Lovely review of Dread – The Art of Serial Killing

Dread. published 2015. ‘Recalled to life’ new edition 2018.  And still the slowest ever bandwagon rumbles on. Patient. Relentless. Remorseless. Global hegemony – any day now.

Dark, funny and brilliant

It really is a shame that traditional publishers lack any bravely, because in a braver marketplace Mark Ramsden would be a major writing star. Thankfully Fahrenheit Press are here to pick up the mantle for the industry.

Dread is dark, funny, poetic, beautiful, ugly, gripping, weird, intriguing and ultimately brilliant. This is the book the likes of Chuck Palahniuk and Brett Easton Ellis wish they could write. We’re in the head of a serial killer for much of this book and it’s delightful. Inside Mr Madden’s drug, lust and grief fuelled head we are so far removed from the mainstream we might as well be on another plan at yet the modern cultural (that Madden despises) references are so we’ll observed we are acutely aware that this is the mind of a man warped by life. His relationship with Zero, a captive who is equally twisted, elevates the story to another level. Is it Stockholm syndrome or is she justas twisted as Madden, who knows, or cares, these two brilliant characters keep the pages turning as the gore, sex and violence flow. Outstanding

Thanks Aidan! Mr Thorn is the widely acclaimed author of the excellent When The Music’s Over and much more. He even has a proper, grown up, supercool dayjob. Check him out. @AidanDFThorn

https://fahrenheit-press.myshopify.com/products/mark-ramsden-dread-the-art-of-serial-killing-paperback   £1.69 e book, kindle etc £4.95 pbk

ps Mistress Murder…’Bridget Jones meets 120 Days of Sodom.’ Rude Rom Com – with extreme jeopardy
Mark Ramsden : Mistress Murder (eBook – Kindle Version)

 

Q&A with THE BEARDY BOOK BLOGGER Mistress Murder – Dread – My earlier idiotic self

https://beardybookblogger.com/2019/02/26/fahrenbruary-qa-mark-ramsden-author-of-mistrescs-murder-and-dread-the-art-of-serial-killing-pub-by-fahrenheit-13-mrramsden1-f13noir-fahrenheitpress/

Worth seeing with The Beardy Book Blogger’s superior graphics (Thanks again) but here’s the words.

TBBB Hello you lovely people and a very warm and squidgy welcome to the Beardy Book Blog for what is Day 26 of #Fahrenbruary.

You may be wondering what delights I have in store for you today, well, you can wonder no more for today I bring to you a Q&A from the king of transgressive noir himself, Mark Ramsden. 

Mark is the author of the sexily naughty and spanktastic noir novel ‘Mistress Murder‘. I reviewed this book on Day 25, which, rather conveniently, was also yesterday. You can check out that very review riiiiiiiiiiiiight…….. here below https://beardybookblogger.com/2019/02/25/fahrenbruary-review-mistress-murder-mark-ramsden-mrramsden1-f13noir-fahrenheitpress/

Well, I bet that got your blood a-pumpin’, eh? I wager that that has got you wondering what kind of person possesses the sort of mind to come up with such a saucy story and wantonly flings words such as ‘rootle’ and ‘bottom’ about in the same sentence, huh?

Well today I hope we can clear up some of the questions you may have as we plunge into the mind of Mark.

Don’t be scared! Join us….

MarkRamsden

 

TBBB: Hi Mark and thank you for appearing on the Beardy Book Blogger for #Fahrenbruary 2019 and taking the time to answer my questions.

MR: Great to be here. Thanks for asking.

TBBB: First up, could you tell us a little bit about yourself – who is Mark Ramsden?

MR: I’m a little too anxious. My Native American name would be ‘Skin Too Thin.’ After studying music I worked with Bert Jansch, Roy Harper, Kiki Dee, Tom Robinson, many theatre and show business luminaries, countless less well known jazz musicians, some dance producers and DJs at clubs like Fabric, and finally with no one at all. And even that didn’t work. I’m the only artist who split up with himself due to ‘musical differences’.

