Fiction and non-fiction books

 The Wake Knot

My latest novel is a mystery story set in France, in the village of Lusignac in the Dordogne. The shout line is, A quiet village on the edge of ruin.

It’s available for the Kindle, with a paperback forthcoming. It took me a really long time to write, and has a complicated mystery plot.

Chris Marsh is looking for peace and quiet; Charly Stone is here with her friend Meg for a holiday in the sun. This hushed backwater in the Perigord Vert seems to fit the bill for all three of them. But then things start happening: accidents, and apparently random acts of violence. Are the events connected, and if so, what connects them? One thing is certain: coincidence will get you into trouble, but it won’t get you out.

The air smelled still and musty, heavy with history. It was so dark, Charly realised, because most of the original arched windows had been bricked up. There were two small stained-glass windows on either side of a larger one above the sanctuary. This was the one, she guessed, that people came to see.

‘Well, that’s horrible,’ said Meg.

‘Mmm. Odd,’ agreed Charly.

The scenes depicted in the stained glass were particularly horrific, even by mediaeval standards. Animals tearing people apart. Birds pecking at eyes.

‘What does it all mean?’

‘I’ll look it up,’ Charly said, ‘when we get back.’

Link to Amazon UK

Previous books:

Class War: the teacher’s story

Dave Coote is a teacher who’s struggling along in an academy school and facing up to the fact that the job is becoming impossible because of creeping privatisation, corruption, and management bullshit.

There’s other stuff happening, too: a former student who drops in to ask a favour and turns his life upside down. And then there’s the evidence of financial mismanagement Coote comes across and what he decides to do about it.

It’s a work of fiction, of course, and published under a pseudonym because: reasons.

It’s a quick read: 68,000 words. Available for Kindle and Kindle Apps:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon Canadia

Amazon Oz

Amazon India

The book of this blog

So here it is then. A condensed and edited version of this blog, with a few bonus highlights from my first (Hoses of the Holy, which started back in 2003). Why? I was on the edge of deleting this blog, but then I thought I might create an archive of all the entries before doing so. And then I changed my mind about deleting it, but quite liked the idea of doing it as a Kindle book. Partly, this was prompted by someone saying to me that he preferred my non-fiction writing to my fiction. This is a fair enough comment. The 118,000 words or so of this represent about half of the content of Frequently Arsed Questions, which seems like a lot to cut out, but I did, for various reasons. There were too many of those whingeing about cycling entries, for example. There were reviews of various appliances, which (while popular in terms of generating page views here) wouldn’t really make any sense in the context of a book/collection. I’ve tried to highlight the category of the entry above the title, but it’s fair to say that there is no one topic for this blog. Eclectic. When I’m ranting about the bastards who run this country, I’ve used the quaint term “Holding forth” rather than “rant” because I like to think I’m not really ranting. I’m quite pleased with the cover. The image of the dude with the pipe came from a 1969 Nouvelles Galeries catalogue (that’s a department store in Belfort, France). I knew when I was snapping photos of the pages back in the summer that it might come in useful. He seems to personify the authorial voice of my blogs. Just as every thin person has a fat person on the inside, we all have a middle aged white dude in a beret with a pipe inside of us. Probably. The title, Nobody cares what you think, is my inner voice, talking to me throughout my blogging career. You can put the emphasis on any word you like. Inadvertently, my typographical choices seem to put the emphasis on THINK, but that’s just sloppiness. Anyway, I priced it as low as I could. Here are the links to a few of the Amazon Kindle stores. As usual, if you do download/read, I’d be grateful if you post a review. But if you can’t say anything nice… Amazon UK Amazon US Amazon Australia Amazon Canada Amazon India Amazon DE Amazon FR

The Obald 2014 cover
 Fiction: The Obald

‘You’ve got to stop using the phone,’ she said.
‘Sorry. Last time. I need to get in touch with our friend. Can you pass a message?’
‘I’m going to London with her tonight.’
‘What? Why?’
‘I’m going to show her where I think it is,’ she hissed.
It’s 1983, and Culture Club are in the charts. Somewhere beneath London, an unnamed government department is beginning to use a computer database to keep tabs on domestic extremists.
Near Geneva, work has started on the 27 kilometre tunnel which will eventually house the Large Hadron Collider. Protesters against Cruise and Polaris missiles are mobilising around Europe. As NATO undertakes a military exercise, Soviet Nuclear weapons are pointed at the West.
Meanwhile, a young woman who doesn’t belong is trying to help her father prevent climate catastrophe.
Ronnie Collins tries to fly under the radar. All he wants from his job is a payslip at the end of the month and no hassle. He has enough trouble trying to sort out his sort-of relationship with his sort-of girlfriend without worrying about the mysterious and attractive person across the street and what she’s up to.
When his worlds collide, events take a surprising turn: and he discovers a strange connection 30 years later that turns his life inside out again.

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 09.31.07French Blood

When Pete Fraser’s estranged sister dies and leaves him a house in France, he takes the opportunity to leave his problems behind and start a new life. He finds a 200 year-old property full of the junk of generations-and family secrets dating back to the Second World War.
What looks like history soon becomes something more urgent when the bodies start appearing and Pete starts seeing connections that nobody has made before…

Lena kicked at something sticking out of the dirt. I assumed it was a stray log that I’d missed (the bottom layer had been largely rotten, and much of it had been set aside for composting or burning). ‘What’s this?’ she said.

I stood up and walked over. She was still tapping at it, but not hard enough to move it. Now she bent down and started clearing dirt away from it with her hands. It was not a stray log. It was clearly a man-made object: it had angles. I wanted to ask, who was Simone?, but this lump in the dirt now took priority. ‘Fetch a trowel or something, will you?’ she said.

I went into the barn and scrabbled around for an old trowel. When I got back to Lena, she’d already cleared a lot of the dirt from the object. She took the trowel from me and cleared the rest of the dirt away with the expertise of an archaeologist. Finally, she dropped the trowel and reached forward with both hands to pull the thing from the ground…


cover delilloEvents and Local Gods – a study of five novels by Don DeLillo

This is an electronic version of my PhD Thesis in American Studies – awarded by Nottingham University in 1999 (here are the details). I never sought a publisher for my thesis because I left academia. Several chapters did appear in academic journals and essay collections (the chapter on the Challenger shuttle disaster, the chapter on The Names, and the chapter on Underworld). I think the real treasures in here though are the chapters on White Noise and Libra – both chapters offer a slightly different view of these well-read and oft-studied novels.

Available on Kindle for a bargain price for three years of research.

Includes chapters on the pseudonymous Amazons, The Names, White Noise, Libra, Mao II, and Underworld. The chapter on the Challenger introduces the concept of the event, and discusses how narrative changes our perception of an event, but not completely. The concept of the local god is the one who was erased by history/oppression: in metaphorical terms, the persistence of obsolete ideas and paradigms. The argument in the thesis is that DeLillo’s main subject is events.

type timeOf Type and Time – a critical investigation into typographical debates

This is my MA dissertation (from 1996) on the history of legibility debates in typography. It covers a history of type and letterforms, and interrogates the discussion about the “ideal” letterform and the politics of type. Illustrated with samples.

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