Monday, 10 March 2014

Thursday, 24 October 2013

HELLO, BLOG! LONG TIME NO SEE. UPDATES & NEWS OF A FREEBIE FOR YOU...

(If you wanna skip my ramblings to snag the FREEBIE and run, then scroll down).

Just a wanted to say that I'm not ignoring you and that I'm still bang at it, as I endeavour to chase that elusive breakthrough. I've recently been floored by a bout of vertigo that has had me in and out of work. I'm hopeful it will settle, but I know people who've had it on and off for years.

Anyhow, back to writing.  My second crime novel manuscript is out there, via my agent, being read by editors. After the encouraging feedback received with the first one a couple of years ago, there's still hope.  However, this is tempered by concern that they just might not 'get it', since I took a calculated gamble with the plot twist, making it a 'crossover' novel.  The responses have been sluggish, at best, so it doesn't look too good.  I can't say that it's not been frustrating, but no one said it was easy!  Nothing worthwhile is.

Anyway, we'll see.  Of course, I've started a third, something of a change of tack, but less of a gamble, and still a crime thriller.  To be honest, I'm bursting to unleash my novels on the public, though I'm trying my best to remain patient and to not become too exasperated at the slow-turning traditional publishing cogs.  I can see why so many writers self-publish their novels these days.  It's very appealing on so many levels, but I still have faith in the traditional route, albeit at a particularly uncertain time for the industry.

In the meantime, my eBook collections are serving their purpose and being consistently read.  The positive feedback from readers has kept me going.  It feels like I'm getting closer, knocking on the door... and soon I'll be kicking the damn thing down (hopefully)!

After resisting this on principle up until now, in a 'shift of mindset' (aka 'selling out'?), I've decided to run a FREE promo (until Sunday 27th October 2013) on my short story collection, MANCHESTER 6.  After all, writers should give their stuff away shouldn't they? I mean, it's not like they've sweated blood and tears creating their masterpieces, while everyone else is watching telly and chillin' out, is it?

You're welcome to spread the word about the freebie, which would help ensure that it wasn't a complete waste of time!  I wonder if Kindles the world over are now filled up with eBooks that will never see the light of day...?  I also wanted to see if these types of promos worked on short story collections as opposed to novels.  To be honest, I couldn't see myself doing a free promo on a novel that has taken a year, or more, to develop.

In other news, I got my hat-trick! Three years on the bounce, having stories accepted for Maxim Jakubowski's brilliant MAMMOTH BOOKS OF BEST BRITISH CRIME.  This time EYES WIDE SHUT from charity anthology, OFF THE RECORD 2: At the Movies, was selected.

I will have some more 'Fat-Chews' with crime authors for you soon, once 'things' settle down a bit.

Finally, I'll update you with the result of my free promo 'experiment', once results are in, but a day and half into it the five days and the signs are promising...

US downloads = 155 & UK = 313. US rank = 1,299 (#2 in mystery short stories). UK rank = 119 (#1 in short stories).

NAB YOUR FREE COPY...

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

You take care and keep soldiering on (unless it's driving you insane, in which case, take a break).
Ever determined.
Col

Thursday, 27 June 2013

CHEWING THE FAT with... Richard Godwin...

Apostle Rising is a dark, psycho-logical and moody novel. One Lost Summer sounds lovely, suggesting sun and flowers, but I suspect I'm wrong. Tell us about it.

Despite the fact that it is set in a heat wave One Lost Summer is a dark seductive novel about identity loss and reality. And it is about why we want to be seduced.

Rex Allen meets his beautiful next door neighbour, Evangeline Glass, when she invites him to one of her summer parties, and he becomes convinced she is someone other than the person she is pretending to be. He sets about spying on her and asks her to act out the part of Coral, who may be a figment of his imagination or Evangeline’s alter ego. His obsession leads to disaster. It is a psychological portrait of obsession set in a heat wave.

Despite being on your third novel (Mr Glamour being the second), unlike many novelists, you still find the time to write short stories for the ezines. Why?

I like short stories. I think they are an excellent way to explore fiction in shorter form. I also enjoy contributing to the magazines. And they bring exposure to a new audience.

When you kindly put me up on my London visit, you still got up at 7.00 am and did a couple of hours writing. Rather than thinking, 'ignorant bugger', I admired you for it!  This made me realise that you are a true pro' and have the self-discipline to get the job done.  Have you always been so steadfastly organised?

Not always. When I was younger probably not, but discipline is necessary.

So far, your novels are 'standalones'. Any thoughts on creating a series character?

Yes. I am writing the sequel to Apostle Rising. For those of you who have read it, the novel, while complete, remains open for a sequel, and that should be out next year.

