Recommended Read: Southsiders -That’s All Right by Nigel Bird

southsiders 1 nigel bird.Scottish teenager Jesse Garon wakes up one day and finds a note on the fridge from his father saying that he has left home to get work in Belfast.  Later that day, Jesse gets an email from his alcoholic mother telling him that she has also left home. So Jesse is forced to fend for himself.

That’s All Right is the first of Nigel Bird’s Southsiders books. There are three novellas in all.  This is a great slice of kitchen sink drama that is full of well-drawn and sympathetic characters. That’s All Right is touching as well as gritty and I look forward to reading the next in the series.

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Short, Sharp Interview: Nigel Bird

southsiders 1-3

PDB: What’s going on?

In terms of the business of writing, I feel very busy.

I’ve just released the latest Southsiders novel, By The Time I Get To Phoenix. I was really sad to see publisher Blasted Heath come to an end. They did a fine job of editing and putting covers to the Southsiders books, but only managed to put out the first two. They generously handed the covers over to me, leaving me the relatively easy job of putting them out. I’m holding back on book four, the final one in the series, after this latest one has bedded in.

I’ve also just finished a novel that I’m rather proud of. I’ll say more about it when the time is right. I worked hard on the edits and feel it’s in tip top condition at this point.

In case I didn’t have enough on my plate, I’m also involved in a new role as Editorial Consultant for the massively impressive All Due Respect. It’s a grand title for what I do – reading submitted manuscripts, making notes and comments and suggestions and passing them on – but I’ll take it. The role may adapt over time and I’ll be happy to take on the changes if and when they arise. When Chris Rhatigan asked me to do this I didn’t have to give it a second thought. Life may be busy enough, but if you’re going to be overwhelmed, it might as well be while doing the things you love. I was proud to be asked and delighted to accept. Chris and I worked together on the Pulp Ink books and he took on a short story of mine for the ADR anthology a while back. We also put a story together that was published in Needle Magazine. I met him in the summer when he came to Edinburgh and it was great to get to know him better. He’s a star in so many ways and as a writer he excels (check out his books when you can, they’re terrific).

PDB: Do you listen to music when you work?

If it’s there. I don’t make an effort to play anything particular and would most likely have the wonderful Radio 6 on as much as anything else. I’m also partial to a musician going by the name Long Hat Pins and I do play his tracks to get me into the groove by distracting me from anything else.

PDB: What makes you laugh?

I’ve been recording episodes of Fraser daily for a month or so now. There are so many of them that my memory is almost used up. I see it as filling up a bank with happiness for days when I feel a bit low.

PDB: What’s the best cure for a hangover?

I’ve not had one of those since I last had a drink just over twelve years ago. From memory, the best cure is another drink with a couple of Gregg’s cheese and onion pasties.

PDB: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Rather than pick a spot, I think I’d change world geography. Mostly I like it where I am on the Scottish coast. The attraction is the beauty of the area and the low density of humanity. I guess I’d really like to live by the sea in an area of outstanding beauty where the weather is warm and dry much of the time, there aren‘t many people around and there’s easy access to a wonderful city (I can tick most of those boxes here in Dunbar what with Newcastle and Edinburgh within range, but the weather one definitely contains a cross).

PDB: Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s on it?

I get confused by this concept. To me a bucket list sounds like the place you put all the things you really don’t want in your life. That’s probably just showing my age.

PDB: What’s on the cards?

More reading for All Due Respect.

I’m also letting my mind marinade an idea for a prequel for the novel I’ve just finished.

nigelbirdPDB: Anything else?

If this gets out in time, the three Southsiders books will be free over the weekend of the 23rd and 24th September. If not, I think I’ve said enough.

Bio: Nigel is the author of a number of acclaimed novels, novellas and short story collections including The Shallows, the Southsiders series, Mr Suit, Smoke and Dirty Old Town. He is currently an editorial consultant for the publisher All Due Respect books.  As well as writing, he is a Support for Learning teacher in a number of schools in East Lothian.

