Thursday, 25 March 2010

Col Bury's Blog Break...

For personal reasons I'm taking a break. My time and energy is required elsewhere for a while. There are some extremely important things I need to address.
Meanwhile, since you find yourself here, be sure to check out the many crime fiction related pieces by scrolling down on the right... including: author interviews, my take on selected short stories, my own short stories, crime comedy, reviews and excellent links to writing websites - feel free to leave comments.

Many thanks for the support and feedback received over the last eighteen months from my many friends out there in the blogosphere.

Back soon enough,

Ps. I'll still be checking in and also co-editing TKnC.

Monday, 22 March 2010

SHOT TO DEATH - Stephen D. Rogers...

I agreed to help fellow crime writer, Stephen - who has, what sounds like a cracking anthology, out called Shot To Death - whereby I had to choose a starter sentence from one of his short stories... read all about it and Stephen's interesting insights into the short story below...

Stephen D. Rogers is the author of SHOT TO DEATH(ISBN 978-0982589908) and more than six hundred stories and poems. He's the head writer at Crime Scene (where viewers solve interactive mysteries) and a popular writing instructor. For more information, you can visit his website,, where he tries to pull it all together.

SHOT TO DEATH contains thirty-one stories of murder and mayhem.

"Terse tales of cops and robbers, private eyes and bad guys, with an authentic New England setting."- Linda Barnes, Anthony Award winner and author of the Carlotta Carlyle series.

"Put yourself in the hands of a master as you travel this world of the dishonest, dysfunctional, and disappeared. Rogers is the real deal--real writer, real story teller, real tour guide to the dark side."- Kate Flora, author of the Edgar-nominated FINDING AMY and the Thea Kozak mysteries.

"SHOT TO DEATH provides a riveting reminder that the short story form is the foundation of the mystery/thriller genre. There's something in this assemblage of New England noir to suit every aficionado. Highly recommended!"- Richard Helms, editor and publisher, The Back Alley Webzine

"I should have been sleeping but I couldn't" - C.O.D.
So begins one of the 31 stories contained in SHOT TO DEATH(ISBN 978-0982589908).

Within that beginning lurks the ending to the story and everything that happens between the beginning and the end. Or at least it seems that way to me.

"I should have been sleeping...." How doesn't lack of sleep complicate matters? Moods sour, tempers flare, and decisions stain.

"...but I couldn't." Why? Was the narrator keeping himself up or he was being kept up? If being kept up, was it something internal or something external? I imagine that if you compiled a list of all major events, you would find that very few of the positive ones developed out of exhaustion. Negative events? Exhaustion is probably right up there with drugs and alcohol.

"I should have been sleeping but I couldn't." The sentence ends on a down note, which means the story should as well.

So far, what I have is a situation, not a story. How do I get from the first to the second?

He should be sleeping but he isn't. Something is keeping him from sleeping. He hasn't been sleeping. He's exhausted, and thus his judgment is impaired. He knows he hasn't been sleeping and thus he decides to improve his situation by actively affecting whatever has been keeping him from sleeping. But his judgment is impaired. He acts on a plan developed when trying to change. His critical thinking is affected by the very situation he's trying to change. The more important changing the situation is, the less capable he is of making the right choices.

But the plan is already in play. He's just waiting for events to unfold, for the guilty to pay. (Thus the title, "Cash on delivery," and having to cough up the money after it's too late to cancel the order.) Ending on a down note.

All that remained was the writing.

For a chance to win a signed copy of SHOT TO DEATH, click on over to and submit your completed entry. Then visit the schedule at to see how you can march along. And then come back here to post your comments. Phew.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Final round of voting on Joe Hunter short story comp'...

Matt Hilton's 'Joe Hunter' style short story competition is now at round two. Voting has been reset to zero and the top three stories from round one now feature on both Matt's blog and Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers.

Up to the launch of Matt's latest novel, Slash and Burn, on March 31st voting for your favourite story on both sites is permitted here and here.

Monday, 15 March 2010

An interview with debut crime novelist, Nick Quantrill...

Nick Quantrill's debut novel, Broken Dreams, is released by Caffeine Nights this week and I had the pleasure of meeting up with Nick at the Trafford Centre in Manchester recently where we chatted about crime fiction, our aspirations, Nick's road to publication and, of course, football! (I can hear the sarcastic comments already about my Caribbean blue jumper... and don't worry, am not squeezing Nick's hand too tight - that's the normal expression of a hardened Hull City fan!).