I’m the only composer who’s been on daytime radio 3, next to Mozart, (heard by, ooh, dozens of people) and also been filmed being intimate with a glamorous assistant for a Dave Courtney film. (Cutting room floor, thankfully)

I wrote a lot of magazine articles in the 90s then a trilogy for Serpent’s Tail around the millennium before deciding that bipolarity, alcoholism and drug addiction just weren’t enough on their own. It was time for fifteen years heavy use of ‘psychedelic heroin’ and a journey across the entire transgender spectrum (which finished right round the bend.).

TBBB: Mistress Murder is a very funny black comedy featuring fetishism, obsession, transgenderism, alcoholism and drug abuse. In many ways it’s a very modern story, highly pertinent to our times. Was it your intention to highlight these issues when you set out to write it, or were you just thinking that they would make for a rollicking good read (which they do, btw 😅).

MR: Thank you! I didn’t have any choice, having lived it. I try to honestly portray the contradictions but that’s often unpopular. Satirising little cliques among a despised minority isn’t much of a business plan. Reassuring the vast majority would be better, something wholesome and uplifting, and I will get round to that one day. Hopefully before I die.

Incidentally, you don’t have to be a monster of moral turpitude to read it, although it helps. It’s also primarily a murder mystery. Who is the stalker? How can she trap him? It’s for anyone with a toxic parent, difficult relationships, a job that gets on top of you.

TBBB: Were any of the characters in Mistress Murder based on anyone you know?

MR: The real people I knew were crazier than those characters. There was an unconvincing brick outhouse transvestite whose day job had once been torturing the IRA; a Detective who tragically killed himself when he was exposed in the tabloids; an oil business guy who was recruited as a spy; a Deputy Prison Governor who wanted to stay in the same job after transitioning. Although she could in fact ‘pass’ that was perhaps ambitious.

And everyone thought I was nuts, with some justification.

TBBB: How much of Susan Godly is Mark Ramsden, and vice versa?

MR: I’m Northern grammar school as opposed to Southern Public School. We’re both self destructive addicts. Scatty. Most of my adult life was professional music and very little pro-domming. It’s the other way round for her.

TBBB: I am very open minded kinda guy – at least I like to think so at any rate – but the fetish scene has never really appealed to me outside of a genuine curiosity. However I can see its appeal to many; the idea of being something you’re not for a short while, or even the opposite – being able to be the person that you really believe that you are – in a non-judgemental environment. What led you into the scene and what is it, or was it, that appealed to you?

MR: Twenty five years ago I was a sort of Jehovah’s Witness of fetish, making a fool of myself in magazines and thankfully obscure tv programmes. Some of us thought we could make consensual fetish as respectable as gay sex had become, which turned out to be yet another erroneous assumption, along with most of my other core beliefs. What started as writing about the fetish scene eventually ended up as a month spent as a third sex pro-domme. Not the wisest of choices.

I’m no longer involved. It did help some people feel less isolated and we all had a wild time despite not being particularly glamorous. I used to say ‘fetish is swinging for unphotogenic people’.

Nothing is for free. A lot of personal chaos inevitably ensued. However well intentioned people are, polyamory often is like getting divorced in triplicate. Eventually. People aren’t always well intentioned which is still a surprise to me, even as I approach senility.

TBBB: Could you expand upon “third sex pro-domme” a little for those who may not have come across that term before? Don’t worry, this blog can take it!

MR: People say gender fluid now. I just looked better without wigs. More Richard O Brien than luscious t-girl:

 

richard-obrien-1200
Richard O’Brien aka Riff Raff and creator of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

 

That lasted about a month. Thankfully I had the bright idea (not) of living on a houseboat where Charles Dickens grew up. Also where he died. It eventually became impossible to ignore living in a heritage museum which generated “Dread: The Art Of Serial Killing” – a meditation on Dickens and the missing conclusion of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. With plenty of claret.

 

DREAD
Mark’s novel about Dickens, serial killing and extraordinarily large noses. No, not really, but, by gum that’s an impressive hooter right there 👃🏻

 

TBBB: If you could be any character in Mistress Murder who would it be and why?

