Category Archives: GUEST BLOGS

Guest Blog: Three Hours Past Midnight by Tony Knighton

3 hours past midnightPaul has graciously invited me to post an essay about my latest work Three Hours Past Midnight, a novel from Crime Wave Press, set in my hometown, Philadelphia, Pa.  In the first few pages the narrator and his partner burglarize the home of a wealthy, jailed Philadelphia politician.  It features the un-named protagonist from an earlier story of mine, “Mister Wonderful.”

I typically have a framework in mind before I start to put words on a page, a beginning, middle and end.  “Mister Wonderful” began for me as a scene, a dilemma – a man coming to, strapped in the driver’s seat of a car that has come to rest upside down in a shallow, icy streambed.  He’s got a broken collarbone and he hears a siren go by on the roadway above him.  I worked out who he was and why he was there as that story progressed.  Afterward, I found myself still curious about him.  For a long time, also, I’d had a vague story idea about the burglary of a certain private home in Philadelphia, a mansion near Center City, that many here mistakenly think belongs to a real-life, notorious, long-time state senator.  I liked the idea of a crew breaking into the house and stealing something from him.  As the fiction writer Eryk Pruitt says, some people in this world just need to be robbed.  I couldn’t get started until I had the right players.  After “Mister Wonderful” I knew I had just the guy.

If anything matters to this character, it is his rational approach to problems.  He prides himself on his professionalism.  So, in Three Hours Past Midnight, when things go bad – his partner murdered and the money gone – he has a choice: tackle the problem or give up and go home.  He decides that worse than losing the money, the resulting damage to his reputation among other professionals would be intolerable.

This character is fun for me to write.  I like him because he’s smart and resourceful, but also very human.  He makes mistakes.  He’s shadowy, even to me.  I’ve never given him a name.  I know what he’s like physically – average height, medium build – but facially, I haven’t a clue.  I’m not sure how old he is.  I can only see his silhouette, if that makes sense.

crime wave pressI do know a lot about him. He lives in the moment – he won’t celebrate a victory or agonize over a setback – he just keeps going.  He’s smart and quick.  He’s not a hard guy – he could probably hold his own if necessary, but he wouldn’t want to have to – there’s no money in it.  He’d rather settle things with a conversation.

The characters who know him probably consider him fair but dangerous.  Most others probably don’t notice him – he’s sort of forgettable. This is a guy who people underestimate.  Every so often, a stranger – maybe a civilian, maybe a cop – somehow recognizes him for what he is.

I get bored reading stories that feature a superman or know-it-all.  Worse is the hero’s best friend who is the toughest guy in the world.  It seems these poor guys only exist to get the hero out of trouble.

This novel is also a sort of echo of my novella Happy Hour, an earlier work about a young grifter who has unwittingly stolen forty thousand dollars from dangerous men.  It’s a story of a man on the run through the nighttime streets of Philadelphia, told from the point of view of the pursued.

Three Hours Past Midnight is the hunter’s story. What had appeared to be a simple, straightforward piece of work quickly turns complicated. Along the way, he runs into politics, corruption and organized crime, which in a way are all the same thing.  He leaves a lot of wreckage.  The end isn’t what he expected.tk-bw

I’m working on another piece featuring my nameless protagonist, sort of a follow-up to the first short story, and I’m still figuring out who this guy is.  He’ll be meeting new people and doing new things, and with a little luck it will be fresh.

Thanks, Paul.

 

 

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Guest Blog: Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties by Andy Rausch

IMG_0620I’ve been asked to write a guest piece about my new crime novella collection Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties. So here goes… The anthology contains three very different kinds of crime tales written with three very different writing styles.

The genesis of the first story, Easy-Peezy, came from my considering penning a Western story. Once I realized that many of the bank robbing outlaws from the Old West were still alive, albeit quite elderly, at the time guys like John Dillinger and Machine Gun Kelly were robbing banks in the 1930s, the idea for the story became instantly apparent to me. I thought, what if a band of aged Western outlaws got together and started robbing banks during this same time period? That could be fun. And away I went…

There isn’t much beyond that to share about Easy-Peezy. It’s the most straightforward story in this collection. I had fun writing it and imagining these scenarios in which decrepit old men wielded pistols and robbed banks. It was also fun writing in iconic figures like Dillinger and Melvin Purvis. Hopefully readers will enjoy reading it as much I enjoyed writing it.

The second story, Riding Shotgun, was a riff on John Cassavetes’ 1976 film The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. Like that film (and later Nick of Time, 1995), the idea was that criminal figures would coerce a common man to commit an assassination for them. But I sought to improve upon that old chestnut by upping the ante and also taking the tale to what I had always seen as its inevitable conclusion, thus making it a tale of revenge. In this way it’s sort of like two stories rolled into one. It’s sort of a mash-up (in terms of attitude and theme) of Chinese Bookie and the 1977 AIP film Rolling Thunder, which I consider the greatest revenge film ever made. So imagine my shock and awe when Rolling Thunder co-writer Heywood Gould ultimately praised the novella as being “relentless… Addictive… The kind of nightmare you don’t want to wake up from.” Pretty cool, huh? I’ve still got goosebumps from that.

Another bit of trivia readers might find interesting about Riding Shotgun is that it was written as a bit of an experiment; I sought to write something truly pulpy that basically pared everything down and cuts out anything that absolutely did not need to be present to make the story work. It’s a gritty, bare-bones story that gets right to the heart of things with as little exposition as possible. In the end, I think the experiment worked. Riding Shotgun is one of the things I am the most proud of at this point in my career.

The third story, $crilla, was an absolute blast to write. It was another experiment of sorts. I wondered what you might get if you combined the sharp dialogue of Elmore Leonard, the racial objectivity and inclusiveness of Quentin Tarantino, and the world of hip-hop music. I don’t claim to be as talented as those two writers, but they are my biggest influences (and in its way, the same can be said of hip-hop music). They are quite simply the reasons I write the kinds of stories I write.

I toyed with the idea of this story for a long time before actually putting pen to paper. The idea was that a fledgling rap group would lose their recording deal and end up turning to crime in order to finance their extravagant lifestyle. I suppose the idea occurred to me after the hip-hop act C.E.B. got arrested for bank robbery and murder in 1996. But I tweaked that idea a bit, thinking it might be interesting if the rap group kidnapped a record company mogul and held him for ransom instead.

I was pleasantly surprised when Elmore Leonard’s son, novelist Peter Leonard, praised the novella and actually compared my work to that of his father. Of course that was by design—the writing style I utilized here was a direct homage to Leonard. (And for the record, I do not write anywhere near as well as Leonard did. Nobody does.) $crilla was most directly influenced by Leonard’s Road Dogs, which opened my eyes to just how much emphasis can be placed on dialogue. Although most Leonard novels feature very little exposition in contrast to most other authors this side of George V. Higgins, Road Dogs seemed to have the least. And it was still very effective. This is how Road Dogs ultimately became the spiritual father of $crillariding shotgun

Each of these novellas was written at a different time in my life, and each represents something completely different to me. I was overjoyed when Crime Wave Press decided to publish this collection. I was going through a rough patch during this period, having just gone through a painful divorce and then spending a month in a coma. The publication of this anthology was one of the first (of hopefully many) steps towards rediscovering my place in both my life and writing career.

So that, my friends, is the story behind Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties.

 

 

Guest Blog: Murder most foul with a bit of humour sometimes! by Pat McDonald

pat mcdonaldNow a full time novelist, currently writing within the crime fiction genre, I latterly worked as a Researcher, Project Manager and Programme Manager for the last seventeen years of my career within the police service. I decided to write fiction when I was fifteen, got caught up in this thing called the ‘real world’ that delayed me for too many years.

‘Retiring’ during the 20,000 police staff cuts in the austere times, I began to write my first crime novel ‘Getting Even: Revenge is best served cold’ with maybe a tongue in cheek desire not to waste the invitation to leave full time work and the ‘freedom’ to become creative. I did pull on my experiences (procedural) and is the story of a Major Crime Unit where Luc Wariner and Aidey Carter battle against a corrupt Chief Inspector Beddoes, murder, a paedophile ring, underage prostitution and drug dealing, which grew into an epic.

I found myself writing ‘The Blue Woods’ trilogy named because of my over-active imagination at disposal of bodies and a rather good Book Cover designer who nudged me that way. The spill over into ‘Rogue Seed’ led me to think about what would happen to a snatched baby if it was never found, but grew up in someone else’s family and of course ‘going rogue’ a term used for when a cop goes bad. I explore the other aspects of rogue seed; it would have been rude not to include the botanical meaning (growing of weed) or the loveable rogue conceived in the likeness of a deceased father.

‘Boxed off’ the third book although reflecting the theme of the book, buried bodies, kidnapped and confined to a cage, it also reminded me of a need to finish the series. All three books stand in their own right, but certain aspects of criminal investigation goes on and sometimes doesn’t culminate in the villain being caught. Not in real life or in my books and as in life there are plenty of murders along the way.

