Tuesday, 2 May 2017

What is Pulp Fiction?

Len Levinson.
by Len Levinson

After attending the Windy City Pulp & Paper Convention on 4/23/2017, I found myself wondering what exactly is pulp fiction anyway.
I’ve written 83 published novels under 22 pseudonyms. All generally are considered pulp fiction so I should know what it is by now, but never thought much about definitions or codifications before.
When the expression “pulp fiction” first was used, it referred to cheap paper used in magazines publishing that kind of fiction. But precisely what kind of fiction was it? What is the difference between pulp fiction and ordinary fiction?
Raymond Chandler said, “I guess maybe there are two kinds of writers, writers who write stories and writers who write writing.”
First and foremost, pulp fiction tells stories. That means they require plots. But not just any old plots. Pulp fiction requires gripping plots. Something vital must be at stake in every story. Suspense is the name of the game. Pulp fiction is not about people sitting around having extended erudite conversations about Heidegger’s theory of being. Pulp fiction usually is about life or death situations, or the possible destruction of a city, or even the vaporization of the entire planet by an evil genius.
Villains must be truly villainous, not nice guys confused about moral issues, although villains certainly can be multi-dimensional. Heroes or anti-heroes must be brave, tough and resourceful, despite occasional human failings. There are exceptions to every rule but exceptions do not invalidate rules.
All characters must be finely etched and real. They should come to life and jump off the page into the reader’s lap. Their dialogue should snap, crackle and pop like Rice Krispies. No meandering pointless conversations allowed. Every word must advance the plot.
Regarding locales, the reader should feel that s/he just parachuted into a scene which s/he can vividly see, smell, hear and feel.. S/he must know precisely what’s happening at all times. But scene description must not be overdone. Good pulp fiction strikes the balance between too much and too little.
Pulp fiction should grab the reader by the throat with the first sentence, not on page 31 after lengthy scholarly expositions. Pulp fiction writing must have momentum, not meander lazily along like the Swanee River. The reader should feel as if s/he just stepped onto a fast-moving train. Ideally, the reader will become so immersed in the story, s/he will feel disoriented and won’t know where s/he is when looking up from the page.
Pulp fiction can be hard-boiled crime investigations, visionary sci-fi extravaganzas, sinister spy thrillers, supernatural fantasy melodramas, sword-swinging pirate bloodbaths, shoot-em-up westerns, bone-chilling horror tales, razzle dazzle action-adventure sagas, bloody exploding war novels, and even desperately passionate Harlequin-type romances. I suppose pulp fiction can be about anything, the weirder the better.
But the stories have got to move. They’ve must be humanly real no matter how offbeat the story. They’ve got to draw in the reader. They’ve got to totally fascinate or enchant.
I don’t intend to denigrate regular fiction. I’ve read and enjoyed most of the classics. But pulp fiction is like a punch in the mouth. It’s got to knock you out. You shouldn’t be able to put a pulp fiction book away and go to bed at night like a normal, decent person. It should excite your imagination and make you forget about going to bed. It should turn you on.
That’s pulp fiction in my opinion, folks. At least that’s how I’ve always tried to write it.


:: LEN LEVINSON is the author of 83 novels written under 22 pseudonyms, published originally by Bantam, Dell, Fawcett, Harper, Jove, Charter Diamond, Zebra, Belmont-Tower, and Signet, among others.  He has been acclaimed a “Trash Genius” by Paperback Fanatic magazine, and his books have sold an estimated two-and-one-half million copies.  Many of his novels have been republished as ebooks and paperbacks by Len Levinson.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

FREE: R.I.P Robbie Silva

* * * * FREE THIS WEEKEND * * * *


You can pick up the Edinburgh-set noir thriller, featuring fresh out of jail Jed Collins today, for the princely sum of nowt.

R.I.P Robbie Silva features all the Edinburgh gangsters you could ever want, a squabble or two, and a security van heist that makes Richie Burton's Villain look like a Disney movie.

Enjoy!

:: R.I.P Robbie Silva is available on Amazon UK and Amazon USA and all other Amazon sites. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Sex and Violence and Noah Milano

by Jochem Vandersteen

I am far from a prude but I did it find it difficult to write sex scenes on the page.

