2017 In Review

2017 was a good year… Writing-wise, at least!

I’m not overly prone to self-examination, but this year I felt sluggish and unproductive for long periods. The end of the year prompted me to take a look at my story output, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had written/ published far more than I remembered in 2017: twelve short stories (ten of which were flash fiction), four longer anthology pieces, four (of five) 2,000-word chapters for The Blood Red Experiment and one 10,000-word novelette (Skull Meat).

On the down-side, not only did I not finish it, but I ripped the guts out of my novella Boneyard Dogs, when I set myself the target of completing it by the end of 2017! Either way, it is 2018’s problem now!

Here are the links to the online stories:

Paignton Noir:

Evil Heat (at Pulp Metal Magazine)

Clawfist (at Spelk Fiction)

Sloppy Operator (at The Flash Fiction Offensive)

Dry Salvage (at Near To The Knuckle)

Bedlam Money (at Spelk Fiction)

Wrestling Noir:

The Last Dog & Pony Show (at The All-New A Twist of Noir)

Bloater (at Shotgun Honey)

Beauty & Ruin (at The Flash Fiction Offensive)

Black Sheets of Rain (at Pulp Metal Magazine)

The Glory Hole (at Horror Sleaze Trash)

The Sunset Flip (at Story & Grit)

Christmas Noir:

Slay Ride 2: Jingle Bullets (at The Flash Fiction Offensive)

… and here are the links to the longer works:

This Book Ain’t Nuttin to Fuck With: A Wu-Tang Tribute Anthology (includes my story Incarcerated Scarfaces)

Switchblade – Issue #1 (includes my story The Stooge)

More Bizarro Than Bizarro (includes my story Here Comes That Weird Chill)

Wrestle Maniacs (includes my story Real Americans)

The Blood Red Experiment (includes my serialisation Didn’t Bleed Red)

and

Skull Meat!

Thanks for reading!

 

Advertisements

Slay Ride 2 – Jingle Bullets @ The Flash Fiction Offensive

“Christmas Eve. The Merry Gentlemen Rest Stop. The space-heater is turned up high enough to make me sweat and the slashed double mattress is lumpy with what is left of my fuckin’ loot.”

Check out this year’s Christmas crime story, Slay Ride 2: Jingle Bullets – a sequel to last year’s violent festive caper, Slay Ride!

Thanks to Hector and Rob for having me back at the Flash Fiction Offensive!

 

Wrestle Maniacs Reviews

Image result for wrestle maniacs adam howe

Wrestle Maniacs – released on 1st December by Adam Howe’s Honey Badger Press – has picked up some nice reviews so far. One of my favourites is this one, over at Dead End Follies.

Benoit Lelievre said of my story: “The first story that caught my attention in Wrestle Maniacs was Tom Leins‘ opener Real Americans, which aptly mixes pro wrestling over-the-top theatrics with the gloomy and subtle atmosphere of True Detective, which you know is, like one of my favorite thing in the world. It sets the tone for what is going to be a recurring theme in Wrestle Maniacs : the fine line between reality and kayfabe, pro wrestling’s portryal of staged event as real. Real Americans features retired wrestlers struggling to let go of kayfabe, which offered them their best and most intense memories. The inner conflict between the over-the-top characters and their broken human counterpart really get the story going.”

The full review is great, so check it out and see what Benoit thought about the rest of the collection.

Earlier this month, The Grim Reader – Adrian Shotbolt – said of the book: “I loved wrestling in the 80s and 90s. I loved the greats of that era, superstars like The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Legion of Doom. These guys were wrestlers with HUGE personalities that coincided with their obvious skill inside the ring. But how will a wrestling-inspired anthology work? Pretty damn good as it happens, especially when you see some of the names included. This is an anthology that hits the ground running with an opening tag team clothesline via Tom Leins and James Newman.”

Make sure you check out his site too!

   Amazon US

Amazon UK

Repetition Kills You – Coming In September 2018 – From All Due Respect

I am delighted to confirm that All Due Respect, an imprint of Down & Out Books, will be publishing my Paignton Noir book Repetition Kills You in September 2018.

Repetition Kills You is an experimental noir. A novel-in-stories. A literary jigsaw puzzle.

