Thursday, 12 November 2015

Media pimpage for A TASTE OF ASHES

Me - being a jakey in the Auld Toon.
A TASTE OF ASHES continues its media spree with a bunch of reviews and articles in the press of late.

First off was a fine piece in the Ayrshire Post, later pasted onto The Daily Record website in full. I nipped back to the Auld Toon for this interview, and posed as a rather convincing jakey for renowned snapper Alister Firth in the pic, left.

The Big Issue selected their Top 5 whodunnits this week and parachuted A TASTE OF ASHES into the No.2 slot. Not bad considering Gone Girl was No.3 and The Silence of the Lambs No.4!

And The Sunday Post featured a piece about my visits to Arran - the setting for the climax of A TASTE OF ASHES - on Sunday, like they do. 

:: A TASTE OF ASHES is still going for under a quid on Amazon right now.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

PUSH-UPS: Will Viharo

Will Viharo.
So, what you pushing right now?
My all-new detective novel, Hard-boiled Heart.

What’s the hook?
It’s my first Vic Valentine novel in 20 years, inspired by my real life experiences with Christian Slater and his option since 2001 of the first Vic Valentine novel Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me, first published by Wild Card Press in 1995, reissued by Gutter Books (which is publishing Hard-boiled Heart) in 2013. The four sequels in between were all written back to back circa 1994-1995, when I was being actively courted by celebrity New York editor Judith Regan, who later unceremoniously dumped me without explanation: Fate Is My Pimp, Romance Takes a Rain Check, I Lost My Heart in Hollywood, and Diary of a Dick, all eventually self published in “double bills” in 2011, and collected into a single omnibus called The Vic Valentine Classic Case Files to be published soon by Double Life Press, which also released The Thrillville Pulp Fiction Collection, Volumes 1-3, earlier this year.

And why’s that floating your boat?
Basically as a matter of personal pride and triumph, since I was suffering from severe depression when I wrote Hard-boiled Heart, and it was my proactive reaction to a series of setbacks, including the loss of several full time jobs in a row, but mainly the abrupt and unexpected collapse of the movie deal after coming so close I could touch and taste it. Christian actually flew me out to Miami in 2012 for location scouting, and I rewrote his adaptation. I had a contract and everything. I was on the verge of being a successful screenwriter, which would boost the appeal of my novels. Now I’m a dog walker in Seattle. I love animals so it’s my favorite non-writing gig, probably ever, since I’ve made money doing everything from bussing tables to delivering blood and bodily fluids to hospitals to working as a hotel/bookstore/video store clerk to programming a popular movie theater to booking bands and burlesque acts to bouncing in a tiki bar. I’m not really complaining, though this epic near-miss often makes me feel pretty blue, like my ship has sailed without me for the final time. At least I got a good book out of it, I think. In fact, I consider Hard-boiled Heart among my best (my personal favorite remains A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge, with Chumpy Walnut coming in a sentimental second), and considering the challenging circumstances that inspired and engulfed it – even though I’d been planning on a sixth and final Vic Valentine novel for years – it’s a miracle it even exists. 

When did you turn to crime?
Decades ago, late ‘80s when I discovered the Black Lizard reprints of the great pulp guys By then I was getting tired of relatively mundane “literary” fiction and realized I could relate much more to the low class, low budget milieu of criminals, even though I didn’t have the balls to become one myself, though I’ve had my moments, which naturally I can’t share publicly. I have too strong a sense of morality to ever hurt anyone, though, even for the sake of my own survival. But as someone who has struggled to survive via crappy odd jobs since I was 16, I can understand the temptation to say fuck it and just steal shit for a living. Mainly I’m drawn to the desperate and often poetic voices of crime fiction, more so than the plots, which are mostly interchangeable. 

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary? 
There are so many amazing authors working in the field of crime fiction today that my contributions feel extraneous and unworthy. Joe Clifford, Tom Pitts, Mike Monson, T. Fox Dunham, Greg Barth, Rob Pierce, Danny Gardner, Kurt Reichenbaugh, Max Booth III, Josh Stalling, Michael Pool, Les Edgerton…the list is almost literally endless. It’s really intimidating and overwhelming. There is essentially a glut of great talent in that field. In fact, I doubt my next book will be a crime novel, probably magical realism. I never identified as a “crime writer” per se, anyway. Most of my stuff is hybrid pulp noir-horror-sci-fi, more in the idiosyncratic vein of David Lynch than in the established tradition of Dashiell Hammett. As for the classics, the usual suspects still inspire me, like Raymond Chandler, Charles Willeford, Jim Thompson, and David Goodis, along with more contemporary guys like Barry Gifford, Paul Auster, Richard Price, James Lee Burke, and Walter Mosley. 

