Category Archives: art

Back the book or the writer gets it!

I named this blog Blackwatertown after a book I was writing. Ta da! Finally, the book, Blackwatertown, is written, edited and on it’s way to publication with Unbound. But I need your help. (Yup, that’s me in the video, being held at gun point.)

Blackwatertown is a thriller set in a sleepy village on the Irish border in the 1950s – and tells what happens when a maverick cop goes looking for a killer. (More on the website.)

Unbound is a new kind of publisher. A hybrid taking the best of new approaches and traditional mainstream old-style publishing houses.

Old-style means books must pass a quality control test – are they good enough to publish? It means the finished product is professionally produced, whether in print or digital. It also means it goes into high street book shops as well as the likes of Amazon.

New-style means crowd funding. The book is good enough, but is there a market? Let’s prove it through advance sales. Once the funding target is hit, production begins (copy editing, proofing, cover design, printing, distribution.)

Iconic thriller writer Frederick Forsyth with his recent book The Fox

The book, Blackwatertown, is ready. It has some stellar reviews from readers and well known names – like Frederick Forsyth. Yes, the same fella who wrote The Day of the Jackal. That fella. It’s all on the book’s page on the publisher’s website – along with an excerpt, other reviews and details of how you can support it.

There are various ways to back it. Sharing it on social media, telling your mates, generally talking about it. All good. Pledging – an advance order in other words – for an ebook or paperback – even better. And every pledger gets their name in the book. This is where you do it
https://unbound.com/books/blackwatertown/

You can even sign up to extras like naming a character. But not the dog. Doggone it! A lovely person has already snapped up the right to name the daring dog that threatens to derail a political career at a pivotal plot point. (I do enjoy a little alliteration.)

So, for all of you who’ve urged me in the past to get on with it – I have. Or promised to support/pledge/buy it – now you can. Please do. And thanks for all the encouragement over the years gone by.

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Filed under art, blackwatertown, history, My Writing

Graham Norton – Can celebrities write good books?

Graham Norton is on the latest We’d Like A Word podcast and radio show that I present with Stevyn Colgan. We know that celebrity sells books, but do celebrities write good books? Books worth reading? I’m thinking fiction in particular.

I’m asking because although Graham Norton is well known as a comedian, a TV chat show host and forever immortalised as Fr Noel Furlong in Father Ted, he’s also an author. Two novels – Holding and A Keeper. I’ve read both. But are they any good? (Spoiler alert: They are. Especially A Keeper.)

Martine McCutcheon – yes, her off Love Actually

And even if Graham Norton can write, (he can), what about other celebs who’ve done it. Like Martine McCutcheon, who had a terrible public hammering for her efforts, and for whom I have a soft spot myself. And fair play to her for actually writing The Mistress herself. Unlike another celeb author who, when asked if she had written her novel herself, responded: “Write it? I didn’t even read it.”

There’s a celebrity authors subsection of Irish comedians who definitely can write fiction. As well as Graham Norton, you have Sean Hughes (The Detainees) and Ardal O’Hanlon (The Talk of the Town). But anyone else?

So you’ll be wanting to hear me and Stevyn Colgan and Graham Norton chatting about his books, how he writes them, the influence of Ireland and his Mum, and how linked they are to his public comedic personna. There’s a competition too, but you have to listen to hear about it. Click on the link here, or search for We’d Like A Word wherever you listen to podcasts.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your best and worst experiences of celebrity authored fiction.

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Filed under art, We'd Like A Word

Creeps and how to use them to your advantage

Here’s a writing tip from an expert – Scandi Noir thriller writer Will Dean. He has what he calls a “creeps book”, in which he notes down anything odd, unsettling or eerie he encounters. Each time he writes a new book, he sifts through them and sprinkles them through the narrative. It works especially well with dialogue and things seen by characters – a distinctive scarecrow that gives ones one an uneasy feeling perhaps – something to set a tone without having to spell it out.

And the same applies to anything interesting and potentially useful that you see, hear, hear of or.. smell perhaps?

But enough of me – here’s Will himself. Have a look/listen. It’s about a minute long.

You can hear more of Will Dean, me and Steve on the podcast at https://anchor.fm/wed-like-a-word/episodes/2–Will-Dean—the-author-leading-the-British-invasion-into-Scandi-Noir–Nordic-Noir-e3k730/a-acjt4q

The full podcast with Will Dean is here.

