10 questions: Dave Philpott, author of Dear Mr Pop Star

While I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing, I'm by no means alone in doing this! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format.

Today it's the turn of Dave Philpott, here to chat about - among other things - his new book Dear Mr Pop Star.  


1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Dave Philpott - it’s a nom de plume, and our book (written alongside my long-suffering Pa) is a book of deliberately deranged letters to iconic rock and pop stars regarding their lyrics, with genuine in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Simply because it’s a totally unique concept and one that no one has manage to pull off before. We have managed to get a line through to nearly 100 musicians and songwriters and they have entirely allowed themselves to get ‘in on’ the joke. Poking fun at us for our naivety and in some cases poking fun at themselves. The replies are clever, insightful and very, very funny. As are, although we do say so ourselves, the letter we write to them.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

We are focusing on artists and songs that are already there in the collective unconsciousness, as they are piped into our lives through our car stereos, in the background at work or even when we’re out doing our shopping. But we are asking questions that ensure that the listener will never hear those songs in the same way again. Also, as the majority of replies were secured around the back door of the industry, via roadies, cousins of bass players and social media rather than official channels, there is a real human element to how it was written.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?  

It’s available on pre-order now via Unbound, with these people receiving a better quality version than will be shops and about 6 weeks before the official launch date of September 20th.  

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

Such is the nature of the project there really isn’t a typical day; the letters are so painstakingly crafted and take so long to do that we only produce one if we’ve had the green light from the artist that they wish to get involved. Not to be ruthless, but if an artist is semi-committal and says something along the lines of ‘I might do it but I’m not sure’ we don’t invest any more time in it, but tell them out of courtesy. So we can go days or even weeks without writing and then receive five definite yes’ all at once via email.  Then we can find ourselves writing flat out for a month.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

I’ll be perfectly honest here and admit that I haven’t read any books on the art of writing at all. What we do is very particular to us, we have our way of doing things and, given the nature of the project, we can’t find parallels elsewhere. I suppose you can say that we’re kind of making our rules as we go along.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

The Timewaster Letters by Robert Popper, Delete This At Your Peril (In fact all the Bob Servant books) by Neil Forsyth and any number of Viz annuals. We’re delighted that Viz are fans of our work. We often get compared to Henry Root, but honestly, this is quite a lazy comparison; we find it to be crudely written and frankly unfunny.  Also we love Diary of A Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith, because we can draw parallels between us and Charles Pooter’s rather mundane but extraordinary life. (We’re aware that we’ve made four choices here - sorry!)

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

The Outsider by Albert Camus, Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

If you’re really not feeling like writing when you wake up in the morning then don’t. If you try it will seem forced. The ideas will come when they’re good and ready, half-formed or forced isn’t good enough.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

I don’t think it can be done, but if it did happen it would have an absolutely amazing stellar cast and there would be cameo after cameo. Everyone would be playing themselves, although you’d never see us; we prefer to retain a little mystery - that way you can build up your own image of what these demented, obsessive writers look like for yourselves.

Social media contacts:

Twitter @DerekPhilpott

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThePhilpotts/

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/dear-mr-pop-star/ 

Previous publications: Dear Mr. Kershaw - the cult classic that started it all http://amzn.eu/8A7l5ib and also http://www.planegroovy.com/philpott.html 

Thanks to Dave for playing along. Hopefully the book's of interest and you'll get a copy!

10 questions: Ivy Ngeow, author of Heart of Glass

As you are hopefully aware, I'm currently crowdfunding my new Lincolnshire-set thriller East of England through Unbound Publishing. And I'm not alone! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format. 

Today's guest is Ivy Ngeow, the author of Heart of Glass:

Ivy Ngeow.JPG

1.      Who are you and what’s your book about?

I am award-winning author Ivy Ngeow and my book Heart of Glass is a dark pacy tale about obsession, greed and music in 1980s Chicago and Macau.

2.      Why should folk read your book?

My book addresses the themes of the Reagan era which are greed and success. The protagonist is an American girl of Chinese origin. She is a young, uneducated, pretty, and naive musical genius who happens to be an immigrant to the USA. She is blinded by her desire for fame, success, love, everything. She is an antihero and this is a story of an underdog and underachiever with hopes, dreams and fantasies usually squashed by mainstream society and realities of life as an immigrant.

3.      What’s the appeal of your book?

Firstly, my book’s settings in the thrilling cities of Chicago and Macau in the 1980s, glittery towers of success held together by the economics at the time. Secondly, the hedonistic aspect of a lifestyle only driven by and for music and disco and thirdly, the characters who are all emigres eking out their living and their versions of success.

4.      Sounds great. Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

You can get pre-order a copy on Amazon for a discounted price now and it will be launched on 30 June 2018. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Glass-Ivy-Ngeow/dp/1911586645/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1529315722&sr=1-1&keywords=HEart+of+Glass+Ivy+Ngeow

5.      A typical writing day

I write in the morning for 40 minutes until no more words drip out. If more come, I do another 40 minutes. I am a slow writer. I cannot bang out 20,000 words in 20 hours.

6.      Pick one book about writing. What is it and why have you chosen it?

I pick Creative Writing – A Practical Guide by Julia Casterton. (MacMillan, 1986). This is quite an old book but still very relevant. From time to time I have to refer to it. This book is written like a manual and for those who already suspect they cannot live without writing. It is so slim and yet it goes through all the tenets of writing – why we need to do it, what is a short story, what is an adjective or abstract noun. Everything is covered in its 96 pages. It has no beating about the bush fantasy or quotes to inspire you. There is nothing inspiring. You’re supposed to be inspired already because you fancy yourself as a writer. This is just about writing. The reason why it is so thin is because you should not really be reading it, you should be writing.

7.      Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer.

I pick Lolita by Nabokov, The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter and Wild Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.

8.      Pick three desert island books – works you couldn’t live without

I have to pick things I love rather than need or want, because on a desert island you could die any minute anyway.

All that Man is by David Szalay

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan

Therese Raquin by Emile Zola

Yes, they are all European. I do prefer misery lit, where everybody’s mad, bad, sad or all three).

