Friday, 14 October 2016


THE third Bob Valentine novel is here. SUMMONING THE DEAD is available to buy now, though the official launch will take place next Thurs, Oct 20, in the scenic surrounds of Brodick on the isle of Arran. 

The local paper, The Banner, has very kindly put out a lovely piece on the new book, with a run down on the plot and some dodgy ramblings from the author.

Likewise, The Highland Times, that newspaper of note, has done a piece where I yabber uncontrollably about the contents of said tome. (More news about the Highland Times soon, and a new books column that will involve the newest releases).

Sticking with the new book theme, and why wouldn't we, there's a kind and erudite review over at Undiscovered Scotland that declares SUMMONING THE DEAD "a highly engaging and entertainingly gritty read ... Highly recommended".

The kindness continues over at Amazon where Bob's third outing is clocking up some very catchy reviews:
From this week's Arran Banner.

"This is one of the best books I've read this year. An intriguing plot, well developed characters and something to really make it stand out with Valentine's supernatural abilities ... I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys crime suspense/thrillers.'' 
(5 Stars)

''This was a really well written book, on a highly sensitive, and emotive subject – the abuse and murder of two young boys. ... I loved his character, and would love to read more about him, so will be checking out more from this author!'' (5 Stars)

''Brilliant story and the first I've read of this author. I'm going to treat myself to the series so far and hope there is more to come. The story had me hooked straight away and kept me rooting for the good guys till the end. A tough subject to cover but sensitively handled. Loved it and would definitely recommend.'' (5 Stars)

If you're a book blogger my publishers still have some review copies of SUMMONING THE DEAD to dish out. Drop them a line at: 
or find them on Twitter or Facebook.

:: The launch party in Brodick Library is free and open to everyone. There will be free booze, some crackers (present company included) and signed books available.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

PUSH-UPS: Michael J. Malone

Michael J. Malone.
So what you pushing right now?
My new book is called A Suitable Lie and it comes atcha from that publishing powerhouse, Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books.

What’s the hook?
The blurb reads thusly: Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she's his perfect match... And she loves his son, too. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. He ignores it; a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything. 

And why’s that floating your boat?
I started writing and researching this book in 1998, so it’s brilliant to see it reach the light of the bookshops. I’m torturing a metaphor there, but you know what I mean, right?

When did you turn to crime?

When I stepped back from the writing of BLOOD TEARS, the third book I wrote, but the first to be published, I realised I’d written a crime novel. So it was a happy accident really, and if I’d been consciously trying to write one I’m not sure I could have. I was convinced I didn’t have the plotting chops to please the reader. But as the man said, you don’t know if you can do it, until you do it.

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary? 
I lean more to the contemporary, but I’m partial to shades of hardboiled and noir.

And, what’s blown you away lately?
I mentioned Orenda Books earlier? The publisher there, Karen Sullivan has an amazing eye, I’ve loved pretty much everything she’s put out so far. It’s difficult to play favourites but Amanda Jenning, In Her Wake had me in tears, as did Louise Beech’s The Mountain in my Shoe (I know, I’m a big soft lump) Also loved Michael Grothaus’ Epiphany Jones – probably the most exciting new voice in fiction I’ve read in recent years.

See any books as movies waiting to happen?
Yup. All of the above. And ALL of mine.

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
Not fussed if it’s mainstream or indie, all I want is a good book. Both are capable of producing crackers – both are capable of producing stuff that doesn’t do it for me.
And it’s got to be paper. I really struggle with reading from a screen. It has the feel of a manuscript and I can’t relax into the reading, and just want to edit.

Shout us a website worth visiting …
You should all have a look at my new publisher’s website - and check out what Karen is up to. Very few publishers ever manage to achieve the level of brand awareness she has, in only 22 or so months. Do you ever hear of people saying they must look to see what Headline are producing next? Orenda get that all the time. Can you tell I’m a fan of her work?

:: Buy A SUITABLE LIE on Amazon.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Friday Update

The Banner.
Well, it's been a couple of months since the last one, which tells me it must be time for another regular Friday update of all the bollocks I've been getting up to. 

Top of the rack has to be my seventh CWA Dagger nomination. This year I'm on the shortlist for the esteemed Dagger in the Library, which is a huge honour especially when you take a look at the competition. The winner is announced at an awards ceremony in London on October 11, so I have fingers and toes crossed that it's seventh time lucky this year. The Banner and the Highland Times did very nice pieces on the shortlisting. 

Stirling's Off the Page Fest.
Had a lovely time in Stirling talking to a group of book lovers at the Off The Page Festival, where I had the chance to pose for a cheesy pic of myself with my latest tomes. In the next few weeks I'll be doing readings at Coatbridge Library, Dumfries and Dundee - more details later.

Latest books arriving are the audio version of A TASTE OF ASHES by ISIS, who have done a very tasty job on the cover. The words, as ever, are read by the brilliant Perrier Award-winner Garth Cruickshank - if I could only get him to do my live readings too! 
New in audio book.

And en route for an October 6 landing in book stores is SUMMONING THE DEAD (currently available for advance order on Amazon). Published by excellent Edinburgh publisher Black & White it's DI Bob Valentine book 3 and I'm quietly very chuffed with this one. Bob's delving into the case of the discovery of a boy's mummified body in a barrel in the heart of the Ayrshire countryside. Warning: my wife cried at this one, I think it's the split-narrative with the little boy, a technique I first used in HIS FATHER'S SON.

And, finally, I can break the news about my new Aussie-set crime series with the phenomenal talent that is Australian writer Matt Neal. BAY OF MARTYRS is the first in a series to feature Clay Moloney a SW-Victorian reporter with a serious nose for trouble. The first two books in the series will be published by Scottish Publisher of the Year, Freight, and if our editor's reaction to this one is anything to go by then you'll love it, too! BAY OF MARTYRS is released early next year, here's the run-down:

Washed-up hack Clayton ‘Clay’ Moloney has found a place to hide from his past on south-west Victoria’s shipwreck coast. He might call himself a journalist but his editor knows the hottest story he’ll be filing is an update on the bushfire season, that is until the body of a teenage girl washes up in the Bay of Martyrs. It’s clear she’s a victim of murder but everything else about the case is shrouded in mystery. From the politician and the industrialist with secrets to hide to the drug dealer and local prostitute who know more than they’re letting on, Clay’s lot has never been more troubled, and his desire for justice never keener.  

Big Thanks to Blackwell's Edinburgh for this poster.

And, finally finally, you can now catch the film director Pete Martin made of The Ringer stage play at Ayr Gaiety. It's your chance to see Bryan Larkin in the role of Tambo before he went on to star alongside Gerard Butler in London Has Fallen.

:: SUMMONING THE DEAD is released on October 6 and is currently available for advance order on Amazon. Launch date details coming soon. If you're a reviewer and would like an advance copy, drop me an email and will get that sent along.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

PUSH-UPS: Graham Smith

Graham Smith.
So, what you pushing right now? 
My novella Matching the Evidence which is actually released today. (8th September) 
What’s the hook? 
It’s the second novella / short story collection in my DI Harry Evans series and sees him “relegated” to crowd control between Carlisle United supporters and Millwall’s notorious Bushwhackers. As ever, he finds himself dealing with far more than originally designated.
And why’s that floating your boat? 

I love the idea of catching readers unaware with hidden elements which only come to light as the story progresses.
When did you turn to crime? 
I’ve been a criminal since first being given a Famous five book since the age of eight.  It was only five years ago that I moved into organised crime though.
Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary? 
I’m more than happy with either hard-boiled or noir but almost all of my reading is contemporary although I do plan to one day read some of the classics.
And, what’s blown you away lately? 
Streets of Darkness by A.A. Dhand was an outstanding debut filled with pace, presence and character and I’m currently reading The Quiet Death of Thomas Quaid by Craig Russell which is simply fantastic.
See any books as movies waiting to happen? 
Streets of Darkness has been bought by the BBC but I’d love to see any of Craig Russell’s Lennox series made into a film.
Mainstream or indie - paper or digital? 
I will read anything so long as it’s a good story. My own reading preference is paper but I do see the advantages of ereaders. I say each to their own so long as avid readers are being connected with some of the great authors that are out there.  
Shout us a website worth visiting … which I’m proud to be a reviewer for.  It’s a fantastic resource for connecting readers with great books.

