Archive for December, 2014

DIMENSIONSForging Freedoms: Dimensions is a new sci-fi anthology from Freedom Forge Press. It features my story ‘Why Can You Never Escape with Escape?’ It’s now available to purchase from here. And to whet your appetite, here’s a fantastic review from Tangent, the genre’s premier review magazine. Ryan Holmes talks about the book at great length, focusing on the collection in general, and also on each authors’ story.

Here’s Holmes on the book in general:

“In a genre overburdened with markets catering to left-sided literature, Freedom Forge Press represents a delightful fulcrum in which to pry the heavy-handed liberals off the science fiction reader’s shoulders. It being an emerging small press, I had reservations about the quality of writing I’d find but was pleasantly surprised. This anthology contains strong, independent characters with engaging voices and a compelling message. Some stories, in particular “The Fourth Poet” by the anthology’s editor, Val Muller, are like memories of childhood. They stick with us. When we reflect on them, we’re refilled with that joyful feeling usually reserved for sunny romps on the playground. A couple stories are clunky; their styles less refined. No more than found in any collection. Most represent solid storytelling with a message that has become taboo in nearly all other markets. All will open the reader’s eyes to the various subtle and overt dimensions of oppression that rule over our daily lives. Read them, hear their message, gain hope from the courage of their characters to combat the enemies of freedom wherever they may lurk.”

And here he is on my story:

A. J. Kirby’s “Why Can You Never Escape with Escape?” places the reader deep inside the paranoid mind of a British intelligence operative as he struggles with a world that is passing him over. Holton, a smoker in a non-smoking world, a one finger typist in a paperless intelligence office, prefers the old world way. He feels like a stranger in his own department and imagines his coworkers conspiring against him. Perhaps it’s his paranoia or maybe it’s just a slip of his index finger that brings up his own file. There are details of his life in it that surprise him, like his juvenile infraction for being drunk and disorderly that should’ve been abolished, but it’s the normal details the Company keeps on everyone that, while not surprising him, shock the reader. Then there’s the single piece of intelligence that redefines his character in the reader’s eyes. The story shows us how a paperless system might save trees, but it also makes generating more workload easier. It further shows us how the convenience of electronic information makes collecting it just as convenient.”

Check out the dedicated Louis van Gaal: Dutch Courage page on the publisher’s website, here.

lvg endeavour

pw picCongratulations to Claire Stephenson of Leeds, who correctly answered my teaser question on the Leeds Big Bookend blog to win a copy of my novel Perfect World. We had a number of entries from Leeds and further afield, but there can be only one winner. If you entered and didn’t win, better luck next time!

The teaser question was as follows: Q: Perfect World partly takes place in a multi-user virtual world which is reminiscent of the virtual world, Second Life. In Perfect World the currency is Credits, but what currency is used in Second Life?

The answer is, of course, Linden Dollars.

Well done to the winner and I sincerely hope you enjoy the book!

And remember, Perfect World is available as a paperback and as an ebook, so if you didn’t win, you can still grab a copy before Christmas.


2014: A Year in Writing

Posted: December 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

As 2014 grinds to a halt, I’ve been assessing my year in terms of writing successes and goals. Understandably, given the birth of my son, my house move etc etc I haven’t actually written as much fiction as I’d have liked to. Hell, I’ve barely even read a fiction book (let alone reviewed one, as I used to on a weekly basis). But I have managed to keep my hand in with some sportswriting and a few short stories (you can check out my short story publications here).

I have started – but failed to finish (yet!!!) – about three more novels. One of which is – ironically – named ‘The Land of Half-Finished Things’. So if I have one ambition for 2015, it’s to stop procrastinating. Stop wasting time stopping and starting, and getting seduced by the newest idea… And just FINISH what I’m working on…

In terms of my fiction, I’m most happy with the publications of my novellas Hangingstone, Nu-Gen, and by the short stories ‘Deep Clean‘, ‘What you don’t understand about a PPI Holiday is this...’, and ‘I’d rather twist…‘ (some of which were actually written in 2014!)

My major goals in terms of writing were to continue with my trilogy of Manchester United books – which has now happened, given the recent release of Louis van Gaal: Dutch Courage, and summer’s publication of The Pride of all Europe: Manchester United’s Greatest Seasons in the European Cupand to see two of my classic novels – When Elephants Walk Through the Gorbals, and Perfect World released as paperbacks (they were already out as ebooks). And I’ve managed to put a big tick next to all of that.

But in going through my successes and failures, I’ve also been looking through my sales figures. This year I’ve put quite a lot of work into marketing my books and I’m trying to become Social Media savvy… Some books, I’m afraid, I’ve marketed more than others. And therefore I’m unsurprised at how well they’ve sold (and of course, sports books tend to sell easier, and in higher volume than fiction, I find). But some books – again I’m afraid – entered the world and were immediately left to fend for themselves. As usual, I was racing on with the next bright idea and didn’t have the time to look back on old stuff… So I’d like to give a special mention to my novel When Elephants walk through the Gorbals, which, under the radar, has managed to become almost my best-selling title of the year. The Pride of all Europe just pipped it to the post, but it was a close run thing.

Neither sold as well as Fergie’s Finest, of course. That was my best-selling title of 2013, but serendipity had a lot to do with that – the week I delivered my completed manuscript to the publishers, the great man announced his retirement… Meaning hasty revisions but also a timely release which managed to surf the wave of celebrations/ sadness when Fergie hung up his hairdryer. The long tail of Fergie’s retirement continues to help that book to sell well. And interest in Louis van Gaal, whose United side are now really picking up the pace after 6 wins on the trot, means Louis van Gaal: Dutch Courage is already doing well, but its a little too late for that title to trouble my two overwhelming winners in terms of sales for 2014.

Next year? Watch out for an all-new novel… I definitely have one in me!

Here’s the top sellers chart:



Louis van Gaal: Dutch Courage is cruising up the ebook charts (in much the same way United have cruised up the league table during their current sparkling run). Grab a copy for a bargain price of just 99p from here.

And while you’re at it, The Pride of all Europe is just 99p too.

amazon charts

The ebook version of Louis van Gaal: Dutch Courage is out now, at a special offer purchase price of 99p. Yes, you read that right. 99p. Follow this link to get your hands on a copy.

lvg aMAZON

I’m taking a break from publicising the LVG book today. That’s because behind the door of today’s advent calendar is my guest blog regarding Perfect World, and there’s a competition to win a free copy of the book to boot… Follow this link to enter.

Perfect World comp