Archive for the ‘Writing Talk’ Category

The ‘Andy’ Awards 2018

Posted: December 23, 2018 in Events, Writing Talk

It’s that time of year again. Darkness bookends the day so snugly that you start to feel like you barely get to see the sun. It’s cold. Wet. Windy. Shiny decorations are up in the trees and on the streets. The same songs on repeat in all the shops. It can mean only one thing: it’s time to announce the winners and losers in the year’s ‘Andy’ Awards.

For those of you who don’t know, the ‘Andy’s’ are my attempt to ‘chart’ my reading habits over a year. They’re supposed to help me read more and also make it easy for me to recommend good books to others. Last year’s chart expanded the qualifying criteria from short stories to novels, and this year we’re going even bigger – I’m including all books I’ve read. Fiction, non-fiction, short story collections, sports books. Yeah, the whole shebang.

Last year I brought the ‘Andy’s’ back so I could talk myself into reading more. I read a whopping 75 novels. You can view my chart from last year here. (Article also contains links to previous runners and riders.)

This year, my total falls some way short of that (it hasn’t helped that I started a new job in December 2017 and I’ve thrown myself into it life and soul). But I’m still very pleased with my grand total this year of 61 books (which is still great – still better than a book a week, and I’m pleased with that). The below graphic charts my most committed reading months – unsurprisingly the winter months when the darkness draws in are my most reading-iest. But there’s also a big spike around the summer holidays. Again, no surprises…

Books Read 2018

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my reading year. I’ve read some absolutely fantastic stuff, and some stuff which was maybe less so, so you don’t have to. Here in all its glory is my top twenty for 2018. Drum roll please…

  1. The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
  2. 4,3,2,1 by Paul Auster
  3. The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers
  4. The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel
  5. Dead Man’s Blues by Ray Celestin
  6. Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
  7. Phantom by Jo Nesbo
  8. The Outsider by Stephen King
  9. I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic by David Lagercrantz and Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  10. Halcyon by Rio Youers
  11. Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
  12. A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane
  13. Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
  14. Rusty Puppy by Joe R. Lansdale
  15. A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly
  16. The Late Show by Michael Connelly
  17. Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson
  18. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
  19. Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
  20. Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View – 40 Stories Celebrating 40 Years of Star Wars by Various Authors

Honourable mentions to the other books I read this year: Gazza in Italy by Daniel Storey; The Mountain by Luca d’Andrea; Lifeless by Mark Billingham; Mister Memory by Marcus Sedgwick; The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton; A Natural by Ross Raisin; Wolf by Mo Hayder; Night Games: A Journey to the Dark Side of Sport by Anna Krien; 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough; Watching the Dark by Peter Robinson; The Book of Dust Volume One: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman; Devil’s Day by Andrew Michael Hurley; Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult; The Thirst by Jo Nesbo; Strange Weather by Joe Hill; Artemis by Andy Weir; Selfie: How we became so Self-Obsessed and what it’s doing to us by Will Storr; The Sons by Anton Svensson; Die of Shame by Mark Billingham; Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham; The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell; I am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist; In the Dark by Mark Billingham; Garden of Evil by Graham Masterton; The Partner by John Grisham; The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter; A Conspiracy of Tall Men by Noah Hawley; History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund; The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart; Fall Down Dead by Stephen Booth; Path of Needles by Alison Littlewood; If I Ever Fall by S.D. Robertson; Border Songs by Jim Lynch; Outside the Comfort Zone: Tales from Austerity Britain by Alan Devey; Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King; No Hunger in Paradise by Michael Calvin; The Bad Place by Dean Koontz; Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory; Cast Iron by Peter May; The White Tower by Cathryn Constable.

Some observations: Paul Tremblay dominates the chart for the second year running. Though Dave Eggers’ The Circle walked off with the ‘Andy’ for my favourite book of the year, Tremblay boasted both the number two and the number three slot in the chart, with A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock respectively. This year he’s gone one better, securing the top novel award, and I couldn’t recommend this author more. He’s as compulsive a read as Stephen King at his best, but his is a thoroughly modern take on an often clichéd genre. Tremblay makes horror/ dark fiction new and exciting. Get on it.

Literary heavyweight Paul Auster takes the runner-up slot with his super-heavyweight 4,3,2,1, a book which takes you so far into the mind of its protagonist that at times you think you are him. Though it is hard work at times, the book is worth it. And then some. Auster’s writing is far from austere here and at the end you come out feeling like you’ve truly lived the lives of some of the characters.

