Category Archives: brit grit alley

Updates, News Etc

There’s a lot of it about.

First up, the paperback of TOO MANY CROOKS is out now! You can grab it at BARNES&NOBLE, AMAZON, and a few other places, I’m sure,

Also, the paperback of COLD LONDON BLUES is now available from Amazon.com 

A CASE OF NOIR will soon be given a reboot from those classy folk at NEAR TO THE KNUCKLE. It should be out early on in March.

SHOTGUN HONEY will be publishing one of my yarns in early March. It’s called SMALL TOWN CREED.

NICK SWEENEY is over at POLSKI NOIR  at the moment.

My latest BRIT GRIT ALLEY column is up at OUT OF THE GUTTER ONLINE.

And I currently have a guest blog – and eBook giveaway – over at DEBBI MACK’s CRIME CAFE where I talk about flash fiction. Check out KISS.

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Have A Brit Grit Christmas!

martinaI asked a bunch of Brit Grit writers about their favourite Christmas book, film and song, and this is what they said:

Martina Cole:

Well my favourite Christmas book has to be John Updike and Edward Gorey’s ‘The Twelve Terrors of Christmas.’ Film has to be Lon Chaney as The Wolfman. I love old horrors especially at Christmas! And song has to be ‘Fairytale of New York’ as I adore The Pogues and Kirsty! (I remember when they were called Pogue Mahone! Kiss my arse in Gaelic!)

Lesley Welsh:

I’m going to be really tedious and say ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.‘ Still gets to me every time. Music-wise, Jona Lewie and ‘Stop The Cavalry’. Christmas book? That’s a difficult one, I never much liked Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol.’ and don’t really recall others specifically about that time of year as I would probably have avoided them like the proverbial. So can I have a play instead? For which I nominate Steven Berkoff’s one-man short play ‘Harry’s Christmas‘. Devastating.

Douglas Skelton: 

The book has to ‘A Christmas Carol,’ obvious I know but it’s the only actual Christmas book I can remember reading! I know when I see other choices I’ll kick myself (so if you have any suggestions, let me know) For film I’d have to go with ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, although ‘The Bishop’s Wife’ comes a close second. And song – there are so many – but ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ has the right blend of sweetness and melancholy for me.

HIT THE NORTH! NICK QUANTRILL INTERVIEW!Nick Quantrill:

Book I can’t really look beyond Dickens with ‘A Christmas Carol’, though you can’t beat a winter’s evening in the warmth with a book from a favourite author. Film Being a cynical and hardboiled crime writer is fine for 364 days of the year, but the remaining day has to be reserved to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Song, all of Kate Rusby’s “While Mortals Sleep” is great and the use of a brass band gives it that distinctive Yorkshire feel that warms me.

Luca Veste:

Book – ‘The Grinch who Stole Christmas’ by Dr Seuss Film – ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’. Song – ‘White Wine in the Sun’ by Tim Minchin

Matt Hilton:

The Spy Who Came For Christmas” by David Morrell, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “Silent Night” by Bing Crosby

Mark West:

Favourite book –‘The Mystery Of The Invisible Dog’ (it takes place between Christmas and New Year. Favourite film – either ‘Scrooged’ or ‘Die Hard’. Favourite song – ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ by Slade.

Alex Shaw:

Book: ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Film: ‘Die Hard.’ Song: ‘Feed The World.’

Sheila_Quigley-320x320Sheila Quigley:

‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’  – I can’t count how many times I’ve seen it – ‘White Christmas.’

Sarah Hilary:

‘The Long Shadow’ by Celia Fremlin. ‘The Bishop’s Wife’ (Cary Grant, David Niven).’The World of Winter’ by Bing Crosby

Ian Ayris:

Here we go: Christmas Book – ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charlie Dickens, Christmas Film – ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, Christmas Song – ‘White Christmas’ – SLF.

Richard Godwin:

Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Deep Throat’, Frank Zappa’s ‘Bobby Brown.’

Martin Stanley:

Okay, right now, off the top of my head: my favourites are Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Bad Santa’, and The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’.

jason 2016.Jason Michel

Book/ story – ‘A Christmas Carol’, Film – gotta be a Bond, not traditional, of course, but the nostalgia of a Christmas evening Bond flick, Song – I would say Slade then again, I have a tradition of listening to Frank Sinatra at Christmas.

