Friday, 27 January 2012

Drunk On The Moon (Story 8) - Blood And Alcohol by Frank Duffy

The eighth instalment of Drunk On The Moon - Blood and Alcohol comes from Frank Duffy. For those that have yet to come across this series of short stories they feature a private eye, Roman Dalton, who happens to be a werewolf. The genre has been dubbed werewolf noir by lovers of the series. Each story is written by a different author but all feature the hapless, if somewhat deadly, Roman Dalton as he is thrust from one dangerous adventure to another.

The diversity of authors has led to a wide range of exploits but all have been, for me, very enjoyable. Paul D. Brazill has picked his contributors with care. The authors have treated his creation with respect and kept the style and theme of the stories within the dark, gritty style of the original story.

What most impressed me about Frank Duffy’s interpretation is the life he breathes into the city. His descriptions really fire the imagination and you imagine yourself trudging alongside Roman and seeing the dangerous city through his eyes. Here is an example:

Men who dance on the decaying underbelly to the staccato beat of its nightly violence. Men like Roman Dalton.

The threat to Dalton in this instalment comes from a most unexpected source. The legend of Roman Dalton continues to grow in fever and intensity. A thoroughly enjoyable short story and a series I would recommend highly to lovers of dark fiction.

Genre:  Werewolf Noir!
Publisher:  Trestle Press
Format:  E-Book - Short Story
Price:  Amazon UK - £0.77, Amazon US - £1.18

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Author Interview: Pete Sortwell

Pete Sortwell is a friend of mine and a blog mate from the now defunct Close To The Bone blog. After spending his childhood lying to his mother about eating all the crisps Pete now lives with his wife and on top of lying about eating all the crisps he has put his habit of lying to good use and started writing fiction. 
Enjoying success in the short story world, Pete’s first short story was published by Bykerbooks in March 2011. He was runner up in the 2011 Lightship publishing flash fiction competition. and has featured in charity anthologies, Brit Grit Too and Off The Record. In 2012 his work will be animated in US E-zine ‘Yellow Mama’ Pete will also feature in Radgepacket 6. He speaks two languages, English and Bullshit and is fluet in neither. He has just finished his debut novel and is in the process of finding an agent or publisher. 

What is the title of your forthcoming novel?

I've struggled with choosing a title for it. I think It might have been better to have chosen one before I got to the point of submission. However I am 95% certain it will be called So low, So high. Yes, all you avid fans will know, I have already named a short story that, but it's a great title, right? I nicked it from my friend (name drop time) James 'Maps' Chapman. Who is actually a mercury nominated musician. He was nominated the same year as Amy Winehouse for the new comer award. He agreed to let me use the title if I agreed to stop looking through his letterbox and following his Mum around Co-op.

Can you tell me about your novel?

I can.

Go on then. 

Oh, you want me to continue....? My novel is about the last year of Simon Brewster's class A drug use. Simon's a mess, He can't stop using, doesn't know if he wants to. His life is crap, family hate him, his ex best mates a copper who has to arrest him for stealing legs of lamb on a regular basis. One way or another Simon will stop using- he prays for the blessed release of death but he's such a loser he can't even get that right.

It's all written in first person and present tense, so you, the reader, will be with him as he crashes his way through police cells, crack den's and display cases.

I've tried to make Simon humorous and a guy that people will like, he says things regular people might think but would never say. His brain is screwed into a really selfish outlook on life. Which is so tragic It's amusing.

Was it difficult writing about these issues?

Not really. I find it easy to get the inside monologue on paper. I will say now though, that although I have had a past, this is not an autobiography or anything close. The sad fact is, my life isn't that interesting. So I thought I would make one up. Which is the joy of fiction. I know a few people that have got well so it's been fairly easy using the droll stories I've heard and letting Simon live them out.

What inspired you to write it?

I've always wanted to write since I was at school and a book my father wrote was in the school Library. I was hooked after seeing that.
I read the Burglar Diaries by Danny King, ten years ago. I love it and the diaries that followed it. I thought it would be nice to write then but all the weed and drink stopped me doing little more than thinking about how great it would be to have written something of that standard. I'd never read anything that had made me laugh of the page before. It was also about someone who most people wouldn't like and would take pleasure in slagging them off down the pub (behind their backs). Once I sorted myself out and decided an autobiography would be crap I went for fiction and although different to Burglar Diaries I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been influenced by Danny.