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Filed under art, We'd Like A Word

We’d Like A Word…

We'd Like A Word - with Paul Waters and Stevyn Colgan

…about all sorts to do with authors, books, readers, editors, publishers, agents, lyricists, poets and script writers. We’d Like A Word is the title of the new fortnightly podcast and radio show I’m presenting with my mate Stevyn Colgan. Steve’s an interesting fella, ex cop, ex QI elf, ex Met Police Problem Solving Unit, cosy crime fiction writer with a wealth a odd personal anecdotes.

Our first episode is out today! The topic: Is Scandi Noir still Scandi Noir if the writer is a Brit? And the excellent star guest who is taking part in this episode is Will Dean, the author of Dark Pines and Red Snow, the first two books in the Tuva Moodyson thriller series. The books are set in the Swedish forest – which is also where Will lives in reality. He built himself a cabin in the woods with trees and moose for company.

106F1571-CD8F-4825-8C50-4E1AB0C15B29His books are gripping, atmospheric, convincing and refreshingly innovative. And he’s a very accomodating interviewee, revealing much about his technique and tricks. Watch out you don’t find yourself in his creep book.

You can hear the podcast by clicking on the link below or searching for it wherever you listen to your podcasts. (We’re also lucky enough to be broadcast on Wycombe Sound FM 106.6 in England.) You can find out more at the We’d Like A Word website or follow us on Twitter or Facebook @wedlikeaword

Your input, comments, questions or competition entries are welcome. You can email via wedlikeaword@gmail.com There’ll be a new episode every other Thursday.

We have some other great guests coming up too – Graham Norton (can celebs write good fiction?), Anthony Horowitz (giving life after death to characters once their original author is dead – James Bond, Sherlock Holmes), Adrian McKinty, Aidan Conway, Denise Mina, Brian McGilloway, Belinda Bauer, Dr Erica McAlister (The Secret Life of Flies), Eoin McNamee, David Quantick, Gerard Brennan, Alan Drew, John McCarthy, Shiulie Ghosh, Angela McMahon and many more.

We may be, ahem, a little rough around the edges to begin with, but I hope you give it a wee listen some time. (In the image link below won’t load, the Will Dean episode is here.)

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Filed under art, We'd Like A Word

Squeaky bum time (with zombies)

Squeaky bum time - it's not rude - it's a potato for goodness sake. It's saying, please download The Spirit of Christmas by Fynnjan. You'd better do it. That spud has got it's eye on you. Geddit?

Squeaky bum time – it’s not rude – it’s a potato for goodness sake. It’s saying, please download The Spirit of Christmas by Fynnjan. You’d better do it. That spud has got its eye on you. Geddit?

It’s crunch day. Almost zero hour. Teensy weensy bit stressful.

You know the 11-year-old boy with Aspergers called Fynnjan that I’ve been helping – and you’ve kindly been supporting – and his song The Spirit of Christmas for autism charities? (The National Autistic Society and Nordoff Robbins music therapy.) Well – tomorrow/Sunday – is UK Top 40 day. If enough people have downloaded the song from iTunes and HMVdigital.com, then we’ll get into the Top 40 and thereby attract media and public attention and radio play. That platform will be a huge boost towards the Christmas no1 spot and a fantastic news peg. So all the hard work and support has been working towards that point.

If it doesn’t get into the Top 40 tomorrow, then we’re probably stuffed. Stuffed being a euphemism. So it’s squeaky bum time (as ex Man Utd boss Alex Ferguson used to say).

Charlie Adlard unleashes The Walking Dead in support of Fynnjan.

Charlie Adlard unleashes The Walking Dead in support of Fynnjan.

Against us are ranged money, money and money. And the Xfactor. And Beyonce’s surprise release. And retreads with cover versions. And paid-for front cover advertising. And the corporate machines.

But FOR US – a genuine good story, a small boy’s courage, a tiny band of dreamers and… AND ZOMBIE MAN!!!

Charlie Adlard is the artist for The Walking Dead. He’s ace. He’s drawing a one-off piece of artwork in his inimitable style. There’ll only be three copies. You – or any other fan of his work – can get it for free by downloading Fynnjan‘s song The Spirit of Christmas from iTunes or HMVdigital or via www.fynnjan.com Very cool!

1 Zombie

The artwork is a series of frames depicting Fynnjan’s interpretation of what Aspergers and other mental health issues are like for those that have them.

According to Fynnjan, life has three rooms. Most people are born into the second room. They go through the door into the third room to reach their potential. Children with Aspergers and autism are born into the first room. they don’t know that there are any other rooms. They don’t know there’s even a door. But with the right support, they can find the door and catch up and then work towards realising their own potential just like everyone else. He received great support from special educational needs staff at primary school. He knows he was lucky. He wants the same for other children.

