Wednesday, August 31, 2005

You See A darkness

Following on from my Will Oldham moan, I found this set of video files from the Green Man Fest on the BBC site. So now everyone can catch what I missed. (Minus the flare.)


Some of the regular readers of this blog will be in Chicago right now, hanging out at BoucherCon (the world's biggest crime writing convention). All I can say is: what a bunch of bastards*. I'd have been there myself under better circumstances but, like the Will Oldham gig, it weren't to be. Noir, noir noir. I would say "Hey, definitely next year!" but I already said that last year, and I have precious little credibility left in the "I'm going to B'Con" stakes.

Mind you, there is one consolation... I WILL be at next year's Harrogate Crime Writing Festival (which should be easier to get to).

Other news... Well, not much. I hear talk of a cover image for the upcoming KING OF THE ROAD, so I should be able to show you that soon. Oh, and I had a dream last night involving Madonna. (She's often hanging around my dreams. Is it the same for everyone? Or just a personal quirk of mine that can be traced to my method of birth? Jung, or Freud?) Other than that, I'm just keeping on keeping on.

Oh, and a question for you, oh techno-savvy reader of this blog: Is there something wrong with the MP3 I posted the other day? Some punters can play it, others cannot. Pourquoi?

* Bastards or no, I hope you all have a top time. No, I know you will.

I (Did Not) See A Darkness

So I went to the Green Man Fest the other week, which featured the peerless Will Oldham. Great, right? Well, no. I was at the fest alright, but I had to go home before Oldham came on. Why? I had my reasons. And I'm OK about it. Will Oldham might be one of the few musicians I would consider having a tooth pulled to see live, and I See A Darkness one of my fave songs... but I'm OK about it. I was a bit cut up at the time (hence my total avoidance of the issue here), but some things just ain't to be. C'est la vie, right? Right. Until I read this review in The Indie:

Beneath the canopy of twinkling stars a yellow full moon hung suspended over the stage, illuminating the scenic backdrop of the Black Mountains beyond. As Bonnie "Prince" Billy began to play a blisteringly intense version of "I See a Darkness" - his most famous song, covered by the late Johnny Cash - someone fired off a red flare into the sky and the whole scene lit up with an unearthly carmine glow, part late-Turner watercolour, part Apocalypse Now. It was one of those utterly magical moments that everyone there will remember...
Mind you, I did see the man walking around, earlier on. His beard really is something to behold. And his shirt was truly dazzling, being a shade of red hitherto unseen in that part of Wales. So that's something, right?

No. This is not "something". This is NOIR. And no amount of red fabric or facial hair can make it better. Like the man said... and then I see a darkness.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Coming to you live from Radio Mangel

The cats at Serpent's Tail asked me to record myself doing a reading of KING OF THE ROAD, so they can put together a CD of new releases and send it out to sales reps. The idea is to give the reps a better idea of the books, so they can do a better job of trying to sell them. This is something I've done for the previous two books as well. And it doesn't get much easier. I'm still sat alone in a room, reading the words off the screen, trying to sound dramatic (and Mangelese). I tried to get Vincent Price to do it but he wasn't available.

Anyway, if you have a spare ten minutes of your life you would like to get rid of, you might want to check out the reading for yourself, which I have put up here as an MP3. I blather briefly about the book, then mumble the first couple of pages.

(Update: No one seems able to get that to work. If you're finding the same, simply right-click the file, save to disk, relax with a bottle of whisky, drink whisky, place empty bottle on floor beside you, play mp3 file at leisure.)

Just make sure you REALLY don't need those ten minutes.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Green Man Fest was pretty good. I couldn't stay for the whole weekend due to one thing or abother, but what I saw was great. As for our (Rob Lewis, John Williams, myself) event, it was interesting. One punter turned up.




Seeing as she didn't even know who we were anyway, we did a little "speed reading" (one page each) and fucked off to the pub. Maybe we should have made more of it, but come on... Anyway, we saw the funny side. (Mind you, I haven't seen Rob since. And his hat was found on the banks of the nearby River Wye... And John's silver Vauxhall Cavalier was found abandoned at Aust Services near the Severn Bridge...)

Many thanks to that one solitary punter. You really saved our dignity.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Life is life... daaa da-de-da.

I am still around, in case you are wondering. Just had a collision with reality, and everything goes out the window (including writing). (However, there's no way I'm missing the Green Man Fest on Saturday. Reality can go hang.) Hopefully I'll be up and running again soon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Just read Alan Moore and David Lloyd's V FOR VENDETTA. Wow, what a piece of work. My reading of graphic novels over the years has been quite thin, but this is the best example of the form I have ever seen. I know it's an age-old argument as to whether the two things can be compared or not, but I would but V up there in my top five novels of all time, graphics or no.

So... I read a great piece of fiction, then I want to find out a bit more about it. Interviews from the authors about it, what other people thought of it, etc. And what do I find? V FOR VENDETTA appears to be a big, hollywood blockbuster movie, coming out later this year.

And it pisses me off.

Now, I realise I am behind the times. I've had 20-odd years to read V, and I couldn't expect material like this to remain untouched forever. But even so, why does Hollywood have to vandalise EVERY decent piece of fiction? It's OK, you don't have to give me reasons. I know - comics are hot in Hollywood... Alan Moore comics in particular. But is it good? Is it a good thing that V FOR VENDETTA will henceforth be known as a big movie starring the suit guy from THE MATRIX?

Good things about V FOR VENDETTA, THE MOVIE:
  1. You never know - it might be alright.
  2. No Keanu Reeves.
  3. Will lead lots of people to the book, which will lead them to more books.
  4. No Vin Diesel.
Bad things about V FOR VENDETTA, THE MOVIE:
  1. Why did they have to do it?
  2. I've only just discovered the thing, independently of movie buzz or anything. And now I'll look like a bandwagon-jumper if I bring it up in conversation. The same thing happened with SIN CITY, and it's just not on.
  3. Just why?
  4. No Mr T.
  5. Is nothing sacred?
  6. No Hoff.
There is another thing, a thing I was going to put in "Bad things..." but rightly hestitated to. You see, the book is about a London in the grip of terrorist attacks - one minority aiming to topple the majority via explosions and death. Of course, the majority is represented by a post-nuclear totalitarian Big Brother state, which has purged it's people of culture. And the minority - a masked marauder dripping culture and irony - is a victim of that state. But... Ah, I haven't seen it, so I'm in no position to comment on the wisdom of putting out such a movie at such a time. Let the movie come, and let's see how it deals with the terror angle. Let's just say the book has frightening parallels with recent events in London, and the empathy lies clearly with the terrorist. Timely? Or ill-timed?

Monday, August 08, 2005

Keyword Kraziness

In the absence of anything better to offer you, here are some recent keyword searches that been leading punters to

  1. web desine
  2. smoking a fag
  3. hillman imp
  4. sandra mangel
  5. fat birds fucking
  6. fucking donkeys
  7. fucking motors
  8. pigg fuck
  9. hoy fucking
  10. would you like some chat up
  11. respect elders and betters
  12. naked bird
  13. steven dowie
  14. see through dress
  15. what does tarting it up mean?
  16. fuck the informer
I'm a bit worried about that number 7. Couldn't you harm yourself doing that? And how does the motor signal her consent? Could be a need for legislation there... Also note numbers 5 and 12, which suggest growing interest from the ornothological fraternity.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Keep Busting

You, the readers, are very important to me. That is why I only give you the freshest content, the most in-depth interviews, the sleaziest photographs, etc. Continuing in this tradition I want to present to you here, as a WORLD EXCLUSIVE, the cover art for Bruen and Starr's upcoming novel from Hard Case Crime, BUST...

Is that a beauty or what? I can't get enough of HCC's pulp covers, and this one is right up there. As you probably already know, Ken Bruen and Jason Starr are the Siegried and Roy of the noir world. No, no... er, they're the Torville and Dean of... Ah, they're Bruen and Starr, and their books are quite simply where it's at, noir-wise.

BUST comes out in the Spring of 2006, so look out for it.

08/08/05 update: Cover slightly changed (reflected above). Spot the diff!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Chaff Off

I was reading this article about a blog that actually made a difference, and then I thought about this blog, the one you're reading now. I'm well aware that I don't really give much of myself here. Let's face it - I try to keep this thing going with little bits of info about any readings I do (or am looking forward to doing), the odd rave about a great book or film, irrelevant posts about 80's music, and a little bit of Hasselhoff.

But the truth is, I don't think I could give any more.

The first reason is time. I do a full-time job as well as writing. I am in fact writing this during my lunch-break (so if there's a lot of typos it's because I didn't have time to check). Then there's the writing itself. It's well reported that blogging is the perfect excuse not to write. I think it's fine for a full-time author to blog, because I can't see how anyone can spend 8 hours a day on a novel alone. But for the rest of us who have about an hour or day tops to get some words down, a blog is somewhat of an indulgence.

The other reason I don't blog much life-changing content is that, like that old Jesus story, the writing part of my brain generates two things: wheat and chaff. And it has two outlets: my novels and this blog. One gets the wheat, the other gets the chaff. Which do you think gets what?

Nevertheless, I will blog on. I really feel there is a place in the world for my chaff. You like it sometimes, right? Come on, admit it - you're a big chaff monster. Hey, I'm quite partial to a bit of chaff myself. Other people's, mind. (What, you think I'm sick?)

Monday, August 01, 2005

I had to get rid of that post...

...with the Belouis Some album cover. It was lowering the tone.

In case you're wondering, this is NOT an 80s nostalgia blog.