Friday, December 31, 2010

Deadfolk will be back

Please check out this new cover for Deadfolk, which will be reissued on 10th May (US/UK):

We're on the cusp of a new era, ladies and gents. Royston Blake is coming back and he is coming back hard.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

**** folk

Nearly end of Dec and I still haven't done a post for this month. AFAIK, I have done at least one for every month from Jan 2005, so I'd better pull something out of the bag. But you know how it is, right? I'm either in a blogging mood or not, and the nots can go on for weeks. And there's nothing worse than a post about nothing, unless you're Jerry Seinfeld. So here's a little fact for Royston blake afficionados:

I almost called Deadfolk "Simple Folk".

It's true. I sent it out under that title to an agent and he rejected it, saying various vaguely derogatory things about it. I decided he must be criticising the title and not the text, so I gave it a new one and hit the jackpot with my next submission. But here's another fact:

When people ask me why it's called Deadfolk, I don't know what to say.

I could go into some artsy explanation but I end up telling them it's just called that. Curiously, the ones who ask tend to be the ones who haven't read it yet, so the answer must be in there somewhere.

A happy new year to all you folks, be you dead, simple or just normal.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Papa's got a brand new pigbag

Been a bit slack here of late. But you know that means I've been busy, right? Or just drunk. You decide.

Next spring sees the publication of my novella GRAVEN IMAGE by Five Leaves Press. It's crime but it's also a bit out there, as all my stuff probably is. It also has a great cover. To mark the occasion I will be taking part in an event to do with Derbyshire Readers' Day. Details TBC.

The re-launch of Royston Blake (Deadfolk, Booze and Burn*, King of the Road plus the new one - ONE DEAD HEN) is coming along nicely, with a new set of covers being worked on as we speak by the world's top artists and designers. Hopefully I'll be able to unveil those some time soon, but until then you could bookmark the pages and maybe think about pre-ordering. Either way, they're coming out one month after the other starting next May. It's gonna be a summer-long carnival of Royston Blake.

I've done a piece about getting Deadfolk published for You're Booked, the writing-related website from the good people at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival. Make sure you check out the other stuff on there too by folks such as Lee Child, John Harvey and Colin Bateman. But only after reading my one.

Other than that, let's just keep on rocking and rolling. And writing.

*Fags and Lager

Friday, November 05, 2010

Pulp of the Day: WHITE TRASH by Beulah Poynter

"Mattie Horn might be bawdy and direputable--but she was still beautiful enough to draw the town's most respected citizens down to the Hollow where she lived. And if her own charms failed, there was always her daughter Hagar--not yet eighteen, and pretty as a picture. The trouble was, Hagar wanted to be a respectable citizen herself. Tiring of visits on the sly, she took up right out in public with the preacher's son. Her boldness, and a slight dip into sin by Deacon Elihu Spry, brought down the wrath of the whole brutal community on the heads of the scarlet woman and her daughter"

Interestingly IMDB has a listing for an actress of the silent era called Beulah Poynter, born 1886. WHITE TRASH was published in 1952, making silent Beulah 66 at the time, if I can still add up in my head OK. Wouldn't it be great if they were one and the same?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Check out Crime Factory 5, which is dedicated to the memory of Dave Thompson. In there amongst the great features and fiction by top people is a chapter of the next Royston Blake novel ONE DEAD HEN. Here we find Blakey getting interviewed by one D.I. Dave Borstal.

Kudos to Keith Rawson, Cameron Ashley and Liam Jose for doing a sterling job on this one. Not mention the great contributors: Sandra Ruttan, Stephen Blackmoore, Paul D. Brazill, Richard Godwin, Patti Abbott, Jim Winter Matthew C Funk and many more!! With features by Andrew Nette, Gary Lovisi, Jimmy Callaway, Eric Beetner and the Nerd of Noir.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Joke funnies

"Show me a novel that's not comic and I'll show you a novel that's not doing its job."
Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stuff City

Doesn't the world feel like a better place now? Royston Blake is free, and will be making an appearance in book form next August. It's a bit like when Nelson Mandela was released. Or when the Berlin Wall came down (except we did it without the help of David Hasselhoff). So, a reminder for anyone who didn't hear me shouting about it a few days ago - Mangel book #4 WILL be published, as will the first three (again).

Elsewhere, a nice review of Fags and Lager by Brian Lindenmuth at Spinetingler. BTW, Fags and Lager will be retitled BOOZE AND BURN when it comes out again next June. I'm sure you can guess that this is to do with "fags", which is obviously UK slang for cigarettes but in the USA means "banana", which is just a crazy mix-up and leads to the original title been auto-censored by an army of heavily-armed internet bots. "Burn" is obscure UK prison slang for ciggies, in case you haven't been a guest at one of Her Majesty's obscure establishments.

Also check out this interview with myself, ably conducted by Len Wanner at Top questions.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Crime Express

I'm going to post more about the exciting new Royston Blake situation this week, but in the meantime check out this top cover for GRAVEN IMAGE, my contribution to the Crime Express series of short books from Five Leaves Press. It is slated for April 1st 2011 along with three others by Ray Banks, Danuta Reah and Stephen Booth - all of whose covers are also ace. Check those mothers out!

I'll post more info about GRAVEN IMAGE nearer the time. Until then, let it bask in an aura of mystery.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Book in your Face

Ladies and Gents, the FREE THE MANGEL ONE Facebook campaign has worked. Royston Blake is on his way back! Lock up your daughters, your drinks cabinet and your toolbox!

More here.

And have a top weekend.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The 14/4 Lit Dinner

Hey, do you like food? Do you like books? How about The Rainbow Trust children’s charity, which provides support to families who have a child with a life-threatening or terminal illness? You think that's a good thing too, right? OK, here's the clincher... can you be in Windsor on the 22nd October? If the answer to all of those is yes, have I got a thing for you...