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself … 
There’s not a lot to tell really. I’m now at that stage in my life where I have more waist and less hair than I’d like. I also used to be so good at football I won trophies. For playing darts.

:: Buy Matching the Evidence on Amazon

Friday, 26 August 2016

COMING SOON: October 6

It's not here yet, but I can reveal a little of what SUMMONING THE DEAD is about ....

'We have a dead child, and a crime scene that has been remarkably well kept for us.'

A young child lies mummified in a barrel. His hands, cable-tied, appear to be locked in prayer. As forensic officers remove the boy they are in for an even bigger shock - he is not alone.

With his near-fatal stabbing almost a memory, DI Bob Valentine is settling back into life on the force but he knows nothing will ever be the same. Haunted by unearthly visions that appear like waking dreams, he soon understands he is being inducted into one of Scotland's darkest secrets.

The boy in the barrel is identified as a missing child from the 1980s, re-opening a cold case that was previously thought unsolvable. When further remains are unearthed, the facts point to a paedophile ring and political conspiracy that leads all the way to the most hallowed corridors of power. 

Summoning the Dead is a fast-moving mystery that eerily mirrors current events and reimagines a supernatural source rooting out the evil among us.   

:: You can order SUMMONING THE DEAD on Amazon now.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

PUSHER VERDICT: Cold London Blues by Paul D Brazill

Firstly, apologies for the delay in this review to the author Paul D Brazill. He was kind enough to send me a copy of his new book, COLD LONDON BLUES, weeks, if not months ago, and it's been sitting around taunting me since.

There's a priest on the cover. Very Bruen. And always a good start.

The priest has bloody hands and the kind of look Vinnie Jones reserved for Gazza when he was grabbing his nut-sack. So, yeah, right up my street.

Brazill is a writer I've followed for a few years now. He writes about the kind of edgy, street scrapper that I go for. His stories move like a crack whore on roller skates too - that's fast and in directions you don't tend to see coming. 

COLD LONDON BLUES is no exception. It opens with perhaps the best first-par I've read all year. The first par is a novel's storefront, if it doesn't draw you in, the writer's failed. I'm not going to recount it here, buy the book ffs! But let's just say it gets out the blocks like Usain Bolt.

The pace never falters from there. A stream of London lowlives come and go, each illuminating their own share of the darkness. There's wisecracks, soundtracks and spades of humour. 

If you like your crime fiction gritty, but with a polished edge, then CLB is for you. Brazill has delivered another hurtling, scare-em-up, seat-of-the-pants ride that leads all the way to the blackest heart of darkness. A beaut of a book. 

:: Buy COLD LONDON BLUES by Paul D Brazill at Amazon

Monday, 15 August 2016

PUSH-UPS: John Shepphird.

