Sunday, 30 May 2010

Lost by Lost

I lost it with Lost at the start of series 2. I got fed up being messed with and all of that freakin' back story. And if you were like me, here's something to help you catch up and all it will take is a minute of your time...

Friday, 28 May 2010

Book stuff

The next James Bond book will be written by Jeffery Deaver, Simon & Schuster announced on Thursday. The novel, with the working title “Project X,” is expected to be set in the present day and take Bond to at least three “exotic locations around the globe.” It is scheduled for publication in May 2011. Jeffrey - I feel I can call him that, after all we did do dinner (an Indian restaurant in Ayr if you must ask)  - said in a statement that he was thrilled to be asked by representatives of the Ian Fleming estate to write the book. “The novel will maintain the persona of James Bond as Fleming created him and the unique tone the author brought to his books, while incorporating my own literary trademarks: detailed research, fast pacing and surprise twists.”


Love books and love talking about them? The Telegraph Book Club is for you. Maybe. They are offering seven peeps the chance to become the founding members of their “ literary salon” – eeeesh, sounds very grand — to play leading roles in the monthly discussions and to have the unique opportunity for their views to be reported in the paper.

The club will meet once a month in the Telegraph offices in London to discuss a book of their choosing over cheese and wine. Their generosity knows no bounds. The discussion will be chaired by Genevieve Fox, whose book club column has been published in the same paper over the past year.

If you would like to join the Telegraph Book Club, send a short letter about yourself and a 100 word review of any book to; or to 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT. Please mark letters Telegraph Book Club.

The final date for submissions is Friday June 18. Note that you will need to be able to travel to the monthly meetings in London and to pay your own expenses – bummer – and that you’d like you to commit to being involved with the book club for one year.


Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award is one of the most prestigious crime writing prizes in the country. Now in its sixth year, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award was created to celebrate the very best in crime writing, and is open to British and Irish authors published in 2009.

A major accolade in the crime writing field, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award is unique in that it is the only one of its kind which is largely voted for by the general public. As of Friday 21st May, the public will have three weeks to vote for their favourite title  HERE   and the result of this vote will determine the eight titles that make it onto the shortlist. Previous winners include Mark Billingham, Val McDermid and Allan Guthrie.

The longlist in full:

• In the Dark by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown)

• If It Bleeds by Duncan Campbell (Headline)

• The Surrogate by Tania Carver (Little, Brown)

• The Business by Martina Cole (Headline)

• A Simple Act of Violence by R.J. Ellory (Orion)

• Until It's Over by Nicci French (Penguin)

• The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (Quercus)

• Cold in Hand by John Harvey (Arrow)

• Skin by Mo Hayder (Transworld)

• Vows of Silence by Susan Hill (Vintage)

• The Dying Breed by Declan Hughes (John Murray)

• Dead Tomorrow by Peter James (Pan Books)

• Target by Simon Kernick (Transworld)

• A Darker Domain by Val McDermid (HarperCollins)

• Gallows Lane by Brian McGilloway (Pan Macmillan)

• Geezer Girls by Dreda Say Mitchell (Hodder)

• Singing to the Dead by Caro Ramsay (Penguin)

• Doors Open by Ian Rankin (Orion)

• All The Colours of Darkness by Peter Robinson (Hodder)

• Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (Simon & Schuster)

The shortlist will be announced on Thursday 1st July 2010, at which point the public will be asked to cast their votes once again. The result of this second online vote will hold a 20% share within the all-new judging panel to decide on the eventual winner. The panel includes: Jenni Murray, BBC Radio 4 broadcaster and author; John Dugdale, Guardian Associate Media Editor; Natalie Haynes, comedian and journalist; and Simon Theakston, Executive Director of T&R Theakston Ltd.

The longlisted and shortlisted titles will feature in a nationwide library campaign encouraging readers to vote, and from 8th July, the eight shortlisted titles will be promoted in 350 Asda stores across the country.

The winner of the prize will be announced by radio broadcaster and festival regular Mark Lawson on the opening night of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate on Thursday 22nd July. The winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakstons Old Peculier.

Guess who I voted for?