Any words of wisdom for the writers out there who want to fulfil their dream of becoming a full-time novelist? 

Keep writing.



You can buy One Lost Summer here, Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Richard Godwin is the author of critically acclaimed novels One Lost Summer, Apostle Rising and Mr. Glamour.  One Lost Summer is his third novel. He is also a published poet and a produced playwright. His stories have been published in over 29 anthologies, among them his anthology of stories, Piquant: Tales Of The Mustard Man

Apostle Rising is a dark work of fiction exploring the blurred line between law and lawlessness and the motivations that lead men to kill.

Mr. Glamour is about a world of wealthy, beautiful people who can buy anything, except safety from the killer in their midst.

Richard Godwin was born in London and obtained a BA and MA in English and American Literature from King's College London, where he also lectured.

You can find out more about Richard at his website  www.richardgodwin.net, where you can also read his Chin Wags At The Slaughterhouse, his highly popular and unusual interviews with other authors.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Soul Destruction: Unforgivable by Ruth Jacobs - Sample & FREE eBook, if you're quick...

(FREE here MAY 26th to a.m. of 28th)
Ruth Jacobs writes a series of novels entitled Soul Destruction, which expose the dark world and the harsh reality of life as a call girl. Her debut novel, Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, was released on 29 April 2013 by Caffeine Nights. Ruth studied prostitution in the late 1990s, which sparked her interest in the subject. She draws on her research and the women she interviewed for inspiration. She also has firsthand experience of many of the topics she writes about such as posttraumatic stress disorder, rape, and drug and alcohol addiction. In addition to her fiction writing, Ruth is also involved in non-fiction for her charity and human rights campaigning work in the areas of anti-sexual exploitation and anti-human trafficking.

Soul Destruction: Unforgivable

Enter the bleak existence of a call girl haunted by the atrocities of her childhood. In the spring of 1997, Shelley Hansard is a drug addict with a heroin habit and crack psychosis. Her desirability as a top London call girl is waning.

When her client dies in a suite at The Lanesborough Hotel, Shelley’s complex double-life is blasted deeper into chaos. In her psychotic state, the skills required to keep up her multiple personas are weakening. Amidst her few friends, and what remains of her broken family, she struggles to maintain her wall of lies.

During this tumultuous time, she is presented with an opportunity to take revenge on a client who raped her and her friends. But in her unbalanced state of mind, can she stop a serial rapist?

The Stranger, the Coke Can and the Futuristic Street Installation taken from Soul Destruction: Unforgivable by Ruth Jacobs.

Shelley found herself squatting on the dirty floor of a public toilet in Camden Town, trying to avoid the sparkling streams of urine under the dim light. Twenty minutes earlier, she’d plucked a young man from the street. He’d been sitting on the pavement by the Tube station, begging, appearing to be homeless. She had a knack for picking them – the junkies – and she was rarely wrong.

She entrusted him with one-hundred and twenty pounds to score sixty brown and sixty white. He both scored and brought back the drugs – the latter not being a given when strangers score for strangers, especially when buying heroin and crack. With that action, sadly, he proved more reliable and perhaps more deserving of her trust than the majority of people with whom she associated.

Although in her cigarette packet she still had the crack from The Lanesborough, she needed more. And she needed the heroin to come down, but before coming down, she wanted to get as high as she knew how. Speedballing. The superlative combination of heroin and crack. The transportation to Shangri-la.

None of her friends took heroin. The only two heroin dealers she knew – Jay and Ajay – weren’t answering their phones. That was why she had to follow her usual Plan B, which she imagined was no more jeopardous than working.

The stranger had suggested shooting up in the toilet on Inverness Street. She didn’t want to wait to walk back to her car so had accompanied him inside the futuristic street installation. Though the outside was modern, inside it was rank. One of the worst public conveniences Shelley had ever used for a hit. The stench of stale urine permeated every cell in the depths of her nasal cavities and from there, travelled down her throat like post-nasal drip. Even though she kept her mouth shut, she could taste it on her tongue. It was making her gag.

The spoon he cooked up in wasn’t a spoon at all. Neither of them had one, so he used the bottom of a coke can as a substitute. Shelley hoped the boiling would sterilise the metal. She would have preferred her own clean spoon, but it was in her glove box.

She wondered if that was everything he owned, bundled into the small rucksack on his back. She didn’t ask. She didn’t say anything. And neither did he. Why was she dressed for the office when she was shooting up in a public toilet? Not that it would have been difficult to conjure an alternative to what happened at The Lanesborough, but she wasn’t there for conversation. She was there to forget. In her own way. Not by the falsehoods Marianne tried to peddle. 

