Category Archives: Writing

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.

A Letter From Colin Wilson

Wikipedia says:

Colin Henry Wilson (26 June 1931 – 5 December 2013) was an English writer, philosopher and novelist. He also wrote widely ontrue crime, mysticism and the paranormal.[2] Wilson called his philosophy “new existentialism” or “phenomenological existentialism”,[3] and maintained his life work was “that of a philosopher, and (his) purpose to create a new and optimistic existentialism”.

And back in the ’80s and ’90s, I read a lot of Colin Wilson‘s books, mostly his novels and mostly via Hartlepool Public Library.  He even wrote a crime book- The Killer- that was partly set in Hartlepool. There was a lot that I liked about him and his books.

Along the way, I discovered he’d written a book called The Book Of Booze. And for some reason, I wrote to him about it. And for some reason, he replied.

I didn’t have the letter for years and thought I’d lost it on my travels but it recently turned up in a pile of old photos.

So, here it is!20151013_132737



CLIP: A Case Of Noir by Paul D. Brazill

one of those days in England.‘ The bookshop was jam-packed and stuffy. The wine and conversation were overflowing in equal measure. Keith Jarrett’s ‘Standards’ played numbly in the background as a veritable cornucopia of crime fiction writers of various levels of success held court in different parts of the room, shuffling nervously behind tables cluttered with copies of their latest pot-boiler. Their faces frozen into rictus grins.

‘Bullets in the Bookshop’ was an annual event. An international meeting of writers and crime fiction groupies organised by Blackstones’s Bookshop in Cambridge, an archetypically quaint English bookshop on an archetypically quaint cobble-stoned English street, not far from King’s College. The non-writers were in the majority, of course. Most of them were spinsterly types of both sexes enthusing over Nordic Noir— whatever that was. Then there were also a few academics slumming it — one particularly dandruff speckled gent with the complexion of a blackcurrant crumble was talking loudly and authoritatively about crime fiction as a social novel and receiving a number of approving nods. And, of course, a few wannabee crime writers were there, too, trying to look mean and moody — all leather jackets, stubble and gently sneering. I even recognised a couple of the faces from the Quais Du Polar crime fiction festival in Lyon that I’d attended in the Spring.

a case of blackNot that I was a connoisseur of crime fiction. I rarely read fiction at all, in fact. I’d attended the Quais Du Polar in order to meet up with Lena K, the torch singer turned bestselling crime writer who was also my partner in several unlawful activities. And I also had an ulterior and particularly criminal motive for being in Blackstone’s. A meeting with the man who was holding court at that moment.

Julian Stroud stood behind the largest table in the room and clearly thought a lot of himself. He was tall, handsome man in his mid-fifties and painfully well dressed. A pair of half-moon spectacles hung around his neck and he had the look of someone who had just smelt one of his own farts and found it surprisingly rank.

‘Why kill time when you can kill other people,’ said Stroud, the shadow of a smirk creeping and crawling across his too-tanned face. ‘Although, only on paper, of course, eh?’’

Read the rest of A CASE OF NOIR by buying here or elsewhere.a case of burke

‘In snow smothered Warsaw, Luke Case, a boozy English hack with a dark secret, starts a dangerous affair with a gangster’s wife. Case escapes to the sweltering Spanish heat where he meets a colourful cast of characters, including a mysterious torch singer and a former East End villain with a criminal business proposition. In stormy Toulouse, he encounters a blast from the past that is positively seismic which forces him to return to England and confront his past. A Case Of Noir is a strong shot of blackly comic international noir from Paul D. Brazill.

New Fiction From Ryan Bracha Down Brit Grit Alley

1 1 1 1  a a a a a brit grit sidebarRyan Bracha has some great and gritty short fiction down Out Of The Gutter Online’s Brit Grit Alley

Here’s a taste:

Work’s Murder  By Ryan Bracha 

“Come on in, Barry mate,” he says as I stick my head, all turtle like, round his door. Mate. Fuck’s sake. This can only mean bad news. Donald’s usually a grade A top class cunt of a cunt, and in all the time I’ve known him he only plays the nice guy before he’s about slide his metaphorical cock right into your arse. I grimace at my own choice of analogy as I drop my pre-shafting backside onto the chair opposite him, trepidation dancing across my mug like Michael fucking Flatley. 

Read the rest here. 

Music & Writing : Frank Duffy’s Music Of The Night.

1 1 1 1 a a a a duffyOver at THE HORRIFICALLY HORRIFYING HORROR BLOG, no less than FRANK DUFFY has assembled together a group of writers to talk about music and how it influences their writing.

I’m over there along with Simon Kurt Unsworth, Ian Ayris, Stephen Bacon, Lisa Tuttle, Sam Millar, Mike Evers, Christopher Fowler, Dennis Etchison, Howard Lynskey, K A Laity, and many more.

So pop over and listen to the MUSIC OF THE NIGHT

Guest Blog: Doug Gelsleichter – On Love, And All Its Lastings

dougBio: Doug Gelsleichter. I’m 30, seen some crazy shit and enjoy writing about it. Hopefully you enjoy reading it. You can find it all – fiction and real fiction – at Enoy~

On love, and all its lastings.

by doug gelsleichter

            I have loved three women – passionately and enthusiastically.

A Virgo, a Cancer, and a Scorpio.

I am a Gemini.

Gemini’s are warned not to seek relationships with Scorpios, Cancers, or Virgos.

Take it for what it’s worth.

So with that being said – and by that I mean having loved three women – then I think I can say, without estimation and with the utmost confidence – I know what I’m talking about.

