Saturday, 31 December 2011

Top Ten Short Reads

Happy New Year all.

Busy times here, so brevity is the key.

I'm keeping it short for 2 reasons.  One, it's my birthday and two, I've just managed to delete an almost fully fledged post without it being saved or auto saved.  How it happened - check out old saying 'less haste more speed'.

But I'm not bitter. Well, just a little.

My birthday will be spend with my parents and later my wife and kids.  It will also be spend in a car driving the 5 hours between the 2.  I'll be happy enough, though.  Kids in the back seat for company and Dirty Old Town continuing to roll along.

There's also the Pablo D'Stair competition.  I did lots on that one and praised Pablo for his courage and his ability.  I still think he's toast.  Pop over to the site and find out how to take part in this immaculate conception.

And here's my top ten list of short story collections by individual authors from the year.  I've read a huge number and I've also still got a pile of to-be-reads. 

Please excuse the lack of extra detail.  Keeping it short and sweet is the order of the day.

Dave White More Sinned Against

Patti Abbott Monkey Justice

Edward A Grainger The Adventures Of Cash Laramie And Gideon Miles (the follow up collection is free today here).

Heath Lowrance Dig Ten Graves

Paul D Brazill Thirteen Shots Of Noir

McDroll Kick It

Anonymous-9 Hard Bite

Darren Sant Longcroft Estate series

Russel D McLean The Death Of Ronnie Sweets

Julie Morrigan Gone Bad

R Thomas Brown's Mayhem!

I've dashed those off using the top of my head.  If, through the day I get one of those 'doh' moments, I'll be sure to edit the page (though not remove any of the above as I feel pretty safe with such a strong list) and I've even pressed save (less haste, see).

And like I said, Happy New Year.


Friday, 30 December 2011

One Man's Opinion: The Killing Of Emma Gross by Damien Seaman

The Killing Of Emma Gross is based upon a true story, set in a period when ‘the Ripper’ (or ‘Vampire Of Dusseldorf’) was terrorising families in Germany in the late 1920s.

It's out of the Blasted Heath stable and it's another of the thoroughbreds they seem to enjoy working with.

The murder we’re concerned with is of one Emma Gross, a prostitute found killed in the room of a seedy hotel where customers pay by the hour.  It’s one that comes as part of a rather unfortunate package.

Seaman takes the idea of this unsolved case and weaves a wonderful story for the reader to delight in.

The book opens with Detective Michael Ritter with the body of Emma Gross and we get a fly on the wall view of what happens.

From that point on we’re inside the head of one Detective Thomas Klein.  In fact, we’re not just inside his head but inside his whole body as it reacts to each situation and new emotion in different ways.  It’s quite a skill Seaman has with internal settings, giving us not only Klein’s insides, but small rooms and oppressive atmospheres that lend to the whole piece a claustrophobic feel which entirely makes sense for the period and situation.

Unfortunately for Klein, he has something of a history with his senior colleague Ritter and this leads to trouble when their paths cross over the case.

Klein has been tipped off about the ‘the Ripper’ Peter Kurten and sets off to arrest him in a church.

Instead of making Klein the hero, Ritter turns the world upside down and Klein is given a roasting in an interrogation room. 

The bringing in of a Berlin hotshot soon sees Klein back on the case and he’s soon sent off to work on a maverick operation that leaves him vulnerable from every angle.

Klein is a superb character.  An old storm trooper who’s allowed himself to go to seed, he moves through the underbelly of the city with all senses bar smell switched on.

We get a glimpse of what it might have been like in a post-war world where the communists have been crushed, there’s an economic depression and Freud has a spreading influence that percolates through German Expressionism.  I got flashes of the movie ‘M’ every so often (Fritz Lang’s very early talkie from the period and dealing with a serial child-killer)  – that’s a film I admire greatly so if the effect was intentional, I take my hat off.

Seaman throws in some German language every once in a while, usually in terms of humour (the word ‘arsch’ is slipped in wonderfully from time-to-time).

I’d say he also did a lot of research, but it’s leaked to us subtly rather than rammed.

It’s a must for the fan of the police procedural and is even more of an essential read for those fans looking for something with a strong and unique flavour.

