Sunday, 29 April 2012

True Brit Grit - A Charity Anthology edited by Paul D. Brazill and Luca Veste

A special post to draw your attention to this excellent charity anthology. True Brit Grit features big names alongside talented newcomers. One thing they all have in common is that special quality that makes them stand out as Brit Grit. I can’t recommend this release highly enough. It’s great value at under two quid for 45 stories! Show it your love by buying and knowing that not only will you get hours of entertainment but you'll also be supporting two worthy causes.

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

The BRIT GRIT mob is coming to kick down your door with hobnailed boots. Kitchen-sink noir; petty-thief-louts; lives of quiet desperation; sharp, blood-stained slices of life; booze-sodden brawls from the bottom of the barrel and comedy that’s as black as it’s bitter—this is BRIT GRIT!"

45 British writers, 45 short stories. All coming together to produce an anthology, benefiting two charities...

Children 1st -

Download here:



Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Interview With A Menopausal Woman

My friend Cheryl Reid is enjoying a runaway success with her Diary Of A Menopausal Woman. We chatted about life, water for irons and her writing.

Cheryl I understand there is a new man in your life called Trevor. You are down to your last rolo, who has it you are Trevor?

Trev of course. I am hopelessly in love with him. I would give him the moon on a stick if I could.

Your Diary Of A Menopausal Woman is proving a huge success on kindle. It’s self-published and you are not known for your self-promotion so why do you think people identify with it so much?

I have no idea. I still can't believe it. Perhaps because it's real life and maybe because I see the funny side of life. I laugh in the face of adversity. I'm not up me own bum and I'm not a celebrity. I'm just a working class woman who is not impressed by 21st century consumerism. I would much prefer to rummage around in a charity shop. I bought a lovely top last week for £3.25. I was chuffed to bits. My Diary also deals humorously with my battle with chocolate addiction. I think most women, menopausal or otherwise can relate to this. Anyway, you should know better than me Daz, you've read it.

One of the entries in your diary deals, hilariously, with the subject of special water for irons. Now you are a successful writer do YOU buy water for irons?

I would never buy water for my iron. Tap water has always been good enough for me. Being successful does not mean I will get any fancy ideas above me station. Also, being successful does not mean I can afford bottled water. I only get 30p per book. Perhaps now is the time to put the price up.

It’s A Friday night. There’s a bottle of wine in the fridge and a lady of a certain age is alone with her kindle and unlimited CDs. What should she listen to whilst reading your diary?

I love to boogie by T-Rex just because it is such a banging happy tune and if they are reading my Diary they will probably be in a happy mood.

If you could give menopausal women one piece of life advice what would it be?

Turn that frown upside down and keep smiling. Laughter is the best medicine.

Are you currently working on any other writing projects?

Writing is like breathing. I just do it without thinking. Maybe I'll write a book about how, against all the odds, a menopausal woman who thought she was destined to be alone with her dogs forever, met the love of her life and lived happily ever after.

Where can my readers find out more about you?

I have an authors page on Amazon but all they will find is pictures of my dogs and one daft one of me. I am on Facebook so I shouldn't be too hard to find.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Author Interview: Julia Madeleine

Tell us about your latest novel The Truth About Scarlet Rose.

Scarlet Rose is a washed up 1960s burlesque queen who forced her underage daughter into the sex trade to support the family. When her ex-husband is found tortured and murdered in a Toronto hotel room, her daughter has to help in the investigation while her mother fixates on getting her hands on other people's money.

What inspired the novel?

It was inspired by my fascination of the curious pseudo father-daughter relationship of a young dancer I knew (back in the 80s) and her wealthy middle-aged customer who was murdered. The characters of Charlie and Fiona in my book are a reflection of that relationship.

How much research goes into your novels?

It really depends on what I'm writing. For this novel in particular I did a ton of research just because it takes place in the 80s and the prequel, Scarlet Sins, goes back to the 1960s, so there was many long hours combing through newspaper archives on microficshe at the Toronto Reference Library.

Are you a planner or do you write more organically?

I work best when I plan a novel and lay out a detailed outline. To me it's like a map that shows me where I'm going, where I'll be stopping along the way, etc, otherwise I can feel a bit like I'm stumbling around in the dark trying to find my way.

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

Probably my obsessiveness about writing is my strength.

What are your weaknesses. Where do you feel you could improve as a writer?

I'm sure some areas of my grammar could use help, but that's what editors are for write, I mean right?

If you were to write a soundtrack to accompany your novel what five songs do you feel you couldn’t leave out?

Actually I do make references to a number of songs from the 80s in my book. In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins, Jack and Diane by John Cougar Mellencamp, Loverboy, Tainted Love, Tiny Dancer by Elton John. so there's five right there but I'm sure I have a lot more.

Are you currently working on any other writing projects?

I've recently completed the manuscript for a thriller called The Refrigerator Girls and I'm about to start the sequel. It's the story of a teenage girl who witnesses the abduction of (yet another) neighbourhood girl off the street but can't go to the police because at the time she was in the commission of her own crime, so with the help of her once estranged mother, she decides to orchestrate her own abduction to find out where he's taking the girls.

Where can my readers find out more about you?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Radgepacket 6 - Anthology published by Byker Books

I've followed Byker Books excellent Radgepacket series since the very first volume. The down to earth inner city settings have always appealed to me. You'll find no butlers or manor houses here. You'll find pubs, hard men, darts players, loan sharks, drug addicts, cannibals, prostitutes and gangsters. In fact this book is a whole packet choc full of radges, hence the term Radgepacket. They pull no punches and tackle subjects that some publishers wouldn’t dare to. It’s a testament to the publishers foresight that a lot of the writers who appeared in the early editions are now stalwarts of the Brit Grit crime writing scene and are enjoying critical acclaim far and wide. In this collection you have established names writing alongside talented newcomers and this blend works exceptionally well.

My personal favourite of the collection is The Greatest Sportsman In The World by Danny Hill. The only story I have ever read written in Potteries (Stoke-on-Trent) dialect. The story has an exceptionally strong voice, ready wit and bags of heart.

The diversity of the stories is such that you won’t like every tale but if you like your fiction near to the knuckle then I’d recommend this anthology to you.

Genre:  Crime / Urban Noir
Publisher:  Byker Books
Format:  Paperback and Kindle Download
Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Author Interview: Iain Rowan

Tell us about your novel One Of Us

Anna is one of the invisible people, living in the margins of society. Not that long ago she was a medical student in her own country, from a wealthy background, but when the police killed her brother and imprisoned her father, she went on the run and ended up in the UK, working in a shitty burger bar and dodging the Borders Agency. Desperate not to be sent back home, she tries to acquire forged papers, but can't afford it.

Then she's given an offer: if she will put her medical skills to use, strings will be pulled to get her genuine papers, with right to stay in the UK. She thinks it's a short cut to a better life, but it leads her into a world of people trafficking, prostitution, murder and the biggest decision of her life: how much is she prepared to give up, to be one of us?

It started life a short story, but I couldn't leave it alone and it turned into a novel. That novel then got shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger.

What inspired you to write it?

Like most of my stories, I don't know. It's rare for there to be an obvious catalyst, rather they just emerge from somewhere. Usually with a voice, or a place. Very rarely do they start with plot. The seed for that falls out of the characters who turn up, and only then can I start wrestling it into some kind of recognisable shape. In One Of Us, it started with Anna, with her voice. I only had a vague notion of character, but I had her voice, and I stated writing it, and then I got a better idea of character, and then I thought about the conflict such a character might face, and everything else flowed from that.

You are known for short fiction. What made you write a novel?

Low boredom threshold. I like to try different things, different genres, different lengths. I like the challenge of it. Same reason at some point I am going to try a radio script, and a screenplay. I love short stories, and I don't ever think of them as being a novel-lite. They're a form in their own right, of equal merit, and if someone spends their life writing them, they are as much of a writer as someone who turns out 200,000 word novels. But once I'd written the short story of One Of Us I couldn't leave Anna's voice alone, there was still more that it had to say. So, a novel.

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


What are your weaknesses. Where do you feel you could improve as a writer?


The answers to thse two questions might not be unconnected to my answer to the 'what inspired you' question. I really admire people who do clockwork, intricate plots where every piece cleverly turns the wheels towards the climax. It probably also reflects my taste in reading, because I'd rather read a book with a flawed plot but memorable characters than one with a killer plot through which some cardboard cut-outs move. The aim, of course, is to put both together.

What is your opinion on e-book pricing?

Hell, I know one thing for sure about ebook pricing, and that's that I don't know anything, and I suspect that nobody else does either. In the space of a few minutes you can read a completely convincing argument as to the virtues of pricing at 99c, and an equally convincing argument as to why you should price higher, as people read price as a proxy for quality. And you can see people who have made a real success of taking whichever route they took.

Who is your favourite author and why?