MR: The ones who don’t speak in the 12 step groups yet still get off booze and chemicals. Which was me, eventually, come to think of it.

TBBB: Throughout the mid 90’s – early 00’s the (in)famous Eurotrash aired on Channel Four, and highlighted many of the excesses of European sub-cultures such as fetishism, body modifications, etc. I loved it because it showed me aspects of life that I had no idea even existed, even if they were skewed towards the more ridiculous, and often presented in the same manner (who can forget the Romeo Cleaners, for instance, or the silly voiceovers when translating the people into English?).

eurotrash1
The sublimely bonkers Eurotrash with Antoine Des Caunes and Jean-Paul Gaultier (not forgetting Pe-Pe and Po-Po, of course (sadly not pictured)

 

MR: Maria McErlane’s voiceovers were great. She’s brilliant. I always liked Eurotrash – I invented Fetish Morris Dancing that appeared in one episode – although for me it was a hopefully funny magazine bit, a patently ridiculous idea. I never thought people would actually want to meet and rehearse regularly. Then again Morris Dancing is surprisingly popular. And they mean it maan. Some think if they don’t dance there will be no Spring.(TBBB: Sadly I could not find a photo of this historic event ☹️ If anyone has one I’ll gladly slip it in, so to speak!).

TBBB: Do you think that programmes like Eurotrash helped the image at all, or do you feel it just further undermined it and enhanced people’s negative attitudes towards it?

MR: Scene people were a bit sniffy about ‘point and giggle’ shows but maybe its very existence made people more tolerant of diversity. Maybe it eventually helped you eventually cope with Mistress Murder?

TBBB: I certainly think they helped to open my mind to the idea of the subculture and what it may involve. Without it I would probably still be blissfully unaware and that would make for a much duller world view.

TBBB: As a nation the British are famously uptight about sex, at least in public. Behind the scenes I like to think that we are more liberated sexually, and are not afraid to explore sexual boundaries, than many think. Why do you think that we are perceived as such a stuck up nation and hide behind twitching curtains whilst other parts of Europe are not afraid to show it? Why are we so scared of what people get up to legally and consensually in private?

MR: Yes indeed. It even extends to tattooing. I discussed this with Fahrenheit author Russ Day (Needle Song – great plotting, great characters). People get furious about other people’s bodies. Which isn’t their business.

TBBB: Are/were you a leather, pleather, rubber or latex kinda guy? Or do you like to mix and match?

MR: Rubber’s too much like hard work. A lot of maintenance. Not very durable. Men look best in uniforms. Or leather.

TBBB: Is this something that you’re still active in?

MR: No public scene for more than ten years, no drink five years, no party drugs or psychedelics three years.

TBBB: What is your obsession nowadays?

MR: Freshly ground coffee. Green tea. Kale smoothies. Lots of lemon and ginger. Podcasts. Long form television drama.

TBBB: How important are Fahrenheit Press and Fahrenheit 13, or independent presses in general, to you?

MR: Thank heavens for the two Chrisses (TBBB: Chris McVeigh and Chris Black – the Top Bananas at Fahrenheit Press and Fahrenheit 13 respectively), especially courageous publishers. Use ‘UberFahrenFuehrers’ here? Perhaps not… (For future grievance archeologists, this is a play on words not an admission of wrong think.) They brought me back from the dead. I like the punk aesthetic. Novellas as opposed to a doorstep beach read. Ideal for me, now I can barely finish a tweet. Best editing. Best covers. Best bloggers. Very innovative publishing.

An earlier definition of Punk was a passive homosexual prisoner so maybe my slightly depraved tales fit in – or maybe I’ll always be slightly to one side in my Fortress of Solitude. Or Annex of Irrelevance. My only connection with early punk comes from smoking a lot of TV Smith’s dope (Him from the Adverts – Looking Through Gary Gilmore’s Eyes) when he opened for Tom Robinson. (Not in the biblical sense). And someone in one of Malcolm McClaren’s bands told me about the difficulty of getting their weekly retainer out of the old skinflint. ‘What do you want money for?” quipped Malcom. “You’ll only spend it.” Hahaha. Bastard. Well, I’m fond of Malcolm’s lunatic disco/Strauss Waltz mash up album, Waltz with Me – perhaps because I’m always welding together genres and maybe not everyone’s happy with the results. My books are not so much ‘niche’ as ‘crevice’ – not immediately apparent but a possible source of disreputable pleasure.

