Thursday, 3 June 2021

Bright new day, bright new tech - and a problem I didn't know I had

Image by Michael Schwarzenberger

If you follow my blog by email, you will receive this via a different route from before. By the wonders of technology you won't notice the change; though things might be a little slicker. I've swapped to follow.it which is a great new system built for both readers and writers of blogs on all manner of platforms. I recommend that you check out the link and see what it can do. I'd never heard of follow.it until it was recommended to me. I had a look and was impressed.

This process has highlighted a problem I didn't realise I had. My followers weren't all people. 

Image by Marc B

I found hundreds of dodgy emails, and I had no option but to remove all outlook.com addresses from my followers list. 

That leaves me with a concern that I might have thrown overboard someone with a legitimate outlook address. If you followed me with an outlook.com email address and have suddenly stopped getting notifications, please let me know and I'll throw you a lifebelt and bring you back on board. You could just sign up again using the new gizmo - top right of the page - but I'd rather know so that I can say sorry and maybe send you a book.


Saturday, 22 May 2021

The view is very different from the other side of the counter

Once a year, pandemics permitting, I set aside being an author and become a bookstore manager for the weekend. When I first took on the role, I thought of it as wearing two hats, and assumed the author one would remain the most prominent. I couldn't have been more wrong.

My author hat shrinks to become a small decorative hat pin in the massive weighty bookstore hat under which I stagger about.

What's the biggest change? It's the way that the role has affected my relationship with books - and yes, the full-sized Daleks come into it too. For more detail check out this feature in Kings River Life magazine.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

The Unnerving Power of the Written Word

It’s a rarely-mentioned problem of writing contemporary fiction set in real places, that it can go out of date so quickly, but it can, and I have often bemoaned the fact that useful landmarks disappear overnight. I used to say that I took commissions from organised crime to mention police stations in my novels, because no sooner did the book hit the shelves, than the bulldozers moved in on the buildings.

It was certainly true of my first three novels.

You’ll be lucky to find a trace left of any official building mentioned in that trilogy. Then things settled down for a few books, but it has happened again on a rather grand scale for the latest, Boxed In.

I was asked a question about shipping containers and my publisher asked me to record an answer by way of a short podcast, which I did. And as soon as it was finished, container ships – which had been largely invisible to news outlets for years – were suddenly all over the mainstream media when a ship ran aground and blocked the Suez Canal.

Would I re-record my answer and include mention of the stricken ship, given that it looked set to cause chaos for weeks to come? Yes, of course I would, and here it is:



But what happened the very moment the podcast was live? Naturally, the ship was re-floated and the blockage cleared. My power to move mountains with words is back!

Why would anyone ask me about shipping containers in the first place? That’s a good question and so was the one about containers. It came after a recording I’d done about the weather in novels:



Thursday, 18 February 2021

Real life and crime fiction


In an article in Kings River Life magazine, I look back on some of the things I've done and places I've been. In particular events and places that have found their way into my books.

Some events still cause a catch in my throat knowing that I was a step too close from never having the opportunity to tell anyone about it, ever, never mind weave it into a story. 


The article includes a free contest for a copy of Falling into Crime (ebook or print) but entries run only to late Feb 2021. If you miss the giveaway but would like a copy, you can browse here:


Thursday, 14 January 2021

Marking the pandemic lockdown with Boxed In


Boxed In has been the working title of this book since its inception in 2018/19 - before the words lockdown, pandemic, covid, furlough and distancing were in constant use. The action takes place before the 2020 pandemic, but only just, which is an aspect I explore in the author's note at the end. It leaves a bit of a dilemma for the next one.

Officially launched on 20th March 2021, the one-year anniversary of the start of the first lockdown in the UK, Boxed In follows the fortunes of private investigator, Annie Raymond, and police officer, Jennifer Flanagan in the streets of Hull, East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.

The book is available in advance in paperback. The ebook can be pre-ordered for delivery on launch day.


Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Book review: The Defiant Spark by Annie Percik


The Defiant Spark by Annie Percik
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In The Defiant Spark by Annie Percik, technology is powered by mana (essentially by magic, though that’s not a term that is used in the book). As in our own world, the artefacts that facilitate routine living: cooking cleaning, travelling, gaming etc, go wrong. Devices break down, jealousies erupt over bigger and better versions. Percik dives into a side of magic worlds that is usually glossed over or forgotten; the world of customer service, complaints and call centres.

Protagonist Abelard is a humble mana engineer who works in a call centre and lives in a run-down apartment. His dream was to make the leap to becoming one of the elite band of artisans. Convinced he had the skills, he and a friend applied to take the tests, but failed at the first hurdle. Abelard is resigned to a humdrum existence though he hankers after someone to share his life.

An accident on a routine call-out almost kills him … and changes his life. Not only has he met someone special, but the world of the artisans is suddenly within his grasp.

Is that his ‘happy ever after’? Hell, no! The material improvement in his life is as sudden as the disturbing revelations that start to pull the privileged rug from under his feet almost the moment his toes touch the weave.

He is bullied, threatened; he looks set to lose the only true friends he had, and he makes an inadvertently human contact with a robot, quite unaware of the problems that he has unleashed and the unintended consequences.

The relationships within the book look set to take a particular course, but don’t be fooled. Things quickly take an unexpected turn. And if you then feel with some satisfaction – as I did – ah ha, that’s how it’s going to end up, think again. There’s a twist that takes things in another direction. I wondered at a sci-fi novel launching on Valentine’s Day, but within all the machinations, there are more than enough tangled relationships to justify the launch date. And there’s a satisfying feel to the unconventional but convincing resolution.

(Reviewed prior to launch from an advance reading copy)

Buy your copy here

View all my reviews


Friday, 21 August 2020

How to create a short sharp pitch for a work of commercial fiction

I'm a writer not a film maker and I make no claims for the quality of production, nor am I expecting any academy award nominations, but I stand by the content as a tried and tested way to create the outline for an elevator pitch, a blurb or a book taster. 


This mini presentation was shown at virtual FantastiCon 2020 and was abridged from How to be a Fantastic Writer by Danuta Reah and Penny Grubb