Guest Blog: Why Do We Do It? by Robert Cowan.

daydreams-and-devils-coverFirstly, thanks to Paul for inviting me onto his blog to say a few words about my books. If he sees something in them I must be doing something right.

I’d like to start off with a question. Actually not just any question, but the question, (No, not the 42 one). Why do we writers do it? Why sit in front of a blank screen, which stares back at my own invariably blank face, as I never plan anything (including this blog), wondering if I can fill it with something that can entertain, or even move complete strangers. Time and time again, hour after hour, setting yourself up for judgement, failure, ridicule or worse…apathy. Why not just sit and watch Eastenders, or if you’re feeling a bit frisky nip upstairs with your significant other…even Pokémon go.

robert cowanI guess for most of us it stems from a need to be creative, maybe some sort of validation or legacy. But why writing? There are no doubt as many answers as there are writers and the answer might change with time. For me the original answer was I had characters I wanted to share and characters are always the main ingredient in my books, driving and creating the story with me sitting, typing it up. In my first novel , The Search for Ethan’, there was a real mix, with the self destructive Stevie, decent Tommy, depraved Margo, spiritual Katie, drunken, hapless Hughie…but what became interesting for me was what they had in common rather than the differences. I did wonder at times whether subconsciously they were aspects of my own personality, (always a fan of the Who’s Quadrophenia), no doubt I could find many a shrink happy to take my cash to chase that one down…or I could just write.

My second book,Daydreams and Devils’, was again filled with ‘colourful characters’, psychopathic crime boss Vincent a particular favourite. I found a swingball game in the hut the other day, which got me wondering. (that’ll make sense if you read it). As with the previous book, there’s plenty of dark humour and dialogue, but with crime thrown into the mix it’s my most Brazilesque novel and probably the best place to start for anyone reading this. Like Paul, I’m a huge music fan, and all my books are full of music references and lyrics, which my editor highlights in red alongside horrendous cash numbers for breach of copyright…and I promptly ignore and turn them black again. What could go wrong? Daydreams and Devils tells the story of a bunch of particularly evil gangsters and a young band taking their first steps on their musical journey. The stretch for this one was running the two very different and separate stories side by side, before bringing them together. It was also a lot of fun to write.

robert cowan bookStretching yourself as a writer and person, having fun…As I mentioned previously, the answer to that question may change with time. With my third book, For all is Vanity, throw in plain old curiosity. The desire to just see what happens, see far can you take it…and can you take readers with you? It is by far my darkest book yet…and they’re all pretty dark. What happens if you lose everything? When I started writing it I thought it would be lots of vigilante mayhem, streets running with the blood of bankers, politicians, rapists and assorted, well…cunts to be blunt. However it became something very different, more psychological, sometimes anguished, occasionally funny and more experimental. Part novel, part diary with subconscious characters who reveal themselves in dreams, alcohol induced psychosis…I must admit I wondered if anyone would ’get it’. So far so good.

A pretty eclectic bunch with no discernible genre and 10k into book four that seems set to continue. Hopefully something for everyone. I shall sign off now before I over stay my welcome, so it’s goodnight from me and good night from him…and her…and him…but not him, he’s a moody bastard.

Find out more about Robert Cowan here.

Short, Sharp Interview: Gareth Spark.

marwick's reckoningPDB: Can you pitch Marwick’s Reckoning in 25 words or less?

A British gangster in Spain contends with Romanian mobsters, an ex-lover and his former employers, as he searches for the truth behind a friend’s murder.

PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows do you wish you had written?

I’ve been reading a lot of Harry Crews lately; fantastic writer.  I admire the way he seems to absolutely be sure of himself and his place in the world. We don’t seem to have that so much, this generation; identity seems fractured by the greater complexity of this world we have. I’d like that certainty, and to be able to write like that. I’ve also been re-watching Sky TV’s FORTITUDE. The writing and characters and the overarching mystery are so well drawn and profound, and the setting so instantly compelling that it makes me seethe with envy. Wish I’d written that.

PDB: Which books do you think would make great films or TV series?

I’d like to see Brian Panowich’s BULL MOUNTAIN make some kind of appearance on TV, Sam Hawken’s Camaro books also would make for a compelling TV serial. I’ve just read Benjamin Myers BEASTINGS, and that would make for a cracking film.  Justin Hill’s SHIELDWALL too; that would be fantastic given a HBO sized budget.

PDB: Who are the great British writers?

I’d have to go with Graham Greene, for his vision and technique. Arthur Machen, one of the greatest. M.R. James, for his powerful storytelling and the way he evoked the dark side of the British countryside. Algernon Blackwood. Malcolm Lowry for UNDER THE VOLCANO. Alan Moore, whose JERUSALEM I’m waiting for with feverish glee. Writing today? Off the top of my head, Ramsey Campbell, Mark Morris, Benjamin Myers, China Mieville, Ian Rankin, Richard Godwin and about a thousand others I could name had I the time.

PDB: Your writing is very visual. Which childhood images have you retained?