She rolled up her sleeves to choose a vein. Her arms were clean. So far, she’d managed to evade the track marks, lumps, scabs, bruises and abscesses that would have been tantamount to commercial suicide. To charge upwards of two-hundred and fifty pounds an hour, her clients could never know she was an injector. So injecting had to be organised, alternating numerous veins in her arms, hands, legs and feet. If she was messy, she’d only be able to solicit clients on the street, and streetwalking came with far more risk and a far lower financial reward.

When the heroin had dissolved, she added a rock of crack. With the young man holding the can steady, she used the plunger end of her syringe to grind the white stone into the brown water. She hurried, craving to feel the warm safe-danger, her body pulsating, and her head pumping like it was pumping out every tormenting memory it stored. Soon, the relentless playback of those pictures and scenes would stop. She would have her reprieve. Her respite. And although earning the money to pay for it created new images, as abhorrent as they were, what she was originally escaping from was worse. 

Shelley proffered her gold twenty-pack. He took a cigarette and, using his teeth, tore off a chunk of filter. He snatched it from his mouth with his thumb and index finger then dropped it into the concoction. Shelley noticed the scabs on his lips and the dirt under his fingernails. The filter wasn’t clean. She needed the hit.

 “You first.” A gentleman, he held the can out in front of Shelley, letting her draw up her shot before him.

“Pass it here.” Shelley positioned her filled syringe between her teeth and reached for the can to reciprocate.

Once his barrel was full, she delicately placed the empty can on what seemed like a dry area of the floor, saving the filter for the next fix. If she was taking one hit from the dirty filter, what difference would a second make? 

She wrapped one hand around her wrist. She squeezed. On cue, her pulse thumped and the map of blue veins rose from the back of her hand. She let go, swiped the syringe from her mouth, removed the orange cap with her teeth and inserted the needle into a sinking vein at the base of her hand. Pulling back on the plunger, blood swirled into her medicine. Inside, her rush was brewing. She pushed it all in.

 
Soul Destruction: Unforgivable was released 29 April 2013. Available worldwide from all major online retailers in paperback and e-book. Also available direct from Caffeine Nights

Further information and contact details:


Soul Destruction website: http://soul-destruction.com

Author Website: http://ruthjacobs.co.uk

Ruth’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/rujacobs

The Soul Destruction Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/SoulDestructionSeries


Join Ruth’s mailing list here

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

New eBook - THE COPS OF MANCHESTER...


Well, as I come to the 'end' (?) of rewrite three of novel attempt two, having re-plotted, cut and replaced 35,000 words, I decided another short story collection was long overdue.

Here's what people are saying about THE COPS OF MANCHESTER...

“Short, sharp, shocking - and all set in my beloved Manchester. Great Stuff!” - Mandasue Heller, bestselling crime writer.

“Bury is going places. He shows boldness by tackling different styles of writing which encompass humour, paranoia, action thrillers and urban discontent.” - Crimesquad.com

“Col Bury pulls no punches, landing a flurry of hard jabs to the solar plexus that leaves us breathless. This is tight, gritty, bare-knuckle writing.” - Howard Linskey, author of The Drop.

“Fast dialogue and edgy plots, keeps you turning the pages. Cracking!” - Sheila Quigley, author of the Seahills series, and the Holy Island trilogy.

Product Description...

Ever fancied being a cop? 

Could you handle the pressure of hunting down a vigilante who’s killing criminals at a ferocious rate? Consider how you would deliver a death message to a distraught parent. Would you protect the public by tailing a gangster’s vehicle, knowing the occupants were armed? Or follow a suspect into a dark alley? How would years of dealing with society’s appalling, and often violent, underbelly affect you? And, does anyone really like a bent cop?

Love them or loathe them, cops run toward danger as everyone else flees.

With alternating short and longer fiction, The Cops of Manchester provides an eclectic taste of life as a cop - with a few 'surprises' - in the gritty urban setting of Manchester, UK.

Author’s note: some of these stories are hard-hitting, so not for the fainthearted. 

You can get your copy here...

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Thursday, 14 February 2013

CHEWING THE FAT with... Graham Smith...


Well, I've been busy putting the finishing touches to rewrite three of crime novel attempt two for my agent, so forgive my silence.  It's surely time that I 'chewed the fat', and who better than Crimesquad reviewer-cum-author, Graham Smith?

You have a crime weekend for aspiring writers at your snazzy hotel in March. Tell us about it and why writers will benefit?

