Sunday, April 28, 2013

Opinions are like chickens

A couple of new ONE DEAD HEN reviews on the Zon this week. But these two critics had mixed feelings about their subject matter. This disturbs me somehow. So let's talk to each one in turn and try to understand the problem.
First up, Edwina. Edwina's favourite books include "A Cup of Christmas Tea", "The Clue is in the Pudding" and "The Holy Bible". Some big hitters there, and a lot to match up to. Let's start by getting the formalities out of the way. Edwina, are you a purist or a prude?
"I am not a purist or a prude"
Thank you. So let's move onto the book. If you took into account every book you have ever read (such as "The Breath of God" and "A is for Annabelle: A Doll's Alphabet""), where would you rank One Dead Hen?
"This is the worst book I have ever read."
I see. But surely there was something of worth in it. The plot, maybe? The characters?
"The plot (?) is rather non-existent and the characters should be."
Right. Well, there are some good actions in it, yes? Also this is a series which has been hailed for its inventive use of language. Would you go along with that?
"It is a series of revolting language separated by ridiculous actions."
I'm starting to see where this is going. Time for a personal question. Did you get turned on when reading it? Just a little bit?
"A definite turn off and an author that goes on my short list which actually is quite short containing only his name."
Well, that's something. That short list of yours sounds really exclusive. And I am on it! So Amazon did something right when they published me, yes? I mean, I'm a real club guy now.
"Sorry, Amazon, you blew it on this guy.."
"Oh, yes"
But you gave it one star. That means you liked 20% of this book, doesn't it?
"The one star is because the book is the right height for my coffee cup."
Let's move onto critic #2, Kay Helms. Kay's favourite books include "The Bride of the Wilderness" and "Old Maid's Puzzle (A Quilting Mystery)". So, Kay, what would you say One Dead Hen was about? Would you say it is about the limited life options available to women in oppressive societies?
"This book is more about bad grammar and foul language."
But chapter 28 is about chickens. Did you like that?
"I could not get past the first chapter."
Damn, that is a shame. So you stopped reading? I feel let down by that, Kay. What was your reason for stopping? And make it a good one.
"I had to stop."
Fair enough
Many thanks to this week's literary critics. Next week we talk to another one-star reviewer. Better still, let's talk to a chicken. Let's interview an actual, real life, feathers and beak chicken.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Your Place is in the Shadows

I have put together six of my finest short stories in a little collection for Kindle. It's called Your Place is in the Shadows and is retailing at minimum price.

At first the idea was to get some of my short stuff out there in the hope that it leads people to the longer stuff. But then I read these things again, and I'm not sure how similar they are. Some are crime, some more horror, others kind of sf or slipstream. Some are clearly set in a world similar to Mangel (or Warchester), others clearly elsewhere. The earliest was written way before I even thought about Deadfolk, others way later.

But I'm proud of them all. I have have written plenty of shorts, and I'm only picking what I consider to be the good 'uns for this (and one or two subsequent volumes later this year). Most have been published in mags, anthologies and more recently webzines, others not. And sometimes it's your favourites that don't find a home. In this case (and published here for the first time) it's "Shithead" (based on a card game I came across years ago in France).

If you are a fan of Royston Blake, maybe the story "Punchbag" will reveal a bit of where the old bruiser came from. The main character doesn't have the same dubious charm of Blakey, but he clearly shares some of his appetites. This was first published in the British Fantasy Society's magazine Dark Horizons in 2001.

One particular story I like in this batch is "Some Help From Stanley", featuring a spurned husband who yearns for the family from which he has been usurped. Help comes in the unlikely guise of a phonecall from the late Stanley Kubrick. I consider this my first major sale, hitting the pages of The Third Alternative magazine in 2002, which specialised in horror and weird. But I reckon this story could have just as easily been labelled crime.

See what you think.

Your Place is in the Shadows is on sale in the UK, USA, Canada and everywhere else in Amazon-land.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Charlie interviews Royston

CW: So, Royston Blake, we have a new book out called Made of Stone. Tell us a bit about it.

