Friday, March 31, 2006

News from the hinterlands

After a gap of nearly five years, I've managed to write a couple of shorts stories. At least one of these will be published some time soon (in BEST NEW NOIR from Point Blank Press, which will feature (and I quote) "original stories from Ken Bruen and Charlie Huston [as well as reprints from many others]. And a poem (Donna Moore). And two stories under 500 words, for people with poor concentration". Speaking of which, I also nailed two flash stories - one already up at el Tribeo's Flashing in the Gutters (damned if I can locate it, though), the other for the forthcoming THE FLASH anthology.

David Veronese is a wild, transgressive, and dangerously overlooked novelist. How come there has been no follow-up to 1994's JANA? We want something else, Dave.

Paul Meloy is the best writer of short stories in Britain. Possibly the world. Probably the world. I'd bet money that he'd top the list for the whole of creation, if only we could measure such a thing. Find his stories in the Third Alternative. We all have an imagination, but it's about how purely you can tap it, and Meloy lays it down uncut. Temper that with his gift for cranking up the pace, and you have stories that have the effect of simultaneously snorting cocaine, tripping on acid, and experiencing a spiritual epiphany. This man will have one hell of a collection out sometime soon, let me tell you. He'd better, anyway. I'll do myself if I have to.

I've run out of decent whisky. Shit.

At the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival (July 20-23), on the Friday, I'll be doing a panel on "Unique Voices" alongside Stella Duffy, Shane Maloney, and Marcel Berlins. Check their website shortly for all the other great events they're doing.

My daughter Elodie is getting into pre-Monsters Bowie. Duncan is still stuck on Iron Maiden, however.

Just where are the hinterlands? "Remote and undeveloped area", the definition goes. Etymology: Ger. Hinterland, from hinter "behind" + Land "land". Looks like they're in Herefordshire, then.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"Catch me if you can, cos I'm an England Man"

I don't understand. OK, I understand the concept of the World Cup Song, which gets the nation singing along and supporting the team. But why choose the shittest band on the entire planet to sing it? I mean, does anyone actually NOT hate Embrace? Would anyone NOT like to destroy them by dropping a huge boulder on top of them while they're "performing"? Or maybe we could build an enormous wicker man, pop them inside (bound and gagged) with some chickens and a couple of sheep, and sacrifice them to Tom Waits?

Why can't we just have "This Time (We'll Get It Right)" again? Or we could steal "I Have A Dream" off Scotland? It's not as if they need it.

In other news, I've found some photographs from Left Coast Crime in Bristol.

Friday, March 24, 2006


And it's not the car on the cover of DEADFOLK that I'm referring to, which is a Vauxhall Viva (not the Ford Capri 2.8i you would expect). No, it's the Spanish word I'm talking about here, which means... I dunno. Maybe it just means "Vauxhall Viva"? Which makes "Viva Espana!" a bit puzzling. But no, I am joshing you just a tad. I've done enough knocking around the Euro scene to know that viva means "live!", or something. Which is a bit strange, when you think about it. Fancy going up to someone and saying "Oi you, live!" You can see where the phrase might come in handy (if you worked for the Samaritans, for instance), but even so.

Anyway, that was your preamble. I just wanted to talk about the Spanish edition of DEADFOLK, which they called GENTE MUERTA. I got a copy in the post yesterday and, wow, it's a fine object. Kudos to Factoria De Ideas for putting out such a lovely book. I know they got it out pretty sharpish to bolster their "Black Street" line of books, and I really hope it sells a few for them. So if you're reading this and you'r Spanish, and you don't understand any English, go here and buy the book. OK? Or go into a Spanish bookshop. What do you mean, "que"?

Ah, Spain... Did I tell you the story about when I went out drinking in San Sebastien and got lost, and was later woken up by two irate coppers on a park bench? (As in I was on the bench, not the coppers. It would be pretty odd if it was the other way around, wouldn't it?)

So, GENTE MUERTA is a lovely book, and nestles up there on the shelf, next to THE TRILOGY.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Junior Playlist

I accosted my two children the other day and demanded to know what their favourite song is. I was expecting something from Mary Poppins, or maybe some awful sugary pop song. But no, these infants surprised me with their maturity. My daughter, aged 6, went for "Streams of Whiskey" by The Pogues. Not bad, I thought. Getting in touch with her celtic roots, whilst showing a healthy deferred interest in a legitimate beverage (ie: she did NOT choose "Streams of Alcopops"). The boy, aged 4, was equally impressive, narrowing it down to "Run For The Hills" by Iron Maiden. Besides being a nascent headbanger, he is taken by the plight of the redskins, chased by the white man from their rightful home (to be fair, I think he's got a mental image of the Abominable Snowman invading a beach of sunburnt English people). So, all in all, I thought they gave the right answers. I tossed them a shilling each and let them go.