What or who inspire you?

Anyone who is getting on with life no matter what shit it throws at them. I am constantly amazed at how much crap people can actually deal with without hitting the valium for a lifetime of checking their own pulse and not dealing with anything.

Is your writing drawn from real experience?

Nearly always. Whether or not it's mine or not is a different thing.

What are you reading at the moment?

Facebook,, the back of a bottle of bleach if I'm really stuck for material and I've just read the first few pages of Stuart Ayris's book. I am look forward to his brother’s book Abide With Me and Danny King's next release.

Are you working on a new story or novel at the moment?

I have been working on my novel for two whole years in April. considering before that I had written little more than my name on every desk, I’ve ever sat at, I feel I've done OK. Mind you finding a publisher/agent seems to be as much work (certainly more thinking time) than the writing took. Everyone wants different things so it's getting everything together and making sure I read the submissions guidelines. So the work at the moment its crossing the t's and dotting the i's.

I also have a short that I'll be releasing for free on kindle at some point. It Kinda relates to the book so once/if I hear I've got a publisher, I'll release it in the build up to release of the book. I have also written just under 10K words of book two- working title 'Die Happy, Die Smiling' (also borrowed from Maps).

What do you most like about writing?

When people tell me they laughed out loud from reading something I wrote. As long as it's not because it was diabolically shit.

What do you dislike about writing?

Doing it. I like having the finished product but sitting and trying to motivate myself is a bitch sometimes. I try and tell myself if I did it full time it would be easier but deep down I know I'm pissing in the wind on that one. I'd just have more time to pace the house, fly little helicopters and anything else that isn't typing.

What is the best piece of writing craft advice you have been given?

Stick to 1000 words a day and make them count. I wrote 3500 once and couldn't look at the book again for five months. It was a dreadful day. I see some people writing that amount daily, maybe they can do it and it works out. I haven't really read anyone's work that does that, but The chapter I wrote in a day needed a lot of work in the second draft. 1k a day is still 30k a month. Although I've never stuck to it for more than a month. I'm lazy.

Which author(s) would you say have most influenced your writing?

Sue Townsend, Danny King, and too many TV comedy writers to mention.

What are your strengths as a writer? What do you feel you do well?

I squirm thinking about that. Erm... I'm a good story teller. I had a lot of practise as a child. Did I ever tell you I swam the channel in an hour aged 6?

What are your weaknesses? Where do you feel you could improve?

Spelling, grammar and all that jazz. I'm dyslexic and pretty good at using that as an excuse but I can learn these days. Now I want to and I am learning slowly. However I do use a great editor who is worth her weight in gold. If you need an editor I can refer you to her, My finders fee is very low.

How low? 

Five grand.

If you had to pick a soundtrack to your novel what songs would you pick?

It would pretty much all be Maps' as that's what I've listened to whilst writing it. He has two albums out at the moment, 'We Can Create' and 'Turning The Mind' They is a third coming soon but I've only heard that through his bedroom window and it was hard to hear it through the glass, balancing on a ladder and not getting caught.

Describe for our readers the genre(s) you write in and why they appeal to you as a writer.

I have no idea. Can I call it 'Sortwell' Genre? No? Shit. I don't know.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Fourteen Flashes of Fiction by Rosalind Smith-Nazilli

Effective flash fiction should be like a punch to the gut. It should be the sudden wrench as you trip and suddenly you are looking skywards. It's the slice of lemon in your drink. It’s the finger in your pork pie. You can nod to yourself knowingly like you know where this story is going but then it hits you. That is flash fiction. Rosalind Smith-Nazilli accomplishes this impact and more.

This collection has a bit of everything for you it has debt collectors, serial killers, gangsters, prostitutes, fugitives and van drivers on unexpected errands. It has action, suspense, heart and soul.

My favourite tale is Remember Yesterday. An emotional story that captures a sad moment perfectly. The warmth of the nostalgia blends with the melancholy theme beautifully. Crafting an effective story with a limited word count is extremely tricky, however, the author succeeds time and again. A cracking collection that kept me entertained from start to finish.

Genre:  Crime
Publisher: Independent
Format:  E-Book Short Story / Flash Fiction Collection
Price:  Amazon UK - £1.33
Rating:  5/5

Monday, 23 January 2012

Tollesbury Time Forever by Stuart Ayris

Right from the outset Tollesbury Time Forever is a wondrous and uplifting novel with a fable like quality to it. Ayris's use of beautiful descriptive writing is nothing short of breathtaking. Ayris turns a simple game of Cricket into a lesson. He makes a meal into an observation on life. Every conversation is fraught with meaning.

