Anglesey Blue by Dylan H Jones – Review

7 03 2017

Anglesey Blue is a pleasant surprise in a genre I rarely read. Written in 3rd-person, past-tense (again, uncommon in the genre), Jones’ narrative flows well and engages the reader effectively. Despite being a little exposition-heavy at times (for my taste) Jones’ excellent dialogue offsets what could’ve been a minor quibble in the chunks of exposition.

The dialogue feels ‘current’ in a way that many crime writer’s don’t always manage and always has purpose, whether in moving the plot forward or in slowly peeling away to reveal more depth to the characters than one might expect. For me this displayed an impressive technique in showing rather than telling in the dialogue sections, and clearly a strength for this writer.


The plotting is tight, and mostly pacey, but where it lacks pace, I sensed important groundwork and character development being laid down for future stories, which is always welcome.

 A very solid start to a series. I will definitely pick up the next book.

You can find Dylan H Jones at Bloodhound Books and Amazon.

The Switched by Ryan Bracha – Review

27 05 2015


I wouldn’t want to be Bracha. Not for anything. I feel sorry for him in the most profound way.
It’s not the vacant expression sketched permanently on his face that elicits my sympathy for him. Nor the sagging, sweat-stained moob impression on his sad oasis-esque polo shirt.

It’s not even the resigned way he carries himself, like only the most wretched shit-stain of a man who’s accepted his slide into deep ugliness can affect.
Not even the rancid, gamey oily pungent Stench of his grimy Breath elicits my Pity. None of those are a patch on Bracha’s one true inescapable obstacle.
The sad fact is that Bracha has written his finest novel to date and will most likely never scratch at those heights again let alone improve on it.

That’s what I’m telling myself at any rate, but the truth is that Bracha will do what he always does and go on developing his skills and pushing himself further from any comfort zone he could slip into.
Ryan Bracha is that sort of cheeky wide-o who asks for a blowy straight after he’s been knocked back for a tit squeeze. He has no shame and no sense of limitations.

Unwilling to restrain himself to a single comfortable genre or writing style, Bracha has shoved all desire to settle into a formulaic groove aside and elevated his writing one more time. In The Switched, Bracha ‘switches’ effortlessly but never gratuitously between first and third person and present and past tense, as the story demands.

Many writers would struggle to maintain consistency with such changes, or overuse the mechanism, Ryan effortlessly (it’s not but it reads like it is) employs the shifting narrative and perspective to add urgency, humour and purpose to each scene.

Taking  all the creativeness of Strangers are Just Friends You Haven’t Killed Yet and follow-up Tomorrow’s Chip Paper, Bracha throws in a hefty helping of technical skill- earned by hundreds of hours writing The Dead Man Series- to temper his surging imagination and desire to put his characters through the wringer for your entertainment.

What we have in The Switched is the perfect blend of creative flair with technical skill from a writer who is at the peak of his powers…so far.

The biggest development, for me, in Ryan’s writing with The Switched is that Relationships are now front and centre and the driving force for the novel. Where in previous books, the story was the driving force for his characters, in The Switched, Bracha’s characters drive the story. The characterisation and development is exceptionally good in this novel.


That the sweetest, most compelling and real relationship in the book is between two men, one of whom is a woman inhabiting her partner’s former body, is a testament to the author’s new-found ability to expose the tender weakness of the true individual rather than the shell of the person.


Reading The Switched holds all the manky, unsettling, thrilling insidiousness of playing a game of ‘just the tip’ and leaves the reader wondering just how much more Ryan Bracha is still capable of.”

The Switched is available for pre-order at Amazon UK and US now.

Twelve Mad Men – Mary Magdalene

11 05 2015

I’m not sure how Bracha talks me into these things. When he proposed the Mad Men project I rolled my eyes and thought, ‘that’s an impossible project’ luckily for me I’d had beer, lots of beer and my mouth ignored my brain, telling him, “sounds magic, I’m in.” I’m fairly certain he times his approach deliberately.

Taking twelve very different writer’s stories and merging them into a coherent narrative is an immensely difficult task and one that most writers wouldn’t consider approaching.

Ryan Bracha, in Twelve Mad Men, has taken the differing personalities, voices, morals, madness and writing styles and formed not only a coherent novel from them but an utterly original and compelling piece of fiction.

Without a doubt the maddest of the twelve, Bracha (the bastard), took each of us involved out of our comfort zone and gave us permission to indulge ourselves in a way we wouldn’t normally do in our own books. He brought the worst and the best out in my writing and pulled off his ridiculous project with gusto. Dick.

Here’s my contribution:

Suggested for over 18s only. Contains very strong language and very graphic violence.


Mary Magdalene

By Mark Wilson

“Hello? I’m here to fix the lights. Can you get in the corner, please?” I press my ear up against the door, listening for shuffling to confirm that he’s done as I asked. All I hear is a rhythmic slurping, slap sound. I listen a little closer. The meaty slurp sounds like it’s coming from a distance away so I slip my key in the door, turn and push gently, keeping a firm hold of the handle, in case I have to slam it closed again.

Peeking my face through the grate, I see Wilson in the corner. More precisely, I see the back of him. He’s sitting in the corner like I asked, but I get the distinct impression that he was already there before I came knocking. He’s not that tall, and only lightly built but even from behind it’s clear that he’s powerful. He has that wiry, coiled spring musculature, I can see it in the movement of his shoulder. I can see his body quite clearly as there’s nothing covering it.

His right arm is moving with some force, repeatedly hammering away at something as he sits. He’s talking to himself, but I can’t quite make out what he’s saying. It’s not the accent, it’s his voice, so gentle. Like he’s talking to a lover. He’s facing the wall to his right, staring at a photograph. I move a little closer, just close enough to hear better and get a look at the image. It’s a tattered photo from some sort of boarding school. There are about a hundred kids, half a dozen nuns and maybe twenty priests, all standing in rows posing for the camera. I peer in a little closer and start counting.

Fourteen of the priests and two nuns have a very thick, very bold tick made with a red marker on their faces.

I cock my ear to the left and hold my breath. Wilson hasn’t made a move, just that piston he has for a right arm pumping up and down in a decidedly masturbatory manner. So long as he’s happy. I take another step closer, finally I can hear that gentle voice.

“Cotter, Docherty, McNally, O’Donnell, McGuire…”

He lists surnames, maybe ten, maybe twenty and starts again, tugging at his cock with each name whispered. I’ve somehow forgotten why I’m here or the danger present and lean in for a closer look.