TBBB: Without F13 do you think that ‘Mistress Murder’ would have been published?

MR: Maybe not in any other Crime Press, maybe nowhere else at all, although I don’t research the market enough. Could be wrong. I generally am.

TBBB: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

MR: If I may customise a joke: how do you make God smile? Tell her you’re going to stick to your outline. I tried but the universe has other plans.

TBBB: Are you a fan of eBooks or do you prefer the feel and look of a physical book? 

MR I love reading on a tablet now. More light. Built in dictionary.

TBBB: How do you pronounce ‘Scone” – rhymes with ‘gone’ or ‘stone’? I seem to be in the minority here as I pronounce it as in ‘gone’ (although I have been known to dabble in the odd ‘stone’ variation when the mood takes me). I have an ongoing thing with two fellow bloggers, and ‘stone’ campers, Danielle and Kelly who both, incorrectly as it happens, insist that they are superior to me. Don’t let me down here Mark!

MR: Ha! We both rhyme it with ‘gone’ but Ruth, being slightly Scottish knows it should rhyme with ‘spoon’.

TBBB: Hurrahhhhh, I knew I could rely on you. *happy face* As for rhymes with ‘spoon’, there’s a whole other argument I’ll leave right there 😅

 

scone
The humble scone: rhymes with ‘gone’. Mark says so so it must be true (unless you’re Scottish or a certain Belgian blogger and her nefarious friend).

 

TBBB: Would you be a superhero or a supervillain?

MR: I’d be a supernegotiator trying to start the peace talks, and probably as useless as most politicians, but when reading I always side with the underdogs or the supposedly bad guys. Though I despise the likes of Roger Stone, who got away with it for far too long. It was great taking my son to The Dark Knight Rises at Imax (and my daughter to a lot of Pixar movies and both of them several times to Python musical Spamelot). Raph got me to read ‘Y The Last Man’ which is really good – a series of graphic novels inspired by Mary Shelley.

 

And with that our Q&A draws to a close. My sincerest and heartfelt thanks to Mark for taking the time to answer my questions and for supporting Fahrenbruary so much.

 

You can buy both of Mark’s books, ‘Mistress Murder‘ and ‘Dread: The Art Of Serial Killing‘ direct from Fahrenheit Press at the links below:

Mistress Murder cover

http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_mistress_murder.html

‘Susie Godly is many things to many people. Lover, daughter, mother, ex-wife, entrepreneur and – in her guise as Mistress Murder – one of the most in-demand dominatrixes in London.
Susie has bought herself a first-class ticket on the hedonism express and shows no sign of slowing down for anyone or anything. Yes, her marriage ended badly – sure, it’s fair to say she’s probably doing a few too many drugs – and yeah, most people would agree her love-life sits at the more ‘complicated’ end of the spectrum – but it’s nothing Susie can’t handle, right?
As she does her best to ride the wave of joyous mayhem she’s created, Susie’s attempts to live her best life are thwarted by the appearance of a mysterious stalker who seems infuriated by both her and her lifestyle. Susie’s dealt with stalkers before of course – they’re par for the course in her business – but this one operates on a different level of malevolence, and she is forced to take desperate steps to ensure her safety and the safety of the people she loves.
Mistress Murder provides a hilarious, beautifully frank, and entirely unselfconscious window into a hedonistic subculture where few have dared to tread.’

 

DREAD

http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_dread_the_art_of_serial_killing.html

‘Mr Madden, Dickens enthusiast, muses with his beautiful and bohemian prisoner on possible endings to the famous author’s unfinished final mystery. 
Mr Madden, spy, infiltrates a far right nationalist group in order to set up the thugs for something far more serious than their usual boozy street fights. 
Mr Madden, serial killer, sculpts his Candidates into bizarre and macabre artworks within the bare walls of his dungeon workshop.
And if he is to keep one step ahead of the police, the secret service and his own gory instincts, Mr Madden is going to have to find the answer to the one question that hangs over all our heads:
What would Charles Dickens do?’