The 14/4 Lit Dinner

14 authors and a 4 course meal. One author per table and they rotate between each fabulous course, so you get to chat and talk books and writing and advanced chaos theory or whatever you want. And if your author turns out to be a ****, it's OK because there'll be another one along in a bit. Plus it's all for charity! But who are those mysterious "authors", you're wondering?

Robbie Hudson
Marie Phillips
Kate Williams
Warwick Cairnes
Tamsyn Murray
Charlie Williams
Tom Reynolds
Patrick Woodrow
Jess Ruston
Aliya Whiteley
Helen Rappaport
Cathy Rogers
Lisa Gee
Josa Young
No ****s there, I think you will agree! (Just to clarify, that's Robbie Hudson and Kate Williams, NOT Robbie Williams and Kate Hudson.)

More here.

See you there.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Mangel in the paper

Here is an interview with me re the Mangel books in last Sunday's Birmingham Sunday Mercury. Nice that Blakey is not forgotten, though he is taking an extended break in a holiday camp called oblivion at the moment. When he comes back, rested and raring to knock heads, only the faithful (and those willing to be converted) will remain unmolested! Not that Blake's a molester of anything.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stop me if you think you've heard this one before

My radar must be pretty low. Seems this came out a couple of months back from Harper Perrenial - a re-titled US edition of 2009's PAINT A VULGAR PICTURE (Serpent's Tail). If you like The Smiths and you are up for finding out what kind of stories their songs have inspired in a bunch of writers, check it out. My one is, naturally, SWEET AND TENDER HOOLIGAN.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pulp of the day: HORRIFIC

Pulp ain't just about books. Comics weighed down the news-stands alongside their text-only cousins. Maybe they weren't quite as sleazy but they were just a gruesome and lurid in other ways. And one overriding vibe dominated them all - the weird. Saying that, I wasn't there, so how would I know? I'm just making this up - ignore me. But don't ignore these great covers from 1953 issues of HORRIFIC. As you can see, they used the same model for all of them!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A reading for Tuesday

The words of Royston Blake are a source of guidance and solace for many (possibly). In this extract from chapter 8 of Deadfolk, Blakey tells us what to do in those despairing moments when all we need inspiration and all we get is knock-backs...

I got The Good The Bad And The Ugly off the vid shelf and went to slot it in. But then an old tape caught my eye and I picked that up and all. ROCKY 3 it said on the front in my best handwriting. I slapped it in the player and slumped on the sofa.

I dunno if you’ve seen this film. Most folks has, I reckon. Most folks rate it as the greatest film ever made. But to me it were more than that. And I’d never really known why. Not until now, as the opening credits rolled.

The story starts with Rocky as World Champion. He’s rich as a plum pudding and only fights chumps. Reckoning it best to go out on top, he announces his retirement. But along comes a new feller called Clubber Lang, mouthing off that Rocky’s a fairy and offering to give his bird a seeing to. Well, the natural happens and they ends up in the ring. But Clubber’s harder than Rocky reckoned. And Rocky himself is softer than what he thought. Clubber wins, and Rocky’s washed up. A former champ.

And that were where I were coming in. I’d been watching this film again and again and not knowing why. But now I knew. I were like Rocky, see. I’d known glory in the past. Ever since nipperdom I’d walked the streets of Mangel like a lion prowls the jungle. Folks was afraid of us. And rightly so. But it weren’t like that now. Not since Beth. Now folks laughed at us and called us bottler. I’d killed a Munton and what did folks do? Made a fucking joke out of it and laughed a bit more.

But, right, Rocky weren’t happy about being a former champ. And nor were I. He had a mountain to climb if he wanted his glory back. It were steep and hairy in places and it didn’t look like he were up to it. But he started climbing anyhow.

I watched the film all the way through. Rocky won. He stood atop his mountain and held his fists high. I cried a bit, then dried my eyes and turned the telly off.

As well as me finally seeing that Rocky’s situation and my own was the same, like, there were summat else in the film that made us think. Rocky won, but he’d done it with the help of Apollo Creed, former enemy and now bestest mate. It were Apollo who trained him up to take on Clubber again. And it were Rocky’s wife who talked him out of the dumps he’d fallen into. He’d got help from them what was close to him, in short. And it got us to thinking.

Who could I call upon for help?

There was Legs, course. I’d already turned to him, and his advice had led us to more shite. Weren’t his fault mind. He hadn’t said go and kill the fucker. Only twat him he’d said. But he’d been a bit off in the gym and I didn’t fancy calling on him again just now.

Who else were there besides Legs?

Finney, course. But he weren’t the sort you’d want help from. Bit of a twat, like.

Sal. Well, what about Sal? I know we was only seeing each other casual like, for shagging and that, but hadn’t she said she loved us? And I reckoned she meant it and all. I could tell by the way she always had a nice welcome for us. Couldn’t help with my problems mind. She were only a bird after all. But maybe I ought to give her my ear a bit more, like Rocky done with his bird. Wouldn’t do no harm and there might be a shag in it for us.

That were all by the by anyhow. Mates and birds can only go so far. When Rocky got in the ring, he did it alone. No one can do his training for him and no one can throw his punches. I were dancing around the room as I were thinking this, doing a bit of shadow boxing. I were feeling alright. The muscle rub had sorted out my aches and pains. Or perhaps they was still hurting but I didn’t care.

Didn’t matter. Things was looking up. I were a fighter and I could feel a fight coming on.

A big one.


