Recommended Read: Dread: The Art Of Serial Killing by Mark Ramsden

Thanks Paul!


Dread the art of serial killingDickens obsessive Mr. Madden is a spy whose mission is to infiltrate the right wing group England Awake!

He is also a serial killer known as The Chavkiller who is out to revenge his dead wife.

Dread: The Art Of Serial Killing by Mark Ramsden is violent, gripping, clever, touching and very, very funny.

The wordplay is witty and the structure is remarkably inventive.

Cultural references abound – high-brow, low-brow -and any book that mentions both Tony Hancock and Frankie Howerd is fine by me.

A belter!

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Richard Godwin – The Hardest Working Man In Noir Business


Insincerity By Richard Godwin.

My review.

“Lean, mean prose. Labyrinthine unguessable plot. Complex, haunted protagonists. The day I received Insincerity I was gifted, appropriately enough, three bottles of high intensity Psycho Juice chilli sauce. Just as the sauces had more texture and flavour than average, this searing story will also linger in the memory. A unique, utterly compelling tale of obsession and predation.”

richard godwin

Brit Grit Alley Saturday, October 15, 2016

‘I have had four novels already published this year, Savage Highway, The Pure And The Hated, Ersatz World, and Disembodied.’ snip. ‘That’s nine, not bad for a year, and next year looks like it will be eight, including the long -awaited release of the sequel to Apostle Rising.”

MR Nine? Nearly as many as me this year. Well,

actually about nine more than I have so far managed

but I have had one acceptance and there’s six months

left so…game on! (Spoiler. Richard might edge this one.)


I actually felt guilty disturbing the flow of this one man story tsunami so this chat is a little shorter than last time.  I’ve tried to make up for it with an especially baffling set of fonts. (It’s actually my tribute to punk, about forty years overdue.)

MR Is ‘Insincerity’ the most spare prose you have written? It seemed to me transatlantic – in a good way. It could have been written by an American. 

RG  No I would not say it is the most spare prose, I’d say maybe Wrong Crowd is. It may sound transatlantic as I may have been influenced by US authors such as James Lee Burke, a great great writer.

MR Love James Lee Burke. And Crumley, of course. 


MR You’ve been working out for some years now?

RG Yes pretty much all my life from school. I hold four black belts, have played various sports such as baseball, and now weight training and power lifting.

MR Is it possible to convert the split second decision making of martial arts on the page? 


RG Yes absolutely. Fast narrative yields fruits.

MR My question was badly phrased. I was wondering if you had written about MMA in your novels. (Which I should have said…doh!) I’d like to read some of that.

RG No I haven’t


 MR   Joe Rogan said MMA is  ‘high level problem solving with grievous physical consequences’.


RG    It’s a good observation considering the range of skills involved and yes it is dangerous, it’s what those guys sign up for, right? My trainer is an ex cage fighter and MMA specialist.

MR   Have you been injured practising MMA? It’s bound to happen some time isn’t it?

RG Yes of course broke two bones.

MR Massively ignorant generalisations coming up. Some martial artists look down on Krav Maga. Which works, though it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as, say, Wing Chung which seemed to me more like Chinese Ballet than a dirty, street fighting system. (In other words, I was too idle to get past the first few lessons.) What system would you recommend? 

RG   Krav Maga, Brazilian jujitsu, boxing, kick boxing. Wing Chung

looks good, but is pretty useless, ,like trad Jiu Jitsu the holds are based

on an archaic fighting system. Overhead arm locks for horse riders

bearing swords well we do not see those today. If you grab my wrist I

will head but you. Krav Maga is distilled from all the best systems into

one total system, but an ugly system. Do you remember tennis when it

was wining ugly? Win! Fights are not pretty. Kill.

 MR Will we see more of Tammy Wayne? (ex military PI in Insincerity.) 


RG We will!

Thank you, Richard!                                       we take what fathers we can

MR  The one constant throughout his widely varied work is the forward momentum, You just can’t stop reading. I was especially intrigued by Buffalo and Sour Mash (Down and Out books) Contemporary Western Noir. A psychotic American sets up a rodeo in Surrey.

Grips instantly. Sleek, bleak. Thrilling and chilling. 

Exceptional writer… crackling dialogue… dazzling. Read him.” – Luke Rhinehart, bestselling author of The Dice Man

That horrible taste in the back of your throat? That sense that something, some thing, has slipped up behind you and is walking in step? Celebrate them. Richard Godwin does — brilliantly.” – James Sallis, bestselling author of Drive

There’s some good interviews at Chin Wag at the Slaughterhouse including a fascinating exchange with the legendary Luke Rhineheart, we are not worthy. He has a new novel. 

Down and Out books are offering a free sample of 14 books and an introduction by Vincent Zandri

Les Edgerton – Reformed Outlaw – Truthtelling Scribe

How often is a memoir genuinely astounding? Adrenaline Junkie takes us through Les Edgerton’s harsh rural childhood, working harder before he was twelve than most of us ever will. There follows armed robbery, pimping, drug dealing, rape in prison, narrowly avoiding a hellcat’s castration attempt, suicide foiled by the rope breaking, a walk on part for Charles Manson and his creepy serial killer mate – who got short shrift from our host. And so much more…

 So many startling sentences: ‘She was going to be his last fuck before the operation and I was going to be his first after he became a woman.’ ‘It was then Charles Manson started to contact me…’ There’s a satisfying twist late on after he becomes a family man so this fascinating book has just the right ending. 