Wilson stands and turns quite gracefully as my foot scuffs the stone floor a little louder than intended. The cock-bashing hasn’t stopped, or even slowed, it hasn’t changed pace, I’m suddenly very grateful that it hasn’t sped up. He tilts his head very slightly. His shaved head glints in the moonlight and his eyes widen as he takes me in. There are scars on his chest, low down just above the abdomen. They look nasty.

“Lalley, O’Malley, Foley..” His head straightens and the chanting stops, although the arm keeps perfect time.

“Are you fixing the lights or not,” he asks, never missing a stroke. His voice is softer than any man’s, he sounds like a woman, a pretty woman. I search for words, but my capacity to speak has been taken away by the sight of this very slight man with a cock like two cans of Red Bull stacked on end, wanking at me.

His arm starts to slow, so I start talking. “Yes, sorry Mr Wilson, if you could just stay in the corner, I’ll..”

“What’s your name?” He asks gently. His eyes are curious, but something else, there’s excitement there, and maybe fear as well.

I tell him my name.

His face softened, and he tilts his head again, throwing me a seductive look.

“Are you a religious man?” he asks, with a giggle.

Involuntarily, my eyes dart to the faded image on the wall and back to his quickly. Not quick enough though, he saw it. His eyes narrow, all friendliness gone.

“My sister asked you a fuckin’ question, cunt!” he roars at me in a booming baritone.

The change in him is staggering. The softness is gone, so has the curiosity. His whole posture has changed, all playfulness and grace has vanished and pure predatory aggression glares from him.

Fuck knows what the right answer to his question is but his arm has started pulling at that two-can cock with such ferocity that I’m genuinely frightened for its well-being despite the danger I’m in.

I blurt out, “No, I’m not. Used to be, but..”

“Shut the fuck up, ya dick.” He spits at me.

I do. I watch him transform again in front of me. The face softens, the eyes widen and the body becomes a graceful swan in movement once again as she returns.

Something’s changed in her though, she’s no longer throwing me admiring, curious looks. She’s looks friendly enough, and her wanking has returned to normal pace, but something’s shifted.

She moves beside me to get a good look at my face. I use my peripheral vision to make sure that I have an egress.

“I’m sorry about my brother. He’s a little overprotective,” she says gently. “I’m glad you’re not religious, I like the religious type, but Paul, my brother, does not.”

“Okay,” I sing, with false cheeriness as the lean man with the woman’s demeanour and voice wanks serenely in my direction. “Best get on then. Would you mind going back to the corner, don’t let me interrupt…” I nod down at her… his reddened cock.

“I’d like you to stay for a few minutes. I so rarely get to talk to anyone.” Her face darkened a little, the threat of Paul behind her eyes. “Paul gets angry if I’m not happy. Let’s talk, just for a little while.” I nod and watch her walk back to her corner and resume her previous position, only this time she’s facing me.

I sit a few metres away and ask. “So what’s a nice girl like you doing here?”

Her face drops. “I’m not a nice girl,” she says.

“I’m sorry,” I blurt out, it was just a joke, y’know, cos that’s what people say.”

She nods, but I can tell that I hurt her feelings because her cock twitched at me in response.

“Why don’t you tell me how you came to be here, you and your brother,” I suggest. “if you don’t mind, that is….” I suddenly feel ridiculous, but have to ask.

“What’s your name?” I ask.

The wiry little, very scary man with the huge dick, blushes, he actually blushes and pauses his wankery for a second in surprise.

“Nobody ever asks me that, not in all my time here. They just call us both Wilson.” She smiles with genuine warmth before resuming her stroking at a more leisurely pace than I’d seen her do so far.

“My name’s Mary. Pleased to meet you.”

“And you,” I say with a ridiculous little bow that makes me feel stupid, but it makes her laugh and the cell lights up when she laughs.

“Would you like to hear about how I came here? She asks

I shrug, “Only if you’re happy to tell me.”

She gives me a little bow of her own, mirroring mine in a gentle mock, making me laugh. Her eyes dance with light and she drinks in my happiness as she starts to tell her story. I sit and stare into the face of the scariest, most beautiful man I’ve ever seen as he-she, as Paul-Mary speaks.


My sibling and I had been in St Margaret Mary’s for around six months. We’d been to other schools, loads actually. We were good kids, but dad moved around a lot. Army officer. Came from money and gentry, couldn’t be bothered being a parent after Mum died. It was an alright school and was close to Edinburgh city centre which was awesome for a couple of fourteen year olds with time to kill and no parents around.

On our first day, the head teacher, Father Connelly, introduced us to our peers at the house assembly. He made a big deal of us being twins, we were the first twins to attend St Mags’. Father Connelly was a lovely man, I really looked up to him, to all of the staff, to be honest. That’s probably why I have a thing for the religious type, especially Catholics. Never works out though.

Paul played rugby, Mary studied hard. Friends were difficult to come by, most of the kids our age seemed withdrawn, sullen. We didn’t particularly care, we had each other after all, but it would’ve been nice to have some more friends.

Eventually we were invited along to one of Fr Connelly’s private dinners. He’d been telling us for months how special being twins was. He really liked that about us.

Mary wore a very white dress, one that father Connelly had remarked on at an assembly some months before. Paul looked as scruffy as always, but at least he’d had a shower. When we entered Fr Connelly’s quarters, a huge table filled the room. On it was a large white sheet, covering the food and around it sat sixteen of the school’s priests and four nuns. I remember our eyes fixing on the sheet. Paul took Mary’s hand and began to drag her back towards the oak doors we’d entered by, but Mary pulled free of his grasp. This was Mary’s big night, and Paul wasn’t going to spoil it.

I remember rushing to Fr Connelly and apologising. He smelled strongly of wine, they all looked a little drunk, even the nuns. Paul grabbed Mary from out of Fr Connelly’s hands, she let him this time. The elderly priest we had so admired smiled at us as we backed up to the doors. Doors that had already been locked.

Paul rushed at Father Connelly and rugby tackled the head teacher to the floor, clattering the old man’s head against a strong wooden chair leg as they fell. The room erupted, in laughter. Strong hands grabbed at Paul, grabbed at Mary also. Strong hands tore off our clothes and bound us and violated our bodies.

They passed us round. The tore our bodies as well as our clothes. They fucked the nuns, they pulled the sheet from the table and fucked each other with the implements of sex that lay there. They pushed them into us as well, those toys.

Hours passed I came and went. Some minutes passed torturously as years of pain and humiliation. Some hours passed in seconds of unconsciousness when I blacked out. Mary, Mary Magdalene. Fuck Mary Magdalene, they chanted as they passed us around.