And, what’s blown you away lately?
Mostly incredibly well-written/shot/acted TV shows like The Walking Dead, Fargo, Ash vs. Evil Dead, The Leftovers, Mr. Robot, Masters of Sex, and Archer. I already really miss Mad Men. Really looking forward to the reboots of Twin Peaks and The X-Files, too, since those are two of my all-time favorite series. TV is the new cinema, though I still watch two movies a night on average, from my vast DVD/Blu Ray collection. Movies remain my biggest influence as a fiction writer, which is why my books are so cinematic. 

See any books as movies waiting to happen?
Yeah, mine. My long delayed movie deal with Christian Slater remains on “indefinite hiatus.” Other than that, it’s hard for me to care, frankly. 

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
I can’t relate much to most modern pop culture, particularly fashion and music (I’m a jazz cat, though I dig all types of music depending on my mood, except rap and country). As I’ve said many times, when it comes to contemporary society and me, it’s a case of mutual apathy. There are major exceptions in the fields of television and literature, as I’ve mentioned, both of which are enjoying golden eras. As for format, I think both have their advantages – print is more aesthetically pleasing, digital frankly more convenient. No reason they can’t peacefully co-exist. 

Shout us a website worth visiting …  - once the virtual headquarters for my long running live “cult movie cabaret,” now the online home base for my pulp fiction.

Cover art:
Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …
I’m a very happy and lucky husband (my wife Monica is in her second year of the PhD program at the University of Washington’s School of Drama), passionate cat daddy, devoted dog walker, grindhouse cinema fiend, pulp fiction pimp, tiki lounge lizard, and serenely content Seattleite. I moved to the Emerald City from the Bay Area a year and half ago to escape the incessant heat and drought, plus, since I was raised in New Jersey, I’ve always missed the change of the seasons, particularly autumn. I’ve always hated the sun (as does my wife, luckily) and while I’ve ironically endured back to back record hot summers since our relocation, overall Seattle is my cool, green, and gray progressive paradise on Earth – culturally, atmospherically, politically, and aesthetically, it’s the city of my soul. Much like the Bay Area, only colder with more rain. I’ve found inner and outer peace at least. I still want that fucking movie to get made some day, though. Cheers.

:: Buy Will's books on Amazon

Wednesday, 28 October 2015


John Shepphird.
By John Shepphird 
As a crime writer, the theme in all of my fiction boils down to "deception." As director of low budget TV movies (25 year career in Hollywood) I've seen plenty of blind ambition. That's the inherent flaw in my character Jane Innes. The blemish sets her on her dark and twisted journey. 
KILL THE SHILL is part #2 of a trilogy from Down & Out Books (part #1 THE SHILL).     

Set in L.A., Jane is seduced by a handsome new arrival in her acting class, Cooper makes a proposition. He admits he’s a con man and needs Jane to pose as a rich, carefree heiress to fulfill her part in his intricate scam.

All goes as planned until the scam explodes in bloody violence. Discarded, sacrificed like a pawn, Jane is left holding the bag. The swindlers left a murderous trail and millions of dollars are missing. But Jane knows too much -- a liability they can’t afford to keep around. But the con artists underestimated the actress. They miscalculated Jane's tenacity and will-to-survive. Her plan is to use their own weapon, the “art of deception,” against them. Facing insurmountable odds Jane sets out to settle the score with fierce determination, and a few tricks up her sleeve.

Inspired by George Bernard Shaw's PYGMALION (and the raw crime fiction of noir master James M. Cain) THE SHILL trilogy is a caper, a love story, and a tale of deception.

I've been an amateur magician since I was gifted my first magic set at nine years old. I've studied the craft over the years and have come to the conclusion that great magic, jokes, and narratives share both unpredictability and twists. Not everything is at it appears, and it shouldn't be. So pour yourself a beverage, sit back, and enjoy the series -- THE SHILL, KILL THE SHILL, and coming soon BEWARE THE SHILL.

A big thanks to the talented and prolific author Tony Black for allowing me to guest blog on his site.  Cheers! 

:: John Shepphird is a Shamus Award winning author and consummate ne'er-do-well. To learn more about his work visit

Friday, 23 October 2015

GUEST BLOG: Jimmy Vargas on Striptease in Noir

Jimmy Vargas.
Striptease in Noir by Jimmy Vargas

Usher the word on your tongue like a forbidden invocation.

Strrrrriiiiiiippppppp......An morticious and torturous peel of skin.  

Teeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasssssse...A viper bite, that delights with its poisonous invective, hitting the blood stream invoking one's Kundalini to shimmy.

Noir......A Dark, Holy, Moist Underworld. A catacomb where both crucifixion of flesh and psyche unfolds.

The three words are married by their psychic power and primal etymology.

This is my religion.

This is my culture.

This is my Heroin.

The great literalist H.L. Mencken of that famed 1930's New York salon of the Algonquin, defined the striptease as a 'A delicious terror'.

His term, is the template on which my new novel STRIPTEASE IN NOIR has been chiselled.

But it is more.

