‘They’re coming fast and furious from Paul D. Brazill: it’s another cracking Near to the Knuckle novella from Mr B, the hardest working man in Brit Grit. This is #9 in the series and like the others a rip-snorter of mayhem and it’s got plenty of humour.
Big City Blues ranges across Europe and over to the colonies, or at least New York, which is a world of its own. Brazill always like a sprawling jumble of wild threads which he slowly knits together over the course of the unpredictable events and connections. Even his Seatown stories make the small burg feel complex. It’s not like wild coincidences either; it’s more like Six Degrees of Separation — or in this case, maybe only three degrees.
There’s a joyful abundance that teeters on the baroque: old cons, old cops, young geezers, unpredictable collisions of desire and convenience, and always sudden bone-crunching violence lurking around the next corner. Some of the jokes my grandfather would know but with a twist that makes them new again, and so many original observations that had me laughing out loud with surprise. And don’t tell anybody but hiding in between the laughs, the grimaces, the double crossing and the name dropping, you’ll find heart-searing observations about the walking wounded and some prose that will knock your socks off:
The night had draped itself over the city, and the moon bit into the sky. He stopped on the neon-soaked street to breathe in the sultry air. He could smell the lust, the sin and the decay.
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.’
British coppers, an American private eye, London gangsters, international spies, and a serial killer known as The Black Crow all collide violently and hilariously in Big City Blues, another fast-moving and funny slice of Brit Grit from Paul D. Brazill.
Published by NEAR TO THE KNUCKLE.
Available from Amazon.co.uk as an eBook for 99p or a paperback for less than a fiver.
You can also grab it from Amazon.com and any other Amazon you mind fancy.
I’m flashing again at Spelk Fiction. Fiery Jack goes a little like this:
Jack walked across the pub carpark and found Sidney Round’s BMW. His bony hands shook as he took a petrol canister from his backpack. He closed his eyes and counted to ten. Tried to control his breathing. He was dripping with sweat. He emptied the canister’s contents over the car and then took out another petrol can.
Wikipedia sez: Nil by Mouth is a 1997 British-French drama film portraying a family of characters living in South East London. It was Gary Oldman‘s debut as a writer and director; the film was produced by Douglas Urbanski and Luc Besson. It stars Ray Winstone as Raymond, the abusive husband of Valerie (Kathy Burke). The film was a critical success, winning numerous awards.
You can watch the whole film here …
Over at SOLARCIDE I’m interviewed by NATHAN PETTIGREW and talk about TOO MANY CROOKS, London, boozing and more.
Pubs and alcohol are main characters in your work. When an idea for a story comes to you, does it already start in that setting? Are your characters already there having drinks when they are first conceived?
Ah. Well, as someone who has spent far too much of his life in pubs it seems a natural setting. It’s not a great stretch. Also, when people go to pubs they usually talk- or they did before WiFi Hotspots- and they usually talk rubbish, which can be pretty funny. I like to think I write absurdist fiction and most people in pubs are absurd or say something absurd at some part of the night.
TOM LIENS has a new feature at his blog where writers talk about their influences. I plump for TONY HANCOCK.
Tony Hancock – the easiest comedian for charades – and I share the same birthday, May 12th. Whether or not we share the same death day remains to be seen, of course, and let’s just hope we can put that little fact-finding mission on hold for a while, eh?
And Tom also gives TOO MANY CROOKS a tidy review.
If you can imagine a Guy Ritchie film re-cast with Carry On actors, you will come close to understanding this book’s offbeat charm!
With a little yarn called The Contender:
‘It was a Saturday night and The Cobble Bar was only slightly busier than it was midweek, which really wasn’t very. Indeed, if the place hadn’t been useful for the local criminal fraternity–money laundering, distribution of contraband and the like—it would have closed down years ago.
A big screen television was silently showing a 24-hour weather channel though no one seemed to be watching it. Status Quo’s ‘Paper Plane’ blasted out as I walked up to the bar and took off my raincoat.’