So tell me about this unassuming bloke, Nick Quantrill from Hull. How did you become a crime writer?

I think I became a crime writer first and foremost as a consequence of a being a big reader. As I child, I loved mystery stories and read anything I could get my hands on. As an adult, I worked my way through Steinbeck and Hemingway before moving onto more contemporary stuff like Roddy Doyle and Irvine Welsh, but the love of mystery had got under my skin. I was also reading the likes of Ian Rankin and Elmore Leonard and I could see links and overlaps between all these different writers, and joining the dots lit a path for me to follow.

Many people probably haven't heard of Hull, so please enlighten us and why did choose it as a setting for your novel?
Hull’s an isolated sea port out on the east coast of England. The reason people probably don’t know the city too well is that it’s not the kind of place you pass through by accident, or on your way to somewhere else. You need a reason to visit. What strikes me in terms of it being different to other cities is the curious inward looking mentality of the place. Sometimes it can be a strength, like during the floods of 2007 when the city looked after its own, but sometimes it breeds an air of cynicism and wariness of new ideas which really drags the place down. Why write about Hull? Because it’s home.

Tell us about your previous successes, be it short stories, articles and the progression up to writing Broken Dreams.
So why a PI and not, say a procedural or a straight crime novel?

Before writing novels, I tried a few different things. I started out by writing reviews of CD's, restaurants, anything I fancied, for a local website. Once I made the decision to write fiction, there was no looking back. My first short-story, ‘Punishment’, won the Harper Collins Crime Tour competition back in 2006, which really was the definition of beginner’s luck! After writing a fair few more shorts, I had a crack at a novel, ‘Black and White’, and although it had some elements I liked, it turned out to be more a vehicle for learning how to actually write a novel, rather than something I seriously thought I might get published. I’ve messed around with a few different characters, police, PI, assorted low-life, but nothing felt completely right until Joe came along. I wrote a proto-type PI story and the reaction to it was far, far better than it had been for the others, so I knew I was out onto something. Without the nagging doubt of trying to get police procedure right, I was able to get under Joe’s skin a bit more easily than with some of the other characters I’d created.

How did the acceptance from Caffeine Nights come about and did you try other publishers or agents first? And how did it feel to see your name on front of your own novel?

I’ve always posted short-stories on my website http://www.hullcrimefiction/ and had pages on MySpace and Facebook, so I was networking from day one. The pay-off was that when I was ready to punt ‘Broken Dreams’ about, I had a good feeling of what was out there. I had a wish-list of independent publishers I liked the look of and I was very fortunate to agree a deal with one of them. It’s taken about a year to get from signing the contract to publication, and there’s been some great moments along the way, but seeing the cover and holding the final product in my hands – brilliant.

Give us a quick Bio of Joe Geraghty.

Joe’s a former rugby league player, turned PI, once he learns the hard way that he has an aptitude for the work. He works in the Old Town of Hull in a small office with his colleagues, Don and Sarah Ridley, who are father and daughter. When Joe’s wife died in a house fire, it was Don who took him under his wing, and with Sarah’s help, he started to put his life back together. Joe’s an ordinary man trying to do a difficult job. He’s nothing special, he’s not hard, he’s just trying to make a living the best way he can.

Give us a quick blurb of Broken Dreams.

How about the blurb from the back of the book? I’ve also started to think, rightly or wrongly, that’s it’s the story of a neglected city’s past, present and possibly its future:

‘Joe Geraghty, Private Investigator, is used to struggling from one case to the next, barely making the rent on his small office in the Old Town of Hull. Invited by a local businessman to investigate a member of his staff’s absenteeism, it’s the kind of surveillance work that Geraghty and his small team have performed countless times. When Jennifer Murdoch is found bleeding to death in her bed, Geraghty quickly finds himself trapped in the middle of a police investigation which stretches back to the days when the city had a thriving fishing industry. As the woman’s tangled private life begins to unravel, the trail leads Geraghty to local gangster-turned-respectable businessman, Frank Salford, a man with a significant stake in the city’s regeneration plans. Still haunted by the death of his wife in a house fire, it seems the people with the answers Geraghty wants are the police and Salford, both of whom want his co-operation for their own ends. With everything at stake, some would go to any length to get what they want, Geraghty included.’