Crime and Publishment is a weekend of crime writing master-classes taken by authors and industry professionals. First off you have Matt Hilton teaching attendees how to inject pace and action into their stories. Sheila Quigley will then lecture on characterisation. The next day Allan Guthrie will talk about editing in a session titled “How to kill your babies DEAD!” Inga McVicar will then teach the attendees how to pitch their novel to an agent. All attendees will be given the chance to pitch their novel directly to Allan Guthrie who is an agent for JennyBrown Associates and a co-owner of digital publisher Blasted Heath.

Crime and Publishment runs from the 8th-10th of March 2013 and more information can be found at www.crimeandpublishment.co.uk 

When I started to put the event together with co-organiser Inga McVicar, I was determined to put together the kind of course I’d like to attend at a price I could afford. With a total cost of £260 for all five sessions and two nights accommodation at my hotel, I feel that the course is not just informative but also affordable.

Sounds well worth the investment. But what if funds are a tad tight? Could someone just pop in and stay for one day or night?

Absolutely. Attendees may come for any single day, except day three, and don't necessarily have to stay both nights, or even stay at all. One or two local delegates have booked without accommodation. I could even be tempted to offer a discount for a group booking of five or more.

Harry Charters... I enjoyed his Chronicles very much. He's a no nonsense PI, and you seem to have nailed the 'Chandleresque' turns of phrases. Being set in the 50's, and in the US, tell us how the character came about and how much research was necessary...

Thank you for the kind comments.

Harry Charters first appeared when Kate Pilarcik asked me to submit a noir piece to her blog site. I wrote about this nameless, faceless character who was the traditional private eye. When I write him he’s narrated in my head by Humphrey Bogart. Kate urged me to give him a name, so I named him after my maternal grandfather Harold Charters and shortened Harold to Harry. One or two of Granddad’s traits have crept into Harry and in Dealt a Better Hand I put my Granddad back in the ring one last time. I just wish he was alive to have read the story as he’d have loved that.

I totally cheated with my research as I made up the city of Mariscoper that Harry inhabits. You can’t get it wrong if it’s fictional!

The research I did do was on 50’s fashions, beer brands and so on. I also got drunk on Jack Daniels for a wee spot of method writing.

It would've been rude not to! Nice touch re' your Granddad too. I think there could be some mileage for Harry in a longer piece: a novella, or even a novel. What are your plans for him?

I plan to return to Harry Charters as I feel there is still a lot of mileage in him, and lots of people have commented that they’d like to know about the case which made him the mean son of a bitch that he is. All I need to do is find the case to set the novella or novel against and then I’ll write it.

Most people in the industry knew you as a Crimesquad reviewer. Elaborate on the transformation to author in your own right, and how it came about...

I’ve always been a massive fan of crime fiction and action thrillers. Being a reviewer for Crimesquad.com has furnished me with so many great books that I’ve been spoiled for choice. I turned to writing as I felt I had a story inside me trying to come out. I half-heartedly bashed away at it until Col Bury (that's you!) gave me the kick up the backside I needed, and I am currently half way through a rewrite of my debut novel.

Yeah, I do that to myself a lot, bud! Give us a quick run down on your other eBooks.

I have two collections of short stories, as well as the Harry Charters Chronicles. Both, Eleven the Hardest Way and Gutshots: Ten Blows to the Abdomen, feature an eclectic mix of hard hitting crime based short stories. They have received some acclaim from noted authors and Eleven the Hardest Way has been nominated for a Spinetingler award.

Congrats on that. Personally, I've published my own short story collection via Ganglion Press (with another to follow soon), but that was just for exposure purposes while I write the novel(s). I still have faith in the traditional approach regarding longer works. Do you?

I absolutely have faith in traditional publishing, and the novel I am currently writing will be sent to agents in the hope of getting a print deal. I love the convenience of eBooks for both authors and readers, but prefer reading a physical book. I enjoy the feel, smell and ownership of "real" books and nothing will ever change that.

I would love to have something published traditionally and doing so is definitely high up on my bucket list.

One last question: how the fook does a man of Scottish heritage end up supporting ManU(re)? I mean, you're not even a Cockney! ;-)

I'm a football supporter first and a club supporter second. I love to see a good game and United play more than most over an extended period. 

Over the last few years they have seen off Blackburn, Leeds, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea as title challengers. City are a work in progress, which sadly for you may change before the season is complete. 

I'd watch Carlisle play Brighton if they played a decent game.

So would I, mate. We’ll see, but I think you’re right for this season, unfortunately.

Thanks for Chewing the Fat, Graham, and I hope the Crime & Publishment event goes so well that it becomes an annual event.

Cheers, mate.

To find out more about Graham and his writing check out his blog here.

For more details regarding 'Crime & Publishment', and the credentials of the industry experts involved, go here.

