Thursday, 15 December 2011


You learn strange things about people on the Internet. For instance, I was on the Kindleboards forum a few hours ago, came across a discussion of free and 99c ebooks, and hit on this comment: "I think a low price says the writer didn't have a lot of confidence in it, or didn't care too much how it did. Rightly or wrongly. If it's not worth much to him or her, why should it matter much to me, as the reader?"

And since all of my self-published books on Kindle are 99c, I wasn't exactly pleased. I mean, I've had novels published by four major publishers. My stories have appeared in most of the better magazines in the genre I work in. And most of what I've put out electronically has been published in hard print at some time in the past. The quote above just didn't make the slightest bit of sense to me, and so I tried to put the guy with that opinion right. Only to be rebutted by an American living in the UK, who told me she and plenty of people that she knew regarded 99c ebooks as potentially inferior, and $2.99 to be the proper starting rate. Bizarre! I don't buy cheaper tickets at the cinema on an Orange Wednesday and expect the movie I'm about to see to be inferior. If someone wants to put their work out at a very accessible price, why not? And does the extra two bucks make the ebook that they're buying suddenly -- magically -- better?

So why do I price my ebooks thusly in the first place?

One -- I'm trying to reach a brand-new market, and this seems like the best way to do it. Someone unfamiliar with my work, who buys one of my Kindles for less than the price of a cup of coffee in a diner, might like it enough to either buy some more 99 centers, which is fine. Or they might take enough of an interest to buy one of my novels or conventionally published collections. And that is what is happening. I know this because some of those people write and tell me so. In fact, one guy brought everything that I have out there electronically.

Two -- I'm not inclined at this stage of the game to shell out on having my ebooks formatted professionally. Don't get me wrong, I put a lot of effort into getting them in as good a shape as I can manage, which means spending hours checking through and taking all of the tab indents out. So once I have download them to Amazon, they're mostly good, but you come across the occasional page where a couple of paragraphs have too much indenting in them. And the fact is, I am pretty conscientious when it comes to my work, and since these ebooks are a slightly imperfect product it seems only fair to charge the minimum price for them, rather the same way you would charge a lot less for a second-hand book.

You know what? I'm half tempted to try a small experiment -- reprice all my Kindles at £2.99 and see if they sell better or attract a more discerning audience. But I doubt they will. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


Last week, I took part in the online launch of Dark Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes (see 'Sherlock Holmes Week,' further down this blog). And this week, Gaslight Gallery -- a website about the entire Gaslight series -- is running a short interview with me. Yes, another one! I certainly have a load of people asking me for my opinion these days, more fool them. Incidentally, 'The House of Blood' -- my story from that anthology -- also appears in my Kindle collection More Sherlock Holmes in the 21st Century.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


When my first novel -- The Harvest Bride -- came out in 1987, it was not only nominated for a Bram, it got a fine big bunch of good reviews as well. And the best of them -- so glowing that a quote from it is still on the banner of my website home page -- was from that excellent and prolific writer of horror and suspense, Ed Gorman. Now he's done the same again, publishing his summings up of my collection Shadows and Other Tales and my newest venture, Our Lady of the Shadows, on his blog, alongside a small interview with me. You can read the whole thing here. When you're a writer, you discover down the years there is a small handful of people that you find yourself beholden to. And Mr. Gorman's one of them in my case. Almost a quarter of a century has passed since my debut, and the guy's still handing out the praise. So huge thanks, Ed. More power to you.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


There were two events pertaining to the Great Detective last week. Firstly, I published on Amazon Kindle the third of my Immortal Holmes series. The 3rd Sherlock Holmes in the 21st Century contains three brand-new long stories. Here's the blurb:

"Sherlock Holmes didn’t die when he plunged down the Reichenbach Falls. He turned out to be unkillable, and is still with us to this very day, travelling the world and delving into all its most confounding cases. But these are not merely ordinary crimes … supernatural forces are at work. In “The Hunters and the Hunted” Holmes is confronted with a deadly insect swarm in Kenya … but what is directing the creatures toward their victims? In “Above the Boulevards” a powerful and mysterious vigilante is protecting women on the streets of Paris. And in “The Crimewave” Holmes is called back urgently to his beloved native London. And he no longer has Watson by his side … so here’s your chance to make the journey with him."

