Kindle people, I have a seasonal gift for you. for the next five days, my novella GRAVEN IMAGE is going for $0.00 at Amazon UK. I believe it is also $0.00 at Amazon US.
Please download it at no cost to you and help push it up the charts. This is the one that starts with the line "I was in the abbey when I realised I'd have to burn for my sins."
Remember, this is an offer ends on Jan 3rd.
Friday, December 30, 2011
Kindle people, I have a seasonal gift for you. for the next five days, my novella GRAVEN IMAGE is going for $0.00 at Amazon UK. I believe it is also $0.00 at Amazon US.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Hey, I have a new Kindle too... but I have had mine a couple of months now and I've had a chance to check some stuff out. Two novels you should get immediately are THE BASTARD HAND by Heath Lowrance and BEAUTIFUL, NAKED & DEAD by Josh Stallings. These two get talked about a lot and for good reason. One is noir as hell, the other hard-boiled as a bastard.
I can't (be arsed to) fit everything in this one post but you should also finally check out offerings from Allan Guthrie, Ray Banks and Anthony Neil Smith - all rollercoaster-ish, rooted in place and pretty near the money in terms of where the genre is at.
One I have picked up but not yet read is David Belbin's BONE AND CANE - this has sold shitloads on Kindle and keeps coming back - what is it all about? I am about to find out.
Feeling cheap? There are some top freebies out there. TURTLE BOY is a horror novella by Kealan Patrick Burke that is as weird as it sounds... and also great.
You can get the classics for diddly squat too - HEART OF DARKNESS, FRANKENSTEIN, DORIAN GRAY... My own favourite is one called DRACULA by some dude called Bram Stoker. It's about this dead guy who is sort of alive, and he drinks people's blood and travels around a lot. Sounds ridiculous, but I reckon it'll break through one day. And hey, Mr. Stoker is kind enough to offer it for free!
Happy Kindle-ing. Or Nook-ing, or whatever.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
The nice people at Amazon.com have made my most recent book ONE DEAD HEN available for just five bucks between now and Dec 31. This is for the actual hold-it-in-your-hands, spill-your-beer-on-it, throw-it-across-the-room paper version (that has just made Paul D. Brazill's top 5 of the year list*). Also for $5 is KING OF THE ROAD, the previous one in the Royston Blake series. I say series, but these books are standalone, so you can go straight in at either of these two.
PLEASE BEWARE OF THESE BOOKS if you
- take everything at face value
- have no sense of humour
- are a smug, narrow-minded prude
In the latest customer review of One Dead Hen, "anomalie" says:
This is not for the PC crowd, and perhaps that's what makes it so funny. Anyway, if you liked the first ones, you should like this one too. Blake is a true anti-hero, and while the novel asks if someone can truly 'turn over a new leaf,' Williams seems to have a lot of fun proving that Blake may have some new duds but it's the same old Blake underneath.
And hey, I'd never leave out those in the UK. King of the Road is currently going for only £3.15. This is the one that the Dublin Evening Herald called "a heady literary mix between Straw Dogs and Pulp Fiction", the Times called "a great mystery" and the Big Issue called "a sharp and bitingly funny novel". I call it bargain.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Spammers from anywhere for that matter. Stop posting meaningless comments on this blog that I then have to go to the effort of removing. But you're not going to, are you? I predict that you will come on here in a day or so, like you always do, and write "Nice post". Come on, surprise me. Say something human. What is it like where you live? What did you have for dinner? How many hours a day do you spend spamming? How much money do you make from it? Who are you? What do you want out of life? What is the meaning of life? Why are we here?
Friday, December 09, 2011
Last night I wrote THE END on a novel. This is the second time in a year, which seems like pretty good going by today's non pulp era standards. Then again, I am doing this full time at the moment (alongside a couple of other writing bits and bobs), so it's as it should be. FYI, this new one is a stand alone called THE DAMAGE. It is noir. It seems like psycho noir to me, although I have yet to hear a definition of that term.
Looking back at timestamps, I can see that I first started this novel way back in August of 2009. Not that it has taken two years to write. Fact is, I abandoned the thing at least twice over that period, starting it over each time I picked it up again. And this is nothing unusual - my hard drive is a veritable graveyard of novels abandoned at various stages, going right back to when I started writing. But this one kept bugging me, whispering to me that I really should come back to it because there is some kind of gold in there. And each time I went back to it, I would get bogged down with the same set of problems. Then, the last time I picked it up, I did something new.
I changed the title.
Sounds like not much, but it altered the whole thing. I just had the wrong title before, and every time I thought of the work, that title came into my head and it was wrong, just wrong. As soon as I called it The Damage, things started coming clear. I could see what to chuck out and what to focus on, and had faith that I could find the path to the conclusion. Which is funny, because a lot of writers don't even have a title until after a work is done. Maybe that's it - I should just think of every work in progress as "Untitled". But that doesn't seem right either. To me, the title is hardwired into a novel. You are reminded of it every time you open the manuscript, and although you don't make any effort to justify the title in the text, the two become fused. The title is branded on the novel's butt cheek.
It feels good to finish a book that I've been tussling with for so long. I feel slightly saner today. Less psycho noir.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Interesting comment on Amazon re ONE DEAD HEN, from the renowned critic known as Quiverbow:
"Most crime/thrillers/mystery books have swear words. However, those are done in an appropriate way. This book is using them here for the sake of it. That suggests he can't think of anything to write, so has to resort to utilising those words to fill the pages."So there you have it - I put the swear words in my books because I can't think of anything else to write. I wrote the book, found myself 5,000 words short so I just padded it out with a load of fucks etc. As we all know, any mention of animals in books is also just padding. Short on the word count? Just chuck a few animals in. Also dialogue - that is a surefire sign of an author with nothing to say. And characterisation - what the hell is that? Why can't they just tell the story instead of messing around with these characters? Plus the big daddy of text padding - "that". Any book that contains more than 100 "that"s is a waste of anyone's time.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
I don't think I've ever read a book like The Bastard Hand by Heath Lowrance. It has all the attitude and boundary-pushing of classic pulp and a big shitload of weird to boot. In short, it has all the stuff I love to read. But having the correct ingredients does not necessarily a great cake make, mate. However, in this case it does.