Monday, August 09, 2010

Pulp of the Day: THE BASTARD by Erskine Caldwell

First published way back in 1929, THE BASTARD was the debut of Erskine Caldwell, an author who went on to achieve fame and huge sales with TOBACCO ROAD and GOD'S LITTLE ACRE. THE BASTARD was banned upon publication and Caldwell's personal copies seized. Even by today's standards, the misogyny and casual racism makes this a rough read, but it is written with the pace and forward propulsion that pulp became known for in the thirty or so subsequent years (even if Caldwell himself isn't always associated with the genre). And the author set off on his writing career with the same objective that carried him through it - telling it like he saw it.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Cruel to be Kindle

Actually I'm not being cruel at all, I was just after an earth-shatteringly good pun, and there we have one, yes. So let's be clear on this: no one is being cruel.

Quite the opposite, in fact. Owners of a Kindle (or compatible device) in the UK can now get STAIRWAY TO HELL on their hand-held devices for a mere £3.80. Of course, the yanks have had it available for a few weeks now (for a mere $5.91) but we're all square now and no one's getting what others can't get. So no more bickering, OK?

Talking of cruel, though, check out this cheerful version of a classic Eastenders ep (nod to David Bishop). (And to Matt S for noticing the other stuff.)

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dead Sales

Got an email from the late David Veronese this morning offering me cheap meds online. Is this the logical next step in a commercial world that has exhausted every sales channel - recruiting a sales force of the dead?

No more can we hope for oblivion in death - already I've seen zombies working the tills at some branches of Asda. But David Veronese, author of the overlooked noir classic JANA? I foresee a black market in the online identities of the dead. The bigger you are in life, the more your email account will sell for in death. But you'll still be selling V1@gr@ and C1@l15.

Dave, you are not forgotten and I'm confident you would have seen the humour in the above. But if I'm wrong in that, drop me an email and we'll sort it out.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Book Trailer

Alright, here's how book trailers should really be done (WARNING: contains guns):

Thursday, July 08, 2010


No, not the classic Vauxhall of the 60s and 70s, I mean the Spanish viva, which is a word meaning "shit car", or something. Anyway, congrats to Spain on reaching the World Cup final. In honour of this unprecedented success, here is an extract from the end of chapter 9 of GENTE MUERTA (Spanish version of Deadfolk), translated back into English via google translate. (Regular readers will already be familar with the Russian/googlish version of this passage)...

As I got home, I put my favorite sweatpants pry me watching TV. They were making a movie about a guy who was engaged to kill turkeys, so I went for a can and sat down again. I thought about going to the basement in search of Baz, but it would not help. Or was there or was not. And as he had looked before and it was, was unlikely to find it now. The movie was a bit boring. Whenever the prota pulled the knife and was about to crack an aunt, the scene changed. I found a channel zapping and in which two turkeys were eating the mouth and touching her tits. Was ok. I took it out and I went with the story. As I finished, I felt much more relaxed, but was still made broth. I closed my eyes so my eyes will rest a few seconds. I did not mean to sleep or anything like that. I woke up the phone. Or hit the door. Not sure. Whatever it was, it was nice to wake so, I assure you. I got the rack and stood up, wondering what the hell happened. I opened the front door.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hairway to Stell

You're allowed to promote yourself every now and then aren't you? Good...

Buy Stairway to Hell.

Oh, you want a reason? How about because it's better than that other book you were thinking of buying? And if self-praise isn't enough for you, check out this review snippet from David Maine at Popmatters:

This novel works wonderfully well on multiple levels. First, there’s Rik himself, a man who is able to straight-facedly say things like, “I was someone who liked to remain cool and calm in his dealings. Emotion was for my music, and I didn’t want to waste it elsewhere.” Later, reflecting on what sets apart people like himself and Michael Jackson from the common run of humanity, he muses that “a member of the herd doesn’t achieve massive success and global fame. It’s only a special person who can do that, one who has conversations with chimpanzees… That was me.”

On top of this is an overriding, breezy sense of what-the-hell-is-going-on, a result of the contorted plot and even more twisted explanations of same. This is one of those rare books when, really, anything might happen in the next few pages. Rather than feeling contrived, Williams manages to create a milieu in which even the wackiest developments are both seamlessly logical and thoroughly unexpected, not to mention funny. Pop music, time travel, soul displacement? You bet!*
You want another reason? No problem, man. Stairway to Hell makes your hair shine in that non-greasy way, contains the secret to eternal life and is suitable for vegetarians. Also it is currenly only 4 POUNDS at Amazon UK. And $10.76 at Amazon US (is that good?)

And is that enough?

* Much obliged to Mr Maine

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


A computer with an old-skool typewriter keyboard? I love it. The idea is insane and yet brilliant. And this pic of the the innards shows why:

Can you appreciate that beautiful interface between analogue and digital? See, there is a future for organisms on this planet, and we won't necessarily be taken over by robots. We just have to work out the right ways to combine the strengths of the natural and synthetic. For example, meatcards.

(Cheers to DB for the link)

Thursday, June 10, 2010


The FREE THE MANGEL ONE campaign has now hit 373 members, which is pretty fucking not bad at all. A few more and we'll be on quite good. But you know what level I'm aiming for, don't you, blokes and gentlemen? I'm aiming for top fucking banana.

Ain't there a plane called a 373? A Boing 373 or summat. I ain't been on a plane before but I have been on a helicopter. There was one up by the East Bloater Road once, a big red one parked near a recent road accident, by coincidence. Me and Finney were out there having a laugh in a borrowed Cosworth, pretending like we was American and driving on the right. Mind you, the feller had plenty of time to see us coming so I dunno why he swerved off the road like that, smashing into the bus-stop. Anyhow, me and Fin were alright, parking up behind some trees and coming back a bit later to see if there was anything worth seeing, sticking out bones and stuff. It was Finney who saw the chopper. Engine idling, no one in it. I mean, that is a fucking gift, right?

We got about twenty yards, and it was Finney's fault. I should have taken the wheel, I know. Or the rudder, or whatever the fuck it was. Why did I believe him when he said he'd drove one of them things in the army? Fin wasn't in the army, for fuck's fucking sake. He's a fucking gyppo, for starters, and I'm pretty sure they ain't allowed to join. Not that the bloke chasing us knew that. Fin could have been a general in the SAS for all he knew, the twat. So that's why it was his fault, really, when Fin veered sideways and took some of the bloke's head off with the blades. Just a bit, at the top.

But the main thing to know is we got away and no one saw us. And everyone was alright in the end. Except the bloke. And whoever had to put out the chopper, after we jumped out and it crashed into a conker tree, blowing up a bit. But I ain't ever been in a plane, no.

Not yet anyhow.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Blakey in the Graun

Sam Jordison has written this feature on Royston Blake's predicament in the Guardian books blog. It's a great piece and pretty topical about the state of publishing. Inevitably some of it is doomy and gloomy (especially in the comments section) but I feel that Royston Blake will rise again in book form. Perhaps as a zombie. I could call it Deadfolk! Oh...

Many thanks to Sam for championing the Royston Blake cause.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Rude book

In an idle moment I plugged "Mortacci", the title of my Italian Deadfolk translation, into google translate.

Here is the result. (And if you're in any doubt, click the audio button and hear it spoken aloud in a nice voice.)

And all the while I thought it meant "dead people". No wonder I never got invited to any lit festivals in Italy.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Guest blogger: ROYSTON BLAKE

I see the Writer has been spouting shite again. One mention of him in an article in one of the brainy papers and he's off down the pub, going on about how he's "at the vanguard of a new wave of young writers kicking against the cliches and producing ambitious, challenging, genre-bending works", or whatever. Well...

My dad used to have a mate who drove a Vanguard. And let me tell you, it was a fucking nail. All I remember about it was blue smoke out the back and dust up front as motor after motor frog-hopped you. So being a Vanguard is fuck all to be proud of, you twat.

Plus, right, who's really doing the graft here? The one who sits on his arse and types? Or the one who gets out there and makes things happen, pinging swedes and fighting for peace and justice and keeping them out who ain't welcome? He writes down stories... I fucking AM stories.

Who's the Vanguard now, eh? Actually can I be a Ford Zephyr? Zodiac MK4 at a push.

So if you should see the Writer down the pub, giving it that and bragging about how he's "kicking against the cliches", you just remind him who's wearing the size-twelves here and who's got the steel toe-caps. Then sit back and watch him get wankered on less than fifteen pints. The fucking lightweight.

Oh yeah, and join FREE THE MANGEL ONE, cos there's fuck all point doing "girder-bending works" if they ain't getting published.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Fun lovin' crime writers

Colin Bateman does an interesting piece in today's Guardian blog about funny crime novels - where they came from, what's going on with them now and why they are good things. And oh, look - I get a mention. Hey, people won't think that's why I'm linking the article here, will they?

I have always said you need laughs alongside your dark stuff to even up the balance. The deeper and darker you go, the bigger the laugh required. Then again, when you create an atmosphere of bad vibes it's easy to get a laugh with a fart or something, so maybe it only seems like a bigger laugh. But it's not something I'm aware of while I'm writing. Too much analysis and it all falls apart. I'm going to stop analysing now.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

"Because wanker, probably"

I love automated translation. I love translation in general, and have a lot of respect for the guys and gals who turned Royston Blake's tales into other lingos. I'm not so keen when I find entire texts of those translations posted online, but it at least allows us to consider some possible improvements on the original text. Please turn your critical faculties up to 11 for this extract from the Russian version of Deadfolk (translated back into English via Google translate):

At home I put on my favorite sports suit and collapsed in front of TV. It was a movie about a guy who went and killed the maid, I opened a beer and got ready to watch. I thought it was down to the basement and search base. But the good of it still will not. I was looking for, and it was not there, that's all. And the movie was dull. Each time a man took out a knife and wanted someone to cut, the camera started to show something else. I clicked and found a channel, where two maids sucking and fingering each other's boobs. It was better. I undid his pants and began to watch. After that I CHE-ta very relaxed. Because wanker, probably. I closed my eyes. Just closed on a couple of seconds. I did not sleep, nothing. I was awakened by a call phone. Or a knock at the door. I'm not sure. In any case, wake up, it was not very pleasant. I buttoned up the fly and went up, thinking it was going to her finally can. He opened the door.
Erm, just to reiterate - THIS IS NOT THE ORIGINAL TEXT. Nor even anything like it. Most of the choicest words here don't even appear in the original. (I think "CHE-ta" is in there somewhere, though.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dying deadfolk

I recently heard that DEADFOLK has gone out of print. You can still pick up copies here and there but there is no longer a ready supply of it. And you know what that means, right? He's getting weaker.

Royston Blake is starting to fade away.

If FAGS AND LAGER and KING OF THE ROAD end up going the same way, poor old Blakey will be nothing more than a memory. "Royston Blake?" people will say in pubs up and down the country. "You know, that almost rings a bell but I can't quite... Nah, it's gone." How can we let that happen to a character described by Ken Bruen as "wondrous" and by the BBC as "a dazzling creation of well-intentioned prejudice and overblown machismo, dripping with dramatic irony, who would rather spare the upholstery of his 2.8i Ford Capri than ferry a wounded mate to hospital"?

Those kind of guys are like gold, right?

"He makes the insipid heroes of lad lit look like a bunch of big girls' blouses," sayeth the Guardian... but those blouses will be free to rule the roost if that fateful day comes when Blakey has nothing in print. Do you really want blouses ruling the literary roost? Oh yeah, I guess they do already... But do you want them to do so unchecked, without a pound-for-pound doorman and community pillar watching over them with a cold eye and a colder pint of lager?

Spread the word...


Monday, May 24, 2010

Inspired Lunacy

I'm in two minds about all these suggestions that Stairway to Hell is mad or preposterous - it all makes perfect sense as far as I'm concerned. But I'm not going to complain about this Booklist review for Stairway to Hell (which is out around now in the USA):

British bar singer Rik Suntan, winner of the local Pub Idol contest two years in a row, is quite confident that it’s just a matter of getting the right break before he becomes an internationally renowned rock star. The fact that he’s singing to 15 people at the Blue Cairo three times a week has done little to dim his aspirations for global dominance of the music industry. Then his gig is canceled, and his girlfriend throws him out of their apartment; even bigger problems loom when his manager attempts to convince Rik that he is really the “host” for the soul of ’70s rock icon David Bowie, a ritual performed on Rik when he was an infant by Led Zeppelin guitarist and black-arts practitioner Jimmy Page. A novel as barmy as this one is hard not to love, especially when Rik and a grizzled band of the halt and the lame attempt to take back the music from the greedy swill-masters behind The X Factor (what they do to Simon Cowell is worth the price of the book). Inspired lunacy for music fans.

— Joanne Wilkinson

Friday, May 21, 2010

We're not indestructible

Rocky Balboa was a role model to a generation of teenage boys growing up in the 80s. From the humble southpaw slugger we learned how to cope with seemingly unbeatable opponents, what to have for breakfast and how to drive really slowly in a toy car. But most of all he showed us how to deal with existential angst: get in your Lamborghini and run a montage through your head:

Down the station

If you get a chance you should go along to a Firestation Book Swap one of these days. I had a great time last night and I got the feeling most people did. Thinking back, I believe I talked a lot of rubbish and never got around to answering that curry question, but any failings on my part were made up for by the others onstage - Kate Williams, Marie Phillips and Scott Pack. And those in the audience, of course - it's a proper interactive thing.

Scott and Marie have a great format there and I think it points the way forward for book events. It's basically like a living room on the stage with a couch etc. There was even a kettle boiling behind my head at one point. Random audience questions are chucked into a hat at the start and read out during, so none of that horrible "any questions?" business at the end. Oh yeah, and books are swapped. Some lucky woman got my Charles Willeford. I think it then got re-swapped for another book. You were THAT close to reading a hidden noir classic there, lady. But hey, everyone goes home with something new so we're all quids in. Especially the guy who ended up with PICK-UP.

But it's not all books, and that's the beauty of it. What is it about then, if not books? Well... cake.

It's about cake.

There was even one with the guests' names on it. I ate my name in cake! As a big cake fan I can tell you it was a real honour. Many thanks to the lady who made it.

Also great to catch up with my old school mate Joel... who swapped PG Wodehouse for Iain Banks, I believe.

By the way, if I were a curry I would be a chicken bhuna.

Ta to Scott and Marie for having me down.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


So, a bit later I will be off to Windsor for the Firestation Book Swap. I'm taking Charles Willeford's brilliant 50s noir PICK-UP and some lucky swapper is going to get it. If you want it to be you, come along. Come along anyway, because this is a top event and a champion of books. (Can an event be a champion? Yes!) See you at 7.45.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Beat Magazine Interview

To coincide with Thursday's Firestation Book Swap, Beat Magazine have done this cool interview with me. As usual, the questions are surprising and incisive and I get confused and disorientated, but I get out of it somehow. Check it out - I think it's a good one.

And come to the Firestation Book Swap (in Windsor, 19.45-21.30). I'm going to bring a great book to swap and YOU might be the one to get it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Lame Game

It fills me with pride when a book of mine elicits strong reactions. Case in point, this one star review of Fags and Lager someone has posted on Amazon after picking it up at a car boot sale for 33p. The disappointed bargain-hunter says, among other salient things: "Charlie Williams is as lame as the cripple that he very half-heartedly mocks". As a writer, I can really use that kind of feedback to my advantage. For example, next time I mock a cripple I'll be sure to put my all into it and hold nothing back. However, I do have to take the reviewer up on this bit:

"I found myself reading to myself in a strange voice"

When you say "strange voice", do you mean like in a seance, as if a spirit were talking through you? That can happen. I encoded secret incantations into the text which, when read, unleash the spirit of Kreed Kafer. BUT it only works if you pick up the book for less than 50p. Here is some footage of a man reading Fags and Lager after picking it up for 10p at an Oldham jumble sale.

If anyone reading this has read Fags and Lager, BTW, do feel free to post your thoughts on Amazon alongside that one. Good or bad, lame or able-bodied, strange voice or no, I don't care. But I would appreciate the feedback.

Friday, May 14, 2010


...meaning 300 punters. (Do you get it? Roman numerals for 300 plus the letter "P", which means... ah, forget it.) Anyway, that's how many have joined the FREE THE MANGEL ONE facebook campaign so far. And in time honoured (about three weeks worth) tradition, I will be drawing lots later this afternoon to identify the lucky person who will receive two books selected by Mr Royston Blake himself, sort of. I can tell you that one features him, and the other has a picture of one of his cultural touchstones on the cover and is subtitled ": THE UNTOLD STORY".

So, if you want a chance of this magical prize, join the campaign now.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

For some reason

...Stairway to Hell is available on, even though it's not officially released over there until June 1st. Anyway, if you are even mildly intrigued to know how a man can be the reincarnation of David Bowie, sort of, even though Mr Bowie is still alive...please pick up this book. The more copies get sold stateside, the better chance I have of getting a proper American edition of my books one of these days. And the better chance of me jetting over there for a promo tour and being greeted by scenes not witnessed since the Beatles touched down at JFK. OK, I'm getting carried away by the rock 'n roll/fame thing, but that's what the book's about. That and urine. In a good way.

BTW, the page includes a kindle version. So if you're a techno-savvy reader, check the hell out of that thing.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Tight Pants

Hey, USA-ians, don't forget that Stairway to Hell is rocking over to your shores for a June 1st publication. In anticipation of that, here are a couple of recent reviews. Firstly Publishers' Weekly:

Williams’s fourth novel is a funny, absurd, and deeply nerdy channeling of his inner record store clerk. Richard Sutton, aka Rik Suntan, is a rock and roll legend in his own mind. He’s a winner in the local pub circuit in Warchester, England, but his harelip has prevented him from breaking into the big time. So imagine his surprise when he learns he has the soul of David Bowie, the result of a strange, convoluted bit of black magic conjured decades ago by none other than Jimmy Page, who, it turns out, was a warlock during the 1970s. Though the soul swapping is confusing (and involves urine samples), Rik comes to believe that several other locals—most notably a dwarf, who is hosting the soul of George Foreman—are also victims of Page. But all is not as it seems as Rik is approached by the shadowy record Svengali, Marino, and his arch enemy, the pop singer Zachary Bremner. Williams’s prose keeps its tongue firmly in its cheek throughout this spaced-out oddity, mixing a bit of Douglas Adams–style wit with a hipster’s tight-pants irony.
Nerdy? Tight underpants? Implicit nods to Nick Hornby? What's going on??? Meanwhile Bill Crider says (and I snip):
This is a very funny book, and a lot of the humor comes from Rik's narration, as he's a guy sublimely unaware of his shortcomings, completely unable to see himself as others see him. When Rik loses his job at a local club, things start happening, most of them bad, and all of them extremely odd. Ted, Rik's manager, is gathering the people who, like Rik, have other people's souls (Rik, in case you're wondering, has David Bowie's). Ted's plan is to reverse the process. It's complicated, completely nuts, and, as I've said already, very funny. You definitely won't read another book like this for a while. If ever. Check it out.
You see? Not one mention of pants in there. That's my kind of review.

Many thanks to Messrs Crider and Weekly.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Blakey at the Gates of Dawn

Royston Blake is dead, we all know that. He was murdered by the accountants, condemned to death because his true stories were deemed unprofitable. They took him out at dawn - gagged, cuffed and hooded - and hanged him high over Hurk Wood... where all other writers could behold him and quake. 'Heed this warning!' the accountants shouted. 'Any of you bastards gets any bright ideas about unusual settings and fancy narrative devices, this is what you get. FUCK your originality - we want sales. We want cold, hard numbers!'

For two days and nights, no one dared approach the hanged fictional character. His hulking silhouette filled the townsfolk with dread, oversized feet and hands hanging down like meat pendulums, massive head bent terminally sideways at the noose. Only crows would come, pecking at his eyeballs and pockets, which were lined with crumbs and bits of stray tobacco.

Then one morning the townsfolk, emboldened after an all-night scrumpy session, went up to the gibbet at dawn to cut the victim down. They were going to give him the burial he deserved, commit him to the earth with a few ritual elements he might have appreciated. Two of them set about digging a grave - six foot deep, eight long and five wide. The rope was cut and the corpse fell hard, sinking a couple of inches into the boggy turf, and they gathered round. Nathan the barman uttered an incantation that no one understood beyond the words "Balboa" and "Ford Capri". Then the offerings were brought forth.

Alvin carried a double doner kebab with extra chili sauce and chips instead of salad. He placed it in Blake's right hand and stepped back, head bowed.

Fat Sandra from the arcade stepped forward and placed in his left hand a plastic bag filled with tokens, along with a note saying his life ban was henceforth lifted.

Doug the shopkeeper approached with a plastic bag from which he produced a can of lager and ten Embassy Regal. He lit one of the cigarettes and wedged it in the corner of Blakey's mouth, pointing chinwards so as not to set fire to his moustache. Then he cracked the can open, held it up to the rising sun and poured the amber nectar between those blue, lifeless lips.

The silence that followed was total. Even the birds withheld their song. Mother Nature herself paid her respects by lulling the breeze. Then it happened:

Blakey's hand moved.

He sat up, coughing and spraying lager and bits of Regal everywhere. The townsfolk stepped back as he got on his feet and lurched back and forth, punching his own head and trying to get his neck unbent. With his head finally upright he took a huge bite of the kebab, threw the rest in the air and roared.

Several miles away, in the big city, accountants looked up from their screens, wondering what that distant noise was.

If you are a townsfolk and you support Blakey, or are just afraid of him, please join this Facebook group. Or buy one of his "memoirs" and show the accountants they are wrong. And have a good weekend

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Guest blogger: Royston Blake

People sometimes ask me what I look like. I find that a bit odd, considering they're sat right next to me at the time. Then I recall I'm in the caff up by the blind school, where they does the cheapest bacon butties in town so long as you can trick em that you're blind.

But other folks want to know what I look like as well, folks with odd names like Svetlana, sending me computer letters and asking if I'll bung em some wedge so she can come over here and have sexy fun. And all I can say in response is what I say to them blind ones, as I'm slying a bit of toast off their plate:

Picture the body of Ivan Drago from Rocky 4 and the head of a young Clint Eastwood. With a tash.

That don't mean much to them up at the blind caff, because they don't get to watch films like normal people (I think it's cos them white sticks are a menace in the cinema), but you'll know all about it. I really do look like that, and it's how come I never have to make no effort at all with the birds. All except the blind ones. And let me tell you, there is one bird up there who is fucking quality. I'm munching on my toast and watching her, picturing us in the vid for that Lionel Richie song called "Hello, is it me you're after?" But the tragedy is that she won't ever be mine. I'll never win her because she can't appreciate how handsome I am, and won't ever see me on the door at Hoppers or wherever, knocking heads and booting arses and proving yet again that there ain't no cunt harder than me in the Mangel area. So I just swipe a couple of her sausages instead.

And put a fiver in an envelope for Svetlana.

If you dig Blakey, please join this Facebook group and remember he exists in book form. If you don't dig him at all, still join the group, please. Then he'll leave you alone

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Short and Sharp

Paul Brazill throws a few choice questions in my direction over at his blog. Sensing that I am under attack, I return fire with some random answers, taking out a few by-standers. So it goes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Swap Shop

Actually a fire station, not a shop. On May 20th I will be an author guest at the Firestation Book Swap, which is held regularly at the Firestation arts centre in Windsor. The hosts will be publisher Scott Pack and novelist Marie Phillips and the other guest will be the historian Kate Williams. All you have to do is turn up with a book. Any book, as long as it is interesting and you are prepared to part with it. Everyone comes with a book and goes home with a different book - that is the deal. And there are cakes and stuff as well. So, if you are around the M4 corridor on May 20th, come along. With a book.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Doing some damage

Blakey guests at the Do Some Damage blog today, waxing philosophical about the nature of existence, computer letters and his member. Many thanks to Russel McLean for sneaking him in. DSD is a great blog authored by seven (or is it eight?) different writers, so check it out. And sign up to Free the Mangel One.

Free the Mangel Books

At about 5pm today I will be picking someone randomly from the FREE THE MANGEL ONE group on FB to receive one of my books PLUS a couple of authentic Fags and Lager beermats PLUS an old book that may or may not be to your tastes, who knows? Obviously it's in your interests to keep the number down and max your chances, but it would be good if we got a few more to join, wouldn't it?


I will be doing this for every 100 new punters we reach up to 1200 (which is as far as my store of self-authored books goes). Will we ever get that far? I dunno, but that's a lot of packing and posting from me if we do. And do you know what? I don't care. I just don't care.

So if you know people who like free books, please get 'em to join.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Guest blogger for Easter: Royston Blake

Brothers and sisters, today is Good Friday. On this day in history, in 1066, Pontius Pilot and his brothers did a number on Jesus Christ, snatching him off the streets of Bethlehem and carting him out to Calgary (in the back of a horse and cart version of the Meat Wagon, like as not). And do you know why they done that, friends of mine? They done it, right, cos they deemed him to be a danger to the status quo.

I know what you're thinking. 'What the fuck has Easter got to do with heavy metal?' you're asking yourselves. Well, status quo ain't just them headbangers who done "Whatever You Want" and "You're in the Army Now", it is also a French word meaning, erm... hang on a min.

Alright, status quo means "the existing state of affairs" (according the Nathan the barman, so if he's wrong you can take it up with him). And Jesus was a danger to that, Pontius reckoned. See, Pontius was shagging a lot of birds behind his wife's back, and Jesus found out about em and was about to spill the beans to all and sundry, thereby getting Pontius in the shite with her indoors. But there was another thing as well, the thing what made up Pontio's mind to get some of the lads together with a few beers, a couple of pitchforks, some nails and a massive cross...

Jesus told things like they was.

Wherever you found him - down the market, the pub, the arcade... anywhere - you'd always find Jesus talking to folks, opening their eyes to matters and showing em how wrong they had it. And he weren't being nasty about it. He done it in a nice way, calling em his lambs and giving em fish and chips and glasses of wine and that. Because it weren't their fault that they had things wrong in their heads. It was the fucking powers that be, weren't it? And we're coming back to the Pilot brothers here.

Now, I want you to look at my current situation. The powers that be are trying to shut me down, just like they was with Jesus. Instead of the Pilot boys I got the publisher bloke and his cronies. It's cos I'm doing just what Jesus done, telling the truth to all who will listen, pulling the scales off their eyes with a quiet word, a loud voice or sometimes a slap, if they're a bit slow. Only difference is that they're too fucking scaredy to having a go at crucifying me. Folks have tried similar things before and they don't work on me, and every cunt knows it. So instead, right, they're refusing to publish my true story, WRONGUN. Jesus got nailed to the cross, I got my book held back.

It's the same fucking thing, separated by about two hundred years.

But Jesus rose again, didn't he? After forty days and forty nights, on May bank holiday or thereabouts, Jesus got up and went walkies, scaring the shite out of most folks I would reckon. And I can do that as well - Royston fucking Blake can rise up from the dead, in book form. And you can help me, brothers and sisters, by joining this here Facebook thingio.

Your mate



Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Five For ?

Back in '09 I did a "five for" interview with Susan Tomaselli for 3am magazine. Well, now it's my turn to put five questions to an interviewee. Some of you may know him, some not, but you should all check this out. His name is Royston Blake and he is the former head doorman of Hoppers Wine Bar & Bistro.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Blakey gets a Brazillian

The very brave Paul Brazill has interviewed Royston Blake. Provocative questions and incisive answers, I think you will agree. check it out and join the campaign.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Brits, grits and shi...

...ny new things for you to read. Such as Royston Blake having a rant over at Alan Griffiths' Brit Grit blog. He's trying to get you supporting his Facebook campaign, and who am I to tell him nay? Who is anyone to tell him that? Oh yeah, Serpent's Tail... But they will relent. When the see the sheer power of the FREE THE MANGEL ONE campaign (erm, currently 103 members... we need you!) they will see the light and get publishing.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Me and my guest blogging turn

I've got a guest blog post over at Scott Pack's Me and My Big Mouth today, talking about Royston Blake, Wrongun and why I am trying to make Wrongun a reality by creating a Facebook campaign. Sounds a bit weird, me putting it like that. And it probably still sounds weird even after you've read the piece. But it's there all the same if you want some more skinny on why the book has not yet been published. Scott posts regularly on his blog so you should keep an eye on it (especially the fire station book swaps).

