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Monthly Archives: January 2019

Dealer No. 1 – in print

Slightly ahead of schedule, DN1 is available in print from Amazon.

Here, if you’re in the UK.

Here if you’re in the USA.

It’s in beta-testing mode right now, I’m not publicising it right now, I’ll see what people say about it first.

.50 cal

Been working on a story for the lads at the breakfast club, which will take care of 2019’s Christmas presents. It’s called .50 cal and it’s the third book in the Barrett series. Still haven’t written the second book, but that can wait.

I got lots of good technical information and ‘colour’ from Nigel, who’s a former army helicopter pilot, and the story is developing nicely. 34,000 words in, and should be done before I reach 50,000.

I’ll leave it to simmer, return to it in September and edit it. Complete it by November and voila, Christmas presents done.

It’s a sort of cottage industry.



update: completed the first draft last night, so that’s the ‘make shit up’ part done. Now comes the process of editing it into something readable, but that can wait til Autumn. DN1 comes first.

Virtual Light

Reading this for the third time I noticed things in the text that I’d missed before. The naked Japanese girl who appears in the road before Berry Rydell,and then disappears is, of course, Rei Toei, the AI pop star around whom the entire trilogy swirls.

There’s more than that but I’m not giving away any spoilers.

There’s a whole subtext on the growing gap between the elite and the hand-to-mouth existence of the rest that’s an extremely accurate prediction of contemporary cultural decline – he wrote this book over twenty years ago but he gets the armed police drones, the saturation of tech, the fragmentation of nation-stations and the cosseted existence of the global elite.

Glad I went back to it.

The Bridge

I’m back to reading the Bridge Trilogy. Must have read it three times already so it’s becoming a sort of favoured dystopia comfort-read. Perfect for getting through January nights.

Starting with Virtual Light.

The Gum Thief #2

I got up at 4.05am, which was good, and I wrote about three and a half thousand words by 7am, first draft stuff, but not too bad for all that. Very productive, in fact. Then I picked up my current book The Gum Thief.

I reached page 69 and abandoned it.

The book should be called The Time Thief, as it wasted two hours of my time. Life is too short. There was nothing wrong with it.

There was nothing right with it.


unwaged slave

Took the decision to stop teaching.

It crept up on me, then suddenly I was not teaching any more. The last few years I’ve only taught part-time, and it’s good fun, I like working with young people, but the downsides outweigh the upsides. As a contract teacher I only get paid term-time, which is fine by me, but it reduces the theoretically extra money I get by being a professional, as opposed to being a phone monkey or a van driver, by a quarter, or more like a third allowing for the fact there’s no work in June and July, or in September either.

And the eduction system is broken.

Being part of system that isn’t working, that doesn’t do what it says on the tin, is dishonest. No matter that many schools fail in magnificent, arcane and awe-inspiring, every-child-matters ways, they fail because they’re not doing the job they’re supposed to do, which is to educate young people and prepare them for life.

Anyhow, I’m done with that.

I don’t spend much, I don’t go far, except in my head, or to walk along the Durham and Northumberland coast, so I don’t need to earn too much. Two or three days a week earning minimum wage is enough for me.

And writing.

The possibilities are finite, but infinitely positive.


The Gum Thief

Having read two accounts of the hell that was the Pacific theatre of war in 1943-45, I’ve switched to something gentler.

Just abut to open The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland. It’s sat on my shelf for maybe ten years, and I think it’s time to read it. Now that I’ve stopped teaching for good and am myself in search of a McJob, I think it’s the right time to read it.

with the old breed

I began reading some of the books I got for Christmas.

Started with ‘With The Old Breed‘ by EB Sledge, an account of the battles of Pellelui and Okinawa in World War Two. It’s a grim, compelling story told in cold, hard prose and it’s a fantastic book. I followed this with Helmet for My Pillow, by Robert Leckie, whose story overlaps Eugene Sledge’s story in that he fought at Iwo Jima, and then Pellelui, where he was wounded.

Where Sledge’s prose is clear and clinical – he was a biologist in later life and his writing is simple and factual – Leckie’s writing is colourful and more consciously ‘literary’ in style – his prose reminds me of that style of sports writing that reached its peak in the 40s and 50s, Leckie was a journalist before and after the war. Overall, as a book I prefer With the Old Breed, but both men endured awful, awful times in those campaigns and both books are well worth reading. These books and others were used as source material for the HBO series The Pacific.

As I’ve said before, both my Grandads were in the armed forces in WW2, one was aircrew the other fought in the desert and ended as a POW in Dresden during the time of the Allied fire bombing of that beautiful city. In later life they were both quiet, gentle men, and they rarely spoke of their experiences during the war.

My respect for that old breed is immense.

Story of the Month

This month’s featured story is Dodger*

View it here:



*From the novel Young Moriarty, due in 2023