And secondly, Bitten by Books hosted a launch event for Dark Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes. The anthology is from Edge Publishing, and contains my very first Immortal Holmes story, 'The House of Blood,' set in Las Vegas. The event went on a full 24 hours with readers taking part and asking questions; I was one of the authors who answered them, and you can take a look at the whole thing here.

Thursday, 17 November 2011


David Wingrove and I have been friends for more than thirty years, and he's been writing science fiction (which I used to do a lot of; that is how we met) for as long as I've been writing supernatural stuff. He's partly known for his series of Myst fantasy novels, based on the popular game. But what he's best known for is his Chung Kuo series, which depicts a space-age future ruled by the Chinese. And now Corvus books are relaunching the whole saga again in 20 volumes. The first -- Son of Heaven -- is already out in paperback, while the second -- Daylight on Iron Mountain -- has just been released to ecstatic reviews from The Guardian, which called it 'excellent.' In the course of researching this massive set of novels, Dave has become something of an expert on the subject of China, and has been blogging daily about it and other Chung Kuo related matters. So from this point on, I'll let him tell it in his own words.

A Product Of Unnatural Growth

China, in the last thirty years, has undergone the kind of transformational changes that the industrial West took a leisurely century and more to assimilate. It has seen exaggerated, almost unnatural growth.

One of the most common visual symbols of this are the rows of massive tower blocks that seem to be thrown up overnight in response to the twenty million or so Chinese peasants who flood into the cities every year. In our own version of the Industrial revolution, between 1780 say and 1880, we saw people move from the country to the town in large numbers. My own family, on both the Wingrove and the Jackson sides, was part of that. Battersea, in South London, where they settled, went from being a rural area with a population of 5,000 in 1860, to one of the most heavily industrialized areas in the country, with the two biggest engine yards in the country and a population of 170,000 in a mere twenty years. But it was nothing like what is happening in China. What’s different is the sheer scale of things. What the Chinese are experiencing is four or five times as fast and at least ten times the size.

The positives are massive - China has gone from being a third world power to potentially the world’s biggest superpower in one generation, liberating something like a billion people from poverty in the process – but so too are the negatives. Pollution, massive social problems and potential economic instability: these are the Big Three Negatives that face the Chinese people and their government.

Culturally, too, China is changing, though it’s hard to gauge whether such changes are temporary and fleeting. One thing is for certain: China is changing in response to what its people are experiencing, not merely from their increasing travels in the West, but from what they see and hear on their media. There are undoubtedly some parallels to Japan in that regard. But… China is China. And when China does something, it is always “with Chinese characteristics”. Much more than Japan, China hangs on to its traditions and its ways much more stubbornly than its Asian partners.

The Western media pays a lot of attention to censorship in China – to how it affects not merely how people behave socially, but also what they create artistically. I made a slightly humourous mention of China banning Time Travel in yesterday’s blog, but in some ways it’s not so funny. For all that change is in the air, with a centralized Communist government in charge such change is closely monitored and, from time to time, cracked down on. The result of this is that we’ve seen brief flowerings of modern Chinese culture – in art, cinema, music and literature – flowerings that incorporate a strong influence of the West, but the active word there is brief. What would attract debate in the West, in China finds itself banned, just as soon as the authorities manage to work out what’s been happening.

Because art – in all its forms - is an expression of freedom, and what the CCP don’t seem to want is freedom, because freedom is a road that leads away from a centrally-planned economy, and away from CCP control. It’s a road that leads directly to Democracy, and they can’t have that.