Graham Wynd:

Um…’Little Women’, ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight’, and oh, everyday a different answer so….Darlene Love, ‘Christmas Baby Please Come Home’. Best Xmas LP ‘A John Waters Xmas’.

Ryan Bracha:

‘The Little Matchgirl’ by HC Anderson for book, or ‘Mog’s Christmas’. The best and most underrated Christmas film ever is ‘Scrooged’. Song has to be ‘Mary’s Boy Child by Boney M’. Tune.

Betsy Reavley:

Oh easy, Charles Dicken’s ‘Christmas Carol’, ‘Merry Christmas Baby’ – Elvis Presley and film would have to be ‘Home Alone’.

nigelbirdNigel Bird:

Run Run Rudolph’ by Chuck Berry, ‘Diner’ (Barry Levinson) and ‘The Christmas Star’ (it’s a short story, so I hope that counts) by Mina Lewiton.

Graham Smith:

Can’t think of an Xmas book but ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Fairytale of New York.’

Paul Heatley:

My favourite book is ‘Sausagey Santa’ by Carlton Mellick III, song is ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ by Slade, but film is a toss up between ‘The Santa Clause,’ ‘Elf,’ and Ron Howard’s ‘The Grinch’ – I like the garishly colourful and OTT ones!

Tess Makovesky

I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas on the planet.  I quite like some of the old traditions, but hate the modern, consumer-driven, hyped-to-hell-and-back, be-perfect-or-else-you’ve-failed version, which tends to bring me out in a severe case of Bah Humbug.  So my choices of reading, watching and listening matter over the festive period tend to reflect this.

Favourite Christmas song: there’s a special mention for Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ which brings back happy memories of school Christmas parties.  But the winner, hands down, is ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues and Kirsty McCall.  Any Christmas song that includes lyrics like You scumbag, you maggot, You lousy old faggot gets my vote every time, and the harmonies (even with lead singer Shane McGowan apparently on such a massive bender he could barely stand up during recording) are amazing.

Favourite Christmas movie: I can’t really handle all those mushy-gushy sanctimonious ‘isn’t family wonderful’ type movies that you’re supposed to like at Christmas.  But Home Alone won me over the first time I saw it.  It has just the right blend of mischief, quirkiness, and sheer evil joy, from parents forgetting one of their own children, to Macauley Culkin’s 8 year old dreaming up ever nastier ways to keep the burglars out of the family home.  Great fun!

Favourite Christmas book: this one really had me stumped.  I wasn’t sure if there were any specific Christmas books, and when I googled, I’d never read most of them and wasn’t keen on the rest.  However, my favourite as a kid was probably ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ by C S Lewis for the sheer magic and inventiveness of the story.  Although these days, I probably have more sympathy with the Wicked Witch than I ought to.  Imagine: always winter but never Christmas.  I can think of worse things…!

HAVE A BRIT GRIT CHRISTMAS!

Richard Godwin is down Brit Grit Alley

buffalo-and-sour-mashOver at OUT OF THE GUTTER ONLINE, there’s a great guest BRIT GRIT ALLEY column from crime writer RICHARD GODWIN where he talks about publishing:

‘Publishing really is in a state of flux, with the rise and rise of Amazon and it still seems many publishers do not know what they are doing and behave with a lack of the kind of professionalism and regard for Artists that you would expect given the fact that without the author without the novelist there would be no publisher, a fact that seems all to easily to have been forgotten.

Read the rest HERE.

Chris Black is down Brit Grit Alley

number 13 pressNumber Thirteen Press publisher Chris Black is down Brit Grit Alley:

Number Thirteen Press – The End? 

So that’s it, then. Thirteen crime novellas from thirteen authors in thirteen months. Richard Godwin’s Ersatz World was the last, and Number Thirteen Press is finished.

Only, not quite.’

Read the rest here.

I’m Flashing Down Brit Grit Alley

1 1 1 1  a a a a a brit grit sidebar

In my latest Brit Grit Alley column, I’ve posted one of my earliest flash fiction yarns:

The Sharpest Tools In The Box by Paul D. Brazill

“It’s friggin obvious, Browny”, said Kenny.

Kenny Cokehead was waving his arms around like a windmill. In his hands he had
a couple of CDs that he’d found in the glove compartment of Mikey The Mechanic’s
BMW: Hot Stuff by Donna Summer and the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever.

“It stands to reason, don’t it? Look at this stuff. Clear as day. He’s an arse bandit, dinner masher …”

I zoned out. Kenny Cokehead was was really living up to his nickname; he was snotty nosed and talking ten to the dozen. Me, I was trying my hardest to concentrate on manipulating the BMW round Seatown’s darkened side streets.

This was proving to be a bit of a problem. For one thing, the car was a left hand drive – which looked very cool this side of the pond but made it pretty difficult to maneuver
– and another factor was that we didn’t want anyone to see us, so we were driving
without using the headlights.

Since most of the streetlights had been smashed out around here-and most of the terraced houses have been boarded up- I was doing about as well as Stevie Wonder.

The situation wasn’t exactly helped by the fact that my full bladder felt ready to burst. And then there was Kenny who, like most cokeheads, had got a degree in stating the friggin obvious. And repeating it ad infinitum.’

Read the rest at OUT OF THE GUTTER ONLINE.

Guest Blog: Life and the City by David Siddall

- (3)Liverpool: one of the world’s great cities, second city of the empire, and gateway to America. What is it about Liverpool that gets under the skin and into the blood?

I am not a native. My home town lies twenty miles to the south. A quiet town and a semi-rural existence. So when I moved over two decades ago, it was akin to moving across the world. The humour, the banter, the pace of life was different. Took me a while to find my place. Did I adopt Liverpool or did it adopt me? I don’t know. But I do remember the moment when the Landlady of the local pub called an adopted Scouser. It was a proud moment. That night I stood just that little bit taller at the bar

And that’s it. If they like you you’re in; if they don’t, they’re not afraid to tell you.

To most first time visitors Liverpool is about two things: football and the Beatles. But there is so much more; the docks and buildings lining the waterfront were granted, World Heritage Site status by UNESCO in 2004. World capital of pop is perhaps, more open to debate. But certainly since becoming European capital of culture in 2008, there has been a steady increase in tourism seeing the city through new eyes.

But it’s the people who make Liverpool what it is. Independent, enterprising, anti-authoritarian, and standing up to be counted is hardwired into a Scousers DNA. A Scouser doesn’t like being ripped off. A Scouser won’t stand idly by and let those in authority pat them on the head. A Scouser knows what’s right and wrong.

And once the call is made, a Scouser is like a dog with a bone. They won’t let go. Ever.

What other city would campaign so long and hard for justice at Hillsborough? And after so much talk by fans throughout England complaining at the increase in football ticket prices, it was the mass walkout at Liverpool FC that resulted in a rethink by the owners.

Liverpool – first again.

Maybe it was this same spirit that saw Liverpool at the epicentre of drug dealing in the 80s. These were desperate days of mass unemployment and poverty, of the Toxteth riots and Yozza Hughes’, “Gizza’ job.” For many the only way out was sport or criminality. With links to South America and the continent, these gangs developed into cartels with huge distribution networks. Men at the top end became extremely rich. Curtis ‘Cocky’ Warren, even managed to make the Sunday Times Rich List!

Independent, enterprising, anti-authoritarian, and waving two fingers at the establishment. That’s Liverpool.

It’s this attitude and mind-set I’ve tried to encapsulate in my collection, Breaking Even.

Breaking Even consists of a novella and six short tales, most of which revolve in and around the city. The novella and title story, Breaking Even, features, ‘Chance’ a typical, happy-go-lucky Liverpudlian, who being, to quote a Scouse phrase, ‘down on the bones of his arse’, agrees to smuggle drugs from the Caribbean. Needless to say things don’t go according to plan.

‘Chance’, through circumstance beyond his control, finds himself in a situation that can end in only one of two ways. Shit or bust. As the story develops he is drawn deeper and deeper into the mire with only his wits and a gun for salvation.

Mixing it with the protagonist are a disparate bunch of characters that fill the criteria of a noir piece: a femme fatale, a psychopathic villain, a bagman who maybe, isn’t quite the villain he seems, and a partner who for good or evil, pushes ‘Chance’ on.

The genesis of this tale was the arrest of a local man, a disabled pensioner, caught with a good deal of cocaine strapped to his body boarding a plane from Antigua. This guy is not your typical villain, not someone to take on criminal enterprise or the role of drug mule lightly. Yet here he was, caught red-handed and looking at a ten stretch in a roach infested West Indian nick.

What made him do it?

Maybe the prospect of an ‘easy’ ten grand appealed? Maybe at seventy plus he liked the idea of excitement? Maybe, (to quote Bob Dylan), he had nothing left to lose?

Shit or bust.

But the idea sowed a kernel. How does an ordinary man reconcile himself to committing such a reckless act and live with the consequences if it all goes wrong? The story that developed followed from the, ‘What if’, principle.

Of the other tales, four are Liverpool related. Gangsters at the end of nefarious careers, good ideas gone bad; characters at the beginning or end of a cycle of events are the essence. And to these men, maybe the only way out is…

You get the picture?

At this point you may get the impression Liverpool is a crime ridden, dangerous city. It’s not. But like any big city, not everything is rosy in the garden. Drugs and crime go hand in hand. Poverty still exists and the policy of austerity by Westminster forces the Council to cut and cut again

In fact Liverpool is a vibrant cosmopolitan city very different to those dark days of the 80s. To experience a Friday or Saturday night is one of life’s great experiences. Don’t believe me? just see Rough Guide’s top 50 ‘Things to do before you die’, bucket list. Liverpool’s nightlife is sandwiched between Petra and The Great Wall of China at number 3. (Still think they should have mentioned a Mad Monday though).

Liverpool will survive. Always has, always will. She’ll be there till the end of time , sniffing out what’s good and bad in society. And if she doesn’t like what she sees, have no hesitation saying, ‘Thanks but no thanks’. Then she’ll turn away, and stick two fingers up at the rest of the world.

David Siddall is the author of A MAN ALONE, BREAKING EVEN and MORE!
This post appeared previously  at OUT OF THE GUTTER ONLINE.

Guest Blog:Looking Forward with Excitement by Graham Smith

At the time of writing my annual crime writing masterclasses are just over a month away. For me it’s a time of great excitement. Not only do I get to see the friends I’ve made over the previous years’ courses, I also get to learn from some top notch authors.

This year Crime and Publishment takes place from the 26th to the 28th of February at its usual home of The Mill Forge near Gretna Green. I’m the manager here so talking murder and crime all weekend makes a wonderful change from discussing weddings.

From its inception in 2012, Crime and Publishment has grown far beyond my wildest dreams and I can now boast that previous attendees have signed five separate publishing contracts, two of these attendees have also signed with top name literary agents and even one of our speakers (RC Bridgestock) met and signed up with an agent due to being at Crime and Publishment. Never once did I dare imagine my wee pet project would become so successful in such a short space of time.

When I first set down to create Crime and Publishment, I was determined that it MUST be three things,

· Affordable as there are so many courses which sound great but are prohibitively expensive

· Educational because it has to be deemed worthwhile by the people who part with their hard-earned to come along

· Opportunistic for those who attend. Many writers never get to meet an agent or publisher and when they do, they don’t know what to do. I was (and still am) determined that anyone who attends Crime and Publishment will leave better equipped to grab any opportunity which comes their way, as well putting a gilt-edged opportunity in front of them.

Last year we saw the publication of my own debut novel and a short story collection which introduced the police team featuring in Snatched from Homeand Mike Craven’s debut Born in a Burial Gown and a short story collection which introduced his police team. (I’m not sure where he got the idea for the short story collection from)

2016 alone will see the publication of four more books plus hopefully a novella and there’s still plenty of time for other submissions to be accepted.

For the record they are

· Night is Watching by Lucy Cameron

· Raise the Blade by Tess Makovesky

· I Know your Secret by Graham Smith

· The Major Crimes Team Vol 2: Matching the Evidence (Still under final edits before submission, but both I and the publisher are confident)

· Amit Dhand’s as yet untitled debut.

