Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cool Yule

Happy Christmas. Make sure you have a good one because we're all going to be living on the streets next year, apparently. Have you seen MAD MAX? It'll be like that - fuel drought and strange clothes. Or maybe Neil Marshall's excellent DOOMSDAY - cannibalism and strange clothes. The message is clear: don't throw out your strange clothes just yet.

But next year won't all be about apocalyptic fun... there are cultural treats to look forward to as well. Francophone readers have got LE ROI DU MACADAM (King of the Road, trans. Thierry Marignac) coming out in February from Serie Noire/Gallimard. I think it's coming out in Italy too but, as ever, I'm not really sure about the Italian side of things. Later in the year, back in the U of K, my next book STAIRWAY TO HELL will come out from Serpent's Tail. You'll be able to get it in August, assuming we still have bookshops then.

While we're at it, check out the new blog to accompany Thierry Marignac's novel, RENEGADE BOXING CLUB. The book and blog are in French but there are some great photos. As well as two of my books, Marignac has translated works by Jim Thompson, Jim Carroll and Nelson Algren amongst many others. He is an interesting guy.

Anyway, have a good one this Exmas. Keep a bucket handy for vomitting into, and try not to set fire to yourself.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Yo ho ho and a bottle of Buckfast

New Q&A with me - administered by the capable Declan Burke - up on Crime Always Pays*. In it we talk about rubber hoses, Hello magazine and urine. Consider it an early Christmas present.

* And crime does not always pay, kids. Staying in school and laying off the alcopops and glue pays, OK? And internet poker.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Just a few mumbled words from me

Noticed a nice little review of my short story YOUR PLACE IS IN THE SHADOWS in the SF Crowsnest: "[the story) fizzes with the rustle of knock off Burberry caps and a life lived stealing and waiting for the next giro." But it's not all good: "It felt like it had some element missing..." That would be the lesbian rottweilers. (I had to cut the out to make the word limit.)

Congrats to Joe Calzaghe on beating up and making fun of Roy Jones Junior. Like a lot of Americans, I felt sad seeing a former great pushed around in such a way, and I didn't really enjoy it. But come on, Joe is incredible. Europe knows it and American pros know it, but still the US public refuses to admit it. Would it help if he was American?

Novel news: expect a new one from me to come out in August of 2009. That's a long time to wait, and a massive 3.5 years since my last one. But it means I'm back. I'm not dead, despite coroners' reports. Dracula has risen from the grave! I can't tell you the title yet because it is so ingenious that it will be immediately stolen and sold on Ebay, but here are the initials: S t H.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Packet of Radge

Remember that industrial strength interview I herded you towards a while back? Well, the boys at Byker Books have got their heads down and, after a lot of blood, sweat and pork scratchings, inaugurated a new print magazine - Radgepacket.

Volume One will be available shortly and you can order now, so please check it out. As far as I'm concerned, small press mags like this are essential to the survival of the human race. Long live the Radgepacket.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Does anyone still hollow out turnips on Halloween? I'm sure we used to do that when I was little. Turnips and swedes (which are actually a nightmare to hollow out). As I understand it, the early settlers who went over to the States back in the day tried to do Halloween, but couldn't find any turnips or swedes, so they had a look around and found some pumpkins. And thank God they did, otherwise we would have spent the early 90s listening to The Smashing Turnips.

Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh yeah...

...I totally forgot about this blog for a few weeks there. Hope you've all been OK. In truth I've been busting my balls for a while, trying to get a book written as well as all the other life-type stuff. Autumn is a good time for me, and I wanted to see how far I could ride the energy it seems to bring me. All the way, it seems. Here's to autumn...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Student forced to put fish in bra and then eat it

This BBC article is so good on so many levels. Eg:

"We had to put matches in private, inappropriate areas and set them on fire whilst drinking more beer."

Fun article, right? But note the "DEATHS" heading near the bottom, reminding us that this is actually a serious issue and not just a sorry excuse for a news item, written by someone with no eyes, ears, sense of smell or touch, limbs, head, torso, inappropriate area or anything. In fact this article was written by a gas. A harmless, useless gas. Xenon, perhaps.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Crime fiction fans should check out the new issue of CRIMEWAVE magazine, which contains a story of mine called YOUR PLACE IS IN THE SHADOWS. Mangel completists should be aware that the story is set in that town. They should also check out the latest edition of "The Mangel Completist" magazine, which contains a full list of Mangel-related items, including the new "Take yer vittles and piss off!" T-shirt (one size fits all).

