Sunday, 27 April 2014

Mightier than the sword - the power of books

At the end of the Cambridge launch of The Guillotine Choice a young man approached me at the signing table to say hello. As he stepped closer and bent forward so that our heads were at the same level, I realised that he had something to say that he felt really strongly about.

He introduced himself – shook my hand with great warmth – and said, I can't thank you enough. What you are doing is incredibly important.

I was taken aback – and humbled by the passion in his voice.

Since I started this book I knew what Bashir and I were embarking upon had an importance beyond us. A man, that a huge region of Algeria called father, was, with luck and a fair wind, going to have his incredible story highlighted to the world - and the family would have something to go to the French authorities with and ask for an apology and a pardon.

This young man in front of me was about to indicate that the book had significance even beyond that. He explained that he was Algerian and that the experiences of his countrymen and women had been ignored, not only across the world, but in the countries that really needed to talk about it – France and Algeria. He went on to say that official estimates are that around 1.5 million people died in the struggle for independence and that if one was to consider those who lost their lives throughout the time of the French colonisation of his country, it would not be outside the realms of possibility to suggest that the number of dead would be double this.

He went on to ask that if this was the number of dead – how many other people had been damaged by the conflict? Had his country ever recovered? How many people with untold stories were there in Algeria?
We don't talk about this, he said. We don't teach it in our schools. Our politicians don't even acknowledge it. 

How are we going to move on from the past if we don't face it?

He looked at the queue waiting to have their books signed lining up behind him aware that people were waiting to speak to me. He shook my hand again and said – so, thank you, I pray you and Bashir's book helps the conversation start and the healing to begin.

You can get the book here.

And here's where I hand over to you, dear reader. If you enjoyed the book and appreciate what we are trying to achieve with it, please be our advocates. Talk about it to your friends, urge them to read it for themselves - review it online in all the usual places. The more successful the book is the more realistic our aims become.

With thanks,
Michael & Bashir

Monday, 21 April 2014

The Guillotine Choice in the media

I thought my two or three regular readers might like to read some of the coverage that my new book has been getting from the media.

Above, you can see a poorly produced copy of the photo that appeared in my local newspaper, The Ayrshire Post.

Here's what  The Edinburgh Reporter made of my launch evening in Looking Glass Books in Edinburgh just last week.

I'm prepared to push aside my feelings for this particular newspaper, for a moment at least, to highlight their article about the book and what we are trying to achieve. Go here!

Also doing their thing was The Sunday Express

And Bashir's local newspaper also got in on the act. Click here!

Other newspapers also featured the book and the story, most notably NME, but I can't find any links to post for them.


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Wot I Read in March - Pelecanos, Black, D'Lacey, Connolly, Campbell, Boyden, Rafferty

George Pelecanos – Right as Rain

I do like a Pelecanos novel. You pick one up and you are guaranteed some fine storytelling. This one was first published in 2001 and the version I read was a re-issue in 2010, what with his publisher giving his covers a wee makeover.

So, here you've got sex, violence, strong characters, razor-sharp dialogue, social issues and a ridealong feel to the story. If you haven't read a Pelecanos book, man have you got to get yourself sorted out. Go get one, like now.

Tony Black – The Last Tiger

In this, his next book (out on the 1st of May)Tony Black demonstrates what a talented and versatile writer he is. We're in Tasmania with a family of immigrants and the father is paid to hunt the very last Tasmanian tiger - and his son is horrified. His prose is at times spare and at times poetic as Tony delivers up a fascinating and moving novel about family ties and the truths we don't want to face.

The Book of the Crowman – Joseph D'Lacey

Every bit as good as the first Crowman book. The only disappointment I received from this one was when I finished it. Fans of S/F Fantasy I order you to check this guy's books out.

John Connolly – The Wolf in Winter

JC simply never fails to deliver. Crime/ thriller fiction of the highest quality – all served up with Connolly's excellent prose and a soupcon of the supernatural. Loved it. Full review over at

Karen Campbell – This is Where I Am.

Oh. My. God. Where do I start with this one? Am I going to run out of superlatives? Astonishing. Affecting. Powerful. Absorbing. At one point I was reading this in a cafe and had to discreetly wipe a tear from my cheek. This book deserves to be HUGE bestseller. World, you should be ashamed of yourself that so far it isn't.

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden.

Man, have I been spoiled this last month. Another wonderful book. It's 1640 in the New World. The lives of a Huron brave, an Iroquois girl he steals in retribution for the murder of his wife and children – and a French priest, come together. The sense of time and place conjured by Boyden is utterly convincing, the drama and conflict unflinching. I am in awe of writers like this. Stunning.

Myra: Beyond Saddleworth by Jean Rafferty

In a word: fascinating. With this novel, Jean Rafferty imagines that Myra Hyndlay was released from prison as an old woman under a new identity, rather than die from ill-health as she did in real life. A difficult read about one of the UK's most infamous serial killers, written with huge skill and insight.