Striptease is an erotic and gnostic sacrament in which over twenty five years I have had the privelege to enact as low priest / entertainer in both the exotic and jazz entertainment industry. (I having always utilised an ecdysiast to act as muse / interpretor of all my songs I have crafted with my two combos: the crime jazz noir'd BLACK DAHLIAS with Liliana Scarlatta and the cocktail fused collective BLACK LIST with Mia Mortal).

Yet the art of the striptease in my narratives transcend the mere gaudy sporting of undulating serpentine flesh.

It is the invocation of woman's divine mystery.

A striptease can be an act of melancholic grief of a woman's loss and exposing of vulnerability.

It is an ritual of the ripping away of her own consciousness, to a greater dance with her darker psyche.

The fan dance, too, can be considered as a ceremony of the diabla godess Lilith, earth damned, who vainly flares her wings dying to raise herself to fly from the spoiled soil that her feet are not deigned to touch. 

An Exotic's lascivious immersion in an giant perspex cocktail glass, can be celebrated as a godess' self baptism. 
The striptease is an arcane rite birthed from the loins of the ancient temple dancers of Abysynnia.

She healed, she resurrected, she cursed.

Within the power (hermetical not political) of a woman's striptease declares a dance of eros and damnation to an underworld, that drags the male voyeur beyond the belly of La Urban-noir, into the psychic terror of not merely his own physical death but his potential soul extinction.

For woman's spiritual dna = psyche / underworld.

In my novel STRIPTEASE IN NOIR out now on New York publishers BEAR MANOR press, I run through the forgotten veil of nineteen Forties Lost Angeles. 

Mine is not a Hollywood hallmark postcard of a star riddled premiere at Graumanns Chinese, nor an hokey sepia vintage sponsored by Coca Cola, but a taxi dance through a crude brittle and bawdy neighbourhood.

Mine is the sordid vale of the cribs of Fifth and main, execution tanks in San Pedro warehouses, the front row throne in a downtown grindhouse, with the fug of desperate lust hanging like halitosis, sneering red velvet curtains with their labial denial, the stonk of poor boy tokay, Surrender Parfum, and the ubiquitous milk bottles placed strategically between the teeth of skid Joe's frustrated zippers, as Miss Strip sashays, towering on the catwalk above, offering bleak seduction, without copulation or tenderness. 

Got the vision?

Well now dig the subtitles: 

An ecdysiast, one Maya Lilitha, arriving out of TJ, becomes burley queen-headliner of a downtown Los Angeles grind-house. Her powerful ritual of pagan deshabille, draws in crime czar (Bugsy Siegel), a new age messiah, Avak Argopian, and a crooner / low priest Jay in a 'erotic roulette de noir'. Her affect on all three is charismatical and ends cataclysmical. 

The novel is not a tract of striptease as a flag for feminism empowerment, unlike the naive mantra heralded by the 'neo- burlesque' practitioners here on the West Coast, but returns the 'strip' back to its original gnostic roots.  Maya's tussle with the new messiah, may appear to be a set up that is going to play out like Salome and St John the B, yet there are other occult blinds. Where the ancient temptress Salome's strip and the decapitation of the prophets head, was a symbol of the destruction of the 'capo' of the new patriachal religion Christianity that was destroying the Godess worship cults, Maya's mid 20th century battle with her nemesis is more atomic in nature as forthcoming sequels in the S.I.N. series will reveal.

But enough of the girls already, as they don't say in burleycue.

Bring on the Guns!!!!

For birthing from all unrestrained female eroticism is the ministry of male violence.

And a number of other side characters from LA legend make their appearance. The overweight and unfortunately overlooked Jack Dragna, crime king of L.A.s Mickey mouse mafia makes a brief entrance and triumphant exit , alongside the vicious thug / Matinee idol Benjamin Bugsy Siegel.

The link between crime and religious charismaticism is very strong, particularly in the rackets of Los Angeles noir. Blood is not shed in the name of Jesus Christ but the illusory nature of redemption offered by a bulging pimp roll.

Heroin, Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Armenian Apostolic Church, all serve as foot-stools for the ascending Maya's dominatione heels. 

Los Angeles may well be the City of the Angels.

But this winged creature is not Gabriel's tribe.

She is a custodians of an L.A. which is little more than an slipstreamed dyna-flow Gehenna.

Simonized in sin.

And it is here in this scratch-house that you may well find salvation in a G string and redemption in a Stripper's veil.

Not the sort of resurrection however, offered every Sunday at St. Vibiana's over on Second Street.

:: Buy Striptease in Noir from Amazon

:: More from Jimmy Vargas at: and

Friday, 2 October 2015

A TASTE OF ASHES: one week on

Well, that's the new book, A TASTE OF ASHES, precisely one week old. 

And what a busy old week it's been.

A fabulous launch on the isle of Arran, hosted by the ever-brilliant Douglas Skelton (a very nice man, and fine writer, you should check out his stuff) went down a storm. After a day of the ferries in dry-dock - creeping fog, no less - it's lucky we got going at all, so well done to all at Brodick Library, who did a fine job. 

Said book has been racking up the reviews in the last week, too.

And what a cracking bunch those reviewers are.

