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!
Over at Amazon.co.uk Warren Stalley says:
Too Many Crooks is a blackly comic Brit Grit romp from the author of Guns Of Brixton and Kill Me Quick!
When high-class fence Leslie Hawkins meets Peter Rhatigan in a sleazy London pub, he offers her the chance to get her hands on the Totenkopfring, a legendary piece of World War Two memorabilia. However, after a violent encounter with a member of a biker gang, things soon spiral wildly and dangerously out of control. Meanwhile in Poland, Dr Anna Nowak finds an amnesiac Englishman half-dead in the snow…
Too Many Crooks by Paul D. Brazill is a fast-moving and action-packed cocktail of bodies, bullets and death-black comedy.
TOO MANY CROOKS is an international Brit Grit romp which should be available for your delectation in early February from Near To The Knuckle.
More information soon …
After a brief hiatus THE GUMSHOE, AND OTHER BRIT GRIT YARNS is on sale once again.
The Gumshoe, and Other Brit Grit Yarns is a collection of gritty, violent and blackly comic short stories from Paul D. Brazill, author of Guns Of Brixton and Kill Me Quick!
‘Imagine if Frank from the British tv series “Shameless” were a down-on-his-luck private eye. In “The Gumshoe,” Brazill offers up a full helping of classic private eye fiction meets modern British punk-fueled humor. “The Gumshoe” is actually a series of vignettes rather than one long novella about a poor guy who wakes up on New Year’s Day with “a horrifying wail that skewered its way deep into [his] unconscious brain.” Of course, it was “Some twat, somewhere, was playing a U2 song over and over again.” And, then there’s the doorbell that doesn’t stop ringing “like a stiletto grinding through my brain,” our hero explains. This is truly the essence of a hangover. Because, well, you know, “In the real dark night of the soul, there was always some twat talking bollocks at three o’clock in the morning.” These are vignettes fueled by booze and violence and solid British noir humor. Amidst the hoods and the drunks and the fishnet stockings and the bloody lifeless bodies, there is some damn good writing. Filled with references to rock music like Keith Moon drum solos, this is a story that has to be read’
Living well is the best revenge, or so they say, apparently. And, for most of my life, I did live very well – once I’d broken free of Seatown’s umbilical cord, which was strangling me like a noose.
Fame. Money. Drugs. Travel. Fast cars. Faster women. All of the above.
And it felt good. Bloody good.
Or, at least, it used to.
The taxi crept along the coast road, past the worn-out Bed & Breakfasts, half-empty amusement arcades and deserted kebab shops. A shabby looking Santa Claus pissed against the side of a mangy looking Christmas Tree that stood shaking in the wind outside the public toilets.
“Do you get home much these days, Mr Stroud?” said the crumpled tissue of a taxi driver with the big, bushy eyebrows.
“Not so much, these days,” I said, half yawning.
The radio was playing a medley of Christmas carols at a volume so low it was sending me to sleep.
“Bet it’s a fair bit different to life down the smoke, eh?” said the taxi driver. “Bright lights, big city and that.”
He slowed down as a raggle-taggle group of rat boys staggered across the road.
“Vive la différence,” I said.
The taxi pulled up at a red light. It was early evening and allegedly rush hour but there weren’t too many cars on the road. The granite sky was filling with black storm clouds.
I gazed out of the window at Booze n News, Seatown’s popular chain of newsagents and off-licences. Booze n News had been the brainchild of Frank Griffin, a local Conservative Councillor and father of Nigel, my childhood tormentor and font of all of my bile.
Outside the shop was a familiar looking woman being hassled by a whining toddler as she struggled to put a buggy into the back of a Renault Espace. Karen Griffin, Nigel’s wife.
Once she’d been the glam of glams but now she was looking more than a little shop soiled. I smiled to myself with satisfaction. This is what I really came “home” for. Bathing in the misery of the people that had caused me so much unhappiness during my youth. Taking pleasure in seeing any spark of life that they’d had dampened by the drab hand of domesticity.
Karen locked eyes with me and smiled but I just turned away and looked at the torn billboard outside the shop.
