It’s Going To Be One Hell Of A Christmas.

 

Let It Snow is now available for pre-order via Amazon as an ebook at the discounted price of £3.24 via this link. The paperback version will be available from the actual release date of November 11th. It’s a police procedural novel inspired by the 87th Precinct series by the legendary Ed McBain. It’s never easy getting a book off the ground, so any support would be welcome. For those in East Lothian who are involved in book groups, I’d be happy to come along and discuss the novel and my writing regime with you if you felt it worthy of your consideration.

The blurb reads:

Police Constable Ernie Shavers is murdered while trying to save the life of a suicidal teenager and everyone wants a piece of the killer. Some are happy to play it by the book, others don’t give a damn if the rules are smashed to pieces. Whether they’re playing straight or crooked, they may not have long before the killer strikes again. Unfortunately it’s a big city and the current crime wave has thrown them a couple of curve balls to pile on the pressure.

At the zoo, a rhino is killed for its horn. With no evidence trail and a broken heart, DS Sue Nolan turns to an old flame, a man who always has his ear to the ground. Gangland boss, Johnny Yen, is only too happy to help, but only if he can get a little something in return.

In the centre of town, the biggest store in the city is robbed by a mannequin. It’s the perfect inside job and the owners of the store know exactly which officer they want on the case, only the officer doesn’t feel quite the same way.

If that wasn’t bad enough, record snowfall has created chaos within the police department.

It’s going to be one hell of a Christmas.

Now available for pre-order:

Barnes and Noble
Google Play
Smashwords
Apple
Kobo
amazon.com
amazon.co.uk
amazon.ca 
amazon.aus 
amazon.de

Newcastle Noir 2019

The programme for Newcastle Noir has just been released and it offers a feast of entertainment for fans of crime fiction. The list of authors is terrific and there’s such a mix that there’s something there for everyone.

I’m delighted to be part of it this year. I’ll be part of a panel including Paul Heatley, Alan Parks and Tony Hutchinson. We’ll be exploring the gritty side of noir fiction. Our event will be on Sunday 5th May at 10:30am and the programme reads:

‘Nasty makes the noir world go round and these authors play it as dirty as it comes. Their fiction is as raw as it is real, a bad-to-the-bone ride to dark places where nothing is off limits and every bite draws blood.’

That will do very nicely, thank you very much.

Check out the festival here and see if you can’t find something to get you salivating.

Of course, a weekend can be a long time and crime fiction may not be something you want buzzing round your head for all of that time, so I thought I’d pass on a few of my favourite Newcastle (and surrounding area) things to do.

We were there last weekend, minus our studying daughter. She’s been working hard for her National 5s and couldn’t afford the distraction (or so she said). It was the first time she has been home alone for a night and, thankfully, everything was still standing when we returned.

We managed to get to three galleries this time around.

The Baltic Gallery is a must. You don’t really have to see the work inside to enjoy it. The building is a thing of beauty, the infinite staircase a fascination and the view from the top is stunning. What I like about the Baltic is that it has never failed to rouse a range of emotions. I love a lot of the work they’ve exhibited and I’ve hate a fair bit, too. I take that as a good thing – I don’t go along to be wowed, but to be challenged. Highlight this time for me (and this will still be open over Newcastle Noir’s weekend) is the Baltic Artist’s Award 2019. Three artists are on display and I was moved to the edge of tears by much of the work. Truly powerful.

The Side Gallery is also a total winner. It’s a small and intimate space, but they make the most of it by showing photographs that are stunning. Currently on show is called Small Town Inertia by Jim Mortram, a hard-hitting set of portraits of people struggling to get by, to be heard or to be visible. This one won’t be there in May, but if you’re there before, check it out.

The Laing Gallery is a different space again. Walking through the doors to be greeted by Henry Moore’s Seated Woman With A Thin Neck is the best kind of welcome. Look out for Shot Boy by Ken Currie – haunting in every way.

Grainger Market is a classy undercover space that ticks lots of my boxes. Cheap fruit and veg, second hand books, stylish shoes, delicious eats and lots more besides. You want it, you’ll probably find it and if you like a bargain, check it out.

Talking of bargains, Newcastle is blessed with some top charity shops. We always find something and they’re not priced in the rip-off range that some places insist upon these days.

The Quayside market is a Sunday morning treat. After you’ve popped along to our event and decided to hang around to catch the lovely Helen Fitzgerald, you can stroll down here to pick up an exotic lunch and a present for your loved ones back home.

There was the cat cafe down by the quayside. I’ve never been to one before and wasn’t sure how I would take to it. The coffee wasn’t the best, but the cats were cool and the atmosphere was perfectly chilled. My kids loved it and can’t wait to go back.

We went in to a climbing facility at the top of the Eldon Square shopping centre for the first time. It’s similar to others we’ve been to and lots of fun. My two loved it and while they were scaling the heights, we took the chance to soak up some of that art I mentioned earlier.

The Discovery Museum was on hand to help us pass the final hour before out train was due. There’s lots to see and do and if it’s raining and you’re not sure of where to go this is one of the best places to take shelter.

We managed all of that in around twenty-four hours. It helps that the city is compact and vibrant and well worth a visit at any time of year.

Other places we love there that we didn’t make it to this time around:

St James’s Park. It’s a great stadium. I took my son to see his beloved Spurs at the beginning of the season and we also went down to see Wolves showing their fangs. The Magpies are at home to Liverpool on Saturday 4th May, so the city and the pitch will be buzzing.