I woke many miles from St Mags on a rocky shore of the Firth of Forth. I’d been tied in a mail sack, along with my sibling. I’d freed my head and breathed. My sibling had not. It was a mercy. I climbed out of the sack and onto the smooth, cold pebbles of North Queensferry, a wretched creature. I kicked the body of my twin, still inside the sack back into the water and blew it a kiss.

I didn’t go back to Edinburgh, instead I went home to Dundee and emptied my father’s safe at home. I went online with the black book full of passwords I found in his safe and emptied every one of his accounts too. The bastard deserved us for putting us in St Mags’.

I disappeared. I got a new identity, I travelled, I grew up. I came back to Edinburgh, but I’d changed. I’d grown, become a man. A strong man, younger and more capable than the elderly, filthy men who’d violated Mary and Paul. The first one, I took whilst he crossed Charlotte Square. It was pathetic how old he had become. The hands I remembered clawing at my thighs and pants, were sparrow’s claws, ineffectually pulling at my grip as I dragged the old cunt into the back of my van. I bestowed upon him every torture my sibling and I had suffered at his hands and the hands of his brethren.

I went so much further with him than even they had with Paul and Mary. I cut his eyelids and placed him in a room full of mirrors to watch as I sliced and pierced and fucked and ripped and gouged every ounce of fucking pain I could drag from the evil bastard. I did things to that creature that some would say makes me worse than all of them. It doesn’t though, because he wasn’t a child. That’s the bare truth of it. He and his brothers of the cloth, men of God, betrayed children. I tortured and fucked an evil old man into a bloody puddle, then I hunted some of his fellow holy men. I still have some to find, to punish. For me and for my brother.


My eyes are stinging and I become aware that I hadn’t blinked the entire time Wilson had been speaking. He’s still sitting in Buddha position wanking away in the corner.

“Your brother?” I ask.

“Yes, Paul, my brother.” She makes a sort of ‘duh’ face at me. Standing, she continues tugging on her cock and extends a hand for me.

“Thanks for listening. You should go now, Paul will be back soon. He doesn’t like you much. Go.”

I reach out and give the offered hand a little squeeze, similar to the one Benny had offered me earlier. As I let go my eyes go for a wander to Wilson’s feet. They are small, maybe a size four or five. The legs are lean and strong but long and slender also. Whilst Wilson’s torso is scarred the scars screamed a familiarity. I’ve seen scars like those on she wears on his-her chest somewhere else before. Maybe a TV show.

Wilson catches me scanning his body. That smile lights up the room again.

“You like it?” She asks. “I paid a fortune for it. Tits out and sewed up, vagina closed and this,” She jerks that cock. “This I’m delighted with. Nice and big, plenty of damage done tae a hole wi’ this big bastard, I can tell ye. Three piece titanium rod inside, hard whenever I want for however long I need it.”

I gape at the scars.

“Only problem is that I’m a dry-shagger. They cannae give ye baws, well wee rubber wans, but not working ones full of spunk.” Her eyes mist for a second as she loses herself in a rapey-reverie. “Och I’d have loved it if I could’ve had spunk tae splash over thae bastards,” she says, wistfully.

Suddenly her face begins to darken once more and her voice deepens. Half way between Paul and Mary he-she roars. “Get fuckin’ oot!”

She doesn’t have to tell me twice. I rocket through the door and lock it shut behind me. Peering in through the little trap, I watch Mary kneel back into the corner and her back straighten. Paul’s voice comes.

“Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene. She’s fuckin’ coming fur ye, ya basturts.”

End of Excerpt


Twelve Mad Men features contributions from:

Paul D Brazill (Guns of Brixton, A Case of Noir)
Gerard Brennan (Fireproof, Wee Rockets)
Les Edgerton (The Bitch, The Rapist)
Craig Furchtenicht (Dimebag Bandits, Night Speed Zero)
Richard Godwin (Mr Glamour, One Lost Summer, Apostle Rising)
Allen Miles (18 Days, This is How You Disappear)
Keith Nixon (The Fix, The Eagle’s Shadow)
Darren Sant (Tales From The Longcroft, The Bank Manager and The Bum)
Gareth Spark (Black Rain, Shotgun Honey)
Martin Stanley (The Gamblers, The Hunters)
Mark Wilson (dEaDINBURGH, Head Boy)

and is on free promo now at Amazon US and Amazon UK.


On location in dEaDINBURGH

19 01 2014


Mark Wilson has recently completed his fourth novel.
DEaDINBURGH is book one in the dEaDINBURGH series and will be released through Paddy’s Daddy Publishing in March 2014.

Recently Mark was in the city with Paul McGuigan of PMCG Photography shooting key locations from the book.






Bogies, and other equally messed up tales of love, lust, drugs and grandad porn-Launch

2 12 2013

Some extracts from Ryan Bracha’s newly released short story collection:

I started this collection in March of 2013, with the express intention of releasing six individual stories of varying lengths as standalone tales throughout the year, and then putting them together with some exclusive stories in a full sized book. These individual stories would be sold as cheaply as possible, or free whenever possible. I’d written two novels, and as much as I love the process of writing a full length book, I had this itch where I wanted to create several oddball characters, and put them in equally strange situations. Individually I would call this project The Short Shorts, and a story could be something I’d thought about for weeks, or something that just came to me in the morning and I’d finish a 6,000 word piece by night time. The whole project could be used as a metaphor for my complete creative process, really. I don’t plan so much. Most of the time I just write. If I don’t like where my characters are taking it, I reign them in, and start again. Sometimes I have the next 20,000 words mapped out in my head, and eagerly hammer away at my keyboard until I get to my destination. As chaotic as the process usually is, I love it. I love telling stories. I love making my reader chuckle, or gasp, or retch at the audacity of what my characters do or say. But most of all, I love creating characters. The following extracts are prime examples of what crap flows through my head at the best of times. I hope they sound like your cup of tea. If not, then don’t worry. My motto is It wouldn’t do if we were all the same.