I guess earlier Noah Milano stories reflected this a little bit. Ever since The Death Business I’ve been a bit more confident about it, I guess it has to do with getting older. That’s not to say my stories have turned into letters to Penthouse Forum, I have no illusion I am that literate, after all. 

Seriously, I try to write about sex the way I do about violence. Hell, the way I write all my scenes. The way Elmore Leonard intended us hardboiled writers to, leaving out the parts people skip.

I don’t get bogged down in the details of the acts of sex and violence but don’t pull back on the grit either. When people are horny they fuck, not make love. When people fight, they go for the kill.

There’s blood, naked bodies, bad language and nasty people all around my new novella as well.

The way I write I don’t need 60,000 words to get my story told. I know I’m not writing War and Peace. I’m not writing to change the world. I’m writing because I love what the ones who came before me did so well. 

You know, Hammett, Chandler, MacDonald and maybe even more so Mickey Spillane and later on Robert Crais and Robert B. Parker. I want to entertain. And let's face it, reading about cool private eyes fighting gangsters and bedding hot women is entertaining.

And make no mistake, my main protagonist for almost twenty years now, Noah Milano is one cool dude. He’s a Jack Daniels swilling, 9mm-packing wiseguy in a leather coat, as quick with his wit as his fists. 

Women want him and men want to  be him. That kind of guy. He’s also full of guilt and anger, so don’t think there’s not a certain level of deeper thoughts in the book. It’s just that’s the icing, not the cake.

What I’m trying to say, I guess is that if you like pulp fiction, if you want to be entertained and don’t get offended by sex and violence you might want to pick up my new novella. It’s dirt cheap too. Come on, you know you’re not better than I am. You love that kind of shit too.

* * * *

Serving Justice is available now on Amazon

When security specialist and son of LA's biggest mobster, Noah Milano, moonshines as a process server and manages to piss off a MMA fighter and stumble on a corpse. He's enlisted to prove a beautiful woman didn't killer her husband, the corpse Noah found. Caught in a dangerous web of deception where danger lurks around the corner and it can be very unclear who is friend and who is foe Noah Milano fights for redemption ... And to serve justice

"Jochem's deep and abiding love for classic pulp fiction comes through on every page, and his stories continue the time-honored tradition of the hardboiled American PI." 
--Sean Chercover, author of Trigger City.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Grab 'em whilst you can!


Some price drop news today. TRUTH LIES BLEEDING, the first in the DI Rob Brennan series is FREE in the USA for a little while. 

This one picked up some rave reviews when it was released by Random House, like this one from The Times:

"Tony Black's Edinburgh makes Ian Rankin's version of the city seem sedate, polite and carefree ... makes a strong case to assume the mantle of Edinburgh's leading fictional detective, vacant since the retirement of Rankin's Rebus."

:: Download TRUTH LIES BLEEDING for your Kindle at Amazon in the USA



In other news, you can also get my latest title, BAY OF MARTYRS for a mere quid right now.

:: Download BAY OF MARTYRS for your Kindle at Amazon UK


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

New Thylacine Interview

I've just completed a really great interview with a group of Tasmanian tiger bloggers. They asked some great questions that really made me think about how I got started writing THE LAST TIGER. Here's a taster and you can follow the link at the bottom of the page to the full interview.

Q- How did you get interested initially into writing a book about thylacines? 

Tony- I used to work on a paper in SW Victoria called The Standard and when I was there I wrote several stories about strange animal sightings in the district that the locals thought were the thylacine. I started to dig into the subject and was immediately hooked. It's a tragic story, something that should never have happened, and it struck a chord with me, on a very deep level, that is still resonating today. 


Read the whole interview at the Australian Tasmanian Tiger blog and you can follow the group on Facebook.

Monday, 3 April 2017

The Last Tiger



I have a new cover for THE LAST TIGER, created by the incredibly talented Mr Jim Divine - check out his stuff, if you're an author in the market for a cover, promo banners or more. He's highly recommended and an author himself (The Lost Tornado) which currently boasts around 70-plus reviews, mostly at 5-star. 

Jim created the cover for THE LAST TIGER to replace the original created by publishers Cargo. I loved the original cover too but really wanted to get one that shouted about the Tasmanian setting more and I think Jim's one fits perfectly. 

