Episode 2 of Tiny Tales features: Nick Boldock, Paul D. Brazill, Ian Ayris and Darren Sant. This podcast features adult themes and language throughout.
Episode 2 of Tiny Tales features: Nick Boldock, Paul D. Brazill, Ian Ayris and Darren Sant. This podcast features adult themes and language throughout.
When did you begin writing, Jason? Did you begin by writing short stories?
I started writing in the late 1990s, but only to see if I could. I didn’t write anything that a
publisher would touch but the two books did teach me to finish something and to recognise what did and didn’t work.
I’d never thought of writing short stories until I became serious about writing in the early 2010s when I discovered the classic sites of Flash Fiction Offensive, who were the first to publish something I wrote, Shotgun Honey, Pulp Metal Magazine, and more.
Any favorite crime authors?
My favourite crime author is James Ellroy, and that’s just for The Black Dahlia and American Tabloid. I’m into Walter Mosley, Paul D. Brazill, Keith Nixon, Tom Leins, Kate Laity, Ian Rankin, Ray Banks, and lately, Matt Phillips, Paul Heatley, Jake Hinkson, Tess Makovesky, and Thomas Pluck.
I need to read more Aidan Thorn and get involved in Nikki Dolson, Beau Johnson, and Angel Luis Colón.
Could you tell us about writing your novel City of Forts? It is a coming-of-age story as well as a crime novel?
City of Forts is both coming of age story and crime novel. Four kids discover a body in the basement of an abandoned house in an uninhabited development on the edge of a disused, decaying factory. This place is their escape from the town they live in and they don’t want anybody finding out about a body that will bring the outside world into their oasis.
They all have their problems. Ricky’s mum works two jobs to make ends meet because his dad has gone west and seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth. So Ricky has to look after his younger brother, and he hates it – does his best to hide the kid in their home while his mom works so he can go out and live his life.
Bixby is homeless. He’s escaped foster care and has no intention of going back, but it means living in the abandoned houses as social services narrow their search for him
Lizzie has to contend with a useless dad in mourning for a dead son, with a vicious girlfriend and a drug habit. Lizzie’s looking beyond the town and her teenage years to a life with broader horizons. Tanais just wants friends after being dragged round the country by her parents. She makes a friend in Bixby, but he turns on her when he finds out what Tanais’ dad does. The body they found is not some nobody. A gangster Ricky calls Tarantula Man searches for him, and he’ll kill whoever’s in his way to find his whereabouts. The kids need an ally. Maybe rich man, Mr Vale, will help them out. Maybe Floyd, the greasy wanderer who seems to know everything they’re doing. It all barrels along to a bloody end.
So yes, it’s coming of age, but there’s violence, death, betrayal, and sweaty palms that go along with it.
Are there any crime films that you like? Any film noir?
I’m behind on a lot of films. I want to see the old Cagney gangster films. I need to see The Kill List. Tons to catch up on. There’s the obvious I like: The Godfather parts 1 and 2, Goodfellas, Casino, Mean Streets, Heat, and so on. My favourite film noir is The Last Seduction, starring Linda Fiorentino. What a twisted bit of work that is. Fiorentino should have been huge on the back of this. Where did she go? I enjoyed Blue Ruin.
And, I know Ellroy dropped some abuse on it recently, but LA Confidential is a great piece of film noir, and Russel Crowe’s best performance in any movie
What makes a good crime novel?
A great crime novel induces a feeling of dread. The best ones are those which, when you’ve got your head on a pillow and you’re half-knackered, make you sit right up and lose your breath for a second or ten. It doesn’t always need a mystery. Matt Phillips’ Know Me from Smoke and Countdown both let you sense what’s going to happen, but he builds a fear for the characters he’s drawn so well that your palms become clammy and you want to look away – but you can’t.
Same with Jake Hinkson’s The Posthumous Man. Starts off innocuous, but by the end you’re in full-on “Noooooooo” mode.
What will your next book be about, Jason?
Barlow Vine just killed a man – his lover’s lover. Now he’s heading from Spain back to his
hometown to escape his actions in the vain hope they won’t catch up with him. Never Go Back is a wild ride featuring nurses, strange kids in Edwardian garb, one blinding headache, and dead-eyed killers who want to use him for their own ends. It’s a cold, murderous homecoming – and he’ll need the luck of every bastard to survive it all.
