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The sound was a horrifying wail that skewered its way deep into my unconscious brain until I awoke sharply – drowning in sweat, my heart smashing through my ribcage, my head about to burst.
Some twat, somewhere, was playing a U2 song over and over again, and all was far from friggin quiet on New Year’s Day, I can tell you.
I squeezed my eyes open and squinted until I saw the familiar sight of a fraying Mott The Hoople poster peeling from fuzzy, red-flock wallpaper. I was lying on a brown tweed sofa and tangled up in a tartan blanket that had seen better days. And nights.
I was home.
The air in the room was warm and soupy and I felt a wave of nausea pass over me. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and counted to ten. The dry heaves kicked in around six. A beat. I peeled my eyes open again. The aquarium bubbled and gurgled, bathing the room in a sickly green light. Sickly and yet soothing. I reminded myself that I really had to put some tropical fish in there, one day.
I edged onto my side and awkwardly kicked the blanket to the floor. I was fully clothed. My armpits were soaking. My fake Armani shirt was soggy. A sickly smell permeated my pores. The least said about my trousers the better.
Beside me was a sticky coffee table that was cluttered with the remnants of the previous night’s drinking. I picked up an open can of Stella Artois and shook it. It was more than half full. A result, then.
I slowly sipped its warm, flat contents until I started to get a glow on, like one of the kids in the old porridge adverts. Booze: central heating for drunks.
Bonzo, The Ledge, and their musically illiterate pals continued to strangle a cat in the flat next door and I knew that I was going to have to make a move soon, before my head went all Scanners. I finished the lager, edged myself up to a sitting position and picked up my glasses from the coffee table. One of the lenses was scratched but they weren’t broken. Another result.
The blinking, digital clock-radio that was plonked on top of the television set said that it was 3.15 but then, these days, it always did. Ever since I’d thrown it against the wall during a particularly grating late night phone-in show. In the real dark night of the soul, there was always some twat talking bollocks at three o’clock in the morning.
PDB: What’s going on now?
Loads! Really excited about The Murder Boys reaching new audiences so looking forward to promoting that. And I’m writing a sequel to TMB too. It’s got a working title of Essential Oil and picks up the hero of TMB, Richard Turner, five years later; he’s a motorcycle courier getting involved left wing radicalism in 1980s London. It kind of asks the question: how much of the wrong thing can you do for the right reasons?
PDB: How did you research this book?
The idea for The Murder Boys came out of personal experience – although I certainly never got involved in a killing and went on the run like Richard and his best mate Ali do. But a lot of the characters and situations are kind of composites of people and situations I got involved in growing up in Oxford in the late 70s and early 80s. I had to do a bit of research for the climax of the novel – Richard ends up fighting his nemesis and the whole thing takes place while an episode of Top of the Pops is playing in the background. The songs and order are completely accurate. I even set it up as a playlist to write to!
PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?
Well it’s got to be The Murder Boys: it feels great to get a first novel under your belt. But I’ve got high hopes for the next book too. I always though writing a book was like swimming across a lake – you don’t think you can do it and when you’re out there you don’t know if you can make it; but once you have you kind of understand the process and where you are in it. Which basically means: keep writing!
PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?
Oh tricky. Because it depends on my mood and stuff but here goes … Polanski’s Chinatown; Irving Welsh, Trainspotting; Ian Dury and the Blockheads – hit me with your rhythm stick; The Sopranos. How’s that?
PDB: Is location important to your writing?
Of course. Time and place is like another character and permits the characters to behave as they do.
PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?
Got a feeling that’s going to be a big part of my future…
PDB: What’s next? Well I want to get Essential Oil finished by the end of the summer and start thinking about book three too. I’ve got a couple of great ideas…
Bio: John B Bliss grew up in Oxford in the 70s and 80s. He was drawn to unusual characters and counter culture. The perverse thing about the evil of Thatcherism, he says, was that it made people rebel; there was actually loads of creativity that came out of the anger and ennui generated by the marginalisation of society. John worked in a few dead end jobs before studying media at the University of Sussex; he has worked extensively in television and scripted a number of short films and full length screenplays. Turning to prose fiction has brought some awards for his short stories and now the publication of his first novel, The Murder Boys. John lives in Brighton and is married with two children.
‘Gold, black, green and purple spots. When they are part of an Impressionist painting, they are beautiful, but Lara’s skin is not a canvas by Monet. No, in the dingy light of the diner bathroom, her arms and legs look like they’ve been touched by the brush of DeSade or Torquemada. She winces, not at her reflection, but at the pain in her sore jaw and the tenderness in her lips.’
A blast from the past at the late, great A TWIST OF NOIR.
Check out A RED LIPSTICK BY CORMAC BROWN and check out the rest of the site.
In THIRD PERSON, Stoner’s friend Bernadette realizes she is being tailed through the rainy Irish streets and decides to take action.
THIRD PERSON, is a very enjoyable, funny and violent hard-boiled thriller, full of twists and turns. that works well as an introduction to Westworth’s ‘Killing Sisters‘ novels.
‘Don’t ask. Don’t, because I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is that killing two junkies in a Tucson alley for the cash they had just gotten from cashing some paltry government check wasn’t worth the needle ride it might cost us. Jimmy and me must have been stupid. It was the kind of thing that always happened when we took a couple of downs mixed with a forty or two.’
Read the rest here at the well-smashing SHOTGUN HONEY.
Here’s what he has to say about my yarn:
‘There’s politics too – though in a subtle, tangential way and even some humour – though of the darkest variety. The latter is most evident in Paul D Brazill’s Route 66 and All That which introduces an entertaining set of hapless criminals and contains some zinging one-liners.’
‘Paul D. Brazill’s world here is one of peroxide Berliner blondes wearing PVC raincoats with blood red lipstick smeared across their lips. Barbarous gangsters and shyster scam artists, drunken literary agents and pop producers shelter in cities ruined by war and Vodka, drenched by decadence, spent of hope, driven by desire.’
‘As noted in the subtitle of 13 Shots of Noir the e-book contains 13 short, sharp stories of booze, bullets and bodies. The read fully delivers on those aspects and plenty more.’
LA Sykes’ The Hard Cold Shoulder is a brutal Brit Grit/ noir. A hard-boiled, urban western laced with sharp social commentary.
A shot of the hard stuff.