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 Amazon.com, 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 Amazon.com 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.