This post is not a plea to get behind Fynnjan or to support him. Because many of you have done so already – with posts of your own, sharing, comments, downloads of the song too, and even donations to the charities. It’s been moving and humbling. I want to thank you properly, but I don’t have time just now. Because it’s squeaky bum time.

So – if you can – please share this post. Or copy the picture with the details of the Charlie Adlard competition and post it on facebook, twitter, instagram or wherever. And maybe we’ll do just enough to squeak into the UK Top 40 tomorrow.

Here’s the video:

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Filed under art, friends, Music

No doom and gloom just bravery and beauty

Chantelle Msumbuga

What’s the connection between Charles Dickens and this: Should have died in infancy. Didn’t. At the age of four had meningitis and went into a coma. Recovered. Had a stroke with complications that lasted a year. Survived. Major blood transfusions. Long term organ damage. Hours of chelation therapy five times a week to reduce iron overload from blood transfusions. Bruising, discoloration, pain, pain, pain…

Dickens is renowned for cataloging the suffering of the poor and downtrodden, but this is not the torment visited by his imagination on some poor character. It’s real suffering. It’s what happens when a young girl is born with sickle cell anaemia.

A young girl like Chantelle Msumbuga. She’s now a young woman – almost 16 years old. Last weekend she told me and some others about the succession of pain and setbacks she’s undergone in her short life. And she was so cheerful and beautiful as she told it. Her blog is here. She educated us about the condition and the very invasive and intensive treatment she received at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for Children.

Liliane’s lovely buns – you have to bite through the head of Charles Dickens to taste them.

Now do you get it?

After JM Barrie and Peter Pan, Charles Dickens is the famous figure most associated with this London hospital for children. Shortly after it opened, he helped save it from bankrupcy and to double in size.

That’s why Charles Dickens fan Christopher West (who also lectures under the nom de plume Charles Dickens London) arranged a special Dickens Day to raise funds for GOSH – to mark the connection between writer and hospital during this year, the 200th anniversary of Dickens’s birth.

Liliane the beautiful cake maker from the Cote d’Ivoire

Oh – there’s another reason too. It’s not just Chantelle who medical staff at GOSH are helping. They also saved the life of Christopher’s granddaughter not so long ago. So, like Chantelle he’s also saying thank you for personal reasons.

Chantelle and Christopher were helped and supported by lots of other people too. People like the Kings College Chorus, schools, experts and Liliane. She’s from the Cote d’Ivoire, has beautfully accented French, beautiful buns (no not that! I do actually mean the buns in the picture) and is just beautiful.

There was a lot of beauty around that day – and that includes Continue reading

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Filed under art, D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, friends

A good telling off

Kirsty Allison – photo by Stephanie Correll http://tinyurl.com/d3zqjp5

I’ve been caught out and given a good telling off by Ramana in India of the Loose Bloggers Consortium for not talking properly about epitaphs. Which was a bit silly of me given that I’ve written a book called The Obituarist.

I also used to make an obituary programme for radio called Brief Lives. It wasn’t musty and dusty. Dead people need not be boring. I had happy days whizzing around London trying to find the late Idi Amin’s widow or a couple who had conceived their child to the music of the late Barry White. It was enormous fun.

The problem with writing my own epitaph is that, like Robert Emmet, I’m not yet ready to dictate it. I hope that this will get me off the hook and appease Ramana instead –

It’s a link to a radio programme called Art Saves Lives that I took part in at the weekend. (I’ve mentioned Art Saves Live before – visual art and unexpected drama off stage.) This show was broadcast on London art radio station Resonance FM 104.4 – but you can also find it here. I recommend listening to it all – though I pop up near the end at 48’30-ish in.

But there are loads of other interesting people first – including playwright Mark Ravenhill, post-pop artist  Duggie Fields, Gemma Peppe from the Hepatitis C Trust, singer songwriter Aletia Upstairs (video below) from Cape Town and Nepalese poet Yuyutsu Sharma (who also translates Donegal Gaelic poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh into Nepali).

The presenters were the irrepressible impressario and playwright Dean Stalham, and poet and film producer Kirsty Allison who “combines the cerebral with the carnival” according to the Sunday Times.

You can even see photos of it all by Stephanie Tesse/Correll here.

Am I forgiven Ramana?

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Filed under art, D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, media, Obituarist