Full Marx.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Dancing With Myself: ANDREZ BERGEN interviews ANDREZ BERGEN

Happy days, everyone.

Thanks for all your Christmas wishes. 

I'd like to wish you all happy times in whatever form works for you.

I'd like to thank the folk out there buying and reading my books, too.  I may not know who you are but, believe me, every time I clock up a sale you get a smile (like the bell and the angel getting its wings).

In case you still haven't seen, if you buy a copy of Smoke and send me the info, I'll give you (courtesy of Darren Santa) a copy of Flashes Of Revenge and you'll be able to have your pick from the Trestle catalogue, too.  Three for the price of one.

And here's a really great interview from a man who likes to title a book.

Welcome Andrez Bergen, author of Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat.

How do you feel about interviewing yourself?

Actually, I’m fine with it. I’ve worked as a hack journalist for 15-odd years and interviewed during that time around 500 people, include American actress Famke Janssen in a hotel room in Tokyo, and British DJs Coldcut – I was quite drunk and freezing my balls off at a payphone in the middle of winter in Melbourne, while they were sober and enjoying the warmth in a park in London.

So, yeah, I’ve had some practice in various states, and to be honest I know the questions I’d prefer to be asked, so it’s a tad easier and saves on heating bills.

What’s your focus in the journalism thing?

Mostly, I write about music – in particular electronic music, sometimes more commercial dance (that stuff pays the bills), but I prefer focusing on the experimental stuff that pushes the perimetres.

I also write about Japanese culture. It helps that I’ve lived in Tokyo for the past decade. I do articles on anime, Japanese cinema, manga, literature, whatever. I love directors like Akira Kurosawa, Mamoru Oshii and Seijun Suzuki.

Anyway, I think all this attention to music and cinema has done some permanent damage to my headspace.

How about your fictional writing?

I tend to write whatever pops into my head, with very little planning. Sometimes ideas wing out of the articles I’m writing – for example I did a feature about the annual Obon Festival here in Japan and I slipped that, albeit a little revised, into Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat.

I’m currently tinkering with a similar story I did on the Japanese drink sake for my next book, One Hundred Years of Vicissitude – though that may be ditched if it doesn’t work out. Otherwise I’m heavily influenced by my love of cinema, as well as the old school, hardboiled noir and pulp fiction of writers like Dashiell Hammett, Seishi Yokomizo, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Raymond Chandler.

I could do with some attention to focus and clarity, and definitely keep a better eye on word repetition, but when you’re writing on the fly these things seem kind of like back-burner concerns.

Do you stick to one particular genre?

Nope, I think that’s beyond me. I’m always criss-crossing styles, often inadvertently – I think I’d get bored sticking to the one genre.

I guess Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is, for the most part, two genres: sci-fi and noir. But the sci-fi plays second fiddle to the noir. The next novel is a bag of fish unto itself – it hasn’t decided yet which genre it is exactly. At the moment, there are about four of ‘em whacked into the upholstery.

What’re you engaged in now?

I do music stuff as well – more electronic experimental stuff as Little Nobody and Funk Gadget – so I have a few projects I have to follow up there in the new year.

But I’m also about 120 pages into the next novel. I’m calling it One Hundred Years of Vicissitude, and – yep – it’s obviously a cheeky reference to Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.

It started out as a stand-alone tome about identical twin geisha who live to be one hundred, and one of them nurturing an Iago-like complex about the other.

Somewhere along the line, however, elements of Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat have filtered into the story, so it’s about five percent related to that as well. Long story. Literally. God knows how it’ll end.

Anything else you’d like to rant about here?

I think I should ring in my parents, whose love for cinema started me on the slippery-slop of an obsession that continues to run my life. I grew up early on with Vincent Price in Edgar Allan Poe, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in Hammer horror, The Monty Python crew, The Goodies, the Carry On movies, old musicals, John Wayne – and noir.

Plus classic ‘60s TV like The Avengers and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. That stuff is filtered through my fiction, at least, and I’m constantly citing lines that nobody else gets.

So you mentioned being smashed when you interviewed Coldcut. Are you sober now?