Baron Catastrophe and the King of the Jackals:

“So how are you?” I sit on the sofa. It’s the flowery pale brown one that she’s had since I was a child. There’s still the dark, but faded outline of a stain from times gone by. I always avoid it. I know what caused it. The needles clack together as she knits another scarf. This one looks like it’s going to be green and blue. She knits them and then she sends them straight to the charity shop. She doesn’t send them to just a single one, she rotates the causes for each one. Cancer, animals, heart attacks, famine, blindness, she doesn’t discriminate. Every charity shop in Barnsley has at least ten of her scarves, and there are a lot of charity shops in Barnsley.
“Same as yesterday, you?” she doesn’t look up, her focus is on the blur of plastic and wool.
“Can’t complain,” I lie for the second time today. My heart is still thumping from a combination of that poster, and the extra twenty or so minutes of uphill walking that it has forced me into and I could throw up all over her. She seems happy with my response though, and we each sit in silence. The intermittent clicks and clacks of her knitting save us from total dead air. She has a television but I’m not sure she has ever watched it. Not least while I’ve been in the room with her anyhow. This is one of the things that we have in common. My fingertips rub the fabric on the sofa backward and forward. I used to write my name in it by pulling the grain of the fur back against itself.
“What do you call those little stockings?” I ask eventually, the question having been on my tongue for a while. Still her eyes remain upon her handiwork.
“What stockings?”
“Those ones that only go halfway up your shins?”
“Support socks. Or pop socks, I suppose”
Another mystery of my life solved. Another piece of my knowledge jigsaw clipped into place. Another reason to sleep somewhat better tonight.

Glass Half Empty:

My eyes flicker toward Southern Keith at the bar who’s also got money on this one. Southern Keith is from the Midlands, but moved down south some years ago. He moved back up here for work last year and has become an ever present fixture in the pub. He’s usually really quite pleasant, but his mood swings sometimes set me on edge.
“Come on you dirty shit!” he growls, one hand gripped firmly around the handle of his Nottingham Forest tankard. White knuckles. Bobby’s Boy continues to edge further from the rest and I allow a smile, just a small one, to creep onto my face. This wins and it’s my rent paid this month. Victory from the jaws of eviction. An unlikely outcome, considering my luck of late, but not impossible. I can barely watch. It will only raise hopes higher than they deserve to be. Higher than they ever get. Southern Keith downs his pint of heavy and slams the tankard onto the bar, ejecting Old Terry straight from his slumber, and attracting a raised eyebrow from Northern Keith, the landlord. Northern Keith was only called Keith until Southern Keith arrived, and we needed some way to differentiate.

The Bad Day:

It’s six thirty. His still drunk, aching body switches onto autopilot and he finds himself upright, heavy heels thud against the floorboards and his body manoeuvres toward the bathroom. Pulls at the bathroom light cord. Realises that it’s already light enough in there and plinks it back off. He’s barely aware of himself as he steps into the shower cubicle, his hand spins the tap, starts up the shower. The hot streams of water serve to slowly but surely chip away at the thick film of lethargy that coats him from head to toe. Gives him the illusion that he’s feeling much more awake. He scrubs at his nooks and crannies with Babs’ bright pink clown’s wig loofah sponge, coated in thick minty shower gel, made with approximately eight thousand actual mint leaves. The mint in the gel leaves a tingle around his arsehole and under his armpits, and serves to further awaken his senses just ever so slightly. He switches off the shower. Stands beneath the dripping head and loosely, half-heartedly dries away the water and a few still remaining suds.

Playing Out Clothes:

I’ll always remember Playing Out Clothes. I met him briefly in ninety two. I smelled him before I saw him, really. That tangy, sweaty arse crack kind of smell. Some sort of vinegar crossed with shit aroma, but with a subtle hint of bread and butter. All wrapped up in a bundle of clothes that, although washed, had been left in the basket to collect a bitter damp smell. Imagine that and you’ve got it. Now imagine that stink sitting two chairs down in your very first high school assembly on your very first day there. The head teacher introducing herself to the new wave of students, proffering words of well-meaning but ultimately flawed advice on how to make the best of your time at school. Words by somebody who had clearly either forgotten their own time as a twelve to sixteen year old, or simply misremembered it. Or was just a blatant liar.


As I peruse the shelf the weathered old shopkeeper, a thin and long stick insect of a man with a full head of white hair, gazes at me over the top of his specs like I’ve laid a heavy, steaming, long poo across the doorway like some ecologically friendly draught excluder. I don’t know what his problem is, I mean, he sells the stuff, why judge the people that buy it? My eyes scan the titles beneath the modesty sleeves. Granny Sluts. Reader’s Wives. Fifty and Filthy. Sixty and Sexy. Asian Babes. It’s mostly niche stuff. I pick up Granny Sluts and turn to the counter, drop down the plastic coated publication with a heavy slap and a cheery grin.
“Alright?” I ask, with a smile in my eyes. The good gentleman vendor makes some gruff variation of a greeting. Scans the barcode with a bleep and doesn’t say anything. Just nods toward the illuminated price which informs me that I’ll be paying just under seven quid for this particular pleasure. Seems fair. I drop a tenner into his dry palm, slide the magazine into my leather satchel, and await my change. He eyes me suspiciously as he fingers the coins in the till, slowly bringing the change my way. Between the standard facial features there are long and deep wrinkles that it takes all of my resistance to hold from fingering curiously, just to see what he’s holding in there.
“Thanks,” I smile gratefully, not even a hint of shame in my eyes with the purchase I’ve just made. It’s for the greater good. He’ll love it.

The Tale I Said I’d Tell:

We were all there. The usual bunch. Me, Black Rob, Lee Jones, Ryan Davies, and a kid we called Winnit. We called him that because he was always hanging off of our arses, everywhere we went there was always Winnit. I’d paid up with Dave and then got another nine bar on tic. A nine bar is nine ounces of solid hash, by the way. I always had enough to cover my own smoking needs on top of what I’d sell to make money, and that night I was feeling a bit generous so I was sharing out the spliffs and bongs with the rest of my pals. Most of us were just about passed out by the time it happened. There was a bang on the window. Lee and Ry barely stirred from their stoned states of mind, and Winnit was out cold. There was only me and Black Rob anything like compus mentus. I looked at Rob and he looked at me. Neither of us much bothered for going to investigate, but the bang came again, only this time it was three hard fisted smacks against the panes.
“Oi! Watch yerselves!” shouted Black Rob, “you’ll smash me fookin’ windows!”
The three hard bangs came again, so I stood up and went to pull the curtains open, ready for giving shit to whoever it was. Just as I opened the curtains there was this almighty crash. My world went black.

The Short Version:

Young Jenny scrawls up some crude posters. Dog missing. Gimme my dog back. Have you seen Freckles? That kind of thing. Jenny takes these posters and sticks them up around the small mining village that she and her family live in. One of those kinds of places where everybody knows everybody. At least one of every family worked in the pits at any one time. Until the strikes. Until Thatcher. You know? Everybody knew everybody. So it’s this knowledge that leaves Jenny’s mum and dad feeling secure about their little girl wandering about on her own. They were called Karen and Steve. Her parents. That was their names. Jenny’s just about put up her last poster when a car pulls up behind her. Some said it was a brown Volvo. Others a cream Opal Manta. Another witness said it was green. A green Ford Escort. Witnesses said that the man inside rolled down his window. Calls Jenny over. You could only assume that the guy has some sort of information about Freckles. The poor little bastard. Jenny skips over to the car. The car pulls away. No more Jenny. Like gone in a puff of smoke. Like magic. Except it wasn’t magic. They found her body four weeks later, by a railway track. Mutilated. Messed with.