The Bastard Hand is a very great cake indeed.
I won't jack around trying to summarise the plot (because you can get it via the link above - and buy it while you're there), all you need to know is that there is madness here. There is also degeneracy, betrayal, evil and trying to resist evil, religion, carnality and guns. It might just be me, but some of it didn't make 100% sense. But do you know what? Those bits are the best. A book doesn't need to make 100% sense, and in fact should try not to. That sliver of mystery, carefully marshalled, can turn a functional page-turner into something you obsess over while reading. The other thing The Bastard Hand contains a lot of is alcohol. I love books with drunkenness in them, and Lowrance does that well. Anyone would think he has been drunk before.
Knocking around books and publishing for a few years, you start to get a feel for what publishers want (ie, what they think readers will buy). Most of the time, this kind of book is not it. The original, the don't-give-a-fuck, the beautifully crafted and in places visionary - it all gets cast aside in favour of the bland shite that fills our bookshops these days. But, Jesus Christ, do we ever need this. We need a whole fucking movement of this kind of stuff, Heath Lowrance pushed up to the vanguard and roaring on the troops. (OK with you, Heath?)
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Please ignore Royston Blake's aggressive sales technique. He will not really escape from Mangel and track you down. When push comes to shove, I think we all know that escaping from Mangel is beyond him. And so is effective, considerate promotion of the books he calls his own. So, you are welcome to peruse his chronicles and procure one or two if you wish, but there is no implied threat of violence if you don't. I can't confirm that he won't get Nathan the barman to perform some kind of magic ritual against you, though.
Monday, November 14, 2011
It has come to my wossname that not enough of you is buying my books, either in the non-Mangel parts of Britain or in America, which is famous for being where Rocky comes from. And that can only mean one thing, far as my thinking goes: you ain't got enough love for old Blakey.
Now, there's two things I can do here. Number one, I can try and make meself more popular. In my experience, the one surefire way to get your arse right to the top of the popular tree is to get a job as a doorman. Failing that, bouncer. There's some cunts who don't like members of the dooring and bouncing communities, but that's because they'm jealous. Or they had their arses kicked out of a couple of places and they got a grudge against the brethren. But them sort is worth shite and ain't even worthy of being used to wipe my arse with. What counts is the decent folks out there - the birds who like to feel my biceps and the fellers who crash us fags and don't cause too much trouble, unless it's out on the street where I can have a laugh. And I'm figuring you're in that camp, and that you'll respond by shelling out for a couple of my books if I don the doorman regalia once again. So that's one way we could go.
The other way, I come out into the world beyond Mangel and crack some fucking Outsider swedes.
Up to you.
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Got lasagne in the oven, beer in the fridge, books to read and films to watch. And hey, I got a couple of things for you too!
Have you read ONE DEAD HEN, Royston Blake's latest fouth-mouthed hurrah? No? Well you can check out a big sample of it FOR FREE to see if you like it or not. I just had a quick look myself and found it too sweary for my tastes. Really, why do these writers have to swear so much? Do they think they are impressing someone?
Goodie number two is this guest blog of mine on Heath Lowrance's PSYCHO NOIR blog. Is there a better-named blog in the blogosphere? If I owned a bar it would be called Psycho Noir. If I had a school I would call it Psycho Noir.
Looking back, I can see that these two goodies don't really stack up next to beer and lasagne. But hey, the beer is only Tetleys, which is very far from being a favourite of mine. And I'm probably going to burn the lasagne. All in all we're pretty even.
Many thanks to Heath for inviting me to do the guest post, and putting the idea of Psycho Noir Elementary School into my head.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Hey Kindle bods, you can now get my noir novella GRAVEN IMAGE for your device. Not only that, but it is FILTHY CHEAP. We are talking 86p in the UK and something similar in the US. Of course, the book is still available from Five Leaves Press as a beautiful paperback.
This is the one of which the Nerd of Noir declared:
"The Nerd urges you, dear reader, to get your hands on some Graven Image toot-fucking-sweet, to let Leon take you on a journey through both the dark alleys of his hometown and those of his diseased brain. Granted, Leon's gonna give you a laugh now and then, but mostly he's just making sure this intense crazy train never slows for a fucking second lest he get a horrifying moment to reflect."
Also, I'd be mighty grateful if those who have read it could consider doing some sort of Amazon review. Good or bad, so long as the thing looks like it is being read! And hey, you know I love you.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
FREE THE MANGEL ONE, the Facebook group set up to rescue Royston blake from publishing oblivion and get his next adventure published, is due to be archived. Thank you to anyone who joined it. The book got published, and that is down to you. Here are the acknowledgements from the inside of the book, for those who haven't read it:
"Thanks go to the many people on Facebook who supported this series and helped to get this book published. All hail the power of social networking, even if it means that people are looking at screens instead of reading books. To Alex Carr who took a chance on something unusual and is responsible for this edition that you are holding. To all the bloggers, journalists and fans who publically stood up for Royston Blake when the chips were down for him. He will repay you in the next life... which is in Mangel. To John Williams and Peter Ayrton who are the ones who got this series going in the first place. It is fair to say that without them I would be on a park bench somewhere, drinking Brasso and shouting at passers-by. This paint stripper is much nicer - cheers for the tip, guys."
One Dead Hen at Amazon UK
One Dead Hen at Amazon US
Monday, October 24, 2011
All of my Royston Blake books are £1.99 on Kindle right now, in the UK at least. I don't know how long this will last, but I wholeheartedly endorse that cheap price (and in fact encouraged it). If you like cheap prices for ebooks (and authors who encourage them), please try one of these. Some say they are about a delusional nightclub doorman who is not aware of his potty mouth, but I think they are about existence itself. And the sweary doorman.
I know a lot of people don't have a Kindle, but they are pushing them cheap at the moment and you might get one for Christmas. (Saying that, you might not - what do I know?) If you think you will, and you want to take advantage of the cheapo Royston Blake prices before they disappear, you can buy the ebook now and download it to your Kindle later. Piece of piss, as Blakey himself would say.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Meant to say thanks also to all the other Amazon (UK and US) reviewers of One Dead Hen and the other titles. Books live or die by those things. Although mostly they just fester. And if they die they are liable to spring back up, zombie-like.