Since the rights for THE LAST TIGER reverted to me last month I've been selling the book at £0.99 on Amazon, which isn't a bad price for a book that was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger and Not the Booker Prize, but don't tale my word for it.

"Striking, wildcard brilliance," was the word of the Sydney Morning Herald.

:: The Last Tiger is £0.99 on Amazon UK.


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Questions on the Queensland Tiger Search

ANYONE who takes an interest in the story of the Tasmanian tiger (thylacine) has had a lot to think about this last week. 
News outlets the world over have been busily splashing headlines about a number of new sightings alleging to be the thylacine in the far north of Queensland. As ever with new thylacine sightings, a certain amount of excitement follows but the excitement this time round has been exceptional.
It's an interesting story, with some very interesting elements that will set antennae twitching among thylacine researchers. I don't count myself among this number - my novel about the demise of the thylacine in Tasmania involved a lot of research but those very few thylacine experts out there have spent lifetimes studying the subject.
What I do know, however, caused me to wonder what exactly was going on in Queensland. The evidence from the sightings is very interesting, and from seemingly reliable sources, but what perplexed me more was the fulsome backing from the James Cook University academics involved. Academics tend not to be so confident where the thylacine is concerned.
Knowing what I do about the Tasmanian thylacine, the method of research that is going to be used (going on the press reports) prompts more questions. 50 high-tech baited camera traps are to be set in the territories identified but this has been tried in previous searches without success. Thylacines, at least those in Tasmania, were not carrion eaters so the 'bait' presumably would need to be live.
Live traps bring their own problems to a search. Not least the inevitable human involvement necessary and thylacines - again, the Tasmanian ones we have some knowledge of - were notoriously wary of human scent. If you've seen the movie The Hunter you'll recall Willem Dafoe had to smear himself almost completely in scent-masking mud and gloop to have any chance of fooling his prey.
I was, though, much more heartened by the eye-witness reports. Brian Hobbs, who the media describe as a tourism operator in Queensland, said the animals he saw were shy creatures. Now this does fit with original testimony on the thylacine and made me think. When I was a newspaper reporter in SW Victoria I interviewed people who claimed to have seen thylacines and some had clearly viewed the YouTube footage of that enormous gape with the teeth inside and invented an aggressive predator to suit their story.  
But, again, I latched onto some doubts about the sightings. The second witness, a parks ranger this time, detailed a pack of animals and in a separate location. Thylacines were not known to travel in packs, but were solitary night hunters. And the chances of two separate populations surviving at different locations seemed slim to me; though I did wonder if we were dealing with one population that moved about over considerable distances as thylacines were known to do.
In the end, I was left with more questions than answers about the latest sightings and the planned search they'd sparked in Queensland. But, as I say, I'm no expert. The research required to write a novel is nothing compared with the intensive, life-long study and scientific analysis that accompanies the work of a man like, for example, Col Bailey.
Bailey, has been one of the leading experts on the thylacine for decades. He has conducted innumerable searches, written three books on the subject and was the man that Australian film director Daniel Netteim called in to add credibility to Dafoe's character in The Hunter.
Now in his 80s, Bailey remains lively in all debate about the thylacine. He's known for his forthright views, expressed in numerous newspaper and television interviews throughout the world. He seemed like the perfect man to put my questions to on the latest Queensland thylacine story - so that's what I did. 
TONY BLACK: Another search, another round of media excitement - I've noticed over the years that you tend to be far more reserved in your assessments of such events, Col. Is this time any different?
COL BAILEY: Yet another mainland search for the holy grail of rare and supposedly extinct animals. It may well be the media who, as is usual, come out in front again. The thylacine or Tasmanian tiger most certainly did at one time exist in Queensland but is believed to have died out there several thousand years ago. However, over the past 100 years or so, consistent reports have ensured the possibility of the tiger’s survival, and the latest round of sightings only add to the anticipation.
The people reporting the latest sightings - one a former Queensland National Parks Service ranger and the other a tourism operator - seem to be reliable witnesses, but you've spoken to a lot of reliable witnesses in the past, can we place too much emphasis on such claims?