9.      Any words of writing wisdom?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Do all six. No shortcuts.

10.  Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch.

Watch the book trailer here: https://youtu.be/nRDowKLhuW0

Everything is in the 58 seconds. It is the thrilling evil four Ds: dark, disturbing, drugs, dance music. It’s a heist gone wrong, it’s Chinatown, it’s immigrants, greed and guilt. It’s the 1980s.


Social media links:

Website/blog: writengeow.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Glass-Ivy-Ngeow/dp/1911586645/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1529315722&sr=1-1&keywords=HEart+of+Glass+Ivy+Ngeow

YouTube: https://youtu.be/nRDowKLhuW0

Twitter: @ivyngeow

Instagram: @ivyngeow

Tags and keywords: #HeartofGlass #1980s #Chicago #Macau #Chinatown #heist #thriller #disco #music #culture #diversity

Email: ivy_ngeow at yahoo dot com

Thanks very much to Ivy for joining in. Hopefully you're intrigued by Heart of Glass and you'll pick up a copy soon!

In the meantime, check out my own East of England, which shares some similarities with Heart of Glass.  

10 questions: Patrick Kincaid, author of The Continuity Girl

As you know, I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing. And I'm not alone! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format. 

Today's subject is Patrick Kincaid, whose novel The Continuity Girl has just  been published. 

Patrick Kincaid.png

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Patrick Kincaid and I am the author of The Continuity Girl, a comic love story set on the banks of Loch Ness in 1969 and 2014.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Jonathan Coe calls it a ‘wistfully entertaining romantic comedy’. I was wary of ‘romantic comedy’ while I was writing it – but I like ‘wistfully entertaining’. I think people find that the love story at the centre of the book resonates. Also, if you’re curious about the state of Hollywood in the late sixties, or the search for evidence of the Loch Ness Monster, there’s some detail here you might find intriguing.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

It’s one of those stories in which people from very different worlds collide. It’s also about outsiders – people who don’t quite fit in anywhere. I think at some level we all feel like one of those. Here, it’s a source of comedy.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

Amazon and other online retailers and bookshops throughout the country. Soon to be available in German, published by Heyne.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I still work as a teacher, a job that only gets more demanding. So it’s sensible to begin a novel in the summer holidays, to try and get a head start. When term begins, I write a very little every weekday – between 6.30am and 7.00am – and for longer at the weekends. Conrad managed 800 words a day - Will Self calls a unit of 800 words a Conrad. I tend to write in Graham Greenes – 500 words a day.  

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Never read one!

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

The End of the Affair, Lucky Jim, Restoration.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

They’d have to be big. Joyce’s Ulysses would be one. I’ve got a few translations of Dante’s Divine Comedy, so maybe I’d take the original and a teach yourself medieval Italian book.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

It’s really old, but you do have to be prepared to kill your darlings. This gets easier the more things you write – it’s tough when you’ve just that one book you’ve been working on for ages.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

What happens when a chic Hollywood career woman meets a naive British monster hunter, against a Scottish Highlands backdrop and with a 1969 jukebox score.

Social media contacts:

Twitter - @patrickkincaid Facebook – facebook.com/patrickkincaidauthor

Website: www.patrickkincaidauthor.com

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/the-continuity-girl/ 

CG cover.jpg

BIg thanks to Patrick for joining in. Hopefully you'll find his novel - available in all good and virtual bookshops alike - of interest!

Mne own crowdfunding book - a noir-ish crime thriller set in the flatlands of the east of Lincolnshire - is here: East of England. 


10 questions: Eamonn Griffin, author of East of England

It only occurred some time after knocking up this questionnaire format for fellow Unbound authors to maybe apply it to myself. Trust me, this website isn't a brains type of operation. Anyway, for good or ill, here's the skinny on me and my forthcoming noir-ish thriller East of England.

The artwork shown here isn't official material for the book, but was done as a favour by my younger brother Maxim - information about his own crowdfunding project Field Notes may be found here

EoE cover concept 1.jpg

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

Strangely enough, I’m Eamonn Griffin, and my novel East of England is a noir-ish thriller set over five consecutive days in Lincolnshire. Dan Matlock is released from prison after serving a couple of years inside. He’d like to go away and to start a new life somewhere else, but when his elderly father isn’t there to greet him on the outside as promised, he knows that there’s something wrong, so he’s compelled to return to his hometown to find out what’s gone awry.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Because it’s great! Because it’s fast and dark and violent in places, and about family and honour and revenge and inevitability. About immovable objects and irresistible forces, and about the weirdness that lurks under the surface of rural communities.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

Well, East of England is very influenced by US pulp writers of noir crime fiction. I like writers such as Joe R Lansdale, Michael Connelly, and Lawrence Block, each of whom have been something of an influence. So there’s something of the American noir thriller but displaced into eastern England – the book’s set in a slightly-fictionalised version of Lincolnshire – and there’s also something of the kinds of books that people like Ted Lewis, who wrote Jack’s Return Home, the basis of the Michael Caine movie Get Carter (and the two other film versions that are out there) used to write. It’s very much a British take on an American model, and hopefully, there’s some appeal in that for readers.   

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

Well, as of the time of writing – late June 2018 – the project is coming to the end of its crowdfunding journey, so there’s still time to back the book and to become a patron of the project. Folk can do that here: unbound.com/books/east-of-england/ - the book should be funded by 4th July 2018, after which there’ll be the chance to pre-order through the same link. It’s up to the publishers quite when the book will hit the shelves and people’s e-readers of choice, but a best guess right now would be very early 2019.   

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

When I’m first-drafting, I aim for 1000 words per writing day. I like to write fairly quickly, as I think the speed of getting ideas and action onto the page communicates to the reader. As I’m a freelance writer full-time, the creative work has to fold around the other paid work that I do. Ideally, I’ll do other work from 8am to 2pm, then work on the current novel from 2pm till 4pm.   