When you tell me a story about love – be it comedy or tragedy – I’ll understand. I’ve seen it all and if love is a battlefield than I am a veteran of foreign wars.

And to make it clear – I don’t mean, in any way, sex. Sex and love are not mutually exclusive as many a slut or co-dependent could tell you.

I mean love – the act of knowing and understanding someone completely – accepting what they are, and living with them as a sum that is more effective than it’s parts. It’s two people pulling the cart to market – together.

I don’t think many understand what love is.

Once, when asked what I thought about love I responded: You cannot love someone until you hate them first.

I’m not sure if that’s correct but it certainly brings up questions.

Like everyone else, I’ve wanted to be loved – have a partner to share life with. When I was younger – my formative high school years – I wanted nothing more than to be in love – a hopeless romantic. And when I love someone I love someone. It’s one of the few things I believe you shouldn’t do half assed.

Yet, I have come to know – having won and lost – that whomever said it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all is a brilliant asshole.

So here is the short list.

The only ones that matter – at least so far – at almost thirty.

My first love, first girl friend, first time, first apartment, first child, first custody battle, first child support hearing. Met her at fifteen and dated for seven months, through most of sophomore year – then again at eighteen for six years. Seeing as that’s longer than some people stay married these days, some would also say first wife.

My second first love – my only great love. I met her summer of  ’99 – an odd, retroactive metaphor. We worked together in a restaurant and had six of the best months of my life with. Third girl I had ever slept with and first girl I ever made love to. The only woman I’ve ever felt passion for.

I know many girls – she is one of the few women.

I not only respect her, but consider her a best friend – and although ‘us’ will never again exist I feel lucky enough to know her.

The third first love is controversial.

We never dated – although the tension between us was palpable. We shared more than one good kiss and got along very well. We were both very much an individual and respected that about one another.

She went on to date a friend of mine I thought was a douche bag, then went to college. I had a kid and sunk into the miasma of middle America.

I’m proud of her actually – she did everything she said she wanted to do.

She is accomplished.

Regardless – I loved her – as the little girl who’s mom watched us during recess to the beautiful vixen who came to my bedroom window during puberty, and interrupted Hellraiser 3.

There is no one else. The rest are people I’ve either dated or fucked.

So I suppose this is an anecdote – maybe a cautionary tale wrapped in an essay. Either way it’s what happened – the influences on my opinions and the source of my frame of mind. All three I met during these initial years before someone shits in your soul and you’re forever jaded. The period of life when youth fuels passion and sex is great. The years which shape a young man’s life – when there’s still possibility.

And that’s what they did – those first three loves – they changed me – each one. All three in distinctly different ways.

They have all earned my respect – one out of love, one out of soul, and one out of combat.

They have left a mark on me – a mark of self reflection – having forced me to look inward and ask myself questions I otherwise wouldn’t have.

They have effected change in me and helped to shape the man I am today – and with all but one, continues to shape to this day.

And with that being said I’d like to present my case – the feelings and beliefs born of thirteen years experience. I can’t say I was right, any more than I can say I was wrong. I’ve been both white knight and scum bag, and all I can do now is offer the truth – as plainly as I can put it.

Consider this my love’s suicide declaration.

I will start with mother to my child.

I met her mother when we were fifteen – and, as stated prior, experienced many firsts with her.

She pioneered.

She was also the first to break my heart.

We broke up just before junior year and it was devastating to me in it’s suddenness and frightening in it’s callousness. Then again, I suppose that’s just white trash.

We began seeing each other again at eighteen – summer after high school. Then I flirted with college and broke up with her because I was in college and wasn’t passing up the pussy and don’t believe in cheating. I came home that summer and we reconciled over her having no place to live. I never went back to college, but that’s hardly her fault. After my stint of higher learning we got our first apartment – lost it four months later and bounced around because her mother had kicked her out top of the year and she had no family base to support her. Again, I’m stating facts – at the time, despite prejudices, I loved her deeply – and still love, much more shallow, today. So I promised her I wouldn’t walk away as everyone else had. Her mother had told her to get out, packed her bags for her and refused to discuss it further because the step father – a trailer park pervert who is a cartoon of a man – gave the ultimatum. Your daughter or me. Then – after discarding her daughter she later divorces him little over a year later and made no effort to say ‘hey, I fucked up’

Plain and simple I felt sorry for her – I loved her and didn’t want her to feel that pain. There was a girl I genuinely loved, and who was my best friend at the time being betrayed by her own mother.

I wanted to help her because I loved her and I understood the pain of a parent who can’t be bothered. So that’s what I did – helped her. For four and a half years, through the birth of my only child I wasn’t sure was mine initially. For four years I tried to make a hoe into a housewife – working two jobs from age nineteen to twenty-four and at one point working ninety-five hours a week, seven days, at two full time jobs for an entire calendar year. Granted she helped out with our daughter at home, but when the call came she wasn’t available.

The complaint was – you’re never home.

When I was home we didn’t have enough money.

Whether I did and didn’t.

The relationship rotted from resentment and imbalance and led to me talking to my daughter four times in three-hundred and sixty-five days and getting a handful of pictures after eight months of hope.

The result was a six month court case after I drove with my dad, to Kentucky, to pick my daughter up.

I won custody.

She pays me seventy-five dollars a week in child support.

The judge read the decision in a forty-five minute long prepared speech, discussing fourteen points – delivering his judicial opinion of who was better suited in each.

I won 13 – 1.

And all that love – all that intensity we had – all that strewed feeling brewed into the biggest rivalry since black and white.

She hates me now – I believe that. But not in the traditional sense of hate – I believe she hates me because she can no longer love me. I could be wrong, but doubt I am. She has managed to express her hatred and ability to ‘not care’ during our numerous court  appearances since the judgement – six in 2010 to be exact. Yeah, that’s every two months.

I have proven her accusations false each time and have acted with respect toward her feelings with as unique as the situation is. She lives eighteen hundred miles away and only sees her daughter two and a half months a year, and married a guy she met on eharmony.

I suppose she feels the only way to win is persistence – trouble is she’s being a persistent pain in the ass and it’s obvious. It’s also daunting.

So to wrap it up – cause the details of this one will drown you – all I can say about my daughter’s mother is this –

I am better than her – yet she can always get the better of me.

She is my Lex Luthor.

My second first love, and I believe soulmate – is my Kryptonite.

This woman could kill me – wouldn’t matter. She’s second only to my mother and daughter as goddesses I know.

If she is in need of light – a torch I will bare.

We met, romanced, and fell in love in something akin to a Shakespearian dark comedy – the ongoing tragedy of not being able to ever be together, yet having taken parallel paths. Our daughters are nine months a part and to this day I’m accused by my daughter’s mother that it’s my child.

Truth of the matter is we’ve fought the same wars – and we’re both survivors. All I can say is my time with her is the greatest of my life – something I will cherish and continue to draw inspiration from.

She’s married now – and happy.

We still talk and her husband knows about it. I visited and hung out with both of them.

He’s a guy I went to high school with and is someone I respected even then. He’s exactly what she not only needs, but deserves.

He’s a man.

An honest, hard working man – being a Marine also helps.

I am happy she has found love – even if it isn’t with me.

I still love her and always will – but I respect him, her, and the sanctity of a solid relationship.

Let’s just say she stopped starring in my fantasies when I spent a few relaxed evenings with the two of them. They’re in love and compliment each other very well.

Who am I to disrupt that.

My third first love – I haven’t spoken to her in several years – actually more like a decade.

I told her I loved her – in my mom’s car, driving back into town on the old highway. She said she loved me too, but who knows – maybe she was being kind to hurry the uncomfort along. But that’s as far as it went.

Probably doesn’t help that I dated and broke up with two of her best – Power Puffesque – friends.

Circumstances withstanding I did love her and I believe she had feelings for me. May not have been love, but let’s just say she would have fucked me and not regretted it.

I wanted to know everything about her – but never got the chance to read much of the book.

However, I can still – to this day – claim it as a lost opportunity. It likely wouldn’t have gone far because she’s better than me and I have much less to offer than she does. I only regret not getting to make love to her – if it could have been that. She was that sensual and sexy – erotic even.

A half Mexican, half white work of art.

Any a man lucky to have her admiration –

Now these were the game changers, but there is one more.

This next statement is as true as I can make it.

I have missed being with few.

If I meet someone and we’re enamored – something happens – and I make a great fling.

But when it comes to women I want, my track record is impressive. Still, I have fallen short three times – all to much disappointment.

Two of them were just cunts who enjoyed knowing you genuinely like them and want them – but only ever let you dry hump a home run. It’s no more different then men subjugating women.

However, one of these – the subject of mythology and lore – is the one I’ve never touched, been with and barely talked to – the one who has eluded me.

My golden fleece.

The one who showed me girls weren’t all yucky. The one I was first attracted to – the very first arousal. From fourth grade until freshman year a running joke was how I liked her and she wanted nothing to do with me because I was gross, yucky, stupid loser, not cool, whatever.

I worshipped this girl and she became my first muse. A well I drink from to this day. I would ride past her apartment building on my bike until she threw rocks at me. She is the reason I’m heterosexual.

She is the most beautiful women I have ever seen – granted I haven’t seen her in about five years, but last time I did my opinion held strong. She is the yardstick in which I measure beauty – my ideal.

Although ideal – idealizing isn’t.

Yet with the exception of twice being in her presence at separate middle school parties and a few awkward jokes and even more so smiles, I don’t know her.

The only conversation we’ve ever had earned me the threat of assault from her long time boy friend – the son of a science teacher.

What all this did was turn her into a myth – a sexual Sasquatch of sorts.

To this day, I have been in her presence less than an hour – yet I am still captivated by her.

She’s has become a painting – a beautiful face I can always look at, but never know.

And what I wouldn’t give to fuck her. Just once – no bullshit or stings attached – just simple make each other cum, intense sex. All I need is one night to fuck the shit out of her – the way she likes it – however that may be.

I’d be up for that challenge – any day.

In encompassment – with all that has been said – I present the only women who has ever truly loved me.

April Day – and yes that’s her name not a play on words – used ironically or not, because yes, she was born in April.

The first could never give up control enough to ever love anyone.

The second is afraid to love me.

The third doesn’t know me.

And the idol – by nature – could never love me – otherwise she’s no longer an idol.

But April is my guardian angel.

Since seventh grade math class she has accepted me wholeheartedly and hasn’t left my side. She has loved and supported me through thick and thin – smile and grin.

My cheerleader and champion.

She’s also a lesbian.

I think that speaks volumes.

I don’t know what else to say other than – good luck.

Short, Sharp Interview: Ilaria Meliconi of Hersilia Press

PDB: What is Hersilia Press ?

It’s a small company trying to bring Italian crime fiction to a wider, English-speaking audience. Unlike some big companies, we focus on quality and don’t necessarily go for the big names, but for the books we like. Having said that, some of our authors like Giorgio Scerbanenco have been bestsellers for a while, while others, like Maurizio de Giovanni, have now become so!

PDB: Who are the criminal masterminds behind Hersilia Press?

It’s mainly me, Ilaria Meliconi, and my other half, Alberto Giannetto. After degrees in astronomy and history of science, my work background is in publishing so I look after the editorial side while Alberto does the technbetrayalical side of things – website, epub and so on.

PDB: Which authors are involved in Hersilia Press

A number of very different authors: from Giorgio Scerbanenco, considered one of the founding fathers of Italian crime fiction and writing in the 1960s, to Maurizio de Giovanni, now a bestseller author sold all over of Europe and the US.

PDB: Which books have been published so far?

There’s Inspector Cataldo’s Criminal Summer, set in the Emilia Romagna region (where I’m from) in a small holiday village on the Apennines, Blood Sisters set in a foggy and wintry Bergamo in the north of Italy, I Will Have Vengeance set in an atmospheric 1930s Naples, In a Heartbeat, more on the hardboiled style and set in Milan in the eighties, A Private Venus and Betrayal both set in 1960s Milan.

PDB: Where can we find out more about Hersilia Press?

On the website.

PDB: Is there anything else you think we should know about Hersilia Press?

Have a look at the catalogue on and whatever your taste you’ll find something that you like. Regardless of what language a book was originally written in, if the translation is good (and ours are good!) a good book is a good book – they’ll take you to a different place and time, in different styles of writing and plotting, and that’s what books are for!

Trivial And Profound: An Interview With Carole Morin

Carole Morin ‘has beaten Stanley Kubrick in a dessert eating contest, drunk mojitos with Fidel Castro at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, and been mistaken for Graham Greene’s Eurasian daughter in Hanoi.’

She has been described as “Sylvia Plath with a sense of humour”. 

Her latest book is the ‘noirish’ Spying On Strange Men.

The journalist Maureen Cleave talks of meeting one of your students from UEA who described your course on Autobiography as Fiction as life changing. What was the idea behind the course you devised and taught as Literary Fellow?

I’m more interested in which student Maureen was talking to on the train. Was it Psycho 1 or Psycho 2? They both hated me at first but I won Psycho 1 over with my sociopath charm. I liked to write things on the blackboard which were never explained.

Lies are easy to believe in but the truth sounds false.

I threw someone out for mentioning Hemingway. The Dean said to me, ‘You can’t do that.’ And I replied, ‘But I have done it!’ Now that I’m older and more idealistic I can see that my younger self was a bit hardcore.

The night before my first seminar my husband Don Watson asked, ‘Aren’t you nervous.’ No. ‘You don’t seem to have prepared anything?’

He was right. I hadn’t. I’d been writer-in-residence in Wormwood Scrubs in a room full of murderers and a boiling kettle. Most of them had killed women ‘on impulse’. My biggest worry about a group of students was that they might smell.

I started by telling them to write 500 words about losing their virginity. One boy said, ‘I think I’m still a virgin.’ So I said lie, make it up.

The truth when it’s overdressed sounds like a lie.’ Spying on Strange Men

I wanted to leave my students with the tools to convert their lives into fiction. But of course some people just aren’t good at writing. They have a book ‘in them’ and it should stay there with their liver and kidneys. I love Mozart but I don’t think I have a Mass in C Minor ‘in me’.

How much does your autobiography influence your fiction?
‘The short answer is that it’s all ‘real’. It came out of my head. Even the things invented and imagined.’ Spying on Strange Men

People ask if my characters are ‘me’. Of course they are! I’m Maria Money and Vivien Lash. I’m also Carole Morin. We’re not interchangeable. But who else would they be?

I don’t explain my books. I like to leave some blank space for the reader’s response. I’m not sitting on their shoulder as they read. But I am in the bookshop with a hammer forcing them to buy.

Writing isn’t about real life. It’s about reinvention, imagination, entertainment, and structure.

‘God isn’t in the details, He’s in the structure.Spying on Strange Men

Writing is hard work. Even when you start with the raw ingredients – a mad family, a sense of humour, talent…it’s hard work. But you do get to sit around in silk pyjamas all day.

When did you start writing Spying on Strange Men?

I started writing the story that became Spying on Strange Men in London. It was called Party Fears Three an homage to Billy Mackenzie who had recently died. Party Fears Two is my favourite pop song. I made it Three because I like to change things and the book’s a love triangle.

I was devastated by his death which is odd because I didn’t know him. My husband did. Mackenzie’s death affected me in a way that Ian Curtis’ didn’t. Curtis seemed born to die. Mackenzie should have outgrown his gloom and become an eccentric old man. I think our work is similar. It’s the duality of glamour and spirituality in his voice that attracts me. His toughness and fragility; darkness and laughter. He could be a character from one of my books. I always meant to send him a copy of Dead Glamorous.

I rewrote Party Fears Three a few times. It was called Creepy Neighbour for a bit. It developed from a story to something longer. Longer for me means more than a 100 pages. I have a short attention span and don’t like to bore readers with unnecessary details. Why take 50 pages to set a scene when it can be done in a few lines? So. The book was ready to go to the printers. And then Dangerous (Carole Morin’s husband Don Watson) came home and said, ‘We’re going to Beijing for 6 months’. Like James Lash, he does a lot of travelling for work.

So I decided to take th manuscript with me. To read it one last time before sending it off. And then I got pneumonia, which gave me time to think. And then I wrote the Spying on Strange Men about a woman who loves her husband but wants to kill him. It’s kind of Double Indemnity without the insurance policy. She’s insuring her heart against him. And her boyfriend is really rich so they don’t need the money to escape.

You have traveled a lot. How much do you find that a setting affects the writing that you do there?
I tend not to write about places until after I’ve left them. A bit like using old boyfriends as characters when you don’t love them anymore. Sometimes I reinvent the settings until only Dangerous can guess where it is. Setting is important to my work. It affects the mood and atmosphere, and could almost be a character. With people and places I tend to love or hate them.