Monday, 24 December 2012

MERRY CHRISTMAS & A HAPPY NEW YEAR! (plus, 2012 highlights).

It's been a tough old year, chasing the writing dream while working full time and feeding the family. Just wanted to send my hearty good wishes for the festive season to my online friends / readers, and say 'thanks' to you all for your ongoing support and friendship, which is invaluable and truly spurs me on more than you probably realize.  


Writing update: My little old ebook of gritty crime shorts, MANCHESTER 6, is still selling consistently (pushing 400 now), considering it was just an 'appetite-wetter' while I continued with the traditional publishing route. When I've finished the third draft (big sigh) of 'novel attempt two' for my agent, I'm pleased to announce that I'll be bringing out another ebook of shorts via Ganglion Press. I've just got to go through twenty shorts and maybe whittle them down to the best dozen or so. Look out for THE COPS OF MANCHESTER in early(ish) 2013.

Highlights of 2012: 


... Going to my first Harrogate Crime Writing Festival with Graham Smith and meeting...  Howard Linskey, Michael Malone, Nick Quantrill, Matt Hilton, Chris Simmons, Luca Veste, Neil White, Jo Evans, Scott Turner, Zoe Sharp, Ali Karim and Kevin Wignall, among many others. 


... Briefly chatting with three of my favourite crime authors, Simon Kernick, Stuart Neville and Mark Billingham.  And... being in that room when TOSSERGATE erupted! (Quickly digressing...)


... Going to London to meet class acts, Bill 'AJ' Hayes and Richard Godwin, and having a damn good 'chinwag' and walk along the Thames with their lovely wives (don't tell Richard 'n' Bill though!). Richard even took us to Richmond Park which inspired the 'Woodlands Murders' in Apostle Rising - my fave novel of 2012 (that's when I read it anyway).


... Then, off up to Gretna with the family to chew the fat at Graham's gaff, with 'me old mucker', David Barber (& his lovely fam'), Denise and Matt Hilton, Sheila Quigley, Michael Malone and the man who fatefully introduced me to Matt nearly four years ago, Richard 'Thommo' Thompson. 


... Without that intro', the annual Gretna gig wouldn't exist, and arguably, neither would Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers ezine.



... Personally, I was thrilled to bits that my short story, MOPPING UP (Tonto Books), made The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 9, alongside the likes of Mark Billingham, Peter James and Zoe Sharp... and FISTS OF DESTINY (from MANCHESTER 6), was selected for The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 10 beside Lee Child, Ruth Rendell and Paul D Brazill, among other top crime scribes.

Non-writing highlight... obviously...!



All the best everyone. Let's make 2013 a year to remember too! 

All the very best,
Col

Friday, 2 November 2012

More Short Story Successes...(plus, news snippets).

***Note: bit of a 'me post' for a change! ;-)

After last year's inclusion in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST BRITISH CRIME 9, alongside the likes of Mark Billingham and Zoe Sharp, I didn't realise, until recently, that this time I'd be sharing the pages with stellar names, such as of Lee Child and Ann Cleeves, in  THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST BRITISH CRIME 10.  It is quite an honour, as you can imagine.  The book's out in February 2013, and my story's called, FISTS OF DESTINY, selected from the ebook, MANCHESTER 6.  A huge thanks goes to author/publisher, Maxim Jakubowski for twice showing faith in my crime writing.

So that's the name-dropping out of the way! ;-)

I'm still beavering away in the background regarding the crime novels, but, as they say, "patience is a virtue", right?  I also like the phrase, "The harder you work, the luckier you get."

In the meantime, as short stories pour out of me, I've had a few more accepted recently: four flash pieces in the forthcoming "OWC Writers' Talkback anthology"; one short in a Zombie Apocalypse anthology (more details to follow); one short in, OFF THE RECORD 2 - At the Movies, charity anthology; plus, there was my editors' contribution short  in the Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers Halloween Comp, which you can read here.

The winning stories from the TKnC comp are absolute crackers and the standard was off the scale.

They've already been posted on the site, so have a browse around for a horror feast. The results are here.  Big Congrats to the winners and runners up, and a hat tip to all who entered.

One last note: Paul D Brazill, the man with his finger on the crime fiction pulse, keeps us up to date weekly on all things juicy down Brit Grit Alley. So, if you don't wanna miss anything, get over there!

Laters,
Col

Thursday, 27 September 2012

CHEWING THE FAT... with Luca Veste, as OFF THE RECORD 2 is released...


In this new series, I spoke with Luca Veste about... putting together anthologies to help kids learn to read, speaking out against sock-puppeteers, the origin of 'Scousers', and his rapid transformation from unknown reviewer to writer and publisher.

