A Song For Saturday: Where You Lived And What You Lived For by Jozef Van Wissem

jozef vanHappy birthday to Jozef van Wissem,  ‘a Dutch minimalist composer and lute player based in Brooklyn. In 2013 van Wissem won the Cannes Soundtrack Award for the score of Only Lovers Left Alive at the Cannes Film Festival. An incessantly touring musician, van Wissem studied lute in New York with Patrick O’Brien. He was commissioned by London’s National Gallery to compose a sound piece to Hans Holbein’s painting The Ambassadors. van Wissem wrote the music score for the video game, The Sims Medieval.’

Short, Sharp Interview: Keith Nixon

Russian RoulettePDB: What’s going on now?

I’ve just released Russian Roulette via Caffeine Nights. It’s a novel length collection of back stories on Konstantin, one of the characters from my debut, The Fix. Readers (and me!) liked him so I decided to give him his own platform.

PDB: How did you research this book?

Almost entirely in my head! It’s based where I lived for twelve years (a couple of months ago we relocated up to Cheshire). Konstantin’s antics are all fictional – I personally have no direct experience of dildo wielding dominatrixes!

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

The first novella in the collection, Dream Land. It’s Konstantin’s first 48 hours in Margate & reveals how and why he becomes a tramp. Start to finish it was 8 days in the making. I love the short, choppy style.

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

Ouch, hard to answer as it’s shifted over time, but Fight Club (the multi-perspective action is excellently done) / Pullman’s Dark Materials (sheer brilliance) / London Grammar, Wasting My Young Years (it’ll be something else next week) / Sherlock (see previous comment)

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

If you mean location of the story, not massively, no. My latest work is set somewhere to be decided in the UK, but I’ve no idea where yet.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?nixon

Haha, that’s like a doctor asking how many units of alcohol you drink a week! Too often, frankly. One of my novels, a historical fiction novel titled The Eagle’s Shadow, I check daily – I’m interested to understand how sales volume relates to ranking and whether any actions I’ve taken help. My crime novels, less so Maybe once or twice a week.

PDB: What’s next?

March 2015 my next novel is due out, again via Caffeine Nights. It’s the follow up to The Fix. I’m currently writing a police procedural novel which will be finished soon before I go back to the next historical fiction novel (I have a tendency to get a third of the way through a book, then get stuck).

keith nixonBio: Keith Nixon has been writing since he was a child. In fact some of his friends (& his wife) say he’s never really grown up. Keith is currently gainfully employed in a senior sales role for a UK based high-tech company meaning he gets to use his one skill, talking too much.  Keith writes crime and historical fiction novels.

His crime novels are published by by UK based indie house Caffeine Nights. Keith’s highly regarded black comedy crime debut, The Fix, has already garnered much critical aclaim. In November 2014 Russian Roulette is to be published. The enigmatic, ex-KGB tramp, Konstantin Boryakov gets his own platform to cause trouble and mayhem again. The follow up to The Fix will be published in March 2015.

Keith has also a highly successful historical fiction novel to his name – The Eagle’s Shadow, where one man resists the might of Rome. Based on historical fact The Eagle’s Shadow has sold thousands of copies and ridden high in the UK kindle chart since its publication.

As well as writing Keith reads far too much and is a reviewer for the respected Crime Fiction Lover and Big Al’s Books & Pals.

You can find Keith on various social media platforms:
Twitter: @knntom
Facebook: Keithnixonauthor
Blog: keithnixonauthor.blogspot.com

Guest Blog: The “I” in internet by Gill Hoffs

gill hoffs bookOnce there was a little girl who lived by the sea.  So far, so fairytale.  Fast forward a bit and she’s in a dark kitchen with a bad man who is quietly telling her he can make her disappear so efficiently that no-one will even remember she existed in the first place.  He knows the police, he has “connections”.  If he chooses, she will disappear.  And no-one will ever know her unhappy ending.  Or care.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an updated Grimm’s tale or intro to a thriller.  My approach to researching and writing my book “The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the ‘Victorian Titanic’” (Pen & Sword, 2014) was affected by my experiences as a kid, but it is definitely a story of those involved directly with the tragedy, not the author writing it.  It’s only when Paul asked me to write a guestpost on the theme of ‘Brit grit’ that I really considered writing about the grit in me, like this.

