Archive for April, 2013

NOS4A2 CoverMy Book of the Month for April is here, finally. And it’s NOS4A2, by Joe Hill. You can read my review of the book on the New York Journal of Books website here. Or you can read a brief snippet below:

“. . . [a] mean machine of a novel . . . an instant classic.”

Make sure you clunk-click into your seatbelt before cracking open Joe Hill’s super high-octane new novel NOS4A2. For this is a book full of full throttle, pedal-to-the-metal vroooom. It’s horror fiction revved up to the max.

In the dedication—to his mother—Joe Hill calls this book a “mean machine.” And he’s right. This is his Christine or his From a Buick 8—only it’s better. It’s a ’roided-up K.I.T.T from Knight Rider gone off reservation.

Joe Hill’s Rolls Royce Wraith—with its plate: “En-o-ess-four-a-two. It’s a vanity plate. Spells a German word. Nosferatu.”—is the undoubted star of this piece. It is a vehicle that seems to act “with a mind of its own.” The body of it “gleamed like a torpedo” and it “held the road like a panzer.” It is a work of art, the Mona Lisa:

“The Wraith slid out of the mist, a black sleigh tearing through a cloud and dragging tails of December frost behind it. December frost in July. The rolling white smoke boiled away from the license plate, old, dented, rust-shot: NOS4A2.”

NOS4A2 Screenprint

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41be95TRVeL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-69,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_My new story, ‘Shouting into an Empty Cave’ is now available to purchase on Amazon worldwide sites. It’s published by White House Publications, and you can buy it from here.

Our heroine is a call-vetters on a local radio talk show. It is her job to weed out the ‘loonies’ in order that the Davie Kutch show is fit for air. Only, one day, she receives a call which shatters all of her illusions about her life, her family and her identity. ‘Shouting into an Empty Cave’ is a story of communication gone awry. It’s a story which considers how secrets and lies within a family can have such wide-reaching effects.

And here’s a brief extract:

“Remember that old advert for cordless telephones? Wow it seems a long time ago now; generation after generation of mobile telephones have kind of rendered those old roaming phones a little useless now, but still, that ad had a lot of resonance with me.

The ad opened with a wide-shot of a nice middle class family out enjoying the British sunshine one summer afternoon. It looked to be a nice suburban house with a particularly well-tended garden; the lawn had been cut into regimental stripes. In the garden, kids were capering in the paddling pool; dog was generally making a nuisance of itself, getting soaked under the lawn-sprinkler and then shaking all the water over the kids in the pool; and mum was sitting on sparkling white garden furniture, a magazine open on her lap.

But wait, where was daddy? Was he in the greenhouse watering the plants? Was he cooking up a storm in the kitchen?

The camera zoomed in as though searching for the answer. Closer, closer, so we felt ourselves being drawn in to the bosom of that family. Consider yourself one of us. That type of thing. But then it continued to zoom in and the whole thing became a little uncomfortable; the camera made voyeurs of us. All of a sudden we were intruding on something over the garden fence, something private, something which we didn’t understand. Something like grief.

The camera offered a tight close-up of the mum’s face now and she wasn’t reading the magazine on her lap at all, merely staring off into the middle distance, lost. Her brow was creased, her bottom lip appeared to be trembling. A dark shadow appeared to have passed across that formerly Edenic garden.

But then her brand spanking new cordless telephone, which she’d been able to carry out to the garden and leave on top of the white plastic table, started to ring. The inference being that if she’d not gone cordless, she’d have missed that call. Sighing, she picked it up, pressed the ANSWER button, and lifted the phone to her cheek.

And then the ad went split-screen. We could still see mum on the bottom half of the screen sighing hello and examining her chipped nails. But now we could also see a man too: dad surely? Dad was ruggedly handsome though slightly dusty. He was dressed in army fatigues. He looked fatigued – it might, or might not have been a war zone behind him – but he looked excited too. Suddenly things started to make sense. Mum’s misery, the regimental striping of the lawn which called to mind a military man’s epaulettes. Thankfully, the ad didn’t intrude on their conversation, but the audience could easily gather what was going on. From the way mum’s face slowly, surely blossomed into something altogether more lovely, more hopeful too. From the way dad couldn’t stop smiling. The ad closed on the killer tag-line, A phone call can change your life. Daddy was coming home. That he’d still have been coming home even if he’d have had to send an answerphone message, or called back later, or hell, used a telegram, didn’t seem to matter.

I cried the first time I saw that ad. I was fourteen, gawky and all I wanted in life was not to stick out like a sore thumb. I’d been invited round to my sort of boyfriend’s house for tea and it was pretty much the first time we’d actually spent any time together without our friends being there.”

