Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Vintage comedy interlude - The Dangerous Brothers

Mid 1980's: Duran pissing Duran and Wham everywhere. British comedy was at a turning point. It's hard to believe that less than thirty years ago, saturday night television comedy consisted of vast amounts of sexism, racism and mother-in-lawism, but it did. The spirit of punk bought with it a new wave of, erm, new wave comedians. The Young Ones, The Comic Strip presents and a few years later, Saturday Live then Friday Night Live.

With Ben Elton compering, and his political ranting style of comedy I'd never seen before, Harry Enfield and his various characters, and comedians from both sides of the pond. One of the comedians (Canadian Steven Wright) was responsible for the joke that led to this blog's title. - I bought some Batteries once, but they weren't included.

For me though the best bit was The Dangerous Brothers.

Suppose it was continuation of The Young One's characters that later went on to Filthy, Rich and Catflap and of course, Bottom.


If you haven't seen it, The Comic Strips' Mr Jolly Live next door is arguably their best comic work together, and it's got Nicholas bloody Parsons in it too. If you can be bothered to register, it's available on 4OD and no doubt also available at other, less official sites.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Ten Questions - Craig Saunders

I thought I could type quickly, but Craig really does write vast amounts of books as you can see on his amazon page. I first came across Craig's future-based comedy thriller Spiggot, which was memorable for not only the poo Olympics but also a cracking story line.

Tiswas or Swap Shop?

Ha...I'm a TV snob and always will be. I don't watch TV anymore, but back in days of yore it'd be Beeb all the way, so, Swap Shop!

What's your latest book about?

It's a slightly odd supernatural horror, concerning a guy who reaches rock bottom and makes a fateful decision to move away from the high life in London to quieter shores, by the sea in Norfolk. They move to The Estate (cunningly, the title of the book), and discover a dark and terrible entity has taken it over.

That's the nutshell version. It's an intensely personal book, I think. I wrote it longhand (the only time I've ever done that) and there's a lot of myself in it. It's close to my heart, being my first horror novel. I think my publisher Crowded Quarantine Publications and the cover artist Jethro Lentle have done me proud. It will be out in Hardback, Trade Paperback and Digital formats Halloween 2013.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Time was, I'd have said Wars, but now, with the benefit of hindsight it's got to be Trek. The depth of character, the humanism, the invention, world building, longevity...ooh, I could go on for hours about Trek and it's various interpretations, but in short, Trek all the way.

Where do you write?

I write in the MAN CAVE! Or, to be more accurate, the shed. It's a little better than a shed, but's a shed. I write on the 'puter, freeze in the winter, boil in the summer. There's a toilet and the kitchen's not far, plus I can smoke in my shed. And, I've got a rug.

Here's a picture of THE SHED: 

Ninja Turtle or Touche Turtle?

Can't say I've ever seen Touche Turtle, but I know what it is and it seems cute. Ninja Turtles? Don't like them - too violent, especially the modern iterations. I like to keep my kids' off things that make them all fighty!

Is your writing inspired by real events or does it all come from a dark place in your head?

Honestly? Boring answer is, I'm just typing. Stuff comes out. I guess I lean toward the dark, but then horror's not really about the dark, is it? It's just contrast, I think, in a greater battle  between good and evil. I'm quite nice, really. I like nice people and happy endings...but horror lets those 'good' characters shine in a way that other genres sometimes don't.

Plus, I think I'm a fantasist at heart, and my horror, I think, is just an excuse for me to play mental cosplay.

Does that make sense? I don't think it does.


Read G.R.R. Martin's Rretrospective collections for better explanation of 'why horror'. But...(checks question again!) Sometimes it's inspired by places, more often, it's just me, typing and telling lies.

Grange Hill or Harry Hill?

Harry Hill. I hate angst.

Physical book or e-book?

Physical! I have a Kindle, but I have to admit, I'm not overly fond of it.

Prisoner Cell block H or H from Steps?

Ha...that's a tricky one. Never seen one, and I think H is the blonde guy? I guess H from Steps, because I think Prisoner Cell Block H is probably some kind of drama, and I'm allergic to all but kids' TV!

Where can we find you?

In real life, I'm a denizen of Norfolk. But in the virtual world, you can find me by typing in 'Craig Saunders' in Amazon, or, as craigrsaunders on blogspot and my FB author page, or @petrifiedtank on Twitter.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Bakewell Book Signing

Well, they were never going to be queueing around the block when I arrived. First book, first signing - it is, as everyone says, more a case of getting to know people and let the world know you exist.

I have to admit I was nervous in advance of it. I mean, apart from signing books, what exactly do you do at a book signing? Turns out that unless you've sold a few hundred thousand already, you wait patiently, talk to anyone who isn't avoiding you, hand out bookmarks and then sell a few.

The Bakewell Bookshop is at a corner of Matlock Street near the main roundabout.

I was in the window to the left of the picture just behind a little table. This ensured that as people walked by, they took a look in and read the poster on the window. There's a Bagpuss or Bakewell Tart joke in there somewhere, except the actual pastries are called Bakewell Puddings, but I suppose there's a joke there too.

After an hour or so of wishing the floor would open and swallow me alive, I sold some books. The first was to a very nice couple, who seemed interested in the story, and bought the book as a present for their friend. I suppose you never forget the first book you sign (I've signed a few others for friends, family, etc but obviously this was different). After that, the floodgates trickled open and at one point I even had someone waiting to talk to me.

Thanks to The Bakewell Bookshop for having me for the day, and for the Test Match updates, all in all it was a very enjoyable day.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Thinking of changing my surname to Galbraith

The post I had planned about JK Rowling has already been written and, I have to say, worded much better than what I would have wrote and that.

Conspiracy or just plain fancied seeing what would happen without her history having an effect? Suppose we'll never know. A few have said the sales were terrible, obviously forgetting that for what appeared to be a first time author, she was never going to hit number one. It is, as the Guardian says, down to advertising. Without a big budget, no one knows the book is out there. There was also a limited amount of self promotion she could do, book signings were out for the obvious reason as well as radio and local newspapers. Without them, 1,500 doesn't sound that bad in terms of sales.

The funniest thing of all (I think) is 99% of bookshops and supermarkets haven't got it in stock. It's zoomed up the kindle chart which realistically is the only way of buying it until the distribution chain swings into action. How quickly can they print 50 or 100,000 of the books though? Or are the conspiracy theorists going to claim there are warehouses full of books waiting for this day as it's been planned well in advance.

The false bio is in some ways disturbing though. I wonder whether it was her idea or the result of some market research that says the best chance of being a crime writer is to be male and ex-forces. Anyone who creates a pen name for whatever reason must go through the same choices. Does being ex-forces or ex-police make you a better writer or a better perceived writer though. 

To be honest, If she'd have come clean at the start I probably wouldn't have bought it. I guess I will read it at some point, but I won't rush out and buy it when it finally does hit the shops.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Queueing (again)

Long time readers of the other blog will maybe remember my feelings about queueing. There's nothing more British than standing in an orderly line, waiting calmly for hours for something you've already paid for. Fantastic fun. Our latest experience of queueing was a visit to Alton Towers last Friday.

It's been a few years since we've gone, and I have to admit I'd forgotten that even though you pay £46.25 for the pleasure of entry, you then have to endure an hour or so queueing with other miserable people in order to enjoy travelling upside down at 30mph for thirty seconds. Great value that.

Of course, the first ride we queued up for broke down after nearly an hour's wait when we were near the front, so we queued up for another two hours to ride their new bone-shaker The Smiler.

Pictures a bit poor I know, but it was actually a good ride. Judging also by my other half's swearing, it had the desired effect on her too in terms of being thrilling etc. After that, and with nearly half the day gone, it did seem like the day would disappear in a series of queues and a few two minute rides. However, the queues disappeared - probably the millions of school kids shipped in for day having to get home. Whatever it was, we managed 5 rides in the remaining 3 hours.

So, any mathematicians may have worked that out to be £7.71 per ride. Add to that the £6 car park fee, the drinks, ice creams etc and you've spent the GDP of a small African country by tea time. And, we got to spend nearly five hours queueing and moaning.