First up was, Linda's Book Bag, who had this to say:

'Perfect writing. The story opens in dramatic style and maintains its pace throughout ... The narrative races along and keeps breathless reader interest. The twists and turns, with frequent jolts and bombshells, make for a truly thrilling read.'

I won't be knocking that. Cheers, Linda.

Next, we caught a review from Liz Loves Books:

'Clever intuitive prose and a great deal of storytelling art makes A Taste of Ashes rather more delicious than the title would suggest. Black is indeed back. Highly Recommended.'

Pretty, pretty praise.

I loved what Undiscovered Scotland had to say, too:

'A Taste of Ashes is Tony Black's second outing for Detective Inspector Bob Valentine, and a darkly entertaining and splendidly gritty read it is.'

And, lastly, if you're still with me on this brag-fest, there was Crime Fiction Lover. A very carefully thought-out review that concluded:

'Tony Black is one of the leading lights in Scottish crime fiction as A Taste of Ashes proves. If you haven’t read any of his work previously then this is as good a place to start as any.'

With the book promo on Amazon keeping Ashes riding high in the charts (No. 4 in Scottish Crime) it's been a sound start. Well done to all at my publishers B&W, especially Janne and Laura who have been busy racking up these reviews.

:: A Taste of Ashes is currently 98p on Amazon.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

BOOK LAUNCH: Wednesday, September 30, 7pm

Well, it's that time again, folks. Book launch time.

A TASTE OF ASHES will be launched at the end of the month on the scenic isle of Arran.

A fair schlep for those of you on the mainland, about an hour on the ferry from Ardrossan, and would likely involve a stay over. But, you never know, it may just be worth the bother.

For those of you in the 'hood, Brodick Library is doing the honours this time, with the fabulous writer (and very nice man) Douglas Skelton hosting the event and maybe asking me a few questions about the book. It has a bit of an Arran setting so should be interesting for those that know the place.

And, there will be some fine Arran fare on offer, in the form of a buffet. I'm almost loath to mention the free grog, but there you go, fill yer boots!

Wed, Sep 30, 7pm at Brodick Library, Arran.

:: And, you can pre-order A TASTE OF ASHES for £0.98 on Amazon right now.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Tidelines Bookfest

I'm doing an event in Largs this weekend, Sept 12, if you're in the hood. Lots of fun and games assured, oh, and a free buffet ... well, it's included in the price! Details here ...

SEPTEMBER 24: A Taste of Ashes

The follow-up to the first DI Bob Valentine book (ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD) is due at the end of this months, maybe sooner in some shops. A TASTE OF ASHES sees Bob Valentine and Glasgow's own Sylvia McCormack on the trail of some more brutal murders in the down-at-heel seaside town of Ayr. Expect mystery, action aplenty, and perhaps just a hint of supernatural goings on.

Here's the blurb from my excellent Edinburgh-based publishers B&W:

When DI Bob Valentine returns to duty after a narrow escape with death, he is faced with the discovery of a corpse on a kitchen table with a horrific neck wound and a mystery surrounding the victim's missing partner and her daughter. It's all too close to his own near-fatal stabbing.

When the murder investigation begins to reveal a tragic family drama, Bob Valentine struggles to deal with the rapidly unfolding events and the terrifying visions that haunt him. As he starts to uncover the illicit secrets of the family's past, can he keep a grip on the case and on his own sanity before the body count starts to rise?

:: You can pre-order A TASTE OF ASHES for just £0.98 at the moment on Amazon.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

GUEST BLOG: Saira Viola on Jukebox

Saira Viola.
London noir - a contradiction?   Noir is LA, noir is New York.  London is raffish Moll Flanders or pathetic Little Nell.  London's horror is quaint: it's the city of Gothic.  De Quincey stumbling around in an opium stupor.  But Richard Widmark once walked the London streets, where Jules Dassin decided to film Night and the City.  And what was true in 1950 is even truer in today's gentrified London, which is nothing but a bit of glitter and Gucci obscuring the foul rag and bone shop of its heart.  This is the London I choose to write about in Jukebox, the city where Macheath might well ask, "What is the burgling of a bank to the founding of a bank?"  Bankers, lawyers, digital Grub Streeters, and criminal kingpins -- all one big dysfunctional 21st century family.
I am the answer to the question, what happens when the femme fatale decides to write the story?  Let Agatha Christie and her sisters rule the parlor; I prefer the mean streets where Chandler sent his common but unusual man.  Just as the femme fatale knew her victims better than they knew themselves, so too a female author can have unique insight into the rituals of men.  Fedoras and gumshoes are not the only keys to the kingdom; a plunging neckline and a pair of lizard stilettos will open more doors than any amount of dead presidents forked over by a private dick.  
For me, the writing is not just a means of exposing the nastiness that is contemporary London but also a way of contesting the past, exploding conventions and overturning expectations, in order to get at an elusive or ambiguous truth that is, if not redemptive, or even reassuring, as when punishment follows the crime, then at least aesthetically adequate to the reality that I describe -- the Siren song of consumer capitalism.
A pay-as-you-play juke joint where the bad, the beautiful, and the buzzed all vie for the top spot on the hit parade, Jukebox spins pop dreams of a city fractured by racism, sexual subterfuge, class conflict, tabloid values, and celeb idolatry, while crooks and mooches bump and grind to the beat of their own clueless vanity as Hot Chocolate coos ‘Everyone’s a Winner baby. . .’ 
In dreams begin responsibilities – and Faustian bargains.  Meet Nick, a legal flunkey who dreams of escaping into rock stardom, and his uncle Mel Greenberg, Clerkenwell’s answer to John Gotti – a sartorial charmer who wears manspanx, has a weekly spray tan, and an addiction to fox fur and caviar.  He parties with millionaire web nerds, has strippers and call girls on tap, and is besotted with a tri sexual Burlesque star.  A determined finagler, Mel is a walking riddle of greed and depravity, a Cheshire cat with fangs, who makes his nephew an offer he can’t refuse.  And the knowledge that Nick acquires is the sort of thing that made Oedipus poke out his own eyes.

:: Buy Jukebox by Saira Viola on Amazon UK

Thursday, 6 August 2015

PUSH-UPS: Brian McGilloway

SOMETIME SANTA: Brian McGilloway.
So, what you pushing right now?
My new book, Preserve the Dead. It’s the third Lucy Black book. 

What’s the hook?
Lucy pulls a dead body from the River Foyle. What initially looks a suicide takes a different turn when they discover the body was already embalmed. 

And why’s that floating your boat?
The book was finished 20 months ago but we had a lot of problems settling on a name for it which held up publication. It’s strange that, in pushing a new book, you generally end up talking about something which is at least 12 months old and you’ve moved on to a whole new story and set of characters since. 

When did you turn to crime?
In 2007 as a writer, in 1997 as a reader. Just after I finished my degree a crime bookshop in Belfast opened called NO Alibis. I called in one day and picked up a few books - some Colin Dexters and Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue. I was back two days later, joined the loyalty scheme and never looked back. The owner, Dave Torrans, loves crime writing and knows it inside out. He’s also a pusher - with every couple of purchases he’d slip a freebie into the bag and say, ‘I think you’ll like this.’ He got me hooked onto James Lee Burke with a copy of the Neon Rain. I’d be very happy to think he’s been handing out the odd freebie of mine to some unsuspecting customer too.

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary? 
Contemporary. I love books that reveal something about the state of the society which produced them - state of the nation crime. I think it’s something the crime novel is particularly suited to as it can cover all levels of society, peers behind the facade, and deals with the extremes of human behaviour. 

And, what’s blown you away lately?
I chaired the Irish Noir panel at Harrogate and they sent me a batch of books to read, which was easy as I’d already read most of them. there’s so much good stuff coming out of NI at the moment. Stuart Neville’s new one, Those We left Behind, is as brilliant and thought-provoking as you’d expect from Stuart. I’m just staring on Claire McGowan’s new one, The Silent Dead. Claire's a wonderful writer and one of very, very few women writers tackling Northern Ireland at the moment but I suspect that will change.

See any books as movies waiting to happen?
The Devlin books have been in development for 8 years now, so I’d love to see that happening soon! I loved Declan Hughe’s books and always thought they’d make cracking TV. And I think Tommy Lee Jones made a good Robicheaux, but we haven’t had a great movie of any of James Lee Burkes books yet.

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
I’m happy to read anything that grabs me. I tend to the paper rather than digital, to be honest. And I still buy hardback of any writer whose books I know I’ll want to keep.

Shout us a website worth visiting … has just been updated and made all shiny and new, so do feel free to drop by.

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …

I supplemented my student years by, among other things, playing a shopping centre Santa when I was 19. On the first day, I was driven up to the shopping centre on top of a fire engine. Some of the local kids ran alongside us the whole way up the road shouting, “Oi! Santa, you fat bastard!” 

:: Buy Brian McGilloway's PRESERVE THE DEAD at Amazon UK

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Being Busy by G. J. Brown

G.J. Brown
Being Busy by G. J. Brown

A man that I thought I'd killed has just come back from the grave and, in doing so, has forced me into a change of identity.

Back in 2008 I gave birth to a small time accountant from Glasgow called Charlie Wiggs. As unlikely a hero as you could imagine, he survived my first book, Falling, made one more brief appearance in my second book and was buried with quiet dignity. Craig McIntyre then took over my life, an ex US military bodyguard who roams the planet causing chaos. Craig and Charlie could hardly be more different. One tall and athletic. One small and overweight. One being chased by a U.S. black ops agency. The other being thrown off a roof by Glasgow thugs.

Then I met a U.S. publisher called Eric Campbell from Down and Out books based in sunny Florida. We shared a beer at the Left Coast Crime Festival in Colorado Springs and worked our way through a mountain of follow up emails that ran on for nearly two years. In the interim Craig made two outings in The Catalyst and Meltdown, while Eric and I kept up the dialogue.

Then, just before Christmas, Eric made me an offer that I couldn't refuse and, as a result, Charlie is going to appear in print in America next year when Down & Out will publish Falling. As part of the deal I made a rash promise and offered up a sequel. So, in January, I sat down to find out where Charlie has been for all these years. To start with I re-read Falling and Charlie's ghost rose from the pages and took new life.

I've just put a full stop on his return, at least the first draft, and as odd as having an accountant as the main protagonist might be, I like the fact the wee man is back.

To add to the madness of resuscitating Charlie I've also swallowed a pill that I should have swallowed a few years ago and rebranded myself as G.J. Brown. Why? Well the spectre of our ex Prime Minister casts a long shadow and I've been struggling to rise above it, especially when it comes to finding my books on the Internet. Type Gordon Brown into Google and you'll see what I mean. 

As a part time writer I have a full time job to hold down and the return of Charlie, the name change and the next Craig McIntyre novel makes for packed days. And, to add to it all, as a founding committee member on Scotland's crime writing festival Bloody Scotland, we are just about to launch the programme for 2015. The line up looks great and the festival is going to be bigger and better than ever (an old cliche but appropriate).
So all in all, as my wife points out, as good as it is to be busy, I'm happier when I'm busier.

For more see - now I'm just off to work out the set list for my show on local radio.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Enjoy a Twisted Fate in Los Angeles California with Tony Bulmer

Los Angeles, California. Everyone knows the City of Angels is a crazy town. It also happens to be my town. Tottering on the edge of fire & insanity, the fault lines of my world stretch from the endless Pacific, to the wild swirling canyons of Hollywood legend. I live on Mulholland Drive, the snake-back spine of the city, but it wasn’t always this way, hell no.

Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Michael Connelly. There is a distinct tradition of L.A. crime writing. I guess I am one too, but like the writers I just mentioned I am an outsider. I wasn’t born here. I ended up in L.A. quite by accident after series of disasters and coincidences. 

I spent close to 25 years in London England working a long succession of publishing gigs for the likes of Fleetway Comics and Dennis Publishing. I started writing crime as an antidote to the loathsomely mundane nature of my day job. I lived in a bad-assed area of North London back then and had to run a gauntlet of drug-addled maniacs just to get to work and back. Shootings, stabbings and screaming psychosis of every kind were daily gifts. One day I walked out the door and cops with machine guns were storming the house across the street. It was that kind of neighborhood.

Crime writing is an antidote to such things. Not just for the writer, but for the reader also. Crime writing intellectualizes the horror and danger of the world in which we live and raises the possibility of justice, redemption and salvation. 

For me, the very best crime writers, like Ross Macdonald, not only provide answers to the question of crime, they also raise questions about society’s big issues—poverty, abuse of power, social injustice of every kind. These are questions that concern me also, for whilst I am deeply influenced by writers such as Chandler, Fleming, Charteris and Robert Crais, I also love writers such as Steinbeck and Orwell. I am driven to provide a sense of social conscience in my work, that might in some small way make the world a better place—or at the very least, put social issues into a context that will empower the reader, so they might more easily deal with seemingly intractable bullshit that confronts us all on a daily basis.

Social conscience? What about the sex & violence and car chases? I hear you say. 

Noel Coward, once opined, “The theatre is a wonderful place, a house of strange enchantment, a temple of illusion. What it most emphatically is not and never will be is a scruffy, ill-lit, fumed-oak drill hall serving as a temporary soap-box for political propaganda.” This also applies to the popular novel. Entertainment is what this gig is about. I am an entertainer. And as such I am obsessed with taking the fun-filled fast-talking world of the Chandleresque protagonist to newer and ever greater heights. I have written smart-mouthed investigators, Sherlockian know-it-alls, and a whole bunch of bad-assed villains, as endearing and empathetic in their vileness as they are in the erudite nature of their after-dinner conversation—you will dig them all, I just know it.

Like Chandler and fellow Brit Lee Child, I was raised in England, but have spent many years in America; this has given me a unique understanding of both cultures. I get the in jokes, but I am also enough of an outsider that I can still delight in the picayune details that so many miss. I strive to capture those details, of course, and relay them with a wit, humor and humanity that will have you treasuring my books alongside those of your favorite writers. 

You should read my books. I have written ten. My latest, Twisted Fates, Twelve Tales of Murder and Redemption is a book of short stories with deliciously unexpected endings, set in and around Los Angeles, California. By the time you read this my latest high-concept crime thriller Manhattan Takedown will also be available—CIA shenanigans; corporate malfeasance and a politically incorrect talk radio DJ who might just turn New York into a post apocalyptic wasteland. Relentless twists, endless double-dealing and a mystery so intense it will have you guessing to the very last page. But you would expect that, wouldn’t you my pulp-loving pals?

:: Find out more about Tony Bulmer:

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

MEAN STREETS: A Crime Fiction Story Bundle

11 crime novels. Pay what you want. Help worthy causes 

The Mean Streets Bundle is a collection of books by renowned authors like Ed Gorman, Bill Pronzini, Sean Black, Clive Barker and David Morrell - the author of First Blood no less! Oh, and my own Truth Lies Bleeding (DI Rob Brennan 1) is in there too. There's a little over a week left to grab this bargain, check it out here:

Saturday, 2 May 2015

FACE OFF: Brennan and Nixon talk dirty deeds

Here at Pulp Pusher we don’t do things by halves. Except this time. Authors can usually be found downing whiskey and we thought throwing together two leading lights of the crime fiction indie scene in a bar to talk about writing would be a good idea. 

Irish author Gerard Brennan pens hard hitting Celtic noir and is published by digital house, Blasted Heath. Keith Nixon resides with Caffeine Nights and cranks out black comedy and crime.

Keith Nixon.
Gerard Brennan.

Keith: What piques your interest when you open a novel?

Gerard: I'm a sucker for style. Give me a strong voice over an airtight plot any day of the week.


Keith: Something that moves with pace and strong characters. I can’t be doing with plodding storylines…

So, what's next from the pen of GB?

Gerard: Hard to say. I finished two novels this year but one can't be published until I complete my PhD. The second hasn't been given the thumbs up by anybody jåust yet so for all I know, it's a bunch of shite. I'm working on a play and another Cormac Kelly novel right now, and I've a screenplay out there looking for an agent. Whichever of those hits the mark first is anybody's guess.

Keith: What's your most under-rated book?

Gerard: I think they're all overrated, mate. I'm lucky like that.

Keith: I’m not sure I’d agree with you there! The one I’ve under-rated the most of yours is Fireproof, to my eternal shame…

Gerard: Yeah, I’ve not forgiven you for that yet.

Keith: Will another drink help?

Gerard: Maybe. In fairness, I understand that the book isn’t for everybody. Fireproof seems to be the ginger step-child of my canon. It’s gotten a slight resurgence lately, though, thanks to a BookBub add. That was cool. I think it’s just one of those things. When you write a book that you can’t tag a specific genre to, it can make it hard to sell. Fireproof’s a sort of horror/crime/fantasy/comedy mash-up. And it uses religion as a backdrop, which can be off-putting to quite a few people. 

Your historic novels seem to do pretty well. Are they your most popular ones?

Keith: In terms of sales yes, by a country mile! I’ve sold over 10,000 of them now, not bad in less than a year. 

Gerard: Holy feck! Ahem… aye. Not bad, mate.

Keith: Historical fiction and Rome in particular seems to be a popular genre. Ratings wise the crime novels set a higher bar and they’re relatively more straightforward to write, but they’re less visible - funny really!

Which of your works did you enjoy writing the most?

Gerard: I’m not 100% sure. They were probably all quite a slog at the time, but as the months and years roll on you tend to remember the easier days over the hard ones. I’d say it was one of the novellas, though. Maybe Welcome to the Octagon. It’s about mixed martial arts (AKA cage fighting) and I’m an Ultimate Fighting Championship fan, so it was fun to attempt to translate that kind of action to the page. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a niche subgenre so the sales suck monkey butts. Never mind 10,000 copies. That one barely cleared 10.

While we’re chatting genre, why the direction change with The Corpse Role? Was it difficult to write a police procedural?

Keith: Yes and no. I like to get the basis of a story factually correct (which is a nightmare when you’re writing historical fiction from a period where nothing is recorded!) so there was an element of research and having to find a plausible storyline to hang the narrative from, but once I had strong characters it largely drove itself.

Gerard: Reader, writer and reviewer: Which role gives you the most pleasure?

Keith: Ironically I took them up in that order! I started reading at an early age, for as long as I can remember. Books are very important to me. If I get fed up or want to retreat from the world I’ll pick up a book. It’s a bit harder these days with the kids, though. Writing I’ll never give up. It’s a mentally tough activity, so I can’t do as much of it as I’d like (plus I have a full time job and the kids thing again). Reviewing has been great, I’ve met so many new authors as a result, but you have to be honest in your assessment, I believe. Sometimes people don’t like that.

So overall I couldn’t imagine changing any of them, but overall I’d have to go for reading – someone else can entertain me!

Could you imagine yourself as a full time writer?

Gerard: I'm kind of living the life of a full-time writer now. Kind of. I took a career break to do a PhD at Queen's University Belfast. A huge element of said PhD is to pen a crime novel. There's more to it than that, such as a critical element, courses that need to be completed, teaching opportunities... yadda, yadda, yadda. But I reckon that a true full-time writer (i.e. one that doesn't have to depend on university funding to cover their mortgage) would still have a bunch of commitments to honour, if their marketing team is doing a good job and setting them up with readings and whatnot. So, yeah. I can imagine it. And guess what. It smells like coffee. What surprises me most is how many distractions I can find that pretty much take up the time I'd have spent working the aul' office job anyway.