Mind you, they were both perilously close to choosing "Communication" by Spandau Ballet, which would have meant no shilling. (But at least it wasn't "True". That would have meant a year-long pocket money ban, suspended until they start receiving pocket money.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

King of the Kongs

I saw King Kong last night. The new one. At least, I could have sworn I did. I spent the first couple of hours of the day thinking "shit, that was one scary film". Then I had some coffee and worked out that it must have been a dream, since I don't recall going to the pictures. But it really was as if I saw an entire movie, and it was Peter Jackson's King Kong. Only, I was in it. I was the lead role. And the story was way different from the original b&w version, which I have always loved. In my version, Kong was a real bastard. He was a bad gorilla, chasing me all over the place (sort of a fictional city encompassing aspects of many places I have lived over the years, as usual), turning over cars, ripping off roofs (rooves? Ah, I hate English sometimes), and just being a big black bastard. (Can I say that? Come on, we're talking about a large animal with black fur, OK?) And to make matters worse, he knew. I don't know what he knew, but I knew that he knew it. And it was about me. He knew my weaknesses. And somehow that was worse than the threat of getting crushed and eaten by him. But I did OK for most of the film, and managed to keep ahead of him. Right at the end, though, when I was walking around in some sort of indoor municipal swimming pool that had no water in it, he appeared behind me, and I knew I was cornered. That's where the film ended.

Has anyone here seen the Peter Jackson movie? Does it go something like that?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Left Coast

Yep, I was there. Due to the constraints of real life I probably only saw about half of it, but I had a great time. This was my first "con experience", and if they're all like this in some way I'll defo be along to more.

It was superb to finally meet Allan Guthrie and Donna, Ray "the Truth" Banks and Ana, Sarah Weinman, Kevin Wignall (in disguise), John Rickards (those two have identical hair, believe or or not), Russel McLean (nice coat), Jason Starr, Donna Moore, (I really didn't intend this to sound like an Oscar speech), Maddy Van Hertbruggen, Adrian Magson, Pat Mullan, McKenna Jordan and David Thompson, Martin Edwards... There are others I met who I just can't remember the name of, or couldn't hear it when I asked. I've got a problem listening to one voice in a crowded and noisy room, and it becomes a bit embarrassing when you have to keep saying "What was that?" four or five times. There comes a point when you just have to give up and say "Oh, right. Nice name" and get on with it.

Even greater than meeting those guys were the folks who came up to me when they didn't have to, to get a book signed or just to say hello. I'm incredibly grateful for those, and to anyone who came to the two panels I did (especially the first, which I moderated).

Ah, those panels. One of them was great. Donna Moore moderated it smoothly and with great aplomb, and the other panelists (Al, Ray, and Jason) revealed themselves as natural entertainers in the Bruce Forsyth mould. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and I certainly did. Then there was the other panel, which I actually moderated. All I can say is thanks to Greg Rucka, David Lawrence, Peter James and Catherine Aird for keeping things going. And Greg - sorry I kept going on about your comics, rather than the Atticus Kodiak and "Queen and Country" series. I just couldn't get the word "comics" out of my head. I think I might even have asked Catherine if she'd ever written any. Or read any. Or just thought about comics in any way.

Congrats to Tony Broadbent for winning the Bruce Alexander Award and Peter Guttridge for the Lefty (like they'll ever read this). FAGS AND LAGER was up for a Lefty but, hmm, it didn't win. Apologies for those near my table who caught shards of broken glass, and to the staff who had to clean all the red wine off the wall. I've calmed down now. You can let go of my arm, really. I'm not going to throw anything else.

Well done to Myles Allfrey, Adrian Muller and co for organising it all.

Jesus, why am I still writing this? There were some people who I intended to "approach" but never got around to it. Stuart McBride was one of these. He probably would have spotted a nutter coming and made off (as did Jeffrey Deaver) , but I recognised him from his blog, and meant to go over but couldn't shift my arse from the comfy sofa. I was also going to have a word with Peter Guttridge, and ask him if I could just hold his blue glass Lefty award for a few seconds. But after the ceremony, when they'd let me out of the secured room, I had this strange electronic device around my neck that induced debilitating head pain whenever I came within ten feet of him. And I was going to say hello to Lee Child, and maybe swap suaveness tips. Sorry, Lee, you'll just have to stumble along as best you can until our paths cross again. And there were others. Oh yes, many others that I wanted to meet. But let's face it: I'm just not a good networker. I mean, come on, I'm a writer.