Two things prompted my choice of topic for this piece, one good, one not-so-good (actually, I’m not alone in finding it downright scary, but that’s not my focus here).  An online friend, Allen Miles, has brought out a collection called “This Is How You Disappear” and a writer I hadn’t previously heard of detailed her now-infamous response to a Goodreads review in an essay for the Guardian.  By now there’s hardly a writer online who hasn’t weighed in, on social media or elsewhere, regarding the actions she took with this reviewer and also with previous issues in her personal life.  I’m not going to add to that in any significant way here, partly because I don’t want someone peering through my car’s windows as it sits in the drive and ultimately deciding they have to have the crayon stubs, snot-rags, and empty juice cartons that litter the backseat.  My seven-year-old is very attached to them.  You can find plenty in the comments section here if you’re curious http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/oct/18/am-i-being-catfished-an-author-confronts-her-number-one-online-critic or by searching using #HaleNo on twitter.

What I am interested in here is the writer’s inclusion of Sarah Silverman’s anecdote about someone phoning in to a radio show for an argument and yelling “I exist!” as they were cut off.  Birds may sing because they have a song, but humans generally howl to be heard.  Sometimes this is for reasons of vanity, sometimes for something like longevity, a motivation akin to the desire in many to reproduce and have Something or Someone Left Behind.  This, coupled with Al’s book title, stirred memories of childhood horrors on the Scottish coast.

amilesI do not want to disappear.  My corpse may rot and repurpose, turning into trees and compost and who knows what, probably fat brown maggots that smell of Nutella and tasted fudgey, but me?  I want what happens to me to be known.  I hate secrets, generally it’s just forgetfulness that enables me to keep them, and the idea of being so wrapped up in one – of ending up known for my absence not my presence, like Sandra Bullock’s character in the happy-ever-after remake of “The Vanishing” – sickens me.  Not that I’d be around to know of any hullabaloo, but still.  Yikes.

While many resent the CCTV cameras protruding from every corner of the high street and every shop within it, I find them reassuring.  I dye my hair the brightest red I can find partly to make it easier to spot and follow in a fuzzy crowd shot.  My husband describes my personal style as “mad parrot”, in that it’s usually a mixture of very bright colours – think children’s TV presenter but on acid.  I’m shy and introverted and rarely interact with people for any length of time in person, so please don’t think this is for the attention.  Because it is but, conversely, it is not.  If I do disappear, I want someone somewhere to answer “Yes!  I saw someone like that walk towards the sweetshop/Chinese takeaway/pizzeria that afternoon, though to be honest, officer, it’s hard to be sure as she was stuffing her face with an enormous bar of Galaxy Caramel that’s technically intended for sharing…” when the police come asking or someone cries and gives out a phone number while sitting next to a bunch of grim-faced detectives on TV.

I don’t want people to look at me, but then again I do.  Just in case.

But I suspect I’m in the minority, at least with my reasoning.  It’s far more attractive to people to daydream of disappearing, shucking off responsibilities and a history for a fresh start and new chance at whatever life they think they should be leading, than to plan for the nightmare of nothingness that I was assured could happen at any moment he chose when I was a kid.

To draw upon my love of ‘90s Sandra Bullock films once again, the idea behind “The Net” also stoked my fear of erasure (online, not the band, I’ve nowt against them).  But by becoming a writer and embracing my introvert nature and the glorious faraway fun of social media, I’ve become more confident and secure in general.

So to people who’ve considered/worked out/read “This Is How You Disappear” but want to make sure it only happens on their terms, here are my top two tips on how NOT to vanish without a trace.

When you get in a lift or go through an enclosed space like a tunnel or corridor, and there’s a camera monitoring who’s picking their nose/scratching their crotch/pulling their kecks out of their arse-crack, raise your face.  Give them a good clear shot.  Stick out your tongue, cross your eyes, whatever feels right to you there and then.

Have a routine for when you’re on social media – if it’s daily and you know you’re going to be offline for a few days, say so.  Let people know when to panic.  FYI, you’ll know it’s genuinely me logged in if I’m posting rude, revolting, tasty, or strange things and taking the piss in general.  If you see a sappy picture with a pastel background and a sentimental (and probably misspelled) inspirational quote, or something chain-letter-y declaring that “I know who’ll share this”, SEND HELP ASAP!  Preferably Sergeant Havers from the Elizabeth George books or the Mountie guy from “Due South”, please.