 I was also reading, of all things, Two Sisters, Gore Vidal’s rambling fictional memoir, wherein he boasts about being related to Jackie Kennedy, and how it annoys his social climber friends, whom he doesn’t like. It’s mostly glib preening, with too much emphasis on sex with one’s sister – which is any emphasis at all.

Les Edgerton’s story sounds different. ‘I grew up in Gulf coast Texas and spent a lot of time in my grandmother’s bar/restaurant where I’d done every job—bartending, bussing tables, dishwashing—before I turned 12 when I added cab dispatcher to my resume. It was a honky tonk so I saw my share of knifings and shootings.’

Adrenaline Junkie makes Bukowski seem like Donny Osmond and it’s all the better for being true. A must read.

 Down&Out Books, November, 2018. 



MR Have you written about your prison experience? Will it be covered in your memoir? 

LE I’ve written about those experiences in a number of works, including short stories and novels, most notably Hard Times. I do write a lot about it in Adrenaline Junkie.

MR  42 per cent of prisoners in a new study said they had seen someone killed in childhood. Is there any way of preventing troubled adolescents becoming hardened criminals?
LE  I’ve seen several people killed when I was a kid. One such incident happened when I was 12. My grandmother thought I was old enough to learn her taxicab business so she started me out as the night dispatcher. The night dispatcher as that was the quiet period.
An hour on the job, one of the cabbies started hassling another cabbie with a dead rattlesnake. The guy he was tormenting thought it was alive and when the guy threw it on him, he pulled out his pistol and shot him in the throat. About 4-5 feet from me.

As the dispatcher, it was my job to call the police, which I did. This was in the days before 911 so I had to look it up and dial it. The guy went to trial (I had to testify) and he was acquitted on a defense of self-defense. This was in the days before people had gone nuts and still had common sense. The guy left town immediately as the guy he’d exed had a bunch of friends and relatives.

I saw my share of knifings and shootings. However, I wouldn’t consider myself “troubled.” It was just what it was. We just lived in a different era and place than some others. My early experiences didn’t make me a criminal—it just made me a person who didn’t take shit from others or who needed a safe place or a skirt that fit…
As to how to prevent adolescents from becoming hardened criminals, the answer is easy but most won’t do it. The entire secret in a teen emerging into adulthood and not becoming
a criminal is simply to make sure they feel they have control of their lives. This is why people perform criminal acts—they perceive a lack of control in some area of their lives. A rapist was probably raped himself as a child and sees the act of rape as a way to gain control over that part of their lives, albeit briefly. A person who holds up a clerk has just gained control over his life, again, albeit briefly. You can trace virtually every crime back to an intense feeling of being powerless in some area. It’s basically why they keep repeating crimes—the feeling of power is intense, but it goes away quickly. To recapture that feeling they have to repeat the crime, usually with less and less time between each instance and also they have a need to ratchet up the intensity of the crime. Most of those folks with sociology degrees and the like don’t have a clue—they’re too busy trying to figure out if the causes are genetic or environmental and never stop to figure out why some members of the same family or members of the same class or neighborhood environment turn out lawabiding and some don’t. It’s their individual experience and how they interpreted that experience.

All kids who get abused sexually don’t turn out to be pedophiles or rapists. A large percentage do, simply because they belong to the group that was violated. But, it’s not just the act of being violated; it’s their perception of that experience.
This was a theme in my novel, Just Like That, and the then-assistant warden of the state prison in Louisiana—the Farm—Cathy Johns read it and said it was the most accurate
and truest take on the criminal mind she’d ever read. That meant more to me than any praise from some social academic. Cathy knows criminals…

just like that

MR You’re like ‘a focussed Bukowski’, according to the great Ken Bruen. Bukowski is still connecting with young people. (Maybe the last of the writer superstars. I can’t see Jonathan Franzen becoming iconic.) Your biography from the Will Vahero interview has the ingredients of a good movie.

