Thursday, 21 June 2012

May Contain Joined up Thinking ...

I think it was Gore Vidal who said that every time someone else was successful a little piece of him died. This was also a view espoused on Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird."

While I can see where the very human reaction might come from, this is a point of view that leaves me cold. I prefer the thought of Buddha who said (I'm paraphrasing here, people) if someone else's success costs me nothing why should I grudge them.

This is more akin to the reaction I have received from my peers when chatting online or at events. The genuine pleasure that my writerly friends have expressed at the early strong reaction to the launch of BLOOD TEARS has been a perfect counterpoint to Vidal's mealy-mouthed mindset.

So thank you, guys n gals. I appreciate all the messages and smiles (and the champagne).


Bearing in mind what I said before, I feel I should justify my reaction to the success of 50 Shades of Gray. Yes, I have been seen rolling my eyes and I've been heard moaning about the number of people who have flocked (as in sheep) to pick this up at their local bookshop.

I don't have a problem with erotica. If one handed reading is your thing, go for it.

I don't have a problem with the writer's success. Good on her.

What frustrates me is - where are all these people for the other 50 weeks of the year? If they enjoyed reading these books, there's a good chance they'll enjoy reading other books. Why don't they spend the rest of the year seeking out other stories that thrill/ amuse etc? But they won't will they?

That is all.

Monday, 11 June 2012

The Good Word on BLOOD TEARS ...

Far be it from me to blow my own trumpet, so here's other people doing it for me ...

"Blood Tears grips from the get-go. Like all the best crime novels, Malone weaves an intricate tapestry of past bad deeds and modern secrets. His protagonist, Ray McBain, possesses one of the most original and striking back-stories of any character I've come across for a long time. A furious pulse-pounding trip through the hidden alleyways of Glasgow. A tremendous read." 

– Stav Sherez, author of A Dark Redemption and editor with The Catholic Herald

"Michael Malone is one of those new writers that you feel you've known a long time. Blood Tears  blasts onto the Tartan Noir scene like a bullet. Big, bold themes and terrific humour amidst the darkness makes this my debut of the year."

 - Tony Black, author of MURDER MILE

“At once taut and expertly detailed with blistering prose, Blood Tears is an explosively cool and riveting crime novel introducing Glasgow Detective Ray McBain. This may well be a debut novel, but author Michael Malone writes likes an established pro. Tartan Noir has added another winner to its classy ranks.

Sam Millar – novelist 

“If you like Tony will love Michael J. Malone. Tough, funny, dark and so in your face it hurts, a superb piece of writing”

 – Ken Bruen, Novelist

“What is particularly impressive about Michael J Malone's first outing as a crime novelist is that his characters, and DI Ray McBain in particular, hit the ground running in fully developed and highly believable form. Add in a complex and compelling plot that has strong echoes with current media concerns about child abuse and the Catholic church and you have an outstanding novel and a "must read" for all lovers of really good crime drama.” 

– Undiscovered Scotland.

“Blood Tears is not for the faint-hearted but is an addictive thriller that has more twists, turns and blind alleys than a labyrinth. Malone is a strong newcomer to the Scottish crime scene and his fellow, McBain is a grand edition to the crime fiction genre. ‘Blood Tears’ is a bold and dazzling debut.”

Blood Tears is a banging debut. The subject matter is dark, real ripped-from-the-headlines stuff, and so much more affecting for that. It’s written in urgent, pacy prose and sharp dialogue shot through with the kind of gallows humour you want from fictional coppers. The secondary characters are well realised, with hints of some interesting back stories to come out in later instalments and they already feel like a solid unit – a rare thing in new police procedurals. It’s a tough ask, coming up with a new detective, but Malone has created genuinely attractive lead in Ray McBain. Credible and intriguingly flawed without, he’s a character you feel confident will only grow as the series continues.

Scotland has produced some amazing crime writers over the years and on the basis of Blood Tears Michael J.Malone looks set to join the top ranks. If you’re already a fan of Rankin, Black or MacBride, you’ll love this book.

Crime Fiction Lover

McBain is a fascinating character, haunted by a harsh upbringing and latent memories, he has risen to the top of his chosen profession, only to see the accolades of many successes slip away. But is he entirely innocent?
There is an eclectic supporting cast which includes career criminals, conflicted cops, and an old shrew of a Nun, all of whom help or hinder McBain in his quest.

Michael J Malone’s debut crime thriller features the controversial issue of child abuse within the Catholic Church but skilfully manages to avoid over-burdening the reader with a sense of gloom. The energetic pace helps the tale remain entertaining throughout and my home city is thankfully represented positively. The thoughtful descriptions of it’s sprawling Necropolis being a highlight.

A cool new voice in the increasingly popular Scottish crime fiction genre, Malone deserves a place alongside the likes of Stuart MacBride, Alex Grey and Ian Rankin.

Ric’s Reviews

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A day in the life of a newly published author ...

I open my emails first thing to a message from my publisher to say that a review for BLOOD TEARS had just gone up on Undiscovered Scotland website. “An outstanding novel”, “Must-read” – were just two of the stand-outs. Modesty prevents me from detailing the rest, so HERE's the link and you can read it for yourself.

Oh and then there's the review on CRIMESQUAD and the five star ones on AMAZON that I check hourly to establish that this is not a fevered dream.

It’s a bank holiday –  I visit bookshops for a living – and what do I do on my day off? I visit my local bookshop. I’m standing chatting to the staff when I spot an old friend I haven’t seen for months. Before she can open her mouth and ask how I am, I take her by the elbow and guide her (frog-march, really) to the shelf where my new book was resting.

Of course, I’ll buy a copy, she said smiling. Her teeth were a little too tightly pressed together for my liking.
More chat and blethers before I walk out of the shop. I hadn’t taken more than 3 steps when I heard a voice behind me say, oh there’s Michael Malone’s book in the window!

I turned to see an old colleague.

So you’re book’s ... before she could finish the sentence I had taken her by the elbow and guided her (again with the frog-march) to the shelf with my book on it. She was going on holiday, people – she needed something to read. I was fulfilling a public service. Kinda.

Is it too violent, she asked as I guided her – my hand hadn’t left her elbow from the last frog-march – to the counter. No, says I. Apart from that bit at the beginning. Oh, and the bit in the middle. Then there’s that bit at the end. But you’ll be fine.

2 sales. Only 99,998 to go.

Friday, 1 June 2012

BLOOD TEARS ... A Taster

Wonder why it is called BLOOD TEARS? Here's the prologue.

He closed the door, his hand trembling. Walking across the floor, towards the desk, he removed all his clothes. He bent to retrieve the black costume from the floor, draped it on a perfumed hanger and hung it neatly in its place. His shoes were last. Ladies size 7. Black leather with a sensible heel, they were tucked under the chair. He massaged his toes, which had been stuffed into the neat fit. Blood stained his toe where the nail from the neighbouring pinkie had torn flesh.

            He sat before the mirror and, filling his lungs, flicked a switch. Lights framing the mirror blazed unkindly on to his face. He breathed again and closed his eyes.  And again, he breathed, revelling in the speed of his pulse. So this is what it means to be alive, he thought. Every nerve in his body thrummed with electricity. This is what it means to belong.

            Muscles along his shoulders and down through his arms and legs relaxed as if bathed in liquid and heat. Had his eyes been open, he would have seen the slow spread of a smile stretch his lips.
            It had begun.
            An eye for an eye, the Bible said. A life for a life. But how many lives were enough, he considered, to replace the one lost? As many as it takes.

            Breathe slowly, he told himself. In for a count of nine. And out for a count of nine. The old man had fought well, for his age. Who would have thought? Realisation that his life was about to end would have lent him strength. But he had been no real contest. A quick blow to the solar plexus, tighten the garrotte and it was all but over.
            Stopping at the right time was crucial. Keeping him alive along enough; easing pressure on the stranglehold before he passed from unconsciousness into death was key.
The old man barely stirred as the hoop of barbed wire was squeezed on to his head. The metal thorns slid into the pale flesh of his forehead as easily as communion wine slips down the throat.

 Reliving the moment when the man stirred and their eyes met, forced a flood of blood into his groin. The sweet ache that encapsulated sin. But the ache was even more pronounced in his heightened state. And all the more difficult to ignore.

Questions forced their way through the old man’s clenched teeth. His need to know, who and why, was such it acted as an anaesthetic.
            ‘Who... are you?’ He groaned. ‘Why are you... doing this to me? Please... please... please don’t hurt... me... anymore.’  Sweat diluted the colour of the blood on his forehead.
            ‘Hurt? You don’t know the meaning of the word. Yet.’
            Terror bloomed in the old man’s pupils. The iris all but swallowed in black, ‘Please.. .let me go... I can give you ... money.’
            ‘Money? I don’t want your money. I want your pain. I want your repentance.’
            ‘For what!’ he used all his remaining energy to ask, ‘Who are you?’
            ‘I am the avenging angel. I am he who will deliver you.’ He stifled a giggle. He’d rehearsed that part. It sounded even better out loud.
Again the old man asked, ‘Who are you?’
            ‘You have no idea, do you?’
            The old man coughed. Blood frothed from his mouth, ‘Whoever you are... I’m sorry...whatever I did... I’m sorry.’ Anguish coated every word.
            ‘Before you die, you at least deserve to know why.’ In truth, he wanted to delay the moment of completion.
He bent forward and whispered in the man’s ear.

He slid open the long, middle drawer under the desktop and pulled out two items, a white, featureless mask and a scalpel. The mask he placed over his face and regarded the eyes that looked back. They were brown and framed in long, black lashes that were the envy of any women who saw them.
But within them lay layers he could only guess at. The mask brought to play a distance; a distance between him and his actions. The mask could feel, while he could not. The mask could reason, while he dare not. The mask could mourn, while he should not.
The eyes within the mask flared as he remembered the moment before the nails went in.
‘You...are... practising on me?’ The old man asked.
            ‘Yes... and you’re the most... deserving candidate.’

Then came the score of a knife. Four six inch nails. A twist of the garrotte. 
And a last, withered exhalation.
‘Don’t worry,’ he whispered into the dead man’s ear, ‘there will be more.’

Long fingers picked up the scalpel and aimed the point towards the mask. While one hand held the mask carefully in place, the other pressed finely honed steel against the lower, right eyelid, until blood welled on to the blade. Then after placing the knife on the desktop, his right hand pressed the cheek of the mask so that blood slid onto its surface.
            As a single drop of blood glided down the white cheek of the mask, he considered the long dead, the newly deceased, those yet to die, and enjoyed the tear.