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

I’m going to cheat slightly and opt for two. The first is Writing A Novel by Nigel Watts. This is something of a classic of the writing advice genre, and perhaps the best pound-for-pound how-to book there is. If you can, get an older copy as the book's been reissued several times with additions by others after Watts’ death, and for my money these editions aren't as effective as supports for beginning writers. It’s very much about the mechanics of story, rather than the inspirational kind of writing book, such as Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, so bear that in mind, but it’s a very useful book to have.

The second book is On Writing by Stephen King. It’s part autobiography, and part writing advice non-fiction; the former is absolutely necessary to understand the latter half. I’m recommending this because of the audio-book, narrated by King; the personal connection that this gives is very effective. It’s well worth your time.    

If I had to pick a third (I'm a bit nerdy about this sort of thing) I'd go for Into The Woods by John Yorke, which is a great book about story structure, and which contains pretty much everything you need to know on the subject. Then again, you could pay due respect to the classics and pick up a copy of Poetics by Aristotle, which covers the same territory. And so on. I've read an awful lot of these kinds of books, and while there are loads that say good things, there's no one perfect book out there. You have to synthesise your own from your reading and your writing experiences.  

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Blimey. It’s times like this that I wish I’d thought in more detail about the questions that I’d set for other people to answer! There’s a hundred or more, I’m sure, but here’s three to be going on with:

Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall is great, but the sequel is better. A storming thriller, a fine slice of whatever “literary fiction” is, and a marvellous dramatization of well-known history. An object lesson in the old saying that it's not the story, but the storyteller...

The Emperor’s Spy by MC (Manda) Scott – the first of Scott’s Rome series is a wonderful historical thriller as well as a sly commentary on contemporary politics and the follies of organised religion and fundamentalism. 

Freezer Burn by Joe R Lansdale – Lansdale is the real deal, a great writer of Texas-set westerns, horror, SF, semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novels, and thrillers, with a fine ear for dialogue and a knack for the absurd. This is one of his weirder creations, the story of a criminal on the run who hides out in a travelling fair because of bee-stings so bad he can pass for a sideshow attraction, and who gets into way more trouble than he could have ever done if he’d just surrendered himself to the law.  

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – my favourite book of all time, and one I re-read every couple of years.

Fletch by Gregory McDonald – perhaps the funniest thriller ever written.

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris – forget the movie versions, this is the real thing. Perhaps the most influential thriller of the last 40 years. Absolutely indispensable.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

In a previous life I taught creative writing in a college context, so in some ways I’ve already covered this to my heart’s content. However, there’s three things I will say:

a) Learn how your word-processing software works. Your laptop is your primary tool, so be comfortable with it. Writers’ needs here are few, so learn how to use the tool you’re using. It doesn’t take long, but it’ll save so much time in the long run. It's bewildering how many people who profess to want to write don't consider the tool they use.

b) Recognise your mistakes, and learn from them. Many’s the student who made themselves willfully blind to easily-rectifiable errors, through a combination of arrogance and ignorance. Try not to be that person.

c) Don’t have any expectations. If you’re going to write, do so because you like the activity for its own pleasures. No-one owes you anything.    

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

A man missing. A debt due. Dan Matlock has had two years to plan revenge, but so have the forces being levelled against him. This won’t end well.

Social media contacts:

Twitter: twitter.com/eamonngriffin (@eamonngriffin)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eamonngriffinwriting/

Unbound URL: unbound.com/books/east-of-england/

Previous publications:

Juggernaut: A Sequel to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde


The Prospect of This City

So, big thanks to me for contributing these answers to my own questionnaire! Hopefully East of England sounds of interest to you, and you'll consider backing the book if you haven't already done so.   

10 questions: Maxim Peter Griffin, author/artist of Field Notes

As you know, I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing. And I'm not alone! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format. 

Today's 10 questions is a little different, if only that the subject is a brother of mine who's also currently crowdfunding via Unbound. Here's Maxim to explain a little more: 

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Maxim Peter Griffin. I draw.


What the book is about is a tricky one – on one level it’s a nice book of drawings of Lincolnshire with some bits of writing about the countryside. On another it’s about the ghost mammoths and Brexit and stellar death and Doggerland.

Half-haikus about flint – big stuff across a landmass – being simultaneously huge and tiny in the face of cosmic indifference and the Jolly Fisherman

Field Notes is sometimes really mournful ( there’s a lot to mourn ), sometimes full of idiot glee –

2. Why should folk read your book?

It doesn’t matter if they do or don’t, really –

Field Notes is beyond the point of failure already, 95% of what is in the book has already occurred, been drawn or walked or what have you – I’ve had my nourishment  … a large part of making these experiences and actions into a book is an administrative procedure… a fun one, mind you

3. What’s the appeal of your book? 

Field Notes is wild. Wilder. Often rather fucking livid. But full of marshes – that’s what people like isn’t it? angry marshes?

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

Soon enough, after the hurly-burly of crowdfunding is done.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

5 am – dogs out

6 am – back with dogs

Make notes after walk

Drawing between 9 and noon

Later – when house is quiet, make more notes – maybe type them up to see how they look.

[Question 6 - the one about books about writing - went unanswered]


7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Mr Palomar by I. Calvino

Haunted Houses by E. Maple and L. Myring

The Mound People by P.V Glob

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

I’ll have a really sweet atlas please.

maybe Seven Pillars of Wisdom or the old Penguin Book of Welsh Verse

and my copy of Wind in the Willows ( no other editions thanks )

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Read. Look. Listen. Walk. Cook.

Keep dated notes on everything.

Don’t be an Artist, never go on a Journey.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Mad Max 2 but on foot near Mablethorpe and the anti-hero is his own Humungus – filmed on VHS

Get Werner Herzog to direct. Or Alex Cox. Werner Cox/Alex Herzog

Soundtracked by quarter speed Lark Ascending played on mellotron


Social media contacts: @maximpetergriff

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/field-notes/ 

Huge thanks to Max for playing along. Field Notes is great - I've seen some more of the work in progress, and naturally, I've backed the project myself - it comes at you like a mix of Raymond Briggs and AW Wainwright. Who can resist that kind of combination? Surely not you, which is why you feel irresistibly drawn towards pledging ...