Larry is a burglar who needs to get his hands on some cash. Sharpish. When his step- father – a retired cop – asks him to track down his errant sister , he has the chance of a way out of his financial problems but Larry soon digs himself even deeper into the mire. Moorlands is a tight, atmospheric crime thriller with a strong sense of melancholy.
Martin works in a dirty book store and spends his life haunting the losers and lowlifes at the nearby motel. Like Heatley’s similarly hard-hitting The Motel Whore, The Vampire gazes into the darkness with bloodshot eyes and is similarly unflinching. Gripping and certainly not for the squeamish.
War correspondent Jude Mortimer lives a life on the edge in the first part of Jason Michel’s The Black-Hearted Beat, which kicks off brilliantly, like a visceral blend of Graham Greene and The Deerhunter. Teetering on the precipice of a dream, a nightmare, delirium, oblivion, The Black-Hearted Beat is as rich and red as wine and blood. Taste it.
PDB: Can you pitch FATBOY in 25 words or less?
Latino barkeep Joey attempts to regain his family and exact brutal revenge upon the racist businessman that hassles him, all at the same time.
PDB: Which music, books, films, songs or television shows do you wish you had written?
Music-wise, anything by Mark Lanegan or Nick Cave. In terms of wordplay and mastery of language, Saul Williams. Books – The Clown by Heinrich Boll, The Lost Weekend by Charles Jackson, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. For songs, see anything by the above. And the Beach Boys! Love the Beach Boys… Films – The Wrestler, Taxi Driver, Rocky, Sicario, The Nice Guys. Television – The Leftovers, The Wire, Fargo, the first four seasons of Dexter…
PDB: Which of your books do you think would make good films or TV series?
I think The Motel Whore could make a decent indie feature. TV-wise, there’s potential in a crime series set in Newcastle featuring characters from An Eye For An Eye, which is a world I’m hoping to expand upon at some point in the future.
PDB: Who are your favourite writers?
James Ellroy, Jim Thompson, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Zadie Smith, Harry Crews.
PDB: What’s your favourite joke?
I’m bad with jokes, I don’t store them. There’s a chef at work always tells the same cheese joke and I can never remember the punch line. Right now I’m struggling to remember the build-up, too… I watch comedians, though – Eddie Izzard, Bill Hicks. The latter’s bit on Jack Palance in Shane has always been a favourite and is worth looking up on YouTube. Pick up the gun…
PDB: What’s your favourite song?
‘The Sound of Silence’ by Simon and Garfunkel.
PDB: What’s on the cards?
Well, I’m keeping busy! I finished a novel at the start of this year which I’ll soon start the edits on, along with two more novellas I wrote shortly after that, and I’m working on a third that I’m hoping to have finished by the end of this month (March). After that there’s a whole slew of new projects I’m looking to plan, write, and edit, and hopefully they’ll see the light of day at some point.
PDB: Anything else?
Fatboy will be available May 1st, published by All Due Respect. In the meantime (or afterward, depending on when you’re reading this), An Eye For An Eye is available for Kindle, published by Near To The Knuckle, and I recently made The Motel Whore & Other Stories, and Guns, Drugs, And Dogs available as paperbacks.
Bio: Paul Heatley’s stories have appeared online and in print for a variety of publications including Thuglit, Crime Syndicate, Spelk, Horror Sleaze Trash, and Shotgun Honey, among others. He is the author of The Motel Whore & Other Stories, An Eye For An Eye, Guns, Drugs, and Dogs, and the forthcoming Fatboy. He lives in the north east of England.
I’m up at the all-new A TWIST OF NOIR with a little yarn called THINGS I USED TO LIKE.
‘I used to like playing football when I was a kid. Loved it, I did. I could spend hours kicking a ball around a muddy field or up and down a dirty back street. When I got older, I even played in goal for the local pub’s Sunday league team. But I put on weight because of all the beer and pork pies. I liked that bit too much, and it became hard work. A slog. No fun at all.