Now that’s a separate debate, and I’ll come to that in its turn – maybe in the coming week – but it has to be borne in mind when you’re talking about whether China will go the way of Japan and assimilate Western culture. Because that’s what a lot of people are saying, and they’re missing one huge and obvious point. Japan had no say in it. They had Western culture forced upon them as a result of them losing World War Two and being reduced to the status of supplicant nation. To reject the West wasn’t an option for Japan, and to a great degree (so I believe from what I’ve seen and read) they’ve benefitted, maybe even enjoyed the process, becoming a hybrid nation culturally. Japanese youth look like their Western counterparts and, with a few idiosyncrasies, act like them, and that – on the surface – can be said of the latest generation of rich, middle class Chinese. Only there are big differences. China – as a political entity – can choose what it wants to keep from the Western “package” and reject the rest. It doesn’t have to assimilate. And though that may not be what a lot of the new generation want, that’s what they’re going to get, because what the CCP says goes.

If you’re in any doubt about that, I’d remind you of what recently happened to China’s leading modern painter, Ai Wei Wei, who was feted by the West, and now languishes under house arrest, having had his new studio (valued at something over a million dollars) demolished by the authorities. His crime? To have an opinion on human rights. Now this is one of their most influential artists – he helped create Beijing’s Olympic Bird’s Nest Stadium, for god’s sake! And the fact that the Chinese government can adopt such bully-boy tactics and get away with it directly affects what kind of art is subsequently produced. Chinese artists (and musicians and film-makers and writers) learn very quickly these days that they’re not to piss off the authorities. Because bad things will happen if they do. And this is how the CCP ultimately controls the new culture. By stern disapproval, and punishments, and house arrest, and all of those other methods that remind us so clearly in the West of what Stalin and Hitler did.

Now, I’m not making a direct comparison there. China isn’t, thankfully, Stalinist Russia, and it’s not a Nazi state. As I said, there are positives about the new China just as there are negatives. But a certain heavy handedness of the kind that tyrants and repressive governments use, has been very much in evidence since what in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Again, it’s an expression of that governmental fear of losing control that riddles the CCP. If you look at the history of recent Chinese film-making, for instance, you’ll see a direct correlation between freedom of expression pre-Tiananmen, and an absence of the same thereafter. Again, I’ll blog about the details of this sometime soon. But it’s akin to what happened in the USA in the forties and fifties, with ‘the list’ and great film-makers like Frank Capra finding themselves unable any longer to make their movies. [Which is just to say that our hands are far from clean in this respect].

In all of this, it’s important to note that things are far from sewn up in China. Right now the powers that be are still in charge, still capable of exerting such negative influence. But things are changing. China is catching up with the world, and as it does – as the number of millionaires goes through the roof and the success of their economy results in four hundred million new middle class to join the world’s vast pool of purchasers - so the CCP and the Nine Men at its heart, will be forced to take measures to placate their newly-rich citizens. To give them a modicum of the freedom that comes along with the Western economic package.

How much or how little we can’t yet guess; only that the CCP will attempt to control things, to keep the great balancing act going. Because – for right or wrong – these guys are the ultimate control freaks. Modern China was born from a frenzy of social control, from the radical liberation of its people from old ways of behaving. New Sky thinking is what they called it, and, call it what you will, it’s a form of brain washing. But that said… four hundred million people with economic clout. Surely something has to change?

Okay. More tomorrow. Until then…. Tsai chien!

David Wingrove 31st July 2011

Monday, 7 November 2011


The latest addition to my titles on Amazon Kindle is partly autobiographical and probably one of the most personal stories I have ever written. A Night in Tunisia is a novelette that first appeared in 2006 in a collection called Extended Play: The Elastic Book of Music, from the same house that published my award-nominated collection Going Back. It's based on my long-term friendship with an American jazz saxophonist and, though it's presented in the form of fiction, nine-tenths of the tale is true ... although, being the kind of writer that I am, it goes all supernatural at the very end. Here's the back-cover material (or whatever it gets called on Kindle):

"There couldn’t have been two more different people. A British writer of supernatural fiction who had lived in London his whole life, and an African-American jazz saxophonist who’d resided in Europe since the Sixties. But when they met in a hotel in North Africa one evening, a friendship sprang up between them that would last more than a decade. And when one of them suddenly died, the other somehow knew that wasn’t going to be the end … and then set out on a journey to see the matter right through to its strange, haunting conclusion.There couldn’t have been two more different people. A British writer of supernatural fiction who had lived in London his whole life, and an African-American jazz saxophonist who’d resided in Europe since the Sixties. But when they met in a hotel in North Africa one evening, a friendship sprang up between them that would last more than a decade. And when one of them suddenly died, the other somehow knew that wasn’t going to be the end … and then set out on a journey to see the matter right through to its strange, haunting conclusion."