Absolutely. I have a six-year-old daughter so these days I tend not to drink at home, which is where I am now. The wheels do still fall off occasionally, but I try to be a little more professional. Mostly.

Oh god, well I’m constantly going back to Hammett and Chandler – The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon are two of my all-time favourite novels. Then there are old faves like Joseph Heller, Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami for their surrealist humour and ideas – and I’ll always have a soft spot for Dr. Seuss, the master of both. I’m a big fan of Umberto Eco, James Ellroy, Edith Wharton, Ryu Murakami and Graham Greene.

From a more contemporary perspective I’d go with Kristopher Young, Marcus Zusak, Josh Stallings, Molly Gaudry, Benjamin Whitmer, Guy Salvidge, Shuichi Yoshida, Steve Mosby, Justin Nicholes, Urban Waite, Allan Guthrie, Grant Jerkins – and, yep, Nigel Bird!

Is there a healthy crime/noir writing community in Japan?

To tell the truth I haven’t the faintest idea. I’ve been here a decade, but I’m still a gaijin. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love Tokyo and Japan and the people here, but I didn’t come here to discover “scenes”. I did all that kind of stuff back in Melbourne, in Australia, and I was a bit over it when I moved over here. Being anonymous and outside scenes – with respect to music as much as writing – has its advantages. But I guess there must be decent crime/noir scene. Seishi Yokomizo did some pretty gothic horror detective fiction in the 1940s and ‘50s, and more recently Shuichi Yoshida has been on fire.


Also Ellery Queen seemed to think there was a healthy Japanese scene when he put together the Japanese Golden Dozen: The Detective Story World in Japan in the 1970s. (


What’s the big deal about your publisher, Another Sky Press?

Easy – I love them to death. These people care about their writers and they work their arses off supporting them and helping them to get their work out in the big wide world – and to be honest they don’t get all that much back. They deserve their own bronze statues in local parks.

The decision to run with them on Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is one I will never, ever regret, particularly since my editor, Kristopher Young, had so much input into the final story.

So why write?

What can I say? That it keeps me sane, that it’s escapism, that it’s a magical carpet-ride outside the casement of my own skull? Partially, I guess it’s all of these things, but most of all I write for the simple face that I love it. I’ve been writing stories since I first learned how to hold a pen at the beginning of primary school. I’m not saying I wrote decent yarns – ye gods, some of it was absolute nonsense – but I always loved the ability to create new places and new people.

Where can we find your work?

Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is up on Amazon, but the paperback is cheaper direct from my publishers at Another Sky Press:

Music-wise, if you’re at all keen, you can check out:

Anything stressing you out right now?

Well, yeah, actually. I think I’ve mentioned I’m an amateur aficionado of nihonshu, the Japanese alcohol known as sake.

Well, the Holy Grail of sake is a brew called Myouka Rangyoku (‘Heavenly Flower’) that has been touted as the world’s best sake at and in the pages of The Japan Times newspaper – it was served up to dignitaries attending the G8 Summit in 2008 in Hokkaido.

Like all chart-topping, divinely-inspired beverages this one comes with a healthy price tag: A 720 ml bottle retails upwards from ¥12,600 (about £100).

Unfortunately I’ve never had the opportunity to try it, and it turns out the brewery is located in Fukushima – slap-bang in the middle of where the massive March 11 earthquake happened, and about 60 km from the ongoing nuclear reactor debacle at Fukushima Daiichi.

I know this is a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things, but… damn.

 Great interview, Andrez.  It's been great to have you both.
All that talk of films gets me thinking of The Man In The Seventh Row from Blasted Heath.  Maybe there's room for some collaboration one day.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

The Top Ten Ways To Start Off Your Kindle Collection

Some of you may have seen my posting of my top five novels of the year over at Guilty Conscience.  Just picking five did leave my conscience pricked, so I’m posting my top ten today to make amends.  I’ll still feel bad about the ones I leave out, but it’s the way the cookie crumbled.

The proportion of good reads in my life has gone up dramatically since I’ve been taking the advice of respected folk around the internet.  Though lists don’t always satisfy everyone, they do offer a good guide to what folk might want to be cramming on to their kindles after Christmas.