Tollesbury Time Forever is a story of redemption. Simon Gregory is a man who, for reasons unknown at the outset, has selfishly failed to live up to his responsibilities. He pays a high price for this as he continues to do so throughout his life. This ultimately leads to his disconnection and exclusion from society, withdrawing into himself. This is the story of that withdrawal and of the underlying "illness" behind it. A delightful soundtrack of Beatles songs pepper the novel and lots of other musical references and quotes add splashes of vibrant colour.

The melancholy "truth" of this fairy tale world is revealed in part two. I have no wish to spoil anything so I'll be deliberately vague about aspects of part two of the book. Part two deals with matters of a more concrete and less ethereal nature. We see some of the characters from part one in a more grounded setting. We learn more about the real Simon and the problems he has been facing and indeed will continue to battle.

As Simon strives to "improve" and he feels he must Ayris reminds us that "labels" used to describe mental illness are simply that and they speak nothing about a persons true perception and feelings.

Although this is a serious novel there are moments to make you smile. There is a supermarket scene that will have you howling with laughter. A deeply affecting novel that lands lightly like a butterfly upon the beauty of life and not just the hardships.

I now yearn to visit Tollesbury to see if my imperfect perception has done it justice. I doubt it. I don't know what liberties the author has taken with the facts and frankly that isn't important. Rarely have I read a novel that has affected me so deeply. It moved me to tears at its conclusion. Sublime. Wonderful. I should like to have a pint in the Kings Head and let the world fade into the background.

Genre:  Literary Fiction
Publisher:  Independent
Format:  E-Book Novel
Price:  Amazon UK - £0.98
Rating: 5/5

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Ayris vs Ayris - A Battle Royale

Ever since the first primitive man crawled from his cave, with club in hand, and found something to bash man has contested. First we contested with nature and discovered fire in order to keep warm. We contested with beasts in order that we might eat and be clothed in their furs. Finally, we discovered how much fun it was to battle our fellow man for such things as territory, a mate or even just for fun.

If you have religious views you may believe in the story of Kane and Abel. Perhaps the ultimate contest is that between brothers. Sibling rivalry is one of the strongest forms of contest there is. This is the tale of two brothers. They don’t cross swords. They don’t swing battle axes. These brothers contest over words.

In the blood red corner we have Ian Ayris. Ian looks honed and focused and ready for battle. Ian’s first novel Abide With Me published by Caffeine Nights will be out on March the 19th. This novel is one of the most anticipated novels of the year. Ian is no rookie writer. He has a large fan base and has had over forty short stories published online. His distinctive, strong literary voice is one his readers don’t forget in a hurry.

You Can Pre-order Abide With Me HERE

In the hazy incense filled blue corner is Stuart Ayris twin brother of Ian. Stuart is having a massage and contemplating the meaning of life. Stuart has an interest in Buddhism and a fascination for the Amish lifestyle. He is listening to the Beatles on an old windup gramophone and reading a cricket biography. Author of A Cleansing of Souls and the just released Tollesbury Time Forever his musings on life differ from Ian’s stark tales.

You Can Download Tollesbury Time Forever HERE

In the ongoing battle for readers which sibling will triumph? Who will win on the intellectual battleground? Why not enter the fray by reading these books and making your own mind up?

Speaking for myself – I like Ian’s dark voice. However, I like Stuart’s contemplative musings. But which is better? There’s only one way to find out…


Thursday, 12 January 2012

Pain Eaters by William Tooker

Pain Eaters is perhaps best described as a cross between X-Men and Hellraiser. In other words an action horror tale with more emphasis on the action aspect.  We are plunged straight into the action as Jack Fugazi is caught bang to rights surrounded by bodies. However, all is not as it seems and Jack gets the chance to tell his story from an interrogation room. It is clear that Tooker knows how to spin an excellent story.

The only very minor negative I have to offer is that for me it seemed perhaps a tad too short. I felt that we could have had a little more of the back story behind Jack and the villain known simply as the German. However, take this as a complimentary statement it shows that the author had engaged me completely in his world. I wanted to explore more of this strange world where good and evil sorcerers with strange incredible powers contest for supremacy.