David Nolan. Black Moss. Manc Noir

Nolan

MR Congratulations on a great fictional debut. Can you tell us about your book and Manc Noir?

DN It’s set in the present day and during the Strangeways’ riot in Manchester in 1990. An inexperienced reporter gets sent out to cover the discovery of a child’s body at Black Moss reservoir while all the good reporters are at the riot. Years later he comes back and… a great deal of unpleasantness ensues. One of my favourite films is Hell is a City, the Stanley Baker picture made by Hammer. It was shot in Manchester and Oldham – so gritty and real. Bookies, robbers, gamblers, boozers, cops that take no shit. Great stuff. When I pitched the book to Fahrenheit I described it as Hell is a City meets Factory Records. I also got a bit fed up with people banging in about Nordic Noir and Scandi Noir. Ooh the landscape is so bleak… let me take you across the Pennines above Manchester. I’ll show you a REALLY bleak landscape. So Manc Noir was a reaction to that and it’s a nod to Hell is a City too. 

MR Reading Black Moss was a troubling reminder of how little protection there is for orphans, care home children, children in general. You wrote a book about the trial of one of your teachers for child abuse.

DN I wrote a factual book called Tell The Truth and Shame the Devil about that case and was overwhelmed by the response I got – I’m still getting messages and emails to this day from ex-pupils telling me their stories. I did a Radio 4 documentary too. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b06vk8y1

‘Hearing from the victims, the police, prosecutors and police interviews with the perpetrator himself, this programme tells the inside story of that investigation and the process of trying to achieve justice for victims.’

DN I was very, very fired up about it and got a deal to write a book about the whole subject of historic abuse. Several months in and the publishers cancelled the book and paid me off. I was in a fury and the first chapter of Black Moss just sort of spewed out of me. I’d never written a word of fiction in my life before, yet this thing was coming out of me. Bizarre. I still don’t quite understand how it happened. I did it in secret in between writing my factual books. 

MR I recognised some of the alcoholism recovery material – the whole book feels accurate. Some great characters and locations, not to mention a hell of a story. No longeurs. It zips along.

You’re not a fan of the witty alcoholic in fiction? I once saw Hunter S Thompson in a bar in Hong Kong. He just kept slowly droning the words ‘Amyl Nitrate’. Hardly Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin Hotel. There are a few high functioning alcoholics but most of us wreck our own lives and hurt our family, friends and colleagues.

DN ‘Character with addictions’ is a lazy shorthand in a lot of cases. I hope it isn’t in Black Moss. The main character isn’t a lovable old soak, he’s a dick. A full-on tool. The treatment he goes through is accurate, like everything else in the book. If I don’t know something I ask an expert and I was helped a great deal by a former child protection detective.  I know a lot about drinking, so… not a problem. I don’t claim to be a crime fiction expert but I know what I don’t like: too much description, people saying things normal people wouldn’t say and things happening that wouldn’t happen in real life. The characters are all based in real people – my old radio friends are currently playing a game of ‘spot who the character is based on’. Eighty per cent of Black Moss is drawn from real life. If something comes across as far-fetched in the book, you can guarantee it really happened.

MR ‘Writing a novel by accident’. Sounds intriguing. Are you saving that for live appearances or can you hint as to how that might happen? I could certainly do with accidentally finding one already written.

DN I never set out to be a novelist. I’m a journalist and a factual writer. I still don’t feel comfortable with the ‘n word…’ But it’s happened and I’d like to thank the publisher who binned my factual book, because otherwise Black Moss wouldn’t exist and we wouldn’t be having this conversation now. It’s all been an accident. I feel a bit of a fraud. 

MR When might we see your next book?

DN I’m well into Black Moss 2. It’s another ‘difficult’ subject, written from an angry viewpoint once again. I don’t do nods and winks and knowing references, I do fury. I’m in a rage most of the time, it’s very tiring.