So here goes.

Katja From The Punk Band by Simon Logan.

A tremendous story of kiss chase as a couple attempt to leave for the mainland while the bad guys try to stop them.  This never skips a beat.  Every word takes the story forward and there’s no friction anywhere to slow it down.  It’s told from a number of perspectives and works like a dream.

The Devil All The Time by Donald Ray Pollock

This is a book that transcends most fiction.  It should be placed on a shelf (real or virtual) among the giants of American literature.  It’s about as good as it gets.

The Cold Kiss by John Rector

This was a debut novel, not that you’d know from the way the story is told.  A young couple bump into a hard-nosed guy in a diner and end up giving him a lift.  It snows, the man dies and he happens to have a shit-load of money in his bags.  What to do?

One Too Many Blows To The Head by Eric Beetner and JB Kohl

A book that’s full of the flavours of original hard-boiled fiction.  Set in the boxing world, a fighter dies in the ring and his brother goes out to find justice.  Problem is, justice isn’t so easy to find as it might be.  Loved it.

The Bastard Hand by Heath Lowrance.

Preaching and killing have rarely been fused in such a wonderful way.  Very classy work. 

Truth Lies Bleeding by Tony Black

It’s a great book. Sharply written. Brilliantly plotted. Page-turning and thought-provoking at the same time. Highly recommended.

Out There Bad by Josh Stallings

From early on, this book explodes into action. Stallings moves on at a cracking pace and I'm pretty sure this one has got the lot: sex, sleaze, car-chases, hand-to-hand, drugs, an arsenal of weapons, gangsters, assassins and booze.

The Damage Done by Hilary Davidson

Hilary Davidson's debut novel is first rate.  The plot is as gently layered as a fine choux pastry.

When I read this book, I laughed out loud so much that I could feel my spirit soaring and my levels of happiness increase. It's hilarious. The kind of humour I wish I could muster.   It would be a mistake, however, to underestimate the skill of the author simply because the book's funny. It's only by setting you up, by getting the timing exactly right and by creating a plot that is utterly engaging from beginning to end that one can fully appreciate the talent.

The Killing Of Emma Gross by Damien Seaman

This is cheating a bit as I’ve still got the final hurdle to cross.   It’s in the top 10, though, no doubt about it.  I’ll be posting a review over the next week or so.
And because The Damage Done isn't available as an ebook yet, I can pick on extra, which is to be:
The Good Son by Russel D McLean
McLean's touch is interesting. Mostly I found it easy and flowing, one of those page-turners that brings a constant source of pleasure. He almost fooled me with that, for he also has a range of weapons at his disposal. He has blunt which he uses now and then to stun, throwing in a cold, hard phrase to unsettle. There are the sharp objects in there - descriptions and force that cut as the phrase turns. There are guns and fists lurking too. And there's a little wry-smile that jumps out when you're least expecting it as if Harry Lime's lurking in the shadows and having a bloody good time.
All in all, you get youself a copy of each of those and you'll be in reader heaven.
May I thank everyone who has helped me along in any way this year (and there have been so many). Kind words, comments, purchases, reviews, moral support, a gentle slap, visits here and enthusiasm for life.  However you've been in contact, may I wish you and yours a very happy Christmas

Saturday, 24 December 2011


If you're looking for last-minute Christmas books for an e-reader, here are three places you'll find great gifts:

Blasted Heath has a growing collection of amazing fiction for you to try.  Absolutely.  I'm currently reading 'The Killing Of Emma Gross' (on sale at 99p!) and it's a wonderful police-procedural with a rather unique flavour.

Snubnose Press are stars for the top of the Christmas tree.  Each of the books I've read from them has been of the highest order.  Yesterday I posted reviews for Eric Beetner and Patti Abbott's work.  At the end of them you can see what they have brewing for 2012 and it's going to be intoxicating.

Untreed Reads are having a half-price sale all day today, finishing at midnight PST.  I'd recommend 13 Shots of Noir and Grimm Tales, Discount Noir and will give a little plug for my festive, existential romance 'Into Thin Air'.


Santa job over.

I really was Santa the other day, by the way.  I had an emergency call from our Wraparound team and he hadn't turned up.  They needed an imposter to step in and do the bell-ringing, Yo Ho Ho thing.  I was off like a flash and loved it.

And here is the main business of the day, the interview with Sir Michael Abayomi.  Take it away, Sir.

Good day, ladies and gentlemen. It is with unquantifiable pleasure that I introduce to you our guest for today: the sensational, multi-talented, self-proclaimed international bestselling author, Sir Michael Abayomi.

Feels good to be here.

Now, for the benefit of those who have been living in a cave for the past year or so, I think we should start this interview with a formal introduction.

Yes. Of course. Well. My name, as you all should know by now, is Michael Abayomi. I was born in the beautiful city of Lagos, Nigeria, and I am the bestselling author of the Neuro series of books: The Mediator, The Host and The Second Rebellion.

Wait just one minute. Before launching into your sales pitch. You keep describing yourself as a bestselling author, when there are many out there who have never come across your work.

What do you mean? Are you questioning my credentials. Why, I am featured in the very first issue of International Bestseller magazine. Sadly, that issue doesn't get distributed until the 21st of December, 2012. But you just wait and see.
Shouldn't the whole world be ending right around then... according to doomsday advocates?
Yes. Well. In the quite likely event that it doesn't, I'll be proven right, now, wouldn't I?
A bit convenient if you ask me. But anyway, on with the interview. So tell us: when did you start writing? What inspired you to start weaving tales from the fabric of your imagination?

Real fancy words you've got there. Let me see. I've been writing since when I was a wee lad. Oh, wait. That ain't quite true. I've been coming up with stories since I was a kid; didn't start putting them down into words until I was round twelve. Didn't get any good at it until I was eighteen. By then, I'd fallen in love with the art, no thanks to a certain series of books called Harry Potter.
And since then, you've written quite a number of books I'm sure...

Well. Not quite. For I'd been busy with school, and then work. But I plan on making up for this in 2012. I plan on writing not four, not five, not six, but SEVEN books, all part of a series you see.

Wow. That sounds... rather ambitious. But for those of us willing to sample your work right now, what can you tell us about the books you currently have available - you know, the ones you claim catapulted you to the top of the bestseller lists?

*eyes widen with delight* Ah. Yes. Those ones. Where to begin? The series is called Neuro, and there are three books in all. The first is called The Mediator, and it is about a lawyer trying not to get screwed over by a corrupt justice system. The second is called The Host, and it is about a wealthy geezer brought back to life by the implantation of his memories into another man's body. The final one is called The Second Rebellion, and it is about this kid who gets chosen to test out a new device, called the Virtual Reality Visor, which places users in a virtual reality world called Gomorrah; it's sorta like a cross between The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings, only cooler of course. Wicked.

I'll have to admit, your books have quite an impressive premise, which brings me to my next question. You seem to juggle between quite a few genres. What audience did you have in mind when writing these books?

Hmmm. Well, my books are what I'd like to term an easy read. They can all be read comfortably in one sitting. You can even sip some tea while you're at it. Or coffee if you prefer. So if you enjoy reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Tom Clancy, Stephen King, Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer, William Shakespeare, Robert Ludlum, J.K. Rowling, Danielle Steele or the Holy Bible, then my books are definitely for you.

And if you like drinking water of course...

Yes. That too. Like I said, Easy Read®.

I'm afraid that's all the time we have for the interview. But before you go, is there anything else you'd like to add?

I'm on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads and Amazon, and you can also check out my blog, where I talk about writing and being an international bestselling author.

Nicely put. Thanks for dropping by.

Thanks for having me.

Friday, 23 December 2011

On The Twelfth Day Of Christmas

The Twelve Nights Of Christmas.  That should be enough to keep you going through the holidays.

This collection contains twelve stories "inspired" by the classic Christmas song. Be warned, though, this cup of cheer is poisoned. Katherine Tomlinson has put a twisted spin on the holiday sentiment and created stories that belong more to the dark than the light.


You may have seen ‘One Too Many Blows To The Head’ listed as one of my Top 5 novels of the year.  Set in the boxing world, it’s a book that really does pack a punch.

That was co-written with JB Kohl, so I was curious as to how Mr Beetner would fare as a lone wolf.

In my opinion, he managed extremely well.

Dig Two Graves is essentially a story about revenge.

Val has come out of prison a confused man.  It’s about the same way he went in. 

Inside, he discovered the joys of Ernesto’s mouth as an antidote to sexual tension.  Thing is, he has feelings for the man, not that he’s prepared to admit them.  It means that he gets stuck somewhere between his wife and his male lover.

It’s a situation he’d most likely have stuck with until his arrest for a bank robbery.

Because he’s become such a careful planner  (‘Planning.  A good bank hit takes planning and, even more than that, humility.  All the big names – Jesse James, Bonnie and Clyde, Dillinger – they all had the same M.O.: go in big, scare the shit out of them, take as much as you can carry.  What else did they all have in common?  Died in a hail of bullets.’) that he knows there’s only one way he could have been pinned for the job – his partner in crime (Ernesto) has ratted him out.

Val is taken in handcuffs across town by a silent cop.  When they arrive, Val and they’re met by Val’s wife who’s waving a gun.  She’s not too happy to have heard about her husband’s extra-marital activities and takes a shot at them.  Blows a hole in the cop.  Takes another shot and misses them both.

Thankfully, she calms down at that point and decides to help Val to escape.  Maybe she shouldn’t have bothered.

From here on in, this becomes a quest for revenge.   Val’s targets are Ernesto and the big cheese in the local crime fraternity who happens to have it in for Val for having an affair with his wife many years earlier.

We follow Val through church meetings, gay bars and slums as he keeps his nose to the ground in his quest for blood.

There are a number of times when his rational self considers leaving town and finding safety.  At least that way he’d get to stay free.

Instead, his hot-headed-self wins out (‘Everything from here on in counted as borrowed time anyway.  Might as well make it count’). 

Truth is Val is happiest when the adrenaline is pumping and he’s in the thick of violent or dangerous situations.  As we get to know about him, we realise his past hasn’t been so much chequered as all black squares.

The plot moves with energy and tension from one scene to the next and the excitement Mr Beetner stirred in me was palpable.

His characters are written beautifully from Val’s perspective and the settings had everything I need.

Best of all, though, is the voice of the book.  It has the hard-boiled edge of another age.  The sarcasm is heavy, the wit sharp as shark teeth and the humour laugh-out-loud. 

One of the effects Mr Beetner’s style has is to throw my sense of time and place.  That may seem like an uncomfortable place for a reader to occupy, but I love the way it happens.  I found myself transported to a world of the black and white noir movie, all mist, darkness, caricatures, hats and long coats until I’d be shaken from the moment by a Tweet, the mention of a song or a tongue-piercing.  It’s something I fully enjoyed, a juxtaposition of two eras that works extremely well and with great originality.  Takes me back to when certain things just didn’t happen even within my lifetime.  How things change.

One thing that hasn’t changed is my respect for Eric Beetner as a writer.  Next on my card is the sequel to ‘One Too Many Blows…’ – ‘Borrowed Trouble’.  I know already, I’m really going to dig it.

Thursday, 22 December 2011


GRIMM TALES is a collection of stories by some of the top names in online crime fiction, all based on classic fairy tales. As novelist Ken Bruen writes in his introduction, "Ever imagined what would have come down the dark pike if The Brothers Grimm were more Brothers Coen and wrote mystery?" The collection is edited by John Kenyon, editor of Grift magazine, and contains 17 stories by Patricia Abbott, Absolutely*Kate, Jack Bates, Eric Beetner, Nigel Bird, Loren Eaton, Kaye George, Blu Gilliand, Seana Graham, Eirik Gumeny, R.L. Kelstrom, John Kenyon, BV Lawson, Evan Lewis, B. Nagel, Sean Patrick Reardon and Sandra Seamans.

I read these tales when the competition was running and, I have to say, there's a lot of talent in this collection.

Ken Bruen says, 'The stories all display not only marvellous invention, turning the whole concept of fairytales on its mysterious head, but breathing new life into a genre that has become, if not familiar, certainly stale.'