The book is out in November, published by Close to the Bone
Could you tell us about the short story collection, Bullets, Teeth, & Fists. How is writing a short crime story different than writing a full length novel?
The first Bullets, Teeth, & Fists is where I really learned to write. I published all the stories as a way to get my newly minted blog on the road and showcase what I could do. The first one is a mix of crime, thriller, paranormal, and slice of life. My favourite story in there is Bring it on Down, about a shy kid who finds his personality but goes off the rails along with his new-found confidence. A short story is a sugar rush. I often write them when a spark hits. I get it down there and then, if I can. If I’m in the middle of something I’ll take a note so I don’t forget. But it can take a day, sometimes more, and you’re done. You leave it alone for a week, come back, iron out the typos and plot/character missteps, and you can move on. They scratch an itch and explode a
However, there’s nothing more satisfying than writing a full-length novel, knowing you can do it, getting into the weeds and coming out the other side with a full length beard, shattered, and in need of a wild act to celebrate the achievement.
Then I go back to writing a few short stories to make sure I can still write – because I wonder, after I’ve done longer work, if I still have it in me. Bullets, Teeth, & Fists 2 is a little darker and bigger, and includes a couple of novelettes. Bullets, Teeth, & Fists 3 is out in early 2020, with one of my favourite shorts I’ve ever done.
In American fiction, the lines of genre are regularly blurred so that characters in the writings of ‘dirty realists’ like Nelson Algren, Harry Crews, John Fante and Charles Bukowski can comfortably inhabit the same world as those of crime fiction writers such as James M Cain, Jim Thompson and Charles Wilford. This, of course, is a very good thing.
With British fiction, perhaps because of the yoke of the class system and prissy academia, that doesn’t seem to happen so much. But within the recent sub-genre of Brit Grit, things are changing. A lot of these new hard-hitting writers have as much in common with Irvine Welsh and Allan Sillitoe as they do with Ted Lewis and Derek Raymond. This, of course, is a very good thing.
Which brings me to Ian Ayris’ brilliant John Sissons novels, Abide With Me and April Skies. These are books with balls and brains and heart.
In Abide With Me – set in 1975– Johnny Sissons is a young boy from the East End of London. Johnny’s family are normal, very likeable and very close. And they are getting by as best they can in sometimes difficult times. Johnny, like his father, has an exhilarating love of West Ham football club, a passion that beats throughout the novel like a heartbeat.
Johnny’s neighbour, Kenny, however, doesn’t have such luck – his home-life his heartbreakingly grim. Abide With Me is a book about their friendship. About loyalty, family, poverty. It’s about doing the right thing. And about making mistakes and facing up to them.
It is an incredibly involving book. As we watch Johnny and Kenny grow up and head toward a life of crime like dishwater down a plughole, we are with them all the way. Ayris’ gripping, gritty, beautiful novel is full of warmth, wit, excitement, comedy and tragedy. An uncompromised chunk of social realism,
Its sequel, April Skies, is set in ’90s London. John Sissons is out of the slammer and trying to get by, working at a market stall. When he loses his job, he gets a job at a door production factory and his luck starts to change. But is it for the better? April Skies is marvellous. Full of realistic, well-drawn characters, great dialogue, sharp twists and turns, and with a strong sense of place and time. Nerve-wracking and heart-breaking, tense and touching – April Skies is a Brit Grit classic.
Every day the rain keeps falling
This is one of the worst and most
Depressing summers that I can remember.
You just have to get your good times
Where you can. When I first woke up
At 6: 30 a.m. the sun was shining,
The sky was beautiful. By 10 it was
Raining again, but you have to get
Your good times where you can.
Now at 7 p.m. the sun’s out again.
The sky is still full of threatening
Black clouds, but I go outside. I light
A cigarette, feel the warmth on my face.
You have to get your good times
Where you can.
I’m not sure what it is, but I’m still trapped in a time-warping loop that takes me back to a different age. My devices are filled with episodes of Columbo, Van Der Valk and Frazier and I can safely say I’m an addict. It might be that life feels stressful a lot of the time, so I need something familiar and comforting when I turn on the box. They’re all great, mind, and I’m amazed at how many stars and legends have appeared in Columbo on one side of the camera or the other.