NPWS officers and tourism operators? Tasmania has had its fair share of this type of sighting too. They are, after all, at the forefront of Parks maintenance and adventure tour activities that often place them in remote and seldom accessed wilderness areas. They above all people should be conversant enough with this animal to give a balanced opinion, but as is so often the case, human error can so often overrule common logic.
The tourism operator, Brian Hobbs, says he saw a pack of animals in the Cape York Peninsula. Does this sound like thylacines to you?
Thylacines in Tasmania have never been known to be a pack animal, rather a solitary, lone-wolf, hunter - type top order carnivore. However, a family grouping of mother and young were often seen in days – gone-bye. This could comprise of an adult female and anywhere up to four immature offspring, once commonplace, but a highly unlikely prospect these days.
Hobbs' description of the animals he saw as quiet and non-aggressive does sound very like the thylacine to me. The popular myth is of a much more threatening animal, does this say anything to you?
Records of thylacine behaviour generally describe a shy, placid animal with a non-aggressive attitude towards humans. The exception was their savage attitude to other animals, domestic dogs and the like. Very few recorded instances exist of their unrestrained belligerence towards humans.  Conversely, there do exist inconsistent hearsays alleging otherwise, these being more in the realm of fiction.
The ranger's sightings were in a separate remote location in the far north of Queensland. Would this suggest the possibility of a separate population or a roaming population? 
This is perhaps a more interesting aspect of this scenario, casting as it does a more credible light on the probability of a thylacine presence in the area. Thylacines are by nature territorial animals, roaming over large swathes of countryside, this dependent on the nature of the terrain and the availability of prey species within that expanse. Therefore, there remains the possibility of their inhabiting such an area as that in question, its seclusion and inaccessibility having previously protected them from detection, thus enabling them to survive against the odds. 
When the ABC put Hobbs' description to Professor Bill Laurance from James Cook University he came to the conclusion, after dismissing everything else, that it was a thylacine sighting. I generally find academics extremely reluctant to nail their colours to the mast so strongly when it comes to such sightings - should we read anything into this?
Professor Bill Lawrence, as an academic of some standing, has either intentionally or inadvertently laid his reputation squarely on the line in advocating a thylacine presence, regardless of whether it is in Queensland or anywhere else in Australia. This therefore gives considerable credence, particularly to the QNPS ranger’s sighting rather than that of tourism operator Hobbs who would be less experienced in these matters, particularly in the identification of such an unfamiliar animal as the thylacine. This then perhaps, throws a new perspective on Bill Lawrence’s undertaking, considering the likelihood of a pending field survey and investigation of the matter.
The field survey is going to be led by Dr Sandra Abell, also from James Cook University. She has only recently discovered a population of the near-extinct northern bettong nearby. On paper it sounds like a serious search by well-qualified people - how do you rate it, and also, their chances?
The interest being shown by James Cook University is noteworthy and strongly suggests an academic awareness of the possibility of thylacines in north Queensland. In appointing Dr. Sandra Abell, the recent discoverer of a near extinct bettong population in northern Queensland to lead the investigation, their chances of their locating a thylacine presence, however inconceivable it may appear to some, cannot be ruled out entirely. It is possible too, that a form of allopatric speciation may have taken place through isolation that differentiates the Queensland tiger from our own Tasmanian version.
More than 50 high-tech baited camera traps are to be used in two sites. I'm presuming this will have to be live bait to even tempt a thylacine but given the animal's wily nature does this sound like a sound plan to you?
The employment of baited camera traps, be they live or dead baits, does pose several pertinent questions. Such contrivances have, from time to time been used in Tasmania without success. Live baits comprising poultry, domestic stock and small animals etc. have proven extremely time consuming with on-going care and maintenance commitments. Dead baiting with offal, various animal parts along with a variety of other mediums have failed to bring positive results. Unless Queensland thylacines have differing gastronomic desires to their Tasmanian cousins, the results may well end up the same. I have long stressed that human scent associated with such tactics can and does act conversely, as the thylacine will stay well clear once human scent is detected. However, back in the days when thylacines were common in Tasmania, their guard was down and they were nowhere as restrained and cautious as they are today. If by chance there are thylacines living in that surreptitious Queensland haven in unmolested bliss, they may well take the bait and be reeled in. Whatever the outcome, it will most certainly be an interesting exercise.