Stieg Larsson's UK publisher Quercus reports strong results for the 2009 calendar year, with turnover up 75%, profits up 4,150% and a positive cash flow for the first time in the company's history...

...let me repeat that – 4,150%.

According to a statement released to the markets on the 26th May, the publisher saw revenue grow from £10.9m in 2008 to £19.1m last year, with consolidated operating profit up from £28,000 to £1.19m. Them’s some big numbers people. Just a shame Stieg didn’t live to see his amazing success.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

A Life in the Day of...

This day in the year of our lord 2010 has been feckin’ busy. Some guys were coming to the house this morning to install new central-heating. New boiler, radiators...the works. They arrived at 6am. See me opening the door with a sleepy face. See child sitting on the sofa with a grumpy face.

Then off to work – which being a Saturday should be illegal – unless of course, someone’s life is in danger. Or, I want to go and buy something. Or I want someone to cook my food. OK. Let me add a correction. Let the statutes read that it should be illegal for ME to work on a Saturday. The rest of you can get on with it, you lazy shower of bastards.

Then the gym – recent calorific intake has been based mainly on sugar and fat so a workout is totally necessary to try and halt this middle-aged spread. Fat chance. Pun intended.

While I was at the gym the sports channels were full of world cup news – and anyway, who cares about England – but there was some interesting stuff AND a coca cola advert that grabbed my attention. It focused on the celebrations of goal scorers. You know how it works – Coca Cola try to associate themselves with all that joy and happiness. If you drink their product you are going to feel nothing but got it, joy and happiness. The star of the advert is Roger Milla the striker from Cameroon who famously danced with the corner flag at the World Cup. As you do. The final shot was of the now retired Roger in among the crowd smiling widely. Displaying a lack of teeth. I’m thinking Coca Cola weren’t aiming for “Joy, Celebration and Tooth Decay” when they spent all that money.

Came out of the gym to find that Scotland was suddenly warm enough to grow grapes. What a beautiful day. It was apposite to remind myself that just over a week ago it was snowing.

Global warming. Mmmmm.

See me doing an impression of Graham Norton.

Got home to find my house should have been declared a national fucking disaster. Oh My God. Why did no one tell me that this kind of work made such a mess? There was me driving home from the gym thinking I had nothing more to do than pull on a pair of shorts and take a book into the garden.

Nay and three times nay.

Every room in the house was in a mess. The fire place has a gaping hole – like Roger Milla’s gob – and one of my kitchen units is in the back garden. To be fair the guys cleaned up what they could, but I still had three and a half hours of cleaning and tidying up ahead of me.

Work done and I drove to the supermarket. I set out to go to the Chinese but some inner demon had me drive to Tesco and load up with a baguette, goats cheese, parma ham and a bottle of very fine red wine. Well, it cost a tenner. Izzat a sign of quality? All I know about red wine is that it’s red and if you drink too much you end up dancing naked in your garden.

Not sure how the food compares on the health stakes with a Chinese takeaway. I’m thinking a lack of monosodium glutamate must be a good thing. And just celebrate all those free radicals in the wine. Wuhoo.

Now, I’m watching the Champions League Final on the TV and about to throw my empty wine bottle through the screen if these idiot TV presenters don’t pull their collective noses out of Jose Mourinho’s arse. They barely paid him any notice before his stint in England, but now he’s proved himself in the self-titled “Best League in the World it’s like there aren’t any players on the pitch. It’s all about Jose. Gimme a freakin’ break.

I need more wine. Anyone know a delivery service for wine? I feel a wee dance coming on...oh, and there go my shorts...

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Book awards up the wazoo...

A wee toot for friend of this blog, wonderful writer and all-round good guy, R J Ellory.

Roger’s novel A Quiet Vendetta was recently awarded the – let me get this right – Prix Des Libraries Du Quebec Laureat 2010.

Go, Roger.

This places him in excellent company. This prize was won previously by Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Dennis Lehane with Mystic River.

Mr Ellory is fast winning himself a loyal fan base in the French speaking parts of the world. A Quiet Belief in Angels won The Inaugural Roman Noir Nouvel Observateur Prize 2008 and Le Livre De Poche Award 2010.

(He has also won awards in USA and the UK, but I’m liking the whole French connection.)