10 questions: Ewan Lawrie, author of Gibbous House and No Good Deed

As you know, I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing. And I'm not alone! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format. 

Today, here's Ewan Lawrie, who's published Gibbous House through Unbound, and who is currently crowdfunding its sequel, No Good Deed

ewan lawrie.png

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Ewan Lawrie and I am the author of Gibbous House a smash-hit sensation of a gothic romp and its sequel, currently funding at Unbound, No Good Deed. (Some of that is true).

2. Why should folk read your book?

Why shouldn’t they? Oh, very well. Gibbous House is funny, (so I’m told) thrilling and full of historical detail, so is No Good Deed … I hope. 

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

The central character, Moffat, is unlike any protagonist you have met before: Murderous, magniloquent and morally ambivalent, Moffat finds himself at the centre of complex plots without ever quite understanding how or why.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

All good bookshops and Amazon. Some copies are still available direct from the publisher. No Good Deed is still funding.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

Up at seven, check Unbound campaign page, sigh.
Check Amazon ranking and sales, sigh again.
Write e-mails to do with crowd-funding, submissions to various magazines and fiddle with GIMP graphics programme to make Social Media posts at least interesting enough to read. Make coffee. Write something in a notebook. Write it into an open office document. Delete it. Read something I wrote years ago. Ask myself why I don’t write as much/well/often now. (Delete as applicable).
Check Unbound campaign page, sigh.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker. It was recommended by my tutor on my creative writing course with the Open University over 10 years ago. I read it cover to cover then and I dip into it now, when I need to. I am a “pants-ster” rather than a plotter and it does me good to go back to TSBP from time to time.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Great Expectations, The Master and Margarita, The Quincunx.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

I nearly picked The Coral Island, Robinson Crusoe and Lord of the Flies. To be honest, I’d take a King James Bible, a notebook and Bulgakov.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Read, read some more, read anything, read everything. Write a bit, then read some more

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

“This book’s not for you, Mr Winestone,  aren’t you in enough trouble?”

Social media contacts: EwanL@Twitter.com, https://www.facebook.com/ewan.lawrie.9 https://www.facebook.com/PleaseAllowMe13/

Website: http://ewanlawrie.blogspot.com/

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/no-good-deed/

Previous publications: Gibbous House https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gibbous-House-Ewan-Lawrie/dp/1783520892


Check out Ewan's writing, and consider both buying Gibbous House and supporting its sequel into life! 

10 questions: Mary Monro, author of Stranger In My Heart

As you're no doubt painfully aware, I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing. And I'm not alone! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves, in a ten questions format.

Today, it's the turn of Mary Monro, the author of the just-published Stranger in My Heart

mary munro.jpg

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I am Mary Monro and Stranger In My Heart is my quest to discover the lost world of my war hero father.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Understanding who you are starts with your family – parents, grandparents and beyond. Their lives influence ours in subtle and diverse ways, but the generations who saw the World Wars were mostly silent about their experiences and so we don’t incorporate them fully into our understanding. I want to inspire people to recover their family stories before they are lost forever.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

Stranger In My Heart skilfully weaves poignant memoir with action-packed biography and travels in modern China.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

It was published on 9 June 2018, available as paperback and digital editions from bookshops and online.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I wake early and often do some writing or researching before I go to work as an Osteopath. Sometimes I write in the evenings or if I have a free day I try to sit down for a good chunk of time, in between life admin tasks. I’m good at focusing when I need to – writing has to fit into all my other responsibilities.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

There are books about writing? I have just learned that Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande is a classic.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Beryl Markham’s Journey into The West is heartbreakingly well written. Laurens van der Post’s Yet Being Someone Other is a beautiful piece of reflective writing. Iris Murdoch’s The Bell is rich and compelling.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

The Web of Life by Fritjof Capra, Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, The Heart of the Hunter by Laurens van der Post.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Write a lot and read a lot.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

A young officer survives intense battle and imprisonment in Hong Kong to escape through war-torn China, unable to hide or communicate, threatened as much by the Chinese as the Japanese. Later he faces another battle to rescue the PoWs he’d left behind, caught up in a power struggle between the architects of Pacific War strategy. In a bitterly ironic twist, he ends up in the blood and sweat-stained jungles of Burma, fighting a campaign that should never have happened. He dedicates the rest of his life to freedom.

Social media contacts: @monro_m276

Website: www.strangerinmyheart.co.uk

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/stranger-in-my-heart/

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Other retailers are available, though here's the Amazon UK link. Hopefully some of you will check out Mary's book!

10 questions: Amy Lord, author of The Disappeared

As you know, I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing. And I'm not alone! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format. 

First up is Amy Lord:  

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1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I’m Amy Lord, a debut novelist from the North East of England. My novel, The Disappeared, is speculative fiction, inspired by the likes of Margaret Atwood and George Orwell.

The story is about obsession. Set in a dystopian version of the UK run by a military dictatorship, it tells the story of a young woman determined to fight back against the regime. Clara’s father was arrested by the Authorisation Bureau when she was 11 for the crime of teaching banned books to his students and she never saw him again.

She grows up to become a teacher and wants to rebel, but the only thing she can do is take the books her father left behind and teach them to her students. When one of them disappears, she is plunged into a nightmare, uncertain of who to trust.

2. Why should folk read your book?      

The book has had some awards success before finding its way to Unbound, winning a Northern Writers’ Award and being longlisted for the Bath Novel Award. It’s also a thought-provoking read, full of action, which explores how people can break themselves against each other.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

I wanted to write a story that explored how easily we could find ourselves in a repressive society, where so many of the freedoms we take for granted have been taken away. It’s something that I’ve been working on for a lot of years, but it feels timely at the moment.

The story is also told from two different perspectives: that of Clara and her stepfather, who is a Major in the Authorisation Bureau and the man who arrested her father. His chapters are some of my favourites, as they allowed me to really explore his obsession with Clara’s mother and the lengths he will go to possess her.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?          