I’m also a bit predictable when it comes to contemporary work. Killing Eve had me purring until a slight drop off at the end of series one. Fleabag, on the other hand, is just about as good as it gets and I would happily be sucked into their universe whenever they wanted me.
The big police shows often leave me cold. To me, they seem so contrived and even when they hook me in, I wish I’d left them alone.
I also get to see a fair bit of kids TV. Millie In Between (now defunct) is where my kids are at and I love sitting with them as they work through nostalgias of their own.
And the 63up documentary – top class.
Whatever it is, if it’s longer than half an hour, I’m unlikely to see it all in the one sitting.
Now I realise that I’m stuck in another loop. McBain and Simenon more often than not. Pelecanos and Winslow. I’d read more Willy Vlautin if he’d write more quickly. Getting a buzz from Duane Swierczynski. Delighted by whatever All Due Respect put out.
When I get to the cinema, it’s with my family. Mary Poppins Returns was a good stab at a sequel. Favourite recent watch, The Blue Lamp – even better than I remembered – courtesy of channel 81.
The fact I’m struggling to come up with anything makes me a little sad. I’ll need to do something about that.
My favourite music to listen to when I’m writing is jazz. I only discovered this recently (not jazz, but the fact that I like to write with a free-flowing musical background). It helps with the flow of words. It’s a kind of mutual improvisation, I suppose. Again, it’s mostly old, but Giles Peterson keeps me fresh.
All our travel is with the family, so it’s usually somewhere that isn’t too complicated.
We pop to Holland every year and that chills me out without fail. What a vibe.
Last year, Berlin blew my socks off. We had a lovely week wandering around in German woodland and loved that, but the capital was so vibrant and buzzing that I almost wanted to be a teenager again.
This summer, our holiday’s to France. We’ll be staying with some old friends, some new friends and in a caravan.
I get to the city for an occasional break. Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, London, Preston, Liverpool, Paris… I love them all. I sometimes wish I was back living in a bigger place, but when I get back to the sea, I remember that the peace and tranquillity outweigh the cultural offerings, though it’s a close run thing.
Other than that, lots of my travel is into the countryside. Walks through valleys, up hills, alongside rivers, into the woods or by the coast, that’s what I’d miss the most if they were to be taken away.
Been vegan for three years now. That hasn’t changed my eating habits too much, other than on the desserts front. I crave good cake and do my best to make one on a weekly basis (a cake, not necessarily a good one). And dairy free banana pancakes don’t half sweeten up life when I need a pick-me-up.
Soft drinks only. It’s safer that way.
My wife’s just changed jobs and she’s now the head of conservation at the National Galleries of Scotland. I’m pretty jealous of the opportunities she has of getting up close and personal with artworks, but not envious of the stress, pressure and endless workload. Even so, I’m hoping there’ll be some fringe benefits for me.
Our most visited galleries are in Newcastle. The Baltic is terrific. There’s always something amazing and something awful in there, so whatever is on display I leave feeling something, which is why I go in the first place. I’ve also become a regular visitor of the Side Gallery. It has a photography gallery and much of the work feels very political and really digs into those emotions.
Last year, on a Paris trip to meet up with some very old friends (very old as in my age). I braved the queues and went to the Musee D’Orsay and it absolutely blew me away. The building alone would be worth the entrance fee. Throw in some of the most amazing pieces of art and this has to be one of the most beautiful human-made spaces on earth.
Recently, Matilda was an entertaining treat. War Horse made me cry.
BIO: Nigel Bird is the author of several novels, novellas and short story collections, including The Shallows, the Southsiders series, In Loco Parentis, Smoke, Mr Suit and Dirty Old Town.
He is currently an editorial consultant for the publisher All Due Respect books.
He lives on the East Coast of Scotland in Dunbar with his wife and three children.
As well as writing fiction, he has been a teacher for thirty years and has worked in a number of mainstream and special schools.
JW: When did you begin your career as a writer /editor of pulp writing, Maxim?
MJ: I never meant to specifically be involved in what you term ‘pulp’. From early childhood I was an avid reader and quickly found out that I actually wanted to write stories and all followed from there. My early tastes (and career) were for science fiction and fantasy, although I also read a lot of crime and I began publishing my first stories in magazines in France, where I was then living, from the age of 16. But because I was bilingual I read and was aware of what was being written in English and one day convinced a Paris publishing house to allow me to edit a volume of the latest in British SF, and that became my first anthology.
JW: Any favourite pulp writers?
MJ: Cornell Woolrich, Dashiell Hammett, Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Fritz Leiber, many of which I Iater had the opportunity to publish when I began work in publishing per se
JW: What makes a good crime/suspense novel?
MJ: If I knew, I would have written it. As it is I keep trying again and again and as soon as a new novel of mine is published, I realise I can do better and start another! It’s very much in the eye of the beholder, the right alchemical blend of locale, characters, plot and feelings.
JW: What did you think of the film version of Get Carter? Do crime novels tend to make good films, when adapted?
MJ: I’m a great fan of it (and actually director Mike Hodges is a good friend of mine; and I published his first novel a few years back). Although it differs greatly from the book which is equally good. Generally I prefer original scripts to book adaptations, but a few do stand out like Carter or Falling Angel or turn out even better in the case of The Godfather, which maybe points to the fact that mediocre books can make great movies while important ones do not, as they already occupy a level which even film at its best can’t reach.
JW: Are there any writers that you could tell would become a huge successes through their early writing?
MJ. Lots of new writers have impressed me immensely; even more so as for past 6 years I’ve been a judge for the Crime Writers’ Association First Novel Dagger so seen a lot of debuts, but as to predict who is going to be ‘big’, so much depends on marketing spend and promo publishers allow it and the unpredictable quirks of the book trade. Have spent most of my life in book publishing and all too aware that quality is not always the issue. Right now my two tips for the future are Chris Whitaker and Lou Berney but who knows if they will make it big.
JW: Do you have a new collection of stories that you are editing, Maxim?
MJ: Am currently editing the 3rd volume in what I hope will become a regular series of anthologies, each on a different mystery theme, for US publishers Mango. First one, Historical, has just been published. Next, Amateur Sleuths and Private Eyes is delivered and out in autumn and now working on 3rd, Impossible Crimes and Puzzling Deaths, for 2020. And my fairly major general crime anthology Invisible Blood appears in UK and USA next month, with stories from many of the biggest names in the genre, including a new Jack Reacher tale by Lee Child.
I had taken 4 years off editing anthologies as I was busy on a series of books outside the genre, eleven in all, most of which made the Sunday Times bestseller lists, albeit under a pseudonym.
Edited by Paul D. Brazill and Luca Veste. Introduction by Maxim Jakubowski.
The Line Up:
1. Two Fingers of Noir by Alan Griffiths
2. Eat Shit by Tony Black
3. Baby Face And Irn Bru by Allan Guthrie
4. Pretty Hot T’Ing by Adrian Magson
5. Black Betty by Sheila Quigley
6. Payback: With Interest by Matt Hilton
7. Looking for Jamie by Iain Rowan
8. Stones in Me Pocket by Nigel Bird
9. The Catch and The Fall by Luke Block
10. A Long Time Coming by Paul Grzegorzek
11. Loose Ends by Gary Dobbs
12. Graduation Day by Malcolm Holt
13. Cry Baby by Victoria Watson
14. The Savage World of Men by Richard Godwin
15. Hard Boiled Poem (a mystery) by Alan Savage
16. A Dirty Job by Sue Harding
17. Stay Free by Nick Quantrill
18. The Best Days of My Life by Steven Porter
19. Hanging Stanley by Jason Michel
20. The Wrong Place to Die by Nick Triplow
21. Coffin Boy by Nick Mott
22. Meat Is Murder by Colin Graham
23. Adult Education by Graham Smith
24. A Public Service by Col Bury
25. Hero by Pete Sortwell
26. Snapshots by Paul D Brazill
27. Smoked by Luca Veste
28. Geraldine by Andy Rivers
29. A Minimum of Reason by Nick Boldock
30. Dope on a Rope by Darren Sant
31. A Speck of Dust by David Barber
32. Hard Times by Ian Ayris
33. Never Ending by McDroll
34. Imagining by Ben Cheetham
35. Escalator by Jim Hilton
36. Faces by Frank Duffy
37. A Day In The Death Of Stafford Plank by Stuart Ayris
38. The Plebitarian by Danny Hogan
39. King Edward by Gerard Brennan
40. This Is Glasgow by Steven Miscandlon
41. Brit Grit by Charlie Wade
42. Five Bags Of Billy by Charlie Williams
43. It Could Be You by Julie Morrigan
44. No Shortcuts by Howard Linskey
45. The Great Pretender by Ray Banks
45 British writers, 45 short stories. All coming together to produce an anthology, benefiting two charities…
“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 TRUE BRIT GRIT!”
Saturday’s Child – Cal Inness is fresh out of the slammer when he’s hired by gangster Morris Tiernan to track down a casino dealer who has done a runner with a wad of cash. Innes is a compelling, realistic anti-hero and Saturday’s Child is a cracking blend of social realism and character driven crime fiction.
Donkey Punch – Banks brilliantly follows up Saturday’s Child with an even more hard-hitting tale which drags the increasingly self-destructive Cal Inness across the Atlantic to Los Angeles, where he has to take care of a troubled, up-and -coming boxing star.
No More Heroes – As PI Cal Inness’ personal life spirals further out of control, racial tensions and violence escalate during Manchester’s hottest summer. Banks takes the two gritty crime novels that started this series to a new, intense level. This one goes up to eleven.
Beast Of Burden – Banks goes where most other crime writers fear to even contemplate in this powerful conclusion to his series. Inness is a physical and emotional wreck when he is hired to find Mo Tirenan, who has gone missing. Dirty realism taken to its harrowing, brilliant extreme.
All in all, a fantastic, Brit Grit crime fiction series.
Molly sat hunched opposite him, her face hidden behind long blonde hair, the smell of cheap bacon a nasty tenant in her nostrils. He rested on his elbows, raisin eyes fierce in a doughy face, a giant above her – angry being with her, angry she couldn’t stem the tears, angry she couldn’t open the top off the brown sauce. She glanced at the doorway to the way out of this greasy spoon, just a quick look, in case he read her thoughts and ripped out her spinal cord. She fiddled with the little teddy bear pendant on her necklace.
Steph mopped the same bit of yellowed tile for the third time. She’d ridded it of grease ten minutes ago but this pair, a big man and his daughter, had come in just as she’d buried the work day in a concrete pit. Phil, alone at another table, didn’t have much left on his plate, though by the look of his sad soppy eyes he had something on his mental dish. Did it really take him this long to finish?
She’d had to reach into the bin for the sad bacon which she’d thrown out because it wouldn’t last the night. Ah well, she’d have to wait a little longer to hit the town for the start of the weekend’s manhunt.
Still, look at that poor little poppet. I bet her pet has died or something.
Steph is so lovely Phil could have hung her on the wall and stared at her all night. Brunette hair high in a palm tree that swayed every time the door opened to a gust of wind. But she danced with the stupid mop and made eyes at the only other occupied table. She must be daft. Phil comes in here more times than is healthy for his ticker and she still doesn’t have a clue why. Well, she should.
Maybe she does. She wants a man. A man must seize the moment and ask her straight out. She’d like that. But … what if she says no? For God’s sake, Phil wished this dad and daughter would bugger off so he didn’t have an audience to his humiliation.
Why couldn’t she just escape from him? He’s not that fast. His jaw wobbles with every slow step he makes and his breath rasps and wheezes enough to scare a doctor. He’d never catch her and she’d be in London by the time he made it to the door. Molly blew her nose on a serviette and tried to open the bottle top again. Not that she wanted to eat. He snatched it from her, his nostrils flared, his pupils became tiny dots.
“Don’t get snot all over it, for God’s sake.” He slammed it on the table and hunched into his shoulders, the devil in his examination of her.
Molly’s eyes wandered to see who took note of her predicament. The waitress’s lips puckered in sympathy, and the man over there had put the same woman on some kind of pedestal.
Steph held the mop over the same tile but the swish had gone clean out of her. The poor poppet cried over more than a dead pet. Steph had a fish that died once. She never cried like this. Big, silent, heaving sobs and sniffles? Never.
The girl was such a delicate thing and her dad was a giant. A brute. Eyes so cold, grey, and tight they must have seen the inside of a prison wall. He looked nothing like the girl. Steph’s grip on the mop loosened and it whopped against the hard floor. She ran a dozen pictures of missing girls she’d seen on Facebook through her mind.
God, Steph looked an angel with worry on her face. Phil followed where her attention led once he’d recovered from the flinch caused by the whop of the mop against the tiles. The dad and daughter didn’t like the food? Ingrates. The girl had never stopped crying. Her big beast of an old man had frozen. Embarrassed? Caught out by something?
Phil gripped the table at some realization. Steph eyed the man with suspicion. That’s why she’d dropped the mop. Phil had had some romantic notion Steph realised his love for her, but no – the man’s so big and the girl’s so small, they cannot possibly be related. Which means … If Phil could rescue the girl, then what a man he’d be for a woman like Steph to fall into his arms.
Molly locked the burgeoning smile tight behind her hair. The two adults had seen her plight and they moved as cheetahs on the prairie. They only needed to pounce. This would teach the big man.
Steph wondered why Phil came over like that. He’d already paid. His face had a sheen, red as the ketchup by his plate she’d have to bloody well clean. Hang on … he had the same suspicion. His eyebrows arched, his lips had turned into a cold thin line, his head nodded to the man they stood beside. Steph wished he wouldn’t make it all so obvious, but her lip twitched. She had an ally in Phil.
Steph’s lips moved up. Up, up and away. For him. She saw in him an ally and she’s grateful. Phil would get this kid away from the ape, see her off to social services, and Steph would invite him into her knickers for the weekend. He wouldn’t need fancy words of courtship or any of that nonsense – action is the ticket. Thank you, ape, for coming in here today.
Molly’s hands shook so much the bottle of brown sauce almost flew out of her hand and smashed on the floor. The two adults had taken their place. The big man sat opposite had set his eyes so hard on her he couldn’t swivel them to her rescuers. Molly parted her hair, blue eyes magnified by the tears, and whispered to the strangers, “Help me?”
The big man heard her, couldn’t quite believe his ears, and slapped his hands on the table. Molly thrust the bottle to-and-fro towards him so brown sauce splattered his face, made big brown buttons of his eyes, and had him growling at the vinegary sting.
“You little …”
Molly scraped the chair backwards and tilted away from the man’s swipe.
Oooh, the poor little dear. Steph jumped back at the man’s climb into the thick, violent air. She squinted up, sure she could see the crackle of lightning by his head. Phil stood half-a-foot shorter, she doubted he could manage a beast like this. She snatched the mop from the floor and hit the big man’s knees hard while the brown sauce distracted him.
His yell shook the pans in the back, she was sure of it. She hit him again while Phil slammed a fist into the man’s ribs. He fell and Phil jumped on his big, whale-like torso. Steph pulled the kid into her bosom and hid her face there. She’d been through enough.
Every punch took Phil closer to Steph’s lips. He could feel them on his, already – soft, wet, eager. The man waved his arms about a bit, but Phil got through the gaps until the man’s arms flopped by his side. Phil stopped, a hard-on bulging his jeans. Shifted to hide it from Steph. Caught his breath. He checked his shoulder, proud at the admiration which beamed right off the woman he loved.
The woman’s big boobs provided a bit of comfort but Molly pushed away to prevent suffocation. Molly leaned over the big man, satisfied at the swirls of red mixed in with the brown. She barked a “ha” and pointed at him.
Phil wiped his red hands on the man’s jacket, relieved his ardour had retreated into its shell. Steph had called the police and now rubbed a hand up and down his back when he stood up. She leaned in. So warm. So soft. All those months of fattening his body and jamming his veins with cholesterol had been worth it. All he’d need to do now is ask her out to dinner.
He opened his mouth, thrilled at the words which sat on his tongue ready to leap off and sweep her off her feet. The kid filled the air before him.
“Good. Good. I’m glad you’re hurting. You’re the worst dad, ever. Just because I stole a lousy fiver. Who cares about a fiver? I needed it. You can’t take my phone away for a lousy rotten fiver you big lump of useless lard.”
Phil tracked between the girl and the man. The little red bubbles which came out his nose ballooned and popped, ballooned and popped. Phil turned to Steph. She let him go, backed away, and Phil saw his chance pop the same way.
Bio Jason Beech is a Sheffield native, New Jersey resident — writes crime fiction. His coming-of-age crime drama City of Forts was described as “tense, atmospheric, and haunting” by UK crime writer Paul D. Brazill. You can buy Jason’s work from Amazon and read his work at Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey, Close to the Bone, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Punk Noir Magazine, and Pulp Metal Magazine.His next novel, Never Go Back, is out in late 2019.
America 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)