For every writer some characters will just drop out of their plot. As a ‘free flow’ writer who doesn’t plan but let’s their imagination run, it allows them to use that character for a book of their own. ‘Breaking Free’ sees Livia Morrison, the once child mistress of Chief Inspector Harry Beddoes (Getting Even) escape to UAE and eventually return to a quaint village in Wales to hide in plain sight. This book is about stalking, has a touch of the paranormal and WW1 history thrown together into a thriller. She discovers she has a past in the very community she lives in when she finds the chest in the attic of the cottage she has just purchased. The ghostly influence of this book led me on a visit to Caernarfon Castle where the Royal Welsh Fusilier museum is housed and where I ‘saw’ the ending to that particular element of the story. Breaking Free came to an end just as I discovered I had a brain tumour which I had removed surgically a couple of months later.

My recovery and convalescence, particularly learning to write and type again was done through editing Breaking Free and beginning ‘A Penny for Them’ which is a humorous crime series I began at this time to maintain a sense of humour and to entertain myself during what I have to say was a trying time.

Benjamin Matthews (nee Pollock) was conceived and his trials and tribulations innocently entering the criminal world in pursuit of Rebecah, the beautiful nymphomaniac daughter of a failed politician and notorious villain. His attempt at selling The Daisy Effect, a Benzedrine product in the shape of tiny embossed daisies on rice paper, as a slimming product fails on the drug scene, when he discovers he has been producing and selling a genuine and successful slimming product. He also discovers in a series of eventful meetings that he isn’t who he thought he was.

I enjoyed writing humour so much I wrote the second book in the series, ‘The Penny Drops’, which sees Ben and his new family emigrating out to United Arab Emirates, where Rebecah gets a job as a nurse. Ben gets arrested at the airport and is taken in for questioning and discovers that the undercover cop Daphne has different plans for him. His attempts to try to join his family and stay one step ahead of being pursued are hard fought and with a little help from his recently discovered ‘new’ real family, he manages to escape.

Book 3 ‘ A Bad Penny’ is half written and takes place in United Arab Emirates where crazy chickens, vigilante freedom fighters and zombie movie making leads Ben to realise that escaping from family and crazy people is harder than he thinks – like a ‘bad penny’ someone always turns up.

‘Echoes of Doubt’ now finished is another spin off from The Blue Woods trilogy where the Private Investigator Bart Bridges has entered the Witness Protection Programme and become Cyrus Bartholomew, the clock maker, in a small seaside town called Wainthorpe-pat's bookson-sea. After two years he has settled into his new life of routine and habit only to have his serene world challenged when his elderly next door neighbour at The Art Gallery is found violently murdered whilst he slept. This leads him to wonder if perhaps the murderer has mistaken The Art Gallery for his shop, and his past caught up with him.

The trouble with his clock shop, Time and Tide, is that strange things happen which he doesn’t always have an explanation for. He meets and teams up with Jayson Vingoe, the CSI in the case who begins to realise that Cyrus isn’t all he seems. When a further murder occurs the investigations show a widespread southern syndicate of drugs and human trafficking which makes Cyrus even more nervous having escaped from something similar.

This is currently being edited and the book is due out sometime towards the end of 2017.

Check out Pat McDonald’s Amazon page.

 

Guest Blog: Conflict by Chris Rhatigan

Rhatigan-photo-200x300One Thing Every Reader Wants to See

A manuscript arrives in the All Due Respect inbox. It sits there for some time.

Might be a day, might be a week, might be an hour.

At some point, usually in the morning with a thermos of coffee, I open the manuscript.

There’s one thing I’m looking for from the first sentence.

I’m looking for conflict.

You may have heard this a hundred times, but there’s a reason for that: It’s easy to forget about conflict. You might focus on any number of other things—the details of setting or how to make your protagonist more likable.

But I can tell you that editors are always looking for conflict. So are literary agents, publishers, and just average readers.

You may have a 300-page manuscript with a dynamite ending, but if you don’t establish conflict in the first 20 pages, your manuscript is unlikely to make the cut.

Open any book on the shelves of your local bookstore and you’re likely to see conflict in the first paragraph, if not the first sentence. Take this opening sentence from Lee Child’s The Hard Way:

“Jack Reacher ordered espresso, double, no peel, no cube, no china, and before it arrived at his table he saw a man’s life change forever.”

The reader knows from the first moment what this book will be about. The implied question—who is this man whose life has changed forever and how will Reacher become involved?—pushes the reader forward.

adrThe conflict in the first few pages need not be the core of your novel’s plot. For example, one of the first novels our press published was Uncle Dust by Rob Pierce. The novel begins with Dust, a bank robber, discovering he is missing two hundred dollars. Dust goes on a mission to find the money, roughly interrogating his girlfriend and her kid.

The protagonist wants something and other characters are in his way. It doesn’t matter that it’s a small amount; he will not stand losing the money. This is a small conflict setting up a larger conflict that also tells the reader a bit about Dust’s character.

It’s possible an editor or agent will continue reading past page 20 if you have an engaging voice or a fascinating character.

It’s much more likely they will continue reading because you’ve established conflict.

Chris Rhatigan is a freelance editor and co-publisher of All Due Respect Books.

Guest Blog: What Goes On by Richard Godwin

18193320_10213098319995219_4819326852453550096_oWell well here we are again, at Paul’s gaff, I have been a busy boy, and that’s an understatement. WHAT’S NEW:

I have my Noir sampler, Noir Candy out NOW with Down and Out Books, and for your personal delectation, here’s the pitch:

Noir Candy is a genre shifting candy shop of noir, the hybrid form.

Buy here

I also have my killer novel expose as it is, Portrait Of An Assassin out with Near To The Knuckle run by the peerless Craig Douglas:

An original novel about a hit man I met in the heart, or interior as they call it, of Sicily when I rented a villa from a Mafia lawyer.

Buy here

And last but not least my anthology of short stories, Crystal On Eclectic Acetate, how’s that for a title, also out with Down and Out Books run by the peerless Eric Campbell

What is it about? Are you kidding?

NOIR NOIR.

Links

AND COMING my sci fi porn novel Android Love, Human Skin is to follow.

Watch this fucking space.

Sneak preview

A dystopian science fiction novel that explores the nature of gender and sexual conflict and the addiction to pleasure in a virtual word.

Welcome to the four genders in a future with no planned conflict, a utopia of pleasure engineered by the union.

Society has been revolutionised by gender control and the technologization of man and woman. In a future where a biochemical weapon has removed the skins of the population, the rulers hunt for the beautiful ones, those men and women who still have skins. The union is the new government, a faceless body of politicians who were behind the order to use the weapon that backfired on them, leaving them skinless.

In the glass citadel, the new utopia, where the only surviving humans with skin are placed, they recreate the world of gender by offering humans four types of robot with which to have relationships. All the humans are placed in relationships with machines, apart from Gerald, who appears to be a spy for the union and is filming the humans, and Elliott, a robot programmer. The union watches it all, political voyeurs in a totalitarian state of enforced sexual ecstasies. Food has been replaced by nutrient skins, and flavours can be chosen.

Bio: Richard Godwin is the critically acclaimed author of novels Apostle Rising, Mr.Glamour, One Lost Summer, Noir City, Meaningful Conversations and Confessions Of A Hit Man. He is a crime and horror writer as well as a produced playwright. He was born in London and obtained a BA and MA in English and American Literature from King’s College London. His stories have been published in many magazines and anthologies. He has 29 distinct works in print. You can find out more about him at his website http://www.richardgodwin.net/.

Guest Blog: Bay Of Martyrs by Matt Neal

bay of martyrs coverA good trick in songwriting is to start with the title first. Come up with a great name for your song and you’re well on your way – a good title can not only sum up the central ideas and themes of the song, but it can also give you a rhythm, suggest a melody or hint at a musical style.

I think Tony Black had the title for Bay of Martyrs before he had the plot – he’d seen the cove on the Great Ocean Road during his days as a journo in Warrnambool, and filed it away as a possible name for a novel. Just like with a song, the title suggested key elements. There’s a coastal setting, and people are being martyred for causes (they just don’t know it). As a title, Bay of Martyrs also has a noir-ish feel, despite it being a lovely place to visit, especially at this time of year.

It also helped set up the plot. If nothing else, it’s a good place for a body to wash up, at least in a crime novel (in real life there’s no such thing as a good place for a body to wash up, is there?). There’s your first chapter, but as all writers know, a first chapter is just that, and there are about 40 or so more you’ve got to figure out after numero uno.

The other thing Tony and I liked about the title was it gave us a good template for a crime series – we’ll name each one after a place in south-west Victoria in Australia. That’s where I live, and where Tony and I worked together at a newspaper back in the early 2000s. Tony always figured the region was ripe for a crime novel or three, so when we set to work in late 2015 to co-write a book, the pieces were already there in the back of his mind.

The question everyone asks me is how do you write a novel with someone on the other side of the world? The short answer is Google Docs. It allowed Tony (in Scotland) and I (in Australia) to be accessing and editing the same document at the same time. As I was writing the first draft, Tony was following a few chapters back, tweaking my words to create the second draft. The cool (or maybe creepy) thing was I could watch him editing my work. I don’t know if he knew I was watching, but sometimes after I finished a three-hour late-night stint of writing, I would see him log on and I would follow his cursor around for a while. Almost everything he changed made sense, so it was a great learning experience to metaphorically lean over his shoulder and see him at work.

A few people have asked me if any of Bay of Martyrs is taken from my real experiences as a journalist. I have seen a dead body on a beach down here before, but it was very different to the opening chapter. The second chapter, in which our hero Clay Moloney has a run in with a cop that doesn’t like him, well, I’ve definitely had that happen to me. The plot for Bay of Martyrs needed a bad cop obfuscating things, but I was loathe to make all the cops bad because I have some good friends on the force. So for every bad Frank Anderson there is a good Eddie Boulton.

The idea of good and bad really intrigued me while writing Bay of Martyrs. Our hero takes drugs, fraternises with drug dealers, and is somewhat sympathetic to one of the killers. I wanted to make sure there were some grey areas. Not everyone who takes drugs or sells drugs is bad, and sometimes people kill with good intentions. These are facts, but it also helped us (hopefully) steer away from caricatures.

I have to confess I haven’t read a lot of crime or noir – aside from Tony Black’s work, the only crime/noir I’ve read is by Raymond Chandler or Carl Hiaasen – but this was probably a strength. Tony handled that side of things, ensuring the plot was full of the requisite level of corruption and killings, with a few prostitutes and drug dealers thrown in for good measure, and decorating the prose with the right amount of noirish flourish. I tried not to think of it as a specific genre piece, but rather looked at it as though it was a movie, and took care of what I saw as the cinematic elements. I made sure there were enough action set pieces, in particular that our hero got beaten up enough times to keep it interesting, and made sure the dialogue hummed along.

If anyone asks me which bits I wrote and which bits Tony wrote, the short answer is that I wrote the bits in between the quotation marks and Tony wrote the rest. Or, rather, that’s the pithy half-true response that sounds good in interviews.

untitled-43Bio:  Australian journalist, film reviewer, musician, songwriter, and international author Matt Neal was born and raised in south-west Victoria. He’s been writing for The Warrnambool Standard for 15 years, is a prize-winning songwriter and a film reviewer for Australia’s ABC Radio. His first book Bay Of Martyrs – a crime thriller set in south-west Victoria – has been co-written with Scottish “tartan noir” novelist Tony Black. A sequel is due out in 2018.

Guest Blog: Oh lordy! A personal recollection of being a Bowie fan as a teenager by Alan Savage.

aladdin-saneIt is late summer ’72 and I am sitting in a café in Marton, Middlesbrough. I was supposed to meet a friend there from school but he didn’t turn up.

There is a jukebox mounted on the wall, one of those where the cards flip as you leaf through them and you can choose a record.

I put in my 5p and play ‘John I’m only dancing’ and the b-side ‘Hang onto yourself’ over and over. I only have 25p and run out of money quickly, having bought a cup of tea, which I linger over.

The girl behind the counter who serves me is unimpressed. She shrugs and then ignores me when I ask her if she likes the Bowie tracks I am playing. I wither and slouch back into my chair, defeated by her indifference.

I am trying to find someone who likes Bowie as much as I do and so far, am failing miserably.

At school, some of the lads like him but not in the obsessively fixated way I do. I don’t know any girls – not a single one – who like him. I guess council estate kids are just not that interested in the weirder pop stars.

In the macho-backwater of Middlesbrough, it is potentially dangerous to admit to liking someone like David Bowie. I’d already suffered ribbing over liking Marc Bolan – the usual taunts of ‘he’s a bummer’ or then turning it on me ‘are you a puff then?’

Bowie took the variety of possible insults to new heights, except strangely, even the really straight kids quickly gained a respect for him. I have no idea why, maybe they realised he could write a good tune or something as basic as that.

I had on me that day, a copy of the Disc music magazine and on the cover there was a headline ‘Bolan slams Bowie!’ My hero Marc Bolan, now having some serious competition was maybe getting a bit rattled by all the attention his old friend was getting.

‘He’s only had one hit…and hasn’t got the balls’ Bolan dismissively said.

ziggyDavid Bowie had just broken through a few months before, with ‘Starman’. I had borrowed the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ album from the older brother of a friend. He let me keep it for about a month before I finally had to give him it back.

I couldn’t afford records, I was 13 and if I wanted money, had to wait until birthdays or Xmas as in my household, money was tight and I didn’t have parents who could afford to indulge me too much. It was agony – all these records I wanted to possess but couldn’t!

I did manage to buy music papers most weeks. I knew of up and coming releases then and I remember reading that Bowie’s next single would be a new song called ‘The Jean Genie’. I planned my manipulation campaign carefully. I had to have this one. I got some pocket money from two of my uncles and held onto it, waiting for the single to be released. It is now later in the year, November in fact.

‘Jean Genie’ comes out and soon is at number 2 in the charts. I go out one Saturday to buy it. My Mam gave me the extra 15p or so I needed to get it. I walked into the town, as I didn’t even have the bus fare. It was worth the pilgrimage though. I had already heard it of course: a stomping glam riff with Bowie talking/rapping enigmatic lyrics, a haunting heavily reverbed mouth organ on it; Mick Ronson’s barely audible guitar solo (that made you listen even closer to it) and that great chorus. It got the Pan’s People treatment on Top of the Pops too.

Bowie had now well and truly arrived. ‘Ziggy’ was no flash in the pan one-off. The music papers were already writing about Bowie as a major new musical force and his interviews were compelling in which he said things like ‘I’m very cold. A bit of an ice-man’…and ‘I’m like a Xerox machine’…or ‘I’m really an actor and Ziggy is the most plastic rock star of all’.

He didn’t give interviews like yer average rock star, he came on as someone with interests outside of rock music and gave the impression he was using music as some kind of artistic palette – and although he was in the pop charts, Bowie was ‘rock’ because of the obvious depth to his music. Here was a mind at work, an intellect that was smart and hip to all kinds of hitherto unknown things like The Velvet Underground and Iggy and the Stooges and name-dropped writers like William Burroughs and Jean Genet.

My Bowie odyssey had begun.

Bowie’s next big entrance was as ‘Aladdin Sane’ in early 1973, which I remember was provisionally titled ‘Love, a lad in vein’. Or was that Bowie’s publicist teasing the music press?

I went out to buy ‘Aladdin Sane’ the first day it came out. I took the morning off school to go to Fearnley’s in Middlesbrough to get it. I got the money from a paper round I briefly had. It didn’t last, I only did it to get the money for the album then packed it in as getting up in the morning was something I found hard to do.

Aladdin Sane’ was Bowie’s full-on glam sleaze album that captured the decadence and pessimism of the new decade, with a bit of sci-fi doo-wop (‘Drive-in Saturday) and the stagey ‘Time’ being the show-stopping centerpieces of the album. The whole thing finished with a beautiful haunting love song called ‘Lady Grinning Soul’ – although, a love song unlike anything you’d heard before, with imagistic lyrics that seemed random and like the best kind of poetry, ambiguous.

Nothing prepared me for what Bowie released next. Actually, it was an old track from his ‘Hunky Dory’ album. Now Bowie’s star was high in the sky, his old albums were being re-packaged and re-promoted for his new legion of fans to discover.

‘Life on Mars’ was, and remains an incredible song and I remember wondering why the hell had it been ignored when it first appeared in 1971? How could such a beautiful tune and epic, melodramatic arrangement not have been praised to high heavens at the time?

Bowie was now in the tabloids with headlines like ‘Wowie Bowie!’ I remember my Dad holding up the centre-spread of the Daily Mirror to embarrass me. It was a feature on Bowie, with a photograph of him onstage with nothing much on but a jock strap. ‘Is this the singer you like?’ my Dad asked me with an eye-brow raised in mock disgust.

‘Yeah, he’s great’. I said. Then, in clichéd teenage rebuke I said ‘but you wouldn’t understand, I know’.

Bowie, more than anyone at the time, provoked outrage from the older generation. A word they had probably never heard before started to circulate: ‘bisexual’. Bowie had said ‘I’m gay and always have been’ in a Melody Maker interview in early 1972 – just pre-fame – and the papers were starting to bring it up as a red rag to dangle before straight macho sensibilities that had mostly been the premise of rock music. Long hair didn’t make you queer, right? Those rock bands like Deep Purple sang about women and having it off and all things manly. Bowie confronted that cock rock mentality and challenged it.

It’s difficult to express the impact Bowie had on the macho rock culture. Sure, Marc Bolan came on all camp and swaggering, but he never made any proclamations of being anything less than straight ‘I’ve checked it out and prefer chicks’ he once said, keeping up with Bowie, probably lying.

Bowie raised so many questions and became an endless source of fascination and inspiration within barely a year or so. He had an enigma that Marc Bolan surely must have envied more than just a little bit.

Bowie was now massive. All his old albums in the top 30. ‘Aladdin Sane’ had glided to number one, having sold 100,000 copies on pre-orders alone – so the press said.