Any tips for aspiring crime writers?

I have two tips, neither hugely original, which probably means they have some value. Firstly, reading is a necessity. I love crime fiction and I’m as likely to pick up a Lee Child novel as I am the latest from, say, George Pelecanos. The trick is not only to read for pleasure, but to work out what you like and what you don’t like about a particular author’s style. The other tip is to not hide your work away. Now’s a great time to putting stories out on the Internet and beyond. There’s great websites like, and, to name but three, and they’re all hugely supportive of new and emerging writers. It’s a great way to learn.

Do you think Hull City will stay up!!?

You’re asking me this on the back of a massive thumping at the hands of Everton! It’s always going to be tough for a small club like us to compete with the biggest clubs in the world, but I think we’re making a decent fist of it, despite what the detractors may say. I’d be gutted if we were relegated at the end of the season, but ultimately it doesn’t matter too much. I’ve been a pass-holder for a number of years, and like most sports fans, Saturdays are about the excitement of the game, catching up with friends and having a laugh. The opposition is secondary. What I’ve learnt over the last couple of years is that it doesn’t matter whether it’s Everton or Exeter who thump you 5-1, it still hurts the same. Will we stay up? I think we will. Just. But don’t quote me on that.

So what's next for Nick Quantrill?

The main aim is to get a decent draft of Joe’s next story, ‘The Late Greats’, in my hands over the summer. It’s coming on nicely, but there’s still work to do. I’m starting to think about the book after that and have a couple of things in mind, so I’m fairly happy with what I’ve got in the pipeline. I’ve also had some interesting offers come my way, so it’s just a case of working out what there’s time to do. I’ll also be doing my best to promote ‘Broken Dream’. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to this stage and I don’t want it to stop just yet.

Thanks for the interview, Nick, and good luck with Broken Dreams. Let's hope it's the start of something big for you.

Check out Nick's cool website here and order Broken Dreams here.

I'll be reviewing Broken Dreams in the not too distant future on this blog.
Ps. Hull have sadly parted company with manager, Phil Brown (pictured)... but, hey, at least Nick's got his novel out!!!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Birthday Blues...?

Well, I was having a lovely little 21st birthday until... huh?.. okay, so you've seen my photos? Double it then! As I was saying before I rudely interrupted me-self... I was having a lovely 42nd birthday with some of my family round when - in true antisocial git style - I just had to watch my beloved blues (Man.City) playing live on Sky versus Sunderland.

In desperate need of points, and one-nil down for most of the match, my mood changed from happy-go-lucky birthday boy to someone out of one of me crime stories! I found me-self shouting n swearing at the telly, something I've not done in what must be two, three, maybe four... days... when I watched some Tory MP spouting bullshit on BBC's Question Time. So one by one my family slipped out of the room for cover, leaving just me n me Mum (she's a hardcore blue, yer see).

It's sad for a grown man's mood to be dictated by the (mis)fortunes of his sports team but, hey-ho, nobody's perfect. Anyway, an jury time equalizer did the trick n me head bounced off the ceiling! Suddenly it was a happy birthday-cum-mother's day again (pathetic? yeah I know) and we all had a great party with E-numbers everywhere you turned.

The nicest part of the day was as I opened my last present saying, "I hope it's a pair of slippers cos that's all I needed to be honest." (God, I am getting old!). It wasn't slippers, but my two wonderful kids scrambled together their pocket money for me to buy a pair, which I thought was a nice touch (they're both 21 - joke - 7 n 8 really). It gave me goose bumps and reminded me that if my beloved blues would've lost then it wouldn't have mattered so much after all because I have something far more beloved... my beautiful family.

Ps. Having said all that, if City had lost I'd have kicked 'em all out int Manchester rain!!!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Joe Hunter comp' - voting now open...

Matt Hilton's now opened the voting over at JOE HUNTER'S FIXERS to determine the top three short stories in the competition to win a signed first edition hardback copy of SLASH AND BURN.
Despite Matt being a good buddy of mine, I couldn't resist the challenge of writing out of my comfort zone so I did enter and thoroughly enjoyed the process. My decision was based on Matt reassuring me that the voting would be anonymous and clear for all to see.
There are ten action-packed crackers to choose from. Just click the title above and vote for your favourite read.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Check out my 'Guest Write' about 'Crime Comedy' over at Paul Brazill's mighty fine blog...