Hope that those who read it very much enjoy it -- it certainly got a good reception when it first came out. Oh, and as a btw, my top-selling collection on Kindle -- Sherlock Holmes in the 21st Century -- now has a snazzy new cover.

Sunday, 30 October 2011


It's turning out to be a good month for my shorter fiction. in the first place, my modern ghost story 'Lightning Dogs' is now available to read for free at The Indie Book Lounge. That particular tale of terror was first published in 2002, and is currently featured both in my latest hard print collection, Our Lady of the Shadows, and in my Kindle collection of horror fiction The Black Lake.

Out too is Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes edited by Charles Prepolec and J.R. Campbell for Edge Publishing. It's a follow-up to Gaslight Grimoire, and contains my first ever Holmes tale, 'The House of Blood.' In it, the great detective has turned out to be immortal, is still here with us to this very day, and gets involved with the investigation of a very curious series of murders in none other location than Las Vegas. It was the inspiration for my Kindle collection Sherlock Holmes in the 21st Century. And there'll be more Holmes stories going online before too much longer. In the meantime -- happy reading!

Monday, 17 October 2011


For some peculiar reason, my home city and one of my favourite directors just don’t seem to mix. Woody Allen came to London a few years back and made two movies. The first -- ‘Match Point’ -- ought to have been called ‘Match Pointless’; it was perfectly watchable until you reached the end, and then you sat their scratching your head and wondering why you’d bothered in the first place, what Americans call a ‘long run for a short slide.’ And his second effort -- ‘Scoop’ -- was so plain bad that I’m mentioning it here for the first and the last time.

Then he departed for Spain and came up with a big improvement, ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona,’ which I’ve already discussed earlier on in this blog (Sketches of Spain, 19 February, 2009). And now he’s cast his eye across Paris, and come up with his best movie in years. I’m not going to do a spoiler by telling you what Midnight in Paris is about … if you’ve not the first clue, then go to your local movie house and find out at first hand. But suffice to say that what happens to Owen Wilson in the film is my -- and most likely every creative person’s -- most heartfelt and unattainable secret dream. ‘Midnight’ is a delight from start to finish, and Allen’s most charming movie since ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo.’

And it dovetails neatly with my own recent experiences. Louise and I hadn’t been to Paris in years, and so last month we decided to spend three days there, just to reacquaint ourselves with the old girl. We rented someone’s tiny fourth-floor pied รก terre, just two minutes walk from the Place de la Contrescarpe (top left) at the very heart of the Latin Quarter. There was a plaque for Hemingway on a house nearby, and about fifty yards further down from that another plaque for James Joyce. If you’re a writer, that’s the kind of thing that makes your jaw drop open. And we spent a glorious time there, touring the sites during the day and eating at a sidewalk table every evening. I just thought I’d share some photos with you.

Monday, 3 October 2011


The paperback of my newest collection, Our Lady of the Shadows, has been out for a few months now. It's made up of eleven stories -- four of them brand-new -- and a complete novella, and is mostly ghost fiction or stories about ghost-like subjects (there's an imaginary friend, and even an 'angel' puts in appearance). And it's had some good reviews so far. But Wendy Zazo-Phillips has just looked at it for, and has given it a genuinely rave one.

She starts out her summary like this: "There are the books that are required reading, perhaps for a class or because your cousin/friend/coworker just wrote one and bullies you into reading a copy. There are the ones you read for pleasure, but afterwards you place it on the shelf and forget about it, or give it to a book sale, and you say, “Yeah, I read that,” when anyone asks you about it. But then there are those special books that you come back to every so often, the books you pick up on a lazy Saturday morning to read in bed for a while. I’m pleased to say that, for me, Our Lady of Shadows has become one of those books."

Wow! You can read the rest of the review by clicking here.

Incidentally, the interview I recently did, also with Wendy, has been moved from MonsterLibrarian's blog to a permanent posting on their website.

Thursday, 22 September 2011


There's a brand-new interview up on the blog of in which I discuss horror fiction in general, my Raine's Landing series of supernatural thrillers, my Sherlock Holmes stories and new collection, and my self-publications on Kindle. You can read it here.

Monday, 15 August 2011


The third novel in my Raine’s Landing series of supernatural thrillers – Midnight’s Angels – is finally out in hardcover. I’ve talked about it in earlier blogs, but in case you’ve forgotten, here’s the story:

Now the Landing is facing its worst peril yet, monstrous flying creatures in the service of an evil older than the Universe itself. They have an unpleasant way of getting people over to their side, and their powers keep on growing until little can withstand them. Most of the major adepts succumb ... there are only two left to defend Raine's Landing. And the town's chief troubleshooter, ex-cop Ross Devries, has an enormous challenge on his hands. He needs to get his former sidekick, Cassie, back into the fight. And if they are to have any slightest chance of winning through, they're going to have to make some very strange new friends.

And, as usual with my books about this curious, witchcraft-filled Massachusetts town, the terrific reviews have come flooding in. You can read the full review in each case simply by clicking on the link.

“’Non-stop action’ is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, and though I have never read a book that actually lived up to that hype, Midnight’s Angels comes pretty close. The action starts strong and barely lets up. As a matter of fact, I was less than a quarter of the way through the story before I started trying to figure out how in the world Ross and Cassie (and friends) were going to be able to defeat a seemingly unstoppable menace. Richards has crafted a wonderful town filled with fascinating characters. His writing is clear and precise, with wonderful dialogue. The backstory is interesting, but never overshadows the narrative. And many mysteries remain, for future stories in the Raine's Landing saga. I, for one, look forward to visiting again” -- Erik Smith, The Monster Librarian

“I thought his characters, of which there are quite a few, were fully fleshed out and believable, with the main characters being ones I came to really enjoy spending time with. When it comes to fiction for me, characters are first and foremost the most important factor in drawing me into the story, and Mr. Richards characters are absolutely wonderful. The action is fast and furious, with plenty of witchcraft, magic and supernatural beings. His writing is atmospheric and spooky, once you start you will find it hard to put it down. I stayed up late a few nights in a row, as I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next” – Literary Mayhem

“Not only is Midnight’s Angels an imaginative story filled with interesting characters and enough twists and turns to keep those of you who like thrillers happy, Tony Richards has written a horror story which demonstrates his maturity as a writer. Look at it this way, Midnight’s Angels has the jacked-up imagination one would expect from Tony Richards, but it also has the control and pacing of an author coming into his own. This guy was making things real, handling me (and his characters) like it was a walk in the park. I prefer horror that disturbs me to no end, but I can see people who read mainstream dark fiction talking about this book, or at least the series, for years to come. In fact, I can hear the inevitable Stephen King comparisons now” – Clayton Bye, The Deepening

“It’s another satisfying entry in the Raine’s Landing series; this time, the characters are permanently changed by what’s happened and the bittersweet ending leaves the way open for yet another story…and that is definitely one I think readers will be looking forward to—and demanding” – Tony-Paul de Vissage

“Yet again Richards had upped the stakes with this book, putting not just Raine’s Landing but the existence of life itself in jeopardy, but he does so with such panache that it is impossible to feel anything other than admiration for his imagination and storytelling skill. It’s a book that combines supernatural spectacle and human drama, old favourites and new inventions, in just the right balance, with the message coming over loud and clear from author Richards that there is still plenty of mileage left in this unique and marvelous creation. I loved it” – Peter Tennant, Black Static.

And that’s just the first five reviews. Dark Regions Press are currently running a special offer on the hardback … if you by both Midnight’s Angels and my latest short fiction collection – Our Lady of the Shadows -- you can get a 20% price reduction simply by using the voucher code RICHARDS20.

The amazing cover, by the way, is by M. Wayne Miller.

Friday, 12 August 2011


My two latest publications on Amazon Kindle are both sorties into erotic genre fiction.

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE contains two horror shorts. In the title story, a visitor to Rome embarks on a wild affair with a woman he has met in his hotel, never once realising that there are supernatural forces at work, and a terrible price to be eventually paid. In ‘Beautiful Stranger,’ a young man in London is followed home by a gorgeous female Riser -- a zombie created by the wonder drug Revenox -- and begins to fall in love with her. But does she love him back?

Whereas ALSISO is a short erotic thriller, in which Harriet has fled her dull suburban marriage with her brand-new lover, Beth. Now, they live a lazy, bohemian existence in the quiet town of Alsiso, on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. But when Harriet begins to fall under the spell of a handsome drifter named Cody, the scene is set for mystery, intrigue -- and maybe worse. ‘Alsiso’ is accompanied by the story ‘Nine Rocks in a Row,’ about a couple who come across a genuinely terrifying prophecy.

Both of these are 99 cents, as are all ten of my self-publications on Amazon Kindle. And the great covers are -- once again -- by the excellent Steve Upham.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


My very first guest blogger is Toni V. Sweeney, a terrific author of sf, horror, fantasy, vampire fiction and more. We first began corresponding when she started to review my Raine's Landing novels, and we have been corresponding ever since. Here she is, talking about the influences on her work:

A special thanks to Tony for having me as his guest. We’ve only met through the Internet but I count him as a friend and applaud the novels he’s written. In a recent blog, Tony spoke of places he’s visited where he got the germ of ideas later flowering into novels. I haven’t traveled that much, and certainly not outside the ol’ US of A, but I have used the locales I’ve lived in as settings for some of my novels…specifically the Nebraska Panhandle (yes, there’s one there, too) in Serpent’s Tooth, Walk the Shadow Trail, and Vengeance from Eden, which were written for Nebraska’s celebration of statehood) and Middle Georgia and the Golden Isles in Jericho Road.

None of these have the haunting chill of Tony’s books—except Serpent’s Tooth, though demon worship in Nebraska does sound a little far-fetched when spoken out loud—but I think I managed to depict the loneliness of the sand hills, as well as the tight-knit conformity of a small Southern town fairly accurately.

There’s one thing more than any other that’s influenced the way my books are constructed, something people have come to call my “style.” (Hey…I’ve got a style now, how about that?) I suppose I’m a child of my time…and my time was the early 50’s, when moving pictures were the most popular form of entertainment before the Boob Tube usurped it. In those days, there were not only dramas and westerns but sweeping epics of adventure, costume dramas of pirates, Robin Hood, rogues and rascals and villains. Nowadays, you rarely see those, except for an occasional Indiana Jones rip-off or if Cinemax steps in with The Borgias. It was the time of Frank Yerby, Samuel Shellabarger, Rafael Sabatini…men who wrote what would probably be termed the picaresque novel, tales of men conquering mountains and nations, and discovering new worlds—simply because they were there. Their stories were made into Technicolor sagas enthralling this little viewer for hours (in those days, you could pay your money and stay in the theatre the entire day if you wished.) And when I began to write, I unconsciously patterned my stories after theirs.

One series—The Adventures of Sinbad—seems to mirror those stories enough that several readers have told me they “absolutely adore” my main character. I admit it’s easy to see him swinging across the deck of a ship, with dagger between his teeth while he hangs onto the heroine with one hand and a rope with the other, a la The Crimson Pirate. In fact, I think I had him do something almost like that in one story…

Other novels open with an incident leading to a flashback. In fact, one novel is simply one extended flashback, returning to the present only in the last chapter. Others are more linear, with cuts to other points of view showing things happening at the same time in other places, the dialogue interspersed with stage direction-like movement. In telling my tales of adventure, romance, violence, danger, and—on occasion—lust, I harken back to those days in those darkened theatres as I shoveled in the popcorn with my eyes glued to that glad bead-silvered screen. Good or bad, that’s just the way my mind works, and so far, it’s successful. The results are—in several reviewers’ opinions, “readable and enjoyable tales…outside the box”…which I owe to two things: my imagination and those childhood entertainments.

