Monday 18 August 2014

The Girl in the Basement by Wayne Simmons

The Girl in the Basement is the latest offering from Northern Ireland's genre giant, Wayne Simmons. Published by Infected Books, this brutal little novella is a psychological thriller that wallows in noir conventions. Simmons is primarily known as a horror hack (in his own words), but he has done a terrific job of straddling a few crime fiction sub-genres in this one. But if you're a true-blue horror fan, don't worry, he does manage to squeeze in a cheeky zombie movie reference here and a slasher flick hat-tip there. Now, while there are undoubtedly points in this novella that Simmons hammered out with a wry smile on his face, you are more likely to grimace than grim; which is what his constant readers have come to expect and crave, no doubt.

As far as the plot goes, the title tells you just enough to give you an idea of what's going on. I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't go into any more detail. What I will say is that I took more from this than I did from, say, Stephen King's Gerald's Game, a novel with a similar premise that (in my opinion) should have been much shorter. And I'm a fan of those epic King novels, IT and The Stand, as well as the entire Dark Tower series, so you can't really blame my lack of enthusiasm for Gerald's Game on a shortening attention span. I think Simmons nailed the pace and balanced the back story elements in his offering perfectly. Best read in one sitting. The Girl in the Basement isn't just a gut punch, it's a heavyweight pummelling. Just remember to breathe as you take your lumps. It'll all be over soon enough.

Thursday 14 August 2014

Wee Rockets in Paperback

WEE ROCKETS is available in paperback, y'know.

I'd prefer it if you bought this book from No Alibis (Dave can get you signed copies, y'see), but for those who have a geographic challenge (i.e. if you don't live or spend any time in Belfast), you can get it here:


And many other territories, but you resourceful folk can use search engines if required, can't you?

Have at it.

Hard Rock on CrimeCityCentral

Hard Rock is the short story that keeps on giving.

A brief history:

It was published on ThugLit in 2009 (before the relaunch it was in issue 29).

I got paid with a badass T-shirt that I still wear.

It attracted the attentions of a New York agent (though at the time I was already in talks with another).

It was reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime vol. 8 (currently on sale).

It appears in my Blasted Shorts collection, Other Stories and Nothing But Time.

It's pretty sick and definitely not safe for work or suitable for the fainthearted.

And now, it's available for download over at the CrimeCityCentral podcast!

Why not have a listen and see what all the fuss is about?

Incidentally, I listened to this version myself about a week after I watched Filth, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh and starring John McAvoy, on Netflix. There are certain parallels that make (narrator) Kenny Park's Scottish accent all the more fun.

And again, this one is pretty hard core.


Wednesday 13 August 2014

Jason Johnson Returns!

In 2008 I discovered Jason Johnson. CSNI was a thing back then, so of course I reviewed both of his novels and tracked the fella down to ask him to take part in a Q&A. You can see some Johnson related content here. In the following years I saw Jason Johnson's name appear as a byline in some newspaper articles (I vividly remember him writing about a man who climbed the departed Belfast Wheel at Belfast City Hall), but I wanted more of his fiction.

Well, guess what! He's back with a new novel according to this Culture Northern Ireland article. And I am very much looking forward to reading SINKER when I get my hands on a copy. And I must revisit ALINA in the near future, His use of POV in that novel was highly innovative when compared to the books I'd been reading previously (and especially in comparison to what a lot of creative writing websites and/or workshops considered to be bible in their articles about POV).

Good to see you back, Mr Johnson. And I'll join you in downplaying the Irvine Welsh references in the future (which I did mention in that Q&A in 2008 - soz).

Monday 11 August 2014

UNDERCOVER: The Cover is Blown

I'm trying not to get too excited about the release of UNDERCOVER in September, but I'm curious about how it's going to be received. The folks at Blasted Heath believe it to be my most commercial novel to date. Part of me wonders if that's a good thing...

Did I mention that there's a pre-order page for it over on that wee Amazon site? Because there is. Click here. Or, if you use the US version of Amazon, click here. It's on all the other Amazons, I believe, but I've a blog post to get through here so I'll choose to believe that people can find the relevant pages pretty quickly with the help of a search engine. Ach, all right, here's a Canadian link, but no more!