Tooker had me hooked with his strong descriptive writing and I'm hoping that he takes the hint from this reviewer and sets a few more stories in this fascinating world that I'd love to see more of. If you like an interesting blend of action, magic, horror and superheroes then you'll enjoy Pain Eaters as much as I did. A very enjoyable read that I would recommend. A five star read for me as I felt it was original, very engaging and compellingly told.

Genre:  Action/Horror
Publisher:  Trestle Press
Format:  E-Book Novella
Price:  Amazon UK - £2.17, Amazon US - $3,35, Barnes & Nobles - $2.99
Rating:  5/5

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Society of Dirty Hearts by Ben Cheetham

The Society of Dirty Hearts is the story of a young man's descent into obsession, addiction and depravity. Julian is a lad born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father owns a long-standing shoe manufacturing company that has recently fallen on hard times. Julian wants for nothing and all should be well in his world.

At the start of the story he is a personable and pleasant youth who you can't help but like. However, following a traumatic event in his childhood he is a troubled soul who is plagued by dreams in which he commits unspeakable acts of violence. Julian bumps into Mia, a fifteen year old girl that he feels inexplicably drawn to. In an attempt to understand this connection he spends time with her. She is a wild child with a dark past and events soon spiral out of control for both Mia and Julian.

I am rapidly becoming a big fan of Cheetham's very accomplished narrative. This is the second of his works that I've read and I quickly became thoroughly immersed in the plot. Ben Cheetham has much in common with Allan Guthrie in that he seems to enjoy systematically destroying his characters one chapter at a time and like Guthrie he does this in a credible, believable and exciting fashion.

I'm quite a canny reader and often guess the twist before it comes, not so with this novel. Cheetham kept the tension and suspense up right until the very last word. A thrilling exploration into the darkness that is held within us all. This is very much an adult novel in theme and content. I was left satisfied in the knowledge that I’d had a great read. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this novel to others.

Genre:  Crime/Thriller
Publisher:  Indie
Format:  E-book novel
Price:  Amazon UK - £0.77, Amazon US - £1.20, Barnes & Noble: $0.99
Rating:  5/5

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Deadland, USA - Ballroom Blitz (Volume 2) by Heath Lowrance

Ballroom Blitz is the second in Heath Lowrance’s ongoing zombie series. We travel back to a time at the beginning of the zombie troubles and learn more about the character, Sammy, who writes the journal from which the narrative is told. The author again impressed me with his wise cracking comments. 

Heath has the mentality of a cocky late teen down pat and we never doubt for a moment that the narrative is coming from a youth. Alcohol, music and clubbing are the things that are of interest to most late teens and, as it is Sammy’s birthday, it seems fitting that most of the story takes place in a club or ballroom as the author calls it. Here is where things go darker. Zombie genre lovers will enjoy the grisly and descriptive gore that the author uses to bring an extra dimension to the story.

As a fan of zombie fiction I enjoyed this second story and am ready to get my teeth into the third tale as fast as the author can release it. Heath Lowrance is a writer of some considerable talent and he brings several elements to the genre that makes it a fresh and thoroughly enjoyable read. 

Genre:  Horror
Publisher:  Trestle Press
Format:  E-Book (Short Story - Serialisation)
Price:  Amazon-UK - £0.86, Amazon-US - $1.34, Barnes & Noble - $0.99
Rating: 5 / 5

Das Slap by Charlie Wade

Having read some of Charlie Wade's excellent fiction online I had some idea what to expect from Das Slap. Wade brings you dark deeds and tense plot lines but almost always with his trademark dark humour. Das Slap is no exception.
When Sally's friend Josie is beaten and hospitalised Sally goes out to seek revenge on those responsible. Being a capable woman she leaves behind her a trail of devastated and bruised male egos. You can't help but smile at some of the nasty ways in which she seeks her vengeance.

In the story we learn where the intriguing title originates from. Wade seems to be conveying a deeper meaning about Sally's prejudices and the truth when she discovers it surprises her and will you the reader. Das Slap is the first part in an ongoing series. If this sublime tale is anything to go by then Charlie Wade will send us on a heck of a ride. I have no problem giving Wade's effortless, funny and satisfying prose a solid five stars.

Genre:  Crime.
Publisher:  Trestle Press.
Format:  E-Book.
Price:  Amazon-UK - £0.86, Amazon-US - $1.38, Barnes & Noble - $0.99
Rating: 5 out of 5