Thankfully this has happened to Derek Raymond's "Factory" novels, which have just been reissued by Melville House. I searched high and low for I WAS DORA SUAREZ years ago, finally tracking down a first edition to a basement flat in Friern Barnet. Now you can click a button and they just send it to you! But be warned - that one is strong stuff. Brilliant strong stuff.
* ...but I do.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Williams is one of those rare comic novelists who manages to be funny. And I'm not talking about that "smile because I recognise the humour in this situation" kind of funny - I'm talking about the "I just spat on someone because I wasn't expecting to laugh" funny. That's difficult to do unless your readership is the kind of person who thinks Lee Nelson is side-splitting.My son thinks Lee Nelson is a comedy genius, actually. But he's nine. When I was nine I thought the same of Benny Hill. Come to think of it, I still do.
Then there's Luca Veste on his blog Guilty Conscience:
But that's the beauty of the Mangel novels, everything is unexpected. From the casual, accidental violence, to the liberal use of "offensive" (if you're a child) words. It's a fantastic example of quality storytelling.And that is a fantastic example of book reviewing, if you ask me.
Last, but not least (does anyone ever say "Last, and very much least..."? Surely the last item in a list is sometimes the least? Not that I'm saying this one is) comes Keith B Walters on his blog Books and Writers:
It’s a crime novel, but it’s a hell of a lot more than that and I loved the voice in ONE DEAD HEN and will be sure to be tracking down the earlier Royston Blake books very soon.I heartily applaud that intention.
And if you read my recent couple of posts about Swearing, you will understand how much I dig this Amazon review.
Many thanks to Ray, Luca, Keith and Sid.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
OK, Heath Lowrance has inadvertently provoked me into writing that post about swearing, the one I couldn't be bothered to yesterday. There is so much to say on the subject that I didn't know where to start, but now I do.
To be fair on the guy who complained in the Amazon review, Royston Blake is a heavy swearer. But he's based on the kind of heavy swearer that we all know exists. There are tons of them out there in every corner of the western world, punctuating their short phrases with expletives and not even aware of it. The fact that people complain so much about coming across this in books (my ones anyway) just shows me how powerful language is. These are simply words, most of them only four letters, but they cause so much upset. They spark violence and high blood pressure and heart attacks. They put up huge barriers between people.
Confession: I also get pissed off by swearing. A few years ago I was watching Jonathan Ross, and I noticed that he was ramping up the "fuck" count big time. Every show of his I watched thereafter (God help me), the cuss count stayed high. It was so obvious that a backstage conversation had taken place where it was decided (probably by committee) that more swearing was the way to go. So old Wossy obliged, finding opportunities to shoe-horn in those babies no matter what. Wossy, it don't work. Swearing to shock is a dead end. Authentic swearing slips out against the swearer's will. It's natural. It's wholesome.
That's what I get from hanging around heavy swearers. I just love the power of these words, the explosive effect of one being dropped at the perfect moment. But what if everyone loved them? Worse still, what if people just weren't bothered by them, not even batting an eyelid at an avalanche of class A obscenities? They would lose their power, and they would just be sad little words.
Which would be no fun at all.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
From a recent reader review of One Dead Hen on Amazon:
"I don't mind the odd swear word in a story where it is relevant but there is a line and this book crosses it for me"
I was going to write an eloquent, measured riposte, touching on subjects such as authenticity of speech and the innate beauty in all language, but do you know what? Fuck it.
Thursday, September 01, 2011
I've had some lows in my writing life this year. In February I had to abandon a half-written novel. Hopefully I'll pick it up again but it seemed dead at the time. Then I had an event at the local library where no one turned up who I didn't already know. These are the things that can happen to a writer. (This writer, at least.)
But you also get highs - I got to jet over to New York for BEA. I got to say I'm finally a full-time writer (although that's not necessarily a good thing, me being laid off from my day job). And yesterday I had the biggest high of all - finishing an MS.
I wrote "The End" a few weeks ago, but the cigar I had then didn't taste right, knowing as I did how many problems were still lurking in that MS, crying to be fixed. So I've spent the interim tackling them, and now the bug list is down to zero. I have run the spell check (never a small task with my books) and the MS is printed out, ready for one last pass of pencil editing which I have never found to be that onerous.
Out of all the milestones in all the cycles a writer goes through, I think this is my favourite. For months you walk around, weighed down by something and not even realising it. It is the problems, the battle that is always going on somewhere in your head. And that battle is won.
I took the dogs out for a walk and looked at the sun setting behind the Malvern Hills and felt like I had snorted cocaine (I hadn't, I promise). I could look at trees and birds and even dustbins and see the beauty in them. But it will be short-lived, won't it, that dustbin moment? Already I have something else planned, a great idea for a book just waiting to be put into words. Or maybe I could re-animate one of those dead MSs. And the moment you type that first sentence, the problems begin all over...
Until I get the dustbin moment again.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Hey, Royston Blake is getting some minor recognition. Obviously what he really wants is to win the Nobel Prize for Doormanship, but in the meantime ONE DEAD HEN, his latest outing, has been put on the longlist for the Not The Booker Prize.
In order to reach the shortlist, he needs votes. The book has only just come out, but if you can, please give this book the nod. Shortlists are pretty thin on the ground around here! Voting is a little bit of a pain, but here is what you have to do (bastardised from the Graun's own instructions):
1. Go to this page for One Dead Hen
2. Write a review of no fewer than 150 words in which you try to give a flavour of the book and of its plot and explain why you think the book is important and why others might like it. Then hit submit.
3. Once it has appeared on the page, hit the "link" button that appears in the top right-hand corner of the box containing your review. When the link text appears, "copy" it.
4. Return to this Not the Booker prize page. Go to the comments box at the bottom. Type Vote: Charlie Williams, One Dead Hen into the comments field. After that you type something like: "Here is my review." Highlight that text with my mouse, and hit the button above the comment field that says "link". A prompt box appears asking for a "web address". Paste the copied text in. Hit "post your comment".