A Quiet Vendetta is a fantastic read with one of my favourite ever bad guys in fiction; Ernesto Perez. Here’s a look at the blurb.

A Quiet Vendetta by R.J. Ellory

When Catherine Ducane disappears in the heart of New Orleans, the local cops react rapidly - she is the daughter of the Governor of Louisiana after all. But the case gets very strange, very quickly. Her bodyguard turns up horribly mutilated in the trunk of a beautiful vintage car and when her kidnapper calls he doesn't want money: he wants time alone with Ray Hartmann, who works for a Washington-based organised crime task force.

All Ray wants to do is get this over with quickly, and go home to try and repair his broken marriage. Instead he must listen to the mysterious kidnapper, an elderly Cuban named Ernesto Perez, who wants to tell him his life story. It's only when he realises that Ernesto has been a brutal hitman for the Mob since the 1950s that things start to come together. But by the time the pieces fall into place, it's already too late...

A QUIET VENDETTA is both the epic novel of one man's life in the Italian Mafia - a story that ranges from Cuba to Las Vegas and from L.A. to Chicago - and equally a powerful thriller of rage, love and loss.

This is me talking with Roger at a recent writers' conference. He doesn't look bored. He's not bored, is he? Tell me I'm not boring him.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Kindness and Chaos

Having a day off today. Contacted Queen of Chaos (aka my twin sister) to see if she wanted to meet for lunch. She had an hour and a half between picking up currency for her holiday and getting her hair done, would that do, she asked.

Being an hour early, I went to cash machine and then walked past a charity book shop. It’s the law that if you have cash and you walk past a charity book shop you have to go in and buy something.
There tucked into a shelf was The Husband by Dean Koontz. This was recommended recently (thanks Marley) so the necessary transaction was, well, transacted. See me, happy man with book in his hand.

Walked down to the cafe where I was meeting Queen of Chaos and set myself up for a wee read. She was early too. See me trying to look pleased to see her.

We hugged, passed the usual social niceties...

Me – you look well, sis.

QC – you look brown, you been in the sun look rough. Don’t think I’ve ever seen you look so rough.

Me – and here’s me about to buy you lunch.

QC – oh, you buying? But you still look rough.

We order. We wait for food to arrive. QC talks about her upcoming holiday with her boyfriend. I mostly zone out. I find it helps to when she starts talking about her boyfriend. The occasional grunt from me gives her the pretence that I’m listening and she seems to be happy about that. It’s all about her, really and the words that are queuing to get out of her gob.

While I’m zoning out, a bus stops outside the cafe. An old lady tries to walk towards it. She holds a hand out to grab a handle on the side of the bus and slowly lifts a leg. The driver seeing her struggle is out of his seat before you can say “single to Ayr”. With infinite patience the driver carries her bags over to a seat and then taking her arm her guides her to it. Ahhh, nice.

Our food arrives. We eat. This is the only time QC is silent. We finish. I go to pay. No wallet.

QC – I’ve never seen your face go flush like that before.

Me – I’ve lost my wallet.

QC – oh.

Luckily, I have some cash in my jacket pocket which is enough to cover the meal. We retrace our steps with QC going...

Oh, that’s a shame. I hate it when that happens. What a shame. Go to the bank cancel your cards then go to the police station in case anyone has handed it in. That’s a shame. Oh man I hate it when that happens. Shit, I bet some bastard has spent all your money. There’s a lot of horrible people about.

Me – not to worry it’s only money and my credit cards and a photo of the wee man and my national trust card.

I am actually feeling ok about this. Like I know it’s going to turn out fine. In fact, I'm thinking there's no need to fully retrace my steps because I'm sure it's going to be in the bank. But, just in case I think we should go the whole hog.

QC – how come you’re so calm? I’d be screaming if this was me.

Me – Nobody died. And I’ll only panic when I find out someone has taken my card and spent all of the £20 I have left in my account.

We walk to the charity shop.

QC – I bet they have it. I can just tell. I bet you it’s here.

Me to the assistant – anybody handed in a wallet?

Assistant – no.

QC – in a stage whisper – bastards.

We continue on our loop and approach the bank where I’d withdrawn the money. A member of staff is walking towards us on a cigarette break. I know her. I say hi.

Bank staff – oh, hi Michael.

I walk past.

Bank staff – Michael. You haven’t lost your wallet have you?

Me – news travels fast in these parts.

Bank staff – someone just handed it in. A wee Asian chap. Said he found it just at the cash machine. I read the name on the card and thought it must be another Michael Malone. C’mon I’ll walk with you inside.

Me – how nice is that!

QC – see, there are some nice people in the world.

Me – man, that is so nice. (I turn to bank staff who is just back from maternity leave) How’s the baby?

Bank staff – he’s gorgeous. But I would say that.

QC – I’d say it too. I’m a qualified child minder in case you’re interested.

Me – my god – how did you just manage to shoe-horn that into the conversation?

QC – laughs – being shy just doesn’t get you anywhere, brother.

Me – You’re shameless. Oh and I’ve just realised that I was standing in the restaurant with what might have been my last penny and you never even offered to pay.

QC – laughs – but my hair is this shitty brown colour and I need to get it done before I go on that plane tomorrow morning.

(So a BIG thank you to the honest man in Troon. Saved me a lot of hassle. Thank you.)

On the way home, more kindness is in evidence. I drive past a sheltered complex where a taxi-driver is watching over an arthritic old man as he struggles up his path. The driver is standing there as if waiting to rush to his aid if the old man falls.

I’m expecting by the time I get home that someone has unpacked my suitcase, washed all my clothes, cut my grass and laid a nice dinner out on the table.

The way things have gone today, you just never know.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

I'm Back...

Bet you didn't even notice I was gone, huh?

Where was I? I was chillin' and writin' at a friends house up in Aberdeenshire. Those of you who have been following this blog since the early days will know I occasionally go to a writers' retreat. There's a cottage, on the edge of a cliff called, you guessed it, Cliff Cottage and it is just one of those places where you can't help but be creative. You get a rugged, dramatic coastline, a beautiful house, delicious food, the company of llike-minded souls and most important of all space,time and permission to write.

It is provided by a saint of a woman (yes you are, E) who provides everything you need to allow the words to flow. And it only works, people.

While I was there over the last few days, I finished one novel and started the next one. See me making the happy smiley face.

So, while the finished one is going the round of publishers I have something else to work on and distract me from the interminable wait.

For those non-writers among you, it's like sending your child to the nurse and waiting for the all clear. Except the results frequently get lost in the post, or the staff just don't bother with social niceties and DON'T FECKING REPLY. Or they reject your child saying it's too similar to other children. You seek another opinion and they say it's too different from other children. Confused much?

The novel I'll be sending out is a departure for me. Based on a true story, it is about a young man who is sentenced to 25 years hard labour for a murder he had nothing to do with. The story tell all about his struggle to deal with the hardships that this hell on earth throws at him. If I tell you any more I'll have to keel you.

The one I've started writing is a crime novel. Sex and violence, you gotta love it.

Anywho, normal(ish) service is now resumed. Sorta.

Laters, M

Friday, 7 May 2010

Parents Night

It’s that time of year again, folks: Parents’ Night. Can I just say that we is proud parents. See me with the puffed up chest.

There was one minor complaint from Teach. The wee fella has an excellent attitude and wants nothing more than to do well. This has an unfortunate side effect. As the Teach put it, he has a “fondness for an exclamation”. If things don’t quite go his way, he has a tendency to shout out his frustrations.

So while his wee pals are bent over their desks doing their thing he’s all...





You can see how that might be off-putting. I would certainly be off-putted if I was sat beside him. However, when Teach told me this I could do nothing but laugh. Am I bad? Does this a bad parent me make?

I was hoping Teach would put me over the desk and give me a good caning as a punishment for this response. She just gave me THAT look and I was 10 again.

Needless to say, the wee man doesn’t like his teacher. She’s “too shouty”.

A sentence with “pot” and “kettle” jumps into my mind.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Top Ten 2009

A few of the bookish blogs I've been reading have recently been posting lists of their favourite crime reads of 2009. Not being one to miss a bandwagon, I thought I'd jump on. But my list will detail the books I came across in 2009, they may well have been published before that date.