John Shepphird.
So, what you pushing right now?
August 15th marks the release of Beware the Shill, the third novella in my trilogy beginning with The Shill and continuing with Kill the Shill.   
What’s the hook?
On the mean streets of Los Angeles we find Jane Innes a broke, down-on-her-luck actress. She falls for a con man and agrees to help him in his scheme--impersonating a rich and carefree heiress. But Jane grew up poor so pulling off the role is a challenge. Cooper must school her. This echoes themes from Pygmalion or My Fair Lady--it’s all about deception. 
Things go from bad to worse and she finds herself fighting for her life. The books are part capers, part mysteries, and all thrillers weaving through Los Angeles, New York, Florida, the Caribbean, and finally California’s Central Coast.  
This is the book trailer for the series:
And why’s that floating your boat?
I’m drawn to embracing flawed protagonists.  I have directed a handful of TV movies over the years and Jane Innes is a hybrid of actresses I’ve known and worked with driven by blind ambition.  She’s not really an anti-hero but rather a character on the wrong path. Ultimately she must pull off the performance of her life in order to survive.
When did you turn to crime?
As a kid I was drawn by reruns of 70s crime television such as Dragnet, Hawaii Five-O, and The Streets of San Francisco. As a filmmaker my first film was Teenage Bonnie and Klepto Clyde.  
I started writing short fiction as a creative outlet and was honored to be published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. I hit the jackpot when my debut story was first nominated and then won the Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America. The second short story in that series was nominated for the Anthony. They also feature deception, which is a theme in most of my fiction. 
Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary
Contemporary noir.  I like to brush in a bit of historical that tends to mirror what’s going on in the present. Kill the Shill ties in the treacherous female pirate Anne Bonny. Beware the Shill features nefarious characters from the California Gold Rush. 
And, what’s blown you away lately?
Beachhead by Jeffery Hess, a fantastic debut, and The Second Life of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton. As an audiobook I recommend the gritty NYC cop novel Precinct; Siberia by Tom Philbin-- a revival of sorts. This is true 80s pulp, a Gold Medal/Fawcett paperback published at the end of the dime-store paperback era. It captures New York City in the 1980s. The audiobook was just released by Blackstone Audio.
See any books as movies waiting to happen?
I have plans to develop The Shill trilogy into a television series.  
Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
Indie publisher Down & Out Books is my publisher and the books available in both digital and in paperback. I’m honored to be included among Down & Out’s stable of authors.       
Shout us a website worth visiting … because book #1 in the series, The Shill, is available for FREE.  Dip your toe in the water. Check it out.
Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself … 
When not writing crime fiction I produce television promos for TVG, America’s horseracing network. Someday soon I want to make it to the Theakson Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. It’s on my bucket list and I just need a reason.   

Thanks to CWA Dagger and Not the Booker shortlisted author and huge crime writing talent Tony Black for generously allowing the shelf space.  

:: Visit John's website at:

Saturday, 13 August 2016

That Rings a Bell

Video footage of double Bafta-wining actor Brian Larkin - recently seen in London Has Fallen with Gerard Butler - and my far less impressive self has emerged. We're on STV Glasgow talking about the stage play of The Ringer, starring Brian, Ayr's own Chris Taylor and the excellent Evelyn Adams.

The play was adapted by Edinburgh-based Pete Martin, who improved massively on the novella I must say. The production was filmed and has recently been added to Pete's Vimeo page which you can reach by following this link. It runs to over an hour but is well worth the effort.

:: The Ringer is available in paperback and eBook on Amazon UK.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

PUSHER VERDICT: Black Cradle by u.v. ray

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."

U.v ray must have missed the memo from Oscar Wilde because there is nothing even remotely samey about his writing. 

In fact, Black Cradle, his latest tome is testament to his ability to go his own way. Plough his own furrow. Hoe his own row.

Ray, I can call him that because Facebook says we're friends, is a one-off. Take this quote of his that I've swiped from said social media behemoth:

"I never refer to my books as having a plot. I don't write plots. I always refer to it as the book's meaning. Still plugging away at my current work, The Savage City. Its meaning hasn't revealed itself to me yet. But it will as I go on..."

Black Cradle may not have a typical plot, but it has plenty of story. And a finely told tale it is too. The characterisation is laid heavy on every page, and these are characters you want to know more about. Not because they're sympathetic in the traditional sense, but because they earn your empathy. 

Black Cradle is peopled with the worn-down, the fag-ends of a society in ruin. You could be forgiven for thinking this was a dystopian novel, such is Ray's skill in showing us just how close we were to 1984 in the novel's setting of Birmingham in 1986.

The central character is Billy Zero, a 23-year-old who has just been released from hospital after an attempted suicide. With blurred images of the men in white coats and a bottle of valium in his pocket he sets about trying to piece together his past by assaulting the future.

Billy's first encounter is a rent boy in a public toilet who offers to nosh him off before they get talking about drugs. From there the kaleidoscope turns frequently, if never once actually bringing reality into focus.

Black Cradle is a raucous, rowdy read. There's very little to compare it to -- Ray doesn't even stick to standard punctuation -- so don't expect to have seen any of this before. Do expect to be shocked, confused, thrilled and more than a little invigorated. 

:: Black Cradle by u.v. ray is published by Murder Slim press. Buy on Amazon.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

PUSH-UPS: Lesley Kelly

Sandstone's Lesley Kelly.
So, what you pushing right now?
I’ve got some Tartan Noir for your delight and delectation!  A Fine House in Trinity is a contemporary crime novel, set in the Leith and Trinity areas of Edinburgh.

What’s the hook?
Joseph Staines left town with a stolen tallybook, but two suspicious deaths and a surprise inheritance have lured him back home to Edinburgh.  No-one is pleased to see him.  The debtors want him gone.  The Police have some questions for him.  And a mysterious stranger has been asking about him down the pub. To survive Staines has to sober up, solve the murders, and stay one step ahead of the man who wants him dead.

And why’s that floating your boat?
Trinity, where I live, is full of big, old houses rumoured to have secret rooms, which were used either to avoid the press gang or to hide goods from the Revenues men in days of yore.   There are also whispers about hidden tunnels that led down to the shore to aid and abet local smugglers.  Frankly, the area was just crying out to be the setting for a crime novel.

When did you turn to crime?
It’s been a year or two now.  A Fine House started out as an entry for the Scotsman’s short story competition, celebrating 25 years of Rebus.  I won the comp, and have stuck with a life of crime (writing).

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary?
Like a bit of them all, so long as there is a big dose of wit between the covers. I do like a protagonist with a snappy line in banter.

And, what’s blown you away lately?
I recently discovered the works of Yrsa Sigursdottir.  She’s quite annoyingly good.

See any books as movies waiting to happen?
Just finished Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin.  Somebody must be planning to film it, possibly with a world-weary Winona Ryder as the main character.

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
I always said that I would never get a Kindle, but after a ten-day walking holiday I’m beginning to think there might be a place for one in my rucksack.

Shout us a website worth visiting …
If you are looking for a good way to kill someone, check out Thrillwriting: Helping Writers Write it Right 

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …
I had a brief stint as a stand up comedian in the mid-Noughties.  There’s less heckling in literature.

PUSHER VERDICT: A Fine House in Trinity

Plush Trinity isn't the usual haunt of a sometime resident of the east end of Edinburgh so the thought of picking up a book titled A Fine House in Trinity is a a bit of an odd choice. But after browsing a couple of pages in Waterstone's I was intrigued enough to want to read on.

At a guess, it was something about the style which attracted me. This isn't your normal crime novel; it's an edgy, witty read. Try this on for size, I think it proves my point, and the previous one:

Trinity's that kind of place; if you farted round there they'd be on the phone to the Council worrying about the impact on the ozone layer.

The author, a former stand-up comic who also dabbled in poetry, has created a style of writing that's a million miles away from the norm and the book stands out because of it.

The story moves along at a fair clip, too, delivering just the necessary substance the committed crime reader demands. A very fine addition to the Tartan Noir pack.

:: Buy A Fine House in Trinity on Amazon UK.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

PUSH-UPS: Paul D. Brazill

Paul D. Brazill.
So, what you pushing right now?

What’s the hook?
A killer priest is on the rampage across London and an egotistical Hollywood action movie star is out for revenge when is his precious comic book collection is stolen. Meanwhile, gangster Marty Cook's dreams of going legit swiftly turn pear shaped when one of his bouncers accidentally kills one of his salsa club's regular customers. Razor sharp wisecracks, gaudy characters and even gaudier situations abound in Cold London Blues, a violent and pitch-black Brit Grit comedy of errors.’

And why’s that floating your boat?
It’s the follow up to my first book with Caffeine Nights Publishing, Guns Of Brixton. GOB was much more of an out and out farce - a couple of the characters were based on actors in the Carry On Films … with CLB I wanted to do something darker but also funnier. Equally absurd, of course. GOB was framed by The Clash’s songs and CLB uses Vic Godard’s songs.

