Review of 2020 – such as it was…

I don’t need to tell anyone what a strange and unpleasant year 2020 has been. Lockdown after lockdown; concerts, trips away and writing events postponed, postponed again then cancelled; hardly even able to meet friends for a cuppa; it’s been depressing, demoralising, and (quite frankly) crap.

We’ve got off lightly compared to many, but even so I’ve found it increasingly difficult to watch or read crime, let alone write it. I’ve taken refuge in the comforting fluffiness of romance, and Tess has got rather neglected in the process.

It hasn’t been a complete washout. I got the rights back on my dark novella ‘Raise the Blade’, re-edited it, designed a spiffing cover (if I do say so myself) and self-published it during the summer. It’s here, if you haven’t yet tried it yet and fancy giving it a go. I hope you like it! I’ve also written one short story – a sequel to Singing From the Same Sheet, which was published in the Rogue anthology by Near to the Knuckle – which I’m hoping might see the light of day at some point next year. And I’ve also been working, at times, on editing a new novella, probably called Embers of Bridges (yes, more Pink Floyd I’m afraid!), which follows a gang of petty thieves as they rob and bicker their way round the hot tubs and canals of Birmingham. There’s a long way to go on it yet, but again, I’m hopeful it might put in an appearance at some point next year.

In terms of TV we’ve tried various new drama series, and given up on several of them. Mystery Road 2 was a particular disappointment (filled with unrealistic scenarios and procedural WTFs), and The Valhalla Murders was just… hysterical. For all the wrong reasons. But there’s a new series of Spiral coming soon which ought to be good, and I’m determined to finish catching up on Brassic 2, Tin Star: Liverpool and The Vienna Blood.

But while this wretched virus continues to run rampant around the world, it just might not be any time soon…

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?”

Is Tess a Rogue?

new rogue coverFellow ‘Rogue’ contributor Graham Wynd has begun a series of fun mini interviews with the other authors in the collection and today it’s my turn.

So, to find out what crime I’d like to get away with, whether I really am a criminal mastermind or not, and (hopefully) a bit more about my story ‘Singing From the Same Sheet’, head over to Graham’s blog pronto.

While you’re there, track down the previous interviews by J David Jaggers and Richard Godwin which are well worth the read.

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…!

Rogue with Aidan Thorn

roguecoverI was all set to do a reminder post about the rapidly approaching release of the Rogue anthology… and then I found Aidan Thorn had beaten me to it.  Since both he and I are going to be included, and since he’s put it all ever so much better than I ever could, I’ll simply pass on the link to his blog along with a couple of brief mutters.

One, I’m bowled over by his amazingly kind comments about my writing.  And two, the book’s out on 2nd April.  Not that I’m hinting or anything.

Oh yes.  The link.  Try clicking this and see what happens. I promise it won’t actually blow up in your face.

Quick round-up

I should be busy packing since I’m heading off tomorrow to this year’s Crime & Publishment weekend at The Mill Forge in Gretna Green, Scotland.  I went last year, had an absolute blast, met some wonderful people, and picked up all sorts of weird and wonderful facts about crime writing, so I’m really looking forward to repeating the experience.

However, there is just time to round up a few bits and pieces of news before I bury myself in a heap of suitcases.

First, a couple more reviews of anthologies I have stories in.  This one, very thoughtful, about Exiles: An Outsider Anthology; and this one about Drag Noir.  I’m especially pleased with the latter because the reviewer has been so kind about my story, ‘Wheel Man’.

Second, it’s now less than a month until the Rogue anthology hits the streets.  This collection of stories featuring a flawed central character includes work from some of the (literary!) heavyweights of the genre, including Paul D Brazill, Ryan Bracha, Aidan Thorn and Gareth Spark.  And, er, me.  My story ‘Singing From the Same Sheet’ explores the differences between good and evil, and how they may be closer than we think.  The book’s due out on April 2nd so keep watching this space.

Rogue cover

That isn’t “a” rogue cover, by the way, it’s “the” Rogue cover.  As in, the brand new cover artwork for the Rogue anthology, which is due pretty soon from Gritfiction Press.  I’m delighted to say I have a story in the collection, ‘Singing From the Same Sheet’, and I’m even more delighted that the cover artwork is so darned good.  See for yourself:


You can find out more about the anthology over at the Gritfiction Press webpage.  No firm release date yet* but I’ll post updates as soon as I hear anything definite.

*Edited to add: I’m reliably informed (by one of the editors, no less, and he should know!) that the book is due out on 2nd April.  So that’s even better news!