Thursday, 25 November 2010


Some technical problems with my darned laptop have kept me off-line for the past few days; touching wooden stuff they are now solved!

It was great to see my story ASHES TO ASHES posted at A Twist of Noir as part of Christopher Grant’s inspired 600+ challenge - a big thank you to Christopher for inviting me to take part.

Ashes To Ashes features my character Priest getting mixed up in his head with his fictional hero Gene S. Hunt. I’ve taken the liberty of quoting a few of Gene’s lines in the piece – no harm or plagiarism intended on my part. I’m a huge fan of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes and, in my own small way, I'm paying homage to two highly original, brilliantly written and award winning television series.

Saturday, 30 October 2010


From previous posts you will be aware that I’m fast becoming a fan of James Ellroy. I’ve just started to read The Big Nowhere, which is the second book in the acclaimed L.A. Quartet series. The following section struck me as... brilliant.


The County side was bustling: traffic fatalities lined up on gurneys, morgue jockeys tagging big toes, uniformed deputies writing dead body reports and Coroner’s men chaining cigarettes to kill the stench of blood, formaldehyde and stale chink takeout.


For me, the skilful use of exciting words to set a scene so authentically is stunning. Masterful stuff, Mr Ellroy!

Friday, 22 October 2010


Discount Noir is alive and kicking and available at the Untreed Reads store.

Go on treat yourself. It’s a bargain basement bargain at $4.49 for a digital download of top quality flash fiction. Double digit HERE folks!

Thursday, 7 October 2010


I took myself off to the Bloomsbury Theatre in London last night to listen to James Ellroy reading extracts from his latest memoir - The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women. After the reading, which lasted twenty minutes or so there was a discussion on all things Ellroy followed by a Q&A session on his canon of literary masterpieces.

He is a larger than life character and was totally at home on the theatre stage. I really cannot do the man justice in this piece but sufficient to say I was astounded to see the theatre packed with so many fans. “Peepers, prowlers, pederasts, panty-sniffers, punks and pimps,” as Ellroy would say. When Ellroy took to the stage his command of the English language and sheer personality had the audience, including me, enthralled.

The whole thing must have lasted an hour and fifteen minutes but time flew by. The man is a superb orator and entertained with his trademark and wicked: Humour, slang, patois and creative profanity. He is controversial, complex and, in my opinion, a wordsmith bordering on genius. Ellroy was not as hesitant as me on this point; nailing his colours firmly to the mast by declaring himself a literary genius and comparing himself to Ludwig van Beethoven. Few in the audience had any issues with this.

I gleaned a few remarkable things about the great man: Ellroy does not own a computer. Ellroy does not use the Internet. Ellroy researches his literary projects using the printed word and interviews. Ellroy writes in long hand. Ellroy completes a detailed outline - 400 plus pages written in long hand – before he starts a novel. Ellroy does not deviate from the outline during the writing of the novel. Ellroy rarely watches films and television. Ellroy never reads contemporary books by other authors. Ellroy can spend hours in a darkened room just thinking about his writing.

I cannot call myself a fanatical Ellroy reader because I have not read a huge amount of his work; I am going to put that right though.

Many years ago I read Dick Contino's Blues: And Other Stories. Recently I read The Black Dahlia. I bought this book a long time ago but put off reading it because I had read that Ellroy’s writing style was difficult to read; although his unique staccato prose developed from White Jazz onwards. When I did get around to reading The Black Dahlia I swallowed it; hook, line and sinker. Captured not just by the blistering story and the skilful use of words but how the fiction was set so authentically in 1940/50’s Los Angeles and weaved around real life events. The rest of the L.A. Quartet is on my TBR shelf and I will promote The Big Nowhere to the next book on the rank without further ado.