MR I can just about remember the great days of Granada, reporters like Bob Greaves and Brian Truman. Has anyone ever combined being a mainstream news anchor and counter cultural figure like Tony Wilson?

DN Absolutely not. And never will. When Tony died I said to my wife, someone is going to write a book about him, might as well be me. I worked with Tony at Granada, but didn’t like him! Then I wrote his biography and found out so much more about him. I liked him a lot afterwards.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tony-Wilson-Youre-Entitled-Opinion/dp/1844549909/ref=nodl_

MR Thanks for a great interview!

 

a piece from David’s website

Crime Addiction – David Nolan

When I started reading crime fiction, two things would annoy me. Really annoy me. One was the way authors would portray journalists. I’ve been a journalist all my life and we are regularly shown saying, doing and writing things that real journalists would never say, do or write.

The other is the portrayal of addiction – particularly alcohol. It often appears in crime fiction as an easy shorthand for a kind of sleazy, feckless glamour.

The lead character in my first novel Black Moss is alcoholic journalist Danny Johnston. The bookworks on two timelines – 1990 and 2016. When we meet present-day Danny – or Daniel as he now presents himself – he’s just crashed his car into a tree, pissed out of his mind. He’s no hero. There’s no sleazy glamour here. He’s an idiot.

After the crash, Danny loses his job and goes into rehab therapy. Here he is arriving for his first

session:

‘There were two layers of glass between him and the receptionist. A large sign warned that the

physical or verbal abuse of staff would not be tolerated. The receptionist – a woman in her thirtieswith tattoo-covered arms – glanced at him over the top of her large, black-rimmed glasses. ‘Are you here for the needle exchange?’ she said.

Daniel returned her look. Then he realised that she was talking to him. Needle exchange? ‘No,’ he said. After a pause, he added: ‘I’m with the alkies.’ He smiled at the receptionist, quite pleased with his attempt at keeping the situation light. It didn’t seem to have worked – her face was unchanged.

Alcohol support,’ said Daniel. ‘I’m with the

alcohol support programme.’

Alcohol is to the left. Go through, take a seat.’ A second door buzzed, and Danny went through into the waiting area. Things are bad, he thought, but they could be worse. I could be turning right.

Daniel sat down. The furniture was dark beige and blocky. The floor was a chessboard of dull, dark brown and light brown plastic tiles. There were framed pictures on the wall that were abstract and bland. One wall was completely covered in leaflets and flyers: self-help, support groups, psychotherapy, yoga, Pilates, massage – all the kind of things that he would normally have given a very wide berth to. He sat very still. Very still indeed. Don’t look right, he thought.’

I know this is accurate. I’ve visited a centre just like this. The drugs Danny is prescribed to help him are the correct ones for his problems.

I’ve had some great reactions to the book since it was published. Amazing, really. But the one that pleases me most is when people say: he’s done his research.

I think that whatever we are writing about, it’s got to be accurate. If we are going to depict people with addiction issues it’s got to be real, not a lazy cliché. There is no one-size-fits-all ADDICT character. Every addict is different. Speak to counsellors, speak to addicts themselves. Learn from their experiences. They often have astounding stories– sometimes they can offer real hope.

…………………………..

Hell is a City original trailer

https://www.youtube.co/watch?v=z20Kdo8af7M

One of the many 5star reviews on Amazon

Customer Review

Mark Ramsden

12 February 2019

Very impressive fictional debut by the author of Tell The Truth And Shame The Devil, an account of the trial of one of his former teachers for Child Sexual Abuse. There is no exploitation of these terrible crimes here just a bleak realism. A troubled reporter digs deep into the past, taking us on a nightmare journey to the extremes of human depravity. Well drawn, believable characters; a vivid evocation of Manchester and its environs; accurate portrayal of alcoholism and recovery, dog eat dog journalism and the Strangeway prison riots. Some wry humour lightens the first of what is likely to be a memorable trilogy.
buy the pbk and e book direct from Fahrenheit Press