Bed Peace Kindle EditionMy novelette, Bed Peace, is on an Amazon special promo for today and tomorrow, which means you can read it for FREEMANS. To get your hands on the free download, go to the Bed Peace Amazon page here.

Here’s a write-up: We’ve never seemed further away from world peace. This fragile dream has been shattered, buried underneath games controllers, reduced to a hastily thumbed text message, converted into an emoticon. Dreamers, hippies, those who desire change are forgotten, laughed at, or shunned…

From the award-winning author AJ Kirby comes this tragi-comic novelette which mourns the idealism of the 1960s. Written in the spirit of John Lennon, this story beds in and tries to translate the swinging sixties translate into our cynical modern world. It asks salient questions: What’s happened to the belief we can really change the world? Why has flower-power become little more than a cartoon? And can we really find our way back?

stars-in-the-sky-swedenMy new story, ‘Behind the Scenes at the London Tour (St. Paul’s to Borough Market leg)’ has been accepted for publication in Wordland 3: What they saw in the sky, which will be published by The Exaggerated Press.

The theme – what they saw in the sky – was an interesting premise and a great challenge for me as a writer… Well, what did they see? Did it fill them with wonder, questions, fear? Was it hallucination, portent or omen, something utterly beautiful, life-changing (or ending), enigmatic or terrible? Was it even in our own sky?

These were the types of questions I needed to ask myself. And you’ll be able to find out the answers when the story is published in the free on-line e-zine, in print, as a eBook and as a Kindle download. According to editor Terry Grimwood, “The on-line version will come first, hopefully by the end of the week or early next week.”

british libraryI happened to be at Kings Cross/ St Pancras yesterday, with some time to kill. Instead of going straight to the pub – do not pass go, do not collect two hundred qiud – I thought I’d kill some time at the British Library. And I was rewarded for making that choice. They’ve got some great exhibitions on at the moment, particularly an ‘A-Z of Crime Fiction’ which is well worth a look.

If you’re interested in reading some crime fiction, why not check out:

The Magpie Trap, by AJ Kirby

or, The Art of Ventriloquism, by AJ Kirby

All Due 3My short story ‘Ted the Stud’s Bucket List’ has now gone live on the New Zealand crime fiction blogspot, All Due Respect. The story, which is super relevant this week in the wake of the Grand National here in the UK, is a story of fraudsters, horse-racers, and one lucky, lucky gee-gee. You can read the story here.

And here’s a very brief snippet:

“Most ever day I was up before the alarm. Took a steaming pot a tar-thick coffee onto the porch so I could watch the sunrise and for a while, forget about what passes for my life now. Might surprise you I do this. Might get you to thinking I’m the ungrateful type. After all, according to most reckonings, I’m riding high, top a the tree, looking down on all and sundry as the most successful pimp on the planet. Certainly the client I pimp must be the most in demand in the whole rotten world. I deal with sheikhs, minor royals from the UK, nobles from Germany, sometimes with very rich folk from home: famous and rich actors, or singers, or sports-types of them make their money pimping the internet. This the level a customer with which I deal. And I don’t even need to be sneaky about it. Can advertise in the highest quality publications and nobody swishes a tail. And my customers keep coming because nobody but nobody got what I can promise them.”

I’m eggstatic to be able to confirm that I’m the headline writer in April 2013’s Writing Tomorrow magazine, with my short fiction offering ‘The Miracle in the Clearing’. The story’s a nature tale of cynicism and redemption… and badgers. But there’s no Easter Bunny in sight. You can purchase your print copy of the magazine here, or you can download an electronic version here.

Wt cover

Extract

Richard leaves the car to the side of the road, where it won’t be seen for the dense darkness of the trees. He climbs out and thumps his feet on the spot a moment, then tugs on a new Barbour coat. Then it is round to the back of the car. He opens the trunk and sits on the lip of it as he changes his trainers for wellington boots. He closes the trunk and begins to walk, then slaps a palm against his forehead – it is not like him to forget, but recently he’s been asking his brain some newer, more difficult questions – and heads back to the car. Out of the trunk he pulls a suitcase-sized carry case. Then he walks. More swiftly now, as though he wants to put distance between him and the car.

The floury moon is out. Not full. Richard’s imagination, which has for so long been out of order, cranks into life and decides the moon looks as though something has taken a chunky bite out of it. It casts a mournful light on the road which is little more than a track really. Weeds grow like a – his imagination’s crackling now – Mohican haircut down the middle. There isn’t enough room for two cars to pass on it, so every half mile or so there is a passing point cut into the hedgerows.

And take a look at my full catalogue of published short fiction here.