Then, in July of 1973, I bought my weekly copy of the New Musical Express and it had the headline ‘Bowie Quits!’

It was the talk of the morning in break time at school too.

‘It’s a publicity stunt’ someone said. ‘He wants to go out on top and not fade away, which he probably will’ someone else said.

‘I don’t care, Slade are better’ came another voice.

I was confused more than anything. Why? Why quit when you are a rock superstar? Especially after trying for so long to break through in a major way as he had done?

I was 14 by then and taken in by it. Bowie was indeed quitting. What he really meant was, he was clearing the way for the next phase and effectively firing his band.

One more album came out that year.

‘Pinups’ was an album I acquired by swapping my wrangler jacket for it from someone at school who had bought it but ‘didn’t really like it that much’.

I loved ‘Pinups’ and remembered believing that this was his last album as I had read, Bowie was going to go into films and turn his back on music.

It was all press release tease again and it strung a lot of people along, me included.

Bowie was in fact, buying himself some time to work out his next move, soon to be announced.

The 1980 Floor Show’ was meant to be a film or maybe a TV play to precede his next album, a re-working of George Orwell’s ‘1984’well’s . This ambitious project ended up as being the album ‘Diamond Dogs’ of course, as apparently, the estate of George Orwell would not give permission to use the author’s work in this way, recast as a kind of play.

‘The 1980 Floor Show’ was indeed filmed and was screened in America, but never saw the light of day in the UK. Bowie abandoned the idea and made a quick volte face on the project.

It’s hard to know what the actual truth is – had Bowie just changed his mind half-way through, stopped at the song ‘1984’ and completed the album as a compromised version of what he originally intended? Never mind the reasons; ‘Diamond Dogs’ was another great album in Bowie’s rapidly growing artistic canon and his last glam hurrah, with the world he described in ‘Five Years’ now in post-armageddon ruins.

A single ‘Rebel Rebel’ was released as an album trailer and what a great single it was: another classic in fact. I bought the album, this time I can’t remember how I got the money, but buy it I did, about a week after it came out. I remember poring over that weird freak show sleeve, the record company had airbrushed out the dog’s/Bowie’s penis on it but I had read some copies had got out without the airbrush treatment. I didn’t have a copy of that, even if it did exist.

I want to stop my Bowie journey right here, although of course it didn’t end there.

Bowie moved on in 1975 to a new image and new music. It was as radical a move as any he made in that decade.

I didn’t go for ‘Young Americans’ at the time as I didn’t like the idea of Bowie ‘going soul’ and (believe it or not) wondered if he was copping out and trying to reach a more ‘straight’ audience – which in fact, in a way, he was.

As soon as I heard ‘Fame’ though, I realised I was wrong: Bowie’s take on soul was innovative, if only on this track alone – a stripped down, skeletal funk riff that was daringly sparse and not necessarily ‘commercial’ either. Featuring John Lennon – such an unlikely pairing at the time – this was the sound of Bowie never going back to ‘Ziggy’ and saying to his fans ‘come with me or stay behind’.

bowieBowie did this all through the 70s and thinking of it, he did it all his life.

I could write another twenty thousand words on Bowie easily, but would only be re-treading a lot of what others have already said, in the wake of his death.

I finish here because I wanted to relate that giddy and life-changing moment when you first become a fan and the immediate years after that, when the magic has gripped you and still lingers.

Bowie’s magic has stayed with me all my life and it always will.

So long Major Tom, Thin White Duke…whoever you chose to be, a whole generation travelled with you, including me.

Guest Blog: NOIR CITY, CONFESSIONS OF A HIT MAN AND MORE by Richard Godwin.

the pure and the hatedPublishing 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.
I have had four novels already published this year, Savage Highway, The Pure And The Hated, Ersatz World, and Disembodied. This September sees the translation of my novel Apostle Rising into Slovenian, now that seems postponed, and the coming months are going to be busy. One interesting event, or two rather, have been the demise and behaviour of two Italian publishers, Lite Editions an imprint of Atlantis, and MeMe. I received notification from Lite that they are shutting down, no explanation, and then I had to email them repeatedly to get the right letter and payment from them. As a result I have the full rights back to my erotica Noir Novel, Noir City, which I have extensively re-written and which is available here and here.
This is a synopsis:

Dangerous, blonde Gigolo, Paris Tongue, uses his looks to seduce beautiful and wealthy women and introduce them to the Secret Hour, that hidden time when they can escape their lives. Using his inheritance to travel, he penetrates the erotic essence of different cities, from London, to Paris, Rome, Madrid and Dusseldorf. But his sexual escapades begin to catch up with him. When he sleeps with the wife of a Mafia Boss he is hunted across Europe by hit men. He manages to evade his assassins, until they find him in Spain. But by then he has understood the deeper philosophy of Eros at the villa owned by the illegitimate granddaughter of Georges Bataille, and he sees them off. He is, after all, the bastard child of a killer, who knows how to survive. In Germany he meets Anja from Croatia, the first woman he wants to settle down with.

MeMe contacted me to say they are selling the company and I waited for six months to receive further news, none came. So I got my rights back to Confessions Of A Hit Man..
Once again a synopsis:

Confessions of a Hit Man is a high octane thriller with a plot that adds velocity like a well-oiled chicane. When ex-Royal Marine Jack becomes a paid assassin, work comes easily, especially when working for the Sicilian Mafia, until he gets drawn into a government plot selling enriched plutonium to a rogue Nation.

My new novel Buffalo And Sour Mash is now out from Down & Out Books, and you can buy it here and here. It is a crime novel about distorted love. A Western. A lyrical slice of the prairie, a frontier narrative. A noir novel about obsession and revenge, desire and predation. A look at one man’s grip on insanity and a story about female beauty and showmanship.
‘It was those wild eyes that did it to them every time. Every look as intense as a cobra stare, as if he was looking through the spider webbed surface of a broken window.’

I am on the BBC talking about it soon. My novel Locked In Cages is to be published this December.

Here are a few words on it: The therapist was paid to take their nightmares away, their abductor is putting them back in.
That’s nine, not bad for a year, and next year looks like it will be eight, including the long -awaited release of the sequel to Apostle Rising.
You can find out more at my website :

London Fings At Tess Makovesky’s Gaff

CLB poster

Over at Tess Makovesky‘s blog, she has a regular spot where writers talk about their book’s setting.

I’m over there this week talking about London:

‘In 1959, the great Lionel Bart turned Frank Norman’s London set play ‘Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be’ into a musical comedy about ‘low-life characters in the 1950s, including spivs, prostitutes, teddy-boys and corrupt policemen’. This was a time of great change in post-war London – what with the ‘birth of the teenager’ and the Swinging Sixties looming on the horizon – and not everyone copes well with change, of course.’

Read the rest here at WHERE THE HECK WEDNESDAY 

Guest Blog: Supporting The Damned by Alan Savage

the-damned_1979

Amazing what you think is a break when you are young. Getting a support slot to The Damned was a big scoop in my mind. But I wasn’t in awe of them. After all, they had not at this point had a decent sized hit record. Support them we did: twice. This is an account of those two gigs.

Middlesbrough Rock Garden – perhaps a more geeky ex-band member of Basczax can supply the date – was the venue that we were supporting them at. The Rock Garden was, of course, one of those venues that a lot of punk bands visited (heavy metal ones too) in the late 70s up to the very early 80s. It was small, rather squalid and suited the spit and snot ethos of punk perfectly. It was a great night out and I looked forward to going there most weekends as I did, between late ’78 and up to mid-1980.

So, there we were, all eager but trying to look nonchalant: too cool to boogie, punk was one big sulk for a lot of bands. Not that Basczax were a glum bunch. We had our stupid goofy moments too. Like the time we exited a stage, ran back on for an encore and Laurel and Hardy-like, I banged heads with bassist Mick Todd. Basczax: we fancied ourselves as Roxy Music if they had met in a British Steel work hut. We were pretty good, had a strong local following and we may or may not have had that whiff of ‘going places’ about us. I was having the time of my life, not realising it at the time of course.

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So, The Damned were late. We of course, got there unfashionably early, bag of chips in hand and ready, oh so ready, for the gig. When they finally did arrive they were mostly in a bad mood. Their bass player, a grumpy git in a leather jacket called Algy Ward (had to look it up actually) had no bass amp. It had been broken/ stolen/whatever. We of course, being benevolent spirits said he could use ours. He looked at Mick Todd’s Carlsboro Bass Combo like it was a piece of shit. In fact, he might have even said ‘what’s this facking piece of shit?’ (note the southern pretend cockney vowel)

Singer Dave Vanian actually seemed an ok chap. He kept himself pretty much to himself but remember boys and girls, vampire lead singers need to be enigmatic. However, he was quite nice. I seem to remember him asking about us and being at least half interested in what we had to say.

Captain Sensible. CU next Tuesday is a word that springs to mind. He was carefully cultivating his cuntiness for all to be appalled at. A professional nasty, a bit of a punk clown of the unfunny kind. He picked up my cheap Kay Strat copy, pulled on the strings and nearly broke them and then contemptuously almost threw the guitar back at me. I might have said something like ‘there’s no need for that’. Rat Scabies, scurrying around, bumming cigarettes from Mick Todd (or was it John Hodgson? Certainly not me or sax player Jeff Fogarty – he was as skint as a rent boy, like me. Drummer Alan Cornforth didn’t smoke if my memory serves me well) intervened: ‘come on captain, less of that, leave the lads alone’…Shock horror! He was that anti-punk word: NICE. But of course, the next minute, he was back to being a professional nasty, like his punk chums.

We soundchecked. Or rather, sat around for ages while the Damned arsed around, deliberately taking as much time as they could. Regular ‘that sounds facking shit! ‘Turn up the monitor!’ (screeeech!) no! You facking moron…sort it out’..and all manner of bad boy language spewed from the stage. Vanian was quiet. Very quiet. Like the eye of the punk rock hurricane, he was a persona of calm in the riot of nastiness around him. Professional nastiness of course.

When we did soundcheck, we did a song we used to open with: ‘Success’. It sounded crap onstage, but sheer excitement for the gig made me overlook this small detail. I felt a surge of adrenaline as the indescribable buzz of playing a ‘proper gig’ always gave me.

One song. That was all we had time to do. As we got off the stage, Rat Scabies said to me ‘good one mate, like that, catchy stuff’..or something similar. I noticed he did not use the ‘fack’ word, which made a change. He must have been going soft on me.

The gig itself? To be honest, it is a blur. I was half drunk as always and our set whizzed by. The place was packed. The punks down front jumped up and down, heaved about, we got spat on. They liked us then.

What I do remember was sharing the toilet sized dressing room with The Damned. ‘What are you facking doing in here?’ snapped Captain Nasty. ‘We’re in the dressing room with you’ I answered dead pan. ‘no room to strangle a facking cat and we have to share this?’. I think someone might have said something like ‘now…now…don’t act like a pop star’…We were not fazed by the Damned. I thought they were fun, but shit actually. Yes, ‘New Rose’, ‘Neat Neat Neat’ were classic punk singles but live, they were a punk panto-act – all of them ugly sisters in a parade of panto-hate. (actually, my revisionist self now likes them for this very reason)

By now, I had decided that Captain Sensible was a tiresome bore and avoided trying to talk to him. A punk lass and friends came into the dressing room. I was astonished how Middlesbrough hard lasses acted like fawning groupies. Well, not fawning…but something like a ‘I’m not interested but yes I will sleep with you’ way. Captain Sensible wasted no time in living up to his professional nasty status ‘what do you facking slags want?’….Rat Scabies ‘a good knobbing…fnaaar fnaar’. Such backstage exchanges were not uncommon dear appalled reader. The girls, to give them credit, gave back as good as they got as all good punks should. None of this sissy fluttering eyelashes stuff…

basczax

The Rock Garden gig had been a triumph on an obscure local flapping fish in the pond sense. The night faded into the drunken blur of being young and not giving a toss about the future. The Damned, horrible lot that they were, provided us with at least the memorable spectacle of a naked Captain Sensible pissing on the front row of the audience. Punk gigs were not the Carpenters, that’s for sure

Now forgive me if I got this the wrong way around, but we also supported the Damned at a place called Cleethorpes Winter Gardens. This was the gig where Captain Sensible stole my blue teddy bear jumper (actually Mick Todd’s, I borrowed it for the gig) and then wore it on the cover of the ‘Love Song’ single.

Anyhow, this gig was another punk nastiness packed event. I had a pint of lager thrown on me while on stage. Except a salty taste in my mouth betrayed the fact that it was not lager: it was human piss. Well, I hope it was human – if it had been dog piss that would have been going too far.

At this gig the dressing room was bigger and we could mercifully almost avoid each other. I remember however, walking in on Captain Sensible while he was groping a punk girl’s tits. He didn’t flinch when I walked in: in fact, he nibbled on her nubile nipple, her punky baggy jumper hoisted over the top of them. She looked to me to be about fifteen. Sorry parents, but sometimes your naughty daughters go to gigs where they really should not. She might have been sixteen. Oh well, that makes it all right then (!)

This was the night that Captain Sensible surprised me. He gave me a glimpse of the ‘nice bloke’ he could be underneath the punk panto facade. He sat at a piano backstage and played a Barry White song. ‘I love Barry White’ he said as I stood there, admiring his musical prowess, obviously well hidden in the Damned. Of course, I expected him to revert back to the ‘fack this, fack that’ persona as soon as a fan appeared. But this time he shocked me again by ticking off a part time punk (probably dressing up for the weekend) that there was a lot of good music before punk. It turned out that he was quite a fan of Gong and all that weirdo jammed out hippy stuff. I think Grateful Dead might have been mentioned too.

Of course, I suspected this. Not everyone was into the Stooges and other pre-punk bands before punk. In fact, the blackmail pictures of long, lank hair and flares, Yes albums under the trench-coated arm, were hidden in the attic, that’s all.

Professional nasties, then. That was a side of punk that nobody ever talks about, because there was a music hall/vaudeville element to it that has been bricked over by retro-intellectual sociologist takes on Punk rock and how it blew all the dinosaurs away. (It didn’t: Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, ELP all sold truck loads of records in this period) And Boney M and Abba were massive during the brief summers of hate that was Punk.

What I am saying is: don’t believe a word of it: punk was about being young, reckless, feckless and having a good time all the time – just like any other musical movement that catches you at a certain age.

basczax-3

Bio: Alan Savage is a Middlesbrough, U.K, born singer and songwriter. He releases music under his own name and other guises such as Dada Guitars and The Crystaleens. His previous bands include Basczax and The Flaming Mussolinis.

 

Guest Blog: Recording Earcom 2 for Fast Records, 1979 by Alan Savage

earcom-2Recording ‘Kirlian Photography’ and Celluloid Love’ with Bob Last, Cargo Studios, Rochdale, May 1979 (I think it was that month).
..and the formation of the ‘classic’ Basczax line up.

Bob Last (Fast Records label owner and manager) first took an interest in Basczax (then called Basssax) before me and Jeff Fogarty joined in late ’78. He had seen them supporting the Rezillos at Middlesbrough Rock Garden and was intrigued by their weirdness: kimonos, pancake make up and strange avant-electro sparse music that sourced from both punk and Kraftwerk. Since then, founder member and bassist/songwriter Mick Todd had kept in touch albeit on an ad hoc basis. It was not until me and Jeff joined that things really took off. Mick Todd knew he needed to get some better musicians to play with and I guess me and Jeff fit the bill.

Let’s rewind shall we, to the night I met Jeff and was lured into Basczax?

October 1978. Local bands including No Way, The Barbarians, Shoot the lights out (or was that another night?) and Monitor were playing the Wellington pub in Middlesbrough. Jeff was the sax player in Monitor. I was playing too – only two songs, one of my own called ‘Trends’ – which was crap – and a New York Dolls cover ‘Personality Crisis’. The band I was in that night had the terrible name of Original Sin. Not my idea by the way. They were really a working man’s club band. Indeed, I had got stuck playing the workies clubs as I had left my boring soul destroying job at British Steel earlier in the year with the mistaken belief that I could make a living playing music. We were a mediocre, third division club band and I wanted out. I liked the lads in the band – we had a good laugh most of the time, but I think they all knew it was a matter of time before I jumped ship. I just didn’t know how to leave as I did not really know any other like-minded musicians who were not playing the clubs.

When we arrived to set up our equipment – I was using a borrowed amp- the Barbarians were there, running through their sound check. There were no monitors of course – there would have been no room for them anyway. A tall scraggly hippy looking man came over to us and said ‘Hi…you can use our equipment if you want…it might be better, there’s no space really’…It turned out to be Dave Johns, leader of the Barbarians. He was very open and friendly and had a great benevolent sharing attitude. I liked him straight away. I also liked the fact he had a Burns Guitar that sounded really trebly, like the guitar sound from the Beatles ‘Revolver’ album. He had a way of hunching over his guitar, his face in concentration, his long lank hair obscuring his face from time to time. He had an insectoid, quirky stage presence.

Standing at the bar later, I got talking to Jeff Fogarty. I had run into him in rehearsals at the local youth club down the road at Easterside/Grove Hill and we hit it off, sharing a mutual like of Roxy Music. I thought Jeff was quite exotic, playing the saxophone. I knew no other sax players and he really stood out. He had a charisma about him. (Don’t let this go to your head now Jeff!) Suffice to say, we really hit it off. This was the night that destiny called for me, that’s for sure.

I remember being really impressed with both the Barbarians and No Way. The Barbarians sang songs with local subject matter like ‘Binns Corner’. I remember talking to Dave Johns about the song. He was very obliging and seemed happy to talk about nerdy things like lyrics. I was too scared to talk to Fran, their singer: he looked really scary to me! (Of course he turned out to be a pussy cat once you got to know him)

No Way came on to big cheers. They sounded bloody great: really powerful, having an orderly sound that begged that admittedly awful word: professional. Their singer, Matey, was a great fitting front man – leaning over the mic stand, pint of lager in hand, off hand leery beery attitude- he was an instant local hero. They had a great guitarist in Paul Gardner too: minimal, droning string riffs and he used a proper guitar unlike all us el skinto copy guitar owners – he had a Fender Telecaster. Oh, their rhythm section was great too by the way. They were simply a very good local band who maybe could have done something outside their immediate back yard.

I remember standing there watching them, and watching the crowd going mad for them. It was the first time in my so far short life as a musician I felt a terrible feeling: envy. It made me even more determined to get out of my club band. (Paul Gardner might be surprised if he reads this!)

Get out I did.

Jeff actually joined the club band I was in briefly. I am not sure why he did this; he was more like a guest player on a couple of songs. I think he was trying to look for an opportunity to get me out of the band. I could be mistaken of course, but looking back, that is my impression.

I phoned Jeff regularly from the phone box up the road. I didn’t actually have a phone back then, being a council estate skint bastard. He was very excited one day and told me I had to come and see him immediately as he had in his possession a cassette of a band that was looking for new members. It was Basssax (remember, that was how it was spelt then)

I distinctly remember hearing that cassette. The quality was pretty bad, but there was something on it that sounded unique: it was ‘Kirlian Photography’. Now I was pretty hip to Kraftwerk and recognised straight away that it was a bit like ‘Radioactivity’. But that was exactly what I liked about it. I remember thinking that the singing was out of tune – but it had a strange charm, almost sounding oriental in its atonal between notes atmosphere. Plus the lyrics were strange and being from the Bowie school of pretentious art fops from Jupiter, I loved it.

It all happened very quickly. We joined bassist Mick Todd, with synth player Nigel Trenchard and drummer (and old school friend of mine) Mick ‘Cog’ Curtis. Rehearsals were intensive. We thrashed around in a place called the Gables on Marton Road. I remember it was always freezing there and when we got a Calor gas heater in, it became more bearable. The first songs we tried out were ‘Kirlian Photography’, ‘1999’ and a song that Nigel Trenchard had written called ‘Detached Houses’.

Nigel was a character – he fancied himself as the Eno of the band, which was cool by me. He was a very funny man and a practical joker. I remember once, when the band picked me up from my house in Easterside, he leapt out of the car and kissed me full on the lips in front of my mother. He was like Iggy Pop – recklessly impulsive!

I remember another time we were dancing at some new wave disco night in Middlesbrough. He was with a girl and every time he came into my view, he got his willy out and shook it for all to see. He was outrageous and there was never a dull moment in his company.

Why was he ejected from the band in favour of John Hodgson? I cannot actually remember the reason. Ego clashes perhaps. Pity we didn’t go a bit further down the line with Nigel…

Jeff in the meantime suggested we changed the spelling of the band name to Basczax. It was a kind of ‘Ultravox’ (John Foxx not the man with the Clark Gable moustache) sounding name – Jeff was really into these at the time as was I briefly. (though not as much as Jeff) My main bands at that time were Wire, Magazine and The Banshees.The Scream’ was a terrific album at the time. I was still very hung up on glam rock of course. I got a guitar because of Marc Bolan. His spirit was never far away from me. Bowie and Roxy Music were the other two obsessions of mine. I also liked Bill Nelson, his Red Noise album was impressive to me at the time. (but I found it irritatingly quirky on hearing it years later)

basczax-2Basczax we were then. And we got two new members: Alan Cornforth on drums (Mick Curtis, lovely lad that he was, couldn’t keep up with the fast evolution of the band, bless him ) And John Hodgson on Keyboards/synth and occasional vocal.

Both had been drafted in from Blitzkreig Bop. One of Teesside’s first punk bands who released a brilliant single with ‘Let’s Go’. I mean the original version on Mortonsound by the way.

I remember the phone conversation with John Hodgson really well.

He said ‘I’m looking for something cold, something more synth based’. I remember thinking ‘he’s on the wavelength’ and he joined pretty much straight away, as did Alan Cornforth. I think he did one last gig with the Bop and then he and Alan joined us.
Our first rehearsal had John introducing a keyboard riff to us that became ‘Translucent Tales’: our mock psychedelic epic set closer. We were a band that was not self conscious about bringing in then unfashionable musical influences. John never hid the fact that he was a huge fan of Genesis. He was actually a prog rocker in punk disguise. (your secret is out now John!) Me and Mick Todd loved psychedelia too – one of Mick’s favourite albums from the past at that time I remember was ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’, the Rolling Stones’ ill advised but strangely fascinating 1967 acid blues album.
Basczax thus became the ‘classic line up’.

We were a band with one foot in the trashy punk/glam camp, and one foot in the emerging electronic wave of bands about a year in front of us then. I felt we were in tune with the musical zeitgeist, if only for about six months.

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I wrote songs like I had two weeks to live. Jeff and I came up with ‘Hollywood Strut’, ‘Neon Vampires’ and ‘Madison Fallout’ around his Mum’s house. Jeff would vamp at the organ, I would direct chord changes, Jeff too putting his musical diversions. The first song we wrote together eye to eye was ‘Celluloid Love’. It was Jeff’s bass line I seem to recall, that sparked the song. I wrote the music on the chorus. We shared lyrical duties – writing a line each. It happened quickly, had that ‘Roxy’ atmosphere about it and I distinctly remember taking it to rehearsals to work out. John Hodgson came up with the great keyboard hook on it. He was very handy like that, always embellishing the songs with hooky parts.

Alan came up with the unusual drum beat –a kind of military shuffle. We were all mindful of trying to approach things a little bit differently.

It was to be a track we were to record for Bob Last’s Fast Records, along with ‘Kirlian Photography’ which was Mick Todd’s song.

bob-lastBob Last was producing a 12 inch ‘musical magazine’ as he called it: Earcom. There had already been one released and we were to be on the second one, alongside tracks by the Thursdays and Joy Division. I have no idea how Bob Last managed to scoop two out-takes from the ‘Unknown Pleasures’ sessions, but I do remember thinking: ‘Wow! We are sharing a record with Joy Division!’ (even that early on, already a legendary band)

Now a lot happened in the run up to recording these tracks. Basczax had amassed a large-ish local following, we were playing a Friday night residency at a pub on the Thornaby/Stockton -on-Tees border called ‘The Teessider’. We had by now, a full set of songs, we had a quickly evolving sense of who we were and we had a buzz about us, that even extended to some of the major record companies like Virgin, who I seem to remember were briefly interested in us. (if this is delusional hind sight, please correct me, ex-band members)

1979 was a year that was a white heat of creativity in pop/rock music. There was a pioneering spirit in the air as bands like PIL released the brilliant punk/dub/German prog rock influenced ‘Metal Box’ album. Joy Division led the way from thrashy punk to somewhere altogether more moody and atmospheric.

There was plenty of good new wave pop around: Blondie went from strength to strength.
Disco was big in the charts and was starting to become assimilated into some of the post-punk bands music. The most obvious example was ‘Heart of Glass’. It was a great record that made disco seem cool.

Chic were big in this year. I loved them and anyone with a sense of great dance grooves and hooks loved them too.

On the scratchier side of things you had The Slits and The Pop Group – both using dance rhythms in their music and the explorative dopey vibe of dub reggae (which John Peel played a lot of on his show)

The electronic vanguard was upon us: Gary Numan, love him or hate him, led the way with ‘Are Friends Electric’ – the first proof that men in black shirts and make up with synthesisers could make Top of the Pops. The Human League and all their ilk, followed in Numan’s steps about a year later. (Remember, it took the Human League quite a while to have a proper hit record)

But there was one album and band that blew me away that year, more than even Joy Division. It is still one of my favourite albums: ‘Fear of Music’ by Talking Heads.
‘Fear of Music’ was the sound of a band really hitting their artistic stride: it was an album full of great ideas and it set a benchmark for me. I loved – and still love – the album’s sense of experimentation, while still retaining a sense of song craft. ‘Heaven’ was a sublime track and ‘Life During Wartime’ was funky as hell. Welcome to the post punk disco party.

Even old hero David Bowie made a decent album, now somewhat overlooked I feel – in that year, with ‘Lodger’.

Basczax, 1979: we were in there somewhere, we felt sure we fitted the post punk synthy pop /rock bill.

So there we were – barely six months together and we were recording in a proper studio with a producer in the glamourous location of Rochdale, Cargo Studios.

Bob Last looked cool in shades and a combat jacket over his Human League ‘Being Boiled’ T-shirt. He had the air of a young Phil Spector about him I remember thinking. Of course, I wouldn’t have dreamt of telling him that. He was also eating apricots. Lots of them almost constantly. He was trying to quit smoking and this explained his rabid munchies syndrome. He had the air of someone quite calm and in control about him. He wasn’t exactly chatty, the kind of person who only spoke when he really had something to say. He didn’t really do small talk. I didn’t really know how to take him to be honest, but he was genial enough to get along with. I was young and still suffering bouts of adolescent self-consciousness. I was pretty insecure back then, coming to think of it, and my aloof exterior was a coping mechanism for my shyness. I also had a debilitating negative side to my nature that I still struggle with today to be honest. It didn’t take much to send me off at the deep end. Enough of this navel gazing now…

earcom-22I remember setting up my guitar amp. It was a small practice amp and not the Marshall stack or decent guitar combo that maybe the session engineer expected. It was all I owned.
‘Is that it? You are using that?’ he said incredulously.

I felt a bit embarrassed.

Bob Last intervened: ‘It will be fine when we mic it up’.

I had brought my only guitar: A Kay Fender Stratocaster copy, purchased from Gratton’s catalogue. It had that scratchy Strat sound, had a five way pick up selector and was not a bad sounding copy coming to think of it. (In fact many people said it sounded better than my next guitar, a Columbus Les Paul copy)

I remember thinking I hope I don’t break any strings because I didn’t have the money to buy any more. I was always chronically broke back then. I have no idea how I managed. Sometimes I didn’t even have the bus fare to rehearsals and walked. I was a rock n roll pauper. Once, I went two days without eating hardly a thing. No wonder I was as skinny as a rake. Mr. Bowie – I blame it all on you.

Bob Last was a pretty hard task master I seem to remember. He made us run through ‘Kirlian Photography’ loads of times. Drummer Alan Cornforth got fed up and was not happy with his drum sound. He went into a sulk and a bad atmosphere started to descend on the session. He went out for a walk, well actually, went off in a huff and I remember John having to talk him around. I just felt embarrassed more than anything as the session ground to a halt. I half expected Bob Last to say ‘forget it, just go home’ but he didn’t. He tried to talk Alan around and in the end, Alan did come around of course. Bob Last was trying to get us to hit a steady groove for the track. We were used to tear-arsing through songs live, and it was hard to pull back and let the music breathe. But time was up against us now: we had to nail these tracks; we had no choice, no luxury of time. We had to do a lot in eight hours.

Then, it was my turn to get stroppy.

Bob Last said to me ‘Oh come on…stop those pretty guitar solos will you?’ when I was overdubbing my guitar for ‘Celluloid Love’. I hardly had any time as John had spent ages overdubbing his keyboard lines. The atmosphere was becoming panicky now as time was running out and I hadn’t even done any vocals yet, apart from the guide tracks when we were recording the basic bass and drum track.

In a fit of frustration, I whacked the hell out of my guitar, running my fingers anywhere on the fret board. I got art rock rage in other words.
Bob Last was (at last) pleased with what I was doing.
‘That’s great…let’s go for it now’…
So, the manic guitar on ‘Celluloid Love’ was done in the second take. I was actually scared of snapping strings, I remember.

I fully expected Bob Last to give me the third degree again when I overdubbed my guitar for ‘Kirlian Photography’ but he liked that guitar line.
‘It sounds good; psychedelic’ he said, looking over his shades at me, probably sensing my nervy insecurity.

I wondered if the song was too long and should we cut it down? After all, who did six minute tracks in those ‘quick get it over with’ post punk days?
‘No’ said Bob Last. ‘It’s good as it is’.

I also remember Jeff doing his sax parts quite vividly. We piled on the Roland Space Echo, an effect that Jeff liked to use as it made him play spacey, more random notes.

As for my vocal, I had to do them quickly. And I did. I seem to recall that ‘Kirlian Photography’ and ‘Celluloid Love’ were both second takes after an initial run through.
We did some backing vocals quickly and I seem to recall we had a fit of giggles doing the Mr. Gumby sounding backing vocals for the chorus of ‘Kirlian Photography’. I remember John getting a little impatient ‘Come on Sav, get it together maaan’ he joked in his best mock hippy voice.

The session went a little over time as the tracks were mixed. The thump thump thump of the bass drum seemed to go on for ages, as the sound was tweaked and the drum sound worked on. Some of us went out to look around outside to get some air.

I remember hearing my vocals isolated in the mix and cringed. I wanted the music back in to mask them. I also remember thinking my guitar sounded tinny and wishing I could get it to sound fatter somehow.

I also remember the thrill of hearing the mix come together. ‘Celluloid Love’ sounded great with all of John’s keyboards textured. I also remember saying ‘get the guitar up’ on the chorus and Bob Last obliged.

The mix for ‘Kirlian Photography’ came together quicker. It was all there in the performance or take we had done and just needed the levels setting. The echo on the guitar and on Jeff’s sax was added in the final mix down I seem to recall.
The time came for playback after what seemed like ages.

We were really pleased with the results. Except I got a bit hung up about my rhythm chops going out of time at the end of ‘Kirlian Photography’. ‘Nobody will notice’ said Bob Last. Pretty soon it was forgotten about and even I didn’t notice it.

It seemed to take ages for the record to come out. In fact, it got to a point where I thought it wasn’t going to happen. I remember getting our copies of the 12 inch Earcom very vividly. They were sent to Mick Todd’s house in Redcar and that bus journey to his house that day just could not go fast enough for me.

Mick had done a nice collage for the inner sleeve that represented us in a graphic sense well. No band photos. This was becoming less the norm in those days. It was more about images and graphics. I always thought it was a pity. Some decent band shots would have been a good thing.

I did not like the cover of the record: a picture of someone abseiling/rock climbing. ‘What the hell for?’ is one thought I had at the time.

I was not even that impressed with the Joy Division tracks. They sounded just as they were: shelved out takes that did not make the ‘Unknown Pleasures’ album.
The Thursdays tracks were shambolic fun. Only in 1979 could a band of twelve year olds make a record in the name of alternative prankery. At least that is the impression I got.
So there you go. It was official: Basczax was now a proper band who had a proper record out on a proper (and cool) alternative record label.
Even John Peel liked it.

Which of course, made it all worthwhile.

We drove back to Teesside that day knackered but buzzing with the adrenalin of it all.
Then I remembered, the next morning, I had to go and sign on the dole. It’s a mighty long way down rock n roll as a certain band once sang.

sav  2Bio: Alan Savage is a Middlesbrough born singer and songwriter. He releases music under his own name and other guises such as Dada Guitars and The Crystaleens.

His previous bands include Basczax and TheFlaming Mussolinis.

Guest Blog: Basczax: Teessider nights: some flashes, 1979… by Alan Savage

basczaxIt is mostly a blur now of course, but there are plenty of flashes in my mind of those Friday nights back in ’79-’80 when Basczax played a residency at the Teessider pub.
50p on the door I recall, as we were trying to save money for a PA. Did we get one? I cannot remember.

The Teessider itself was just over the bridge under which the Tees flowed, on the Stockton side of the Thornaby/Stockton border. Thornaby was named after an old Viking settlement and Vikings still lived there except they had lost their horned helmets, shaved off their hair and called themselves skinheads. They would lurk in the darkness after the gigs, making punks lives difficult and making the journey to the train station a scary thing for most.

One night, I went to the station with Robbo (Dave Robinson – where the hell are you now?) We were trailed by skinheads out for some bovver. I had my tuxedo and eye liner on. They started to call me predictable things that I need not repeat: you can guess. Robbo, never the most diplomatic person when drunk, faced them off straight away: ‘Oww! What’s your fucking problem then? What-is-your-problem?’ the last line delivered in (drunk) Dalek diction. Me: ‘Oh shut up Robbo, let’s just ignore them’…No chance of that. We ended up running up the railway track in the dark to escape our hunters. I remember trying to climb over a fence and my hands stung: I had grabbed a bunch of overgrown nettles in the scramble to get over it.

Life as a late teenager was scary. Actually I was 19 nearly 20 at the time, but not yet far enough away from that horrible adolescent world that could often turn violent. We got away, and we somehow managed to get back to get the train too. However, the journey back was nervy too, as drunken men peered at us through pissed rat eyes, sneering and saying things like ‘are you punks then?’

Still, not even scary nights like this, or skins outside the pub waiting to cause trouble, stopped punks and post-punkers, bohemians and long mac(kers) denim boys and posers, and curiosity seekers, flocking to the Teessider on a Friday night.
Guest Blogger: John Hodgson - Punk Rock

It had been John Hodgson’s initiation I seem to remember. We talked about a regular gig and how it would be a good thing to have a place where other local bands could play together. The Teessider was not really purpose built for a band to play. There was a pillar positioned centre left of the ‘stage area’ – well, ok, floor area and it blocked your view if you were in the wrong vantage point. The floor space was just about enough to set up drums – pushed right to the back, and a mic stand centred, with guitars – lead and bass – on either side. Keyboard player John had to fit in there somehow: it was not spacious is what I am trying to say. To get to the toilets, people had to walk directly in front of the band. It was a squash, but the atmosphere made it feel like somewhere bigger.

It was always packed. It started off with maybe twenty to thirty people, most of them in local bands, and their friends/girlfriends but it rapidly grew to a chock full house. I think one night we did a door count of over a hundred people – heaven knows, they were all squashed up at the bar as well as peering above tables (this was a pub remember, tables and chairs not removed.)

teesider
We brought in good trade for the landlord, so he and his wife were pleased.

The jukebox played punk favourites: ‘White Man in Hammersmith Palais’ was one that was always on, ‘Angel Eyes’ by Roxy Music, ‘Are Friends Electric’ by Tubeway Army. These records were suggested, I think, to the landlord, whose musical taste stopped at Elvis Presley.

I distinctly remember setting up equipment to Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’. Hearing that Blondie track today, takes me right back there. I really liked Blondie’s singles: how could you not?

We had rehearsal space upstairs too. We recorded the songs in our set up there, engineered by drummer Alan Cornforth. It wasn’t overdub recording, just capturing the songs in their live form. The recordings were released as a cassette album called ‘Terminal Madness’. We sold quite a lot of copies I seem to recall.

We worked out a song called ‘Metal Culture’ up there and played it on the same night. We were never short of ideas, at one point I was writing an average of two new songs a week, either on my own or with Jeff. We were just all flying in the moment.

The landlord and his family lived just across the landing. They had an Alsatian dog that one day, when I had left my guitar case open, shat in it. The landlord’s children were cheeky little urchins and it was revealed one day that their secret name for me – obviously they had seen me in my glam-punk eyeliner – was, ‘the man from fairyland’
Teessider nights were exciting and had a buzz about them.

I remember one of the Billingham crew who used to come and see us tell me that it was the highlight of her life coming to the Teessider. I remember well the feeling of impatience as I took the bus there every Friday. If somebody had suggested setting up a band tent outside to live there, I would have given it serious consideration.

The local music scene had exploded after punk filtered through to the provinces, just like any other large town and city outside London. And Teesside had some really good and varied bands at that time.

Apart from the local heroes No Way and The Barbarians  there was the dada art punk of Shoot the lights out. There was the tuneful and upbeat new wave of Deja Vu, the fractured minimalist scratchy punk of Interview: Richard Sanderson -Banned From The Big Breakfast!Bombay Drug Squad, the very interesting and unique Drop, led by Richard Sanderson, whose willowy, fragile stage presence was compelling to watch.

Another really good band from that time was The Sines. Frontman Doug Palfreeman showed up solo one night at the Teessider and asked if he could play some songs. He did. And he nearly shredded my guitar strings too as he gave an explosive Pete Townshend style performance, borrowing my Kay Strat. He turned up again with a full band – well, a trio. They played some blistering Who-like songs and never failed to impress with their high energy performances.

There were other bands, very much outside of the Teessider crowd, but still doing their bit for the advancement of local culture: Carl Green and the Scene and Dimmer’s power pop outfit The Commercial Acrobats being only two of them.

Monitor, Jeff’s band before Basczax, developed into a really good band, with a female singer and good guitarist I had worked with before called Alan Hunter. They didn’t last long though – pity, as I remember them as a band with potential.

space-frogsThen there was the anarcho-smut punk of The Amazing Space Frogs, a band that I occasionally played bass and guitar for. Frontman Bugsy was like something out of a punk Carry On film – gloriously inane and puerile.
Bands, bands….there seemed to be new ones forming on a weekly basis.

The biggest pity, was that the scene went largely unreported outside the area. Manchester, Glasgow and Sheffield had their own scenes going on, reported in the weekly music papers like Sounds and N.M.E, but nobody came to Teesside.

John Hodgson, I remember, was always trying to find an in-road to attracting press to Teesside. He actually achieved a pretty good scoop once: a two page spread in the then new Smash Hits magazine, which highlighted the local music scene. We all waited for the press to arrive. They never came.

madison-falloutLarry Ottaway formed Pipeline Records, on which we released Madison Fallout’/Auto Mekanik Destruktor’ in December 1979. There was a lot of talk of him being the area’s Tony Wilson at the time, somebody to get the music scene noticed, but it came to nothing when he disappeared to Hong Kong. He had to go there for work reasons and that was the end of Pipeline, who were going to release something by Drop too. This was the whole reason the area was invisible: there was no sussed entrepreneur to cause some ripples outside the area. The fight was always the same: against apathy and lack of exposure.

Basczax were causing our own ripples though. We toured with early Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark, a tour that came about through Rough Trade putting us forward for the support. Our single sold well and went into its second pressing; Rough Trade was interested in us. So were Dindisc, the Virgin subsidiary label. We had no manager though and were probably very naive when it came to following such interest through. I have no idea what happened to those A@R people or why it all just fizzled out.
Never mind. We had our own thing going on anyway at the Teessider.

earcom-2One hot summer night in June, Fast Records’ The Flowers came down from Edinburgh to play with us. They arrived for the gig pretty frazzled from the journey. I remember talking to the guitarist Simon who told me that Joy Division’s just then released album ‘Unknown Pleasures’ was incredible and that I had to hear it. He was right: hearing that album was a kind of epiphany moment, as it was for so many people of that time and generation. It is hard to describe the impact that record had. It was not punk but was obviously music that was from the spirit of Punk. It had a wiry and sparse sound to it, like dub in parts. Need I say the obvious? It was massively influential.

The Flowers were a pretty quirky lot and they performed a great set. I can remember Richard Sanderson dancing in front of them quite vividly. I think we raised the entrance price that night as they needed expenses. They stayed in the glamourous location of Redcar at Basczax bassist Mick Todd’s house. I remember singer Hilary asking us if there was a fish and chip shop nearby as she hadn’t eaten since breakfast time. There wasn’t. I think they dropped off somewhere to get some though.

One night, a band played who made me feel we had serious competition.
They were called Savage Passion (Ian Ingram told me the ‘savage’ was after me – but he was a smooth talking gypo and probably lying!)

The band had a very charismatic front man in Ian. I remember some girls next to me nearly passing out when he took his shirt off to stand at the mic in an Iggy pose. One of them laughed, looked at me and said ‘cor…he’s gorgeous!’ I remember replying: ‘why are you telling me?!’…

I am sure Ian took full advantage of his female admirers. But he took too many drugs, lost his focus and ruined himself. Savage Passion fell apart because of Ian’s antics. Maybe he really did think he was Iggy Pop. Pity.

Like any halcyon time, you think it is all going to last forever, but of course it didn’t and couldn’t.

The scene changed drastically I recall with the arrival of ska and then, of all things, a Mod revival. Skinheads suddenly seemed to be everywhere. Most of them of course were all right, but there was always that nasty edge when they were around.

The Teessider landlords suddenly put a stop to the Friday night slot. They were starting to get arsey with us for some reason, I think the landlord’s wife was sick of it all and it was a long Friday night, with a lot of people lingering and staying too late.
There was the sense of the end of an era when it all stopped. In fact, somebody actually said that to me at the time.

To all those who came to the Teessider: cheers and I hope life and sister fate have treated you all well.

Now, where is that copy of  ‘Unknown Pleasures’…and  Gang of Four’s ‘Damaged Goods’ EP?

(This post first appeared at Sav’s blog)

sav  2Bio: Alan Savage is a Middlesbrough, U.K, born singer and songwriter. He releases music under his own name and other guises such as Dada Guitars and The Crystaleens.

His previous bands include Basczax and The Flaming Mussolinis.

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.

Guest Blog: Shot In Detroit by Patricia Abbott

shot in detroitIn my novel SHOT IN DETROIT, the protagonist is a photographer trying to find a project that will succeed artistically and financially. When an opportunity fortuitously presents itself, she comes up  with the idea of photographing the dead clients of her mortician boyfriend. All her portraits will be men under forty. Aside from her aesthetic and economic concerns, her interest has always been to reflect the city she lives in.

But she also worries, and others will confront her over the course of the novel, about whether she is exploiting these men. Is she bringing needed attention to the deaths of black men in Detroit or is she merely looking for a good subject?

As I have been preparing to talk about this book, it occurs to me more and more that photographers are held to a different standard in their subject matter due to their portrayal of live (or dead) people. One only needs to think of Sally Mann and the criticism she came in for from photographing her half-nude children. Diane Arbus took pictures of what we then, politically incorrectly, called freaks. Shelby Lee Adams made his name photographing  the impoverished (and often deformed) peopled of Appalachia, Roger Ballen took pictures of the mentally ill in South Africa. Robert Mapplethorpe was notorious for capturing  sado-masochistic poses of gay men.

Whether these subjects are appropriate for photography or not is in the end in the eye of the beholder. I began to think hard about what other genre of art was held to these standards. What impressionist-era artist was critiqued for painting a beautiful landscape or city scape when just out of sight was the teeming masses of impoverished Parisians, the day-laborers in vineyards harvesting crops for pennies with bleeding hands.

A photograph has the ability to display truths about our society more cogently than any other form of art. Look away if you must but think hard before denying it a place on the wall. Artists can be faulted for what they don’t paint or sculpt just as credibly as what they do.

Biography

Patricia Abbott is the author of more than 150 short stories that have appeared in print and online publications. She won the Derringer Award in 2008 for her story “My Hero.” She is the co-editor of the e-anthology DISCOUNT NOIR. Collections of her stories MONKEY JUSTICE AND OTHER STORIES and HOME INVASION were published by Snubnose Press.

In 2015, Polis Books published the novel, CONCRETE ANGEL and in 2016, SHOT IN DETROIT.

You can find her blog at http://pattinase.blogspot.com