I'm with Mr Bruen with this collection, but not in relation to the familiarity of the traditional tales; to me the best fairytale still have an immense freshness at every reading and I'm glad that as a teacher and a father I get to visit them often. 

As Christmas comes near, Darren Sant have put together an offer you can't refuse.  Well, you can, but you should at least think about it.

Smoke, three times chosen in Best 5 reads of the year, has been dropped to 86p / 99c.  Trestle Press are offering a free book for every purchase of Smoke if you contact me ( with proof of purchase.  Darren and I would like to go further.  If you buy a copy between now and New Year, you'll not only get the other Trestle book, but a copy of Flashes Of Revenge (and vice versa), a very entertaining read indeed. 

I'd take me up on that.  The rest is up to you.

And three more sleeps.

Favourite fairytales, by the Snow White for the sipping from the wine goblets; Rapunzel for it's shocking brutality and romance; The Tinder Box for those dogs under the tree roots; Shockheaded Peter and the moral tales; Rumplestitlskin for it's all over the place twists and turns... we've all got them.  Here's a list from the Guardian to remind you how good they can be.

While you're buying Grimm Tales, by the way, why not get yourself a free download of the original sinners.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Dancing With Myself: MIKE MINER interviews MIKE MINER

There's a brilliant interview here today, so please hang in here.

Before you get there, some news of the Flash Challenge against Pablo D'Stair.

I'm trying to round up stories for the Challenge against Pablo.  They need to have fewer than 1000 words and to be with me by 27th December.  Please also include a bio and a photo so that you can bathe in the light of the contest site OUT OF BULLETS, THROW THE GUN .

The collective piece will go up against Pablo's on 1st January.  Readers will have a chance to go through both and pick their favroutes by 31st January.  And remember the three cash prizes for best 3 in show should the collective come out on top, $100 for the top story.  That's pretty big bucks for under 1000 words.

Other bits.

Do Some Damage have been pumping out some great posts recently and at Guilty Conscience you'll find some great reading recommendations from some talented writers.

And Trestle Press have a two-for-one deal just now that's going on over Christmas.  There's some great stuff up there to choose from, so check that out.
Anway, that's the appetizer over.

Here's my star of the show, Mike Miner.  Big welcome.

Are you comfortable talking to yourself?

Very.  I do it all the time.

What does your mother think about your writing?

My poor mother.  I think nobody's more proud of me than my mom, but I'm sure she's uncomfortable at times with my dark side.  Probably thinks she did something wrong raising me.  She didn't.

What do you write about?

In my fiction, lately, nobody is safe.  A lot of my characters don't get out alive.  It's been a while since I penned a happy ending, been a while since it occurred to me to try.  I've stopped looking away when I might have in the past.  Instead of fading to black, I leave the lights on.  I've become interested in, and willing to explore, the damage my characters inflict and receive.  I am drawn to the wounded, the eccentric, the crazy.  In life and fiction.

Do you write crime fiction?

Sometimes?  Crimes are certainly committed.  I don't have much use for white knights riding to the rescue on white horses.  Or sensitive characters with precious, complicated feelings who are ignored or misunderstood, who just can't make that all important connection.  I'm releasing bulls in china shops, I want to write about people at the end of their rope, holding on to one last, thin thread.  Men and women, boys and girls, who crash into each other with violent, permanent results.  Incidents that leave scars.  If people want to call it crime fiction, fine by me.

What are you working on now?

I have a novel completed.  It's being read.  Keep your fingers crossed.  I'm too superstitious to name names.  My stories “Ice” and “The Rematch” are part of a linked collection of stories I'm working on. 

What else should we talk about?



I read a lot, but a few all time favorites are Hubert Selby Jr., Robert Stone, Raymond Chandler and Roberto Bolaño.  I went through a huge Stephen King phase as a teenager.  His collection, Night Shift, had a big impact on me.

Hmm.  How about some female authors?

I adore Angela Carter.  Those lovely southern gals, Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers.  Alice Munro, Jennifer Egan.

What about current writers?