Off The Record 2 - At The Movies, is now out. Tell us about the charities and inspiration behind both it, and Off the Record.


Off The Record 2 is supporting two charities...

In the UK, National Literacy Trust.

In the US, Children's Literacy Initiative.

Both deal with literacy in childhood, helping kids to read and write, which is a subject close to my heart. I know how much reading as a child helped me, and want to aide others who might not have a Dad who lets you read Stephen King at 12. It's even more important in this current climate, where libraries are deemed less important by those in power to society than bankers bonuses.

So, the main thrust of Off The Record is now to raise as much money as possible for those charities, in order to make as big a difference as we can possibly do.

The other reason for doing OTR is another subject close to my heart (I have many subjects close to my heart...I keep the notebook containing them in my inside pocket). It's bringing an audience to a wide range of writers. It's giving those 'unknown' (and I include myself in that) writers a chance to mix it up with the bigger names. It's difficult to find any other anthologies where writers on the first rung of the ladder, such as Keith B Walters or Tracey Edges, sharing space with Steve Mosby, Will Carver and Matt Hilton.

That hopefully gives us all a boost up, a helping hand in this difficult 'business'. And also means we get to read stories we may not have had chance to without it.

I love doing it for those reasons. This whole writing thing is much easier when we can all come together and do something like this.

Great stuff. Luca, if you don't mind me saying, you've only been around online for less than 18 months, but have certainly hit the ground running and made a huge impact. 'Talk' us through this and tell us how things have changed for you.

It's really strange. I was reminded recently by my wife of something. About two years ago, I sent messages through Facebook to Steve Mosby and Neil White...I'd really enjoyed their books and wanted to say something. They replied, and I rang my wife very excited to get a thank you from them.

Now, Neil was in OTR1 and Steve Mosby is making another appearance following OTR1 in this new anthology. I've gone from being a fanboy to editing these incredible writers. It's weird.

It's an example of how welcoming the fiction community is. Steve, for example, is my favourite writer working today. I have to consciously make an effort not to devolve into 'I really love your wordy stuff' mode sometimes with him. But, he makes it incredibly easy not to, by being one of the most down to earth, generous, and good hearted guys I've ever met.

Then, there's writers like Nick Quantrill, yourself and Helen FitzGerald, who I speak to all the time. Always happy to lend an ear and answer questions. That means so much to someone who doesn't really have a clue what he's doing.

Which leads me onto what's changed. The single biggest change was moving from being a reviewer to a writer. I had no intention of writing whatsoever. I wrote something once, with a friend in school, a piss-take of the nativity story (Three Wise Scousers, Mary's Dad going off his head at her for being pregnant...that sort of thing), but that was just jokes. Last year I just started thinking of stories I wanted to tell. And began writing.

The difference I suppose is in the way I do things. I have no problem with contacting people, getting them involved in things, emailing Stephen King asking for a short story for OTR2 (still waiting on a reply). The sort of 'fuck-it' attitude which gets things moving. And I do it because I love it. I love talking about stories, sharing books I've loved with others...all that kind of thing. It's a great time to be involved in this world, with the abundance of social media and the ability to converse with so many about all these things.

Plus, I go by the old motto 'don't be a dick'. If you're good to people, generous etc. you see that returned to you.

Yep, you're definitely a doer! Probing deeper now (don't worry, I'm married!)... I was sitting next to you at Harrogate when we heard gasps in unison and someone shout, "Tosser". We all know about the disturbing revelations that followed, but many authors, including me, admittedly, chose not to be so vocal (for various, understandable reasons). Why did you choose to speak out, and do you think the sock-puppets and dodgy reviews will reduce now?

I didn't so much 'choose' to speak out, it was just a natural reaction to a certain situation. Because it's wrong. And the only way to bring something into the light, and show that despite certain people's assertions, it's not something that many, many writers do, is by talking about it and showing your own position.

I've heard many ridiculous things since then, especially regarding the open letter, but it's really simple for me, and it goes back to the previous answers motto...don't be a dick. The three writers named in the open letter which appeared in the media and online, where all involved in varying levels of nefarious behaviour. Every story I read online following it, had comments underneath which invariably stated, 'they're all doing it' or 'what's the big deal, no one reads reviews', stuff like that. Well, if we all stay quiet, that's the message that is driven home. But all writers aren't doing that, and many people are influenced by reviews. Otherwise, why would they try and game the system in the first place?

If there was a unified stance against the behaviour shown, I think it'd go some way to ending the vast majority of dodgy reviews, yes. However, you have the naysayers who have their own agendas or others who are worried about upsetting certain writers and endangering their own careers, or simply don't think it's that big an issue, which means there will be a lull, before it builds up again.