Friday, March 19, 2010

"If he dies, he dies"

I'm pleased to say Royston Blake's world tour continues with a Russian version of FAGS AND LAGER. I can't get enough of these Russian covers. I'm getting thirsty just looking at it. Goes nicely alongside it's sister.

In other news, the FREE THE MANGEL ONE Facebook campaign marches on. Please check it out and consider joining if you favour David against Goliath. Or Royston Blake against the powers that be.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


62 group members already. That is bloody amazing, and cheers to everyone who has joined the fold. Do you reckon we could make it a hundred before next week? If you want to help, check it here: FREE THE MANGEL ONE.

We have a figure, by the way. We have a goal to aim for... a theoretical number of group members before WRONGUN will be made a reality. That number is one hundred




Monday, March 15, 2010


Some people know I wrote a fourth Mangel/Royston Blake novel. Most people wouldn't even know there was a first, second and third, but I can't worry about them. I can only worry about the folks who liked one or more of the first three, and might be up for helping to turn a trilogy into a series. To be honest, I don't even worry about them, really. Why worry? But if you are a Blakey fan (or even even if you're not), please join this Facebook campaign.

In the era of Barack Obama, I believe that anything is possible. Which is why I think Royston Blake - a former nightclub bouncer with a history of mental problems - could become prime minister of... Oh, no, we're not trying to do that. All we're trying to do is get him back out there, in book form, doing what he does and kicking the shit.

Does this "campaign" have a goal, an attainable target? Hopefully it will soon. I'll keep you posted. Meanwhile...


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Frankly Mr Shankly, since you ask...

I have gone and let myself become blog-shy again. And there I was, getting into a good old groove with those typewriter cast thingies. But we move on, right? And we cannot let ourselves become slaves to technology... even technology that is older than we are. Plus I ran out of paper.

Been doing the usual stuff - writing a novel, a bit of reading, wondering what it would it would be like if you were an Olympic high jumper and you could actually fly... but you had to keep it a secret. A tricky balance, right? One air boost too far and Matthew Hopkins will be on your arse.

They have author pages on Amazon. I have populated mine with some stuff. Like it will generate any new readers. But hey, maybe it will?

I mentioned Harrogate, right? As in the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Fest thing they hold there. If you're going, my event will be "Putting the Boot In" on Saturday, 14th July, alongside Ray Banks, Craig Russell and moderated by Martyn Waites. We will be talking about kicking the shit out of people.

That is all. Stay cool and take it easy with those air boosts.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Still typing...

...on that old Olivetti. Plus I bought a new one! And I will do another typecast v.soon, promise. Until then, please accept this, from me...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

Happy Birthday to Blog

Yes, the Charlie Williams Blog is FIVE YEARS OLD today. It's old enough to go to school, learn a difficult instrument like a Stylophone, go clubbing and even vote. Not bad, for a thing started on a whim.

Of course, I have neglected it. What good parent doesn't neglect their child? That's how the child learns independence... although it didn't work in this case. When I neglected it, my blog just sat and did nothing. It didn't even stand on a stool and go rifling through the cupboards for dried pasta. Quite a disappointment.

And then there are the times when I gave up on it. I'm not proud of them. But hey, the adoption agencies were OK when I came back and demanded my offspring be returned to me. At gunpoint.

But what of the manifesto I started this blog with? What came of the early ideals, the youthful optimism? To be quite honest I can't be bothered to trudge through all that crap, so I'll pick one bullet point at random:

  • worry about posting about worrying about posting nothing

Have I done that? No, not really, whatever the hell it means. But nor did Blair stick to his election promises.

Of course, I'm blogging this the trad way, on a computer keyboard rather than my newfangled typewriter I have taken to. It just seemed fitting to do it this way. The typecasts have come in late and promised a way forward for the Charlie Williams Blog, like Fortinbras securing the fate of Denmark at the end of Hamlet. Will they see it through another five years? Will the internet even exist in five years?

Tune in again in 2015 to find out. (And at various points between now and then, ideally.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Not really

In case anyone is wary of clicking on my last post, I can tell you that it doesn't really contain a cure for ass rash. I don't know anything about rashes... especially not ones that affect asses, mules, donkeys or other equine sub-species. So you're OK to click on it. Seriously. That typewriter has made it safer than ever for you to read my posts.

Typecast #6: A Cure for Ass Rash

Monday, January 18, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Clacker

Typecast #4

Bigger? Click.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Typecast #3

Click to big it. You know the drill.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Typecast #2

Click to enlarge. The text.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Typecast #1

Might want to click to make it bigger. Might not. Your call.

Old skool blogging - click to see bigger

Friday, January 08, 2010

View from where I am

It doesn't always look like this. Usually there's a couple of dead rabbits in the road.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Hey, here we are in twenty-ten. I can still feel a 2009 vibe going on myself, but then I can still feel a 1987 vibe going on. I'm told it is a new year, whether I like it or not, and I should find myself a new vibe.

"Same shit, diff dec" cometh to mind, but that's me being cynical. Some shit will be the same, yes, but that's good shit. Such as the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, where I will be a guest again after a four year cooling off per... er, I mean absence. That is very kind of the organisers and a certain bearded one in particular.

Plus there's some actual new shit in the pipeline, so to speak. I have a book coming out some time in the middle of the year. Details tbc, but it's going to be a short, criminal read from an independent publisher that is not Serpent's Tail. I'm also writing a novel (as ever), but that is unlikely to hit the shelves this year, if indeed it ever does (so that's not even new shit yet, just theoretical shit).

So here's your new vibe for 2010... "keep on keeping on".