RB: What this "we" bollocks? You might have your name on the front but it's my fucking story. From now on I wants Royston Blake on the front. My next book is gonna be called "Bastard", and it'll be by Royston Blake. It's about you, by the way.

CW: OK, but tell us a bit about the new one, Made of Stone?

RB: Why don't you tell it?

CW: Well, I've told it already in a couple of places, so maybe it's time for a fresh angle on it. And besides, apparently it's *your* story, right?

RB: What's this "fresh angle" bollocks? I had a mate who cut his thumb off with an angle grinder once. He put it in his lunchbox and took it down the ozzy for em to sew back on. They was able to do it and it recovered no problem, but they done it the wrong way round.

CW: They sewed his thumb on the wrong way round?

RB: That's what I fucking said, ennit? There a parrot in here?

CW: I find that hard to believe.

RB: I'll bust your face.

CW: I hear that Made of Stone concerns a few days you spent running around Mangel with Jock, a Scottish man who runs the burger van in Frotfield Way. How did that come about?

RB: I don't like talking about them times. Some beans you can spill only the once and then you gotta forget about em, cos they'm too traumatical. I spilled em to you once, you writ it down and put it in this fucking book or whatever, now shut the fuck up about it.

CW: But we want people to read it, don't we?

RB: I ain't bothered. People can piss off for all I gives a toss.

CW: Well, I don't share that attitude.

RB: You wouldn't, would you? All you wants is the easy life, sitting in front of your typewriter and clacking out stories that cunts like me have came up with. Not only came up with but lived.

CW: Made of Stone is the fifth book in the Mangel series. You must be proud of that.

RB: I'll tell you what I'm proud of. I'm proud of the time that bunch of wankers from East Bloater came down Hoppers and tried running it. Thirty of em there were, lobbing bottles all over and feeling up Rache and that other barmaid we had then, plus doing other bad wossnames, such as putting their fags out on the floor. And putting "Karma Comedian" on the fucking juke box. What I done next, right, which involved busting each one of their swedes, dragging em out and booting em arsewise into the gutter... *that's* what I'm proud of.

CW: It's "Karma Chameleon", by the way.

RB: You what?

CW: I said... OK, it doesn't matter.

RB: Too right it don't fucking matter. You start correcting my words and I'll start correcting your features, you ugly piece of shite. Eh, is that what you been doing in them books? You been tidying up me vocals and changing bits?

CW: I swear I haven't changed a thing. It's straight from the horse's mouth.

RB: Hang on, is you saying I looks like an 'orse?

CW: Is there any truth in the rumours that the Mangel books will be adapted for TV?

RB: Eh?

CW: You know, like a TV series based on Deadfolk and sequels. Or a mini-series?

RB: I had a Mini once. Some twat had left the keys in her in that car park down Strake Hill. Them fucking things is tiny, I swear. Went over a speed bump and nigh on put me swede through the roof. Plus the doors don't open proper. I almost ended up in the fucking canal, only getting out at the last second. You can still see it down there on a clear day.

You can buy MADE OF STONE here (UK), here (US) or here (Can).

Thursday, April 04, 2013

MADE OF STONE giveaway

Hey, I am giving away copies of Made of Stone to lucky prize draw winners. But there's a catch: you have to be on Goodreads. So get on that thing and sign up for this baby:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Made of Stone by Charlie Williams

Made of Stone

by Charlie Williams

Giveaway ends May 01, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
What's to lose?

Wednesday, April 03, 2013


Terrible news about Iain Banks. His Wasp Factory certainly opened a door for me in terms of what you can do with books. I rather petulantly went off him a few years ago after reading RAW SPIRIT (no link provided - for your own good), but I went back on him a couple of years later, in search of the mastery of old and finding it.

But this guy is still alive - why am I talking about him like he is dead?? Let's all go on a Banks-fest (I recommend the slightly unsung Espedair Street) while we wait for his next book, wondering if it will have an "M." in it. (No. Strangely this seems significant.)

Funny, he is someone I feel like I have met, although I definitely haven't. And during this imaginary meeting he thought I was a twat. To be fair, I was probably drunk. On whisky.