A hat-tip to James Ellroy – The Demon Dog of Hardboiled Noir!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


The publishing date for Discount Noir is Tuesday 19th October. Published by Untreed Reads and edited by Patricia Abbott and Steve Weddle with a line-up of amazing writers who have penned flash stories featuring big box discount stores in the tradition of Walmart. The full list of contributors is as follows:-

Patricia Abbott, Sophie Littlefield, Kieran Shea, Chad Eagleton, Ed Gorman, Cormac Brown, Fleur Bradley, Alan Griffiths, Laura Benedict, Garnett Elliot, Eric Beetner, Jack Bates, Bill Crider, Loren Eaton, John DuMond, John McFetridge, Toni McGee Causey, Jeff Vande Zande, James Reasoner, Kyle Minor, Randy Rohn, Todd Mason, Byron Quertermous, Sandra Scoppettone, Stephen D. Rogers, Steve Weddle, Evan Lewis, Daniel B. O’Shea, Sandra Seamans, Albert Tucher, Donna Moore, John Weagly, Keith Rawson, Gerald So, Dave Zeltserman, Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen, Jay Stringer, Anne Frasier, Kathleen A. Ryan, Eric Peterson, Chris Grabenstein and J.T. Ellison.

The cover looks fantastic and I’m as pleased as Punch to have a piece in this e-book. For more details please double digit HERE folks.

Saturday, 18 September 2010


These two fine publications arrived in the post this morning. Don’t they look dandy? I reckon the stories are going to be top notch too. I’m looking forward to getting my mince-pies on them immensely.

My hat is tipped towards David and Patti for the original photo idea.

And a classic tune to round things off. You can’t beat a bit of Rod!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend folks.

Friday, 3 September 2010


Last year I took part in Patti Abbott’s Walmart, I Love You, flash fiction challenge. The challenge attracted some great writers who put together some great stories. But it didn’t end there....

With Patti and Steve Weddle as editors and super agent Stacia J.N. Decker onboard, the project with some additional stories from other top writers has been put together as an anthology. Tentatively titled Discount Noir, the collection of stories will soon go to e-press published by Untreed Reads. For the official announcement double digit HERE.

This is my first inclusion in an anthology and, whilst I realise that I am holding onto the coattails of some super writers, I am blown away with the whole thing.

Finally, my thanks have to go out to Patti, Steve and Stacia for all their hard work, which has made this happen. Congratulations to all involved!

Have a good weekend folks.

Thursday, 2 September 2010


I’ve just finished reading, back to back, Loss and Long Time Dead; books three and four in Tony Black’s stunning series of Gus Dury novels. I read the first two, Paying For It and Gutted a while back, when they came out in paperback.

Now, hands up here, I’m no book reviewer but these books struck a chord with me and I wanted to put a quick post up about them.

Gus Dury is a washed up hack and an alkie with issues that stem from a troubled childhood. Gus has a quick temper and, at times, lets his fists do the talking. He’s fond of a pagger! After seeing his once promising journalism career and his marriage flushed down the toilet, Gus looks out at the world through the bottom of a whisky glass.

A friend asks a favour of Gus and he finds himself as a reluctant Private Investigator, pounding the mean streets of Edinburgh in his trusted Doctor Martin boots.

I read the books in order and I’m glad I did. Although each book is a standalone they chart a journey for Gus and, at times, reference key events from previous books.

But, by reading chronologically, I got a real taste of how Tony’s writing improves with each novel – not just the storylines but also how Gus evolves as a flawed and complex character; getting under his whisky sodden skin and a real understanding of the baggage he carries and the demons that haunt him.

It’s a bruising, rollercoaster journey for Gus. Along the way, written in first person, with a caustic and searing wit, we see and hear Gus Dury’s view of the world and his beloved city of Edinburgh, how it has changed; for good and for bad.

All four books are, in my humble opinion, cracking reads and highly recommended.

Check out the links/blurbs below and for a taster short story, care of The Rap Sheet, double digit HERE.

Former journalist Gus Dury has hit rock bottom – drifting from bar to bar, a drink away from Edinburgh’s down-and-outs, his high flying career and wife he adored now a distant memory. But his life takes an unexpected turn when a friend asks him to investigate the brutal torture and killing of his son.

