Violent Delights: Deconstructing Violence in The Good Book

“In recent years I’ve carved out a reputation for producing uncompromising, no-holds-barred crime fiction. Gore-streaked, expletive-ridden noir stories that trample taboo subjects into the threadbare carpet and leave hardened readers wondering what the fuck they have just experienced. By comparison, my new wrestling-themed short story collection The Good Book: Fairy Tales For Hard Men – which was published by All Due Respect earlier this month – feels like my shot at the big time! This is the moment when the brutalised dark-match also-ran readjusts his spandex and gets thrust under the stadium lights for an improbable shot at an obscure title belt.”

ADR publisher Chris Rhatigan recently invited me to write a guest blog about the level of violence in The Good Book. Here are my thoughts.

Buy The Good Book!

 

A Ticket To The Boneyard: How Boneyard Dogs Came Back From The Dead

“Dead characters were hauled away in digital body-bags. Surviving characters re-emerged to cause chaos.”

The release of Boneyard Dogs is only a month away, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on the book’s tortured origins.

I’m not usually inclined to yank back the curtain and discuss the inner workings of my books, but – now that the dust has settled – I wanted to try and work out why it took me ten years to finish.

Thanks to Paul D. Brazill at Punk Noir Magazine for running the piece, which I have titled A Ticket To The Boneyard – How Boneyard Dogs Came Back From The Dead‘.

Also online at Punk Noir this week is an interview with me, conducted by John Wisniewski. Thanks to John for the questions!

Character Assassination: Wet-Look

“His real name is Charles, but I’m not sure whether that is his first name or his surname. As I walk up the rickety staircase the stink hits me. I peer through the doorway and see him gnawing at an oversized chicken leg. He’s sweating hard, and the stench fills my nostrils. He has grease-streaked silver hair and unruly mutton-chop sideburns. He hasn’t been near a shower in months, and all of his clothing is tinged yellow with filth.”

Skull Meat (Chapter 3: Slippery When Wet)

All fictional characters have a shelf-life.

Even Joe Rey – my thuggish loose-cannon of a private investigator, who has now notched up story appearances spanning 15 years!

Thankfully, Rey’s use-by-date is still decades away, but another one of my favourite characters – the deranged ex-cop Wet-Look – is preparing for one last hurrah.

Everything this guy says and does is obscene, which obviously makes him one of my favourite characters to write. He did bad things in Skull Meat and even worse things in Meat Bubbles & Other Stories, and I think it’s fair to say that his narrative trajectory will remain horribly consistent when he re-enters the Paignton Noir fray next year.

Like a lot of my characters – in appearance at least – Wet-Look was inspired by a real person. Nine years ago (shortly after starting my current job) a group of middle-aged ex-Devon & Cornwall Constabulary officers used to travel home on the same train as me – from what I assume was some kind of regular liquid lunch for ex-cops. In their midst was a man resembling Wet-Look: sweaty, red-faced, half-crippled and genuinely unnerving.

Every week this posse of tough-looking men – all wearing matching commemorative police ties –would sit in edgy silence, while an older guy gazed around the carriage, a lascivious grin etched across his puffy face. Every week the collective sigh of relief was tangible, as their elderly ex-colleague hobbled off the train with his walking stick, and the queasy spell finally was broken.

Sitting a few seats back – beer in one hand, hardboiled book in the other – I became fascinated by this awkward interplay, and the power that he clearly held over these men. Immediately, Wet-Look was born – featuring in a story at A Twist of Noir in September 2010. His scenes were resurrected and retooled for Skull Meat in 2017 and I liked the character so much that I remixed Meat Bubbles & Other Stories to allow Wet-Look to explore his… full potential.

I know that rumours are swirling about a 1980s-set Wet-Look prequel, so I am happy to confirm that these whisperings are true. What kind of sordid horrors turn an idealistic, clean-cut young cop into an obese, murderous degenerate? I already know – and you lucky people will have the pleasure of finding out!

Are you curious about the past – and future – of Wet-Look? Watch this space, sun-beam!

2018 In Review

This time last year I remember feeling distinctly underwhelmed by my written output in 2017, and wanted to step up my game in 2018.

I have no such misgivings about my written output in 2018, and probably wrote more fiction last year than I have at any time in the last 15 years – which I’m very happy with.

New material aside, I also managed to finish a handful of long-abandoned projects – by hacking them up for parts and stitching them together in grisly new combinations, which was similarly satisfying. In some cases, decades-old antagonists were lifted out of botched books and given a new lease of life in alternative narratives.