The book comprises 26 short stories, presented in alphabetical order, from ‘Actress on a Mattress’ to ‘Zero Sum’.  The key stylistic influence on this collection is ‘The Beach Murders’ (1966) by J.G. Ballard, which was collected in Low Flying Aircraft and Other Stories (1976). Like the letters of the alphabet, Ballard’s fragments can be arranged in any order. So can my stories.

Combined in certain ways, they tell a larger, more complex story. The narrative timeline is warped, like a blood-soaked Möbius Strip. It goes round in circles – like a deranged animal chasing its own tail.

The content is brutal and provocative: small-town pornography, gun-running, mutilation and violent, blood-streaked stories of revenge. The cast list includes sex offenders, serial killers, bare-knuckle fighters, carnies and corrupt cops. And a private eye with a dark past – and very little future.

Welcome to Paignton Noir.

Wrestle Maniacs – Out Now!

The 1st of December saw the release of Wrestle Maniacs, a top-notch wrestling-themed short story collection edited by Adam Howe – the author of the highly recommended Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet and Tijuana Donkey Showdown.

Wrestle Maniacs includes my brand new story Real Americans, a standalone piece that also forms an unexpected epilogue to my existing wrestling noir online short story series, which will (hopefully) be collected and published as The Good Book in 2018.

In these stories, unhinged wrestling promoter Frank ‘Fingerfuck’ Flanagan – the owner of the infamous Testament Wrestling Alliance – rules his territory with an iron fist, and his personal road to hell is paved with dead wrestlers.

Real Americans takes place some eight years after the events of The Good Book, and follows the investigation of a brutal murder that sucks in the few surviving figures from Fingerfuck Flanagan’s unstable wrestling stable.

After drawing a line under my own wrestling series earlier this year, I was initially wary of revisiting my old stomping ground, but Real Americans was a hell of a lot of fun to write, and is (hopefully!) far funnier than the stories that preceded it.

*

Over at my Dirty Books blog, I’m in the process of interviewing my fellow Wrestle Maniacs (Adam Howe, James Newman, Eryk Pruitt, Ed Kurtz, Hector Acosta, Joseph Hirsch, Duncan P. Bradshaw, David James Keaton, Gabino Iglesias, Patrick Lacey and Jason Parent), regarding their stories – and their own wrestling memories. As such, I think it’s only fair to share a few thoughts on my own relationship with sports entertainment…

I grew up in a small English town in the 1980s, and my first (indecent) exposure to wrestling was via the defiantly un-glamourous duo of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks – a morbidly obese pair of mortal enemies who waddled across my boxy TV screen on Saturday afternoons.

(Years later, when I was in the lucrative employment of Torbay Council, an ex-wrestler used to sleep in one of the shelters on Paignton sea front. I forget his name, but apparently he used to be a big deal and wrestle against Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks back in the day. He used to wake up soaked in his own piss every morning, and the council had to hose down the shelter before the holiday-makers arrived. I had to run interference – scaring off kids who were throwing coins and flicking lit matches at him.)

*

After witnessing the underwhelming spectacle of Big Daddy (Shirley Crabtree to his family and friends) going through the motions, experiencing Vince McMahon’s WWF for the first time was a mind-blowing experience. Swollen muscles, bouffant hair, dangerously tight spandex: this was what was missing from my suburban childhood!

I struggle to recall the first ever WWF match that I watched, but I definitely remember renting 1989’s Hulk Hogan vehicle No Holds Barred from the South Pacific video shop, and then watching 1991’s Suburban Commando (twice) at a bizarre makeshift cinema at the English Riviera Centre a couple of years later.

The event that got me hooked, however, was definitely the WWF’s Battle Royal at the Albert Hall VHS from 1991, which I spent my pocket money on at the late, lamented Paignton branch of Woolworths. The London-based event was conceived as a push for a Davey Boy Smith – the British Bulldog – whose surging WWF popularity coincided with the recent arrival of wrestling on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Sports channel in the UK. (Spoiler alert: Bulldog beat The Barbarian in 10:07 at the Albert Hall event, and then won the 20-man Battle Royal after upending a post-Tugboat Fred ‘Typhoon’ Ottman in the headline match!)

With Hogan, Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior and Bret Hart not making the trip over to the UK, the Bulldog was allowed to take centre stage (although the event was supposedly Ric Flair’s WWF debut, trivia fans!). With his meaty frame, braided hair and brusque Northern accent, the British Bulldog was an appealingly plausible home-grown alternative to exotic, balding middle-aged Americans like Hulk Hogan, and this event kick-started an obsessive relationship with early ‘90s wrestling – WCW included.