Call Me Dr Fuck Knuckles:

“Did you just look at my wife’s arse John?”
John coughed harshly, and turned to Dr Fuck Knuckles, and then Helen with fear and confusion in his eyes.
“No, I didn’t! Helen I promise I didn’t,” he frantically pleaded, holding her hand tighter. Helen smiled at him and kissed him on the cheek before looking to her dad.
“Daddy, behave yourself.”
“When that letch is undressing my wife, your mother, with his eyes, in my house?”
“In your house what dear?” asked the returning Cynthia, carrying what looked remarkably like two deep green plastic one litre bottles of white cider.
“Oh nothing, except I caught Helen’s boyfriend sexing you with his eyes. Sexing you!”
“He wasn’t sexing me were you John?” she purred, but her eyes sparkling with something that said sexing was exactly what she wanted from him. John coughed again.
“No, I wasn’t, I really wasn’t.”
“See, dear? John says he wasn’t. Shall I pour the bubbly?”

Tha Dunt Come Frumt Tarn Tha Gets Nowt Frumt Tarn:

As if on cue there’s a knock at the door. Danny.
“Knock knock,” he says.
“You don’t need to say knock knock Daniel. You just knocked,” I speak as I peer over the edge of my hardback first edition, “besides, you just came in, I don’t think there was even a need to actually knock.”
“Ah shurrup, I was wondering if you’d changed your mind about the Secret Millionaire thing.”
This is what I like about Danny, he doesn’t seem to even understand that I’m loaded, it means nothing to him. I feel like reminding him.
“I’ll consider it if you punch yourself in the face,” I say, Danny smiles and shakes his head.
“Easy stuff, you got nowt better than that? You must be feeling really down,” he says with a sigh. He’s right. I was just discussing my imagination getting a work out and then I go and spoil it all by suggesting something stupid like a self-punch to the face.
“Okay, fair enough. I’ll consider it if you throw yourself out of my bedroom window. I’ll give you ten grand too,” I say, take that Daniel you Northern Monkey.

The Happiest Day of Your Lives:

“I’ll always remember when Lee came up to me and told me that he thought he’d met the woman of his dreams. I laughed my arse off, I really did, because he’s always been a warm ‘un. Can’t keep it in his pants. Well, he couldn’t keep it in his pants,” I say, noting a few looks of disapproval, “until he met the beautiful Fiona.”
I smile down at the bride, she’s not impressed with me, but that’s fine. I’m the best man. The best man. She’ll get over it.
“Fiona whirled into his life like a hurricane. A beautiful, sexy, stunner of a hurricane. He was besotted by her. I can tell you. There were so many times I asked him if he was coming up the town and he said no. You know why ladies and gentlemen? You know why? Because he was head over heels in love with her. She’s so good for him. He-“
I pause. Aware that I’m going off on one. I knew I should’ve left the coke out of the party, at least until the speech was done, can’t help myself though, can I?
“She is. She’s great for him. She’s made a real man out of my favourite boy. I’m gonna miss him, of course I am. Much like a lot of you are missing Tony.”
My mouth feels dry, and I grab a sip of water. Some people have just broken down over the missing brother, but like I say, he’ll show up.

The Banjo String Snapped but the Band Played on:

Jesus didn’t speak. Just sat, slumped on the green and red padded and striped bench behind the knackered old table, the remains of a beer mat bunched up in a small pile of shredded card from where he’d decimated it. His filthy, muddy, blood stained previously-white trainers poked their scabby noses out from beneath his torn piss-stained robe. His crown of thorns was a distant memory, as was his makeshift crucifix, only the faded red stigmata remained of his sacrifice to humankind. His bright red-rimmed eyelids battled gravity bravely but felt so heavy. His neck felt as if it had been chipped away at by an invisible lumberjack, and was now holding on to his ten-stone head by luck alone. He needed to sleep. He’d give up everything he owned, or had ever owned, to be in his bed right now. Through his glassy eyed gaze he watched The Pimp approach, his own shitty feeling mirrored in The Pimp’s demeanour. The Pimp clumsily plonked the pint glasses down onto the table, spilling ice cold cider over his fingers, the beer mats, and the sticky chipped varnish of the wooden surface. The Pimp pulled his wet fingers to his mouth and slurped the booze from them with a laboured effort. The last thing Jesus needed now was more drink, so he was more than surprised by his own hand’s actions as it sailed through the air toward the pint glass, returning to his proximity with the booze, drawing it to his lips which surprised him further still by gulping down a generous helping. The alcohol burned his throat, and did absolutely nothing to quench the raging thirst which had been a product of his weekend so far, he would happily kill for a massive glass of water, lemonade, Coke, anything. Anything that did not have an alcohol content. Had a random stranger entered the bar, and handed him a machine gun with the instruction to pepper each and every one of the locals in their stupid faces in exchange for a two-litre bottle of lemonade he would have undertaken his deadly task with a veritable relish, and only when he’d absorbed every drop of thirst quenching goodness would the guilt over his merciless killing spree begin to set in. But at least I’d not be thirsty, he thought malevolently.

End of extracts

Bogies, and other equally messed up tales of love, lust, drugs and grandad porn is Available here
You can find Ryan and his books at Paddy’s Daddy Publishing and on Amazon.


How to Become an Effective Indie Author Part 2 – Formatting

11 07 2013

The second in a series of how to self publish by our founder, Mark Wilson.
You can find part 1 here


Getting your document formatted and ready for Publication as an eBook

Now that your novel is complete, your next step is to have it formatted correctly for the marketplace(s) that you intended to use to sell it. My preferred option are; Amazon and Smashwords(after I use Kindle select for 90 or 180 days), and Paperback edition. Smashwords will distribute your eBook through iBooks, Diesel, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Nook, Kobo and skme others without you having to reload and reformat your document each time.

I’ll cover paperback formatting in a subsequent article.

The formatting process is surprisingly simple for kindle; the trick is to keep your manuscript document very simple, with no fancy-pants fonts or characters throughout.

The first time I approached formatting with my debut novel Bobby’s Boy I read lots of different manuals, forums and guides on how to prepare the manuscript and all served to terrify me.