As the organiser of Crime and Publishment, I cannot express how proud of the hard work and talent of the gang as a whole. Not only are they all busy individuals they each make time to support and help each other out with discussing plot threads, beta reading and most of all, by being a friend who gets how frustrating wonderful the life of a writer can be.

I’m now at the point where I’m putting together the final touches to the two sessions I’ll be taking, while also liaising with the speakers as to their requirements and taking bookings from writers who are looking to improve their skill set.

This year the programme is packed with great speakers sharing their knowledge and I’ll be pitching in to cover some different aspects of the skills writers need to succeed in what is an ever more crowded arena.

For those interested the full programme can be found on our websitewww.crimeandpublishment.co.uk but here it is in brief

· Writing your Fights Right – Taken by Matt Hilton a thriller author and 4th Dan at Kempo Ju-Jitsu

· Structuring your Story – Former Hollywood screenwriter Alexandra Sokoloffexplains the three act / eight scene structure

· Back to Basics – Renowned mentor Michael J. Malone shows how to avoid common pitfalls many aspiring authors fall into

· Networking for Authors – I show a few simple tips and techniques in a short session on networking and how to network efficiently

· Preparing your Pitch – Sara Hunt from Saraband Publishing leads a session on making the perfect pitch.

· Pitch Session – Sarah Hunt listens to attendees pitches in a series of private 1-2-1 sessions. Those who make a successful pitch may be our next success story

· 1-2-1 Surgeries – All of our speakers will make themselves available for private consultation to help with plot holes, characterisation or anything else you need help with

· Nurturing your Characters – Michael Malone and I will explain what makes some of the most iconic crime characters so loveable and how to infuse this into your writing (optional extra @ £25)

For me and a lot of the attendees who come, the weekend is about far more than just sitting listening to the speakers and making notes. It’s about reconnecting friendships and forging new ones. It’s about sharing experiences, tips, techniques and talking about ideas, books and a hundred other things with a bunch of people who share your enthusiasm.

Newcomers to the group are made welcome and I personally try to make sure everyone is included in discussions. Attendees are split into two groups with even numbers of old and new faces in each.

For the first time ever, I’ve even started planning next year’s event before this year’s has taken place. While I’m still lining my ducks up, I can’t say too much, but I can say that I’m confident that those I’m speaking with will help the continual rise and improvement of Crime and Publishment.

I don’t have a lot much more to say other than thanks to the mercurial Paul D. Brazill for inviting me along and, if you’re serious about improving your writing and would like to attend Crime and Publishment, you can contact me at Crime(@)themill.co.uk (obviously you’ll need to cut the brackets off the “@” for the email address to work, I just don’t want spammed with Viagra substitutes)

This post appeared at Out Of The Gutter Online.

Guest Blog: Brit Grit – Killing and Community by Darren Sant

In November Near to the Knuckle turned 4. We celebrated by throwing an online party the only way we know how – lots of great fiction! In fact we had 13 stories over spread over 2 days. It meant a lot of hard work for Craig who posted, formatted and edited the stories. For myself the work was audio reading and uploading. However, it’s not really hard work when you love something is it? Believe me it’s hard reading aloud stories that talk about shaving nut sacks without laughing out loud. Thank YOU for that Karl Kowesky with G-String Gangsters.

Although we offered prizes all of the people who contributed, most of whom are regular contributors to the site, didn’t do it for the prize they did it for the love of writing and the sense of community they feel in our group and on our site. That’s really what I want to talk about. I know I speak for Craig also when I say that’s one of the things that drives us. Not just the love of the fiction but the sense of belonging and kinship, friendship we feel in our little online bubble.

Many of the writer’s I know best write about terrible events. Crimes that would shock communities and destroy families. Yet, from imaginations that can conceive such things come the warmest hearts. Aidan Thorn, a writer who I count as friend, as well a fantastically talented chap has been the driving force behind a charity anthology that has a group of which I am a member. I’ve seen some of the finest talents donating long stories to this project because they care for the lady it is in support of. Most of them have never met her but they’re damn decent human beings and think nothing of giving their time for a most worthy cause. I feel privileged to belong to this community of great people even though when they pick up a pen every one is a cold blooded killer!

(This post appeared at OUT OF THE GUTTER ONLINE)