And then television came along…and opened the box even wider…

Toni V. Sweeney was born after the War Between the States and before the Gulf War. A native Georgian, she has lived on both coasts, thirty years in the Midwest and is now trying for thirty more in Nebraska. Her first novel was published in 1989 and she currently has 27 novels in publication. Her last novel The Wizard’s Wife, was released in February, of this year, and her latest novel, Runaway Brother, written under her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone, will be released by Class Act Books in August, 2011.

Sunday, 31 July 2011


I've two non-fiction pieces about the writer's art on the Internet at the moment. 'Pre-Planning a Novel' on that excellent website The Indie Book Lounge. And 'Whatever Turns You On' -- about travel, inspiration, and location -- in the BLOG DEUX section of Tony-Paul de Vissage's website. Oh, and if you go to the review pages there, T-P has also reviewed all three of my Raine's Landing novels, and will shortly be doing the same for my Kindle publication 'Sherlock Holmes in the 21st Century.'

Sunday, 10 July 2011


Writing can be a very peculiar business. I'm sure non-writers think that I just tap out a tale, send it to a magazine, and that's the end of the business. Hardly. A good few years back, I wrote a story called 'The Very Edge of New Harare.' I conceived it as a science fiction tale. The central character is called Lieutenant Abel Enetame, and he inhabits a federalised Africa of the not too distant future. I originally sold it to a small press mag called Maelstrom. The editor there sat on it for about two years, then wrote to inform me that the magazine had collapsed.

I then showed it to the notoriously fickle editor (no names) of a British SF magazine. He said he'd take it if I shortened it a bit and changed a couple of small elements. I only ever do that when I can see that someone has a point, and he did on this occasion, so I made the changes. Sent it back to him. Never heard another word from the guy on the subject. Weird.

But finally I got to thinking, 'Hold on, the central character in this story is a cop. And in the course of the story he investigates some mysterious deaths. So I might be thinking of it as SF, but it's a mystery tale too.'

Now, I haven't even submitted anything to Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine for -- I just went and checked -- twenty years! But I duly printed 'New Harare' up as a double-spaced manuscript and sent it off, expecting nothing. Six months passed. That seemed to confirm the 'nothing' bit. Then -- blow me down! -- Linda Landrigan, AHMM's editor wrote to me, apologising for taking so very long, and saying she loved the tale and wanted to buy it.

I've said it before and I'll say it again ... this is the world's most unpredictable business.

Monday, 4 July 2011


As regular followers of this blog might have noticed, I've been self-publishing an awful lot on Amazon Kindle lately. And why not? Heaven knows, I've more than enough back-material to put out on the Net. And what author would turn down the chance to add an extra string to his bow and the opportunity to attract a new audience?But e-books are still books, and books need covers. Which presented me with a slight problem. Some writers are good at art as well. Not me. I couldn't draw a straight line if my life depended on it. My drawing is several shades worse that my singing, and if you were ever unlucky enough to hear me sing you'd realise that is pretty awful. Even my matchstick men look like they have something very badly wrong with them.

Fortunately, one person I've got to know through the convention circuit is a certain Steve Upham. I first met him when he was launching his Screaming Dreams imprint of books at a British Fantasycon a while back. I admired the covers displayed on his stall, guessed -- rightly -- that he had done them himself, and complimented him on them. And it turned out that he knew and liked my fiction, so we've been friends ever since.

Now, Steve is something of a Renaissance Man. He's a publisher, an editor, he puts out a magazine, he's a photographer too. But most of all, he's an artist. Go to the Screaming Dreams website and you'll find a gallery of his work. Science fiction paintings, fantasy ones, horror, even generalised subjects, a lot of it fantastic stuff. And so, when I needed some artwork myself, Steve was the first person that I thought of turning to, and not without reason. Just take a look at the terrific covers on display here. All of them his.

What I'm really getting at is this. If you need some artwork for any reason, Steve's your man. Dip into his gallery and you're bound to pick out something that you like. Or, if you can't find anything suitable, Steve would be more than happy to whip up a brand-new painting for you. He works fast too -- most good artists do that.

Tell him I sent you.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


I blogged last year (Elementary, My Dear Richards, 17 August 2010) about how I'd been approached for a Sherlock Holmes story by an editor I know, how flummoxed I was at first -- I'd never once in my career considered writing one -- and , when I finally sat down and did it, how much fun I had. I came away from the experience firmly convinced I ought to write some more fiction of that kind. And now, almost a year after the original event, here is the result, My short collection Sherlock Holmes in the 21st Century is now out on Amazon Kindle. It comprises a novelette and two decent-sized stories which see Holmes facing supernatural peril in the Arizona desert, in the Caribbean, and in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. And there will be more to come a little later on.

My second new publication on Kindle is another collection. The full title? Dark Futures: Horror meets SF, which pretty much explains itself. And it turns out that that book is selling better than anything else I've put on Amazon so far, so who says that readers don't like genre boundaries being messed with? All my books on Amazon Kindle are available for 99 cents, and you can find out more about them by means of a simple click here.

Saturday, 4 June 2011


I spent last weekend in Tallinn, capital of the Baltic state of Estonia. It has a beautiful Old Town district, much of which is genuinely medieval, and I thought I'd share a few images with you.

Monday, 18 April 2011


When we left Tanya Merrit at the end of Hot Blood 1: The Seductress, she had travelled from New York to the Latin American dictatorship of San Vasquez, attempting to rescue Kathy from the vampires. She fell in with some interesting new allies, managed to kill some of Janos Wolkran's crew, but found herself, by the end of the novel, forced to head off again -- to Eastern Europe this time -- in a final attempt to destroy him.

And now the second, and final, part of the story -- Hot Blood 2: Captive of the Night -- is out on Amazon Kindle. And I don't want to give away the entire plot, so the best that I can do is reproduce the 'back cover' material:

"The vampires have fled to Eastern Europe. And, pursuing them, Tanya is forced to make a perilous journey over the Atlantic, racing the sunrise the whole way. But are her struggles even worth it? Kathy is already in the final stages of turning into a vampire. Janos Wolkran's blood has swept right through her body. The final shreds of her humanity are disappearing, giving way to something far more savage. Tanya finds some more unexpected allies as she makes her way through Prague, then Budapest. But the question keeps on slamming at her ... even if she catches up and manages to destroy Wolkran, is there any way of changing Kathy back?"

The terrific cover art, by the way, is once again by Steve Upham of Screaming Dreams.

Saturday, 9 April 2011


 I'm following up my first effort on Kindle with the first part of a good-sized vampire novel, Hot Blood.

At 150,000 words plus , Hot Blood ought to have been out years ago. It was originally written as part of a two book contract with Pan Macmillan. They'd already published Night Feast, a second-hand copy of which you can most likely pick up on the Internet. And Hot Blood had gone through the whole editing process. I even have copies of the original cover -- by Fred Gambino -- in my files. But then the horror market crashed and burned, Pan got taken over, the new parent company slashed its horror list, and sadly the finished novel never made it to the shelves. And yes, I know that things have changed since then. The horror scene has definitely picked up, and vampire tales are particularly popular these days. So I did approach a couple of big publishing houses with Hot Blood. But the book is set in 1985, and the reaction that I got was "no one's going to go for that." Well, now that the book is freely available on the Net, let's see if that opinion can't be proven wrong.

The story is an epic one, starting in New York, then heading off to Central America before taking in various locations in Eastern Europe. There are not only blood-suckers, but magical beings and some demons too. And yes, as you can guess from the cover, the whole thing has a rather sexy edge . Someone will probably accuse me of bandwagon jumping on that score, but the truth is that this tale was penned a good long time before anyone had ever heard of Sookie Stockhouse or the Cullens. Those other guys are jumping on my wagon, looked at from that point of view.

The terrific cover is by the multi-talented Steve Upham of Screaming Dreams. He's currently at work on the cover for book #2, and I hope to be using a lot more of his artwork as I put new stuff out on Kindle.