The only way the places these reviews are found will crack down on it, is if it starts costing them actual profit. And that's not going to happen any time soon. So, it's at an impasse now, with some feeling disillusioned by the whole thing, others incredulous of the reactions by some.

I will end with this. If you need to use fake reviews, bought reviews, or sock-puppets in order to promote your books, you've forgotten why you wanted, no...needed, to write. You wanted to share stories with people, entertain, educate whatever. You're not doing that any more. You're just in it for the money. And at some point readers will recognise that, and that audience you once had will move on. And no amount of skulduggery will get them back.

Only good books, and good stories will.

This is by far the most words I've ever used in an interview...let me know if the answers are too long!

He-he. Things are hotting up, so now for the biggie... Scousers... do you know the origin of this term?

I think it comes from a Stew. And it's Scandinavian or something. I remember reading it somewhere. I should really Google this shouldn't I!

Scouse is one of my favourite meals. It's basically a stew with more potatoes in it. And when I was younger, the cheapest beef you could buy. Load of veg, then cooked for around three months. Really get the flavour out. Lovely stuff.

Yeah, that's pretty close. I had to research it regarding the Scouser in my own 'novels'. Comes from 'Lobscouse' - sailors used to eat it at seaports, including Liverpool. So, I see you chose 'Goodfellas' as your movie title for OTR2. Give us the gist and a general feel for what we can expect from the other stories.

I hope you're kind to the Scouser...

There's a real eclectic mix of stories in this one, as there was in OTR1. There's an abundance of crime stories, but also a fantasyish/sci-fi-ish story in the form of 'The Umbrellas of Cherbourg' by Vincent Holland-Keen, a Zombie short by Will Carver (who wins the honour of best title choice with 'Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil, Mutant, Hellbound, Flesh-Eating Sub-humanoid Zombified Living Dead. Part 2 – in Shocking 2-D'), David Jackson giving us a Stephen King-esque story with 'The Time Machine...there's really something for every readers taste in there.

There's also darkness and light in every story. Which I love, because that's where the emotion comes from...our darkest fears laid bare and tangled with. Every story has some kernel of that kind of emotion in there.

And it ends with the most emotional story I've ever encountered from Helen FitzGerald. Knowing it's based almost entirely on her own recent experience, just gives it something extra. An incredible piece of writing.

Sounds ace. BTW, my Scouser's a diamond geezer!  So, I know you've been rattling the old keyboard. Any plans or breakthroughs yet, novel-wise? Or an ebook of shorts perhaps? 

I've been working on my first novel for almost a year now. It's gone through a few rewrites in that time, but there's a novel there at the moment. It's a psychological thriller, with major elements of procedural within, set in Liverpool (of course). Trying to breakthrough is difficult though. I made the decision very early on that I wanted to 'make it' through the traditional channels, rather than self-publish. So, at the moment I'm attempting to secure an agent. Hard work, but will ultimately be worth it I hope.

I've got a number of short stories on my hard drive (and backed up!), but no plans to release them at the moment. I've used bits of ideas and lines from some of them in the book, so a bit of work would be needed to polish them up etc.

Also, they were written a long time ago. For this anthology, I think the growth I've made as a writer over the past year is clear with my own story. I dare not read the old stories again!

Luca, thank you for an enlightening and honest interview. And, I tip my hat to you for all the hard work you've put into editing and publishing both Off The Record anthologies.

Help kids read by purchasing...

OFF THE RECORD 2 - AT THE MOVIES (US)

OFF THE RECORD 2 - AT THE MOVIES (UK)

(If you're skint, then just like it and agree with the tags - it all helps.)

The paperback is out on October 4th 2012.

Luca's website: Guilty Conscience.

Monday, 24 September 2012

CHEWING THE FAT... in London with Richard Godwin 'n' AJ Hayes...

The meet...
(If you wanna skip my drivel, then AJ's 'n' Richard's takes are below).

I'd known for a while that crack US writer and all round good guy, AJ Hayes (now, aka Bill) was visiting UK's finest dark fiction author, Richard Godwin in Richmond on September 10th. So, since Richard (now, aka Godders) and I had been threatening to meet for a while, I bit the proverbial bullet and headed 'darn sarth'. I mean, how could I miss an opportunity to meet and chew the fat with two brilliant minds of crime fiction?


"AJ, keep look out."
"I need duck tape"
So, two buses and three trains later, there I was... sitting on a bench outside the Richmond Gate Hotel, and like a proper northerner, munching on an extra large sausage roll. Because of my sleuth skills, I knew at some point Bill would be out for a fag (no, a cig' - naughty!) and just as I'd imagined him, he appeared.