The eagle-eyed among you will spot the fact that I've numbered them all number 1. Why? It's like saying which of your children are your favourites, innit?

1. Philip Kerr...If the Dead Rise Not
1. R J Ellory...The Anniverary Man
1. John Connolly...The Lovers
1. Caro Ramsay...Singing to the Dead
1. Carol O'Connell...Bone By Bone
1. Tony Black...Gutted
1. James Lee Burke...Rain Gods
1. Deon Meyer...Blood Safari
1. Shav Sherez...The Black Monastery
1. George Pelecanos...Hard Revolution
1. Daniel Woodrell...Winter's Bone
1. Walter Mosely...Bad Boy Brawly Brown
1. Bill Kirton...The Darkness

oops, I've over run...and I've still to mention...och, there's too many to mention. How am I supposed to limit this fecking thing to 10? Whose idea was this anyway?

'Nuff said. Go buy one. Or two...


Sunday, 2 May 2010

Oops, I did it again...

If you were ever under any doubt about how hypocritical the Brits are, just look up any of the press coverage of Gordon Brown’s faux pas this week. If you just crawled out from under your mattress (and we could forgive you during electioneering time) and missed this, he was recorded having a wee chat with an old lady and afterwards, thinking his microphone was switched off – naughty, naughty broadcasters we can see how your minds were working here – he complained about being set up with such an interview saying that the old lady was a bigot.

The press went into meltdown. Gordon Brown was a mess, he should be locked up, he was the worst thing to hit politics since a certain Austrian midget grew a moustache and hypnotised a nation.

C’mon people...let he/she who is without gravel cast the first stone. Sorta.

Yes it was a mistake. And yes, he should know better, but has ANYONE, ANYWHERE in the planet, in the course of their daily lives not done something similar? That polite face we show to people we would much rather not be close enough to spray with our spittle is what lubricates society. Otherwise we’d constantly be at each other’s throats.

On the other side of the pond, Joe Biden is garnering a reputation for making the odd gaffe.


"Stand up, Chuck, let 'em see ya." –-Joe Biden, to Missouri state Sen. Chuck Graham, who is in a wheelchair, Columbia, Missouri, Sept. 12, 2008

"This is a big fucking deal!" --Joe Biden, caught on an open mic congratulating President Barack Obama during the health care signing ceremony, Washington, D.C., March 23, 2010

I myself have been guilty of it on many occasions, and on many occasions even within earshot of the person concerned. And *he blushes* often directly to them – it’s a wonder I can even speak at times what with my foot being so firmly wedged in my mouth.

One time, more than a few years ago I was at the movies with my then-wife waiting for the film to begin, when one of my friends and his brother walked past on the way to their seats. The lights were still blazing so we couldn’t not see each other.

Some backstory is required here. Said friend had just been jilted by his fiancée, a week before the wedding. This particular night, on which fate contrived to bring us all together, was supposed to be the stag. So instead of a night down the town, pickling my kidneys and humiliating the groom by stripping him and wheeling him down the high street in a cage...I was at the cinema with my good lady.

“Hey,” my friend said when he saw us, his face as long as a weekend stuck in a lift with David Cameron.

Me and the missus just stared at him. We hadn’t seen him since his intended broke his heart. There was an awkward silence that stretched out for the length of time it could have taken for the movie’s opening credits to roll past. The planets yawned and stretched. Several species of insect died out in the Amazon. I grew a five o-clock shadow. The extended version of Bohemian Rhapsody played through the cinema loudspeakers.

Eventually, thinking that somebody HAD to say something and that someone HAD to be me, I nodded towards the giant screen and with an expression that mingled sympathy, humour , gormlessness and a touch of heartburn said...

“This beats going out on a stag night, eh?”

My wife elbowed me in the ribs, the brothers walked past after shooting me the “what an asshole” look, my entire head blushed as brightly as a belisha beacon and then... only then did the fecking lights dim.

So Gordie, (and Joe) you have my sympathy.

(In the interests of having some form of dialogue with you lovely people, why don’t you fess up and tell me of a time when you put your foot in it, here in the privacy of this wee blog? You first EW. You MUST have loads of stories to tell.)