When the gangland owner of a pit bull that killed a three-year-old girl is found gutted on an Edinburgh hill Gus Dury is asked to investigate, and soon finds himself up to his neck in the warring underworld of the city's sink estates. Amidst illegal dog fights, a missing fifty grand and a police force and judiciary desperate to cover their links to a brutal killing, Gus must work fast to root out the truth, whilst the case sinks its teeth ever deeper into him.

Gus Dury is a changed man. He is off the Edinburgh streets and back with estranged wife, Debs. He has promised her that he won't get involved in any more dodgy cases which the police can't or won't solve. And above all, he's off the drink. In his pocket at all times is a half bottle of Scotch, but although the label is worn to shreds, he has never so much as loosened the cap. Then his brother Michael is found dead with a bullet in his heart and Gus' life begins to unravel all over again. How can he keep the promises he has made and still avenge his brother's murder?

Gus Dury is back on the drink. While in hospital after a hit-and-run accident, his best friend, Hod, asks him to investigate the ritual, on-campus hanging of an Edinburgh University student. The murder victim's mother is a high-profile actress, who has promised a big-money reward. Gus, desperate for money, goes undercover at the university, taking a janitor's job, and soon uncovers a similar ritualistic hanging which took place in the 70s. Few of the students are prepared to talk about it - until another one of their group turns up dead by the same method. But Gus now moves into very dangerous waters as he begins to discover what and who is really behind it all - and he becomes the next target for the executioner.

Friday, 27 August 2010


Radgepacket Volume Four, published by those nice people at Bykerbooks, arrived in the post a few days ago c/o Amazon.

Now, my TBR pile is a little daunting at present but I’d been eagerly awaiting this collection of short fiction and couldn’t resist sampling one straight away...

It had to be Paul Brazill’s The Night Watchman; featuring his Private Investigator from ‘Up North’, Peter Ord.

This was the first time I’d read an Ord story and Ord didn’t disappoint. It has all Paul’s hallmarks stamped over it; a wonderfully descriptive narrative, gritty dialogue sprinkled with deliciously dark humour plus those characters - I ask you, who else would describe a character with a face like a blackcurrant crumble!

I believe this is Paul’s debut in a print anthology although I know he has other stuff up and coming. It’s a fine debut from a talented and prolific writer who I know has a lot more to come in the way of published stories.

There are some super writers involved in this project: Ray Banks, Danny King and Andy Rivers to name just three more.

This should be an entertaining read and great value at £5.99 for 22 stories.

Have a good weekend folks.

Friday, 20 August 2010


I’ve been chewing the fat over the Blogosphere with Cormac Brown. Cormac, as you are no doubt aware, really knows his stuff and he has a post up at his blog on “Noir and San Francisco”. Pop over there if you have not read the post already and also here at The Rap Sheet. The subject is all about films that have been set in the fantastic city of San Francisco.

Cormac kindly posted a link for me (in the comments section) to that thrilling car chase from Bullitt, again shot in San Francisco, featuring the wonderful Steve McQueen.

Well, watching that chase scene stirred my old brain cells and up popped a memory of when I was a lad and the great John Wayne came to this part of South London to shoot a film called Brannigan.

I can recall queuing up with a load of other kids and getting an autographed card from the big man himself – oh the memories.

There is a super car chase in this film and, watching it again, at one point the two cars involved, a Jag and a Ford Capri, come flying down the very road where I now live – it’s a small world. Click HERE; it’s a belter.

The car chase scenes were stitched together around different areas of Battersea/Wandsworth but the chase suddenly concludes on Tower Bridge, which is a good six miles away from here as the crow flies – but I guess that’s show business folks!

Saturday, 14 August 2010


My TBR pile of books is not getting any smaller but during a shopping trip today I couldn’t resist treating myself to these three.

I’m really looking forward to cracking the spine on these books as soon as I can; I’m currently reading “Loss” by Tony Black, which is a super read.

Friday, 16 July 2010


I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

This has been doing the rounds on a few blogs over the last couple of days. So, doing what I do best, holding onto somebody’s coattails, I decided to give it a go.

I pasted in the following piece, which I have been kicking around on my keyboard for a while. It came back with David Foster Wallace.

I had no previous knowledge of David Foster Wallace but I looked him up and will pay him all due respect.

As for my bit of hackneyed stuff and nonsense... Well, nuff said.

Have a good weekend folks.


Priest fired up a Silk Cut and the Audi Quattro and burnt rubber.

Lately, Priest had likened himself to his fictional hero: Detective Chief Inspector Gene S. Hunt.

Albeit being on the opposite side of the law.

The TT Coupe was clean; hired under a false name and paid for with a Gold MasterCard that was moodier than a teenager peppered with acne. A little ostentatious maybe but like Gene, Priest did things with style.

Illegal things.

Gene Hunt, Priest wondered how long it would take for the name to find its way into the cockney rhyming slang vernacular. A smile cracked his hard, grizzled face and he let loose a nicotine abused chuckle.

It wasn’t a nice face. Picture a slab of cold meat.

It wasn’t a nice smile. Picture a ravenous Python bearing down on a mouse at feeding time.

Six foot six tall, Priest was a ferocious looking man with a rep to match. He was a vicious career criminal and as popular as a fart in a space suit with the Metropolitan Police as well as a large part of the South London criminal fraternity.

Did he care? Not a jot.

“F**k em,” was his moto.

(c) Alan Griffiths 2010

Monday, 21 June 2010


He is a gentleman of the blogosphere and Paul D. Brazill has graciously re-posted my Brit Grit interview over at his blog – You Would Say That, Wouldn’t You?

If you missed it first time around at Pulp Metal Magazine then please double digit HERE.

Mr Brazill needs no introduction, as you all know by now he is a talented and prolific writer and his blog is choc-a-block with super stuff. Thanks PDB!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010


Paul D. Brazill recently subjected me to the old knuckle-duster treatment; trying desperately to get me talking about all things Brit Grit. He succeeded and you can have a gander at my off the cuff ramblings over at the excellent Pulp Metal Magazine. Double digit HERE please folks.

My thanks go to Paul (he’s a blooming dynamo) for thinking of me and for putting together the interview questions, which I very much enjoyed answering – the cuts and bruises are healing up nicely, thank you PDB!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010


One of my favourite Brit Grit authors, Mark Timlin, has recently started a new BLOG.

Apart from being a cracking hardboiled writer, Mark, the creator of Nick Sharman PI, is also a fine book reviewer. So, this should be interesting stuff and well worth bookmarking.

A new Sharman novel, Stay Another Day, has recently been released.

For more information on Mark double digit HERE and HERE.

Thursday, 1 April 2010


Congratulations go to Paul Grzegorzek; his story, A LONG TIME COMING, is the winning entry. Very well done mate it is a worthy winner.

Second and third places went to GALLANCE by Col Bury and FIRESTORM by Alan Peden. My congratulations go to them and to all the other writers that submitted stories – the standard was very high and I enjoyed reading them all.

A big thank you must also go to Matt for taking the time to run the competition, particularly during what must be a really hectic time for him as his new Joe Hunter novel is launched.

My effort, DIAMONDS AND PEARLS, polled like an expenses fiddling MP caught with his snout in a trough full of used readies. Nonetheless, I had great fun writing it and challenging myself to come up with (hopefully) a fast paced, tongue-in-cheek, hardboiled and pulpy tale. If you fancy having a read then please double digit HERE.

That’s all folks and Happy Easter.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010


Voting for the 2010 Spinetingler awards is now open – double digit HERE folks to view all the categories and cast your votes.

The polls are open until April 30th and the winners will be announced on May 1st.

Congratulations and good luck to all the nominees.

Monday, 29 March 2010


I came across this Meme at Patti Abbott’s excellent blog – a double digit here will take you to Patti’s choices.

The idea was not to think about this too much and this is what I came up with.

1) Comics. My earliest reading memories are of Marvel comics and characters such as Spiderman, Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Captain America etc. I also read DC Comics (mainly Batman and Superman). I think it was the fantastic artwork that initially attracted me but it was also the thrilling storylines that kept me going back for more and more.

2) The Three Investigators; Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Series featuring Jupiter Jones, Bob Andrews and Pete Crenshaw. I can’t nail down a particular favourite but I remember loving these tales as a kid, most of them were loaned from the public library and had fantastic titles such as The Secret of Terror Castle. Super, super stuff!

3) Hell Is Always Today by Harry Patterson (aka Jack Higgins). I think I must have read this when I was about fifteen. I remember that it was my sister’s paperback book and it was my first introduction to the prolific thriller writer Jack Higgins.

4) 1984 by George Orwell. Not Crime or Thriller fiction but I was knocked out by Orwell’s prose and this book is a classic on so many levels. It has a superb and memorable opening line ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’

5) The Guards by Ken Bruen. Many years ago I purchased some of Ken’s early work at a local independent bookshop (sadly long since closed). First, The White Arrest books featuring Sergeant Brant and Chief Inspector Roberts. I was bowled over by the stark style of Bruen’s prose and the viciously dark humour that runs through it. When The Guards, the first Jack Taylor story, was published I was bowled over again as Bruen took the PI genre (that I have long been a fan of) and stood it on its head. I think Ken verges on genius.

6) A Good Year for the Roses by Mark Timlin. I used to work close to Maxim Jakubowski’s Murder One bookshop (sadly missed). Visits to this bookshop introduced me to Mark Timlin’s hardboiled South London PI creation, Nick Sharman.

7) Layer Cake by J. J. Connolly. This was another purchase from the local indie bookshop. Years later I saw a trailer for an upcoming movie; Layer Cake. The penny dropped and I realised this was the big screen version of a favourite book. The film was a fine one and, I think, ranks up there with Get Carter, The Long Good Friday and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

8) Easy Meat by John Harvey. My Murder One visits also introduced me to Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick and Harvey’s Nottingham based Police procedurals. Harvey is a stylish writer, very easy on the eye and a joy to read. This was the first one that I read.

9) Alive & Kicking by John Milne. Yep, Murder One again - Milne created a marvellous character in Jimmy Jenner; a one legged and partially deaf London based Private Investigator. There are four books and, I think, this one, the last in the series, is the standout.

10) The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. I could not end my list without including Chandler’s great creation; Los Angeles based PI Philip Marlowe. Chandler’s prose is superb and the opening lines took my breath away, this bit still does: ‘I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.’

... As Patti said, which I whole heartedly agree with, it might be a different list next week. That’s the joy of reading.

And I didn’t get a chance to squeeze in Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard or The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy…

Oh, maybe next time!

Sunday, 28 March 2010


I’m delighted that Byker Books – Radgepacket Online has accepted and published my story Whiskey in the Jar.

There are some great stories on the Online section, including one from the very talented Col Bury.

Double digit here to visit the Byker Books home page, it’s a terrific website.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Well, I’ve had worse days I can tell you…..

Lunchtime at the day job, I decided to have a quick look at my web-mail in-box and there was an email from my old mucker Paul Brazill. I was pleased as punch to read that one of Paul’s fine stories, The Tut, had been nominated for the 2010 Spinetingler Short Story on the Web award and….

… so had one of MY tales - My Father’s Son.

My Father’s Son was published last year at the superb A Twist of Noir, run by the brilliant Christopher Grant – a big thank you to Chris.

You could have knocked me down with a feather!

My thanks go to all the people at Spinetingler Magazine for the nomination. It is an honour to be listed amongst all the other nominees.

Congrats to Paul, his nomination is richly deserved and to all the other nominees; we are in great company – for a full list of the nominees double digit HERE.

Monday, 22 March 2010


First off, a big fucking cheers to Alan for letting me have a go on here. Far as I'm concerned, there ain't enough blogs about grit. Especially Brit grit, which is a fucking menace. I got some in my eye once and it took about a day to get the fucker out, and I had a big red scratch on my eyeball the rest of the week. Mind you, it did make me look even harder than I already am. But I'm all for alerting folks to the dangers of grit, so this place is alright by me. I ain't here to talk about grit, though. I'm here to talk about justice, mate.

Rough justice.

You might be wondering who the fuck I am. Well, the short one is that I am Royston Blake, former head doorman of Hoppers Wine Bar & Bistro (and only former because the fucking place got leveled and a shopping centre built atop it). You already know that, like as not, cos I am a bit famous in the Mangel area. And I bet you're already aware of my three volumes of memoirs, them being DEADFOLK, FAGS AND LAGER and KING OF THE ROAD. I wrote them with the help of someone called Charlie Williams, I might as well mention, but all he really done was the typing, which is woman's work anyhow and I don't do that. He did also come up with the titles, though, I suppose. But they're pretty shite if you ask me, all except the last one. I mean, Fags and fucking Lager? You can't call a book that, can you? I personally wanted to call it THE JOEY HAS LANDED, but he went behind my back and changed it at the last fucking minute, before sending it off to the publishers. He got a slap for that, I fucking tell yer. But not half so hard as when I wrote memoir number four (entitled WRONGUN) and he came back to me, tail between pins, saying they weren't gonna print it.

The fucking wankers had rejected it.

Saying that, the publishers ain't really fucking wankers (I wish I could recall their names... "Snake's Arse", or summat). They put out my first three volumes so fair fucking play. But they'd got it well wrong here. Based on the fact that one or two cunts out there amongst the general public had failed to shell out for the last couple, they'd decided WRONGUN weren't worth a punt. Which is pure fucking bollocks. And I'll tell you for why it is that:

WRONGUN is the best fucking thing I ever dictated. On top of that, it's all true (like all the others are).

So what we're doing now, right, is that we've started this Facebook campaign to make Snake's Arse see where they fucked up. Don't ask me what the fuck Facebook is, but we've set up a sort of gang wossname there and you are hereby invited by yours truly, Royston fucking Blake, to join. It is called FREE THE MANGEL ONE (that is me) and the link is below. (What the fuck is a link, though?) If we can get enough of you decent folks joining, Snake's Arse will see the light. They will see that I got a right to get my stories out there, and that folks have got a right to read the fuckers. But I need loads of people joining, so you might wanna put up a thing to it on your page or blog or whatever the fuck as well.

Been quite nice talking to you, I gotta say. Cheers again to Mr Alan, and I want all you out there to watch out for that grit, and make sure none of the fucking stuff gets in your peepers.

Sunday, 14 March 2010


Voting has now started in the Matt Hilton - Slash and Burn Short Story competition.

There are ten cracking stories to read and then vote on. Go on, double digit here and ENJOY.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


Holding onto David Barber’s coattails, I decided to ask Jason Evans for feedback on my “Silhouette” entry.

I’m glad I did because Jason very kindly provided some detailed and positive feedback, which is very much food for thought. My thanks go to Jason and to David for the original idea.

I’ll take this onboard and, like David, I thought I would re-post my piece and Jason’s feedback.


Smithers-Jones swung the shotgun and squeezed the trigger in one swift movement. The wood pigeon dropped like a stone and the gundog disappeared into the gorse after it.

“Valentine,” Smithers-Jones, a plumy Eton toff, broke both barrels. “An associate highly recommended you.”

Smithers-Jones was resplendent, from top to toe: Checked flat cap. Tweed shooting jacket. Plus fours. Argyle socks. Leather boots.

My old man liked a hat and a shotgun. He’d have taken a hacksaw to Smithers-What’s-His-Face’s Purdey and stuck-up the local bank with it.

“I’m a Private Investigator Mr Smithers-Jones.” I scraped my shoe on the wet grass, “What can I do for you?”

“Find my daughter,” Smithers-Jones scanned the lead grey skies for another feathered victim. “She’s a bloody embarrassment.” A beat passed. “Drink and drugs. That sort of thing.”

“Daughters come home, to their loved ones, of their own accord eventually,” I turned up my coat collar against the wind. “When the money runs out.”

Smithers-Jones flashed me a look like I was a turd. Just like the piece I’d removed from the sole of my brogue.

“Her junky friends persuaded her to take a rather expensive family heirloom. Hence the urgency.” He slotted two cartridges and snapped the shotgun shut. “If I had my way...” He sighed, “Her mother wants the situation handled… delicately.”

Smithers-Jones, I thought, despite his money, guns, fancy clothes and country pile, was just like all the other punters that hired me.

Same shit different arsehole…. As my old man would say.

© 2010 Alan Griffiths


What I liked best about your piece was the attitude and voice. It had a strong impact.

I think that you could strengthen the impact quite a bit with some technical adjustments. First, you need to establish the POV right up front. The word "my" in the 4th paragraph was the first indication that this is first person POV. Up until that point, I felt that it was 3rd person, so the "my" was very jarring. As a result, in the 4th and 5th paragraphs, I became confused about who is who. I first thought that "my old man" was Smithers-Jones.

I also would encourage you to take a longer view in the impact of the writing. Not worrying so much about each paragraph's impact, but building across the paragraphs. I'm getting the sense that each of your paragraphs stand as little islands with too much attention to description in each. Without a sense of building as the reader progresses down the page, the scene feels stuck in one mode. Toward that end, I would eliminate your movement-for-the-sake-of-movement breaks in your dialogue. Examples are: "a plumy Eton toff, broke both barrels" and "I scraped my shoe on the wet grass" and "I turned my coat collar against the wind." Sometimes people try to avoid simple dialogue attributions, such as "he said," with little nuggets of action. That quickly becomes very distracting and backfires.

I'd also watch for pushing dialogue too far in order to mechanically move the story ahead, such as: "I'm a Private Investigator Mr. Smithers-Jones." I don't think he would say that like an introduction and use the guy's full name. Smithers-Jones knows he's a PI, and we usually talk to each other just by looking in the person's direction. If he were making a point about being a PI, he might say, "so why do you need a private investigator?"

I think that by focusing on the impact of the entire page, your writing will really shine.

Saturday, 30 January 2010


Pop over to Matt’s blog for details of his short story competition to win a signed, first edition hard copy, of his novel Slash and Burn.

This is a great idea and I must put the paperback of Matt’s first Joe Hunter novel, Dead Men’s Dust, to the top of my TBR pile and start preparing.

Matt runs a great blog, which is always full of interesting snippets and great insights into his ongoing journey as a writer. He is also a top bloke and has always been encouraging and positive when I have asked for his advice.

So, what are you waiting for? Double digit HERE.

Monday, 25 January 2010


The starter sentence for F-F-F #18 is in bold. The rest is me...


"As the sixth shot of whisky burnt its way down, I suddenly remembered what I left the house for."

The whisky kicked like a cold hearted mugger’s steel toe capped boot. I put the half-bottle of Bells in my inside coat pocket. It was comforting; like a woman’s soft touch on a lonely night.

“Are you getting on or what pal?”

My reverie was broken. I stepped aboard the bus and handed over a mishmash of shrapnel. The driver, a jobs-worth with a face like a red party balloon, cursed as he sorted the coins. Ignoring him I tore off my ticket and stumbled along the aisle.

Fifteen minutes later I opened my eyes, pulled out the bottle and took a surreptitious swig. An oldie tut-tutted and whispered to her coffin-dodging companion.

I belched, rang the bell and staggered off the bus. As it pulled away I toasted the two old biddies with the Bells then stuck my last Silk Cut between my lips, fired up and walked away; the damp from the pavement seeping through my worn brogues.