The Disappeared is currently crowdfunding with Unbound and is about three-quarters of the way to the final target. If you’d like to buy a copy, you can pledge to the campaign.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:        

There isn’t really a typical writing day for me. I have a full-time job, so I usually write quite late in the evening, after work. I like to listen to music while I work and I have an ever-increasing playlist of melancholy songs that helps me find the right emotions and focus. I love writing when everyone else has gone to bed: there’s something quite powerful about immersing myself in the story when the house is still and I’m the only person awake.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

I’m yet to find a book about writing that has really grabbed me, but I recently came to the end of a year’s mentoring programme where Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder was endlessly recommended. It’s aimed at screenwriters, but supposedly fantastic for helping with story structure. I’ve also had Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert on my list for ages. It’s not a writing manual as such, but the focus is more on finding inspiration and creative practice, which is something I enjoy reading about.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:  

Since the television adaptation became popular, it feels like a cliché to list The Handmaid’s Tale, but it’s been one of my favourite books since I studied it for my English Literature A-Level. It’s the one book I wish I could have written, I get lost in the intricacy and intelligence of the language every time.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is beautifully written, full of observations about life and the modern world that just take my breath away. Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D Schmidt is the perfect example of a book aimed at younger readers that deals with some incredibly dark storylines using simple, understated language, which makes it all the more powerful and heart-breaking.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

Sorry, got to be The Handmaid’s Tale again. The Crow Road by Iain Banks is another of my favourites, for his storytelling, the uniquely drawn characters and the relationships between them. I read it when I was very young and have returned to the book again and again over the last 20 years, taking something new from it each time. I’d also take Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, which is one of the few classics that I return to, along with Dracula, by Bram Stoker.      

9. Any words of writing wisdom?           

Believe in yourself. The more you write and the more you read, the better your work will become. But it will take years of practice to get really good, so don’t be disheartened when it doesn’t happen straight away. And when you’re ready to query your work, the main thing is to keep going. Rejections are your badge of honour, the more you get the more likely it becomes that someone will eventually say, Yes.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

In a crumbling and desperate city, a young woman must risk everything to fight back against a violent regime, led by her obsessive stepfather, the man who destroyed her father and claimed her mother for himself.

Social media contacts: @tenpennydreams (Twitter and Instagram)

Website: http://www.tenpennydreams.com/

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/the-disappeared/

Hopefully, some of you fine folk out there will be intrigued by Amy's book and will consider supporting it!

East of England - funding update Easter Sunday

Hi all, and a happy Easter to you if you're having a break, be it a religious festival, a few days off, a handful of chocolate eggs, or any blend of the preceding. 

In terms of project progress for the funding of East of England, we're at the 37% mark, which means there's £1500 banked with the publishers and £2500 to go. There's 88 supporters for the book already - which is fantastic - so that means attracting about another 180 to hit the funding target. At the present rate of progress, that's about 5-6 months' work. These things take time, it seems! So, if there's anything you feel inclined to do in terms of nursing the book into life (shares/comments/retweets on social media, telling family and friends and the like) then that'd be very much appreciated As you might imagine, getting people interested in a book that's not available yet (even though it's written) isn't altogether straightforward.

The money raised through the pre-ordering process goes to meet the production and distribution costs of the book - I don't see a penny until a) the book's over 100% funded and b) it's on sale and folk buy some. 

Most of the higher-level pledges have been taken (I've got one "name a character after yourself/a friend") place left, so big thanks to those who've bought those packages. I've got a nicely roguish pair of characters selected that'll be slightly rewritten to accommodate the names/appearance of these fine folk. I've also got a couple of pledges available for me to go anywhere in the UK and give a creative writing class/talk/event of some sort (you can decide the content). Got a plan for one of those slots though...

I've written the first draft of a short story set in the same fictional universe, and this may yet get bundled into the book as an additional extra. More free stuff! I spoil you, I really do. Also, I'm cooking up ideas for a sequel, and I'd hope to include the first chapter of this at the back of the published book to lead folks towards another reading adventure. 

Finally, another project for you to consider. Some of you may know my brother Maxim; well, he's been approached by Unbound to produce a book for them, and crowdfunding for that started this week. You can find more details about the book - Field Notes - here. Have a look and consider backing his project too! 

Thanks for reading (and for being patient during the funding process!)




Cover artwork concepts for East of England

Here's a series of six cover art concepts prepared by my brother, the talented Maxim Peter Griffin, to give a flavour of East of England in visual form. 

They're in no way official, so I wouldn't necessarily expect any of them to end up as a cover to the book when it gets published, but they are - I admit - pretty cool. 

East of England is being crowdfunded via Unbound Publishing; this means pre-orders of the book are necessary to raise its preproduction costs (editing, proofreading, design, printing, the cover, advertising, promotion and distribution and so on). So, don't wait till it hits the bookshelves! As you'll see from the book's details, there are a handful of different pledge levels with escalating rewards; plus, everyone gets their name in the book as thanks. Plus, you get to be a patron of the arts, which isn't too bad, is it?

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Which one's your favourite? And how do they relate to your own visual sense of the book? Again, details  - including how to support East of England - are here

As it's World Cancer Day, a snippet of a work-in-progress

This is raw first-draft stuff, so please excuse any typos and missing moments. Anyway, it's part of a longer autobiographical piece about, among other things, cancer and its impacts in and on my family. And as the header indicates, World Cancer Day is as good a reason as any to start thinking about this again. And if it prompts you to donate a couple of quid to Macmillan Cancer Support along the way, so much the better. 

Thanks for reading


We were going for a curry. That was the idea. We hadn’t been to the Raj Mohal for ages, and it was Dad’s birthday. I can’t remember who had the idea. Anyway, there it was. A curry.

I got the call mid-afternoon. Dad had a medical appointment on his birthday. We’d been chiding him gently for a while now in our own different ways to go to the GP and get himself checked out. He’d been little on the forgetful side for a few years. Nothing dramatic, but it was noticeable, and he had been like that since way before Mum had died back in 2008. Then, it just seemed part of the getting old process, along with the arthritic aches he got in his hands and the blood-pressure medication that he’d been put on a few years earlier.