That was another thing, too. I used to like spending a few nights a week and the odd afternoon down the pub but heartburn, indigestion and ulcers soon put paid to that. Sitting sipping a mineral water when other folk got pissed wasn’t exactly a barrel of laughs, so I lost interest. I began to fear I’d lost my capacity for joy, I really did.’
I think I’ve always liked singles more than LPs. Preferred the short, sharp burst of a 45 rpm vinyl to 33 and 1/3 rpm of a few decent tunes padded out with fillers. And maybe that’s why I was drawn to flash fiction.
I started off my crime writing ‘career’ – arf – submitting yarns to the late lamented Six Sentences website – short stories in just six sentences. Indeed, my first writing to appear in print was in the 6S volume 2 anthology.
Here’s an example of a 6S yarn:
A Cold Day in Helsinki
The January night had long since waned when Mika blasted Aki’s brains over the snow covered street, producing a more than passable Rorschach test. A murder of crows sliced through the whiteness as the purr of the passing motorcycle grew to a roar, masking the sound of the shotgun. When day eventually melted into night, the moon hung fat and gibbous, the bloodstains now black in the moonlight. Mika draped Aki’s cold, dead skin over his own pallid flesh as, shivering, he breathed in the scent of cheap aftershave, cigarettes and booze. Sour memories trampled over his thoughts with bloodstained feet. Together forever he rasped, as tears filled his bloodshot eyes.
Snap, Crackle & Pop!
Snap went Larry’s index finger when Mo bent it back. Crackle went the cigar that Mo slammed into Larry’s face. Pop went the pistol that Mo shoved under Larry’s chin. Snap went the paparazzi when Mo was led into court. Crackle went the electric chair when Mo was sent to meet his maker. Pop went the champagne cork in Curly and Shemp’s hotel room.
And I’ve also enjoyed writing a few other forms of flash and micro fiction too, such as 6word stories a la Ernest Hemingway.
Blah blah. Bang bang. Ha ha.
Or there are stories limited to fifty words for magazines such as Blink Ink.
Old Town, midnight.
The moonlight oozed across the dank cobblestones like quicksilver; creeping between the cracks, crawling into the gutters. Howls sliced the silence. Lara shivered, pulling the fur close to her flesh. Each heartbeat was like the tick of a clock. As the limousine growled into view, heavy footsteps shuffled closer.
And flash fiction in 100 words, which is known as Drabble.
Elvis awoke in a cold, dank sweat, hungover from bourbon and bad dreams. The nightmares had consisted of him being hunted through a swamp by the murderous spectre of Jesse, his stillborn twin. His pounding heartbeat seemed to echo through the mansion. He stumbled into the bathroom, splashed cold water on his face and looked in the mirror, only to be confronted by his own ashen reflection and that of his grinning doppelganger. Jesse tightly wrapped the umbilical cord around Elvis’ throat and pulled it until Elvis breathed no more. The king is dead, long live the king, he muttered.
Indeed, if you feel the urge to take the plunge into writing but just want to test the water, there are plenty of flash fiction sites online. Spelk Fiction, for example,’ limit you to 500 words and Shotgun Honey have a 700 word limit. And it’s a great way for more experienced writers to practice disciplining their writing too.
So why not get flashing!
This post first appeared over at Debbi Mack’s blog.
I have a new yarn up at Pulp Metal Magazine.
It’s called TRAIN IN VAIN:
‘Seatown train station was certainly a lot better looking than I remembered it but it still smelled of puke. And shit, And sweat. Well, it did now that Smiffy was there. He’d spruced himself up a bit, slicked back his hair, put on a double-breasted pinstripe suit. But his rancid stench still oozed out. I hadn’t really seemed to notice it when we were boozing together in The Cobble Bar but out here in the fresh air it seemed overpowering.
A small group of football fans, watched by an equal sized group of bored policemen, snaked out of the station, through the streets and toward the town centre. They were quieter than I expected but then I’d never been much of a football fan, even as a child. I assumed supporting a football team was something you just grew out of although a few of the fans looked as if they’d grown a bit too much. Especially around the stomach area.’
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. While 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.