Dominic Milne Reviews Cold London Blues

CLB---3d-stack_d400Another cracking review for Cold London Blues.

Cold London Blues succeeds in being cynical, gory, hilarious and above all, highly entertaining. Actually burst out laughing on the tube reading this and that doesn’t happen often. Perfect pulp. More than well worth a look.’

#FRIDAY FLASH: Thicker Than Blood

TODAY

‘The thing is, Bren,’ says Craig Hornby, kissing his bloody knuckles, ‘you’ve just got to face facts sometime. You might be a nicer bloke than your Tony. Well, in fact, you are nicer. Much nicer. But your kid is more likeable. It’s just one of those things. And that’s why he always ends up getting what he wants. Getting his own way. If he fell in the sea, he’d come out with a pocket full of fish. That’s him, eh? Teflon Tony.’

Craig walks over to the window and closes the blinds. The room turns black. Specks of dust float in a shard of sunlight that slices through a broken slat and spotlights a pool of blood at Bren Murdoch’s feet. Bren’s head pounds. Blood trickles down his nose and is soaked up by the socks stuffed in his mouth .He twists but the fishing wire cuts further into his wrists and ankles.

‘And that’s also why you’re here now instead of him.’

Craig’s heavy feet echo off the concrete floor as he walks over to the corner of the room and switches on the strip lighting.

Bren clamps his eyes shut.

‘That’s why you’re the one who has to take the consequences of the shit-storm your kid brother brewed up.’

The dining chair wobbles as Craig sits. He’s sweating like a pig. Dark semi-circles under his arms. He knocks back a can of Red Bull and kisses his bruised knuckles again.

‘It’s just one of those things. Something I have to do. I have to, I have no choice , really. Have to make an example of someone. You understand, don’t you?’

Bren understands all right. He understands that in less than a week his life has turned from shinola to shit. And he knows who to blame.

YESTERDAY

‘It’s bollocks. I can’t believe you operate like this,’ said Bren.

He looked pissed off as he dragged the wads of paper from the bread bin and spread them over the shop counter. ‘It’s all in here?’

Tony Murdoch smirked and sipped a can of Carling. ‘Aye.’

‘You keep all your paperwork, all your receipts, invoices, tax bills in a bread bin and you expect me to do your accounts for you?’

‘You’re the accountant,’ said Tony. ‘I’m the … entrepreneur.’

He leaned against a stack of ‘80s 12-inch singles that were marked down to 10p. Star-shaped, day-glow signs hung everywhere in the cluttered shop. It was always cluttered these days. Not with customers, though. The second-hand record business wasn’t what it used to be. Anyway, Tony made more money from organising coach trips to stadium rock gigs. And then there was the other little business with Craig. The import/export business.

‘Well, I’m not your accountant, am I? Thank fuck. What happened to that bloke you used to use? Stewie Shorthands?’ said Bren.

He got up from the counter and walked to the fridge in the corner of the room.

‘He went AWOL, didn’t he? Supposed to have drowned out near Seal Sands. He’s been missing without a trace for a couple of days now,’ said Tony.

Bren opened a can of Carling. As he clicked the ring pull, it frothed up, soaking his expensive suit.

‘Shit, are you still buying beer from News N Booze? The stuff that’s past its sell-by-date?’ he said.

‘It’s half price, man. Yer, canna wack it.’

Tony, the great business man, thought Bren. He’d always wondered how the shop, Tony’s Tunes, had kept in business for so long.

‘Listen Bren,’ said Tony. ‘I’ve got a little proposition for you.’

‘Oh, yes?’ said Bren. ‘And what might that be?’

‘Well,’ said Tony, handing his brother a small bar towel. ‘I’m in need of a little bit of creative accountancy.’

THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY

‘He’s worm meat,’ said Veronica Fleece.

‘Are you sure?’ said Tony, switching off the Tupac CD.

‘Well, I’m no Doctor House,’ said Veronica. ‘But look.’

Tony was trying not to gag as he looked down at Shorthands’ naked, flabby body, spread-eagled across the hotel bed. He had to agree with Veronica. The accountant had croaked. ‘What are we gonna do?’ said Veronica, pulling on a kimono.

‘We can’t exactly call an ambulance, can we? Not with all the happy-talc he’s got in him,’ said Tony. ‘Shit. Shit. Shit.’.

‘I told the daft, fat twat to take it easy with that stuff,’ said Veronica. ‘Eyes bigger than his gut.’

She collapsed onto the squeaky leather sofa.

Veronica and Tony both glanced at Shorthands’ stomach and burst out laughing.

‘Getting rid of him won’t be too hard. I’ll phone my dad. He’ll sneak him up to Jed Bramble’s pig farm,’ said Veronica, wiping the white powder from her nose.

Shit, thought Tony. He needed someone to prepare a set of accounts for him to give Craig, so that he didn’t know that Tony had been skimming off the top of the delivery payments. There was no other way, he realised. He’d have to contact Bren.

TODAY

‘I’ve mellowed, Bren. I really have,’ says Craig. ‘I’m a granddad now. I play golf. I go to car-boot sales. I recycle. But if there’s one thing guaranteed to get my goat, to wind me fucking up, it’s someone pissing down my back and trying to tell me it’s raining.’

Craig stands and stretches, yawns. ‘And that’s pretty much what you and your brother did. Eh?’

He walks over to a cupboard in the corner of the room. Unlocks it.

‘But, it’s not so much that. Everyone has their fingers in the till here and there. It’s standard practice. But getting found out. Getting caught so the whole world knows you’ve been taking the piss. Well…’

He pulls a golf bag from the cupboard. It clatters over, spilling clubs over the floor.

‘Fuck,’ says Craig. ‘Give us hand, eh?’

‘Maybe a nine iron,’ says Tony Murdoch, putting out a cigarette and walking over. ‘That should do the trick.’

(c) Paul D. Brazill

Short, Sharp Interview: Aidan Thorn

tales from the underbellyPDB: What’s going on?

Right now, it’s 3am and I’m wide awake because I’m in the USA and I’m shite at travelling and time differences. But I guess I should also tell you about the release of my new linked story collection, Tales from the Underbelly. It’s a sort of British Pulp Fiction, as a bunch of characters all in someway linked to a couple of crime bosses, Tony Ricco and Jimmy O’Keefe, go about their lives and have to deal with the consequences of being involved with the criminal underbelly. There are a stories of all different lengths here, from flash fiction to novella, hopefully there’s something for all lovers of crime fiction, murders, corruption, dodgy coppers, colourful characters and occasionally some humour.

PDB: Do you listen to music when you work?

Always. Much of my writing is inspired by music, as the title of my first novella, When the Music’s Over suggests. I always used to have the radio on, BBC 6Music or Radio X, but I can’t stand the chat while I work. These days I tend to go with some sort of live performance on YouTube, I’ve been reliving a lot of MTv unplugged sets, things like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. My friend Stu has also got me back into the blues recently so I’ve been streaming a lot of blues mixes on YouTube too.

PDB: What makes you laugh?

When people full over. That’s horrible right? But I can’t help myself, when I see someone go down I’m uncontrollable. I blame Fools and Horses and that bar scene, I was taught by that, at a very early age, that falling over is funny

PDB: What’s the best cure for a hangover?

10 years ago I’d have said exercise. These days I’m good for nothing for a few days after a proper session, I just have to ride it out, sofa, sugary tea and a film I’ve seen a thousand times before

PDB: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

San Francisco, incredible place. There’s something for everyone there. That said I’d miss going to Southampton home matches.

PDB: Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s on it?

No, I’m 37, I don’t think people my age do. But thinking about it now I’ve done many of the things that I guess would be on it, there are a few bands I haven’t seen I’d like to, but I’ve seen most of the ones I love. I want more tattoos, I want to get fitter again, I want to write more books, I want to see Southampton FC not just in a cup final but win one, I want to keep travelling to different places… So it’s more a continuation of things than a must do list

PDB: What’s on the cards? 

I haven’t written an original word in 2017, but I’ve still been working on the writing. On new years eve 2016 I typed ‘the end’ on my novella, Rival Sons (another music inspired title, inspired by the band of the same name). I’ve spent free moments this year editing and polishing that trying to get it ready for publication. I had my editor and publisher for When the Music’s Over, Chris Black, at Number 13 Press give it the once over and it’s looking good. I’ve knocked together a synopsis and pitched it around a few indie publishers and I’ll see what comes of it, I’ve had a couple of nibbles asking to see the full manuscript so you never know, but I ain’t holding my breath

PDB: Anything else?12814622_10154001046965850_1354014591552990923_n

No, I think I’ve taken up enough of your time, Paul. Thanks for the interview, always a pleasure dealing with you Mr Brazill

Bio: Aidan Thorn is from Southampton England. You can find his short fiction and poetry in numerous collections and widely across the Web. He has three books with his name on the cover and is the curator and editor of the charity anthology Paladins.

 

Cheap Paperbacks With FREE Worldwide Delivery

The best thing about The Book Depository  for many of us is that you can get paperback books at discount prices and with FREE delivery worldwide. And a few of mine are cheap there at the moment, if you’re that way inclined..

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Guns Of Brixton is £5.68/  $7.50

CLB---3d-stack_d400Cold London Blues is £5.75/ $7.59 

Kill Me Quick!Kill Me Quick! is £6.35/ $8.38 

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Too Many Crooks

Too Many Crooks is £6.49/ 8.56

 

Short, Sharp Interview: L A Sykes

Lee Sykes Noir Medley

PDB: What’s going on?

 

Sorting out some manuscripts and working on some more short fiction.

Also, Near To The Knuckle are putting out the full collection of my short stories and flash fiction in a volume entitled Noir Medley.

 

PDB: Do you listen to music when you work?

 

No, the quieter the better these days. So I can earwig on the voices.

 

PDB: What makes you laugh?

 

Can’t go wrong with the old classics: Only Fools, Blackadder. I’m partial to satire, word play and things of that nature.

 

PDB: What’s the best cure for a hangover?

 

A pint of water and a hot shower followed by a fry up. Before that some deep breathing to stave off the panic as the flashbacks of the night before creep into conscious awareness.

 

PDB: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

 

I suppose I should be ambitious and say a platinum palace in the Antarctic, but to be honest I’d be happy enough up the Lake District.

 

PDB: Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s on it?

 

I haven’t considered a bucket list as I’m still conniving to cheat Death.

 

PDB: What’s on the cards?

 

Like I mentioned, Noir Medley, thirty six stories in one volume coming soon from Near To The Knuckle.

Also, the novella The Hard Cold Shoulder is being republished by the same crew later in the year. Another collection of short stories is in the works and some longer projects are being drafted.

 

PDB: Anything else?

 

Just a big thanks for having me. Cheers.

 

Bio: LA Sykes is a writer from Atherton, Greater Manchester, UK. He’s been up at the likes of Blink Ink, Shotgun Honey, Nightmare Illustrated, Spelk Fiction, podcasted at Dark Dreams and Blackout City and has a story in Dog Horn Press’ punkPunk! Anthology co-written with Mark Slade. He’s the author of Noir Medley: collected fiction volume 1 and the novella The Hard Cold Shoulder coming soon from Near To The Knuckle publishing and has other works lined up in the not so distant future.

Writer, Editor, Teacher.

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