When did you turn to crime?
I’d always liked crime films like The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Double Indemnity and Get Carter, for example, but when the splendid Charles Shaar Murray interviewed Elmore Leonard for the NME in the ‘70s, it was a revelation. Thanks to Hartlepool library, Swag and Stick were a great double bill. Here was writing that was both realistic and expressionistic, funny and dark, familiar and alien. After that Jim Thompson whose books were 35p in Woolworths at some point. 

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary? 
Well, I’ve peddled the line that crime fiction is about bringing order from chaos and noir is about bringing chaos to order and I’m definitely drawn to the chaotic. But I’m open to read anything. If I enjoy it then I do! 

And, what’s blown you away lately?
There is a lot of good stuff about but Ian Ayris’ April Skies, Nigel Bird’s The Shallows, and Quentin Bates’ Thin Ice. All are very much character driven novels and with a lot of heart in that Brit Grit.  

See any books as movies waiting to happen?
Telly is a better venue for crime writers, I think,  and Lesley Welsh’s Truth Lies Buried would make a great TV mini-series, as would Vincent Zandri’s Orchard Grove, although with very, very different approaches. 

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
All of the above to read but my stuff is surely and decidedly indie. 

Shout us a website worth visiting …
Paul Thompson’s British 60s Cinema is a rabbit hole well worth getting lost down.
Here’s the SP:
‘This website will celebrate the vitality and variety of British cinema in the 1960s (whilst straying back into the 1950s and on into the 1970s, and sometimes just covering interesting British films from any era). In general I have taken the definition of the 1960s from Dominic Sandbrook’s ‘Never had it so good’, which starts the era in 1956, and goes through to summer 1970. In cinematic terms, this is about right – although Room at the Top wasn’t released until 1959, the literary impetus for such films goes back a few years – and the early 1970s films such as A Clockwork Orange, Villain and of course Get Carter feel very different again.’

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …
When I was in the band Halcyon Days, I was told off by the management of Black Cats club is Stockton for telling a dirty joke on stage. The act the night before had been Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown.

Paul D. Brazill
 is the author of The Last Laugh, Guns Of Brixton, Cold London Blues, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in England and lives in Poland. He is an International Thriller Writers Inc member whose writing has been translated into Italian, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. He has even edited a few anthologies, including the best-selling True Brit Grit – with Luca Veste. His blog is here.

Monday, 18 July 2016

PUSH-UPS: Shari Low

Shari Low.
So, what you pushing right now? 
The Story Of Our Life. It’s a relationship drama, told in a dual narrative, with one strand following Colm and Shauna from the moment they met, while the other, in the present day, reveals that their lives have just been dealt a devastating blow that has every chance of derailing their future. 

What’s the hook? 
Can a lifetime of love survive anything life throws at it? And can mitigating circumstances ever excuse betrayal and infidelity? Right at the outset, Shauna reveals that her husband has slept with someone else – but as we look back at what led to that point, can we find any compassion or understanding for his actions? 

And why’s that floating your boat? 
Because I’m obsessed with flaws and imperfections – in people, in relationships and in life. It seems to me that we’re all just one mistake away from detonating a catastrophic crapstorm in our own lives. Then there’s the other stuff, the disasters and misfortunes that we can’t control. I wanted to look at how the networks we build and the bonds that we form can endure that kind of unpredictability and turbulence. But it’s not all darkness and despair – there are some laughs in there too. More than anything I’ve written, I think this is the closest to real life in all its messed-up complexities.  

When did you start writing?
I didn’t pen a word of fiction until I was 30, when I decide to give that long-held ambition to be a writer a shot. Seventeen books later, no-one’s told me to stop yet, so I’m still two-finger typing.

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary?  
As a reader, all of the above. As a writer, there were strong elements of contemporary crime in the novels I wrote under a couple of my pseudonyms: Ronni Cooper and Shari King (the latter with writing partner, Ross King). 

And, what’s blown you away lately? 
I’ve just finished Irvine Welsh’s The Blade Artist. Hardcore, twisted and, I think, the most cinematic of all Welsh’s works. If there’s a God of Semi-Retired, Homicidal Psychopaths, his next act of duty should be to put this one on the screen. 

See any books as movies waiting to happen?
Ah, see above. And I’ll never stop hoping that some movie mogul with a bit of imagination sees that James Clavell’s Tai Pan would make a cinematic epic.

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
Again, all of the above. My only gripe is that in the digital age, you can’t look around and see what others are reading. That’s one of my favourite opportunities for curiosity and rash judgement lost forever…

Shout us a website worth visiting … 
I’d love to come up with something super-cool and erudite, but as a travel-junkie, my most-visited website is 

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …
I’m a near-50 year old woman who is basketball-obsessed (watching it, not playing – my knees couldn’t cope). I know, random, right? In my defense, both my sons play for Scotland, but that aside, I only have to conjure up memories of those old ladies going berserk at the ringside of 70’s wrestling bouts to see a snapshot of my future. 

:: Visit Shari's website at:

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

PUSH-UPS: u.v.ray

So, what you pushing right now?

Black Cradle. It's another of my drug-fuelled stories set around the bars and nightclubs of mid-eighties Birmingham. It's a book that people with a dose of Aspergers in them might understand. The coldness, the isolation. Seeing everyone moving around you but feeling no connection with any of them. You're only observing events. Black Cradle is how life feels to someone who cannot find love, cannot unearth the feelings buried deep inside them, and life becomes like staring at a blank television screen.  

What’s the hook?

Billy Zero walks out of hospital after trying to kill himself at the age of 23. The story backtracks the series of brutal events, fused with the grim omens of his childhood that led to his suicide attempt.  

And why’s that floating your boat?

It doesn't float my boat at all. Although there's fiction in it, the book, like all my stories so far, is a visceral and demented autobiographical document. I am an outsider. I was an outsider from the start. I write for 3 things: to be accepted, to be understood, to be loved. But when the oyster opens up the crab takes its meat. It's the same being a writer. You open yourself up and the world takes its pound of flesh and each time you open up you become weaker and weaker. But you can't do anything else; much like the oyster, you open up by nature. 

When did you turn to crime?

Oh, I've been arrested a few times. I did see in the papers once a report damning the cells in Birmingham's Steelhouse Lane police station.  I have to disagree. I mean, credit where it's due; I found them to be amongst the most comfortable police cells I've ever been in!  Though I would describe Black Cradle as more of a Noir aesthetic. But there isn't much separation between my life and the book. There's no plot-line. I am essentially a memoirist, that's why all my stories are ugly at times. I've lived an ugly life and I'm not here to entertain people, I'm here to tell them the truth about the world I have seen and lived in. What I write is never going to be marketed by mainstream publishing houses -- it has to be slipped in via the back alley. u.v.ray is a brand name but it's not a brand that wants to teach the world to sing like Coca-Cola. My intention was always to write blistering, raw stories that are like 2 minute punk songs. I thought people might like them but I suppose no one likes looking at their own dirty laundry. 

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary? 

Contemporary Noir. Hard as it gets. Derek Raymond's Factory series of books are pretty hard-core. 

And, what’s blown you away lately?

Blown away is a high bar. But I really enjoyed Tyler Keevil's Fireball. And Arthur Nersesian's The Fuck-Up. Two very entertaining books. Such books provide me with a respite from my own work and neurosis. 

See any books as movies waiting to happen?

I wish someone would make a good film of Bret Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero. Great work of modern literature but no one has made a worthy film adaption yet. And Chuck Palahniuk's Survivor should be made into one. 

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?

Indie. Paper. Obviously.  

Shout us a website worth visiting …

I don't know. Get yourself down the boozer, for Christ's sake. 

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …

I started drinking at the age of 8. My parents sold me off to a travelling circus where I gained employment  in a drinking booth. A little bit like the old circus boxing booths where anyone out the crowd can challenge you to a contest. I was billed as Ursulas Raymondo -- the Marvellous Drinking Child.

:: Visit u.v.ray's website at:

:: Black Cradle by u.v.ray is available on Amazon UK and  

:: Or direct from Murder Slim Press: