As is the rite of passage for indie authors, my interview for Indie Author Land has been published, you can check it out here.
2nd November 2013
Hi guys, first of all, a quick announcement. My first novel, Hudud and Escape, is now available as a paperback which can be found on Amazon. It will also be available on Kobo and the Google Play store in about a week’s time, pre-orders are already open, why the wait? Because Amazon locked me into a 90 day exclusivity agreement that I later regretted, a story for another post.
But the next announcement is that the sequel to Hudud and Escape has begun. Some of you may know that Hudud and Escape was a NaNoWriMo novel and being November, it’s once again National Novel Writing Month. I’ve spent the last year editing Hudud and Escape, publishing it and also, thinking and researching about its sequel. I plan for this to be a trilogy and had planned to write one a year however, I suspect I may not have the patience to wait until next November to write the third, what with its plot floating around in my head already. We’ll see how it goes.
The current working title for Hudud and Escape’s title is Jihad and Unheard and of course, as is the nature of NaNoWriMo, I should have my first draft finished by the end of the month, shortly before writing this, I’ve finished the first three chapters. I’ll try and post more updates here as they come.
23rd September 2013
The map of Dundee University’s Queen Mother Building (QMB) is legend among attendees of The School of Computing houses in the same building. Unfortunately, people have a bad habit of losing it so I’m posting it here to download. The map is believed to have been made by Rory Gianni a.k.a. @digitalWestie
14th September 2013
I was quite lucky to receive the opportunity to read this one which is not actually out for release until October however I was given the privilege after Sophie Orme of Mantle Books (Pan Macmillan) tweeted out the simple question;
“So who fancies a proof copy of Gold Dagger winner Tom Franklin’s latest incredible book #TheTiltedWorld?”
“Aye alright,” I responded and it arrived in the post a wee while later. How exciting, a proof copy. Fun fact? I’d never heard of Tom Franklin or his poet wife Beth Ann Fennelly before this and so I felt a little guilty that more die hard fans may have missed out.
Heather was in Texas at the time visiting family and so during one trans-atlantic Skype call I began reading the prologue to her. The book is based during the great Mississippi Flood of 1927, an event I felt ashamed to admit I’d never heard of until I read the authors’ notes that state I was not alone as this great flood that killed so many and reshaped the south of North America forever is widely forgotten by most, even in America.
We open with Dixie Clay, a beautiful name I might say, who is a young woman with a secret. While the whole town of Hobnob, which sits on a bend in the great river, knows her to be married to a bootlegger, what they don’t know is who’s really cooking the moonshine. Dixie Clay makes the finest Whiskey on Earth (of course this is fiction, we Scots make the finest whiskey on Earth!) though never touches it. She married into this game and after losing her first child is finding herself stuck in a marriage she entered without really knowing her husband.
Enter Ingersol and his partner Ham, two revenuer agents investigating the disappearance of two other revenuer agents before them. Reports had come that they’d found a big still, one that would have them in the papers for busting. But on the new agents’ way, they’ve run across a murder scene with a crying baby who needs a new home and Ingersol hasn’t the heart to leave him with an orphanage. The story of Dixie Clay and Ingersol intertwine as the investigation develops but also expands under the constant fear that the levee holding the monster of a river away will burst or as it seems more likely, be sabotaged to save New Orleans. The constant threat of a great flood sweeping away the town, leaves Ingersol and Ham also volunteering as guards on the levee and ultimately causing their investigation to become three fold. Who killed the previous agents if they were indeed murdered? Who’s cooking the moonshine and also, who’s planning to blow the levee?
The story is gripping, I couldn’t help taking this book with me everywhere. I could tell Heather would be upset that I wasn’t going to wait for her to continue reading over Skype or when she got home but screw Heather! (I’m going to regret typing that). I was reading this on bus, on lunch break and on summer leave. It went to Barcelona with me, it got a little soggy and sandy on the beach and after I found myself submerged not in the Mediterranean but the story, I came back with a very bad sun burn which I blame entirely on this book and which I appreciate the irony considering it never really stops raining throughout the story. I’m still peeling, damn you Franklin!
I really felt for both the main characters; Ingersol the orphan come jazz guitarist come soldier come prohibition agent. His story was complex and it was great learning his background story which really shows how his decisions in Hobnob are influenced by his past. Dixie Clay who left to marry her husband so young, rushing into what she thought would be a perfect world with a cute guy, making the mistake so many of us made, I know I did, when we are young, naive and in love. People don’t turn out to be who you thought they were when you fell in love with them.
It is brilliant to see the two characters stories intertwine and with the background stories of their lives so well told, it felt so natural to understand their thoughts and decisions. In all, very well constructed characters that I wasn’t forced to get to know at the very beginning of the book either, I grew to know them as the story progressed, much like I would a friend.
One thing I found amazing was how well researched the book was, it wasn’t just a matter of the characters saying or interacting with things in the right language of the time or that the right house hold items and instruments and scenery were described; it was the fact that the narrative itself was written as if so by a person of that time, as if the writing itself was done in 1927 with absolutely no knowledge that I would be reading this so far in the future. It was all so natural. Even the narrative style seemed to change depending on which character the scene was about so that it read almost as if that character were telling the story in the third person which helped to understand their thoughts and feelings.
When the action started to build up, did it build! Without giving too much away, when Ingersol starts putting the whole thing together and time is running out, I simply could not put this book down. I’m anti-social at the best of times but the world was shut out for the last eight or so chapters as I was hooked. To see the drama of this book turn suddenly into an apocalypse as the levee finally breaks (that’s in the blur so don’t scream spoiler!) it’s like the whole book is transformed. I think in many ways this feels almost like two maybe three best seller books in one story. Am I praising this book too much? Then I shall calm myself.
I highly recommend this book, it’s available from the 1st of October 2013 so not long now. Tom Franklin and his wife Beth Ann Fennelly have done a marvellous job on this and I’m looking forward to seeking out Franklin’s previous award winner Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. Thank you yet again to Sophie Orme, @sophiemorme on Twitter for sending me a copy early, it has been easily one of my favourite reads this year.
You can download my debut novel, Hudud and Escape, now on Amazon. Click here to go to the Amazon store for your country.
28th August 2013
I found myself on the forum for Kindle Direct Publishing scrolling through the list of other authors self publishing. I remember reading descriptions out loud to Heather and laughing as we went. I’d start a sentence, “Jenna is found dead and Bill has to find who murdered her, soon the evil magic of her high school…” we’d look at each other, “No!” Scroll to the next novel. It was amusing not because we’d find such silly sounding book descriptions but because they were all like that. And it wasn’t just magical, teen, vampire, nonsense, it was the fact that even in the descriptions they were creating plot holes. I understand why it’s so difficult for publishers to find good books to put out, there’s an awful lot of nonsense out there.
I was still laughing as I got to another one and still laughing I read it aloud:
Seattle defense attorney, Mac Brodie, has a beautiful wife, two young children, and lives in tony Mercer Island on Lake Washington. He made a fortune back east so now has the luxury of picking his clients by their need, not their paycheck. His wife wants Mac to use his looks and charm to run for congress, but he loves what he does and with whom he does it. His investigator, Seth Ivarsson is a 6’7” pony-tailed behemoth ex-cop who lives on a houseboat, and describes himself as more loyal than moral. The third and last member of Brodie’s team is a thirty year-old legal assistant, Brooke Fletcher who’s in her third year of law school. Though immensely attracted to her, Mac values his family too much to mess around – and she doesn’t seem interested.
Mac’s latest client, Earl Richards, is on death row and guilty as sin. But Mac doesn’t believe in the death penalty and will do whatever it takes to get the sentence commuted. Little could he predict the nightmare that leaves everyone he loves in imminent danger and his life forever changed.
“Huh,” I said, no longer laughing, that didn’t sound too bad and it was a thriller. I thought it’d be nice to read another self published thriller so the one click purchase button was hit and I forgot about it. The next morning I got on the bus and began. The first chapter was short and in need of editing, grammar mistakes mainly. I also found it frustrating to read that a software developer of course works for Microsoft and of course thinks in binary. I also found it odd that they would have a car phone and not a mobile and it seemed like an obvious plot device. I stupidly had not realised that the opening chapter was based a few decades ago and so all of this made perfect sense. I got to the end of the chapter and to be honest, didn’t see it going anywhere.
Then I remembered my fear that no one would reach chapter 4 in my own book so I kept going despite the irritating spelling/grammar mistakes. I got into chapter 2 and missed my stop for work, oh wow, what a start. Justin the son of a conservative Christian family, is raped and murdered at a rest stop on a winter night, we jump ahead after chapter 3 and meet Mac Brodie, the lawyer defending the man who has been on death row for decades. Mac is against capital punishment but like Mac I was pulled into insanity, desperate for the death of this evil man. I could not stop reading this book. The spelling and grammar became less noticeable once the story got going, leading me to think that perhaps the first couple of chapters were relatively new revisions compared to the rest of the book.
I was completely sucked in, the book was clearly very well researched and it was nice to read a view of Washington state that was not filled with sparkly vampires. I felt myself feeling the same anger Mac felt, the same horror upon reflecting on his actions, the same hatred and hopelessness as he found himself trapped in the world of an insane man using him as his puppet.
I recommend this book so much, if you can put up with a few typos and grammar issues from time to time, you’ll not regret downloading this novel. Do it now.
You can download my debut novel, Hudud and Escape, now on Amazon. Click here to go to the Amazon store for your country.
12th August 2013
Well, it’s happened, my first novel is available on Amazon right this second and what’s better? It’s Free for the first 3 days. Go download yourself a free book, you’ve nothing to lose! Except for maybe your time in this dark Edinburgh crime novel for the 21st century.
After escaping the ultra conservative and cruel upbringing of her father in Pakistan, Yasmin flees to hope of a better life in the United Kingdom, only to find herself forced into slavery by human trafficker Lachlan, whose skill as a computer hacker means he can hide his victims within the country under supposed legal working status.
Forced into a world of rape, murder and slavery, Yasmin’s only strength comes from her faith but it is Adam, whose stolen phone holds the key to Lachlan’s technological empire who must find strength after an attack that has left him traumatised and fearing the outside world.
5th August 2013
Bitcoin is 12 weeks old now and he’s got his first collar, if you ask me, it suits him rather well!
The token on his collar comes from BitcoinKeychains.com where you’ll be unsurprised to hear I’m sure that they accept Bitcoin payments.
17th July 2013
Today Her Majesty gave Royal assent to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act meaning that gay and humanist weddings will be able to take place in England and Wales. Living in Scotland, while part of the United Kingdom (for now), our parliament must pass its own bill before same sex marriage can take place here. With this in mind, my fiancé Heather and I have chosen to boycott marriage until everyone in Scotland, gay or straight, is able to marry!
We believe that if two people love each other they should be able to celebrate that love through marriage just as much as we can. We honestly find the idea that this is even something that needs to be questioned quite baffling.
We are proud to be allies of equal marriage and want to help spread the word. For all those who do think there is an issue, to carry on Stonewall’s message, some people are gay, get over it!
20th June 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Internet, meet Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is a 7 weeks old semi-Devon Rex kitten and after a long car journey home, he is hiding under our radiator in the living room. More photos to follow when he allows us to take them.