Category Archives: punk fiction

Small Time Crimes’ Soundtrack at Toe Six Press

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Well, I’ve certainly lifted plenty of story and book titles from songs over the years. Small Time Crimes, my new collection, has more than a few yarns with titles nicked from songs I like.

Over at Toe Six Press, I talk about those songs.

Chelsea Girls

I suspect most people would think that the title Chelsea Girls was pilfered from the 1967 Andy Warhol film and perhaps, indirectly, that’s true. It is, in fact, named after art rockers Simple Minds’ second single. I liked their first single, ‘Life In A Day and ‘Chelsea Girls’ too.  I saw them live around the same time -1979 – at Middlesbrough Rock Garden and always associate the gig with beer and marmite.

In The Devil’s Name

The shadow of the shadow of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band hangs over this yarn. SAHB recorded a song about the Scottish witch Isobel Goudie and the pub in the story is called The Swampsnake. SAHB were one of my favourite bands in pre-punk times.’

If you fancy, you can read the rest here.

Because The Night is at Pulp Metal Magazine

PULPLOGO (1)Pulp Metal Magazine is shutting up shop, at least for the time being. And my contribution to its funeral is a little yarn called Because The Night.

Mark Finney’s footsteps echoed as he walked across the rusty, metal railway bridge. A steely fog was spreading itself across the town and he could no longer see the trains creeping slowly below him. He walked carefully down the steps and paused at the bottom. Smudges of streetlamps trailed off into the distance down Lothian Road. Finney headed off along the cobbled street, past the rows of partially demolished terraced houses that looked like broken teeth. ‘

Read the rest here.

No One Is Innocent at Retreats From Oblivion.

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Noir Con‘s online journal –Retreats From Oblivion– have published a slice of my Brit Grit called No One Is Innocent.

‘Marjorie shuffled through the door to the snug and switched on the lights. She pressed a button and the dusty Wurlitzer jukebox burst to life. Jane Morgan belted out ‘The Day The Rains Came.’ In French.

Check out the rest here, if you fancy

Short, Sharp Interview: John Bowie

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PDB: What’s going on?

 

JB: Reading, drinking, being a silly father, reading more, being a trying husband, and… drinking more. Oh, and scribbling and writing — for my sanity and madness; all in perfect balance. Teetering on life’s beautiful edge that’s fueled by all the pre-mentioned that put me there in the first place.

 

PDB: Do you listen to music when you work?

 

JB: I’ve had a permanent soundtrack running in my head as long as I remember.

 

Some tracks are constant; however I do get pests for the day: Russ Abbott’s – ‘Atmosphere’, R Kelly – ‘I believe I Can Fly’, or for some weird-ass reason Richard Blackwood’s – ‘1234 Getin’ with a wicked’ – You’re all welcome by the way!

 

The constants have accompanied me down the aisle, both in my head and literally played at the time (‘I Wanna Be Adored’ – The Stone Roses). And before taking a leap, needing strength; balls out (‘Force of Nature’ – Oasis). I blame Rhys Ifans and the film ‘Love Honour and Obey’ for this.

 

Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’ is my creative comfort blanket or on-hold music. It’s where my head goes when I block everything else out. This will come clear in my next book: Transference. All four in the coming tetralogy have intentional, multi-layered, single title Joy Division type titles like this.

 

PDB: What makes you laugh?

 

JB: Often it’s the things that shouldn’t that do. And the things that should… just don’t.

 

I frequently don’t realise my reaction and my wife picks me up on it. I often can’t explain the cause of a smile, giggle or involuntary snort that I didn’t realise I was doing, because when I think about it it’s often just plain wrong, absurd or weird. I write some of these down and into stories to distance myself in a way – disowning the filth, dark, weird and absurd. Until next time.

 

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

 

JB: Holy-fuck-a-saurus – the Holy Grail – if only!!!

 

An antidote to that pig that ‘shat in our heads’… ‘a bastard behind the eyes’. Sorry, shameless ‘Withnail & I’ Quotes. I was so surprised to learn the best acted drunk (Withnail) was played by a non-drinker (Richard E. Grant). Maybe that’s a clue to the answer though – don’t touch it! Or, if you do, don’t stop and ‘go all the way’ (Bukowski).

 

I have studied this matter in some detail though and as the years pass the hangovers intensify, and with it so does the need for a cure. So, I’ll share what I’ve gathered so far:

 

Pre-age 20: the ‘hangover’ doesn’t exist.

Early 20s: a Marlboro and a shit is enough to keep going on (after a midday rise).

Late 20s: a strong coffee, Marlboro and shit (after an early afternoon rise).

Early 30s: cider… ‘ice in the cider’.

Late 30s: cider with ice again. But now a nap is required before yet more cider – cycle is to be repeated as required.