Just a quickie to let you know Brazilliant blogger extraordinaire, Paul Brazil, recently invited me to do a guest blog. Read my take on humour's place in crime writing by clicking the title of this post...

Monday, 8 March 2010


Just a quick heads up on a few crime fiction related bits n bobs...

* Only four days to go to the March 12th deadline (when the voting goes live) to win yourself a signed copy of SLASH & BURN, Matt Hilton's 3rd crime thriller novel in the popular Joe Hunter series. If you fancy your chances you've just gotta write a Hunter style short story here.

* Got a nice little mention (for my recent short, A PUBLIC SERVICE, on A TWIST OF NOIR) from Gary Dobbs AKA Archavist over at his damn fine blog, THE TAINTED ARCHIVE.

* Watch this space for a Q&A with debut novelist, Nick Quantrill, around the day of his book launch of BROKEN DREAMS on March 20th.

Catch you all soon,

Saturday, 6 March 2010

A PUBLIC noir flash now showing over at A TWIST OF NOIR...

Just a quick heads up to say my noir flash A PUBLIC SERVICE has been kindly accepted by Christopher Grant over at leading American crime webzine, A TWIST OF NOIR.
This is what ATON's editor said about it..."Col, great story. Nice twist ending, actually a real ending..." There's more, but I don't wanna give the game away.
As usual, just click on the title above to have a gander and be sure to have a good browse as there are some cracking stories on there.

A.J. Humpage's great new blog teaches new writers how to write a short story...

A.J. Humpage, one of our regulars over at TKnC, has started a new blog called 'All Write - Fiction Advice'. A.J. uses her extensive knowledge, gleaned from over twenty years of writing, to provide easy-to-follow insights into the task of piecing together a short story.

Having read many of A.J.'s stories I can safely say that she certainly qualifies as an expert in this field. So any new writers (or established ones for that matter) who sometimes struggle to polish their fiction to perfection won't go far wrong by visiting A.J's blog - just click on the title of this post and you're there.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Bought the kids a dog... he's chewing into everything... including my writing time... HELP!!!

I'd like to introduce you all to the new addition the Bury household... RILEY. Before anyone asks, 'What's this got to do with crime, Col?' see below for the criminal damage!!!

Now I know the old saying, 'A Dog's for life, not just for Christmas,' and I have raised a Bordie Collie before and trained him to a high standard. However, that was pre-kids and pre-writing/editing, and I'm finding six month old RILEY to be a bloody handful. It seems Golden Labs' are much more boisterous than I envisaged. He's chewing everything...!
Mandy's shoes...£35.00.. Ker-ching!
Laminate flooring trim... £20.00...
Plastic bin...£10.00....
Leather football...£15.00...
Washing basket...£12.00...
Daughter's headband...£2.00...
Son's lunchbox full of food...£20.00...
Tights, socks, misc' clothes...£30.00...
Toys, dolls, etc... £25.00...
Son's remote control kick up ball (pictured)...£8.00...
MY COAT...£35.00!!!
His own new bed...£12.00...
The kids' hands...priceless!
Grand total (so far!)...£224.00...Ker-fookin-ching!!!

Now I know he's still a puppy and teething, and some of you may find this funny, but it's wearing a bit thin when in the midst of it so I'm open to advice.

On the positive side at least he's not pooing n weeing in the house and he does bark at the door if he wants to...but, boy, can this guy dump for England... he's like a 'Play-Dough' machine!

Bog-eyed Col.

Ps. I know I'm leaving myself wide open for sarcasm here, but seriously Riley is on his final warning so all sensible suggestions welcome.

Monday, 1 March 2010

NIck Quantrill's debut novel, BROKEN DREAMS, coming soon...

Just a quick heads up for lovers of the PI story - debut novelist and Hull's finest, Nick Quantrill, unleashes his protag', Joe Geraghty, on the world on March 20th.

Click the title of this post to learn more about what makes Nick tick...

And be sure to check back here on the publication date for an in depth interview with this exciting new talent on the crime author scene.