LE That’s funny you mentioned that. A few years ago, I’d sold my memoir to the University of North Texas Press and shortly after that, was out in Hollywood, staying with my then-manager, Paul Bennett, who was getting me pitch meetings for the screenplays I was writing then. I’d just signed the contract with UNT and told Paul I’d just sold it and he asked if he could read it and I just happened to have a copy with me as I was starting rewrite edits on it. The next morning, he told me he’d stayed up all night—couldn’t put it down—and wondered if he could show it to his best friend—who happened to be the president of HBO Films. Before Paul had become a manager, he’d been the V.P. of HBO—Paul was the guy who started and ran the Comedy Specials. I said sure and the next day that guy called Paul and said he’d had the same reaction—stayed up all night reading it (and those guys never read anything!). He asked Paul if I’d sold it to the film industry and when Paul told him I hadn’t, he told him not to show it to anyone—that HBO wanted
it and would film it, and that they’d just wait until it came out, got some sales, some reviews and maybe some awards and then they’d film it. I went home on Cloud Nine, and then, my editor at UNT quit corresponding with me and I finally got ahold of the editor and he said they weren’t going to publish it as I didn’t have a contract with them. What had happened was that a week or so after I’d signed the contract, my editor and the publisher both left—the publisher, Fran Vick had retired and the editor, Charlotte Wright had quit at UNT and had taken a similar position at the University of Iowa Press. In a panic, I got hold of Charlotte and she told me she’d been expecting my call, that the new editor had been doing the same with all the authors she’d signed—he wanted to create his own stable. Plus, he was an asshole. She said I certainly did have a contract and she’d send me a copy if I wanted her to and if I took him to court they’d have to publish it, but she asked me if I really wanted someone to publish it who didn’t want to. Reluctantly, I told her I agreed and then I called my agent, Jimmy Vines, and he said don’t worry about it, he’d find a new publisher and that was it. Shortly after that, Jimmy was drummed out of the agent biz for some nefarious behavior on his part and the memoir languished in a drawer for years. Not getting it published then cost me any deal with HBO, not the first time I’ve been fucked in publishing…

MR Mickey Rourke played Bukowski in Barfly. Anyone handsome enough to play yourself?
LE The actor I wanted then is the same I’d love today—Woody Harrelson. He played the lead in the only movie I’ve seen that I thought was accurate for criminals—Natural-Born Killers. Plus, he’s a Hoosier and his dad died in the joint so he has the right background…
You do know Bukowski hated the movie Barfly and in particular the acting of Rourke. He much preferred the later edition where Matt Dillon played him in Factotem.

MR ‘I began by reading Balzac and de Maupassant and the Russians when I was six and seven and eight years old’ Wow.  Was it hard being so different to your contemporaries?

LE I really didn’t have many contemporaries. Growing up in Freeport, Texas I had two friends and when we moved to Indiana we never lived in one place long enough to make any but acquaintances. And, I didn’t know anyone who read what I read. Most were mouthbreathers who read crap like The Hardy Boys Do Dumbass Stuff. Mark, I have an I.Q. of 163. Couldn’t really relate to many kids my age so I mostly hung out with myself.
It’s really hard to remain civil when you can see the dumbness up close and personal. Am I an elitist? I certainly hope so! Have you ever talked to those people who think everyone is
equal? The ones who think that… often are…

MR The narrator in The Rapist is bleakly psychopathic, rather than a charming Ted Bundy type. Utterly horrible. This goes against current wisdom: audiences need to identify with a character. Plus just about everyone has to get over being revolted by the subject matter. Yet it’s compulsive reading. It seemed to me, and others, that it’s up there with Camus’s The Outsider. Is it best to forget about markets and be as truthful as possible?

LE It’s absolutely best for me. Money has never ever been a goal of mine. My goal is to be as honest as I can be and tell the best story I’m capable of. Money just never interested me in the least. Time after time, I’ve walked away from lucrative situations just because I was bored. After all, how many cars can you drive at one time, how many houses can you live in at one time, how many clothes does one need? 

Just never considered wealth to be a measure of anything important. I really feel sorry for those folks who base their personal value or the worth of others on money or things.
The readers who find they need to identify with characters and those characters are predominantly good guys with the same politics and belief system as they have are not the
folks I want reading my work. They’re just not going to get it. I’d recommend a Hardy Boys book perhaps with some curse words so they feel it’s an adult book…



MR Hooked is a great guide to grabbing the reader immediately. Does teaching and writing books on the craft keep you sharper than creative writing alone?

LE  Sure. To be honest, I don’t think much about craft—when I write it’s just good the second it’s on paper. I’ve never rewritten anything in my life. The craft books I’ve written were just based on common sense in writing and designed for those who need the obvious pointed out to them.

MR Which includes me these days. You ‘admire Lee Child who doesn’t pretend to be a writer but is an author. Big difference’. How do you see the difference?

LE A writer is someone who doesn’t allow anything to influence what he writes and is a person of intelligence. An author is someone who has either lucked on something
marketable or figured it out and mostly just keeps doing the same thing over and over. A totally boring existence unless your world is centered around money and what it can buy. Usually a smart or clever person, but not necessarily an intelligent one. Big difference between being smart and being intelligent. The trick is if you’re intelligent not to let on that you see the difference in public… like I’m doing here…

MR Adrenaline Junkie briefly describes a tryst with Britt Ekland, while you were in the navy. Incredibly, Britt Ekland came on to me when I was 22 and she was 35. Maunkberry’s Club Jermyn Street. I didn’t get as far as primal bliss in a cupboard. I was a bit intimidated by this exceptionally beautiful and, on this occasion, well refreshed woman…(yes, she’d have to be…)

LE Ha-ha! I was 18 and she was around 22 then, I think. I also ended up in a hot tub on the roof of the Omni Hotel in Austin with another of Rod Stewart’s babes, Rachel Hunter–me, her, her costar on Winding Roads and Ted Melfi, the director (while my wife and son slept in our room downstairs), so it looks like Rod and me share the same tastes… She was, indeed, beautiful, but my memory is mostly of her wonderful breasts… I don’t have the Rachel Hunter bit in my memoir as my wife believes I’ve never strayed… and I haven’t…

MR I heard someone’s asking crime writers for stories which don’t involve guns. Maybe we could stack that anthology alongside non-alcoholic beer and tofu burgers. Surely we have to look at uncomfortable truths?

