Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The Spy with Eczema

As I know I've said before, the problem with writing and being easily distracted is you end with loads of book starts, quite a few almost finished books and a couple of ideas that you think would make crackers.

Last count is one finished comedy spy romp book, The Spy with Eczema, one very nearly finished police procedural, Last Gang in Town, three part finished books (20,000 words of a Dystopian Epidemic series that will eventually be a million words, 10,000 into a 90s Rave culture road trip, 10,000 into a young adult time travel yarn (yep, I've no idea how I started writing that one) 10,000 into the sequel to The Spy ... , and five more around the 5,000 mark including a Debt Collector (possibly will become another police procedural) and a half arsed start on a sequel to seven daze, and also about 10 short stories I don't know what to do with.

That's a lot of books (and commas and brackets)

Luckily, there's an easy solution to clear the backlog: release them on Amazon.

Starting first..... The Spy with Eczema is now out. The others will hopefully follow by some means or other.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The greenhouse again

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Cheap plastic sheeting from Ebay, an old wooden and half fallen down greenhouse, and a bank holiday weekend. The result was functional if not pretty.

It lasted well. All through the summer, and into autumn, we had tomato plants, cucumbers and chilies. In October, after a touch of high wind, a few cracks were revealed in the plastic (it had stretched in situ and at the cracks appeared where it met the cross beams)

I thought it might just last the winter. Sure it could need a touch of patching up in spring, but I thought it was integrally strong enough to last.

Then last week, hurricane Bob or whatever the name was struck...

Realistically, none of the top half is salvageable due to the way it's split. The lower half  is intact but probably won't be this time next week.

The door is the worst part for me. I must have spent an hour making it from a pasting table. While it should be easy to recover, it'll never be the same.

Of course, like the six million dollar man, we will rebuild it. I'll probably spend more than 11 quid on the plastic this time too.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

That old spy book

Those of you that used to follow either the old blog or know me from Authonomy days will know of a certain comedy spy book that I used to punt around.

It's actually 20 years ago that I started writing parts of it, which is nice. Problem was, it got out of hand and at an unwieldy 140,000 words it was consigned to the hard drive after being finished.

However, like all good phoenixes (or phoeni as I think the plural should be), it has risen from the ashes in a rather more acceptable 87,000ish word length.

More news on what is now either called The Spy with Eczema or A Spy called Barry very soon...

Friday, 25 September 2015

Monday, 20 July 2015


As previously mentioned, about 77 strawberry plants seemed a good idea a few years ago. Everyone likes strawberries don't they, and they're not cheap in the shops etc.

Well so far I've had at least 12 pounds of the buggers (and nearly half as much again have gone unpicked and rotted/spoiled). Problem is, picking them involves a lot of time and bending over and my back's not particularly good at bending.

I've made jam, ice cream, given loads away and have a shopping bag full of frozen ones that I don't really know what to do with. Needless to say, I'll be halving the amount of plants for next year.

Anyway, some picture highlights of this year's strawberry bonanza.

A small fraction of the strawberries so far picked

Strawberry that looks a bit like someone facing right

Strawberry that looks a bit like a boot (or Italy if you like)

Allotment bath tub lilies are in bloom, but the tadpoles/frogs appeared to have either hopped off, or not made it.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Short Book Review - The Corpse Role by Keith Nixon

Having enjoyed The Fix and Konstantin's various escapades, I was looking forward to reading Keith's latest. A bit of a change as it's a police procedural, but it's still got the same, tight writing that distinguishes Nixon from other writers.

The story begins when DI Charlotte Granger is called out to the decomposing body of an ex-security van driver and finds a business card in his wallet for an ex DS, now private investigator. The subsequent investigations give a big cast list, an equally big body count, and the interesting use of first-person past tense at various points keeps the speed up to almost breathless levels and keeps you interested throughout.

Due to the way the action builds up, it would be hard to give a full review without throwing in some spoilers. So I'll just say that two particular events: an unusual source of compost, and the surprise at the end, made Corpse Role very memorable.

Highly recommended read.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Shoots, High winds and Bees

Allotment time again...

Another bout of recent high winds have tested the greenhouse thing but, as yet, the thing still hasn't fallen down. I've also got some tomatoes and a cucumber growing inside it.

 The cucumber is a 'ridge' outdoor type that I haven't yet dared to let outside due to it still being a bit chilly at night.

Strawberries are looking good. There's a hundred plants altogether (picture shows half of them) with at least ten flowers on each. This year was always going to be the bumper crop as strawberries tend to be at their best two years after planting, but the problem is they'll all come in the space of a fortnight. And that's a lot of strawberries.

Finally, had a run in with the compost bin yesterday. While trying to get some compost out, about thirty bees swarmed out and went for me. Obviously I ran and hid and eventually managed to cover the thing back up, but it looks like they've made a nest or hive or whatever and, to be honest, they can have it. Picture doesn't show much I'm afraid, but you get the general idea.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Short Book Review - Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard

Being a fan of the film, I'd put off reading the book for a long time. I suppose I thought I'd constantly compare it to the film. As it happens I did, but it wasn't a problem, if anything it made the book and storyline stronger.

Jackie Brown is actually Jackie Burke, still an airline stewardess but white. That, and what happens to one of the detectives, are the main differences between the book and the film. The ending is also different, but I still hummed 100th Street when I finished reading it. We also get to read about more of Ordell's deals.

The book itself is a tight page-turner and I only wish I'd read it before seeing the film. 

Got to be 5/5

Tuesday, 5 May 2015


Remember this thing in the corner of the allotment plot?

Well after £11.23 on eBay plastic sheeting, a few quid on pound shop nails and screws, some scavenged wood and a bank holiday weekend, we have this...

So the plastic's a bit thinner than I thought and they've given out heavy winds tomorrow, but it has so far lasted two days. I'm particularly chuffed with the door which was fashioned from an old pasting table chopped down to size.

The side view (faces roughly south west) shows my handy-manning skills off in all their glory.

The other side, well, I ran out of steam and plastic at this point. I'll finish it off next weekend, if the whole thing hasn't blown away by then.

Tadpole watch is going well. The little things have grown and hopefully they'll be frogs everywhere up the allotment.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Ten Questions - Aidan Thorn

The Boy with the Thorn in his side surname, Aidan's written some short story zingers that have been up at Shotgun Honey and Pulp Metal Magazine amongst other places.
I thought I'd Ask him what's going on at the moment, and though These things take time to put together, he didn't Panic.
I would say he's a bit of a Rogue but that joke isn't funny anymore...

What are you currently working on?

I've got a couple of things on the go at the moment. Firstly, I'm working with Craig Douglas and Darren Sant on getting my second short story collection, Urban Decay, ready for publication under their Grit Fiction publishing company. I think we're nearly there and I'm really excited to get this book out with them. I'm also working on a novella that I've been working on in many ways for about 17 years. I had this idea for a screenplay years ago and I started writing it, but it sat in a desktop folder somewhere for years and never progressed. I was clearing out some old files a couple of years ago and found it again and still liked the idea so I decided to turn it into a novella. I've been plodding through it since about this time last year, but it's nearly there and I'm really happy with it. It's a sort of crime farce about an accidental kidnapping and it's called Worst Laid Plans. Once it's done I'll try and find a publisher for it.

Why did you start writing?

In someways I've always written. I used to write songs, I got into film and started having script ideas and I've always loved books and figured I'd give it a go. I probably started taking it seriously about 5 years ago when I started my first novel, but I've always found that I get most satisfaction from the short stuff, there's a real buzz from writing a story, seeing it published and getting a reaction to it, that's what keeps me coming back to the short stuff and has stopped me progressing the novella or turning the novel into something I'd be happy to see published... I need a bit more discipline, because when I started writing short fiction I was hooked.

Where do you write?

Everywhere. In my living room sat on the floor (that's where I am now), in the garden with the sun shining (that's where I'll be later), in the office at lunchtime, on the train or in hotel rooms when I have to travel for work. Where ever and whenever I can basically.

Is your writing inspired by real events?

Yes and no. Some of my stories are inspired by real events, for example the very short story in new collection, Urban Decay, called 'Lucky' is basically me making a story of an encounter my friend had last year and I thought it would make a neat little short. I don't write too much horror but I did write one a couple years back that was inspired by a photo of my parents wedding... There's a ghostly figure stood over a grave stone as they walk away from the church and I used that to inspire a story called 'The Guest' that was published at Thills, Kills 'n' Chills. Obviously, there's often elements of what you know when you write something, but most of what I write is entirely fiction, set around familiar areas for me. If much of what I wrote was inspired by real events I think I'd be in prison, insane or both.

Do you have enough time to write?

No. That's why I try to make sure I pinch moments whenever I can, as I said, on the train or during lunch breaks etc...

Have you got a favourite author/genre?

Absolutely, I'm a fan of crime fiction, as most of my writing will show you. For me the masters of this genre are Lawrence Block, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly and the number one is George Pelecanos. But the great thing about writing myself is that I've found a bunch of other writers that I never would have who I'm hugely impressed by, I'm going to upset a few by missing them out, but I have to mention Darren Sant's Longcroft books and his excellent adult fairytale The Bank Manager and the Bum, I was on a train to and from Liverpool last month and I read two excellent novella's White Knight by Bracken MacLeod and Bang Bang You're Dead by Nick Quantrill. I'm really impressed by the work coming out from Number 13 Press at the moment, particularly Grant Nichol's The Mistake. Paul D Brazill always impresses me. Chris Leek wrote two of the best books I read last year, his short story collection and his Western novella. And, I have to give a mention to Gareth Spark, his short story collection, Snake Farm, is out soon and I've been privileged enough to have seen and advanced copy... Wow, this guy is unbelievably talented and should be one of literature's biggest stars.

Physical book or e-book?

Both, although I'm tending to sway more towards e-books these days. I still get physical books for the authors I love the most, but an e-book is just so much easier to carry around and I always have a huge choice of books right there with me when I finish one.

Who should we look out for?

Well I've already mentioned quite a few people in the question above. I've met so many talented people through writing, all of whom deserve a mention here. I know I've already given him a shout out, but I urge people that if they by one book this year, well make it Urban Decay by me, but if you buy two, it has to be Gareth Spark's Snake Farm. Honestly, there is so much talent in that guy it's scary. Actually, I'm going to suggest people buy a third book this year, grab Rogue from Near to the Knuckle too. It's packed with talent, some of my favourite writers working today, I don't want to offend any of them because they're all great but people that have particularly impressed me from this collection in the past year are T Maxim Simmler, Matt Mattila, Cal Marcius, Gary Duncan and Tess Makovesky. I also think people should be keeping an eye on what Number 13 Press is doing, they're putting out top quality crime fiction every month for 13 months (please let it go on longer!) at just 99p... I started the latest one from B R Stateham this morning and it's great.

What question would you ask yourself?

Aidan, when you were 14 and away in Wales on a family holiday and you saw a sign that said, Nirvana Live tonight, returns available, why the fuck did you say, 'I'm not going with you' when your dad said, 'if you want to go I'll go take you'... Kurt was dead within a year and my chance to see Nirvana was gone... Everyday I wish I could go back and give my younger self a slap.

Where can we find you?

You can find me on twitter @AidanDFThorn,

on my website

and on amazon -

And, if you're ever in Southampton you can drop me a line and find me for a beer

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Frogspawn, slugs and wood preservative

Strange things have been going on in the allotment bath tub. Whilst giving it a little clear out of some grass that somehow managed to grow on top of water (how does that work?) I noticed this.

Frogspawn, loads of it. This means two things. Firstly frogs are already somewhere on the plot, secondly it means a lot more frogs should be soon on the plot (subject to the vagaries of nature, predators etc). Frogs, if you didn't know, are good as they eat slugs. However, frogs and slug pellets don't mix too well as they kill frogs. So it looks like I won't be using slug pellets this year, I just hope the frogs do their bit and eat the slugs.

The greenhouse thing has been painted with extremely watery wood preservative and a few nails bashed in here and there. Operation fix roof has yet to begin, but is pencilled in for late April / early May.

Finally, the last of the Parsnips turned out to be a whopper

More allotment fun and games next time...

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Ten Questions - Walter Conley

After a bit of a hiatus, Ten Questions returns.

First of the new stable of horses ready to be released from the Ten Questions block, is the thoroughbred that is Walter Conley. With one of his shorts appearing in the new Near to the Knuckle anthology, if you've not already read Walter's writing then it's time to do so before the horse has bolted, so to speak.

What are you currently working on?
I’m writing a novella about a woman who must commit a terrible act of violence to save her own life. She kills two men in the process and is hunted by a surviving family member.
Last year, an agent requested that I submit a novel. I’m preparing to send it now. A fringe character from my Wellesport stories orchestrates a hit that goes wrong, flees cross-country and winds up in an even more dire situation.
I’ve also been working on a TV series—based on the true account of a little-known female serial killer—which was just pitched to a studio.
Nothing too pleasant. I think the last upbeat thing I wrote was a coloring book in 2001.

Why did you start writing?
To get laid. No, wait—that was Somerset Maugham.
I have given plenty of thought to the craft and my choice of subject matter, but not to why I started. I’ve been doing it since I learned to put a sentence together. I’m a born recluse and spent most of my childhood immersed in books, so it was only natural that I attempt it myself. Discovering Poe caused me take writing seriously. Other key influences in my early development were Ira Levin (Rosemary’s Baby is so believeable you forget you’re reading a novel on the first page), Harold Pinter (silences and smokescreen-banter often reveal more than they conceal) and George V. Higgins (pacing, economy and, well, everything—it’s Higgins).

Where do you write?
On a PC at a desk that belonged to my wife’s late grandmother, in a room that’s kind of an office/madhouse with toys and a piano; walk in and you’ll be greeted by a four foot antique doll in a Mercedes SUV. Recently, though, my wife bought a laptop and I’ve been trying that out in the music room, in front of the TV. I don’t write in public. When I go to a coffee shop, it’s to drink coffee. Black coffee. Small, medium or large.
“Short, you said?”
“No, small.”

Is your writing inspired by real events?
Not current events. I have adapted incidents from my past, but the bulk of what I write is invented. The creation of new material supercedes every other aspect of this for me—to the point that I often jump from first draft to first draft without revising things. Usually I’ll have a single line of dialogue or description pop into my head and off I go.

Do you have enough time to write?
I have quite a bit. I work three long nights a week, over the weekend, then write on weekdays. I tend to edit in shorter sessions after lunch. If possible, I also bang out a little on weekend mornings.

Have you got a favourite author/genre?

Patricia Highsmith, since I read The Cry of the Owl as a teenager. I re-read her books all the time.
I don’t have a favorite genre. My latest stack contains a biography, classics, YA fantasy, a nonfic book on the U.S. black market...

Physical book or e-book?
I prefer physical, although I read a lot of e-books. I have print books scattered from one end of my house to the other. I miss brick-and-mortar bookstores, which have all but vanished where I live.

Who should we look out for?
JD Phillips has impressed the hell out of me. I know she’s busy and can’t wait to see what comes out next.

What question would you ask yourself?
I already know too much.

Where can we find you?
I am notoriously unreliable with social media. Best bet is probably facebook, /wconley2. I have a blog called Katharine Hepcat, at I’m on twitter as @pitchbrite and can be contacted via Forthcoming is a short entitled “Doctor Bitch” in Near to the Knuckle’s Rogue anthology.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Short Review - A Dedicated Man by Peter Robinson

The second in the Inspector Banks series sees Banks investigating a murder in a small Dales village.

When Harry Steadman is found dead at the side of a field, Banks quickly recognises it's a murder and scours the small village seeking out the deceased's friends and possible foes.

Not a speedy, fast-paced read, it instead follows the investigation and subsequent interviews while Banks tries to piece the case together with old fashioned leg-work.

The book does show its age with some of the dialogue and attitudes, but there's something satisfying about reading a crime story that isn't solved by CCTV, mobile phone records, etc. I'll be continuing with the series, but I do hope the action speeds up.


Friday, 6 March 2015

Quarter of a million words

While looking through word files the past few weeks, it seems I've got over 250,000 words of various guise (some of which are in the right place, etc.) from various finished, half finished or tenth finished works (there's a lot of these tenth finished for some reason, i.e the 5-10,000 range) plus a load of short stories that, to be honest, only I have ever read.

Obviously this is a sad state of affairs. There's little point spending the time writing all this (possibly 500 hours, more like a thousand with editing) if it doesn't see the light of day.

So, in order to clear the decks a bit, I'll be doing various things with the non-crime books and short stories, whether it's sending the shorts off to anthologies, maybe self pub one or two of the completed books, and try to finish some of the uncompleted ones (so I'll have even more unseen words lying around.)

I suppose The Spy with Ezcema is the obvious one to unleash on the public at first, or maybe a collection of short stories. Or maybe something else.

Maybe I'll just keep writing instead. Who knows...

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Short Review - Mr Mercedes

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King

Take a retired detective haunted by not solving his last case, a serial killer with an inappropriate relationship with his mother, Stephen King's writing and characterisation, and you have a winner.

A straight up crime thriller, I was expecting a touch of the supernatural to appear and was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

Detective Hodges and his sidekick duo are such  well drawn characters that I found myself wishing the book was longer. This isn't unusual with some Stephen King books, and I guess it's how he's built his reputation.

4.5 / 5

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Back in the allotment again

Seems I've not posted much this last year, so I guess a quick allotment update is in order.

Again, there was more fruit and veg than we could possibly eat or give away, which seems the norm for an allotment. The infamous shed and greenhouse are still somehow standing (more on the greenhouse later) and a late growing winter cabbage became a summer monster.

Firstly, the mega cabbage. A so-called winter cabbage never really grew during the winter of 2013, so I left it to see what would happen. By June or July it had grown into this.

Of course I could have picked it then and fed the whole street, but being curious as to how big it would get, I left it. By September it was bigger though had suffered from caterpillar damage. I picked it and was possibly the worse tasting cabbage ever, tough and bitter. I thought there was an Aesop's fable about leaving a cabbage so long it becomes inedible, but the google proves otherwise.

The allotment bath tub I inherited continued to look real purdy when the water lillies flowered.

An amusing shaped courgette caused much hilarity.

Onto the greenhouse. It looked like it was falling down when I took the allotment over two years ago

As it hasn't actually fallen down, and also survived two years of storms, I figure it's stronger than it looks. So, operation fix greenhouse is now underway. I've done some general tidying (though it doesn't really show) and started to shape some wood to replace the worst of the rotten bits. Next step is to paint what's left to stop further rotting and then rebuild. The final job will be to fill in the broken panes with cheap eBay polycarbonate sheets.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Short book review: Of Blondes and Bullets

I might be a month or two late to this party, but I've just read the first release from new Noir publisher Number 13 Press

Of Blondes and Bullets by Michael Young, is gritty, very British, and brings back memories of classic pulp and noir titles.

Although the first chapter starts with a fight in a workshop, it takes some time before we know who these people really are. In the second chapter we meet Frank and it's through his eyes we see the rest of the novella. After saving a drowning woman, Frank then attempts to help and gets involved in her current problems - that's putting it mildly, and I'll stop there to avoid blowing the plot.

Have to say, it was a pleasure to read. It was always going somewhere and there were no wasted words. It's a novella so it doesn't take to read, but it's the right length for the story.

Look forward to more titles.

4.5 / 5