Favourite author is an English writer called Rupert Thomson, because his prose is just so...luminous. Favourite book though isn't one of his, it's The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I love that book so much.

Are you currently working on any other writing projects?

A few. I have a little side project called 52 Songs, 52 Stories, which was really born out of a desire to do something fun but which encourages a bit more discipline. So I committed to picking a song every week in 2012, and writing a short story in some way inspired by it.

As well as crime fiction, I write weird fiction, horror, whatever. I'm involved in a fun collaborative project with three great writers, where we're publishing a series together every month under the title Penny Dreadnought Each issue has a theme, and a short story from each of the four writers involved.

I'm also kicking around ideas for the next novel.

If you were to write a soundtrack to accompany your novel what 5 songs do you feel you couldn't leave out?

Oh, now this is fun.

This was a city novel, so it needs music that matches, in my head at least. Massive Attack for sure, probably 'Inertia Creeps', something dark and paranoid and full of threat. 'Time The Revelator' by Gillian Welch, as that's what Sean is playing when Anna stays round at his place.  Raindrops by the Tindersticks when it all starts to fall apart. Boards of Canada's '1969', for when Anna's drifting around the city streets, looking for Sean. 'Roads' by Portishead, for when she is alone and without hope.

Where can my readers find out more about you?

Crimestoppers and Hello magazine. Or maybe my blog:

Thanks for letting me ramble on.

One of Us -

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Snapshots by Paul D.Brazill

Paul D. Brazill is one of the most accomplished short story writers on the crime writing scene today. If short fiction were as popular as novels then I feel sure that he would be a household name. His wry observations on life are as accurate as a sniper’s bullet. His humour is as sharp as a butcher’s knife. His insight as deep as any philosopher’s. His tales are populated by drunks, drug addicts, ne’er-do-wells, hitmen and even werewolves. Musical references pepper these stories giving a satisfying grin to the music lovers among us.

This collection is called Snapshots and that is exactly what you get, glimpses into other lives. The author shines a light into the dark corners we dare not explore in reality. Here are some “Snapshots” from some of the stories:

FLASH A man surveys the Warsaw skyline from a glass lift.
FLASH an accountant looks up worriedly from a record store counter, his concern worn like a mantle.
FLASH A tattooed escaped convict beats a victim black and blue.
FLASH A stunningly beautiful woman slams a wedding ring down upon a bar top.
FLASH A man falls drunkenly into a fountain in Sol.
FLASH An old man clutches a bottle of whisky and bitterly considers what might have been.
FLASH A shabby Santa pees against a scraggy Christmas tree.
FLASH A girl with a scarred face and a club foot climbs a staircase with revolver in hand.
FLASH A woman and a man in a bar idly chat, flirting. One of them has murder in mind.
FLASH an angry man waves a shotgun around in a kebab house.
FLASH A man with a gold amulet in his hands looks over a grassy knoll with a knowing expression.
FLASH an ancient man with an evil expression grips a shredded teddy bear.
FLASH A man hides his former sins beneath a mask of respectability, unaware that his past is catching up with him.
FLASH A woman unknowingly posts an envelope that will seal the fate of another man.
FLASH A couple of idiots try to dispose of a body with hilarious consequences.

Snapshots is a great value collection with dark humour the order of the day. A highly recommended collection from the leader of the Brit Grit pack.

Genre:  Crime
Publisher:  Pulp Metal Fiction
Format:  E-Book Short Story Collection
Rating:  5/5

Friday, 6 April 2012

Frank's Wild Years by Nick Triplow

Caffeine Nights are rapidly making a name for themselves as a publisher of quality fiction. Triplow's offering is an intelligent and thoughtful character driven novel that I found difficult to put down.

Frank’s Wild Years has a rich tapestry of strongly drawn and evocative characters. The opening scene sees us viewing an old fashioned south London pub and pitying an old drunk, Frank, who chooses to communicate his need for a drink by flicking peanuts at the barmaid.

Triplow soon drags us kicking and screaming into the past and the uncommunicative drunk is soon outed as an intelligent and resourceful character, a former fixer for a local gangster. The dialogue is realistic and interesting. The authors social commentary and insights are at all times smart and often fraught with an emotional depth rarely seen in novels of this genre. Refreshingly the author doesn't always fill in all of the blanks, he allows the reader to draw their own conclusion on a number of occasions. This is a brave and confident step for any writer but the signs are clear and Triplow is a competent guide through Frank's Wild Years.