:: Col Bailey's most recent book, Lure of the Thylacine, is available on Amazon Australia and Amazon UK.


Friday, 24 March 2017

OUT NOW: Bay of Martyrs

Sooo, the day has finally arrived. BAY OF MARTYRS is out!

If you like the sound of 'True Detective Down Under' then this is the boyo for you. Co-written by the excellent Aussie scribe, Matt Neal, you can walk into any good book store - and a few shit ones - in Scotland right now, hand over legal tender (or shoplift it) and walk out with the bad boy.

You can also pay a visit to the website place that sells books. Where we have a cracking first 5-star review in place, which states: ''I thoroughly enjoyed Bay of Martyrs. It is a thumping good read which held my attention throughout.''

There's a few more reviews out there, including Shots, who say: ''Aussie noir has a certain ring to it, almost like the sound of half-empty lager cans being banged together at the end of a test match. If this is the start of a new wave in crime writing, you can expect Tony Black and Matt Neal to surf it all the way to Bondi beach.''


Matt does a fine job of pimping our wares down at the Highland Times, that northern paper of note, too. And there's an interview with the very man on Paul D. Brazill's brilliant blog, where he reveals a certain fondness for The Muppets, among other things.

:: BAY OF MARTYRS is out now on Amazon UK   Amazon USA   Amazon AU

Thursday, 16 March 2017

True Detective on the Australian Coast

FOR those of you paying attention it can't have escaped your notice that there is a new book with my name on it fast approaching. But, not only my name! Let me explain ...

''True Detective on the Australian coast''
A few years back I worked beside a precocious journalist by the name of Matt Neal. Soon after meeting Mr Neal I hatched the dastardly plan of harnessing his talents in service of my own, er, dastardly plan. It took more than a decade, and pulling in copious favours from all my Illuminati contacts, but hey presto!

Yes, Mr Neal was duly signed into servitude on BAY OF MARTYRS and what a beezer of a job he's done on all the heavy lifting. The book, which is being described as ''True Detective on the Australian coast'' is out this month, March 23 to be precise but for those of you interested in reviewing on blogs etc there are some review copies kicking about at my publishers, Freight.

The excellent Freight have a detailed run-down on the book's plot on their website for those of you keen on that kind of thing, but I'll shove in a few quotes from big name authors here just for the sake of bumming us up:

''This is one hell of read, two authors is a tricky gig and most times results in desultory effect. But here are two writers so in sync that it is seamless. A get in yer face, down and dynamic read that grips and enthrals. Tony Black at the very height of his terrific talent and now with a double act to enrich his solid rep.''
-Ken Bruen, author of The Guards and Priest 

''This was a great read. Really cool, interesting and unusual locales, with a fast-paced thriller narrative and some very sexy lead characters. Highly recommended.''

-Tony Cavanaugh, author of Promise and Dead Girl Sing

Drop Freight or me a line if you fancy reviewing BAY OF MARTYRS or, indeed, interviewing myself or Mr Neal about his ordeal.

:: Bay of Martyrs is available in bookstores and on Amazon.  


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

SUMMONING THE DEAD £0.90

For a limited period you can grab a copy of the latest DI Bob Valentine novel for under a pound.


Saturday, 12 November 2016

Push-Ups: Grant McKenzie

So, what you pushing right now?
My 10th thriller, The Butcher’s Son, brings back Child Protection Officer Ian Quinn in a stand-alone sequel to last year’s The Fear In Her Eyes. Attentive readers will also note Portland Homicide Detective Jersey Castle from my thriller Speak The Dead also pops by.

What’s the hook?
Ian Quinn has spent his life protecting children from the monsters that live among us. As a child protection officer, Ian places their lives above his own, and has no qualms about getting his hands dirty when it comes to protecting those who can't protect themselves. Years ago, Ian was unable to protect his own daughter when she was killed, and has channeled the anger and sadness into his vocation. Ian has tried to bury his past. But the past is far from done with him.
Ian's own father left years ago, leaving Ian and his mother alone. But out of the blue Ian is called by an attorney, claiming his father has recently died and named Ian in his will. Ian had assumed his father was long dead. When Ian goes to the lawyer's office, he is given three items:
The first is a key.
The second is a deed to his grandfather's old butcher shop.
The third is a letter from his father that reads simply and cryptically: "Sorry for everything, son, but it's your burden now."