Everyone's talking about Matt Funk and Frank Bill – and people should be, they're great.  My favorite books this year were Mr. Bill's Crimes in Southern Indiana, Jacobs' Southern Gods and Dust Devils by Roger Smith.  A lot of writers on the other side of the Atlantic: Paul D. Brazill, Nigel Bird, RayBanks.  Also the Scandinavians, Nesbo and Indridason and Nesser, to name three great series writers.

Thomas Pluck and A.J. Hayes had good years.  I'll go out of my way to read them.  Loved David Cranmer's western stories.  Patti Abbott really got my attention this year.

I could go on and on.  Right now I'm reading R Thomas Brown's Mayhem.

Why don't you have a website or a blog?

I don't know the first thing about setting one up.  Or maintaining one.

How can people find your work?

I'll include some links here.

Is there a crime writing community?  Are you a member?

I guess there's sort of a neo-noir scene.  And I'm happy to be a small part of it, as a writer and a fan.  I'm grateful to editors like David Barber and Kent Gowran and Jason Michel (and many others) for giving guys like me an outlet for our work.  The writers in this scene have been incredibly supportive too.  We just want each other to succeed.  It's like a really good AA Meeting.

You know AA Meetings?


What do you miss most about drinking?


What was your poison?

Everything.  A lot of tequila.  Gin.  A nice dry martini.

What don't you miss?

Everything else.  Waking up in jail.  My wife bailing me out.  Courtrooms.  Lawyers.  Also, I couldn't write worth a damn when I was drinking.

What's the worst jail you've ever been in?

Twin Towers.  Downtown Los Angeles.

What's the best?

Beverly Hills.  Hands down.  Commit all of your crimes in Beverly Hills, everyone.

Why do you write?

Can I steal Flannery O'Connor's answer?  Because I'm good at it.

No.  Why do YOU write?

To stay sane.


Mike Miner tweets as @skyeminer.

Story links:

“the rematch”:

“one more night”:

“the revenge game”:


“killer smile”:

“the wrong saloon”:


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Brit Grit Too

I mentioned yesterday that Smoke has not only had a slash down in price, but that you could enjoy any other Trestle Press book for free as part of a two-for-one deal just by letting me know you'd bought it.  That still stands.

I also mentioned that Brit Grit Too would be a good companion as a choice.  I'd forgotten, at that point, that BGT is for charity.  That means it would be a good idea to choose any other Trestle Book as your Smoke two-for-one and, let's face it, there's a barrel of talent to choose from.

Edited by Paul D Brazill, one of Britain's outstanding up-and-coming talents and enormously generous spirits, Brit Grit Too collects 32 of Britain's best up and coming crime fiction writers to aid the charity Children 1st

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

Table Of Contents.

1. Two Fingers Of Noir by Alan Griffiths

2. Looking For Jamie by Iain Rowan

3. Stones In Me Pocket by Nigel Bird

4. The Catch And The Fall by Luke Block

5. A Long Time Coming by Paul Grzegorzek

6. Loose Ends by Gary Dobb

7. Graduation Day by Malcolm Holt

8. Cry Baby by Victoria Watson

9. The Savage World Of Men by Richard Godwin

10. Hard Boiled Poem (a mystery) by Alan Savage

11. A Dirty Job by Sue Harding

12. Squaring The Circle by Nick Quantrill

13. The Best Days Of My Life by Steven Porter

14. Hanging Stan by Jason Michel

15. The Wrong Place To Die by Nick Triplow

16. Coffin Boy by Nick Mott

17. Meat Is Murder by Colin Graham

18. Adult Education by Graham Smith

19. A Public Service by Col Bury

20. Hero by Pete Sortwell

21. Snapshots by Paul D Brazill

22. Smoked by Luca Veste

23. Geraldine by Andy Rivers

24. A Minimum Of Reason by Nick Boldock

25. Dope On A Rope by Darren Sant

26. A Speck Of Dust by David Barber

27. Hard Times by Ian Ayris

28. Never Ending by Fiona Johnson

29. Faces by Frank Duffy

30. The Plebitarian by Danny Hogan

31. King Edward by Gerard Brennan

32. Brit Grit by Charlie Wade

It looks tasty as anything and I reckon it's a must have, don't you?

And it's for such a good cause, it would make a timely Christmas treat in many different ways.