The forgetfulness had been more recently accompanied by unsteadiness on the feet. There’d been couple of tumbles that I’d known about, and probably a few more that I wasn’t aware of. Along the way we’d got Dad a walking stick, and after a few half-hearted attempts to resist adopting it, the stick and he had become somewhat inseparable. To some of his grandkids, he and the stick were as one. He liked having the stick brought to him. He took pleasure not just in the Octonauts stickers that decorated the shaft of the stick, but also in pointing the various Octonauts – Captain Barnacles, Kwazi, Peso Penguin and the rest of them – to other oldsters.

Stairs were becoming a part of the problem. The staircase at his house was an anti-clockwise winding set; wider to the left than the right as it went up. Not the easiest to navigate.

Worse, though, were the three steps up to and down from the door to the Boars Head pub.

We’d started going to the pub when I moved back to Louth from Grimsby in 2008. Moving back was part of the process surrounding Mum’s death. Louth was the right place to be; Dad needed some support and I could help with that better if I was closer to him. My younger brother was also in the town with his new wife and their firstborn. We’d muddle through somehow.

A new routine established itself. Sunday lunches up at Dad’s house, plus I’d go round at least one mid-week evening. Wednesdays or Thursdays, usually depending on football on the telly. One of us would cook something, and then we’d go to the pub for a couple of pints.

There are two pubs within easy walking distance of Dad’s house: The Brown Cow and The Boars Head. The Cow is the closest, so that’s where we went. Wednesdays were good in there. The pub tended to quieten down after a teatime flurry of trade about half seven, which is when we’d turn up. We’d stay for a couple of hours, and leave about nine thirty, by which time the place would be getting a little busier as folk came out for a couple of drinks before bed.

Wednesday night was a regulars’ thing. The same faces in their own orbits. Barry, who’d been there since early doors, and who would fuss over the Sun crossword. He’d have a carrier bag with four cans of Carling with him. These were for later. He’d leave nine-ish, like as not buying a glass bottle of lemonade for his wife - “Good lass, she is” – and sometimes with the takeaway fish and chips that the pub did, for his supper. Barry would keep himself to himself in the main, though would nick into conversations sometimes, especially if his bellowed South Yorkshire was invoked. Barry had a Sheffield Wednesday tattoo on his arm and, the way he told it, had pretty much single-handedly built the M62, the M1, Meadowhall shopping centre and the Tinsley viaduct. Barry drank Carling; three or four pints.

Barry left; John would come in. A dapper gent, retirement age, with the cropped precision of a weekly haircut that probably had settled into a preferred style sometime around him completing his National Service. Dad and John would needle each other about Manchester United. Dad would scoff at the big-city team, and about fair-weather fans. John would relish any and all of their successes.

Dad drank bitter. He favoured light, dry, hoppy ales. He seldom went over four per cent ABV. In the Brown Cow, Dad drank Adnams, though there was usually a guest alternative that would be just as acceptable.

He’d flirt ironically with XXX behind the bar, swap bits of local lore with XXXX who did a couple of shifts a week in there, and who’d been doing bar work in Louth since Adam was a lad. Landlord Nigel would…

The pub started getting busier; it was picking up a reputation for the quality of the food and the beer, and was being seen in town as a viable alternative to the more well-heeled town centre pubs. The Cow is a small place; it’s full when there’s more than a dozen people in there. At some point it became clear that Dad wasn't enjoying going so much. He’d chunter about the noise, about not being able to hear himself think. There was a TV in the corner showing Sky Sports or ITV if they had a game on. The telly had been upgraded from a perfunctory little flat-screen to something more dominant. This would have been in preparation for one of the football tournaments; maybe the 2012 European Championships.

Where we’d usually have been able to while away an hour or so picking through the local paper, this was less possible. Too many people, too much noise. The Louth Leader – which comes out on Wednesdays and offers the usual small-town diet of court reports, primary school class photographs and rumours of chain stores opening a branch nearby – would have to wait.

A decision was taken. Time to knock the Cow on the head for a while. One of us – I think it was me – suggested that we give the Boars a try instead. Heck, there was a sign in the window that said they did fish and chips for a fiver on Friday teatimes.

That was a done deal.

Half of Louth has their own story about the time they got kicked out of the Boars Head. It was once of those kinds of places. You either fitted in, or you didn’t. It’s closed now; the pub went dark in the summer of 2015. The building’s marked for demolition as part of wider improvements for the adjoining cattle market. We’ll get to that in a bit.

The Boars Head had been a pub for two hundred years. A solid, uncompromising bit of Georgian brickwork, it’s been open since about 1800, and is quite the oldest building on that stretch of Newmarket. The street name refers to the cattle market, which by now has been there for hundreds of years. The local council has been trying to move the market onto the industrial estate on the other side of town for years; they want to sell the land for supermarket development.

The Boars is where the farmers drank. The pub would open at 9am on Thursdays – cattle market day – and serve up Full Englishes and liver and onions to increasingly pissed-up country boys. The Boars was a Bateman’s pub; XB and XXXB were the bitters on offer. A cider. Sometimes a guest ale, sometimes not. Guinness came in cans. Pleasingly, there were both pickled eggs and onions available, and in a concession to the sweet-toothed, a box of Kit-Kats was always on standby.

The steps up to the door were no challenge; the same steps back down were always an issue for Dad. He’d be reminded of them on the walk down Newmarket. They would become, over time, a signal to him, and to others as well, of his slow decline. Like all such things, they were treated as a bit of a running joke, but nevertheless those steps didn’t just make him uneasy at times.

You had to earn your place at the Boars. Signwork outside said that this was a community pub. This was not intended as a welcome. A repository of good old-fashioned British insular bigotry of the old school, the Boars could be the stage for some remarkably reactionary views. The clues were there on the walls; the 2012 Red Arrows framed crew picture, signed by pilots and support staff. The Lancaster bomber pictures. The omnipresent Daily Mail on the bar, often as not underlined and annotated as though scripture was being studied by Barbara behind the bar. If she wasn’t checking the small print, she’d be on her laptop doing word searches or having some crafty bingo.              