PS: Ray Banks would have you believe the only thing that separates us in height is my big hair. This is untrue, and I will prove this by having a "number 1" the next time we meet (interpret that how you will). And the big hair, I assure you, was down to the extremely windy conditions outside the hotel, and my inability to look in a mirror.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the first collaborative artistic effort from the father-and-daughter team of Elodie and Charlie Williams. I think the work speaks for itself.

Left Coast Crime report coming tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Allan Guthrie has finally updated his "magical" Noir Originals site, which includes an interview with myself, conducted by Ray Banks. Thanks a lot to Ray for asking such lovely questions, and to Al for publishing them.

Also make sure you check the interviews with Charles "Hard Case" Ardai, Duane "I can spell it" Swierczynski, and Jason "not Ringo" Starr. And then there's all the other great stuff.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

"He would say that, wouldn't he?"

RIP John Profumo, who died last night (at time of writing this). Of course, the above quote was said by "good time girl" Mandy Rice-Davies about Lord Astor, not Profumo, but I'm looking for a way to segue from current affairs to what I really want to blog about, which is the Crime Scene Scotland review of KING OF THE ROAD.

All I can say is, what a clever, perceptive, and insightful chap that Russel McLean is.

(Cue Mandy Rice-Davies.)

Also check reviews of BUST, the deranged lovechild of Bruen and Starr, and SMOKED, the deranged lovechild of Patrick Quinlan and... well, just him on his own.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


I'm now fully booked in for Left Coast Crime down the road at Bristol. I'm not there for the whole duration but I'll be there Friday morning until Saturday night, with a short absence on Saturday afternoon. If you're going to the gala thing on Saturday night I'll see you there (I'll be the one looking all unfazed about FAGS AND LAGER being up for a Lefty award). Otherwise I'll be hanging around wherever the drink is. Oh, and there's these two panels:

Friday, 17th of March
4.30 - 5.30

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Peter James
David Lawrence
Greg Rucka
Moderator: Charlie Williams

Saturday, 18th of March
10.30 - 11.30

Ray Banks
Allan Guthrie
Jason Starr
Charlie Williams
Moderator: Donna Moore

Do they rock or not? Look at all those cool guys and chicks I'll be panelling with.

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Joe Again

For anyone in the UK who doesn't know what all the fuss is about, I strongly urge you to check out ITV4 on Thursday night (10pm I think), where you will find a rerun of the fight in all its glory. It was an absolute classic demonstration of the sweet science. I've argued Calzaghe's case a few times in the past (invariaby with the kind of fickle, numbskulled tossers who will have jumped on his bandwagon by now) and even I wasn't expecting such heights.

Some time soon I will do a post about writing, or books, or something.

Strange but true

My namesake - Charlie Williams the comedian and gameshow host of the 60s and 70s - was born in Royston (near Barnsley).

Things are not as they seem. Everything is connected.

Let's be careful out there.

Monday, March 06, 2006


KING OF THE ROAD got a great review in Saturday's Guardian. Made my weekend, along with Joe Calzaghe's deconstruction of Jeff Lacy (see below). Also been forwarded some other reviews, such as this one from the Dublin Evening Herald: "Blackly funny and bone-jarringly violent... Williams' latest offering comes across like a heady literary mix between Straw Dogs and Pulp Fiction". You know what? I've never seen Straw Dogs. Been meaning to for years. Wasn't it banned? The Big Issue said: "Even standing on its own this is a sharp and bitingly funny novel that will go down well with fans of the TV show Shameless". I don't know about Shameless, but I'm very glad someone thinks the book can stand on it's own, despite being part of a trilogy. That's what I wanted. Other reviews can be found here. Talking of which, the old website is looking a bit ropey at the minute, with missing files and stuff. Hopefully I'll get it fixed soon.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Hey Joe

Oh, that was worth staying up for.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

"I had an uncle who once played for Red Star Belgrade"

As reported by Mr Banks, my second novel FAGS AND LAGER has got himself nominated for what's known as a "Lefty" award, which is for crime novels that are funny. Funny ha ha, or funny peculiar, no one is saying. I don't care about that. The last thing I won was an 800m race (2:12), many years ago, and a mere whiff of success is enough to cheer me up for a while. Other nominees include Jasper Fforde and Peter Guttridge, so I'm not preparing an acceptance speech just yet. But it's good news. I've been feeling like shite all week, and this gives me a lift. This glass of Talisker in my hand also gives me a lift.

The winner will be announced at the Left Coast Crime convention, Bristol, March 18th.

Pardon me while I say: "Go on FAGS AND LAGER! Go on my son!"