In red marker pen it proclaimed:
“Best-selling thriller author Julian Stroud to host Rotary Club Christmas Charity Lunch”.
“Bet it’s gone downhill since you came here last time, eh, Mr Stroud?” said the taxi driver.
“Plus ça change,” I said, as I slowly let out a silent fart.
“Aye,” said the taxi driver, winding down the window.
I used to lay awake at night thinking of my childhood humiliations. How much I was ridiculed. Laughed at. And over the years I let my hatred marinade. And congeal.
And then the doctor told me about my body’s uninvited guest. The plague that crawled through my veins. And then I had an idea.
“So, you never heard about Fast Eddy then?” said Karen Griffin.
She downed her fifth Baileys with a gulp. Her face flushed red and her eyes sparkled.
“No, I hadn’t,” I said. I looked out of the Carvery window. Out at sea, a fishing trawler adorned with Christmas lights bobbed up and down on the waves.
“They say he met a lass on the Internet. Was getting on really well, too, until he sent her his picture, that is, and then she blocked him,” said Karen.
I remembered Fast Eddy and could understand the girl’s consternation. He was once described as being like an uglier version of Shane McGowan. Without the charm.
“And what happened?” I said, almost interested.
Karen was looking good, I had to admit. She’d dolled herself up pretty well. Her idiot husband had apparently been in a drunken sleep on the sofa and hadn’t even noticed her sneak out.
The fatigue was behind her eyes, though, and I almost felt sorry for her. I was starting to wonder if I could go through with this nasty little plan that I’d hatched.
“Well, he had an idea of where she lived. Some village in Scotland. And so he started to spend every weekend going up there on the train and walking around the place looking for her. Until he got picked up by the police for being drunk and disorderly. Thing is, though, he’d got the wrong village, anyway!”
And then she laughed.
Karen Griffin’s cruel cackle hauled me back to my teenage years and the agony of just living. And made up my mind for me.
The motel room was dimly lit. Outside, I could hear the heavy bass of an old Public Image song. I finished my brandy, popped a Viagra and crawled into the bed.
“Speak French to me Julian, you know it really turns me on,” said Karen, as she pulled me towards her.
I took out a condom that I’d earlier pricked with a pin, and put it on.
“Le Petit Mort,” I said with a smirk.
Well, Christmas is a time for sharing, after all.
(c) Paul D. Brazill
There it is again.
I told you. No, shh. Listen . . .
Did you hear? Listen. No ….
THUMP. THUMP. THUMP.
There! You must have heard that!
See, I told you but you didn’t believe me, did you? She’s down there.
Of course I’m sure it’s her.
What do you mean?
It stands to reason doesn’t it? When was the last time you saw her, eh?
See, what I reckon is … Shhh! Toby’s coming back. Neck that and let’s get a couple more pints in while he’s here.
How’s the match, Toby? Aye… Aye. Well there’s still time ,eh? Game of two halves and all that.
Yeah a couple more pints of Nelson please Toby … Ta.
Many in the other room? Oh, aye, him. Well he’s attached to the place like it’s an umbilical cord, eh? Tight as a gnats twat, though, eh?
Good CD this. Love a bit of Simple Minds, me. Could you turn it up a bit before you go back, Toby. Ta.
Aye, pain in the arse having to go outside for a cig but what can we do eh? The law’s the law.
Oh, ey Toby. Keith here was asking after your Lisa. Said he hasn’t seen her for a bit. I said a bit of what? Ha, ha …
Ey, ey, ey!
Ey, only joking mate. Sorry! No offence. Just making conversation, like.
She still in Jockland then?
Aye, well as long as she’s alight then. Yeah. Yeah.
Aye, we’ll give you a shout if anyone comes in.
Shh. . . Wait . . .
See. Told you. It’s her, Keith.
Think about it. She was always hanging around here in them jeans so tight you could read her lips. You could see Toby’s face when anyone tried chatting her up.
Aye, only natural. But you know, the little green – eyed idol and that …
What? But she hasn’t been in for …
… Yeah, I know. I know he said she’s off with her aunt in Scotland but it’s not what I heard. I heard she was banging that Gypsy bloke that was sniffing around her and .. .
Yeah, I know. Only sixteen, but old enough to bleed old enough to breed, eh?
Now you must have heard that?
See, that Gypsy bloke, you remember him, all gold, tattoos and hairy arms? Aye. Pentagon medallion dangling round his neck.
That’s the lad….
Shhh … Ahh, Don’t You Forget About Me… this is the stuff… Simple Minds biggest hit, you know? Broke them in the US of A …
Yeah, well Toby was ever so protective, eh? That lad must have been forty if he was a day…
May to December relationships, eh? Call it what you want Keith, I doubt Toby was too impressed. They reckon he covered Lisa’s neck with some nasty love bites … Yeah, she was smitten and that. Walking around like she was hypnotised. Spaced out, like…
Nah, doubt she touches the wacky backy, all fitness and health and safety, her.
Anyway, I reckon that he’s got her down there like that Fritz bloke in Austria. Remember him? Had his young un locked up in the basement for donkeys years?
Probably banging her himself. Can’t say I blame him, mind you …ey, ey, no need for you to get all touchy as well … only a bit of a …
What? Go where? The filth? Grass him up?
Not on your nelly, Keith. I’m many things but I am not a grass. Anyway, I think they’re still looking for me for that B&E at the gas works. Nah, you see, I’ve got a …
Hold on … Wait for the next song to start. . .
Ahh, Promised You A Miracle. Love this one. Classic.
Naw, my plan is to get down there after he closes up the pub and see if she’s there, just to be certain, like …. yeah, I’m sure she is … and then phone the press…
You know, The Mirror, The Sun, News Of The Screws and that … and get them down here when we set her free. I reckon we could make a fortune selling the story. Telly. Book deal. Films. The lot, Keith. The lot.
What? The lock? Do you know who you’re talking, to Keith?
Piece of piss. Easy peasey, Japenesey. We get in through those double cellar doors at the back of the pub. The ones that the brewery use to deliver the booze.
He’s only got a daft padlock on there, I can pick that in no time, you know that.
Yeah, we’ll do it tomorrow might after he closes up.
* * *
You tosser. I can’t …
Of course we need a friggin torch. I left me night vision goggles at home … nah, that was a joke, Keith. Honestly some people …
Well, at least we’ve got that full moon dangling there. Should give us a bit of light …
A what? A gibbons moon? If you like, Keith, if you like…
Right, now slowly, slowly .. shh, don’t wannna frighten .. . Jeesus, you reek. How many slices of that garlic bread did you tuck into?
Nah, can’t stand the stuff. Don’t like foriegn food, do I?
Right here we go. Steady on the ladders. Soon as we see her we phone Col at The Gazette.
What was that?
Ehh? Sounded like a bird flapping around?
… yeah … maybe a scream … sure of … Yeah, I can see it.
Hold on, it’s landed in the corner… who the …?
Nahh, it’s her. It’s Lisa… well of course it’s her.
Alright, Lisa love, only me and Keith … eh up!
Lisa, love, don’t you think you should get some clobber on? Eh, Lisa? Bit nippy down here for …
Ey, you’re eyes don’t half look red … What the fu… Lisa, no offence, normally I’d love a snog but …
THUMP. THUMP. THUMP.
Ey, Keith, where the fuck are you scarpering to? Get your neck back here …
Aw jeez, Lisa! No … please!
THUMP. THUMP. THUMP.
THUMP. THUMP. THUMP.
(THUMP! first appeared at Thrillers, Killers N Chillers)
I’m flashing at OUT OF THE GUTTER‘s FLASH FICTION OFFENSIVE again.
‘She’s lost the plot again. It’s the third time this week. Sheila should never have come off her meds in the first place and now she’s just bounced straight back onto the cider. In fact, she’s bouncing around my front room at the moment, smashing into the telly, and knocking over the ornaments. As she waves a bottle of White Lightning cider around, I fear for the glass coffee table. I really do.’
Over at Amazon.co.uk . crime fiction author Pat McDonald says: