What The Hell Is Brit Grit ? by Paul D. Brazill

true brit gritAmerica may well be the official home of pulp and noir but the United Kingdom, long perceived as the land of tame Dame Agatha style cozies and stuck-up, Latin quoting police detectives, also has a grubby underbelly which has produced plenty of gritty crime writing. And there is a new wave of Brit Grit writers leaving their bloodstained footprints across this septic isle, too.
The godfathers of the new Brit Grit could well be Ted Lewis, Derek Raymond and Mark Timlin with Jake Arnott, J J Connolly, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid as part of the next wave.
But in the last few years, more and more BRIT GRIT writers have been creeping out of the woodwork, through the cracks in the pavement, out of the dark and dingy alleyways.
Scottish crime writer Tony Black, for example, is the author of four novels featuring punch drunk, booze addled Gus Dury, an ex journalist turned reluctant Private Investigator whose shoulder has more chips than Harry Ramsden. The books see Gus sniff around the back streets of Edinburgh and follow the rancid trail of crime and corruption right to to the top. They’re gruelling, intense and exciting journeys – not without moments of humour and tenderness. You may feel as if you’d like to give Gus a smack every few pages but the pit bull proves himself again and again.

Gus Dury may be in the gutter but he’s still looking at the stars, albeit through the bottom of a bottle of whisky. And it’s down to Black’s great writing that when you you finish one of his novels you feel battered and bruised but can’t wait for the next round.

Otto Penzler famously said that noir is about losers and not private investigators. Mr Penzler has probably never read any Tony Black – or fellow Scot Ray Banks, then. Banks’ Cal Inness quartet is the real deal. Inness is true loser. He’s a screw up. A lush. A mess. A man so far in denial he’s in the Suez. In each brilliant tale he bangs his head against as many brick walls as he can. And he feels the pain. And so do we. The quartet is as bitter and dark as an Irish coffee and leads to a shocking yet inevitable conclusion.

And there’s more: There’s Alan Guthrie who gave us the best novel of 2009 with SLAMMER; Nick Quantrill ‘Broken Dreams’ which looks at a Northern English town that has had it’s fair shair of kickings but still isn’t out for the count; Bad Penny Blues is Cathi Unsworth’s ambitious look at the many facets of London in the late fifties and early sixies; Comic genius Charlie William’s and his nightclub bouncer hero Royston Blake help you see life in a way that Paulo Coelho never will!

And there’s even more …
There’s Howard Linskey, Martin Stanley, Jack Strange, Paul Heatley, Martina Cole, Ben Cheetham, Christopher Black, Martyn Waites,Allen Miles, Danny Hogan, Chris Leek, Gary Dobbs, Gareth Spark, Sheila Quigley, Ian Ayris, UV Ray, Danny King, Col Bury, Mark Billingham, Andrew Bell, Alan Griffiths (whose blog is aptly called BRIT GRIT), Julie Lewthwaite, Steve Mosby, Darren Sant, McDroll, Richard Godwin, Colin Graham, Neil White, Andy Rivers . . . and more! There’s even comic BRIT GRIT from Donna Moore and Christopher Brookmyre, BRIT GRIT thrillers from Matt Hilton and surrealist BRIT GRIT from Jason Michel!

And now, of course, we have True Brit Grit- A Charity Anthology edited by Luca Veste and me, with an introduction from Brit Grit mastermind Maxim Jakubowski. True Brit Grit is a hard-hitting, gritty, crime anthology from 45 British writers. All coming together to produce an anthology, benefiting two charities. The eBook is only 99c/99p!

“The BRIT GRIT mob is coming to kick down your door with hobnailed boots.
Kitchen-sink noir; petty-thief-louts; lives of quiet desperation; sharp,
blood-stained slices of life; booze-sodden brawls from the bottom of the barrel
and comedy that’s as black as it’s bitter–this is BRIT GRIT!”

(This is adapted from a piece that first appeared in the program for the 2010 Noircon and was later republished at Pulp Metal Magazine)

What can be more noir than February? – #Fahrenbruary by Aidan Thorn

rival sons

If you’re a reader of these pages I imagine you like your entertainment dripping in noir and with the spirit of punk running right through its core. So, I probably don’t need to introduce you to Fahrenheit Press and its hard-boiled and experimental imprint, Fahrenheit 13. But you may not be aware of the levels of dedication Fahrenheit readers have for what this wonderful small press is doing. Next month is February, and I know I didn’t need to tell you that because if you’re like me you’ll dread its arrival every year. It’s just far enough away from Christmas that it feels like a distant memory and the green shoots of spring and summer feel like they’ll never arrive. But this year the fans of Fahrenheit Press have decided to brighten things up with a celebration of dark, disturbing, funny, experimental, engaging, sad, heartfelt and just plain brilliant fiction. Yes, for fans of great fiction from this year forward February has been re-branded – .

The brain-child of two book bloggers, The Beardy Book Blogger (https://beardybookblogger.wordpress.com) himself (a man I only know as Mart) and Matt Keyes from It’s an Indie Book Blog – (https://itsanindiebookblog.com), will be a month-long celebration of some incredible books and authors that perhaps fly under your radar, but really shouldn’t. I was a fan of Fahrenheit Press before I ended up on their author list and so I’d have been supporting this initiative regardless of personal interest. But with Fahrenbruary nearly upon us I would like to highlight a format that’s much overlooked in literature that the likes of Farhenheit Press (through Fahrenheit 13) and Shotgun Honey are helping to give a voice to again, the novella. OK, so I do have to declare an interest – I write novellas (I may even have just shamelessly plugged both of my publishers in the last sentence), but I was a fan first, and I reckon if you’re reading these pages you might be too – but there’s a chance you don’t even know it yet.

when the music's overBetween 2013-15 an incredible project popped up called Number 13 Press. The mission, publish 13 novellas in 13 months. It was run by Chris Black and fuck did he achieve that mission. He published 13 brilliant individual pieces of fiction that found wide critical acclaim and gave readers new voices to read. I was lucky enough to be the tenth ‘Thirteener’ and I found myself amongst some truly astonishing company, the likes of Matt Phillips, Grant Nicol, Paul Brazill, Graham Wynd, B. R. Stateham, Robert White, Mark Ramsden, Richard Godwin, Ariana D. Den Bleyker, Steve Finbow, Michael Young and Turlough Delaney.  All unique voices bringing something different to the shorter form of writing. And, having recognised what a great and diverse collection of books Chris Black had put out, at the start of 2018 Fahrenheit Press took Number 13 Press under its wing and Fahrenheit 13 was born. So, this post is not only here to make you aware of the wonderful reader led initiative that is Fahrenbruary but also to make a pitch that if you want to take part – and you should – you consider taking a look at these atmospheric noir novellas, I don’t believe you’ll regret a moment.

For me the novella is the perfect form and the Fahrenheit 13 collection are the perfect example of it. We constantly hear that people don’t read anymore, I get it, we’re all busy – I know I am and that’s why I discovered the novella. I found novels that I used to be able to read in a week were taking me a month or more to get through – I was forgetting what had happened at the start by the time I got to the end! Step up the novella. For me this form is so gripping, let’s take the Fahrenheit 13 releases as an example of why. The author has to quickly pull the reader into the story with atmosphere and a hook, just look at the opening of Stateham’s A Killing Kiss. Fans of Stateham will be familiar with his Smitty character and here the reader is dragged into a criminal underworld with our hero. The characters have to be so well formed that the reader will instantly understand and form a connection with them – you don’t have to like them, or even be like them but they have to be well drawn so you go with them. Take Phillips’ title character Calvin Redbone in the pressure cooker piece that is Redbone, the reader feels every injustice, every emotion and every bit of pain along the way – we feel the book. In novellas we have to be quickly emerged into the world and therefore the setting is equally important, take Finbow’s Down Among the Dead where during its short length we move between modern day London and twenty years before in Belfast, both locations and time periods are described vividly and yet not a word is wasted. Then of course there’s perfect plotting – perhaps the most important element of all, whether it’s the unfolding in front of your eyes unknown even to the lead character plot of Young’s Of Blondes and Bullets or the manipulative and seductively brilliant rise of Sandra Delites in Satan’s Sorority these novellas are plotted to the nth degree.

So here ends my brief love letter to the novella, with their cinematic length, rich characters, atmospheric writing and page turning plot there’s really nothing a fan of great fiction shouldn’t love. In this time pressured world, where everything and everyone is screaming for our attention why not spend a few hours each week in the company of a good short book – and I promise there’s no better place to start than at Fahrenheit 13. This Fahrenbruary, pick up a novella or two (fuck it, buy the lot) directly from the Fahrenheit Press website and fall in love with reading all over again.

a tYou can keep up with what’s going on and tell others about your experiences this Fahrenbruary across social media by searching and using .

Bio: Aidan Thorn writes dark fiction about families and conflict. His short stories have been widely published across various anthologies and web mags.

His novellas When the Music’s Over and Rival Sons are available to buy now.