LE  Yeah! When I saw that, my jaw hit the floor. Looks like the loons have gone full-scale nuts. Let’s see, what could be wrong with that? “Crime writers wanted to submit stories in which there are no guns.” I’ll leave this to an amateur—this is too easy for a pro.

I saw this coming a couple of years ago. I was in Idaho as a presenter for their annual Extravaganza, guest of publisher Aaron Patterson, and while there attended a talk by the keynote speaker, C.J. Box. First, some background. I really liked Idaho and talked to Aaron about moving there and he advised against it. He said it used to be a great place but that in the last few years they’d been inundated by people moving there from California. He said most were people fleeing the high taxes and repressive laws, but that unfortunately they brought their attitudes with them and were voting like they had back in California and the state was rapidly becoming a welfare state. He said they’d already ruined Oregon and Washington and now Idaho and Wyoming and Montana were on their radar and he was thinking about getting out himself.

Okay, that’s the backstory. After C.J. wrapped up his talk, he gave a Q&A and this little tweedy guy stepped up. I say “tweedy” as this guy personified the term. He was a little balding guy, with fruitcake designer glasses, and a cashmere sweater wrapped around his shoulders and tied in front by the sleeves. Mr. Rogers stand-in… When he opened his mouth, it became obvious Aaron knew what he was talking about. “Mr. Box,” he said. “Do your characters have guns and if so, do they use them?” It was kind of obvious he’d never read a Box novel and had probably accidentally wandered in when he saw a sign proclaiming a literary event, probably expecting Robert Waller or Nicholas Sparks.

C.J. looked at him, took off his Stetson, scratched his head, and said, “Well, sir, my protagonist is a game warden and so he’s armed and he’s always after a murderer who usually used a gun, so… yeah, there are guns and they use them. You don’t suppose they’d engage in pillow fights, do you?” The whole place exploded and this little twinkie slunk away, probably to a safe place where there were other snowflakes who wouldn’t laugh at his punk ass.

That’s a true story and I’d be surprised if C.J. was sent a request to submit a story sans guns.

If this is the coming thing, I just want to get a law passed quickly allowing open carry for pillows…

MR 🙂 Thanks for a great interview Les!

LE Thanks for this opportunity, Mark. Sincerely hope I’ve pissed a few folks off. If I haven’t, it’s not worth it…

Write with Phil. Productivity and time management for writers


 I’ve always liked writers’ guides. Phil Hurst’s site has much useful advice and informative interviews. He recommends Stephen King’s On Writing which I found entertaining and helpful, especially as its coming from someone with an exceptional track record. One of the problems with, say, Robert McKee declaring himself the Pope of Story, is that he only ever wrote one tv movie (as Joe Eszterhaz likes to say). This raised a smile:

There’s also the irrefutable ‘Stop stressing about writing! Learn to relax and become a better writer.’ So if you need advice and motivation, which I certainly do, visit    

Good stuff.

MR Some say you shouldn’t write about writing or have a writer protagonist. Are there any novels you would recommend featuring writers? 

PH Not so much a novel, but a film. “Adaptation” by Charlie Kaufman is a great exploration of the neurosis that can take over a writer. It gets really meta at certain points, and I don’t think non-writers will enjoy it much, but it’s still in my top five films. I’m not a Nicholas Cage fan, but he’s really good in this.

MR Loved it. Though it’s hard to get enthusiastic about Kaufman’s more recent work. Synecdoche, New York. Even the title’s difficult. Then it gets worse. Your favourite Science Fiction writers? 

PH Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden Series was one of my

favourites over the last few years. The first book was

just a fantastic piece of writing, dark and moody, but

with just enough hope that keeps you hanging on. It

takes a little bit of getting used to, but soon enough the

characters start to live with you.

A writer I also enjoy is Philip Palmer. His book “Red

Claw” just doesn’t stop – it’s a violent, brutal and (most

importantly) fun book. I devoured it!

MR Your favourite writers in any genre? 

PH Douglas Adams is truly one of the great writers. If I

could write with such confidence, wit and humour, you

would never get me away from the keyboard. I

recently bought a reprint of all the “Hitchhiker Guide”

books and I’m beyond excited to read them.

MR Your novel deals with what happens to the soul

after death. Is that the ultimate terror, trapped for all


PH It’s the ultimate terror, which is why the

government in the book can be so dictatorial (even if it

pretends to be doing good). As humans, we’re

extremely bad at visualising eternity, so to be trapped

for an indefinite amount of time must be the ultimate


MR Can you enjoy all of a genre or will some of it inevitably 


PH Just because you enjoy a book in a genre doesn’t

mean you will enjoy it all. I think that’s the trap that

some people fall into – reading one little sci-fi book

will not make you a genre addict. The joy of reading is

that different writers will approach genre in

completely different ways, and part of the enjoyment

is deciding not only what you like, but why you like it.