This fear of erasure, of dying alone and anonymous and utterly unknown, a childish fear but a strong one, has its benefits, though.  With hindsight I suspect it was the driving force – along with the typical writerly curiosity – behind the research and writing of my book “The Sinking of RMS Tayleur” which covers the ill-fated and tragically brief maiden voyage of a White Star Line emigrant ship 160 years ago, and the deaths of more than half of the approximately 700 travellers on board when the ship rammed an island cliff off the coast of Dublin.

gill hoffsOne of the men on board, a publican’s son on his way to the Australian Gold Rush, threw a message in a bottle into the water in the half hour or so it took for the ship to sink, his own (successful) attempt to record his fate for his loved ones.  The hastily pencilled note washed up on a Scottish island several weeks later and read: “On board the Tayleur, on striking Lambay Island. Many of the passengers and crew are now drowning before my eyes, and no assistance. My wife is also lost. William Clough, Manchester”.  Perhaps it is more important to register that you have existed than that you do exist?  Either way, here I am.  I exist.  And they did too.

Bio: Gill Hoffs lives in Warrington, England, with her husband, son, and Coraline Cat. Her work is widely available online and in print, including her books ‘Wild: a collection’ (Pure Slush, 2012) and ‘The Sinking of RMS Tayleur’ (Pen & Sword, 2014). To find out more visit her site /, email her at gillhoffs@hotmail.co.uk, or follow her on twitter (@GillHoffs). She’s always in need of filthy jokes and tasty chocolate.

Short, Sharp Interview: Preston Lang

rooster (2)

PDB: Can you pitch THE BLIND ROOSTER in 25 words or less?

Drifter gets involved with a waitress, leading to con games, ugly family secrets, and aggressive karaoke.

PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

I recently read three of the Parker novels by Richard Stark in no particular order, so I wasn’t always sure whether he had his old face or his new face when I’d start a book. Two new novels I got to and greatly enjoyed in the last month are Salaryman Unbound by Ezra Kyrill Erker and Big Ugly by Jake Hinkson.

I saw Out of the Past for the first time recently. It’s a good reminder of how funny the really great old noirs are. The writing is just so good.

And I’ve been hearing All About that Bass everywhere lately. I’m still trying to process my feelings about the song. A lot of people like it, so it must be good.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

No, I don’t think so.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

I’ve done some theatre. Over the summer, a piece I wrote was performed in a taxi cab that drove around Brooklyn. It was a sort of hyperactive noir about a priceless book and a legless woman. That was for a great theater group called Woodshed Collective. They do insane projects wherever they can get space.

Film, television? Sure, I’d do that.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

It depends on the book. The Blind Rooster required a few trips to a karaoke bar, but this was not a research heavy project. I once had an idea for a series of hard boiled novels set in the coffee houses of medieval Germany. But that required a lot of research—like a lot. For example they didn’t have coffee houses in medieval Germany. They didn’t have coffee. They didn’t even really have Germany if you get right down to it. So that’s what research will get you.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

I’ve got a twitter account but don’t use it as often as some writers do. I’ll tweet out this interview.

PDB: What’s on the cards for 2014?

More writing.  I’ve got a few books that are fairly close to completion, and some interesting ideas that haven’t quite gotten off the ground. There’s one about black market cigarettes in New York City, which a lot of people (non-smokers or non-New Yorkers) think is a joke. It’s not, and it’s a pretty big business.

I’ve also got a novel about an amoral Canadian woman who works as an unlicensed private detective for shady clients. It’s loosely based on the smartest person I know.

CLIP: A Case Of Noir by Paul D. Brazill

one of those days in England.‘ The bookshop was jam-packed and stuffy. The wine and conversation were overflowing in equal measure. Keith Jarrett’s ‘Standards’ played numbly in the background as a veritable cornucopia of crime fiction writers of various levels of success held court in different parts of the room, shuffling nervously behind tables cluttered with copies of their latest pot-boiler. Their faces frozen into rictus grins.

‘Bullets in the Bookshop’ was an annual event. An international meeting of writers and crime fiction groupies organised by Blackstones’s Bookshop in Cambridge, an archetypically quaint English bookshop on an archetypically quaint cobble-stoned English street, not far from King’s College. The non-writers were in the majority, of course. Most of them were spinsterly types of both sexes enthusing over Nordic Noir— whatever that was. Then there were also a few academics slumming it — one particularly dandruff speckled gent with the complexion of a blackcurrant crumble was talking loudly and authoritatively about crime fiction as a social novel and receiving a number of approving nods. And, of course, a few wannabee crime writers were there, too, trying to look mean and moody — all leather jackets, stubble and gently sneering. I even recognised a couple of the faces from the Quais Du Polar crime fiction festival in Lyon that I’d attended in the Spring.

a case of blackNot that I was a connoisseur of crime fiction. I rarely read fiction at all, in fact. I’d attended the Quais Du Polar in order to meet up with Lena K, the torch singer turned bestselling crime writer who was also my partner in several unlawful activities. And I also had an ulterior and particularly criminal motive for being in Blackstone’s. A meeting with the man who was holding court at that moment.