Being hard as nails, I ignored my fear and pushed on. Each document suggested that however much time and effort I spent prepping the document, that the kindle transfer would say “sorry big man, that’s shite, try again” and spit it back at me endless times.

Not so it turned out.

The main formatting techniques I paid heed to worked for me and my manuscript slipped on through the fearsome KDP beast, perfectly, first time.

Here’s my top tips: for making sure your word doc will be easy to format:

1. Indent paragraphs, first line, 0 space before an 0 space after.
2. When inserting a new paragraph, hit enter key once.
3. when looking for a gap between paragraphs, for a change of scene or something else, hit the enter key twice.
4. I used Cambria at size 12, with 1.15 spacing.
5. Use ctrl/enter to insert page breaks.
6. Use insert pic, to put in pics rather than cut/paste them.
7. Do not use the tab, instead, use your left/centr/right align buttons for titles or chapter headings.
8. Keep it simple.

By doing this, it was incredibly easy to save the file as a HTML doc, pop it through Mobi- create and then onto Kindle Direct. Job done.

I used a great series of videos as instructions for this part and found them spot-on. Part 2 especially was a great help:

Of course you can pay someone to do this for you, which is what I’ve chosen to do for Smashwords formatting, simply because the Smashwords process is a great deal more arduous and found it easier to just get someone else to do it.

Steve Caresser and his team at eprintedbooks offer an excellent range of formatting services and are quick, inexpensive and reliable.

Mark Wilson is an Indie Author and runs Paddy’s Daddy Publishing, a small, independent publishing house called.
You can find him and his books here.

PDP has an Indie Author resources section designed exclusively for Indie Authors.


Writing a Killer Blurb by Rewan Tremethick

10 07 2013

Killer blurbs – the thing writers forget most often?

Over the past two years I have been working as a copywriter. This means I now have lots of experience of selling things using a small amount of words.
Rather like a blurb, really. And if there’s one thing a quick search of sites like Amazon and Lulu reveals, it’s that a lot of self-published writers are losing potential readers because they don’t understand what a blurb is for.

So what does a blurb actually do?

Remember that people need reasons to buy your book. Just because they’re in a bookshop (or online), want a book, and your book is a book, doesn’t mean they’ll buy it. It’s your job as the writer to show people why they should spend their money on you.

The two tools available to you are the front cover and your blurb. ‘What about the sample chapters?’ you may be asking. The fact is people won’t automatically read your sample chapters just because they are there. You have to give them a reason to do that.

Your front cover gets people to read the blurb. So your blurb is the first chance you have to demonstrate your power as a writer. Unfortunately, you need to be more in ‘selling’ mode than in ‘artistic’ mode, which is where a lot of writers fall down.

Here are the two main mistakes people make:

Listing the contents of the book.
It’s understandable that people do this. You want people to know about the novel, and that certain elements of the book will appeal to different people. So you write your blurb as a list of all the interesting things that are in the book, and end up with something like this:
‘Dragons, goblins, castles, deadly forests, volcanoes, betrayal, politics, smoothies, badgers, sarcasm’.

The thinking behind this is that people looking at your book are simply going to spot one of their favourite things (‘Oh wow, this book has got castles and smoothies in it, I like both those things!’) and therefore buy a copy. Sadly not.
You have to get people excited in the story, and the story is much more than the sum of its parts, telling people the book is: ‘funny/hilarious/exciting/a romp’
The blurb is about selling the book, right? So, you should just tell people that the book is good, and then they’ll buy it.
This means you end up with the second classic blurb mistake:
‘So many things are going wrong for Adam. This highly enjoyable romp, set in the Garden of Eden, will leave you crying with laughter, whilst examining your personal philosophy on topiary.’

Readers will know that you’ve written the blurb. As the author, you’re obviously going to say the book is good. They can’t trust you, so telling them how enjoyable you find it is no more effective than listing how much protein you’d receive if you chewed the book.
You have to get people involved in the story. Make them feel some of the things that your novel will arouse in them, rather than simply telling them what it is they will feel.

How to write a killer blurb
The whole reason people buy a novel is to get involved with a story or characters. So give them some of that on the blurb. Yes, you haven’t got much space, but that just means the exercise of writing a good blurb will help to make you a better writer.

Every story has conflict at its heart – otherwise it’s not a story. It should be the thing that keeps people reading anyway, so use it to start people reading. Introduce your main character if there is something incredibly endearing or intriguing about them (which there should be), or give an overview of the conflict which throws them into a tricky situation.

Give your potential reader something or someone to care about, and then throw in a problem for them to face. Use a couple of lines to set out your character, then use the next two to establish the problem.

Study the blurbs of your favourite books, and other books in the genre you are writing in. You should be able to identify key elements that appear in all of them. The more you study, the better your understanding of what constitutes a good blurb will become.
Get someone else to speak for you
Top your blurb off with quotes from people who have reviewed an advanced copy.

A back cover with several quotes below or above the blurb attesting to how enjoyable the story is looks impressive and demonstrates your ability. Readers may not trust you as the author, but they will trust the quotes.

Invest time in writing a great blurb
Write your blurb, then go back and try and cut it down. Then try and cut it down again. You have to tell a whole story in the fewest amount of words possible.
It’s difficult, but a good blurb will reward you with more interest in your book, and ultimately more sales. Give your potential audience reasons to read the novel.

Ask yourself what the ultimate, simple truth of your novel is, and present that on the back cover. Show readers the things that they will get involved with if they buy the book, and tempt them with just enough information about the story to ensure they are desperate for the first few pages.
Then it’s up to your story to speak for itself. Happy writing.

Rewan Tremethick’s debut novel, Fallen on Good Times will be published by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing early 2014.
You can find Rewan at Paddy’s Daddy Publishing


How To Become an Effective Indie Author: Part 1

27 06 2013

How I Became an Effective Indie Author: Part 1

The first question I’m asked when people discover that I’m an Indie- Author is whether I approached or considered approaching agents or publishers. The answer? Not even once. I never considered this option.

I was very lucky to benefit from the advice of several authors who’ve spent some years in the publishing industry. In particular, I had a long chat with Gavin Bain, a friend of mine who’s experienced in the music and literary business. We chatted about agents, contracts, advances, small publishers versus large ones and I spent months doing my own research on the business. With a push from Gavin I followed my gut instinct to go Indie. I’ve never regretted this and set up my company to help other Indie-Authors produce the best quality book that they can, but maintain control of their work.

Having decided upon my route, here’s a short blog on how I initially set about establishing myself as an Indie-author and began the process of producing the best quality product that I could and establish a readership. This is the first of a series of articles designed to aid new and existing Indie-Authors.

Self- Publishing or Traditional?

During the process of writing my debut novel, Bobby’s Boy I went back and forward in my decision as to whether engage in the process of wooing an agent/publisher. When I started writing, I firmly stood in the self-publish camp. As I progressed with the book, I researched the industry more and more. Royalties, advances, agents, services performed by the publishing house and or the agent, big or small publisher? There was and is a lot to learn. I did weeks of research, seeking out those agents and publishers (mostly independent) whom I thought would like me and my book, and whom I thought I’d like to work with. That list remains unused at present.

More and more, as I immersed myself in the snaking and shaded corridors of the literary industry, the same nagging questions came back to me. Is it worth giving away control of my work for the potential exposure a big publisher might bring? It seemed to me that if these guys deigned to take you, they’d in all probability change your work endlessly, until it fit their formulaic idea of what a commercial novel should be, which is fine for some writers, but not for me. It seemed that most of the promo and marketing would be done by me rather than them anyway, so why should I give them such a huge chunk of my potential earnings and, more importantly, complete control over the words that I had spent so many hours writing? What was more important? Potential earnings or creative control?

Advances: For many authors, it seems that an advance, especially a huge one, is the holy grail. I just don’t understand this mentality at all. Sure an advance is a nice pat on the back, and an indication that your book is commercial enough (or at least can be made to be, in the payer’s opinion). It also seems like a good way of allowing the author the privilege and means to write full-time. For me, it’s a scary prospect.

An advance simply means that you’re in debt to the issuer until your sales repay the money. If the sales take years to do so? Well, you’re in hock to them for years, and quite probably on a deadline for at least one more book. No thanks. Add this to the fact that a large portion of publishers give their newly-published books only a very short time to hit serious sales before shifting their enthusiasm and attention elsewhere, it added to my unease.

Agents: Whilst there are of course many good quality agents, who work hard for their clients, let’s remember two key things about them. Firstly, they do try to get the best deal for their authors, but that may mean something different to them than it does to the author, in terms of cash, advances or the prestige of a particular publishing house over creative control or effective care from the publisher. Your agent represents a business; the more money(debt) they get for you, the more money they themselves make, and that is their primary objective.

I also dislike that most publishers now only take submissions from those who have an agent. It’s like a whole level of the industry exists as a vetting and an introductory service. Having said that, for a variety of reasons, now that publishing is more accessible, agents may have had their time in the long term.

Secondly, they will take around 15% of your money, which is already a very small percentage (somewhere between 7 -15%) when considering the fact that you worked so hard on your book and will continue to work your arse off promoting the book, publisher or no publisher (unless of course you’re very high on the publishers’ radar). Whilst the services of agents can be very valuable, if you take the traditional publisher out of the picture, there’s really no place for an agent.

Smaller publishing houses, like my own, offer a more personal service and are generally more engaged with and passionate about the work they’ve chosen to represent.

Having said that, if you have or can develop the skills, techniques, network and contacts, there’s no need for a small publisher; you can do it yourself with the right assistance.

This is where the effective Indie-Author exists. In the centre of a web of professionals; editors, proof-readers, formatters and cover designers, hired by the author to polish his/her work and free the author up to do what he/she does best…Write.

For me it was a no-brainer. However, a small part of me, the one that’s low on self-esteem, told me that I needed the recognition from an agent or publisher that my book was “good”. I ignored that needy version of me and ploughed on, buoyed by the research I’d done into the standard of eBooks out there. As far as I could see, my book was as good as many self-published eBooks, and better than most (there’s the tiny little bit of ego/confidence I do possess asserting itself).

As things stand; using several industry professionals who are competitively priced, and more importantly better at editing etc than me, I’ve published two full length novels, a short-story collection and a novella. In addition I’ve recently founded a small Independent publishing company, dedicated to supporting good authors, with quality books, but who lack the technical skills to represent their work.

In addition to this, PDP is also committed to bringing resources to and empowering authors, Indie or otherwise, and will continue to add to our resource pages.

As the lovely Edith Piaf says: “je ne regrette rien” (so far)

You can find my books on Amazon, US and Amazon, UK. You can find our Indie-Author resources pages at Paddy’s Daddy Publishing.


Are Indie-Authors Becoming the Whores of Social Media?

27 06 2013

In the next few weeks, PDP will launch a series of pages, articles and resources aimed at assisting Indie-Authors.

Here is the blurb from our Indie-Author Hangout:

Paddy’s Daddy Publishing was established to seek out those authors whose stories excited us rather than only those deemed commercial as can be the case with larger publishers.

Whilst we whole-heartedly support our publishing model and are committed to our authors, we also recognise that there is a place and a need for the Indie-Author.

As a former Indie-Author and a great believer in empowering authors, our founder Mark Wilson is dedicated to lending the support of our company to developing Indie-Authors. Too many Indie-Authors and other industry professionals are far too slow to share the benefit of their experience and resources with emerging Indie-Authors.

We believe in supporting new talent.

With this in mind, we’ve filled these pages with advice, links and resources on all aspects of the Indie-Author experience including features on editing, book cover design, formatting, marketing and promotion.

We want to assist you in producing a high quality Indie Publication. The writing’s up to you, but you can and should seek advice on production.

The following article is from Mark Wilson, Founder of Paddy’s Daddy Publishing:

Are Indie-Authors the Whores of Social Media?

Are Indie-Authors the whores, or perhaps the beggars of social media?

I’m beginning to think we are you know.

Since the very day I stepped into the world of self-publishing/e-publishing/Indie-publishing, whatever and published my short-story collection Paddy’s Daddy, followed by my full length novels, Bobby’s Boy and Naebody’s Hero, I’ve had my metaphorical backside in the air on twitter, along with every other indie-author, in an effort to attract readers. Mostly I attract other authors, trying to attract readers.

Tweet/retweet/reply; lather, rinse repeat has become the currency and prime strategy of the indie author. We (the authors) have become the modern day equivalent of the ancient tradition where the poor soul would sit outside the temple reciting “Alms for the blind?” Either that or we’re the tweet equivalent of fluorescent-wearing chuggers on the high street, chasing some poor bas down the road for a couple of quid royalty. The problem is, when we catch them we discover that they’re one of us, and so we gather number like zombies, but rather than a mouthful of flesh, we want readers.

The twitter-sphere is saturated with link-posting authors, each in the desperate and futile act of pimping their books, ultimately to each other.

—I’ll retweet your brains out, but only if you retweet me first

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Indie publishing should have empowered us, instead we chase potential readers and each other in circles. We sit with a wee sign up saying;

“buy a book from X, his writing’s great, just ask him, he’s over there. Oh, and he’ll tell you the same about my book, so come back here when you’ve seen him. What’s that? You’re a writer? Well, c’mere and I’ll retweet you then, but back of the queue first.”