Now: milk thistle (600mg min), N.A.C (N-Acetyl-Cysteine 600mg), vitamin C (500mg min) before starting first drink and another dose repeated before the last drink and bed.

In the future: I’m pretty sure a full-on transfusion, drip and head transplant is going to be required mixed with most of the above.

 

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

 

JB: I’ve been lucky; travelled and visited a lot of places. Pulau Tiga, Pangkor Laut, Gozo, Krakow, Cambodia, Vietnam all stick in the memory. Manchester, Porlock Weir, Edinburgh, Dublin and Newcastle are in my blood, heart and soul though —  Bristol seems to be a smorgasbord of all them — I love it. I’ve discovered I need to be near the water or I feel wrong (and not in a good way). Maybe a Viking thing…

 

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

 

JB: No, I don’t.

 

I did drink a bucket (maybe 2,3,4…) in Cambodia after visiting Angkor Wat and the Killing Fields. Also fired a colt .45 as an ex Khmer Rouge soldier let the safety off his own pistol as he held a ‘reassuring’ hand on my shoulder. Later that night, after the buckets, we found ourselves in a Cambodian club. Westerners weren’t allowed on the dance floor all at once so we had to take it in turns. Between the rehearsed local Karaoke, dancers, troops, public announcements and fashion parades –  I got up alone and the stony-faced locals circled, with another armed guard watching on at my bucket fueled cross between ‘the robot’, Rab C. Nesbit and Ian Curtis.

 

I ticked a lot off what I could’ve put on a bucket list that trip, and on others since.

 

The thing is… If I had written a list, it wouldn’t have kept up with what was going on. Life’s a bit like that. Convince yourself to aim for sweet and you could miss the pleasure of the sour. And your taste changes anyway the more, or less, you do.

 

PDB: What’s on the cards?

 

JB: Researching and writing the second in the Black Viking P.I. series: Transference. It’s set in Manchester so I’m revisiting it physically and, in the head, to test if it matches memory: the smell, sights… the sounds of it all — I’m savouring it! It’s nice to revisit the idea of the Hacienda again too. It and Factory Records were so fundamental to my creative journey then and now. The next books could be a homage to the city and them —  doubt it’ll feel like that to read though.

 

PDB: Anything else?

 

JB: I’m currently pondering my first person, present tense style with jumps to the past to give context. Is it in-fact poetic, lyrical, immediate and … right? Or, is it restrictive and switching some readers off… and are they maybe the ones that should be?

 

Wait…

 

‘Another?’

‘Yes.’

‘… with ice?’

Bye x

John BowieBio: John Bowie grew up on the coast in rural Northumberland, a region steeped with a history of battles, Vikings, wars and struggles. These tales and myths fascinated him as a child, and then as an adult. In the mid to late nineties he studied in Salford enjoying the bands, music, clubs and general urban industrial-ness of Greater Manchester, including the club scene and the infamous Hacienda. He was also there when the IRA bomb went off in 1996.

Henry Brock Reviews Cold London Blues

CLB---3d-stack_d400And says:

 5 out of 5 stars  London is a violent violent town

February 21, 2018

There are so many gems in Paul D. Brazill’s “Cold London Blues” that this review could contain nothing but a bulleted list. If I did that, surely it would be enough to convince you that you need to read this smart, violent and funny book.
I should try a little harder to point all of the fantastic elements of this short sharp novel and certainly I could do better than that bulleted list, but hell, I can’t resist sharing at least a few:

“The bar had the smell of a soggy nun”
“A storm had gouged open the battered and bruised sky”
“A wiry old duffer sat nursing a half-pint of Guinness and reading a battered copy of Ivanhoe, pausing occasionally to sniff the pages”
“There comes a time in every man’s life when he knows he will never be The Fonz”.

I loved this book. It captures the cold damp violent sleaze of London that makes us love that city. I miss drinking pints in those pubs. The dialogue is true and fresh and the characters are interesting and surprising. I think of this as a London underworld novel, with emphasis on the ‘world’. There is such a rich cast of characters that you will feel like you are getting a glimpse of the rough world that most of us (thankfully) don’t see in the real world. You won’t regret reading this “Cold London Blues”

Jack Strange Reviews Cold London Blues

cold london bluesOver at his blog, Jack Strange says:

‘The story itself is a can of worms into which the freakish cast is drawn willy nilly, through their different points of contact with a criminal family, a heist, a number of hits, and one or two murders that aren’t hits.

But this book isn’t just about characters and plot.

First and foremost it’s about language, and this is where it really shines.

It’s written like a hard-boiled novel from the fifties, updated for the present day, turbocharged, and powered by rocket-fuel.

There is at least one line on every page you’ll want to quote to your friends. On many pages there are several. ‘

Read the rest here.