5. Get yourself a beer.
This is all a bit academic - the book has only just come out and not that many will have read it. But hey, one can hope. Eye of the tiger! And to whoever nominated me, thanks"
Friday, August 12, 2011
One Dead Hen gets the Nerd of Noir treatment over at Spinetingler:
One Dead Hen is an oil-black comedy, with many of the biggest laughs (and I no-shit laughed audibly many times, in public even, like a fucking keep-your-kids-close creepo) coming from Blake’s misunderstanding or pointed misrepresentation of a given situation. But while the comedy may keep you laughing (even when, say, Blake accidentally smothers someone to death in hopes of seeing if they were just pretending to be unconscious), Williams is also constructing a sly mystery around our hero, and it’s up to the reader’ careful attention to Blake’s context clues (and some insane newspaper articles) to figure out what’s really rotten in Mangel.Also some great recent reviews at You Would say That, Wouldn't You? and The Paper Tiger's Roar Feed. Mucho grateful to all three of these top bods for taking the trouble. And to you, dear reader, for thinking about checking the book out for yourself. Oh, you weren't, you were just checking the latest riot reports on Sky News.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
ONE DEAD HEN is published today. I must admit, I sometimes wondered if this day would ever happen. But Royston Blake is back, which is cause for celebration, right? Unless you live in Mangel. If you live in Mangel, very little is a cause for celebration - least of all the presence of Blakey.
If you want to find out what Blakey did next - or you feel like supporting something different - you can get it here (UK), and here (US).
To coincide, I did a piece about the book (and Blakey in general) for the Kindle Post blog.
Saturday, August 06, 2011
And while we laugh at the absurdity of the story, Williams does just enough to create the nagging worry that it isn't so unreal after all; that Royston is only as much of a caricature as the sensitive intellectual in the Hampstead novel or Jonathan Franzen's troubled Americans. The hideous town of Mangel, meanwhile, with its casual violence, unmanageable drinking and psychotic conservatism, offers up a vision of Britain that seems all too familiar. Royston may have trouble with words of more than two syllables and antediluvian attitudes to everything, but he produces one of the most challenging social commentaries you are likely to read this year. AmazonEncore has rescued an excellent book.
So Royston Blake gets all the credit yet again. Typical!
Many thanks to Sam Jordison for the review.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Interview with me over at Iain Rowan's excellent "More News from Nowhere" blog. Check it out if you want to know what I think about writing. Then go check the other interviews with the likes of Ray Banks, Julie Morrigan, Keith Brooke, Paul D Brazill, Gary McMahon and literally shitloads of other top book writing folks. Then go and download Iain's collection, Nowhere to Go, onto your Kindle.
Elsewhere, an article about the Royston Blake books with a Facebook angle on Norway's Stavanger Aftenblad newspaper. If you cannot understand Norwegian, fret not - it just looks really interesting. And the word "fart" is in the title.
Friday, July 29, 2011
I have purged Blakey on Tour from this blog. Sorry if you were planning on going back to it (for whatever strange reason). Fact is, I have been working it into a novel offline, which is nearing the end now, so I don't want people discovering the first draft on here. Actually I don't care, but it seems neater this way. Hmm... maybe deleting it all wasn't such a good idea? Fuck it - done now. I'll let you know how the novel goes. If I can only find it...
Meantimes, ONE DEAD HEN publication date is drawing near. You can pre-order it here and here, "like" it here (go on), and read about it here and here. Any way you look at it, Blakey is on his way back.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
The new Royston Blake book, ONE DEAD HEN, comes out on August 9th. I have set up a Facebook page to get things going, so if you are a fan of Royston Blake (or just want to support an author) and you are on Facebook, please "like" it. I will be presenting a random "liker" of the page with a free ARC of the book EVERY DAY between now and the 9th. Am I making it worth your while or what? So get liking. And then get reading.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Today marks the re-publication of King of the Road, third in the so-called Mangel Trilogy which is set to become a tetralogy (or let's just say "series"). It comes out from AmazonEncore in the UK/US and I guess worldwide, having previously been done by Serpent's Tail in the UK. In many ways this is my favourite book, and I think it finally has a cover to do it justice.
You can pick it up for £2.49/$3.99 on Kindle and £8.09/$7.99 paperback. Give it a go. If you haven't read the previous two, don't worry - it stands alone. As does Royston Blake. Here is a blurb, followed by a couple of juicy quotes:
Released after a long stretch at Parpham Mental Hospital, Royston Blake finds that the world has moved on. Even in Mangel. Gone are most of his old haunts, including Hoppers. In its place: a huge shopping mall, servicing the town's every consumer need. But not everyone is happy seeing the old ways swept aside, and the "Old Guard" - a mysterious opposition group well known on the letters page of the local paper - sets about recruiting Blake as its agent of retribution. Meanwhile Blake just wants to settle down with Sal, get to know the son he has never met, and do the right thing.
"I can hear the politically correct mustering for duty, sharpening their swords and measuring lengths of rope for Charlie Williams's cheeky neck. They may have a point, for his hero Royston Blake is a psychotic whirlwind whose reason is as fragile and chaotic as his body is strong - but, hell, this is gloriously funny stuff and so original that other writers must be gnashing their teeth in jealousy"
"Blackly funny and bone-jarringly violent... Williams' latest offering comes across like a heady literary mix between Straw Dogs and Pulp Fiction"
Dublin Evening Herald
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
8 things about "Blakey on Tour", the ongoing story on my blog:
- Sorry I have not been updating it
- I am still writing it
- In fact I am writing it so much that it is going to be another novel (but with a different title)
- I have had to go back and put things in, which is why I can't do it on the blog any more
- Also some of the material doesn't feel right on my blog, if you get my drift
- A huge thanks to anyone who read it up to this point. The fact that people were following it is what got it going. I owe you one. Writing a chapter and then immediately posting it up and seeing hits on it was a strange and exhilerating thing
- If this book never sees light of day, I'll try to track down every last person who followed it and get the manuscript to them, should they wish to read it
- Royston Blake lives on!
Friday, July 01, 2011
I interviewed myself for Nigel Bird's blog, Sea Minor. Check it out here. I've done a few of these self-interrogation things and I'm not sure they're healthy. I think I am going slightly insaner with each one. What makes you think that, Charlie? I dunno, just seems like... hey, pack that in!
Saturday, June 25, 2011
...to spend your days in the sun-shee-yine.
