Sam “Remember the Alamo!” Houston – who used to be an American Indian, according to the Childcraft Encyclopedia.
I think the sequence of my favourite books may have gone something like this…
The Biography volume of the Childcraft Encyclopedia (or was it Cyclopedia?) – the obscure pasts of famous Americans.
Followed by Ulster, A Sunday Times Insight Investigation – oh look, they’re writing about us.
For a while it was… The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I found it in an odd place. “It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard‘.”
Then it was… Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis – happy endings, but don’t read while hung over: “He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police.”
It is (and has been for a while)… A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor – robust and exquisite. (And I want part 3 for Christmas.)
But the best books I’ve read lately are The Little Friend by Donna Tartt and We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I was late getting to both of them. Both arrestingly good. (Never mind the reviews to which I’ve linked.)
But if I really really have to choose one, from the very very many I value and return to, it would be Continue reading
Man shovelling. Shhh!
Aah… the weekend. Time to relax. Recharge. Rejuvenate.
Re… reach for a shovel. (Wasn’t that an S Club 7 song?)
Lift the sewer access hatch.
And start digging.
Through packed “sludge”.
There’s nothing like blocked drains to remind you of one of the essentials of civilisation – good plumbing Continue reading
Steve Dodds (THE Steve Dodds) and an astronaut called Buzz Aldrin. You might have heard of him.
Quick! Give me something to calm me down! I can’t cope with the excitement – the surprise – and the fear! (Not to mention the exclamation marks!)
First it was Buzz Aldrin – I encountered him through work today.
Buzz Aldrin. THE Buzz Aldrin. Buzz Aldrin!
Buzz Aldrin in his work clothes. Yup. He’s on the moon.
He was charming, chatty, understated and interesting – as you’d expect. He was supporting the Aerobility charity effort to raise funds for a flight simulator for people with disabilities.
So he talked about that a bit. But I have to admit I was thinking the whole time – but what about space, the rocket, THE MOON!!! We did get on to that Continue reading
I’ve written a thriller called Blackwatertown. Some pivotal action, romance and revelation takes place at the local Blackwater Lake. So I was very pleased to receive from my mate Kirsty, some poems her Dad had spotted.
They’re by Mary Oliver and talk about her own Blackwater Pond and the wonder and joy and challenge of living.
My Blackwater is both real and fictional and can be found inside my book and on the Irish border. I’m not sure where Mary Oliver’s Blackwater is. Can anyone enlighten me?
Mary herself is an acclaimed poet from Ohio. Here are two of her poems.
Mornings at Blackwater
For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.
And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.
What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.
The third stanza, darling citizen, is wonderful, is it not? I have a quotation from Napoleon at the beginning of my story at the moment: “What is history but a fable agreed upon?” Maybe I should change it – or add to it Continue reading
Since that bust up in Australia, The Obituarist has now been reviewed in the USA by the writer Maxi Malone. Woohoo – it’s going international!
I can’t link directly to the review page, but here’s what she said:
When First We Deceive – The Obituarist by Paul A. Waters
Writing obituaries does not weave a trail to fame and fortune. Only this obit writer has found someone who will pave the road to front-page success.
His name is Bunty and he knows all the members of the TripleX mission; a small group noted for the infamous raid on occupied France. The brazen men trampled the Nazi long-range rocket schedule right in the face of Hitler.
Bunty knows all the back-stories—the secrets of Joker, Ginger, Radish and the others. And the obit writer knows how to get him to open up.
When Bunty and the writer decide to join forces, they head down the path to the pot at the end of the rainbow. Only which one will get the gold?
The Obituarist is a sizzling tale filled with humor, mystery and suspense. Bunty and the obit writer connect on every level until … human nature steps in and crashes the party.
The men become friendly enemies, intent to serve their own best interest. In the end “turn-about is fair play” wins the day.
Find out for yourself:https://blackwatertown.wordpress.com/the-obituarist/
“Sizzling” – thanks Maxi.
A childhood memory comes to mind. Anybody else remember the scent of the Cookstown sizzle?
So, there you have it from Maxi. The Obituarist is officially worth downloading. Or even reviewing yourself perhaps? Huh?
You can find The Obituarist on Smashwords at http://tinyurl.com/bud4ffu or Amazon.co.uk at http://tinyurl.com/8xwrfpb or even Amazon.com at http://tinyurl.com/87g2nzc
Do you remember that awkward episode where I published an ebook called The Obituarist at the same time as somebody did? (In fact a little… er… after the other guy.)
I published some of our correspondence – and put up a link to him.
Well, Patrick O’Duffy in Australia, the gracious author of The other Obituarist (or is mine the other one?) has kindly told his readers about me. It’s here.
The problem is…
The annoying thing is…
The downright insulting thing is…
Well, just read what he said about me Continue reading
Writers are supposed to think of innovative ways to promote their writing these days. Short films are the latest thing. Here’s a good example that is advertising a thriller by a writer I like, Stuart Neville. It’s for his second book Collusion.
I got into reading Stuart via his earlier book The Ghosts of Belfast (in the USA) or The Twelve (in Ireland and the UK). It was excellent and based on an inspired idea. The only problem with his promotional film from Collusion is that, exciting as it is, it doesn’t really reflect the book itself.
Though thinking about it… Maybe that’s not a problem after all. As long as people reading the book.
Which means I could have found the perfect film for my own ebook The Obituarist. It features the heroes of a daring air mission to turn the tide of World War Two – now retired and facing a devious threat from an unexpected quarter. But how to convey the devil-may-care courage and insouciance of their younger days?
This film does it.
If you’re unlucky enough not have already encountered the Horrible Histories crew, I strongly commend them to you. Thanks to Barry Turley for giving me the idea. (The cheque is not in the post. Have you seen the price of stamps these days?)
And thanks also to this great blogger on the UK and US media – Bill at Trading as WDR – before whom the titans of telly tremble and the top ranks of radio reel Continue reading