In bygone days, when you opened a pub door, you were confronted with billowing cigarette smoke, men throwing arrows and nineteen seventies tunes playing on the jukebox. Nowadays it’s all polished floors, pine furniture and couples playing Scrabble. Not a frigging domino in sight.

I ordered a light and bitter from the antipodean behind the jump. Between her shoulder blades a large floral tattoo was partially visible the rest of it hidden beneath her vest top. Classy.

“Light and what?”

Whatever happened to English bar staff… I wanted to ask: What’s with the hairy knees and sandals? In bloody January!

I was too tired to explain and asked for a pint of Guinness instead. I sat at a table and gulped the black stuff down to the label. When the painted lady turned her back I topped it up with Bells.

By the time Kipper arrived I was finishing my second and wishing I could afford another.

“Valentine!” Kipper had woeful dress sense. He was wearing his trademark, wide and loud, necktie. “You look rough as a dog’s arse.” He produced a roll of banknotes, “This is for you.” Cackling, he pulled off the elastic band and flicked it at me, “Put that round your rhythm and blue. It’ll stop the sole from flapping.”

The recently married Kipper was a flash, sarky bugger and, I thought, needed taking down a peg or two.

“A large malt Kipper.” I pulled a manila envelope from under my coat, “Then we’ll talk business.”

Kipper was a bookie and owned a string of shops. He had hired me to snoop on his staff. Somebody was dipping sticky fingers into the till and Kipper did not like to be taken for a fool.

Kipper returned with two malts and a couple of packets of cheese and onion. His bushy eyebrows were meeting in the middle of his forehead and he shook his head despairingly, “Silly cow flooded them with ice.”

“Jeez.” I fished cubes out and sucked my digits, “If it’s not a pint of Fosters that lot are clueless.”

“Cheers,” Kipper raised his glass.

“Up your hairy hole,” I had not yet been paid and was a little tetchy.

“Well, what’ve you got for me?” Kipper drank some whisky and stuffed potato crisps into his north and south.

I slid the envelope across, “Why’d you pick a poncy joint like this to meet?”

“The missus likes it.” He opened the envelope, “The house Pinot Grigio is rather good…” Kipper choked and coughed, pebble-dashing the waxed tabletop. “What the fuc...”

I downed my malt. Kipper’s boat-race was turning several shades of red. He looked to be on the verge of a ferocious rage. Or worse, tears.

“You’ve gone a funny colour my old son.” I slipped my hand into his sky-rocket and extracted my wages, “Same again squire?”

I waved a twenty and the painted lady sauntered over, chewing gum with the finesse of a camel. She said, “G’day,” for the third time in the space of thirty minutes.

“Two large Macallans.” I pointed to a bottle, “The twelve year old malt and no ice.”

The painted lady got busy with the drinks, then said, “Is your friend all right?”

I looked over my shoulder. Several of the glossy photographs had dropped to the floor. Kipper was staring at one and shaking like a dementia patient on speed.

“He’s had better days.”

“I recognise him.” She placed the glasses in front of me, “Usually in here with a young blonde.” Taking the twenty, she added, “She’s partial to a dry white wine spritzer.”

“That’ll be the wife.” I sighed, hammered down one of the malts and signalled for another, “That’s not all she’s partial to.”

© 2010 Alan Griffiths

Sunday, 10 January 2010


I took a break from writing over the long Christmas/New Year holiday and it has been really hard to get going again.

In an attempt to break my lethargy, I put together a piece for Jason Evans Clarity of Night "Silhouette" 250 word Short Fiction Contest – using this photograph as inspiration.

I had great fun writing this flash piece and you can find my effort, The Eton Rifles, HERE.

The contest is open until Wednesday January 13th so if anybody reads this and is not aware of this project I urge you to pop over and have a gander.

My thanks go to Jason for organising this contest – browsing the other entrant’s efforts I can see that the standard is incredibly high with some cracking pieces to read and enjoy.