Short, Sharp Interview: J J Toner

book cover mock-up file from SK3_50.jpgPDB: What’s going on now?

I’ve completed the Black Orchestra WW2 spy trilogy with A Postcard from Hamburg. The first book was strictly historical fiction. The second was an attempt to write a page turner – much more action adventure than history. With the third I tried to incorporate the best of both – sound historical fiction with lots of excitement.

PDB: How did you research this book?

Reading, reading and more reading.

PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?

The first book of the trilogy, The Black Orchestra is my best work, although I have recently published Zugzwang, a short story set in pre-war Munich, which I think is pretty special.

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

Film: Avatar. Book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Song: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Television programme: Spiral (Engrenages in the original French)

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

Yes. Locations are intrinsic to all my books (Ireland / Germany).

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

Cheeky question! If I’m honest I’d have to say daily.

PDB: What’s next?

I’m not sure. I’m at a bit of a crossroads. I may write some more short stories in the pre-war setting, or a fourth book in the Black Orchestra series, or I may try something entirely new.

neon moon 2Bio: I was born under a gooseberry bush in Ireland. It was probably raining at the time as I’ve had a fear of water all my life. I studied Mathematics at university and spent 35 years working with computers in industry before retiring in 2007. I have been writing full time since then. When not writing I spend hours watching golf on TV or creating music on my computer.

JJ Toner‘s website is HERE.

He is one of the contributors to The Neon Moon: A Roman Dalton Anthology.

Recommended Read: Death Can’t Take A Joke by Anya Lipska

death can't take a jokeWhen London based Polish private eye Janusz Kiszka’s close  friend is violently murdered, he decides to track down those responsible. Meanwhile, Detective Natalie Kershaw is trying to find  out the identity of  an apparent suicide victim. As in Lipska’s previous novel, Where The Devil Can’t Go, their investigations collide.

The second  Kiszka & Kershaw crime thriller is even better than the first. The plotting is as tight as a snare drum, the characters are realistic and likable,  the dialogue is sharp.  Gripping, gritty but never grim, Death Can’t Take A Joke  is also very funny, the humour coming naturally from the well-drawn characters’ interactions.

Great stuff.

Out Now ! The Neon Moon: A Roman Dalton Anthology

neon moon 2The Neon Moon: A Roman Dalton Anthology is a collection of noir/ horror short stories based on Paul D. Brazill‘s creation Roman Dalton – Werewolf PI.

Contributors are: Matt Hilton, Vincent Zandri, Ben Sobieck, Benoit Lelievre, JJ Toner, Veronica Marie Lewis – Shaw, Chris Rhatigan, Carrie Clevenger, Paul D. Brazill. Introduction: Richard Godwin.

The eBook is currently 99p/ 99c from Amazon.uk and Amazon.com 

You can get the paperback here.

Published by Blackwitch Press. Cover by Marcin Drzewciecki.

Recommended Read: Crooked Roads by Alec Cizak

The stories in Alec Cizak’s Crooked Roads are brilliant, brutal and poignant. crooked roads

There is the classic small town noir of ‘State Road 33′ and ‘My Kind Of Town’, hard-boiled revenge in ‘A Matter Of Time’, the delirium driven ‘Methamphetamine and a Shotgun’ and the downright nasty ‘Little People.’, And more.

Crooked Roads is an unflinching look at life on the edge.

Recommended Read: Act Of Contrition by Dominic Milne

aocWhen a bag of Class A drugs goes missing, bull-headed DI Eddie Kane is immediately under suspicion.

However. this doesn’t stop him from investigation the murders of of two young women and ruffling the feathers of a particularly nasty London gangster.

Dominic Milne’s Act Of Contrition is a blinder. The pacing is tight, the cast of characters is rich, the plotting is labyrinthine,  the dialogue is sharp.

Brutal and breathless, Act Of Contrition is  the first in what looks to be a cracking new crime fiction series.

I loved it.

Recommended Read: The Dying Place by Luca Veste

The Dying PlaceWhen the body of a young man is found on the steps of a church, DI Murphy and DS Rossi – returning from Dead Gone,  Luca Veste‘s very enjoyable debut crime novel – are called in to investigate.

Veste’s second novel is very impressive indeed. Mature and tightly written, The Dying Place is a truly humanist piece of crime fiction. Veste smoothly  moves from the POVs of the victims, perpetrators and cops, creating a gripping, chilling and very moving piece of work.

Highly recommended.

Short, Sharp Interview: Gareth Spark

PDB: What’s going on now?

Right now I’m suffering that mixture of dread and delight that comes when you publish anything, and which seems so much more severe when that something is a collection of stories you’ve worked on for a number of years. 

SNAKE FARM, is a book into which I’ve invested a lot of imaginative capital and energy for a long damn time. It’s a post-modern tribute to the outlaw life, an examination of violence and, above all, a collection of gritty stories. The book begins with tales set in the old American west, at the very dawn of that idea of the desperado as hero, and continues through tales of war and crime and heartache to a penultimate tale set in a post-apocalyptic world, before heading right back to the Wild West.

PDB: How did you research this book?

The title (as well as being pinched from a kickass Ray Wylie Hubbard song) comes from those places where they keep these poisonous critters and use their venom to create an anti-venom, a cure, and I liked the idea of the book as a metaphorical snake farm. The historical stories were researched pretty hard to provide some kind of accuracy, but the vast majority occur in the here and now and take place in areas I know pretty well, either in the UK or Spain.

PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?

Somebody once asked Picasso which of his paintings was his favourite and he replied, “The next one.” I’d have to echo that sentiment.

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme? 


At the moment, I’m pretty into JUSTIFIED. I’m re-watching all 6 seasons, beginning to end. (Thank you SKY TV!) The books I’m digging right now are EVERYTHING RAVAGED, EVERYTHING BURNED by Wells Tower and THE ANIMALS by Christian Kiefer. I’m also looking forward to Aidan Thorn’s upcoming second collection. That guy can write.

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

I personally think the answer to the kind of cultural vanilla gloop that comes with globalisation and social media hegemony is with the particular and the local, and I try to make my writing a true representation of the places I know well, excepting the historical stories, and I research those with no small industry.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

Hardly ever, and that’s the truth. A history of miserable “Author’s profile” pics means I never google my name either. That way madness lies.

PDB: What’s next?

I’m editing a 50K Novella called GUTTER WOLVES, which is a gangster thriller set on the Costa del crime and I’ve just finished a screenplay called JERICHO ROSE about a Gulf War vet/recluse who finds a kidnapped girl. I’m also writing a new novel, a noir called WINTER FIRES. That’s still in the 1st draft though.

57377-sparkyBio: Gareth Spark writes dark fiction from and about the moors and rust belts of the North East where grudges are savoured, shotguns are cheap and people get by in the economic meltdown any way they can.

His work has appeared at Near 2 The Knuckle, Out Of The Gutter, Line Zero, Shotgun Honey, and many more journals/zines. Gareth Spark was born in the middle of a blizzard on New Year’s day, 1979. He grew up in Whitby and published his first book, a collection of poetry called “At The Breakwater” at age 22.
He has since published two further collections “Ramraid” (Skrev Press) and “Rain in a dry land” (Mudfog) as well as the crime thriller, “Black Rain” (Skrev Press, 2004) and the collection of short stories “Snake Farm” (2015). He reviews fiction and poetry for various on-line journals.
(This interview first appeared at Out Of The Gutter Online)