Benjamin Myers completes my top three. The Gallows Pole is like an unholy mix of Game of Thrones, Wolf Hall, and Kes. It’s brilliant. What a voice! Myers once competed with me for The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize. His novel won out over my Paint this town Red. He deserved it. He deserves even more for this offering.

Halcyon by Rio Youers makes the top ten (just). A decade (or so) ago, Rio and I shared a table of contents in a dark fiction anthology, and it’s stunning to see just how far his writing has progressed in that time (I’m not jealous, honest).

‘Darker’ fiction (crime and horror) again dominates the top of my chart, but my expanded criteria for inclusion means that a couple of non-fiction works have made the top twenty. Michael Finkel’s extraordinary book The Stranger in the Woods makes number four in my list.

Metafiction, and stories which are playful with the way stories are put together, also does well this year. Particular highlights are Anthony Horowitz’s Magpie Murders, Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids, and The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton are cases in point.

Finally, sports books do well, especially those about sporting outsiders, or mavericks. I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a tour de force in the exploration of sporting ego (and is also very funny), and forms an interesting counterpoint to Gazza in Italy by Daniel Storey, whilst Anna Krien’s Night Games is a chilling exposition of the darker side of sport – in this case Aussie Rules Football – (and masculinity).



My recent novel I Am Just Going Outside features in the December 2018 issue of Writers’ News magazine, in the Subscriber Spotlight section. There’s a snippet below.

Remember to join the conversation on Twitter, using the hashtag #outsidenovel, or, if you haven’t bought your copy of the book yet, go here.

Outside Writers News

I’m guest blogging today regarding my new novel I Am Just Going Outside and May Be Some Time on the Leeds Big Bookend blog.

You can read it here. And you can buy the book here.

BigBookend Blog.jpg

social mediaFind out more about my new novel (due out at the end of the month) using your usual social media channels. There’ll be freebies, competitions, and sneak previews all the way up to publication day. Here’s how you can get involved:

Search Twitter for #outsidenovel

or follow @ajkirbyauthor



Hello again. Just wanted to drop by to alert you to an opportunity. Before the release of my new novel I am just going outside… in late July, I’m looking for five volunteers to provide an early review of the book (on your own blogs/ websites/ social media pages, as well as on Amazon, once the book is up on the site).

It’ll be on a first-come, first-served basis, and I’ll be sending you an electronic version (either .mobi, which works on Kindle, or .pdf – let me know which you prefer in an email to the following address:

andrewkirby 92 (at) (please remove spaces and replace at with @).


Outside smaller


Spry logo

Hi all. Thought you might want to take a peek at an interview I’ve just done with Spry Lit. It mostly covers a short story I had published with them (‘The Siege’) but also strays into some interesting talk about the makings of short stories and the particular ingredients I used for this one. It also looks forward to the publication of my new novel I am just going outside… which is slated for elease by Wild Wolf Publishing at the end of July. For those of you who aren’t writers, it may make for enlightening reading.

You can read the piece here. Scroll down for my bit… It looks like this:

Spry Interview


I’ve had news today from my publishers Wild Wolf Publishing, that my new novel, I am just going Outside… I may be some time will be released in the very near future. Watch this space for further info…

Here’s the gen on the book:

You can call me Mr. Lonely. Got a job working for The Institute. Might have fudged my tests some.
They placed me in a research lab at the very edge of the world; a wasteland of snow and ice.
My partner, Nico, went out a while back… he’s been some time. He took the only snow-sled.
Outside, the storm closes in. It brings with it monsters.
Whether those monsters are outside or within me is unclear. Nico believes the latter. Either way, the end is drawing near.
I’ve found patches of blood in the snow.
I am just going outside and may be some time is a chilling, claustrophobic tale about solitude, about being alone at the very edge of the world, but at the same time being surveilled. It’s a story about connections, lost and found, and connectivity. It’s a story about the madness of ‘shouting into an empty cave’; talking and talking and never quite knowing whether anyone at all is listening. Combining Kirby’s trademark dark humour – which tickles the sharper end of the funny bone – and the same heart-stopping horror we’ve come to know and love from his previous work (Bully, Paint this town Red, Small Man Syndrome, and Sharkways) this is a fast-paced, heart-jangling novella which will keep you up nights.