Then again, the food was good. Plain, but good. The menu system at the Boars was simplicity. On Sundays, they did a roast dinner. Five quid. Pork or beef. On Fridays, fish and chips. Tuesdays there was a choice of curry or sweet and sour chicken. In the summer they’d do a salad. Vegetarian choice was you could have crisps or fuck off.

The Boars had kept its rooms; the place was subdivided into three rooms. One was reserved for meetings, a poky little cold alcove with a begrudgingly-lit coal fire. As it had the accommodation, all kinds of clubs and societies would meet here. The Film Club. The hospital radio people. The Green party. Dad remembered coming to union and to Labour Party events here in the 1970s. The room to the right of the bar  - wallpapered over with overlapping beer posters - was sometimes used by the Young Farmers for their fortnightly get-togethers, but as the gents was outside in an old public toilet that had been part of the cattle market before being annexed by the brewery, that meant that sometimes you’d cut through a talk being given to them by the St John’s Ambulance or whichever civic or charitable organisation was hitting them up for donations that week. Trailing cables for portable projectors were an ever-present hazard.

Clientele were local; faces from down the street. A couple of local notables. A boorish Alderman who fancied himself a raconteur. The fella that has the carpet warehouse. A former engineer whose principal topic of conversation these days was motorcycles of the 1950s and/or models of traction engines. We slotted right in.

As long as you kept the conversation off the political, and that wasn’t hard to do, the evenings went well. A cheap meal out, a bit of socialisation, some local innuendo, three or four drinks. Sometimes tongues were bitten; that was as rowdy as it ever got.

It was clear in the Boars’ that you were Barbara’s guests. Her house, her rules. Fair enough. Just don’t get her started on anything contentious.

Dad started to drink less. He’d never been a wild boozer at all, but he was having trouble with the sheer amount of liquid involved in drinking beer in a pub. In 2012 he’d have a couple of pints, and then switch to halves. He started to drop this back to having one pint first, then halves from that point on. As a point of pride, the half pint was poured into the pint; he never drank from a half-pint glass.

He started to dread leaving. Exiting a pub is an understandable traumatic experience for anyone, but those steps started to take on a mental life of their own. They represented something more than a means to ground level from the elevated floor of the pub.

Three steps. Painted red. Dad had difficulty judging distances. His depth perception was out somehow. He’d struggle on though and a way would be devised to get to the asphalt outside without tottering over. The steps would loom however.

The unspoken assumption was that there was something lurking in the background. Dementia. Alzheimer’s. That sort of thing. The kind of getting-on-a-bit illness one might expect.

Still, the symptoms were developing, and even Dad couldn’t put it off anymore. So off to the GP he went.

I’d made the decision to move back in with him late in 2011. Remote support was good, but it needed more than phone calls every other day and midweek and weekend visits. Besides, though in his 70s, Dad had been working, keeping a small business going. That business was unravelling.

At some point I started making lunches. Part of the routine teatime chitchat was the question – what did you have for lunch? – and sometimes Dad couldn’t answer. I wasn’t sure if this was because he’s forgotten it as his short-term memory wasn’t there, or because he’d forgotten to eat at all. 

New routines began to establish themselves. I’d put out breakfast things and his pills as an aide-memoire to have his Puffed Wheat and his blood-pressure stuff. Lunch would be in the fridge; I was making sandwiches for myself anyway, so knocking another round or two of ham-and-cheese was no hardship.

Dad had usually taken on midweek teatime duties, but these slid over to me.

It worked pretty well, though I found myself worrying about what Dad was doing in the daytime.

Once, he got conned. A bloke was poking around door-to-door and Dad got it into his head that this fella was from the landlord. The man seems to have jumped on the idea and let him think that. Somehow the conversation came around to buying logs for the fire for Winter and the fella agreed that he could have a load of wood brought round for fifty pounds. Naturally, the wood never came.

I don’t think he ever went into town and got lost, or anything like that, but the potential was there. Slowly, Dad’s radius contracted. He’d given up driving a couple of years previously when he’d got into the habit of taking right-turns at roundabouts. Sensibly, he saw that his focus was going, and that he couldn’t trust himself to concentrate behind the wheel of a vehicle.

I’d walk him into town sometimes. Sometimes we’d get the local town circuit bus; it stopped only a few yards from his house anyway. We worked out that walking either to or from town was fine, but doing both was too much. And besides, we rationalised, taking a taxi home from the town centre was only a flat two pounds fifty. Better pay that and have your shopping carried home for you than struggle up Aswell Street with a full bag.

There were intermittent contacts with various social services. Age UK arranged some things: handrails for the stairs as well as the steps up to his front door, a hydraulic lift for the bath. We signed up for an on-call service. He wore an alarm pendant to press if he fell that would a message to a responder.

The afternoon phone call on his birthday was a bit unnecessary. Yes, he’d been to his appointment, yes he had some news, no he wouldn’t say what it was over the phone. Right. The lesson in mystery received, the rest of the afternoon crawled by.

He’d had by this stage a couple of scans. An MRI and a CAT, if I remember right. The assumption remained that he’d copped for one of the above-mentioned conditions I associated with growing old.

It was a bit of a surprise to have him tell me that he had a brain tumour.

We went for the curry anyway.


East of England: crowdfunding and me

Hi all. First up, here's the call to action: my new novel East of England is crowdfunding now via the fine folks at Unbound, who are experts in this kind of thing, and I'd love for you to help make East of England a reality. You can do so by following the link to Unbound's site, where you can find out more about the book (there's a video, a synopsis, and a sample from the beginning of the novel) and about how you can support it. 

If you don't know much about crowdfunding, here's how it works.

First, the book's written. Don't worry about that bit. I've taken care of that for you. 