I’m all for supporting authors; I set up my fledgling publishing company, precisely for this purpose and I’m certainly not against some constructive cross-promotion, in fact I believe this type of network is essential, but it must be done smartly and targeted at the very people who we want to enjoy our books.

The current state of tweet/promo is so constant, so ubiquitous, so time-consuming and soul destroying; and ultimately so unimaginative and futile.

Link after link, after link of;

“My book’s free, mine’s only 99 cents, mines is a series, etc”.

It’s become such a clichéd strategy, but it seems that we are all stuck in the cycle because the pioneers of self-publishing, or dickhead profiteers like John Locke, say that it’s how it’s done. Guys like Steven Lewis (@Rule17) are a rare and welcome exception, offering much in the way of valid, constructive and useful advice on self-publishing.

I say no.

I say that it’s a lazy and arrogant way to promote your books. I say rediscover the creative spark that so easily comes when you write and apply it to your marketing and promotion. Limit your tweets to actual social interaction with one in twenty a link to your product. Instead of spamming, let’s have honest to goodness thoughts about life, books, movies, music, the news, whatever floats your boat. People know you’re an author, its’ right there in your profile, if they like you they’ll go check out your website anyway without you filling their newsfeed with begging tweets.

Engage with your “followers”. Retweet away ‘til your hearts’ content, but pass on fun things people say or do; or useful links that’ll help other authors. Post ridiculous pics of yourself, have a conversation, by Christ have some fun!

Stop self-promoting under the umbrella of promoting others. We’re not buying each others’ books, but we’re tweeting and retweeting the same tired links around each other. Put those creative thoughts out there in conversation. Engage your followers and they just might become readers.

In the last few years I’ve written two novels, a short story collection and a novella. In marketing these, I’ve researched thoroughly each category I wsih them to be placed in, listed targeted keywords and placed the book where I think readers who’ll actually enjoy my book might find it.

I’ve done Speeches at a variety of venues on a range of topics including writing. I’ve been on blog tours, promo interviews, been in several newspapers several times. I’ve handed out flyers and dozens of other strategies. None of this makes much of a difference to sales out-with a minor, short-lived boost. What it has done is build me a network of contacts, people who are happy to support my next project and get each book a little exposure. It has helped me build a readership and brought me a load of new friends who again are so very supportive.

Many authors I’ve met on twitter also are constructively aiding each other, offering tips on promo, formatting, reviews, beta-reading etc. This is an absolutely invaluable support and one I’m looking at incorporating into the company’s structure.

Here’s what I’ve found makes a significant and recurring difference in sales:

Keep writing quality stories, get them edited well and get a professional cover. Give your reader value.

Target the right categories and readers. Do your research on keywords and phrases and place your book in the right shop window.

Don’t rely on social media. Less than 0.01% of this you pester will actually click on your link to your book. Only a small fraction of those will actually buy. Tweeting “here’s my book, buy it,” fifty times a day is like throwing adverts written on confetti and hoping one person in ten thousand reads it after picking it off their jacket; and that one person in a hundred thousand, follows the link to your book.

Look at the long game. Your book, if it’s well written, will be there forever, build momentum based on real readers feedback and reviews and your developing skill as a writer. Don’t expect continued and sustained sales from the tweet/retweet jerk-circle. It’s a self-limiting and ultimately self-sabotaging type of promotion. When real readers discover your book and find that your review ratings are over-inflated by glowing reviews from other writers, they’ll soon make their displeasure known.

Give reviews to each other, but make them honest and therefore of value. Don’t worry about giving a book three or four stars, or receiving this rating for yours, ultimately this shows the reader balanced reviews. If you read a book and it’s so awful that you can’t rate it htree or above, contact your fellow author asnd expain why you won’t post your reiew. Offer some constructive advice.

Include targeted links to each other’s books at the rear of your own book. Make it relatable, if your book is a crime thriller, add a blurb and a link to another writer’s crime thriller book at the end of yours, but select carefully, make sure you’ve read the book and that you’d buy it yourself first.

Please fellow writers; let’s stop being the biggest spam source in the whole twitter-sphere. Rely on your blogs, websites and most of all, novels to do the selling and just enjoy the social media for what it was intended. Being sociable.

You can find Mark’s Books at Amazon, UK or Amazon, US and Paddy’s Daddy Publishing here


The Banjo String Snapped but The Band Played On by Ryan Bracha – Review

26 06 2013

Ryan never fails to entertain and inspire.

I always look forward to new story from Ryan Bracha. Very few new and even fewer Indie-writers have the imagination Bracha possesses or the guts to tell a story uncompromisingly. Most new writers find a preferred writing style (narrative, viewpoint etc) and stick with it; Ryan has absolutely no fear and uses many engaging writng styles. John Niven is a standout at this as were Chris Brookmyre and Irvine Welsh early in their careers. Ryan has a very Scottish feel to his writing, in that the characters and situations he creates are invariably entertaining, challenging, complex often brutally exposed and often funny as hell.

Awaiting a Bracha publication is comparable to what Monday mornings (new release day, pre-downloads) were like for a long-term music fan. I don’t get quite the same satisfaction ‘ripping open’ a Bracha book as I did flicking through 45s and later CDs, but it’s close enough to that excitement for now.

With The Banjo String Snapped But The Band Played On, Ryan continues his series of short-stories and his run of form. Whilst I preferred Bracha’s previous book, Baron Catastrophe and The King of Jackals, I found plenty in this book to entertain and engage with.
Ryan’s writing is experimental, he takes chances and is developing with each story, but I had trouble connecting with this particular tale. This is no fault of the author, his prose is as fresh and gripping as ever; but rather as the reader, I found the multiple changes of viewpoint difficult to follow, mainly because I’m a bit simple at times.

I’m docking Bracha a single rating star for one main reason.

I desperately wanted and perhaps expected the main characters to be the actual Jesus, Superman etc and was gutted that they were merely some mates on a Stag-do. I suspect this says more about me than it does about Ryan’s book, but it’s my review and I wanted the real Jesus, so four stars it is.

With the quality of Ryan’s writing he only has himself to blame; he continuously readjusts the readers expectation of his books, each brings something different than the last, and I wanted more from this. Despite my own personal preferences, this is a very good read; smart, vapid and concise writing at its best, but next time give me more Messiah.

Ryan is an affiliate author with Paddy’s Daddy Publishing
Banjo is free on Amazon on 26/6/2013


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