Back to CRIMEWAVE, also of note (besides the awe-inspiring cover, below) is a short piece by Steve Rasnic Tem, one of my favourite writers. He is the best at what he does, and so is Crimewave. But don't take my word for it. Listen to the man:

"A must-have collection of the hottest crime stories around" - Ian Rankin

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Beautiful kick in the subconscious

Back in 2006, I raved thus:

And then there's Paul Meloy, whose short stories quite simply remove me from the face of this planet of ours. Meloy lives and writes in the hinterland between dreams and reality**, which is the perfect place to set up a desk and typewriter, if you ask me. Reading one of his stories is like getting a beautiful kick in the subconscious. Of course, I'm teasing you. This is a guy, one of the best writers in the world, who has nothing published in book form. (Most of his stories so far have come out in The Third Alternative (now renamed "Black Static" - Ed.) It's well worth tracking down back issues down just for the Meloy material.) But that will change one day. Oh yes, you will know about him in time. And remember: you read it here first. When you finally discover the awe-inspiring visions of Paul Meloy you can come back here and thank me. And buy my books.

Guess what?

Paul Meloy has a collection out. And I didn't even have to do it myself.

ISLINGTON CROCODILES is published by TTA Press. Buy now and forever pat yourself on the back for getting in on the ground floor.

** Cambridge

Friday, August 22, 2008


Hey, I've finally made it into the pages of the Internet Movie Database, a resource I've been poring over as a cinema fan ever since it started (the IMDB, not cinema itself). In that world I'm known as Charlie Williams VIII, like a cross between George Hamilton IV and Henry VIII and... erm... someone called Charlie Williams. Obviously this credit is down to my recent efforts working up the screenplay for the short film ARK (currently showing at a film festival near you, as long as you're in Palm Springs). However...

(There's always a however, ain't there?)

You will note that there are two writers down as writers of Ark. Charlie Williams and Charlie Williams. You click on one and it leads to me - CW8 (as they say). But click on the other and you get CW7, born 28 November, 2002.

The guy is not yet six years old, and I have to share a writing credit with him?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Industrial Strength Interview

New interview conducted by Andrew Rivers is up at Byker Books. Check it out. Good questions are asked and crap answers given, as ever. Also peruse the other interviews of Danny King and Max Kinnings. And all the other great stuff on the site.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ARK and Palm Springs

Hello. ARK has been accepted for inclusion in the 2008 Palm Springs International Shortfest, August 21-27. We're not talking Bognor Regis here. We're not talking Scunthorpe, Stranraer or Batley. We are talking Palm Springs. Never has a place name conjured up such images of living la dolce vita. Palm trees, er... springs... it's all there.

As I was saying, ARK has been accepted at the 2008 Palm Springs International Shortfest, August 21-27. This means that YOU will get to watch it if you find yourself in that palmy, springy place. Just to whet your appetite (and to get those filthy images of palms and springs out of your head), here are some pics:

That's ARK, ladies and gents, starring Simone Lahbib and Raffaello Degruttola, directed by Mal Woolford, produced by Andrea Thornton and written by George Lucas. Just kidding.

Friday, July 18, 2008

This is the end

Beau-tiful friend, the end.

No, I'm not getting all apocalyptic on your asses, just wanted to share the two words I typed last night on my novel-in-progress:


What a relief. A year, this has taken me to do the first draft. A year! But the relief is shortlived, and within minutes you're back in there, chipping away at this big block of stone that vaguely resembles a novel...

I'll tell you what, though - I had a blast drafting it. There are many modes of writing and the first draft is the most fun (and the biggest pain). You're walking into rooms blind, not knowing what you'll find there or how compliant that new character you've cast is going to be. For me at least, going commando-style (ie: working with no visible outline), it's a proper adventure. The real graft begins on draft 2, but there's no recapturing that struggle to get your character's ass out of the flames. Or fully into them, depending on what kind of novel it is.

One more time:


Thursday, July 03, 2008

You missed it

If you were in Peterborough last night you could have caught the world premiere of ARK at the Space4 Film Festival. Due to long-standing commitments I wasn't there, but I hope those who did attend had a good time and enjoyed the film. Any other screenings, I'll be sure to let you know in advance. And maybe be there.

Monday, June 30, 2008


Never mind Spain winning the Euros, Manny Pacqiao whipping the ass of David Diaz or Andy Murray reaching the Wimbledon quarters... I just threw two darts at a board in succession - the second landing IN THE TAIL OF THE FIRST. You know that tiny crosshair where the flight goes? That's where No. 2 went! And stayed. It didn't do that crosshair much good, but hey - this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime things. But this is a serious post, and I have a serious question...

What happens in a competitive game when that happens? Has it ever happened?

Am I unique?

Did anyone notice any strange lights in the sky, around 21:10 BST? Maybe some rumblings, like thunder?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Novel writing tip

If you're in the midst of writing a novel, or any other kind of prose, be wary of what you read. Or watch. Books, films and quality TV shows with a strong, distinctive voice can influence your own style. Sometimes in a bad way, but other times for the better. But even if it improves your piece, tread carefully. Plagiarism is a dirty word. Only yesterday, after watching an old DVD, I blanched in horror, ran to the keyboard and opened up my work in progress, CHARLIE WILLIAMS'S OBSCURE LOCATION. Sure enough, there was that line:

"As I rounded the corner I felt muscular and compact. Like corned beef."
It broke my heart to cut such an inspired simile, but imagine if I had noticed it AFTER publication, with the book on millions of shelves around the world and heading for a big Hollywood adaptation starring Benicio del Toro? No, the line had to go. Or at least undergo some changes. So I changed it to:

"As I went round the corner I felt compact and muscular. Like Spam."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Platform games

I was reading this post about screenwriters crossing over to novels on English Dave's excellent telly-writing blog, and it got me thinking. I totally agree, by the way. Stories are stories. If you've got the instinct you can tell them in any format. The only obstacles are technical ones, and you can get over those. Nuff said.

But it was something else (and coffee) that got the brain cells moving. The idea that you get more respect as a novelist than you do as a screenwriter. I would say that, yes, you get some semblance of respect as a novelist. Your name gets printed a lot more and you actually get the public and critical credit for the work you've done. In a weird, slightly anaemic way, you even get some celebrity. Invitations to parties, VIP treatment at festivals, interviews in the papers, foreign travel etc.... I've had all that. But


No fucking money. Or not much anyway.

Oh yeah, you get paid for everything. And the figures even look good on paper sometimes. But making an actual LIVING out of it? Forget that.

Which makes you look at that "respect" you've been getting and wonder if it is that after all.

Don't get me wrong - I am far from having a go at the paymasters. Mr Market-Forces is right there outside the window. He's a big bad wolf and he'll get you if you're weak. This is not a socialist republic and you can't expect a penny unless that wolf says you're worth it.

But still, writing is work.

If you're one of the few, you'll make a good living from it. I don't count myself in that number yet but I have friends who do. And when I say make a living I mean a sustainable one. Many apparent "successes" get paid a shitload for a first two-book-deal and fuck all thereafter, because the sales weren't up to it. There's a big red number where there should be a big black one.

Game over.

Writing is a bitch, no matter what the platform.

But still we pursue her, running after her with flowers and fine perfumes and rhyming couplets. Because she's captivating and beautiful. And we're tough motherfuckers. Or saps.

Or both.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Top TV #2

What happened to pure comedy? You could never get away with a routine like that these days unless you were taking the piss out of the mere idea that someone might want to do a routine like this. Also, where are all the middle-aged entertainers? I don't mean heritage acts, buts ones who are actually at the top of their game? The Chuckle Brothers?

I loved a lot of 80s alternative comedy but a disastrous side-effect was that it consigned everyone over 40 to irrelevance and grandad status. Unless they dressed like they were under 40, and had hair. Or they could go bald as long as they shaved the remainder off. And wore a black top.

There's an innocence and simple joy in comedy that you don't get so much any more. You've got to work the laughs through five or six layers of knowingness before they make it to TV. But it is possible to circumvent most of those layers. I'll come to that in Top TV #3...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Top TV #1

Friday, April 25, 2008


From time to time, when I've nothing better to do, I improve the quality of your lives by giving you a glimpse into the minds of the men and women out there who find this site via google. Here is that glimpse:

3 5.36% make her gag
2 3.57% ass rash
1 1.79% rash on ass
1 1.79% rash on my ass
1 1.79% ass rashes
1 1.79% comics of pity
1 1.79% how to buy fags
1 1.79% david hasselhoff in his 20s

I have no further comment.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


That's what time the fight is. And I'm waiting up for it - Glenfiddich 12yo in my hand. Am I going to make it? Is Joe going to kick the arse of old man Popkins? I just doon't know. One of the p4p best in the world against the most awkward, undisputed. For once, I'm kind of impartial. I love both these guys. I can't call it.

But come on, Joe will win.

Friday, April 18, 2008

PRONG 3: Comics

I have been taking the comics world by storm. Didn't you notice? The way I've been doing it, right, is via black magic. Me and my artistic cohort Jonathan Dukes meet up every now and then in The Plough - which is a very mystical sort of pub - and drink ourselves into a shamanic stupour, helping the mindstate along by throwing out the odd word about Alan Moore or the Hernandez brothers. Then, in our trance-like state, we utter the magic words that, in effect, render the comics world at our mercy. Anything we submit to them for publication, they will accept and treat with reverence. It's just that we haven't finished anything yet. We're busy, OK? I mean, these things take time.

So that's what I'm doing. What are you doing? Does it involve black magic?

Next week: Prong 4...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

PRONG 2: Screen

I have turned DEADFOLK into a screenplay and I'm trying to get agent interest. I'm still not sure whether it's best suited to cinema or TV, but it is what it is. And it's a feature-length screenplay. And a novel, of course.

Then there is the short film ARK, recently shot with such flare by Mal Woolford and team. That's an exciting one and I can't wait to see how it turns out (seen the rushes - wow, is that ever a thrill for a writer). Hopefully I'll be working with those guys again this summer.

If there is a plan afoot here, it is aimed at getting me broken into both features and TV. Or just one of them. Back when I started writing, I wouldn't have had a clue how to go about writing a script, let alone how that then becomes a film or show. Then I wrote DEADFOLK and the others, and started looking at them as stories that might crossover to the screen pretty well. Then I met a few film and TV people and gradually got drawn in. That's how it was for me.

Tomorrow, Prong #3.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

PRONG 1: Books

I am writing a new novel for Serpent's Tail. This is going well. Can't say more. If I said more, I would have to use your IP addresses to track you all down and kill every one of you. Because it kills the magic, sharing your writing mojo before its work is done. It's like the red indians and taking photographs. Maybe I should just charge you one dollar to hear about what I'm writing.

But do you know what? It wouldn't be worth the one dollar. Not even at today's exchange rates. I am the world's worst pitch artist. This is something that I will have to address, and touches on tomorrow's prong...

Anyway, expect a new book from me next year. After three novels in quick succession, 2004-2006, it'll be quite a gap. Just when someone says "Hey, wonder what happened to that Williams guy? No, not him from Mork and Mindy, I mean the one who did those doorman books. Didn't he die of a drug overdose?".... And then BAM - I'll hit them with a new one called THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE WRITER WHO DID FUCK ALL FOR THREE YEARS. Ah, but you know he didn't do fuck all, don't you?

Another prong tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New layout and book vote

As you can see, I have been messing with blogger. It's not going well and I'm going to give it up for a while, leaving it in this half-finished state until I summon the energy.

Meanwhile I have put a little vote up. You will see it there, to the right. A bit self-indulgent possibly but I'd be interested to see what you think. So if you have a favourite, please vote.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Over the next few posts, and whether you like it or not, I am going to let you know what is going on here writing-wise. "Where are those creative juices being applied, man?" Questions like that, asked with Dude-like languor, will be answered. Candidly.

Just to get you going, here is the short version:

For the past three or so years I've been employing a three-pronged approach to writing. The Trident Approach, I think the pros call it. One of those prongs is books, the others being writing for screen and writing for comics. Why? Because I like books, the screen and comics. If you're paying attention you might have noticed the odd rumbing about the latter two prongs from time to time, but the prose prong has pretty much been getting it all ever since I started this blog. Justifiably, since for a long while it was the only prong. So it was a spear really, rather than a trident. Or a pike. For years I was fighting the fight with a pike.

No longer.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 28, 2008

It's the Easter holidays...

Why not take your kids to...

...the nightmare playgrounds.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Above is a photo I took when I did my first visit to a film set a couple of weekends ago, in a wood near Hemel Hempstead. ARK is a short film directed by Mal Woolford, produced by Andrea Thornton and written by me. The idea was to come up with something that could be shot in one continuous take, that would do what all good stories must do but without relying on dialogue. I think the result will be something special. The film features Simone Lahbib of WIRE IN THE BLOOD and BAD GIRLS fame and her husband Raffaello Degruttola, and giving them some character guidance was about all I could offer. That and pushing the van, which got stuck in mud a lot. There was a bunch of other people in involved who you'll be able to see on IMDB once the film gets a listing. They were all very cool and welcoming to this writer who didn't really have any business being there. Even when I knocked the Steadicam over. Just kidding.

Anyway, I'll let you know how ARK pans out. I really hope you get to see it because there's a hell of a lot of good stuff going into it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Brussels and French Mag

Had a good time in Brussels last week at the book fair. Wow, do those guys have strong beer. And chocolates. Book fair-wise, it was mightily impressive. A huge building, a ton of books and an endless flow of people who care about them. Thank you to Hubert Artus for inviting me. And it was great to meet other writers such as Antoine Chainas and JP, and catch up with Aurélien the rock 'n roll editor.

Are you in France? Check out the current issue of l'Optimum magazine. Inside you will find a feature (by the aforementioned Monsieur Artus) on UK authors Mark Billingham, Chris Cleave, Alex Wheatle and yours truly. There is a great big photograph of we four sitting in a Hackney boozer, drinking Guinness.

Oh yeah, and check out my new novel in French DES CLOPES ET DE LA BINOUZE (translated by Thierry Marignac).

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


If you google the word "lager", I come up 14th on the list (after "Freedom Organic Lager" and "Lesbian And Gay Employment Rights"). What is fame if not that? Is it possibly this?:

If you google the word "fags", I come up 17th (after godhatesfags.com and biggestfagsever.com).

Fame, I think you will agree.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What a load of cack

...I wrote on here yesterday. All I meant to say was "Oops, I've fucked up another old book". But I somehow turned into Howard Moon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Rigid and faded, they stand the test of time. For decades they shunt from box to shelf to box to shelf, never read but always hanging onto those sepia pages. Sometimes they are taken out and looked at, but always they are put back again. Until I come along.

I, killer of aged paperbacks.

A fresh kill: a fifty year old Bantam issue of THE LENIENT BEAST by Fredric Brown. The spine tells me its history: if it has ever been read before it was decades ago, and very carefully. I turn the pages, sucking the life out of them. The spine starts weakening. Halfway through and the pages are hanging on for dear life, little adhesive fingers too dry to grip for long.

No one will read them after me. Sad in a way, to reach the end of the line after so long. Should I leave them alone... untouched, unread and intact for another fifty years of shelf life? No, I make them live again. One last hurrah before decomposition. I am not the killer of aged paperbacks, I am their saviour.

What? Books are inanimate objects?

Monday, February 04, 2008


Have you heard of Crime And Detective Stories? It's a long-running print mag for the true connoisseur of all things crimey and detectivey, with a rather violent nod towards the more "classic" end of the market. Shrugging off that violent nod, like Jonah Lomu taking on England, Bob Cornwell gamely interviews yours truly in the current issue. And he does it with considerable aplomb. Mr Cornwell, of course, is the man responsible for the famous (in my house at least) Fags and Lager review quote:

"300-odd pages of squalor, f-, s- and c- words, extreme violence and drugs, the odd hint of perversity, monstrous sly humour and all with no redeeming social message whatsoever. Whilst through it all strides the probing intelligence of Royston Blake. What more could you possibly want?"

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Hey, are you going to be hanging around the Belgium area in early March? Pop along to the Brussels Book Fair, where I will be doing a panel type affair on all things noir and crime on 6th March, sitting alongside fellow Serie Noirian Antoine Chainas, among others. Other notable guests include Russell Banks and "Le Chat". Around that time Gallimard/Serie Noire will be publishing DES CLOPES ET DE LA BINOUSE (Fags and Lager, translated by Thierry Marignac), so everything is cool on the Continent. (Unless you are Marc Stevens, in which case things are very uncool.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gitanes and Kronenbourg

Here is the cover of the French edition of FAGS AND LAGER, which will be out from Serie Noire/Gallimard in March. Dig that plastic cup!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

This blog

I sometimes wonder if I am doing this blogging thing wrong. Maybe if I was doing it right I would talk about every book I read, film I saw or album I listened to. Perhaps I would tell you more about my day-to-day writing life and the ups and downs of the publishing world. Maybe I would expand more on the comic work I am doing, or the screenplays.

But somehow I don't feel inclined to.

Don't take it personally. If I met you in a pub (or anywhere) I would tell you it all, if you wanted to hear it. I don't hide anything when I can see the whites of a person's eyes (as long as they aren't too close together). But I cannot see you. Not only can I not see you, but you're not there. There is no "you" with blogging. Blogging is like going to a prominent place in the High Street, blindfolding yourself and then just shouting. I don't know who is listening. You could be a connoisseur of the Mangel books. Or you could be one of these people who find this blog by searching for the phrase "make her gag".

Then there's the lengthy opinion pieces that I could be doing. I could be railing against the lack of creative rope given to filmmakers. I could be whinging about how bookshops used to have soul (in their buying choices) and didn't see their wares as product so much as cultural artifact. I could be laying into the multitude of authors who write stories with nice, safe round edges and run a mile from dangerous looking sharp angles. I could be explaining to you how much I hate Katy Melua. But there's a reason why I don't.

I am not a critic, a social commentator or any other kind of journalist.

I am a writer of fiction.

So, thank you for continuing to check this blog, dear anonymous reader. And I swear I will have some more fiction for you before the decade is out. In the meantime, don't listen to Katy Melua. And if you're going to see I AM LEGEND, don't read the book first.