My first two books (not written in 2018 admittedly), Meat Bubbles & Other Stories (Close To The Bone) and Repetition Kills You (All Due Respect) were released in June and September, respectively.

I also self-published a trio of e-book novelettes, Snuff Racket (also included in Meat Bubbles), Slug Bait and Spine Farm, all of which complement and expand the Paignton Noir universe explored in the books. Spine Farm is a direct sequel to Snuff Racket/Meat Bubbles, and paves the way for the events depicted in the upcoming Boneyard Dogs.

Slug Bait is part of a different (post-Repetition Kills You) timeline, and a number of supporting characters will also appear in future books. Of the three novelettes, this one sold the best, so something about the story must have piqued people’s interest. Either way, this narrative isn’t dead and buried – unlike half of the characters!

The novelettes are great fun to write – and have probably replaced my enduring obsession with flash fiction – although I still managed to notch up a handful of short stories across the course of the year:

XXXmas Boogaloo (Close To The Bone, January 2018)

Oozy Rat In A Sanitary Zoo (Spelk, February 2018)

Murderers I Have Known (Horror Sleaze Trash, June 2018)

Dirty English (Close To The Bone, July 2018)

Venus In Fake Furs (Retreats From Oblivion, August 2018)

Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells (Punk Noir Magazine, December 2018)

Looking ahead, I have at least two books coming out in 2019 (watch this space for more details), and I would like to find a home for a couple of extra novellas too – which is easier said than done!

Thanks for reading!

Down and Out in Paignton and Torquay

“In 2017 Torbay was identified as one of the coastal communities with the worst levels of economic and social deprivation in the UK, as well as being ranked as the local authority with the ninth lowest average wage in the entire country. Last year the synthetic drug Spice arrived in Torquay, and the situation degenerated so quickly and hideously that the mini-epidemic even piqued the interest of the national media.”

This month Tess Makovesky – author of Gravy Train (out from All Due Respect this month) – invited me to write a guest post as part of her ‘Where The Heck Wednesday’ series. Naturally, I wrote about Paignton! I wanted to step away from the stylised Paignton Noir universe I have created and shine a light on the real town, and how it has inspired my work.

You can find the feature here.

Casting Call: Repetition Kills You

“If you can imagine Charles Dance with a firearm fetish and a floral-patterned rayon shirt, and you are in the right ballpark!”

This week I had the pleasure of returning to Toe Six Press, where I contributed a Casting Call feature for my new book, Repetition Kills You.

Thanks to Sandra Ruttan for running the piece!

 

Sons of Spade: Guest Feature

“He is a cut-price private investigator with a nasty side-line in muscle-for-hire work. As the series progresses his investigative skills are honed, and his client list improves, but he never really loses his willingness to get his hands dirty for personal gain and his unwavering commitment to revenge.”

I am excited to have a new guest feature over at Sons of Spade, the great fictional PI blog run by Dutch crime writer Jochem Vandersteen.  I discuss the top five private investigators who have influenced the character of Joe Rey. These may or may not be obvious to people who have read my work – see for yourself!

Small Town Horrors: splicing genres in Meat Bubbles and Other Stories

“In recent years my pure, undiluted approach to crime fiction has started to blur at the edges: the story titles have got more visceral, the antagonists more ghoulish, the imagery more horrific and the sense of foreboding more pronounced.”

The Meat Bubbles promotional bandwagon rolls on…!

Many thanks to David Spell for letting me contribute a guest post to his site, The Scary Reviews. You can find the full feature here.

Criminal Records: Meat Bubbles

“Drum & bass is about as an unlikely influence on crime fiction as you can get, but it most definitely influenced the title story of my new collection. I first encountered ‘Meat Bubbles’ by Dirty Harry on a second-hand D&B compilation, and knew I had to repurpose that wonderfully grisly title for my own malevolent purposes. After all, how queasy must a black-market surgical procedure be for it to cause meat bubbles?!”

For the 100th post over at my Dirty Books blog I’ve put together a brand new feature, which I hope will become a regular fixture: Criminal Records. This first one discusses some of the musical influences behind my new book, Meat Bubbles & Other Stories.

 

Casting Call: Meat Bubbles and Other Stories

The one month countdown until the release of MEAT BUBBLES & OTHER STORIES (Near To The Knuckle) starts here…

My first promotional feature is a ‘Casting Call’ over at new crime site Toe Six Press.

I got to select a pair of actors to fill key roles in my new book, namely anti-hero PI protagonist Joe Rey and deranged ex-cop Wet-Look (returning for more carnage after his eye-catching stint in SKULL MEAT).

Check it out here.

Thanks to Sandra Ruttan for running the feature!