And why’s that floating your boat?
The Butcher’s Son is a story about family secrets, both the spoken and unspoken, and how they can affect one’s life. Ian is a man who has been tempered in fire, but there has always been something missing. Despite his inherent toughness, which is wrapped like armour around a broken core, Ian has always wondered why everyone he loves ends up leaving. His sister vanished without a trace when he was a child. Two years later, his grandfather died and his father vanished after the funeral. And in The Fear In Her Eyes, he had to deal with the mysterious death of his daughter, and the collapse of his marriage. But now, in The Butcher’s Son, he gets to find some answers. And those answers lead him down a jagged path full of bloody secrets and violent threats that he had no idea about.

When did you turn to crime?
I have always read crime novels from the young-adult mysteries of Enid Blyton to the teen novels of S.E. Hinton. I started my first novel in junior high as an exercise for myself to see if I could do it. And then in high school, I devoured the hardboiled mysteries of Mickey Spillane and John D. MacDonald, the noir of Chandler and Hammett, and the wonderfully gifted Gregory Mcdonald whose Fletch novels inspired me to keep writing. As a young journalist working the Dead Body Beat at 19, I was exposed to the underbelly of reality and saw that crime was messy, violence was sloppy and some very bad people got away with a lot of bad shit. Naturally, this also influenced how and what I wrote.

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary?
I like and read all of it, really. But I do find myself relishing the hardboiled stuff, which is mostly out of the UK. Hardboiled writers have a tendency to break more boundaries and don’t fear where they tread.

And, what’s blown you away lately?
I’ve been reading a lot of cool stuff lately from some favourite authors such as Robert McCammon, Gregg Hurwitz, Dennis LeHane, James Rollins, Ken Bruen, and, of course, M.C. Grant’s Dixie Flynn trilogy.

See any books as movies waiting to happen?
All of the Grant McKenzie novels would make brilliant movies. The screenplay for K.A.R.M.A. won a Praxis Fellowship, but why No Cry For Help hasn’t been snapped up by the film folk already is a head scratcher.

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
I read in both paper and digital.
I still prefer the feel of a printed book, and tend to buy my favourite authors in paper, but I enjoy the convenience of my ereader, especially when reading at night or when I’m camping in my old VW Westie. I’ve been published by both mainstream and Indie, and can say good and bad things about both.

Shout us a website worth visiting …
https://www.ourplacesociety.com/ - A wonderful organization that helps the homeless and people living in poverty.

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …
Born in Scotland, living in Canada, and writing American fiction, I wear a toque with my kilt and six-guns. I was born in East Kilbride, Scotland, and moved to Canada with my family when I was 13. Most of my novels are set on the west coast of America from Port Angeles to San Francisco, but with occasional forages across the border into Canada. It’s fun being able to visit the places I write about, digging up odd bits of history and local colour to add to the narrative. As a long, long time comic book fan, one of my secret goals, apart from actually making a living at this writing gig, is to write some comic books.

:: Check out Grant's website: http://grantmckenzie.net

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

I did some stuff, and some other stuff



It's Tuesday, or something, which means it must be time for the Friday update once again. Yes it's that more of me, me, me bollocks that seems to be the go these days.

So, here we are:

First off, if you didn't already know, Book Week Scotland will soon be upon us and I'm out and about pimping my wares at a number of venues this year. You can catch me at the following spots that were kind enough to invite my raggedy-ass along:


MONTROSE............Monday 21st Nov

DUMFRIES..............Wed 23rd Nov


MORNINGSIDE.........Thurs 24th Nov

DANDERHALL..........Fri 25th Nov




I'll be reading from SUMMONING THE DEAD, my new DI Bob Valentine book, which brings me nicely onto the latest promo activities which have been cropping up.

The Arran Banner - because it's a paper run by very nice people - had me back for a post-launch lead where reporter Hugh Boag recalled the night in Brodick Library where Bob 3 met the world. A great wee piece and, again, The Banner being very good to me, as usual. 

The Edinburgh Evening News (more nice, kind folks) put together a few pars on the new book too, with nice mentions for the two gigs I'm doing in the city - Morningside and Danmderhall - for BWS.

A host of new reviews have appeared for SUMMONING THE DEAD. 

Shots Mag called it, 'a gripping, horrifying and well-paced tale of crime fiction'.

Little Bookness Lane said its 'sensitively grounded and assured plot has you rooting for DI Valentine'.

The Welsh Librarian really got the story, saying,  'Summoning the dead seems somehow harder and more realistic than some of the fiction in its genre and for that it’s author can only be applauded. To keep a prolific reader hooked from start to finish is no mean feat. An excellent crime novel, and I shall be seeking more from this author'.

I've also written a little piece about my reading habits over at Crime Worm.


And finally, in other news, I can confirm the publication date of my next novel - BAY OF MARTYRS - which I've written with Matt Neal will be March 20, 2017.

And finally, finally, big thanks to Blackwells Book Store in Edinburgh for the very nice promotion on SUMMONING THE DEAD, pity I have to share a shelf with Tony Blair, though.



Friday, 28 October 2016

Catch the Australian Crimewave


Jock Serong.
By Jock Serong

Why read Australian crime fiction? Because it’s going through a really interesting time. 
Crime fiction everywhere has a problem with derivation. Jaded cops, a city on the edge. Gimme your badge and your gun – you’re off the case. Don’t get me wrong: these tropes are highly functional: they’re overused because they’re known to pull readers through the pages. The problem is, they might summon the Chicago back alleys but they don’t speak for Ipswich, Geelong or Darwin.
You sent convicts over here so it’s natural we’d be sending crime writers back. And there’s a generation coming through who have abandoned the conventions in favour of something much more interesting: crime as an expression of the national mood. What the hell do I mean by that? It’s hard to describe but you know it when you see it. Peter Temple talking about corruption. Adrian Hyland dissecting our mining boom through the eyes of a female indigenous protagonist. Angela Savage, who specialises in south-east Asia, and has expertly tackled difficult aspects of our proximity to the region including sex tourism and adoption fraud.
I could go on and on: Barry Maitland on bikies, psychiatrist Anne Buist on bi-polar, and two excellent books that explore our epidemic levels of domestic violence: Anna George’s What Came Before, and Emily Maguire’s An Isolated Incident. Then there’s P.M. Newton’s book Beams Falling, which studies crime amongst the Vietnamese community in Sydney’s Cabramatta. Her first novel, The Old School, used a crime scene as a stunning metaphor for our history: the remains of Aboriginal activists, found in the footings of a building during demolition.
Everything in literature starts with the familiar and works its way out into unknown lands, and Australian crime fiction is no exception. The foundation stone in this country, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886) was written by an Englishman and – I’ll be burned for heresy – it could’ve been set in London. Fast-forward a hundred years and Paul McLauren put the weapons and methods of modern white policing in the hands of an Aboriginal detective, subverting the lazy assumptions that had built up over a century. Indigenous writer Nicole Watson did likewise in The Boundary, as did Peter Docker with his devastating depiction of real events in Sweet One.
Available now.
We’re a society crammed into a narrow coastal fringe between enormous ocean and equally forbidding desert. And into that slender ribbon of greenery we’ve packed all our ambitions and insecurities and pretensions. People order New York-style loft apartments off the plan. Our gangsters pay cash for Lamborghinis and Harley Davidsons so they can cut frustrated laps of the cafĂ© district. Look at me, you pricks. And deep in our bones the whole bloody lot of us know we’re wobbling atop a pile of unanswered questions. Silences that have closed over our brutalising of the first Australians, our pretending there aren’t desperate refugees knocking on our door. Garry Disher says crime fiction is a barometer of social tensions, and nowhere is that statement truer than here.
I called it a national mood a moment ago and there’s a specific reason for that. I’m not saying everyone’s in a state of denial. If we were, we wouldn’t be seeing these books. In order to set ourselves up as an affluent modern society, Australians have been overlooking some grievous deeds and we know it. Our crime fiction is now looking over the overlooking.

:: Buy THE RULES OF BACK YARD CRICKET by Jock Serong on Amazon.



Friday, 14 October 2016

SUMMONING THE DEAD is out now.

OUT NOW!
THE third Bob Valentine novel is here. SUMMONING THE DEAD is available to buy now, though the official launch will take place next Thurs, Oct 20, in the scenic surrounds of Brodick on the isle of Arran. 

The local paper, The Banner, has very kindly put out a lovely piece on the new book, with a run down on the plot and some dodgy ramblings from the author.


Likewise, The Highland Times, that newspaper of note, has done a piece where I yabber uncontrollably about the contents of said tome. (More news about the Highland Times soon, and a new books column that will involve the newest releases).


Sticking with the new book theme, and why wouldn't we, there's a kind and erudite review over at Undiscovered Scotland that declares SUMMONING THE DEAD "a highly engaging and entertainingly gritty read ... Highly recommended".


The kindness continues over at Amazon where Bob's third outing is clocking up some very catchy reviews:



"This is one of the best books I've read this year. An intriguing plot, well developed characters and something to really make it stand out with Valentine's supernatural abilities ... I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys crime suspense/thrillers.'' 

(5 Stars)

''This was a really well written book, on a highly sensitive, and emotive subject – the abuse and murder of two young boys. ... I loved his character, and would love to read more about him, so will be checking out more from this author!'' (5 Stars)


''Brilliant story and the first I've read of this author. I'm going to treat myself to the series so far and hope there is more to come. The story had me hooked straight away and kept me rooting for the good guys till the end. A tough subject to cover but sensitively handled. Loved it and would definitely recommend.'' (5 Stars)


If you're a book blogger my publishers still have some review copies of SUMMONING THE DEAD to dish out. Drop them a line at: mail@blackandwhitepublishing.com 

or find them on Twitter or Facebook.

:: The launch party in Brodick Library is free and open to everyone. There will be free booze, some crackers (present company included) and signed books available.


Saturday, 24 September 2016

PUSH-UPS: Michael J. Malone

Michael J. Malone.
So what you pushing right now?
My new book is called A Suitable Lie and it comes atcha from that publishing powerhouse, Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books.

What’s the hook?
The blurb reads thusly: Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she's his perfect match... And she loves his son, too. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. He ignores it; a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything. 

And why’s that floating your boat?
I started writing and researching this book in 1998, so it’s brilliant to see it reach the light of the bookshops. I’m torturing a metaphor there, but you know what I mean, right?

When did you turn to crime?
When I stepped back from the writing of BLOOD TEARS, the third book I wrote, but the first to be published, I realised I’d written a crime novel. So it was a happy accident really, and if I’d been consciously trying to write one I’m not sure I could have. I was convinced I didn’t have the plotting chops to please the reader. But as the man said, you don’t know if you can do it, until you do it.

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary? 
I lean more to the contemporary, but I’m partial to shades of hardboiled and noir.

And, what’s blown you away lately?
I mentioned Orenda Books earlier? The publisher there, Karen Sullivan has an amazing eye, I’ve loved pretty much everything she’s put out so far. It’s difficult to play favourites but Amanda Jenning, In Her Wake had me in tears, as did Louise Beech’s The Mountain in my Shoe (I know, I’m a big soft lump) Also loved Michael Grothaus’ Epiphany Jones – probably the most exciting new voice in fiction I’ve read in recent years.

See any books as movies waiting to happen?
Yup. All of the above. And ALL of mine.

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
Not fussed if it’s mainstream or indie, all I want is a good book. Both are capable of producing crackers – both are capable of producing stuff that doesn’t do it for me.
And it’s got to be paper. I really struggle with reading from a screen. It has the feel of a manuscript and I can’t relax into the reading, and just want to edit.

Shout us a website worth visiting …
You should all have a look at my new publisher’s website -  http://orendabooks.co.uk/ and check out what Karen is up to. Very few publishers ever manage to achieve the level of brand awareness she has, in only 22 or so months. Do you ever hear of people saying they must look to see what Headline are producing next? Orenda get that all the time. Can you tell I’m a fan of her work?


:: Buy A SUITABLE LIE on Amazon.