Whitley Bay’s a beautiful place to see the sea. A Metro or a bus will take you there from the centre with ease if you have a little more time to spare.

Tynemouth Metro station has a Sunday market that has it all. Even if you don’t fancy buying anything, it has a lovely atmosphere and there’s plenty to do in the area if you like browsing, walking or checking out historical buildings (the castle and priory is just at the end of the street).

The Victoria Tunnel is an ace adventure. Take a walk underground and hear some great stories of past lives from expert volunteer guides. We loved it.

The Biscuit Factory is a gallery we also like to get to every once in a while. It’s commercial in the sense that it’s selling work, offering a space to artists and craftspeople everywhere to get their pieces seen. There’s a huge variety again and there’s always something to catch the eye or to feed the spirit.

For those with time on their hands, a trip on a boat across the Tyne to South Shields is a treat in itself. It’s even more exciting if you pop into The Word, a stylish library that’s full of light and, well, books.

And the place I’ve not visited, but have always meant to, is Seven Stories. I hear good things. If you have young children who love books, I reckon this should be on your radar.

Which about wipes me out for now. I’m not a drinker or a clubber and the city is famous for its nightlife. Just turn up and wander around and you’ll find a suitable home if that’s what you’re after.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, it’s simply a reflection of personal experience. Basically, Newcastle is a terrific city that’s full of warmth and energy. It’s a great place to visit. It’s a wonderful venue for a classy crime fiction festival.

If you get along on the Sunday morning, come along and say hi. Unlike my fiction, I don’t bite.

Free Book Bonanza

Today and into early next week, I have a plethora of offers available to you. 

The first of these comes in the form of my teacher noir novel In Loco Parentis. All Due Respect books have lowered the price from $5.99 and £4.64 to the bargainous 99c/99p. This is across all e-book retailers including:

Which is fantastic.

Meanwhile, there are also deals on the Southsiders series. Books 1 and 2 are free, 3 and 4 are available for 99c as part of a Kindle Countdown Deal. 

Southsiders US

Southsiders UK

Southsiders Canada

Southsiders Australia

Three for Free

To celebrate the release of book four in the Southsiders series this weekend, you can pick up the first three for free via Amazon at this link.

It’s a kind of suck it and see thing.

And book four itself? It goes something like this:

With the death toll at the Phoenix Festival rising, Jesse is one of the lucky ones. Unfortunately he can’t see things that way. As soon as he regains consciousness, there’s only one thing on his mind – REVENGE. He enlists Danny’s help to find the men who killed his girlfriend and intends to deliver justice in the old-fashioned way.

Danny goes along with him, but only on the condition that Jesse doesn’t get his hands dirty when they’re on the job. Unfortunately for Danny, even the best made plans can go awry.

The explosive and final instalment of the Jesse Garon series.

And then there were three….

By The Time I Get To Phoenix is the third book in the Southsiders series and it’s available for kindle now. The paperback version will be out in a day or so. I finished this one a couple of years ago. Sadly, the publisher Blasted Heath didn’t manage to put it out before their demise, so it’s great to finally bring the story to life. 

It’s a timely title given the recent passing of Glen Campell. If you don’t know the song, it’s a beauty. Check out Glen’s version here, or my favourite rendition by Nick Cave here.

Where Charity Begins

In a time when global issues are going haywire and the world has begun to spin backwards, it can be difficult to make sense of anything. Influencing outcomes feels further out of grasping distance than maybe it should. In the UK and the US the driving forces defy the rational and appeal to the insecure. I have no idea how to move forward just now and am reflecting on ways in which I might make a difference when the time feels right.

Maybe the best thing to do is to look to the local. There are many worthy things happening in my neighbourhood that respect both people and environment and I manage to do my bit without actually ever making a huge effort. I’m very grateful to those with big hearts who are out there influencing the world on my and our behalf.

My hope that all can be well has been given a boost of late by a campaign to help a girl who lives in my home town. Her name is Macy and she requires major spinal surgery to correct a massive curvature. In order to get the best of treatment £150000 is required and that’s a lot of dosh. Not that the organisers of her fundraising group have been daunted by the size of the mountain they have to climb. The Facebook page is here if you’d like to take a closer look.

I’ve loved watching the community come together to help them on their way. There have been or soon will be mammoth walks, swims, outdoor events, ceilidhs, gigs, school dress-downs and talent shows to help out. This morning I went in to the pop up shop on Dunbar High Street in the Be Green shop and bought a few things I don’t really need – if you’re in the area today or tomorrow it’s fab and well worth making a visit for.

In the light of such togetherness, I’ve offered to help out in the only way I really know or understand, and that’s by raising money through the sale of books.

For the next three months, any money I make from sales of The Shallows (US) will be going to Macy’s fund. I’ve chosen The Shallows because it’s been very well received and is possibly the most accessible of my crime stories. It’s practically mainstream fiction and there’s even a police procedural thread weaving through the fabric. The money will come whether the sale is a paperback or an ebook and if you feel like enjoying a read and helping out a great cause, then I’d be grateful of the support.

I know that there are lots of worthy people and groups out there who deserve your attention and that you may have your own favourite charities or organisations , but I still would like to flag this up to you in case you feel like joining this particular cause. Maybe it’s by coming together in circumstances like this that those seemingly untouchable bigger issues might be addressed.

If you like the idea of supporting Macy, but don’t really want to buy into the author angle you can always make a direct donation at www.gofundme.com/fund-spine-surgery-for-macy Every little bit will be gratefully received.

Thanks for listening and good luck Macy. Here’s hoping.