MR Michael Moorcock famously once wrote a novel in

three days with a leaky fountain pen. I have never

managed more than six thousand words in a day and

that was a one off. Lucky to get a tenth of that usually,

if I’m writing at all. Has your personal best altered

with age?

PH I’ve got more disciplined, but only because I’ve had

to! My time to write at home (I’m balancing a full time

job and a 90 minute commute) has decreased in the

last few years. Rather than moan about it though, I

decided to make the best of it. Now I’m probably

writing more than I did in my twenties, although

probably not as much as when I was completing my

Creative Writing Masters.

I found an event like NanoWriMo is also really good

for focusing the mind and giving you a target to aim

for. It takes away the excuses that we’re all so good at

creating for ourselves.


 MR I tried to get back into writing with a pen, especially now
my wife repairs vintage pens. I have elegant implements and a lot
of inelegant inkblots.
I mostly missed being able to move paragraphs around. Have you
abandoned pen on paper? 

PH For actual writing, pretty much. I still will scribble down

ideas on a notebook by the side of the bed. I try and carry

something around with me to make notes, but most of the time

that turns out to be my phone. I used OneNote a lot to write

down ideas, because I find I’m much less likely to lose them. But

when I’m attending writer’s meetings I’ll take a notebook and

pen. There’s something incredibly anti-social about writing

behind a screen, especially when you’re in a room full of friendly


MR Any writing manuals you would recommend?

PH There’s  one book that I got an old copy of years ago

and has been by my side ever since. It’s called “Telling

Lies for Fun and Profit” by Laurence Block. I’m not

sure if it’s still in print, but if you get the chance pick

up a second-hand copy. Although a lot of the advice has

aged a lot of it is relevant again in the age of blogs and

independent publishing.

MR £3.49 on Kindle. Looks useful.
lawrence Block

MR Have you seen Terence Blacker’s Writers’ Rules tweets? Good advice which can also be enjoyed as gossip, if, like me, you’re trivial. And there’s some philosophical insights such as: Ian Fleming: ‘Writing makes you more alive to your surroundings and, since the main ingredient of living is to be alive, this is quite a worthwhile by-product’ #writersrules#perksofthejob @terenceblacker

PH Thanks for the advice! I am following now!

MR Thanks for your answers! Some great insights. And it’s good to mention writing and gainful employment. 


Anthony Trollope had a day job for 32 years. He wrote 47 novels and various short stories, non fiction and plays. (Easier without Twitter, Facebook and American long form drama but even so…) There’s even two volumes of letters. Rather than some internet rants. 

 Trollope joined the Post Office as a clerk at the age of 19. In

1841 at the age of 26 he moved to Ireland, where he married and

began to write. He remained an employee until 1866, and rose

almost to the top of the organisation.’ 

Way to go, Tone. Better get to work.

Or can I tempt you to a two minute read? Which has a walk on part for Robert ‘Mr Story’ McKee?


Sean Penn Challenging Charles Bukowski to a fight – a Joe Eszterhaz story








Saira Viola: Jukebox and Beyond


MR Jukebox is really great. Fantastic! Your style seemed to me (perhaps incorrectly) cinematic and poetic, but with enough interior monologue to enable a deep connection with the characters. The best of old fashioned story telling with contemporary sparkle.Can you explain your ‘sonic scatter script’?

SV Thank you for the cool comments about Jukebox. Glad you enjoyed it. Sonic Scatterscript is basically a literary idea I came up with as a poet that points to a focus on sound and rhythm. Best described withan example: “She was a wiggle and giggle chick with a slut bomb bounce.” The sentence has a very obvious rhythm. It starts out like a waltz: one two three, one two three. Then it ends on three stressedbeats, rat tat tat, for percussive emphasis. Initially it feels like a hotcutie waltzing down the street, her hips swaying from side to side, and then it ends with a Cha Cha Cha. The rhythm mimics every dip of her hips, every swivel and giggle of the character. I also use assonance and consonance to tighten up the phrase, make the groovestick in your mind like a melody. Even more than diction, rhythm and melody give the line a “street” feel in tune with contemporary forms of speech like slang, rap, hip hop, punk poetry. I am as focused on themusic of the language as I am on its meaning.


MR I really liked Nick, the conflicted lawyer, was appropriately appalled by Mel, the ebullient entrepreneur. Did some personal experience help here?

SV I think some lawyers are ripe targets for satire. They know how to manipulate the law for their own ends. But not all lawyers are money- grabbing leeches. There are some who do battle for justice and standup to corruption and inequality. But if you look at the corporate sector, it’s overrun with armies of lawyers whose goals and tactics appear no different from those of the mouthpieces hired to protect organisedcrime. They slither around the periphery of criminality themselves, and because they understand how the law works, they can play both ends of the system.

MR  Do I detect some impatience with badly behaved conceptual artists? (‘Liggers and art fucks.’)