I could bang on about this until your eyes glaze, so I'll stop there.

You have a publisher AND you self-publish. What are you, greedy?

Keith: It’s a multi-channel strategy GB! By the way, I work in sales… I started off self-published as I had a lost year trying to get what’s now The Eagle’s Shadow to an agent. No-one was interested. My wife bought me a kindle for a birthday a few years ago, The Fix was almost done and I couldn’t face the trawl through agencies and postage costs so I put it out myself. Then along came Caffeine Nights and there are two Konstantin books with them and a third out in May (I’m Dead Again).

Someone suggested I dust off the Roman books so I did and they’ve both sold very well, to my great surprise. They weren’t right for Caffeine and I just wanted to get on with it. I’ve just self-published The Corpse Role, again just a timing thing.

Gerard: Cool, man. I've been doing some reading outside the genre lately. Horror, thriller, even science fiction. And I've enjoyed them more than most of the crime books I've read this year. I think I got stuck in a reading rut or something, and jumping genres has been a tonic. Now I'm starting to wonder if I should be wary of a writing rut. So I think that, before I hit said rut, I'm going to explore a few more genres. Horror first, I think. I'd quite like to do more genre splicing as well (like fantasy/crime fiction or something), but I'll try out a good ol' fashioned horror first. After rewriting two current books and finishing a third.

I'm going to have to work through this hangover tomorrow, aren't I?


Keith: Anyway, cheers!

Gerard: Slainte!

:: Find Keith and Gerard on Amazon

Monday, 23 March 2015

PUSH-UPS: Michael Malone

Michael Malone.
So, what you pushing right now?
Beyond the Rage, a contemporary crime thriller set in Glasgow.

What’s the hook?
The blurb ... Even though he's a successful criminal, Glasgow villain Kenny O'Neill is angry. Not only has his high-class escort girlfriend just been attacked, but his father is reaching out to him from the past despite abandoning Kenny as a child after his mother's suicide. Kenny is now on a dual mission to hunt down his girl's attacker and find out the truth about his father... but instead he unravels disturbing family secrets and finds that revenge is not always sweet. An intelligent, violent thriller shot through with dark humour, Beyond the Rage enthrals and disturbs in equal measure. With an intricate plot, all-too-believable characters and perfectly pitched dialogue, this is a masterclass in psychological crime fiction writing.

And why that's floating your boat?
In my first two crime novels the main character was DI Ray McBain and Ray happens to have a bessie mate who is a bit of a gangster, Kenny O'Neill. In BtR Kenny takes centre stage and Ray makes a cameo appearance. It was great fun to throw off the constraints of a pesky legal system and just take a character wherever the hell he wants to go.

When did you turn to crime?
It was an accident, honest, guv. I didn't think I had the plotting skills to write a crime novel, but when a dream I had became the opening chapter to Blood Tears, I went with it and discovered that with lots of hard work and thinking time (see me staring into space ignoring everyone around me) that it was possible.

Hardboiled, noir, classic or contemporary?
BtR has a touch of noir but leans more to the contemporary. I think. I'm not much one for labels. I just write what I write, read as widely as I can and let people more clever than me get on with the categorisation.

What's blown you away lately?
I've just read John Connolly's new one  A Song of Shadows (out in April) and he's bang on form. (He never loses it to be fair). And a couple of really excellent debuts - The Abrupt Physics of Dying by Paul E. Hardisty and Graham Smith's  Snatched from Home. Both are well worth your hard-earned.

See any books as movies waiting to happen ...
I know I'm biased but I think my last book The Guillotine Choice would be a cracking movie - and we're in Papillon territory here, so what's not to love? Based on a true story it has everything - adventure, incredible courage and the best and the very worst of humanity.

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
I tend to read mostly mainstream simply because I work in publishing and I need to read a strong selection across my client publishers. Having said that I am in the process of judging a self-published novel competition for the Scottish Association of Writers and there's a handful there that would sit comfortably on any publisher's list.

As for paper vs digital it's paper every time. Reading a book from a screen feels (to me) like I'm reading an unfinished manuscript (which I do from time to time) so I find it difficult to turn off my critical reader. It takes something outstanding for me to relax and just go with it. Whereas when it's already in book form, my only expectation is that I'm going to be entertained. And it takes some poor writing and editing for me to switch on my inner critic. It's a subtle change in mental approach that I can't seem to control but means paper wins every time. AND books are such lovely things aren't they? A row of gadgets on a shelf just doesn't have the same aesthetic appeal.

Shout us a website worth visiting …
CrimeSquad - monthly updates with some of the best new crime and thriller fiction out there. 


Author of the Month for March is Peter Swanson who burst on the crime scene in 2014 with his debut, The Girl With a Clock for a Heart.

Preview by Yahoo

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …
I've just bought a new coffee bean grinder. You can't beat freshly brewed coffee to kick start your morning. (Unless it also comes with a warm croissant.)

:: Michael Malone blogs at