I grew up in a very beautiful part of the world, and that beauty can be dramatic; winter storms, the sea like a dirty mirror, moorland black beneath clouds the colour of old coins, murky forests that hide ruined castles (that last one’s legitimate too, not just my waxing poetic, google Old Mulgrave castle). That all has seeped into my writing, sure, but being a complicated sort of person the things that affect me more are along the lines of graffiti stained concrete, rusted abandoned cars, broken wire fences and barbed wire filled with torn plastic fluttering like prayer flags. Dust and industrial spaces at the edge of town. That’s what I remember. Those liminal spaces and the summer burning over asphalt roads…Orion’s belt above a play park with broken swings and a twilight so deep and palpable it washes over you like a river…an abandoned railway bridge that was always pale and sepulchral against air the colour of faded till receipts. The blue smoke from my Gran’s cigarettes drifting upwards to a yellow ceiling in light falling through a lace curtain. The river Esk, murky as Builder’s tea after a week of rain, lapping at greasy fishing trawlers. It all stays with you, makes you the writer you are destined to be, the only one you could have ever been.

PDB: What’s on the cards?

I’ve been working on a novel for the past *coughs* so many years. Too many years really, when I see how productive other writers can be. There’s a lot of hustling out there, I just want to get it right, make sure the book’s saying what I want it to, while creating something dramatically interesting; making sure the characters aren’t just stock types or ciphers, but actual people as best as I’m able. It’s also set during the 1940’s, which has called for a bit o’ research. I like to get things as accurate as I can, historically. Hope it’ll be worth the work.

In the meantime, I have some short stories coming out soon on a couple of my favourite short fiction websites, some poems over at In Between Hangovers and I have a novella outlined for when I have the time to write it. Having a day job and 7 children commands a lot of one’s time and I’m grateful to whatever munificent deity allows me the time to write.

PDB: Anything else?

Support the small presses, that’s where the quality is, and leave reviews wherever you can for writer’s whose work you appreciate.

Bio: Gareth Spark is from Whitby, Yorkshire. His short fiction and poetry has appeared in Shotgun Honey, Line Zero, Out of the Gutter, Near to the knuckle and Deepwater Literary Review, among others. He is the author of Snake Farm and Marwick’s Reckoning.

Recommended Read: It Never Leaves You by Luca Veste

it never leaves youWhile on surveillance, Liverpool policeman, Detective Inspector Murphy tells Detective Sergeant Rossi about one of his first cases. A case that still haunts him.

It Never Leaves You is a gripping, realistic and very touching short story that acts as a great introduction to Luca Veste‘s cracking series of crime fiction novels.

Quite remarkably, it still seems to be FREE! 

Graham Wynd Reviews Cold London Blues

‘As always it’s laugh out loud funny between bouts of wincingly painful chaos brought on by cold london bluescharacters who are as unlikely as they are vivid: gangsters who are feeling their age, hitmen who miss, hoods who want to go straight, and an actor so far up his own arse he thinks he’s god — or maybe just Batman.’ 

Read the rest here.

Short, Sharp Interview: Jason Michel

the death of 3 coloursPDB: Can you pitch THE DEATH OF THREE COLOURS in 25 words or less?

A dark and surreal tale of organised crime, betrayal, the nature of evil and one man’s obsession with the Mexican folk saint, Santa Muerte.

PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows do you wish you had written?

Barry Adamson’s Moss Side Story, They Live!, and Twin Peaks.

PDB: Which books do you think would make great films or TV series?

Well, I am thinking of writing a screenplay for TDo3C, but I’d love to see a version of The Dice Man on the screen. Or The illuminatus Trilogy.

jason 2016.PDB: Who are the great Italian novelists?

Well, Umberto Eco’s the big one, of course. D’Annuzio is a controversial one, part of the Decadent movement and the works I have read show a mad artistic genius there. The kind that doesn’t seem to exist today. There’s also the current of “Giallo” literature, one I need to learn more about…

PDB: Is blogging killing journalism?

Maybe it should.

PDB: What’s on the cards?

Chaos and misfortune, knowing my luck.

Jason Michel is the dictator of PULP METAL MAGAZINE. He lives in Italy.


Out Now ! Cold London Blues by Paul D. Brazill

CLB---3d-stack_d400COLD LONDON BLUES is currently available to buy in the UK , the US and all around the world.

The blurb:

‘A killer priest is on the rampage across London and an egotistical Hollywood action movie star is out for revenge when is his precious comic book collection is stolen.Meanwhile, gangster Marty Cook’s dreams of going legit swiftly turn pear shaped when one of his bouncers accidentally kills one of his salsa club’s regular customers.Razor sharp wisecracks, gaudy characters and even gaudier situations abound in Cold London Blues, a violent and pitch-black Brit Grit comedy of errors.’

Published by Caffeine Nights Publishing.

You can get COLD LONDON BLUES from,,Waterstones , Blackwell‘s, Foyles, and lots of other places.

Tony Lane Reviews The Last Laugh

The Last Laugh paperbackOver at TONY’S THOUGHTS, he says:

‘Every character seemed not only real but like somebody I knew and could relate to. The real genius for me was how the author managed this with a cursory description and a killer one liner. I have considered writing down a list of Brazill’s genius quips as his books are worth reading just for those.

Read the rest here.