SV Ha! I love conceptual artistes. What would the world be without a little bit of surreal drollery? In Jukebox I was having a little fun with an artsy crowd who vehemently believed that being an artist was much more significant than making good art, a Futurist notion that still triggers debate now. The novel satirises the fact that they enjoyed a suitably carefree semi-bohemian existence but never created much art except for the way they chose to live their lives, which I guess some people think is art in itself. Instead of creating art they suckered random associates, impressionable teens, and assorted cognoscenti to invest in their particular brand of tomfoolery. We see a group of school kids painting walls, and a slouch of fading musicians downing Scotch at 6 a.m., while an East End glamour model poses for a calendar shoot. Junkland activities dressed up as art. These artistes define ‘Art’ as a commodity and artistry as a field of commerce. By dazzling and manipulating the artistocracy with their crazy shenanigans, they were in effect playing huckster and satirist at the same time. The scam allows them to feed off the system and simultaneously expose it as a scam. 


MR What attracted you to London?

SV I was attracted and inspired by the crepuscular crimedom of London that sparks to life when the well pressed suits head back to the suburbs and the lawless come out to play. For me London personifies a

naughty punk ingénue. Her mini skirted insouciance sailing a breeze.

But she’s also the coke snorting aristo, flaunting her inherited riches in front of food banks and pawnshops. Even with an apocalyptic tang in

the air though, London’s blend of cool irony and double-edged resilience always inspires me. On that note: Crack Apple and Pop is being published by the irreverent Fahrenheit Press this year. It’s a

gritty slice of neo-London noir.


MR Great title. Will you be returning to Clerkenwell, London in general for your next?


SV The new book, American Scandal, is a crime story set in LosAngeles, featuring an all female punk band, and a fast thinking, mean mouthed female mobster and entertainment impressario. The book looks at the ugliness lurking behind the celebrity fuelled New Age posturing and postmodern spangle. Some of the characters struggle for identity.and there is an eruption of racism that threatens the the fairy tale premise of the American Dream. Everyone’s making deals and payoffs, and venal reaming makes the world go round. Whether it’s law, sex, or money they all get their fifteen minutes, but riches and status-changing fame always come at a price. 

MR  Sounds great. Do you live in New York, London or both?

SV I’m in between cities right now, a wanderer. I’m more a citizen of the world than resident of a particular city or nation. Hopping along the global freeway has its pros and cons. You can fall under the spell of

starless skies and a phantasmagoria of contrasting faces in sardined buses or be besieged by the static silence of suburban space.

Although there’s always a sense of searching for centeredness in the world, when you are between cities the story line is always changing, just like the landscape.


@sairaviola … …

It’s best to buy Jukebox and other Fahrenheit Press books direct.

Lively tweets at @sairaviola

It’s best to buy Jukebox and other Fahrenheit Press books direct.

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Jukebox by Saira Viola

Nick Stringer is a rookie lawyer but what he really wants is to run his own record label. His dream seems one step closer when old family friend and businessman Mel Greenberg offers to bankroll him.

Avery Cross is a junior reporter desperately searching for the story that’s going to make her name. Avery thinks there’s more to Mel Greenberg than meets the eye and that uncovering the truth about him might just be her ticket to the big time.

Nick, Mel and Avery’s lives converge against the backdrop of London’s underworld where glamour, crime & greed party side by side. It doesn’t take long before Nick begins to realise that if an offer looks too good to be true it probably is.

In a city rocked by corruption and excess, one of them is going to learn that sometimes in life you get more than you bargained for.

Jukebox is Saira Viola’s brilliant full-length debut novel.

“A great amount has been done in literature over the years but every now and then someone comes along and shows us a completely different approach to the ancient art of the scribe . So hail Saira Viola and discover her twisted and beautiful imagination. Literature needs Saira Viola . Her writing is sharp direct and gripping.” -Benjamin Zephaniah

“A fresh faced voice to herald in the apocalypse .Posers beware .This is the real deal.” -Jonathan Shaw

“Injecting musical prose into a dying genre and one sorely needing a shot in the arm .What Viola has proven is the great novel is not incompatible with virtuosic poetics.” -James Browning Kepple

“I enjoyed this piece’s in-your-face quality.” -Robin Wyatt Dunn

“Guy Ritchie meets Martin Amis…….stunning.” -Betsy Reavley

“Jukebox is a dirty, delinquent satire with plenty of scabrous humour, but it also holds up a mirror to a society obsessed with the wrong kind of celebrity. …..Jukebox is a compelling crime caper.” -Crime Fiction Lover

“Jukebox is a witty riotous story populated by larger-than-life characters in EC1” -The Clerkenwell Post

“Jukebox is unique – overflows with pazazz.” – Heathcote Williams, International Times

Buy Paperback direct from Fahrenheit

Buy eBook direct from Fahrenheit (Kindle Version)

Buy eBook direct from Fahrenheit (ePub Version)

Buy from Amazon

PS There’s a Clerkenwell restaurant in my next, which
Chris Black, the best editor ever, is disentangling
right now. My restaurant consists entirely of
Italian family bickering and some exotic cheeses.
Saira Viola paints detailed, vivid pictures.

PPS Forgot to mention how accurately Ms Viola describes
a mushroom trip, not easy to do, totally nails it.

A Chat with Maxim Jakubowski

tlr maxim

‘An intriguing mixture of past tradition and future-shock dystopia, written by a giant of the genre … highly recommended.’ Lee Child

The Dark. What if an electromagnetic wave wiped out the internet? “Goodbye Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, chatrooms, websites, commerce made easy cyber-style, contactless, electronic life; farewell to everything we had delegated to that mythical cloud, wiped out without even ashes to mark its passing.”

Although there’s an upside. Librarians and fact checking journalists are now in greater demand. 

The people who loved books were now at the top of the

evolutionary ladder, while the bankers and their ilk had sunk to

the bottom.” Now you’re talking. 

A femme fatale needs to find her sister, a nod to Raymond Chandler. Our narrator, journalist turned private investigator, is however vulnerable and bookish, closer to most readers than a wise-cracking tough guy.

“There was nothing remarkable about me. Had never been. 

Apart from the propensity to get hurt by the world of women. Bruises that became internal scars long after any hypothetical physical evidence had been erased by the passage of time. 

Each woman a chapter. 

Each one a bittersweet regret, for what had not happened or, if it perchance had, for losing her, having not allowed myself to be fully open to her affection or confusing lust with love, leaving only memories that became deeply imprinted in my psyche.”

This is also a search for the protagonist’s lost love, from 

New York through Chicago down the Mississippi to New Orleans, where the occult takes centre stage. There’s some gruelling ordeals along the way – no one will forget the wrestling match with a female MMA fighter. There’s sensual evocative writing throughout. The ending stays with you as does the preliminary journey. An enthralling tale, well told. 

Maxim J

MR I’m in awe of your workload: running Murder One, reviewing many books, writing your own, editing anthologies, book tours, translating, columnist. I’ve probably missed something out. Are you working harder than ever? 

Actually, not all in same time! I’m only human. Murder One closed some years back and I no longer have any involvement. I have written 11 novels over past years under another name (some of which even reached the Sunday Times Top 10) and that author/name is still under wraps for commercial reasons.  And, no, am not working harder and feel at times that I do a lot of procrastinating and could do more. But there’s still a life to live… 

MR From the acknowledgments to the excellent The Louisiana Republic: ‘This is my first novel under my own name in some years, having taken a sabbatical of sorts – if you consider writing 11 novels in under 3 1/2 years a sabbatical- in another literary genre, collaborating on a rather successful series.’ Do you feel freer using a pseudonym? Less concerned with possible criticism?

The reason those particular books were under another name was because the publishers and the buyers at the chains and supermarkets felt they would do better as if coming from a new ‘voice’. And also under a female pseudonym! They were commercially right as those novels have done so much better than anything I’ve done under my name, so go figure. When I look at them, I am proud of them and people in the know instantly recognise them as coming from my rather perverse imagination anyway, so didn’t hold back in the slightest when penning them (with a collaborator…).

MR Do you speed read? Does that affect enjoyment of a text?

I read fast but not actually speed read. One still needs the time to savour, appreciate the style and atmosphere. 

MR Are there any idiomatic expressions that are hard to translate? 

The vocabulary of sex and how to express it is a constant challenge, but that makes matters interesting, I reckon. 

MR I remember that wild Robin Cook night at Murder One. Is there anything you’d like to share about Robin Cook/Derek Raymond? 

Just a great friend and human being, and one I miss a lot despite fact we were poles apart (I don’t drink…). I’m his literary executor so still heavily involved with his books which, fingers crossed, might soon be adapted for television.

MR What’s your next project? 

Another novel under my own name. Working title is ‘The Memory of Absence’, but still unclear what it will specifically be about, but will no doubt drag along all my customary obsessions. I also have a few short stories appearing this year and my ongoing column and chairing/judging one he Crime Writers’ Association’s Daggers (I’m Vice Chair of the CWA). And recently completed translating the second novel by my friend Johana Gustawsson, ‘Keeper’ which appears almost simultaneously along with my own book, and we’ll be promoting together.

You can read the first chapter of The Louisiana Republic if you join the Times Crime Club.

 Keep in touch with Mr Jakubowski here.


Time for a ray of sunshine. Pharrel Williams’ Happy           Centrist Dad makeover by trumpet virtuoso Till Bronner. Righteous groove by drumming legend Vinnie Colaiuta



Paul Brazill interview

Gazeta wb 4


My review of Paul Brazill’s The Gumshoe: The Peter Ord yarns

In the mid 20th century there were light-hearted crime novels about decent chaps with a taste for adventure. The Saint. The Toff. Perhaps, like Paul Temple, they had a cockney manservant and lived in Mayfair. Mr Brazill’s comedic capers are generally set somewhere less salubrious. Perhaps a grim seaside town, where laconic losers drink super strength lager, which might be stored in their pockets for later – not much later at all.
Instead of a search for the Maltese Falcon a vile gangster wants to know which of his girls are offering, against his wishes, a ‘full service’.
The one liners come thick and fast. ‘”I’m as honest as the day is long”. If you live in Iceland.’
‘The silence dragged like a BNP voter’s knuckles.’
There’s nifty descriptions: ‘He had salt and pepper hair that erred on the side of Saxa, and his face had that scrubbed-by-a-Brillo Pad look favoured by football mangers like Sir Alex Ferguson.’
It’s realistically sleazy and gritty but with enough humour so you don’t need to drown your sorrows – unlike Paul’s protagonists.
Like his Too Many Crooks there’s a sly metafictional flavour but it’s gentle and playful. It won’t strip the enamel off your teeth, like some of the beverages consumed herein.
In short, an original homebrew with a kick. Well worth sampling.


MR  Your earliest influence, writers you most admire? 

PB   Well, I wasn’t a book person as a kid so the first writers I noticed were comic writers like Stan Lee, Steve Gerber, and music writers like Jane Suck and Paul Morley. Monty Smith’s film stuff for the New Musical Express was essential reading. After that, the ‘grown up’ books were by Dorothy Parker, Graham Greene, Kurt Vonnegut and Elmore Leonard – the latter due to an NME article by Charles Shaar Murray.

MR Yes, that’s the article that got me reading Elmore Leonard, early to mid eighties. 

Will the longer version of The Gumshoe stay in the seaside town? Get deeper into the sex industry? 

PB The Peter Ord novella will have him trying to go ‘legit’ and try to make it as a writer. It’s called The Scribbler.

MR  Is Hartlepool a bit grim then? But isn’t Middlesbrough worse? And I once saw a queue 50 yards long for a pub to open in Newcastle. 7pm on a Sunday. 

PB    I still like Hartlepool – especially the Headland- though I haven’t lived there for over a quarter of a century. And I like Middlesbrough which was were I saw lots of great bands in the 70s and 80s. And I played some gigs there too. They have their rough bits but that’s the same everywhere – Paris and London, for example, have their shithole parts. And people from the north are funnier, too.

MR  Your next book will be? 

PB     Well, my seaside noir Kill Me Quick! will be rebooted and republished by Fahrenheit 13 over the next couple of months. It’s about a faded minor pop star who returns to his home town …All Due Respect will publish another seaside noir, Last Year’s Man, in June. This is about an ageing hit man who returns to his home town for a quiet life …

Near The Knuckle will publish my short story collection Small Time Crimes. It’s full of most of the best short stories and flash fiction I’ve written. It already has a great cover from Craig Douglas.



The Seatown set stories are a baroque exaggeration of people and scenes from life in the north east of England. It’s not journalism. It’s not Robert Fisk …

MR   Is Poland a step up from the UK in general?   The language quite hard to learn? Cheap, good beer? I once moved to Bavaria because my level of alcoholism was seen as social drinking. 

PB    I like it here. It certainly seems more civilised for sure. The language is very hard but the reason for my own low level of Polish is probably more to do with me being idle. A lot of the breweries were bought by Heineken a few years ago so homogenised lager prevails. But there are good local breweries such as the Osowa Gora brewery near me.

MR   Is there less of a class system in Poland? 

PB Not that I can see. It can be worse in many ways. There’s a lot flashing cash about. Keeping Up Appearances is popular here for a reason, I think.

MR  I really liked your comment ‘Noir is about bollocking things up’ also ‘Indifference is the secret to happiness’ Seemed very Stoic or perhaps Taoist. 

PB  Just random cobblers that I say, to be honest.

MR 🙂 so much for my spiritual dabblings. Too Many Crooks references Sid James. Which always raises the spirits. It’s a shame they didn’t do a b/w crime caper. Which is your favourite Carry On? 

PB Carry On Cabbie and Carry On Screaming. The Carry On team were a great bunch of oddball character actors.

MR The only private detective/ process server I ever knew was a compulsive liar, alcoholic and degenerate gambler. Did you ever meet any? 

PB There used to be one that lived at the end of our street near a Greek restaurant called The Acropolis which was inevitably known locally as The Apocalypse. I think he was more Frank Marker than Sam Spade. The PI I write about – Peter Ord – takes more from the Albert Finney film Gumshoe.

MR Have you written about sober people? 

PB  I suppose so but pissheads are usually more self-deluded and more likely to screw things up. Which makes for funny stories. I hope.

Paul’s biography from his website  https://pauldbrazill. com

I was born in Hartlepool, England and now live in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

I’ve been TEFL teaching for more than a decade. My books include A Case Of Noir, Guns Of Brixton, Too Many Crooks, The Last Laugh, and Kill Me Quick! Oh, and there are a few other tasty snacks that you can find here. My writing has been translated into Italian, Polish, Finnish, German and Slovene. I’ve had stories published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime 8, 10 and 11.I also edited the anthology  True Brit Grit (with Luca Veste).I have an irregular column – Brit Grit Alley at  Out Of The Gutter Online.

case of noir

I could have framed that question about Hartlepool better. It looks pretty good here.

and Chris Rea is from Middlesborough. Great singer/songwriter.
On The Beach