This is a deftly recounted tale of loyalty, betrayed trust, nostalgia, wasted years, expectations, strong family bonds and Friendship. You'll find yourself as interested in the memories of Frank's past as with the next development in the present. It's quite a slow going novel as the focus on two timelines takes a lot of developing. The impatient reader looking for a quick action fix will find this perhaps not to their taste. However, there's enough going on to keep all but the most fickle of readers engaged with the story.

As intelligent a gangster related novel as you will ever read. I suspect the author worked very hard to make this one come out just the way he wanted it to. The conclusion is a bittersweet fusion of the happy and sad. A perfectly constructed end that will leave the reader with a smile and perhaps a couple of questions. Caffeine Nights once again proving that they know how to pick an author who can tell a hell of a story. Highly recommended.

Genre:  Crime
Publisher:  Caffeine Nights
Format:  Paperback / E-Book Novel
Rating:  5/5

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Author Interview: Nick Quantrill

Nick Quantrill is one of the nicest chaps on the crime writing scene. His novels Broken Dreams and The Late Greats are published by Caffeine Nights and both in  his home town of Hull. I was lucky enough to be able to interview him for this blog.

Tell us about your latest novel The Late Greats.

“The Late Greats” is the second Joe Geraghty novel. It sees Geraghty move away slightly from his role as a Private Investigator. He’s employed to babysit a reforming band and essentially keep them out of trouble until the pay-day happens. But the band’s front-man, Greg Tasker, disappears, so it’s back to the day job for Geraghty with him having to find him to keep the show on the road. “The Late Greats” is a novel about friendship, success and how people change over time.

How much planning and research goes into your novels?

It depends on the novel. My first novel, “Broken Dreams”, was partly about the decline of the fishing industry in Hull, so I read a lot of material for it, visited the Artic Corsair (the city’s floating museum dedicated to the trawler industry) and listened to stories about what life was like for those workers. With “The Late Greats”, the process was different. The backdrop of music made it much easier. Music is a passion of mine, so it was much more a case of simply using my imagination.

Both of your novels to date are set in Hull. Why is this?

It’s nothing more complicated than the fact it’s home. It’s the city I know best, and to my mind, the novels couldn’t really be set anywhere else without changing the tone of them. I suppose there’s also an element of it being a city that’s not been particularly explored within a crime fiction setting. That’s very much changing, as you can’t seem to leave your house without bumping into another crime writer! Like many more celebrated cities, Hull has just as many fascinating stories to explore.

Would you consider writing a novel outside of your home city?

At the moment, it feels like I’ve got plenty still to say about Hull, so it’s not something I’ve thought seriously about doing. I may well mix it up a bit for the book I’m planning to write next year, but more about that another time…

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

There’s a loaded question…it’s for others to judge really, but I work hard on plotting and getting that aspect right. I also work hard on the dialogue, as that’s the one thing that can really kill a book for me as a reader.

What are your weaknesses? Where do you feel you could improve as a writer?

Again, it’s probably a question for others, but I know writing non-dialogue is something I particularly want to improve at. I want every book to be better than the one before it, so I suppose the answer is I want to improve at everything in relation to my writing. If that wasn’t your aim as a writer, what’s the point?

Any hints about what’s next for your PI Joe Geraghty?

I’m hard at work on the next one, provisionally called “The Crooked Beat”. I don’t want to say too much, as it’s not done yet, but it involves Joe’s brother, some smuggled cigarettes, fallout from Joe’s partner’s police career and a changing city.

If you were to write a soundtrack to accompany your novel what five songs do you feel you couldn’t leave out?

I suppose the title is a good place to start. It’s a track by my favourite band, Wilco. It’s essentially a song about an imaginary band, so it was a bit of a gift…

One of the key drivers of the book is the relationship between Greg Tasker and Steve Priestly, who are band-mates in New Holland. It doesn’t get more dysfunctional than this (I was in the audience for this one…):

I’m so bored of cynical, cash-driven reunions…I’m embarrassed for them watching this…

And Hull’s ‘nearly made it’ from the Britpop era (seemingly the only clip available)…

And a personal choice, because if we didn’t have this, we wouldn’t have anything…

Are you currently working on any other writing projects?

The novel writing is the priority, but there are plenty of other things on the go…I’m very excited to be working on a screenplay with a group of Yorkshire writers, including David Peace. There’s a novella coming later this via Byker Books and I’ve got a couple of exciting commissions from Hull’s literary festival, The Humber Mouth, to be working on. Always busy!

Where can my readers find out more about you?

The best place is my website –, or simply look me up on Facebook.