Julian Stroud stood behind the largest table in the room and clearly thought a lot of himself. He was tall, handsome man in his mid-fifties and painfully well dressed. A pair of half-moon spectacles hung around his neck and he had the look of someone who had just smelt one of his own farts and found it surprisingly rank.

‘Why kill time when you can kill other people,’ said Stroud, the shadow of a smirk creeping and crawling across his too-tanned face. ‘Although, only on paper, of course, eh?’’

Read the rest of A CASE OF NOIR by buying here or elsewhere.a case of burke

‘In snow smothered Warsaw, Luke Case, a boozy English hack with a dark secret, starts a dangerous affair with a gangster’s wife. Case escapes to the sweltering Spanish heat where he meets a colourful cast of characters, including a mysterious torch singer and a former East End villain with a criminal business proposition. In stormy Toulouse, he encounters a blast from the past that is positively seismic which forces him to return to England and confront his past. A Case Of Noir is a strong shot of blackly comic international noir from Paul D. Brazill.

Short, Sharp Interview: Michael Young

OfBlondesandBulletsSmallPDB: Can you pitch your latest book in 25 words or less?

Of Blondes and Bullets is the first novella from Number Thirteen Press. An innocent man saves a life and is pulled into a violent criminal underworld. Everyman-noir with a Brit-Grit twist and a dark heart. Like David Goodis on holiday in Dorset.

PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

Well, most nights it’s just me, Tom Waits and the bottle. Sometimes there isn’t even a bottle.

Still, True Detective was pretty bloody good, eh?

Films: Blue Ruin, Walk Among the Tombstones, Only God Forgives, and The Rover was absolutely brilliant – like Mad Max meets Point Blank.

Best film recently? Under the Skin. Best music I’ve recently discovered?  Pop. 1280, if only for being named after a Jim Thompson novel. Which is also who I’ve been reading, along with JG Ballard and Elmore Leonard.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

It can be hard when I’m between projects, especially reading things that are similar to but not exactly what I would write. Sometimes I just have to get back to pure genius that cannot be questioned. You know, Kafka, Doestoevsky, Philip K Dick, people like that.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

Nope, not at all. I think it’s a very different skill set to writing prose.

Film would be interesting but it just looks too damn technical. I’d like someone else to make my books into films, and give me money.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

Not a lot, to be honest. Apart from life and shit. There’s a lot of life and shit, reconstructed from unreliable memories. The rest gets made up as I go along.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

I think they’re hugely important for writers these days, especially in genre fiction and e-publishing. But I just don’t. I’d like to say I let my writing do the talking, but actually I just can’t be arsed.

I did sign up for Goodreads. Are they still going?

PDB: What’s on the cards for 2014?

I’ve got a psycho-noir novel set back in Hong Kong that just needs a good work over and an edit. Maybe I’ll self-publish again, we’ll see. A few other projects. And, nearly 3 years later, it’s probably time I pulled that Harry Vee sequel out of somewhere before the people asking for it go away.

number 13 pressBio:Michael Young is a miserable bastard. He drinks scotch, smokes cigarillos, and wears a lot of black. He is also the author of two hardboiled novels – The Sky Might Fall and All Blood is Red. Both are set in the dizzy slums of Hong Kong and both are available on Kindle. Of Blondes and Bullets is the first release from Number Thirteen Press and is available on all e-formats and POD paperback from the 13th of November, 2014. Michael very rarely blogs on http://harry-vee-pi.blogspot.co.uk/.

CLIP: A Bit Of A Pickle by Paul D. Brazill

drag noir 2‘The ghost of a Petula Clark song drifted into The Bag O’ Nails through a partly open window. A shard of sunlight sliced through the blinds, picking out specks of dust that floated in the air. An old electric kettle boiled in another room. A refrigerator hummed. A dishwasher chugged dully. A mangy black and white cat strolled across the newly polished bar before curling up on a wooden bar stool and going to sleep.’

To read the rest of A BIT OF A PICKLE you should pick up a copy of DRAG NOIR.

‘DRAG NOIR: this is where glamour meets grit, where everyone’s wearing a disguise (whether they know it or not) and knowing the players takes a lot more than simply reading the score cards. Maybe everyone’s got something to hide, but they’ve got something to reveal, too. Scratch the surface and explore what secrets lie beneath — it’s bound to cost someone…a lot.

Here are the stories in Drag Noir, suitably wrapped in a stylish cover from S. L. Johnson:

Introduction by Dana Gravesen and Bryan Asbury , The Meaning of Skin – Richard Godwin , Wheel Man – Tess Makovesky , No. 21: Gabriella Merlo – Ben Solomon , Geezer Dyke – Becky Thacker , Lucky in Cards – Jack Bates , Trespassing – Michael S. Chong , Chianti – Selene MacLeod , The Changeling – Tracy Fahey , Straight Baby – Redfern Jon Barrett , Kiki Le Shade – Chloe Yates , Protect Her – Walter Conley , King Bitch – James Bennett , A Bit of a Pickle – Paul D. Brazill , Stainless Steel – Amelia Mangan , The Itch of the Iron, The Pull of the Moon – Carol Borden.’

Bits n Bobs: News, Updates etc

Guns_cover new preview (2)Bits n Bobs:

The Drag Noir anthology – edited by K A Laity and published by Fox Spirit – is out now and over here you can find out what inspired my yarn ‘A Bit Of A Pickle’ … My new Brit Grit Alley column is live at Out Of the Gutter Online and includes news of a HOT Crime Fiction writing course organised by Graham Smith … I’ve had a couple of yarns accepted recently. The new flash fiction site Spelk Fiction have accepted my piece The Long Haul. It should be published at the end of December. The deservedly well-respected Spinetingler Magazine have accepted my story The Postman Cometh. It should be online early next year … and my comic crime caper Guns Of Brixton (soon to be published in paperback by Caffeine Nights Publishing) appears to be available for pre-order from loads of places including Waterstones, Foyles Amazon and Amazon UK.

Drag Noir Is Out Now!

drag noirEdited by K A Laity and includes my yarn ‘A Bit Of A Pickle.’

Here’s the skinny:

DRAG NOIR: this is where glamour meets grit, where everyone’s wearing a disguise (whether they know it or not) and knowing the players takes a lot more than simply reading the score cards. Maybe everyone’s got something to hide, but they’ve got something to reveal, too. Scratch the surface and explore what secrets lie beneath — it’s bound to cost someone…a lot.

Here are the stories in Drag Noir, suitably wrapped in a stylish cover from S. L. Johnson:

Introduction by Dana Gravesen and Bryan Asbury , The Meaning of Skin – Richard Godwin , Wheel Man – Tess Makovesky , No. 21: Gabriella Merlo – Ben Solomon , Geezer Dyke – Becky Thacker , Lucky in Cards – Jack Bates , Trespassing – Michael S. Chong , Chianti – Selene MacLeod , The Changeling – Tracy Fahey , Straight Baby – Redfern Jon Barrett , Kiki Le Shade – Chloe Yates , Protect Her – Walter Conley , King Bitch – James Bennett , A Bit of a Pickle – Paul D. Brazill , Stainless Steel – Amelia Mangan , The Itch of the Iron, The Pull of the Moon – Carol Borden

A Song For Saturday: Shame by monkeyheaven

moneyheaven‘monkeyheaven has all the usual stuff you’d expect to find in a popular music outfit except musicians or popular music.’

I always joked so well
Freezing in your flat above the shop
Waiting for the rain to never stopYou never coped so well
Living in a squalid rented room
Smoking in the cobwebs in the gloom
Watching out the window for the moon
That never came

Yeah I never came
I’m the one to blame
For the lack of shame
That dogged you to your grave

And it’s such a shame
That I didn’t care
We were going nowhere
It’s such a shame

It’s such a shame
Yeah I didn’t care
Not enough to spare
A single strand of hair
When you were so threadbare
Cos of all the shame
You hesitate to name
That penetrates the rain

It’s such a shame

And in the morning
I’ll love you less than I used to
Even less than I used to

And in the morning
We’ll get up like we used to
Just like how we used to
Oh how we used to

I’ll never change
Yeah I’ll never change

You’re still the same

All the friends you kept
Attracted by your starving artist kitsch
Moths who suicide inside your fridge
A drink and then some sordid sortilege
Will never change

It’s such a shame

from Shame, released 30 August 2014

Have a listen to SHAME.


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