Oh, hi there. Say, did you know that I am guest blogging today over at David Belbin's blog, talking about Booze and Burn / Fags and Lager, the second installment in the ongoing story of Royston Blake? You can also hear "Cigarettes and Alcohol" there, a song which I chose for the occasion. Is that a leftfield choice or what? Many thanks to David.
Erm, did I mention that Booze and Burn is going cheap on Kindle? £1.99/$2.99. Oh, I did, didn't I? I guess I've done it again.
Friday, June 24, 2011
I am still cracking on with this, just holding it back a bit as we get into the nitty gritty territory. Thanks for reading this far, those who have. There will be more soon. Come rain, high water or shit storm, Blakey's Tour will continue
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Today sees the publication of BOOZE AND BURN, AmazonEncore's re-issue of Fags and Lager. This is the book about which one broadsheet critic sniffed "personally I think these books should be issued with embarrassing orange jackets and made to do menial community service in penance for their yobbery", before donning his tweed jacket and heading down to the MCC.
Meanwhile Metro said "Blake is the perfect antihero, engaging as well as terrifying, his delusions of hard-man grandeur fuelling fierce black comedy. Delivered in Blake's rich vernacular, Fags and Lager is yokel Tarantino".
I kind of prefer that one, but the straw-chewing image of Tarantino is troubling.
You can get Booze and Burn CHEAP on Kindle: £1.99/$2.99. Give it a go. It's all about Royston Blake.
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Do you have a Kindle or other e-reading device? DEADFOLK is now available on Amazon.co.uk for the mad price of 99p. (You can also get it for 99c on Amazon.com.) Please download it if you are of half a mind to. Would be great to see Royston Blake riding high in the charts.
For anyone following Blakey On Tour, it will be back shortly. I have had a ton of stuff on of late, but Blake's troubles have been nagging at me all the while. We're gonna see this baby through to the end... whatever that end may be.
Finally, in a sort of last round-up of the USA stuff, I stayed on for an extra day after the Amazon extravaganza and BookExpo and managed to crash the Mulholland Books party down the road. Great to clink glasses with some of the peeps there, including Duane Swierczy and Jason Starr (pic). What a week it was. I will be forever grateful to the Amazon crew for shipping me over there. Some top people working there and they know how to make a splash.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
You learn all kinds of things when you have a website. Some are things you don't want to learn, like the fact that people get all kinds of ass problems. I don't know why google leads them to charliewilliams.net, but any combination of "ass" and "rash" does just that. The latest being "I got a rash in my ass and it is wet". My advice? Go inside. Then you'll eliminate the rain and just have the rash to contend with.
Hey, this was meant to be a post about BookExpo America, which is where I have been today, after a posh Amazon do last night on the top floor of the Empire State Building, or somewhere. The thing about trade fairs such as this is that I can spend all day there, talking to a thousand people, and not know what's going on. There is always some publishing world intrigue that goes way over my head, even though everyone is apparently talking about it, you later hear. Or maybe it goes *under* my head? Have you thought about that, huh, publishing world? Either way, I have never got to grips with the publishing business. To paraphrase Barry Manilow, I write the books. He writes the songs, me the books. Between us we get it covered. (Massively obscure trivia fans, I reference one of Barry's songs in Graven Image. Which one?)
Politics and wilful ignorance aside, it was a blast. Meeting guys whose books I have read and dug such as Duane Swierczynski, Jason Starr, Megan Abbott and Jack Ketchum... finding new ones whose books have got me interested such as Johnny Shaw, Shaun Morey and John Rector... this is what it is all about. Plenty of others too and I feel bad for not printing a long list, but we aren't big on long lists here at the Charlie Williams Blog. You know that.
Someone told me Ice T was there today. I can't believe I missed him. I am of the generation and 80s tribe that revered him as a Hip Hop pioneer. But I ain't talking about Cop Killer... I'm talking proper old skool.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Hey, I am in NYC for BookExpo America. I'm sure the lady at border control thought I was a bare-faced liar, but she let me through anyway, begrudgingly. (Hey, I wasn't lying!) Sadly Royston Blake didn't fare so well. When the man frisked him the wrong way he sort of exploded, and they dragged him away. It took 10 of them, I swear. Not sure where is now. Maybe I'll link up with him on the way back.
It is nice here in New York. Kind of like the original York (which it was clearly based on), but with slightly more yellow hansom cabs. I am lagged to the eyeballs and the pit is calling, but hunger calls louder, so I just went round the block and bought a muffin. That is the best muffin I have ever known! I also bought a couple of beers, which I can't make the same claim for. Cold and wet though, which is the important thing.
Tomorrow I meet my generous hosts from Amazon, who are down from the Peruvian ranforests or wherever the Amazon actually is. I hope they don't get too freaked out by the cars and things. You worry about these remote tribes. Still, they speak very good English, because I have talked to some of them on the phone. They also have pretty good taste in books, I reckon.
And hey - ebooks save those trees. (Especially at $0.99.)
Friday, May 20, 2011
Not been much from Blakey this week, has there? I assure you that it is down to sheer not having enough time. That and laziness... but the understandable kind of laziness, that kicks in when faced with obligations looming. Next week I'm at BookExpo in New York, so prob not much touring from Blakey then either. But I promise he will be off in that burger van again right after. Or possibly the hearse, if he can get it out of the police pound. Until then, we'll have to leave him in the dire straits he finds himself. Thank you to everyone who has been following it. Please come back. Blakey needs you!
(Oh, and BTW, Deadfolk - Royston Blake's first outing - is currently 99c for Kindle and $5.99 paperback on Amazon.com. Cheap pricing on Amazon.co.uk next week too, I hear.)
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Ever wondered what a guy like Royston Blake might read? Perhaps you'd like to find out what literary works shaped him, so that you could read them too and maybe become a bit more like him? Reader, your prayers are answered. Jenny Davidson asked him (via me) to spill the beans for her Light Reading blog, and he duly obliged. (Who knew Michael Knight went to Hazzard County?)
Many thanks (and a few apologies) to Jenny!
Ah, 1986. The Beastie Boys' "Fight For Your Right" on the radio, Rocky IV showing down at the Odeon... and Peter Ayrton breathing life into a new publishing house called Serpent's Tail. "Committed to publishing extravagant, outlaw voices neglected by the mainstream," goes their mission statement. I don't know if it was the same back in the 80s, but it sure has lived up to that objective for most of the quarter century since. Happy birthday Serpent's Tail. Without you, the High Street bookshop would be a whole lot greyer.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Interview with me conducted by Helen Smith. I reply in my usual slack-jawed way to her incisive questions about BookExpo and the USA in general. Helen is the author of Alison Wonderland and Three Sisters, amongst others.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
DEADFOLK is re-launched today in paperback and Kindle formats in the UK, US and Canada. If you've seen me mention some aggressive, potty-mouthed guy called Blakey on this blog and you wondered what he was about, here is your chance to find out. The other books in the series will ensue throughout the summer, but here is where it starts... with a doorman, a crap town and a rumour that he has lost his bottle. You can check some reviews of the first edition, but here is a snippet that points to this small-town, slang-laced tale having a slightly wider appeal... maybe:
Royston Blake, Head Doorman at Hopper’s Wine Bar & Bistro, somewhere in England’s West Country, wouldn’t know a bright idea “if it did a shite in my pocket.” Which is exactly why I like him, and why this comic noir from cult favorite Williams makes such perfect sense in a world where the shite is everywhere but in your pocket.
Bill Ott - Booklist
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
I was going to write a blog whinging about how I've been tricked by evil forces into writing a substantial piece of fiction online, in first draft form, in front of millions of people (although only a select number are reading... ahem). But fuck that. It's fun, right? I don't know what's going to happen and nor do you. And the online thing means I don't get the option to go back and change things, which makes it simpler. One way or another, better or worser, we'll be guiding Blakey home. Or following in horror as he lurches blindly and somehow wakes up on his doorstep, more like.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Interview with me conducted by David McWilliam of Twisted Tales. Theme is crime and horror. This is in advance of a great event in Liverpool on May 19th. And I don't mean Everton v Chelsea - that's the Sunday following.
Next instalment of Blakey on Tour up later today...
Friday, April 22, 2011
No installment today, in case you were wondering. For some reason I find it hard to write at weekends and bank holidays, so Blakey remains stuck on the Wall Road with a vampire in the back of his pranged hearse. Come back after the Easter break to find out what happens next. I'm quite curious myself.
Talking of which, yes, I am writing this freestyle (ie no outline), which is how I nearly always do it. Mind you, I usually have the luxury of a few read-throughs of the finished piece before showing it to the world, which I don't get here. Luxuries go out the window in these straightened times.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
Like I says, I ain't been in jail. Mangel jail is a place for proper scum, not community pillars like me who sometimes fall a bit foul when they cut a corner in the name of doing the right thing. No, what I thought I'd do, following the success of my campaign wossname and in celebration of my forthcoming memoir, is go on a nice holiday. And by that I don't mean camping in Hurk Wood - I mean a proper, fucking expensive holiday.
In a caravan.
I had it all sorted as well, had me eye on a decent caravan and everything. Nice white one it were, only one previous owner so far as I knew and he were still owning it at the time. What's more, he were always out all day during the week and I knew how to pick the type of padlock he had on the gate, meaning I didn't even have to pay for it. All I needed were summat to pull it with, and we all know the best type of caravan pulling motor, don't we? That's right - your 1983 Ford Granada MkIII hearse. And it just so happened I knowed where they had one.
(Update: this post spun off into a novel, most of which I wrote here on my blog. But I took it down when I had to start going back and making little changes. Hope you get to read it when it comes out. But it probably won't be called "Blakey on Tour")
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Did a signing for Graven Image yesterday at Waterstones in Worcester, my local bookshop. Having done a couple of these before, I can say that hand selling does not come naturally to me. Unless you are already v.popular and have means of publicising the event beforehand, you're basically a cold caller. You have to approach people (or snag them with eye contact as they go past) and convince them that your book is something they want, even though they came in for something completely different, like the latest cook book. I can't really do that. I don't respond to people when they try that on me, so why should I expect others to?
Because they want the book but don't rsealise it, perhaps?
Well, do they? However compelling Graven Image may or may not be, it is a short, hardboiled book about a brothel bouncer. There is some fruity language in there, and while I think the cover is just great, some would find it forbidding. I'm sure there are people out there who would love all that stuff, but am I going to find enough amongst the general population of Worcester (not the most culturally happening town) to warrant me trying to cold sell to them?
That doesn't mean there won't be a whole bunch of local people who would want to read my book, just that not many of them are going to frequent a high street bookshop on a Saturday lunch time, which is when my slot was. They also might be turned off by some big lunk of a stranger invading their space, trying to flog a book they never heard of.
OK, so you're having a good old whinge here, Charlie. Here's a thought: no one is putting a gun to your head. If you don't like the signings, don't do 'em. Make like Zammo and just say no
Not that I do many, but I wouldn't want to stop them entirely. When a bookshop offers me their support, I'm going to grab it. But I think things could be done in a different way that is geared towards finding those readers who might be into noir/hardboiled/whacked-out-cross-genre/whatever. Obviously we already have this nationally with genre festivals and conventions, but I'd like to get something going on a smaller scale, and that still involves the bookshop. There are a few of these kind of things going on here and there in other places, and I'm going to be taking part in a very cool one myself soon (TBA), so hopefully I'll be able to get more of an idea of what I'm driving at, rather than waffling aimlesly on a Sunday afternoon, with the sun shining outside, two dogs pining for a walk and a couple of kids who want to chuck a ball around.
That said, I sold ten yesterday. To those ten, my thanks and applause. Whether you like the book or not, at least you gave it a shot, rather than brushing me off like a High Street charity hustler (which is what I would have done).
Thursday, April 07, 2011
Anyone in or near Worcester should come down to Waterstones in the Shambles this Saturday (April 9th). I will be there from 11am-2pm signing copies of GRAVEN IMAGE. Also I've got 10 totally free ARCs of the new edition of DEADFOLK for the first 10 who buy Graven. Already read Deadfolk? Not a problem for this guy. Simply come down on the day, buy Graven, give me the answer to the magic question and hey presto, I'll present you with an ARC of Royston Blake's comeback special: ONE DEAD HEN.
How flipping generous am I?
But that is not the magic question. The magic question is:
What does Royston Blake spend most of Deadfolk trying to find?
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The prize draw for DEADFOLK has been closed and five lucky winners have a copy winging its way across the pond towards them. That's right - I made it open to readers in US, Can and UK but Goodreads selects the winners, and they all came up in the colonies. Interestingly, four were Canada and only one US, perhaps reflecting the weighting of the entrants. A big cheer for Canada - you're either getting behind Royston Blake big time or you really, really like getting stuff without paying. Either way is cool.
1032 people entered to win a copy of Deadfolk, so I'm putting up a copy of GRAVEN IMAGE too. If I can get as many people aware of that book, that's a good return. And it's lighter than Deadfolk, so hopefully I won't be bankrupted when someone from North America inevitably wins.
(UK people, don't let it happen! You're 5-0 down at the moment but you can pull one back. all you have to do is enter.)
This one runs all through April, so if you're not planning on buying a copy of Graven Image, you might as well enter. The winner gets to read the story of brothel bouncer Leon, who takes you, as the Nerd of Noir put it, "on a journey through both the dark alleys of his hometown and those of his diseased brain. Granted, Leon’s gonna give you a laugh now and then, but mostly he’s just making sure this intense crazy train never slows for a fucking second lest he get a horrifying moment to reflect"
Friday, March 25, 2011
A REAL CHARACTER
Russel D McLean
With thanks to Royston Blake and Charlie Williams – but in particular, and because he’s bigger, Royston –for allowing me to guest blog here today.
My name is Russel D McLean, and I’m sure you’ll have heard me say some nice things about Williams and Blakey before. Neither of them paid me any money, I assure you. Neither of them has any money to pay me. I am, if you can’t tell by the accent, Scottish, and right now I’m pimping the US release of my second novel THE LOST SISTER by running rampant on the blogs of some of my favourite authors.
But don’t worry. While I hope you do buy either the US or the UK editions of either one of me books, I’m not going to shove it down your throat by saying how good they are. Instead I’m going to talk about something that interests me.
See, Blakey and Williams have an interesting author/character dynamic. In that Blakey seems able to exist almost independently of the man who chronicles his life (hence why Blakey once invaded my blogging day over at the multi-author blog, DO SOME DAMAGE).
This kind of character independence doesn’t happen that often, and so far I’m glad it hasn’t happened to me. After all, J McNee – who features in both THE GOOD SON and THE LOST SISTER – seems to have a habit of bringing doom to those around him. Not his fault, at least not all the time, but in some sense he’s a lightning rod for bad news. Which is maybe good news for readers. At least those, like me, who like to see their fictional characters tormented and tested.
But while I don’t usually allow McNee to roam free of his own accord or have his own facebook page, it doesn’t mean that he feels purely fictional to me. Its an odd part of a writer’s psyche, I guess, that we can feel our characters as real people, that we can know the way they speak and react in much the same way (and maybe more so) that we know the way in which our friends and relatives will behave in certain situations. And its even stranger that I can know so much about a man who doesn’t want to talk about his past.
When McNee first came into my head, when I first started hearing that voice, his rhythms and patterns, I started to ask who this man was and who he had been. I knew he’d been a cop. From the outset it was clear that his fiancée was recently deceased and that he’d quit the police force after an “incident” with a superior officer. But he made me work for all that and seemed to be making a concerted effort to hide certain aspects of his past. I’m still not sure about his family, other than odd references to parents (are they still alive? He talks about them in the past tense) and maybe his gran (but then, he could just be having me on). He was a reticient fellow and yet every so often he’d let something slip. A hint. A clue. An idea. A half truth.
It was enough to keep me fascinated. After all, I’ve a history, as a reader, of loving characters who don’t reveal all about themselves. Richard Stark’s thief Parker only ever existed on the job. The Nameless detective was… nameless. And the copper in Derek Raymond’s factory novels gave away as little of himself as possible. And yet there was enough in all of these characters to give you a sense of who they were.
And that was what attracted me to McNee. He revealed himself in momentary glimpses. Letting him talk was like letting a stranger tell you a story and hoping by the end of that story you might know this man better. In short, I found his voice fascinating. Getting to know a character becomes like getting to know a friend. I suppose it’s the grown up version of the invisible friend you had as a child.
Except if you said he was an invisible friend and you were over the age of sixteen, you’d likely be locked up. Or maybe drugged by a friendly GP. So what you do is you say that he’s a character and you become a writer so that you have a legitimate reason for getting to know this non existent person.
The truth of the matter is, McNee fascinates me as a person. He’s an angry, bitter bastard and yet beneath that there lurks the heart of someone who just wants to do the right thing, who wants a kind of justice in the world and yet has been trained not to expect it. He’s a man of contradictions and bad habits. He infuriates you and fascinates you at the same time. One of my favourite reviews ever said, “You don't know whether to hug him or punch him” And I’d absolutely agree with that.
As authors, we can let our invisible friends out so that other people can get to know them as well as we do.
And the best part?
We can’t be called insane for doing so.
Russel's The Lost Sister is out from Minotaur Books in the USA this month. It is published in the UK by Five Leaves Press. Check out his website and his Friday bloggings over at Do Some Damage. He once took the night bus from Dundee to Bristol and lived to tell the tale.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Check out this blog tomorrow for a taste of top writer and all-round Scottish person Russel D McLean, who will be doing a stint here. This guy is in the midst of a blog tour at the minute and he is on fire. Catch him before his hair ignites!
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Do you like books? Do you have ears? Are you interested in brothel bouncers who cannot control their temper, and find themselves maiming sadistic VIP punters who batter the girls and then having to pay the price for that misplaced chivalry? Me too.
And boy, are we in for a treat!
GRAVEN IMAGE is going to be an audiobook, narrated by Ben Onwukwe and stretching to 3 CDs. Read it and weep. Or listen to it and weep, rather.
