This one is at the Town Wall bar on Pink Lane in Newcastle (where they apparently serve excellent food) and starts at 7.00 pm.  Thirteen different authors are booked to speak, plus a “wild card” from the audience, so it sounds like being quite a lively night.

As ever I’ll post a report once I’m back.  In the meantime, if you can come along then I’ll look forward to meeting you.  Oh – and I’ll have a few signed copies of ‘Raise the Blade’ in my bag, just in case.  So if you’d like to get your sticky paws on one of those, for the special discount price of only £4.00, then you’ll have to see me there!