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.

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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.)

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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.

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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

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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.

Skull Meat – Out Now!

My Paignton Noir novelette SKULL MEAT is available for Kindle now, via Amazon. This story is intended as a teaser for my forthcoming collection MEAT BUBBLES (& OTHER STORIES), which should be out later this summer.

Here’s the pitch:

Hired by mobster Marie Andretti to ransack the office of morbidly obese local nightclub owner ‘Swollen’ Roland Smart, Paignton private investigator Joe Rey quickly finds himself plunged into a dangerous cat and mouse game – which leaves him fighting for his life. His quest for answers – and vengeance – sees him plunge headfirst into the queasy underbelly of the grubby little seaside town he calls home. Rey is a man with a dark past, and, it seems, very little future. Welcome to Paignton Noir.

Amazon UK link

Amazon US link

SKULL MEAT grew out of a few old, unfinished pieces I found lurking on my hard-drive. The prologue, ‘Paignton Rust’, was previously published as part of the Akashic Books’ ‘Mondays Are Murder’ series a few years ago, while other excerpts were featured by A Twist of Noir and Straight From The Fridge. It is too long to publish as a short story, and too short to be a novella, so an e-book seemed like a good idea.

If anyone reading this would like a free copy (mobi or PDF) in exchange for a review, drop me a line through the contact form.

Switchblade Issue 1 Out Now

“Loomis laughs to himself and spits in the gutter, before hobbling towards the child prostitute on his busted knees. He tells people that he lost a kneecap during a riot at Pelican Bay, but I know the truth.  He actually blew his knee trying to fuck a pre-op hooker in the shower of an Oxnard trick-pad.”

My degenerate noir story The Stooge is included in Issue #1 of the brand new US crime publication Switchblade, edited by Scotch Rutherford.

You can buy it here (UK) or here (US).

This Book Ain’t Nuttin to Fuck With: A Wu-Tang Tribute Anthology – Out Now

This week saw the release of This Book Ain’t Nuttin to Fuck With: A Wu-Tang Tribute Anthology (Clash Books), a hip-hop themed short story collection edited by Christoph Paul and Grant Wamack.

The book includes my story Incarcerated Scarfaces, which is actually a sequel to my story A Brief History of Bad Men, which appeared in Walk Hand In Hand Into Extinction: Stories Inspired by True Detective (Clash Books), co-edited by the aforementioned Christoph Paul.

Incarcerated Scarfaces tells the story of a disgraced – now imprisoned – private investigator who is enlisted by the prison governor to crack a black-market organ transplant ring operating within the walls of the facility. As you might expect, given the theme of the anthology, a number of fictionalised Wu-Tang Clan members appear in the story!

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Contents as follows:

Gabino Iglesias: BIG GHETTO BOYS

Charles Austin Muir: THE RAEKWONOMICON

Joshua Chaplinsky: SUPREME MATHEMATICS: A CIPHER

Mame Bougouma Diene: BEATS, BONES, & BRISKET

Jeremy Thompson: WU-TANGIBLE

J.C. Carter: ABBOT OF THE WHITE LOTUS

Loren Kleinman: SUNSHINE

Robert Dean: THE WORLD FELL BENEATH THE BROKEN CONCRETE

Andy Rausch: THE NIGHT OL’ DIRTY BASTARD CAME TO HOBOKEN

Tom Leins: INCARCERATED SCARFACES

Laura Lee Bahr: THE ONE WHO SWALLOWS THE SEA

J. David Osborne: PCP & METH & MOLLY & ALCOHOL, & NO SLEEP

S.L. Dixon: THE RIGHTEOUS HUNT

Aaron Besson: HELLRZA

Sergio Hernandez: LINX

Crooked Holster 3 Out Now

Albert Erasmus gestures vaguely over his stooped shoulder at the prowl car. It is moving at kerb-crawler pace down Palace Avenue, and the fat plainclothes cop in the passenger seat glares at us.

“You know what they call a Paignton cop in a three-piece suit?”

I shrug, already bored of his shtick. Already bored of his face.

“The defendant.”

I’m delighted to confirm that I have a violent new slice of Paignton Noir entitled Raw Deal included in the latest edition of British crime journal Crooked Holster. It’s the story of a dead lawyer, a crooked property developer and a hardboiled private eye who is only too happy to trawl Paignton’s sick underbelly in search of answers.

The table of contents includes lots of names that are new to me, but I was happy to find myself alongside Brit-grit luminary Paul D. Brazill, who has a story called New Dawn Fades in the same collection.

You can buy this great looking book through Amazon right now, and I believe a Kindle version is in the works.

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Waiting To Be Forgotten Out Now

This month saw the publication of Waiting To Be Forgotten: Stories of Crime and Heartbreak, Inspired by The Replacements, edited by British crime writer Jay Stringer, and published by US-based Gutter Books.

I am delighted to confirm that my story Nightclub Jitters is included in the anthology. It’s a brutal slab of Paignton Noir – a private eye story about reputation, legacy, sex, alcohol and violence.

It is a cracking collection, and the impeccable list of contributors (see below) tells you everything you need to know about the level of quality on offer.

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Waiting To Be Forgotten – The Tracklisting:

  1. Customer – S. W. Lauden

2. I’m In Trouble – Hailey Ardell

3. God Damn Job – Ed Kurtz

4. Run It – Rick Ollerman

5. Within Your Reach – Alex Segura

6. If Only You Were Lonely – Gorman Bechard

7. Androgynous – David Accampo

8. I Will Dare – Jay Stringer

9. Unsatisfied – William Boyle

10. Gary’s Got A Boner – Johnny Shaw

11. Hold My Life – Jen Conley

12. Kiss Me On The Bus – Angel Luis Colon

13. Bastards Of Young – Josh Flanagan

14. Left Of The Dial – Eric Beetner

15. Here Comes A Regular – Mike McCrary

16. I.O.U. – Rory Costello

17. Alex Chilton – Franz Nicolay

18. Nightclub Jitters – Tom Leins

19. The Ledge – Josh Stallings

20. Election Day – Erik Arneson

21. Achin’ To Be – Kristi Belcamino

22. I’ll Be You – Manuel Royal

23. Darlin’ One – Eyre Price

24. Out Of Shape – Jerry Bloomfield

25. The Last – Liam Sweeny

Buy Waiting To Be Forgotten!

The Repulsion Box @ Crime Factory

“It is nine o’clock, and the Burning Wheel is emptier than a plundered grave. The warm summer air filters through the propped-open fire exit. It carries with it the tang of raw sewage.”

I am delighted to confirm that my new story The Repulsion Box is included in Issue #19 of the excellent Australian crime fiction journal Crime Factory.

This one is a nasty little slice of Paignton Noir, and I’m happy that it has found a home in such a great publication.

The Kindle version is dirt-cheap, so please check it out!

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Walk Hand In Hand Into Extinction – Out Now

Last month my short story A Brief History of Bad Men was included in Walk Hand In Hand Into Extinction – Stories Inspired by True Detective, edited by Christoph Paul and Leza Cantoral.

It is one of my longest published stories to date, and I’m delighted that it has finally seen the light of day. Last year it was longlisted in a short story contest held by influential British crime publisher No Exit Press, only to fall at the final hurdle.

Strangely, the story was originally conceived for an earlier version of Walk Hand In Hand Into Extinction, but never finished in time. When the anthology was resurrected  last summer it felt especially satisfying to have my story accepted for inclusion.

If you want to find out a bit more about the anthology, you can read my interview with Christoph here.

Most importantly, you can buy a copy via Amazon UK or Amazon US!

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