Watch out for it in libraries and the above website from April. Or listen out for it, rather.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Monday, March 07, 2011
California by Ray Banks is my kind of noir. Small towns, short fuses and hopelessly unrealistic dreams. Banks is a master of character and you should check out this short sharp shooter of a novella, not least because the hero is called Shug. Also because one of the other characters has a "gaming chair"
On a Crime Express tip, a reminder that I will be in Matlock on Saturday 12th March as part of the Derbyshire Readers' Day, in a panel alongside Stephen Booth and Danuta Reah. They will be talking about CLAWS and NOT SAFE respectively and I will be going on about GRAVEN IMAGE. All simultaneously. It's going to be great! Come if you can.
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
I first got the idea for Graven Image when I was looking at this stained glass in nearby Worcester Cathedral. It depicts some luckless bishop getting burned at the stake and looking pretty damn dignified about it. Looking back at notes and drafts, it seems the first line came to me first: "I was in the abbey when I realised I'd have to burn for my sins." From that, it seemed obvious that the guy saying it was a black brothel bouncer named Leon, and that he was stood right here in the cloisters, waiting for some sort of punishment to befall him so the natural order of things can be restored to the local underworld.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Impartiality was maintained at all times. An independant adjudicator (Toby the Labrador) stood by and ensured that the integrity of the process was not compromised. Then, and only then, did I select five totally random punters to receive a freebie of GRAVEN IMAGE. The lucky ones are:
Kathy W S
Someone from my mailing list whose email address starts "Baz".
Congrats one and all. And thanks to everyone who joined my fan page in an ultimately fruitless attempt to win. Trust me, with four other books coming out this year, there will be more opportunities.
Monday, February 28, 2011
It has come to my attention that non-UK readers can pick up a copy of GRAVEN IMAGE cheap AND POSTAGE FREE at Bookdepository.co.uk. When I pretended I was in the USA, it said $6.02 USD. As our American brethren say - pretty neat, huh?
One drawback: it's not available yet. But the book is not published until April 1st, so we should wait, right? And pre-ordering is all the rage at the moment.
Friday, February 25, 2011
GRAVEN IMAGE isn't officially published for another five weeks but we've seen two early and conflicting reviews. The ying and the yang, if you will. First this one from David Paine of local organ the Worcester News, which starts out:
In author Charlie Williams’ attempt to write gritty dialogue there is great emphasis on bad language.
This doesn't bode well, does it ? Let's pull that teflon cloak on...
While I don’t particularly have a problem with that and accept it is used in everyday life, particularly a stressful situation like Leon finds himself in, other authors like Simon Kernick, who for me is the master of this genre right now, manage to create pace, tension and fear without overdoing it with the profanities.
Let's just say it doesn't get much better than that. But hey, I defend to the death every man's right to express his own onion. I mean opinion. Let's move onto the yang, shall we? The Nerd of Noir starts out:
Leon has fucked up something terrible.
This is already my kind of review!
Though much is often made of voice and madness when discussing his work, I think short shrift is too often given to the fucking delightfully gritty worlds Williams creates, from dingy bars packed with shiftless professional drinkers to the lonely streets where only half-retarded wannabe thugs dare to tread, fritting away the night posing like their favorite crime flick characters to impress their easily amused friends.
Long live the Nerd. And David Paine. Just to show there's no hard feelings, here is a special tribute to you:
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Big session last night? Did you paint the town red... followed by a splash of technicolour on the way home? Get your head out of the toilet bowl and into a book, using Paul D. Brazill's handy guide to literary hangover cures over at Mulholland Books. And yes, I am very proud to say that the soon-to-be-reissued (in May) Deadfolk is in there. Keep it right next to your Alka Seltzers.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Do you want a chance of winning a copy of my forthcoming novella GRAVEN IMAGE? I am giving away five next week. All you have to do to be in with a shout is "like" my fan page on Facebook. Not on Facebook? Fret not - there are other great ways to be in with a shout. You could join my mailing list. Or do an Amazon (UK or US) review of any of my books and then email me. In fact, I'll give you THREE TIMES the weighting if you do that because I could do with some more Amazon reviews. Does that sound fair? Sure it does.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
As already pointed out by the fabulous Ray Banks, anyone wanting to get ahead of the Crime Express game can now do so. GRAVEN IMAGE and the other three books can be snagged here right now, free postage in the UK and everything. That's more than 1.5 months early! Yes, it's blatant CHEATING, but I won't tell.
Let's pick a random blurb to paste here.... Ooh, it's GRAVEN IMAGE by Charlie Williams... what an embarrassing coincidence!
It knocks the wind out of you, reality does
Brothel bouncer Leon shouldn’t be here. A week ago he stepped over the line, maiming a slap-happy VIP punter. But he can’t stay away. Not with his daughter Kelly being so young and vulnerable. If he can sort it out with Graven, take the kicking he knows he’ll get, maybe they can call it a debt paid. But when Kelly goes missing Leon realises what kind of debt is due.
Check that out!
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Matlock: I've always thought that's a great name for a town. Tough and no nonsense. Matt Lock, private eye. He'd be somewhere between Mike Hammer and Matt Scudder, pissed up on whisky but still asking tough questions or blowing heads off. The right heads.
I will be in Matlock on Saturday 12th March as part of the Derbyshire Readers' Day (which seems to be two days, starting on the 11th, but never mind). Find me on a panel alongside Danuta Reah, hosted by Stephen Booth, which goes by the title "Keeping it Short", or something. Either way, it almost coincides with all three of us (along with the legendary Ray Banks) having Crime Express books coming out on April 1st, and those babies are certainly short. And to the point. But probably not very sweet. Check them out here. And dig those covers. Then, *ahem*, think about pre-ordering.
So, can you make it to Matlock? Check out here for details. Scudder and Hammer will probably not be in attendance, but Reah, Booth and Williams surely will. And maybe Matt Lock himself.
NB: Matlock was also a main location for the amazing Shane Meadows film DEAD MAN'S SHOES. If you haven't seen it, find it.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I swear I was after something important, but while looking through (google-translated) Russian reviews of Deadfolk I came across:
"The protagonist gets in the head 20 times, wets himself five freaks and 4 innocent people, including fishermen, planted a few heifers, runs through the city covered in blood, a week carries rotting corpse on the seat beside the driver and swearing at each step. But - a dynamic, funny and exciting. Read disgusting. Make a movie - you will be Academy Award”Seriously, who wouldn't buy?