Sarcasm aside though, it was a good day out.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Ten Questions - Darren Sant

Blogger, reviewer, fellow ranter, and writer of the gritty, britty, Longcroft Series, Mr Darren Sant joins us this week to answer ten questions we desperately need answers to.

Kick Start or Crackerjack?

Tricky one. I dig both but if I must nail my colours to the mast....Crackerjack.

What's your latest book The Bank Manager and the Bum about?

Here's an extract from the blurb:
When branch manager Giles Macintosh arrives to open up one morning and finds an injured bum and his battered dog lying in the doorway of the bank, he little suspects what lies in store for them all.

Giles does the decent thing and calls for help, then puts the incident out of his mind. However, having been witness to things he cannot explain, he feels drawn to the man and tries to track him down … only to find he has vanished.

But who is the enigmatic, homeless Frank? Why are two very nasty men trying to find him? Why has a prostitute been abducted? And what does the future hold for Giles’s seriously ill son, Jake?
As the story unfolds, the tension increases and the true nature of Frank’s amazing secret begins to be revealed. The stakes are high as the criminal and the supernatural come together for a final, inevitable showdown.

I suppose it's about hope and not having preconceptions about people because of their social standing.  Like all my fiction I do my best to entertain and I also try to strike a balance between the message and the events.

Little or Large?

Little. The straight men never get enough credit.

When do you write?

Mornings and evening are when my brain seems at its best.

Doner Kebab or Donna Summer?

Doner kebab smeared over Donna Summer. I had that dream once…

Is your writing inspired by real events or does it all come from a dark place in your head?

Most things I write are grounded in some kind of exaggerated version of reality. I think I take more darkness from the news than my own head. Humanity is evil enough in reality.

Lara Croft or Longcroft?

Longcroft!  Available from Amazon for just £1.53...........
Mind you Lara Croft....what lovely bouncy pixels.

Physical book or e-book?

I like both but I read more e-books than physical books these days.

Prisoner Cell block H or H from Steps?

I'd gladly consign both to room 101.

Where can we find you?

In the pub usually! Oh, I see what you mean......
I tweet mainly as @groovydaz39
My way out of date barely constructed website:

Friday, 5 July 2013

Very short review - Dead Spy Running by Jon Stock

Millhouse from the Simpsons once said, 'This is like Speed 2 except it's on a bus instead of a boat.' Well Dead Spy Running is a bit like both Speed 1 and 2, except it's on foot.

At the start, a man has a bomb strapped to his body while running the London marathon and if his speed drops less than a few miles per hour, the bomb will explode, taking out the US ambassador who also happens to be running nearby.

The plot interested me as I did quite like the Speed films, and I also loved the Father Ted episode with the milkfloat. Back to Dead Spy Running, the bombing is just the very start, afterwards we have a fast paced international chase to get the bad guys. Of course, the spy's a paranoid loner and has some issues, and everyone thinks he's responsible for the bombing. All good spy novel stuff.

If you're a fan of spy novels, it ticks all the boxes. Fast paced, secrets and gadgets, and twists and turns galore. I don't usually give marks out of 5, but there's better books out there and there's also worse, so I guess it's a 3.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Bakewell Book Signing

I've got a book signing coming up at Bakewell Book Shop on 20th July. It would be good to meet anyone who's in the area.

Also, Paul D Brazill interveiwed me over at his place, 

Monday, 1 July 2013

Lowdham Book Festival

Took a little trip out on Saturday to the Lowdham Book Festival. I have to admit, I've never been before despite it being only a half hour drive away. I've also never really been to a book or literary festival before, so it was a good chance to take a look round and see what actually happens at these sort of things.

Anyway, long story short, had a great afternoon. Unfortunately the events were full so we couldn't get into any of the talks etc, but we had a look round met some very nice people including another local author, found out about Writing East Midlands, and I bought a signed copy of John Harvey's Flesh and Blood.

It made me wonder how many other book festivals there are out there. A quick google search shows loads throughout the year and that's just locally (Buxton Festival coming up soon). Go an hour or two away and you could probably catch one most weekends.