Second, fine people taste and distinction  - very much like you, dear reader - decide if they want to support the project. As the Unbound site shows, there are different levels of what they call 'pledges' - essentially, pre-orders - (ebook, paperback, special editions with mentions in the book, even the chance to have a character renamed after you, and so on) - at different price points.

When the funding target is reached - the amount of cash needed to edit, proofread, and copyedit the book by salty professionals, plus marketing and promotion to get it into bookshops and so on, as well as printing, cover artwork and all the behind-the-scenes stuff - then the book becomes live, gets finished off and sent out to you. 

Johnny-Come-Lately can, of course, then buy East of England from Amazon / Waterstones / HIve / your friendly neighbourhood independent bookshop / the supermarket / WH Smiths, but what he and his similarly tardy chums won't get is a) to be the first and to have an active hand in bringing the project to life, and b) the chance to brag that you are now a patron of the arts.

Remember, if the book doesn't reach its funding total - progress can be checked on Unbound's website - then the book doesn't get published, and everyone who's pledged to support it gets their pledge money back. So there's no risk to you from that point of view.  

How long all of this takes is up to the public. Some projects get funded in days, some take a few months. Some, it has to be said, never reach that point. And I don't want to be in that category. And you don't want that either. Do you? 

Here's how the book came to life. 

I've had the idea for the opening - it's the scene used as the sample which you can find on the Unbound site - for years. I tried writing it as the beginning of a screenplay, but never quite had a story to go with it.

Early last summer (2017), I was struggling with a different piece of writing - my long-gestating novel about Francis Walsingham which will get finished one day, oh yes - and I went back to this scene. Sat down. Wrote. Got to about 15,000 words, and took a break. It didn't read too badly, and it was quick in comparison because I was working with elements that I had in my head - a more-or-less contemporary setting, locations familiar to me - rather than cross-checking everything in history books. I took a break, because of moving house. 

At about this time I saw a tweet. A call for submissions from a chap called Simon Spanton at Unbound. Send us a sample of your work etc. So I tidied up the first 10K words and sent it through. Nothing ventured, and so on. I carried on boxing up stuff. I heard back a few weeks later. Simon said he liked the sample. Is there more? 

Nothing engages the sweet spot between creative endeavour and harnessing a bum to a chair than someone saying they'd like to see a full manuscript that you haven't got yet. So, that was October and November taken care of.

And here we are. The book's written, though in its raw state pending the full quantity of pledges being received. I really like it, and I really enjoyed writing it. The folks at Unbound have been both incredibly supportive and professional in ways that makes you realise there's more to this publishing lark than tall afternoon drinks in swish hotel bars over industry gossip about so-and-so at such-and-such.

The next bit is over to you. Have a look at the details about East of England. Hopefully, you'll see - like Simon and his colleagues - that there's something worth supporting, and a book that's worth reading, and you'll make a pledge. 

Thanks for reading. And for reading. 


Juggernaut is free for #Frightfest - Jekyll and Hyde sequel free on Kindle!

As it's Frightfest this weekend, Juggernaut, my sequel novel to Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is free on Kindle for the 5 days of the horror film festival.

So, you can download Juggernaut - which also includes the full text of the Stevenson original - free from 24th to 28th August inclusive. Here's the link again. There's a paperback version available also, if that's your kinda thing. 


Wayward summer breeze

This was a longer post, but that got lost in a computer snafu. The post was good; about Chuck Berry and about poetry, rhythm and blues and country music, and about gathering those things together in a single place. And about shadows cast, and those who sheltered, and who found their own place, protected from the tedious sun.

Alas, that's gone, though. And there's nothing more injurious to the soul than reconstructing your own words. So I'll not attempt that. What I did retain was the tracklisting to the writing. So here it is.   

Some Chuck Berry covers for you.

Here's School Days, covered by AC/DC. 

And now here's Nadine, from Rory Gallagher:

Oh, and here's Roll Over Beethoven, from ELO:

And now here's Bye Bye Johnny, from the peerless Wilko Johnson:

As it's Christmas somewhere, here's Run Run Rudolph, covered by Keith Richards:

Here's Keith Richards and Jerry Lee Lewis having a go at Little Queenie:

Now it's the turn of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, covering You Never Can Tell:

David Bowie, taking a stab at Around and Around:

The Band's Levon Helm, essaying Back To Memphis:

Last, here's The Pirates, rampaging through Johnny B Goode:

That's ten. Not a personal Top Ten necessarily; just ten to be going on with. 


Books by me:

Juggernaut, a sequel to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (also included in the volume). 

Torc, for younger readers of all ages. 

The Prospect of this City; a novel of 1666. 


Torc: the ebook is free from 22 May 2017 to 26 May 2017 inclusive!

Afer last month's ebook giveaway for Juggernaut, I've decided to run another! Torc, my MG/YA-ish (you decide!) Scottish-set timeslip novel is free for download from Amazon between the 22nd and 26th of May 2017 inclusive. Just in time for the bank holiday weekend, if you're in the UK!

Here's the synopsis:  

The west coast of Scotland, present day. Ailsa's world is threatened when the future of the hotel she calls home comes under threat. She's saddled with her cousin Tom for the day while the adults talk, but Ailsa has a plan that might just save their way of life.

The same village, two thousand years earlier. Iona, daughter of clan chief Duer, is given a vital errand; a Roman incursion into their homelands is rumoured, and a scout has not returned. Iona's task is to complete the scouting mission.

The two girls' lives become entangled through time; linked by their shared homelands, their dreams, and an artefact that binds them together across the centuries.

Hope you enjoy Torc - if you get to read the book, then please pop a review up onlne!


Juggernaut: the ebook is free 21th April - 25th April 2017!

Juggernaut - my new sequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, is free to download from Amazon between 21st and 25th April 2017!

So, pop over to Amazon and help yourself to a free copy. It'll download to your Kindle, or else you can download a free app to your smartphone/tablet/computer for easy reading.   

Don't worry if you've not read the original, as that's included in the download.

Enjoy the book, and don't forget to leave a review for me on Amazon! Your feedback is really useful!  

Big summer blowout, as the kids say these days.

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