In truth, my own interest in wrestling died long before Davey Boy Smith did – I checked out in around 1995 – but I’ve had a lot of fun revisiting my pubescent passions in recent years, as I have put this series of wrestling stories together. I’ve also filled in a lot of gaps in my post-1995 wrestling awareness, although that initial era remains my clear favourite.

*

Anyway, you can check out my earlier wrestling noir stories here (note: I’ll be removing these links in the near-future, as I prepare the collection for publication), and then buy a copy of Wrestle Maniacs to see how the saga ends!

   Amazon US

Amazon UK

The Blood Red Experiment Issue #1

The chainsaw shrieks as it bites into the meat of her shoulder. She isn’t alive to feel the jagged burn – I strangled her with a length of electrical flex 40 minutes after picking her up outside Harbourside public toilets. She isn’t my usual type. I wasn’t aware of the bleached blonde hair and adult acne at first glance. She was pretty in her own way, but she didn’t excite me, so I didn’t dwell on the killing. The blood from the severed arm starts to pool under her blonde hair. It glints like dog piss on petrol.”

Out now: Issue #1 (of 5) of The Blood Red Experiment, a serialised neo-Giallo magazine edited by Craig Douglas (Near To The Knuckle) and Jason Michel (Pulp Metal Magazine).

The Blood Red Experiment includes my Paignton Noir-Giallo fusion DIDN’T BLEED RED, which features the cult film ALL ANIMALS SCREAM!

To find out more about my story, check out this interview over at the Graham Wynd blog!

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Bedlam Money @ Spelk Fiction

“Kendall Spate stinks worse than a wank-splattered lunacy booth. He is wearing an over-sized dog’s shock-collar, and looks like he has difficulty remembering his own name.”

In September I had my 10th story published at UK flash fiction stronghold Spelk.

Big thanks to new editor Cal Marcius for giving a home to Bedlam Money!

 

The Sunset Flip @ Story and Grit

“I first met Peter ‘Chicken Lips’ Delgado back in 1982 when I was wrestling down in Boca Raton. He was a 150lb weakling – out of his depth – and he got tossed around the ring like a rag doll. He barely lasted ten fights before his career flat-lined. I was the one who put him out of commission, with a Sunset Flip at a house show. Flipped him so hard I damn near broke his back. I was young and ruthless back then – more ruthless than I needed to be – and flattened him in front of less than a hundred people, just for the sheer fucking hell of it.”

Last month my latest wrestling noir story The Sunset Flip was published by Story and Grit, the new southern fiction site edited by Mark Westmoreland. Mark is a passionate wrestling fan, and a great short story writer, so his site was the perfect home for this simmering story of legacy and revenge. Check it out!

Skull Meat @ Do Some Damage

Earlier this month I was delighted to have Skull Meat reviewed by Marietta Miles, author of the excellent Route 12 (All Due Respect) over at Do Some Damage.

She said: “Tom’s writing is kinetic and fast-paced, perfectly suited for the break-neck feeling of this novelette. Start reading a few lines and the next thing you know it’s well past the witching hour. SKULL MEAT delivers dirty, British crime at its best. Descriptive. Violent. Bloody. Grotesque. Wait until you meet ‘Swollen’ Roland. I loved it!”

I wholeheartedly recommend checking out Route 12 – one of my favourite books of 2016. Here is my review from last year.

 

 

More Bizarro Than Bizarro – Out Now!

“It’s not even Halloween yet, but the stripper at the Dirty Lemon is already wearing a Santa hat. I drop a fake pound coin in her pint glass and she smiles through broken teeth. Out-of-season seaside towns – other people’s last resorts. I pick my way through the crowd – day-time drinkers crouched perilously on the edges of their barstools, like swollen suburban gargoyles – and head to the toilet.”

Out this week from Bizarro Pulp Press: ‘More Bizarro Than Bizarro’ edited by Vincenzo Bilof.

This collection includes my story, Here Comes That Weird Chill, which plays out like a grindhouse version of Scooby Doo. Set in the Westcountry!

Here is an interview on the Bizarro Pulp Press site in which I discuss my story.

Amazon UK link.

Amazon US link.