Your character, Vivien Lash has been writing on Twitter for some time now. Does she have a life of her own?
She has her own column Shallow not Stupid. And now she’s writing Travels with My Spy.

Vivvy copies me, which I’ll take as a compliment because I wouldn’t like to get into a punch up with her. But even though she thinks she’s copying me, she sounds like her self.

‘Vivien Lash is a girl with a future but not a past.Spying on Strange Men

Is there really a James Lash?
Is there really a God?

‘James is so secretive he has secrets even from himself.Spying on Strange Men

Your permanent address is in Soho. Do you prefer living in the heart of a big city?
Yes I feel nervous anywhere I can hear owls hooting but know I’m home when my creepy neighbour howls at the moon. I grew up in one of Grandfather Money’s buildings in the centre of Glasgow with a view of the gasworks and cinema. He had the decency or bad taste to live in one of his own slums. I didn’t know it was a slum until later when I’d escaped.

I loved all the characters, Pearl the Swinger and the Man with the Painted Heed. I thought it was normal that my Aunt Fat Jean lived next door. And my Aunt Vagina was downstairs. And my retarded cousin Junky Jenny was in the basement, where you keep them. It was all ice-cream without the jelly and the occasional flying stiletto when my mum was having one of her mad turns – hence her name Maddie.

My husband Don Watson loves hearing stories about me growing up and he told me to write it down. I was so familiar with the material I couldn’t see the story. But I always do what he tells me (and steal all his ideas) so I did and the result was Dead Glamorous – my most popular book. So far.

I thought that I’d written a lot about my childhood but actually there’s only one childhood scene in Dead Glamorous, a flashback. The screenplay is different. Maria Money is 16 in that. Now I’m working on Liberace’s Love Child which is about Maria Money before she escaped and reinvented herself as Maria Money. First she was the child assassin Mung-Bean.

‘When I was 7 my mother hired me to murder my father. I’d always wanted to be an assassin and I had to get the job done by my 8th birthday.

Spying on Strange Men is a classic love triangle. Did you read Wuthering Heights as a child and if so what effect did it have on you?
I’d call Spying on Strange Men a twisted love triangle but I read Wuthering Heights when I was seven. I stole a copy from the library. We weren’t allowed books in the house because they’re ‘dirty and dusty’. My mum had a shelf of fake leather books which my dad used to hide whisky behind. I used to die of embarrassment every time a visitor tried to pick up a book and realized it was fake.

The library was forbidden so it became exotic and sexy in my imagination. I was dying to get in there and read a book!

My cousin was a drug dealer so drugs were never exotic to me. Just a bunch of fat greasy haired losers in a room smoking, then later injecting heroin and mysteriously staying fat for ages. Eventually they died.

It was dark when I went to the library, eyes peeled for paedophiles. I had to crawl under the shelves to the Adult section. The children’s area was full of picture books wee shites had crayoned on.

I sat under a big plant reading Wuthering Heights. I’d already seen it on tv. Olivier was never really my idea of Heathcliff. I erased him from my head and superimposed a Catholic pyromaniac I was secretly in love with. Catholics were forbidden. So I was always sneaking into Mass, lighting candles and saying more Hail Mary’s than anyone really needs to. And this boy had burned down the school. He appears in my next book Liberace’s Love Child.

When I wrote Lampshades, my first novel, I thought I was copying Wuthering Heights. No one else noticed.

What about Graham Greene’s End of the Affair?
I used to talk to Graham Greene on the telephone when he lived in France and I worked at Granta Magazine which was my first (and last) office job.

I would call and say, ‘Would you like to write something for us Mr Greene?’
because the boss was too chicken to phone famous writers in case they weren’t nice to him.

Mr Greene, who actually preferred to be called Mr Graham (something about a fat uncle) would decline to write anything for us. He always thanked me for calling with elaborate politeness then declined my increasingly generous offers of wonga for words.

He asked me if I was ‘as beautiful as my voice’. Or maybe that was Kapucinski. He was always more of a flirt. ‘Africa, you must go to Africa, you will fall in love with Africa.’ I can still hear him whispering that into my ear. And I did go to Africa and had all my dresses stolen before the Aga Khan’s party but that’s another story.

So, I read The End of the Affair when I was in Hanoi and mistaken for ‘Graham Greene’s Eurasian daughter’. I never confirmed or denied this story because it came with a free room in the Hotel Metropole which at that time was the only 5 star in Hanoi. The one where Jane Fonda hid under the swimming pool/bomb shelter while the Viet Cong did their thing. Or was it Ho Chi Minh? Politics puts me to sleep.

I later became obsessed with Neil Jordan’s movie The End of the Affair. I was secretly in love with Ralph Fiennes at the time. I’ve gone off him now of course. But I watched it ten times on a flight from Hong Kong. The lady next to me found this disturbing and made several attempts to explain that I was allowed to change channels and watch another movie. But Cantonese just isn’t my dialect. I can say, ‘May your child be born without a butt-hole’ in Mandarin and order watermelon juice which is good because I’m addicted to it. Problem with Chinese is that the tones are easy to get wrong. You can think you’re asking your driver to stop over there and really you’re saying you need to shit urgently.

At the debut reading from Spying on Strange Men at the Bookworm in Beijing you played the music of Glasvegas. What is it you like about them?
I use a very short piece of music to signify that the performance is about to start. I intended to use Party Fears Two but didn’t have that on my ipod. I saw a poster for a Glasvegas show in Beijing and that reminded me I like their duality. Glasgow Vegas. And I like singers who use their native accent. And it’s both upbeat and heartbreaking which suits the tone of my work.

Obviously some Scottish artists appeal to you but you resist attempts to describe you as a Scottish writer.
I have a strong Scottish identity. I have an accent though I’ve lived most of my life in London. I’m glad I grew up in Glasgow with the gloom and glamour and plastic jobbies. But I wouldn’t want to be labelled a Woman Writer even though I’m definitely not a man. And I think Scottish Writer has some unfortunate associations.

Last century when I was commissioned to write my first novel, Scottish writers were being bullied by a purple nosed publisher to write in dialect. Well my voice is authentically Scottish. I’m an educated Scottish person who escaped. My voice is as valid as a whiny cunt who lives in a council flat and doesn’t quite speak English. That doesn’t mean I have to sound like Evelyn Waugh either.

I’d like to be called a Good Writer. To quote a review on Amazon, “Carole Morin is a Fucking Genius. Fact.’ Fucking Genius will do. And I’m a Soho snob – call me a Soho writer if you want to.

Your husband Don Watson in a profile in the Herald has compared your writing to Jane Bowles, the wife of novelist Paul Bowles. How do you feel about the comparison?

I love Two Serious Ladies. It has the best last line in fiction. ‘Certainly I am nearer to becoming a saint…But is it possible that a part of me hidden from my sight is piling sin upon sin as fast as Mrs Copperfield? This latter possibility Miss Goering thought to be of considerable interest but of no great importance.’

But I don’t think my writing is like Jane Bowles’. I think he means I’m original. And if you’re original you don’t write like someone else. I’m always being told I look like people too and usually I don’t.

When my first book came out a ‘friend’/other writer said to me, ‘I could write like you if I felt like it.’ And I replied, ‘I could never write like you.’

But it’s a huge compliment to be compared to Jane Bowles. I like everything she’s written even her whiny letters.

I’ve also been compared to Sylvia Plath, Nabokov, Francoise Sagan, Anthony Burgess, Salinger and Alan Bennett! Some critics are just so sucky.

My favourite quote is ‘Sylvia Plath with a sense of humour.’ I like duality, possibly why I have an evil twin. If I ever kill myself, I’ll use laughing gas. But I’ve missed the deadline for dying young.

Bits And Bobs.


… well I gave a short  REVIEW OF 2012 over at VIC WATSON’S blog … at CHRIS RHATIGAN’S DEATH BY KILLING,  I chose five of my favourite short stories of 2012 … and AJ HAYES included my flash story, RETURN OF THE TINGLER – which was at SHOTGUN HONEY- in his FIVE YOU CAN’T MISS.



Cliff Walk by Bruce DeSilva – Read The First Two Chapters.

Cliff walkThe Blurb:

‘Prostitution has been legal in Rhode Island for more than a decade; Liam Mulligan, an old-school investigative reporter at dying Providence newspaper, suspects the governor has been taking payoffs to keep it that way. But this isn’t the only story making headlines…a child’s severed arm is discovered in a pile of garbage at a pig farm. Then the body of an internet pornographer is found sprawled on the rocks at the base of Newport’s famous Cliff Walk.

At first, the killings seem random, but as Mulligan keeps digging into the state’s thriving sex business, strange connections emerge. Promised free sex with hookers if he minds his own business—and a beating if he doesn’t—Mulligan enlists Thanks-Dad, the newspaper publisher’s son, and Attila the Nun, the state’s colorful Attorney General, in his quest for the truth. What Mulligan learns will lead him to question his beliefs about sexual morality, shake his tenuous religious faith, and leave him wondering who his real friends are.

Cliff Walk is at once a hard-boiled mystery and an exploration of sex and religion in the age of pornography. Written with the unique and powerful voice that won DeSilva an Edgar Award for Best First Novel, Cliff Walk lifts Mulligan into the pantheon of great suspense heroes and is a giant leap for the career of Bruce DeSilva.’

Read the first two chapters of Cliff-Walk here.

Bruce DeSilva is a member of The Hardboiled Collective.

Short, Sharp Interview: Max Adams.

max adamsPDB: Can you pitch THE NEW SCREENWRITER’S SURVIVAL GUIDE in 25 words or less?

No, but David Trottier, author of The Screenwriter’s Bible can:  “Before you even think of marketing your script, read this book and change your screenwriting life.”

PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

I enjoyed Looper a lot.  I like smart time travel pieces.  I’m a fan of Justified, Game of Thrones, and Being Human.  I don’t do cable though so I get most of my television on discs or on iTunes a bit after they come out on the air.  I like Adele.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader/ viewer?

Well that is maybe not the right question.  The right question might be, Can a human being be an objective reader/reviewer?  Human beings in general have a hard time with objectivity, I think.  But.  I also think writers, because of their craft training, can be more objective than most, evaluating a piece of writing based on the craft, because writers have craft skills that allow them some distance where someone without those craft skills may be simply reacting to a piece of writing on an emotional level.  So if anybody can be at least close to objective, it probably is writers first, the rest of humanity second.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you?

Very to both.  My entire school is online in an online forum and an online chatroom.  Most of my professional interaction with people is through websites and email.  And that is just the professional side of things, not the personal.  With personal stuff, I follow politics and news online mostly through social media.  When storms are coming in in Texas, you get more information faster about what is happening and where if you are on Twitter following the storm chasers than you ever will on TV news.  I told a guy on Twitter once that a storm was headed right for him and he should hit a hotel.  He did, and when he got back the next morning, the house was leveled.  He would not have known to cut and run if someone on a social media site watching the storm chasers hadn’t known he was in a direct path.  Social media is powerful.

PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of 2013?

Find an assistant.  Put out the hard copy of The New Screenwriter’s Survival Guide.  Hit some festivals.  Teach some classes.  Write some episodes for a couple series.  Buy some pretty shoes.  The usual.  [smile]

Max Adams

The New Screenwriter’s Survival Guide

The Academy of Film Writing
510 Guadalupe Street, #2424
Austin, TX 78768

The contact page for classes is :

Guest Blog: Jason Michel Interviews U V Ray

uvrayU.V. Ray is one of a kind.

A self-obsessed rotter with a heart of coal.

A Satanic Beatnik Exorcist of words that plague.

He has a new book out, We Are Glass by Murder Slim.

Buy it, read it, caress it …

I talked to him.

JM – UV. You’re a writer. Tell me a story. A true one.

UV – Well, there was this guy. He called himself “Ace” – I have no idea why he called himself that, he was about 5ft tall with a clouded over eye and one leg substantially shorter than the other. I frequently saw him limping around town from bar to bar. Always on his own.

This one dark, winter night he came in my local and sat in the corner, his one good eye nervously scanning the room. He finished his pint rather quickly and then lurched out the door, measly scrap of hair on his head flapping in the wind that blustered in.

I noticed he’d left his filthy, stinking blue anorak behind. I’d had a few drinks and ever the entertainer I put it on and to the laughter of my friends I started prancing about the pub in it doing “Ace” impressions.

At that moment two policemen walked in and arrested me. They grabbed me by the arms and took me outside.

I initially thought it was for stealing Ace’s coat or something stupid. But it turns out Ace had been lurking amongst the trees in the park earlier that evening. A woman had been sexually assaulted and the only description they had was that of a man in a dirty blue coat.

Of course, I was quickly absolved of any wrong-doing and Ace was picked up around the corner in another pub. I never saw his grizzled little face again. I think he was sent to a lunatic asylum.

JM – There’s a moral in there somewhere … Nope, lost it.

Reminds me of a guy in my hometown, Jooohnnnnnny he was known as. All cross-eyed and grotty tweed. Used to go up to the probably underage drinkers and ask “Excuse me … would you like to spank my monkey for me, please?”

I never did know if any of the ladies acquiesced to his request.

It’s such a sick world that we either lock up the mad … or give them their own TV shows.

As we are all on CCTV now and Britain is the most surveilled country in the world, don’t you think it’s about time we started performing in front of them there cameras? Give them a real show?

UV – I barely go out the house any more. I stay at home and write to expunge whatever it is within me. Once the demon is exorcised there will only be suicide left. I’m not in love with the world at all and I have always considered suicide to be a valid method of exiting this life.

Look, let me tell you, my life is chaos. I live in chaos and I’ve always lived in chaos. My finances are in chaos, my relationships with women are absolute chaos and my day to day living has no structure to it at all – it is chaos. I spend my nights swilling codeine tablets down with whisky. My experiences in life, and subsequently my outlook, is/are pretty bleak. I just want to shut myself away from the rest of the human race.

If anyone wants light-hearted humour the new book, We Are Glass, is not going to be for them. It’s not going to be for anyone who wants entertainment. If you’re looking for lightweight entertainment then look elsewhere. I’m not a genre writer. I don’t write to entertain. I’m not fun. I am not a particularly nice person either. I am riddled with mental illnesses that make life on a daily basis and interaction with other people a traumatic struggle for me. But what that means is, is that as a writer I am a rare commodity – I’m the golden-goose of the underground literary scene. A gift to a publisher. A fucking cash-cow! And I do it all without compromising my artistic integrity because I am genuinely a fuck-up – and therefore something special.

JM – So, your writing is a means to bring some form of order out of the chaos, to pile it up and light sparks until it’s all burnt out in purging blaze?

UV – It’s raw and visceral writing, fuelled by the physicality of my existence. It’s me that’s burned out. There is no separation between me and the writing. When I get bald and frail I won’t be able to do it any more. I’ll have a short, explosive writing career. And probably a short life. There is no pretence in what I write, it is grounded in my past experiences. I am not at all like many of them on the literary scene. The last thing I want is to be invited to one of their little literary brunches and have to watch that lot flouncing around in their velvet britches and silk scarves, sipping creme de menthes or whatever the fuck it is that bunch of fairies do at those type of gatherings. I’m telling you, these people are all fucking each other up the jacksie. It’s incest. I’m serious; it’s a little buddy-club. And extremely damaging to literature. Me, I stand alone. I stand apart from the Frilly Knickers Brigade.

Though don’t get me wrong; of course there are writers out there that I like. I saw that Heidi James bird in the low-budget vampire flick Razor Blade Smile. I’d have given it her straight up the wazoo. She’s a writer these days. I’ve never read any of her work but I’m sure it’s very good.

JMWeAreGlassHiResWe Are Glass. Transparent and fragile, it’s true, but sharp enough to prick a finger or slit a throat or two?

UV – Not of it’s sugar glass. The fake stuff they use in films. That’s all this life is. We are indeed fragile, that’s all we are; sugar glass. I’ve seen the strongest men broken by life. I always liked the lyrics from Jane’s Addiction’s Ocean Size: I was made with a heart of stone / to be broken with one hard blow / but I’ve seen the ocean break on the shore / and come together with no harm done / I wish I could be more like the ocean.

It’s bullshit to say people aren’t reading any more. We’ve been in the middle of a literary revolution the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the invention of the printing press. People are reading, sure enough. Writers need to learn how to make themselves a bit more interesting. Most of them are so boring to hear speak no wonder nobody is inspired to pick up and read their dribblings. Plus, have you seen most of these writers? What a bunch of fucking gargoyles. And their dress sense leaves a lot to be desired as well.

If I could write what people wanted I’d do so. Yeah, I’d write some facile shit about wizards and goblins and go and buy myself an Aston Martin. But I can’t write that crap. I can only express aspects of my own life. I haven’t got a message for the world. I don’t profess that anything I write is absolute truth. My characters are just broken people drifting in the same world as me. It’s just one person’s experience of the world – which is a truth no more or less than any other truth. But I don’t speak the language of all mankind. I’m not in touch with the trees. I don’t go swimming with dolphins either. I couldn’t give a shit.

JM – Where do you see this revolution going? Are the behemoths of the publishing industry just going to hoover it all up and spit it all out?

Or do you see the industry fragmenting and floundering around with new models like the music industry did?

Or something else?

And seeing as every fucker is a poet these days and people are stuck in their unimaginative boxes, what will be the mechanism from separating the wheat from the chaff?

UV – It’s like Gil Scott Heron said: the revolution will not be televised. We are in the middle of a technological revolution. The invention of the printing press sometime in the fourteen hundreds brought literature and information to the masses for the first time. The internet has gone one step further and put the writing itself into the hands of the masses. But the minds of the populace have been destroyed by consumerism. The revolution will not be televised because they’ll just go back to sucking on their Coca-Cola and McDonalds. I think mass consumerism is succeeding where religions and political ideologies have failed. Homogeny is probably part of the evolution of the human race. It is becoming normal to buy one’s identity off the peg and soon everything will be one, bland amorphous mass.

No writer worth their salt needs a teacher or a creative writing group. You need the tenacity to find your own voice, overcoming decades of rejection. You just keep giving it them until they listen. Those who claim to “teach” creative writing should be shot. And those that seek the tutelage of said “teachers” should be dropped in a vat of acid. I’d break their fingers with a hammer so they can’t type any more of their shit. That is how I’d sort the wheat from the chaff – with an iron hand.

A lot of the writers on the scene are into fitness. They’re going jogging. Flouncing around trendy Bistros drinking fruit juice. Meanwhile, some skag-addled tramp somewhere is writing something better than they ever have. Because they see themselves as celebrities of some sort they never write anything of note. It’s mediocre. They’re a clan of pretentious ponces. But I don’t need to indicate individuals by name – those who have risen to prominence illegitimately know it in their hearts, and secretly they feel shame. These are the fuckers I refer to as the Frilly Knickers Brigade.

JM – Has this not always been the way of things since time immemorial? Hubert Selby Jr, even though he wrote some of the sharpest writing, spent most of life doing menial jobs and only got truly recognised when he was more or less on his deathbed. Because of a film.

People feel happy being told dull stories by those with a background of money. It’s the belief in the superiority of a specific form of education. It’s the same trust in authority that leads people to only believe what “experts” tell them. Even if those “experts” are funded by certain interest groups to reinforce a point of view.

UV – Oh Christ on the crapper, yes. Everybody is so full of shit.

Alan Bennett says the London Review of Books is the most radical magazine we have. What an ignoramus.

Fuck the Guardian and the TLS, wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire. Who cares what any of those silly sausages think? I know what they are. And what they are is a bunch of airy-fairy faries.

Myself, I do not believe in the construction of stories. I believe in deconstruction. If I did have a purpose I’d say it was to destroy all literary pretensions and conventions. Thank fuck I’m not part of that little chummy-chum scene, all licking each other’s genitals. Murder Slim Press are a brave publisher, they’ve been great to work with and We Are Glass puts me out there as a man amongst fleas. Sure as shit, the Frilly Knickers Brigade will try and ignore it, they’ll try to pretend it isn’t there. But thanks to Murder Slim it is there.

JM – So, here’s the 6 million dollar question …

Why do you feel the urge to get your work published?

To be a gadfly in the frilly knickers, the perennial thorn in side?

Surely not to be … accepted?

UV – I’m not a normally aspirated human being. They sent me to the school psychiatrist first. Then later they stuck me under one of those scanners, you know, those things that scan your head. They found abnormal readings in my brain. The doctors said they were fucked if they knew what was up with me. But eventually through various examinations they came to the conclusion I am borderline schizo or something. Or psycho. Yeah, it might have been psycho. A bit of both, I think they said. You see, I don’t interact well. I observe things. But I really have always been on the outside looking in, unable to break through the barrier that separates me from other people. I think this sense of isolation forms the foundations of my work.

I’d like to think I am writing something of cultural relevance though. I wouldn’t say to be accepted, no. But I do have a desire to communicate.

As you well know, I’ve been around the underground lit scene for over twenty years. I’ve been called existentialist, nihilist, even an impressionist with comparisons to Giuseppe Ungaretti. Others have compared me to Kerouac and Bukowski. But those writers were of a certain time, their own time. I am a writer for this age. I don’t accept the comparisons as at all accurate. I’ve been called a lot of things. But I am none of that. I am a pariah. They will read into my work whatever they wish. I’ve stopped worrying about what the current literary in-crowds think. Their own work lacks substance so these little groups of friends club together and present themselves as some kind of literary movement. It’s a false construct and the only movement they’re making is a collective bowel movement, producing a heap of shit. And I’m not just some mouthy bastard from Birmingham, what I’m saying here is the truth. So I certainly have no desire to be accepted by that bunch of fairies. But accepted by someone somewhere, yes. In the final analysis, everyone is alone.

U.V. Ray lives at

We Are Glass  is published by Murder Slim Press.

jason michel

Jason Michel is Editor at Pulp Metal Magazine every 6 months (except on Thursdays. He fucking hates Thursdays).