I flicked the crumbs off me lap and shouted across the road: "Yo, ma-man! What's goin' down innit?" or words to that effect. We man-hugged, shook hands and the free-flowing fat-chewing began as if we'd known each other for years.  The Internet is good for some things, eh?  Then my phone rings and Dave Barber's name popped up, so I passed it to Bill for a bonus chat I know they were both chuffed with.


Pre-fat-chewing lubrication...
Inside the hotel (spookily reminiscent of Richard's 'Slaughterhouse' pic), I met up with Bill's lovely wife, Thury. Then in strolled Richard and Page Godwin and the fat-chewing got a whole lot chewier!


"Where's the body?"
Woodlands Killer!
True to my  northern values, I necked a pint of lager. ;-) Richard's a great host and took us on a walk to Richmond Park, the inspiration behind his cult classic, Apostle Rising, pointing out where the first 'Woodlands Murder' took place.  Rain had obviously cleared the blood, but I'm sure I saw a small piece of police scene tape flapping in the wind.


The recce... 
On the job...
Then to the 'best view in London', before a walk along the Thames and a delicious meal... and lashings of Chilean Chardonnay.  I can't even recall what I had to eat as the fat chewing became gristlier.

So, what did I learn?

Fat Chewing!
Thury and I hit it off and it was truly lovely to meet her.  Despite her jet-lag, she out-supped us all and partied the night away! ;-)

Page is classy lady who made me fell very welcome.  She also designs book covers, including Richard's MR GLAMOUR. (I'll do a post on this at a later date.)

Both AJ and Richard are extremely well-read, witty and fascinating to chat with. Bill won diving a holiday in the early 70's by coming first in a national poetry competition, so is clearly very well-versed (pun intended).  He is also now fluent in Mancunian.  Godders is the ultimate gent and his living room floor is really comfy.  He also now has cig' dimps in his plant pots.  

Another thing: Richard has tremendous self-discipline and has learned to manage his time effectively to sustain his impressive output.  Despite our late night session, he left me to sleep in, while he got up at 7.00 am to write.

Anyway, here are the guys' respective takes on events...

Richard says, "Arriving at Terminal Five, I heard the alarms go off while two actors tap danced their way down the marble corridors, enacting the Olympics. It felt like a bad trip, but was a coupled effect of the post Olympics greeting ceremony and Bill setting off the fire alarms as he inhaled eight fags in the toilets at Heathrow airport, and no that is not a homophobic euphemism. Bill, drenched, appeared none the worse for wear. Although I thought of Rod Stewart. 
Later that day we met Col. 
He told me he had brought sausage rolls, but I have never seen such Gargantuan monsters in my life, he knocked two waiters out with them in a Chaplinesque scene of menace and absurdity. The crumbs will leave you reeling. He shattered two windows with them, slung from his nimble wrists like shurikens. 
Thence to the views. Now the views from Bill's hotel are heart stopping, Turner bleeding pink and Halloween orange into Shepherd sunsets all over again. 
We passed a hearty meal of heart and liver, in which various matters were discussed. 
But that was all by and by. 
If you think we're going to tell you about the job you're mistaken." 

AJ says, "After the events described by Sir Richard, we relaxed a bit . . . um . . . well quite a bit . . . well . . . maybe more than quite a bit. (On the good side, no charges were pressed, somehow). Col stayed the course manfully and with a minimum of violence. (No, I don't know where he got that horse, let alone the cannon. And it also beats the hell out of me why Harry the Duke showed up pant-less, waving the flag of St. George wildly about.) So the evening went well and I learned quite a bit about Manchester blokes: 
  
1. They are great guys.
2. They have hollow legs when drinking hearty spirits and upset-proof stomachs whilst downing massive quantities of sausage. (I honestly think Col is solely responsible for the vast shortage of Bangers and Mash in Olde London Towne over our two day assault on all that's good and decent in the legendary realm of  King Arthur and his Knights.) 
and... 
3. In a pinch, Mancs resemble nothing more on earth than high energy, monster bulldozers when scraping a path to safety for their pals if a hasty escape is necessary. (Again, no survivors mean no witnesses)." 


It was an absolute pleasure, fellers, something we must do again soon. 

AJ Hayes penned the most commented on short story of 2012 over at Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers. DARK GENESIS is a cracker - read it here

Richard Godwin's critically acclaimed novels and popular 'Slaughterhouse' chin wags can be found here

Standby for a new series inspired by my meet with these crime thoroughbreds... 'Chewing the Fat with...'