Now, for those who can't be arsed clicking the links, here's the cover and the blurb:

When undercover detective Cormac Kelly infiltrates a ruthless gang bent on kidnapping and extortion, he is forced to break cover and shoot his way out of a hostage situation gone bad. Tearing through the dangerous streets of Belfast with a twelve-year-old boy and his seriously injured father in tow, Kelly desperately tries to evade the gang and reconnect the family with the boy’s mother, football agent Lydia Gallagher. But she is in London, unaware of their freedom and being forced by the gang to betray her top client. As Kelly breaks every rule in the book and crosses the line from legit police officer to rogue cop on the run, the role of dapper but deadly ex-spook Stephen Black means the difference between life and death…

Did you see that? Slipped right into salesman mode. This commercialism business is getting to me.

But still, I'm excited; no point trying to curtail that. And yes, I'm working on getting the paperback version out there. In doing so I've learned that typesetting sucks monkey butts, but lots of nice people out there are willing to help you out. In other words, don't blame me if it looks shite.

P.S. I'm going to Bouchercon this year! Check out the list of attendees. More on that in another post.

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Twelve Mad Men

I've started thinking of myself as a "hybrid author" with reference to self-publishing/traditional-publishing. Some of my work has been put out there by various publishers and some is self-published (okay, one very slim short story collection and one paperback, but that doesn't mean I won't do it again if I need/want to). And some work falls between two stools, such as my contribution to Ryan Bracha's marvelous creation, Twelve Mad Men. More on the book itself in a moment, but first this little paragraph of unwanted opinion.

You might consider my stance on the whole self-pub/trad-pub as fence-sitting. That doesn't really bother me. Much the same way that my choice to sit on the fence with regards to political parties is something I'm not ashamed to admit. In truth, no political party has come along that chimes with all of my political beliefs (simple as they are). Religion (and atheism, I should add) is much the same to me. I subscribe to none. And I've never found an argument compelling enough from either those staunch trad-pub authors, nor the devout self-pub ones, that will inspire me to jump into a camp and start rattling my sabre. Feck ALL that noise.

Nobody is right 100% of the time, and if you think you are, you're not the kind of person, organisation or culture that I want to be associated with. I'm just fine doing whatever the feck I want to do. So sayeth this apathetic, agnostic heathen, should you give a rat's arse to hear it.

Before we get any deeper into rant territory -- if that's your thing just google ANYTHING and you'll find somebody to argue with -- I'm going to tell you about a fun experience I had being a part of Twelve Mad Men.

Ryan Bracha set twelve rules and asked twelve authors (including himself) if the rules were agreeable. Twelve authors said yes and did a little bit of work for Mr Bracha in the form of a short story. Bracha then set to work weaving these stories together to create a multi-author novel. Then he self-published it. I think he did a fine job indeed (yes, I read it from start to finish, which I can't say has been the case for every anthology my work has been included in), and I highly recommend you try it out.

Yeah, yeah, I have a story in it, so OF COURSE I want you to read that. But I also want you to read the other 91.67% (or so) of the book. Below you'll find the blurby info, the links to the Amazon pages (the only place you can get it at this point in time, I think) and a wee picture of the book cover. You know what to do.

Everybody's here for a reason...

At St. David's asylum for the criminally insane there
are twelve residents. They call us that. Not inmates.

We all have a favourite colour. A favourite
member of staff. A favourite method of receiving
torture for the purposes of science.

We all have our reasons for being here.
Our stories.
Our tales.

Why don't you come and hear them?

Twelve Mad Men is a groundbreaking literary collaboration. A novel which has a series of stories woven into the narrative, and featuring the finest independent authors from across the globe.

The number one best selling author of Strangers Are Just Friends You Haven't Killed Yet and Paul Carter is a Dead Man, Ryan Bracha, voices the narrator as he embarks upon his first shift as a night guard at St. David's, and as he meets the residents there, it soon becomes apparent that there's something very wrong in the water...

The phenomenally talented writers involved in this innovative and ambitious project are:
Paul D Brazill (Guns of Brixton, A Case of Noir)
Gerard Brennan (Fireproof, Wee Rockets)
Les Edgerton (The Bitch, The Rapist)
Craig Furchtenicht (Dimebag Bandits, Night Speed Zero)
Richard Godwin (Mr Glamour, One Lost Summer, Apostle Rising)
Allen Miles (18 Days, This is How You Disappear)
Keith Nixon (The Fix, The Eagle's Shadow)
Darren Sant (Tales From The Longcroft, The Bank Manager and The Bum)
Gareth Spark (Black Rain, Shotgun Honey)
Martin Stanley (The Gamblers, The Hunters)
Mark Wilson (dEaDINBURGH, Head Boy)

And narrated by Ryan Bracha (Paul Carter is a Dead Man, Strangers are Just Friends You Haven't Killed Yet)

Now buy it: