A powerful Noir short story collection edited by the Bukowski of Noir, Paul D. Brazill. Exiles features 26 outsiders-themed stories by some of the greatest crime and noir writers, K. A. Laity, Chris Rhatigan, Steven Porter, Patti Abbott, Ryan Sayles, Gareth Spark, Pamila Payne, Paul D. Brazill, Jason Michel, Carrie Clevenger, David Malcolm, Nick Sweeney, Sonia Kilvington, Rob Brunet, James A. Newman, Tess Makovesky, Chris Leek, McDroll, Renato Bratkovič, Walter Conley, Marietta Miles, Aidan Thorn, Benjamin Sobieck, Graham Wynd, Richard Godwin, Colin Graham, and an introduction by Heath Lowrance.
Just yesterday, I found out by accident – via his Facebook page- that my friend Colin Graham had died suddenly. To say it was a shock is an understatement. I knew Colin when I lived in Warsaw and many a good drinking session and chinwags with him. At the time he was doing a lot of journalism, especially for New Warsaw Express, which became New Poland Express.
The last time time I saw him was about seven years ago when he visited me here in Bydgoszcz and we went to the speedway together, he was writing an article about the rivalry between Bydgoszcz and Torun speedway fans. We had regular contact after that via Skype, SMS and Facebook.The last contact I had with him was regarding the forthcoming charity anthology that I’m editing, Exiles – An Outsider Anthology.Colin had kindly donated a piece to this collection as he also had to True Brit Grit.
Colin was always writing, in fact. He was a whirlwind, producing journalism for the likes of The Guardian, The Lancet, The Independent-on-Sunday and History Today, as well as fiction for Pulp Metal Magazine, Thrillers, Killers n Chillers, A Twist Of Noir and part of Byker Books’ Radgepacket anthologies.
Links to lots of those can be found at his blog Me and my narratives.
Colin’s death is a very, very sad loss and I hope you’ll pay tribute to Colin by checking out his writing.
America may well be the official home of pulp and noir but the United Kingdom, long perceived as the land of tame Dame Agatha style cozies and stuck-up, Latin quoting police detectives, also has a grubby underbelly which has produced plenty of gritty crime writing. And there is a new wave of Brit Grit writers leaving their bloodstained footprints across this septic isle, too.
The godfathers of the new Brit Grit could well be Ted Lewis, Derek Raymond and Mark Timlin with Jake Arnott, J J Connolly, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid as part of the next wave.
But in the last few years, more and more BRIT GRIT writers have been creeping out of the woodwork, through the cracks in the pavement, out of the dark and dingy alleyways.
Scottish crime writer Tony Black, for example, is the author of four novels featuring punch drunk, booze addled Gus Dury, an ex journalist turned reluctant Private Investigator whose shoulder has more chips than Harry Ramsden. The books see Gus sniff around the back streets of Edinburgh and follow the rancid trail of crime and corruption right to to the top. They’re gruelling, intense and exciting journeys – not without moments of humour and tenderness. You may feel as if you’d like to give Gus a smack every few pages but the pit bull proves himself again and again.
Gus Dury may be in the gutter but he’s still looking at the stars, albeit through the bottom of a bottle of whisky. And it’s down to Black’s great writing that when you you finish one of his novels you feel battered and bruised but can’t wait for the next round.
Pulp mastermind Otto Penzler famously said that noir is about losers and not private investigators. Mr Penzler has probably never read any Tony Black – or fellow Scot Ray Banks, then. Banks’ Cal Inness quartet is the real deal. Inness is true loser. He’s a screw up. A lush. A mess. A man so far in denial he’s in the Suez. In each brilliant tale he bangs his head against as many brick walls as he can. And he feels the pain. And so do we. The quartet is as bitter and dark as an Irish coffee and leads to a shocking yet inevitable conclusion.
And there’s more: There’s Alan Guthrie who gave us the best novel of 2009 with SLAMMER; Nick Quantrill ‘Broken Dreams’ which looks at a Northern English town that has had it’s fair shair of kickings but still isn’t out for the count; Bad Penny Blues is Cathi Unsworth’s ambitious look at the many facets of London in the late fifties and early sixies; Comic genius Charlie William’s and his nightclub bouncer hero Royston Blake help you see life in a way that Paulo Coelho never will!
There are BRIT GRIT publishers too: Newcastle’s Byker Books publish Industrial Strength Fiction such as the Radgepacket – Tales from the Inner Cities anthologies; Brighton based Pulp Press publish short, punchy novellas with the slogan ‘Turn Off Your T.V. and discover fiction like it used to be.’
And there’s even more …
There’s Howard Linskey, Martin Stanley, Jack Strange, Paul Heatley, Mrtina Cole, Ben Cheetham, Christopher Black, Martyn Waites,Allen Miles, Danny Hogan, Chris Leek, Gary Dobbs, Gareth Spark, Sheila Quigley, Ian Ayris, UV Ray, Danny King, Col Bury, Mark Billingham, Andrew Bell, Alan Griffiths (whose blog is aptly called BRIT GRIT), Julie Lewthwaite, Steve Mosby, Darren Sant, McDroll, Richard Godwin, Colin Graham, Neil White, Andy Rivers . . . and more! There’s even comic BRIT GRIT from Donna Moore and Christopher Brookmyre, BRIT GRIT thrillers from Matt Hilton and surrealist BRIT GRIT from Jason Michel!
And now, of course, we have True Brit Grit- A Charity Anthology edited by Luca Veste and me, with an introduction from Brit Grit mastermind Maxim Jakubowski. True Brit Grit is a hard-hitting, gritty, crime anthology from 45 British writers. All coming together to produce an anthology, benefiting two charities.
Oh, and I even have a weekly column- Brit Grit Alley over at Out Of The Gutter Online!
“The BRIT GRIT mob is coming to kick down your door with hobnailed boots.
Kitchen-sink noir; petty-thief-louts; lives of quiet desperation; sharp,
blood-stained slices of life; booze-sodden brawls from the bottom of the barrel
and comedy that’s as black as it’s bitter–this is BRIT GRIT!”
(This is adapted from a piece that first appeared in the program for the 2010 Noircon and was later republished at Pulp Metal Magazine)
True Brit Grit is out now!
“The BRIT GRIT mob is coming to kick down your door with hobnailed boots. Kitchen-sink noir; petty-thief-louts; lives of quiet desperation; sharp, blood-stained slices of life; booze-sodden brawls from the bottom of the barrel and comedy that’s as black as it’s bitter—this is BRIT GRIT!”
45 British writers, 45 short stories. All coming together to produce an anthology, benefiting two charities…
Children 1st – http://www.children1st.org.uk/
Francesca Bimpson Foundation – http://www.francescabimpsonfoundation.org
The line up…
Introduction by Maxim Jakubowski
1. Two Fingers of Noir by Alan Griffiths 2. Eat Shit by Tony Black 3. Baby Face And Irn Bru by Allan Guthrie 4. Pretty Hot T’Ing by Adrian Magson 5. Black Betty by Sheila Quigley 6. Payback: With Interest by Matt Hilton 7. Looking for Jamie by Iain Rowan 8. Stones in Me Pocket by Nigel Bird 9. The Catch and The Fall by Luke Block 10. A Long Time Coming by Paul Grzegorzek 11. Loose Ends by Gary Dobbs 12. Graduation Day by Malcolm Holt 13. Cry Baby by Victoria Watson 14. The Savage World of Men by Richard Godwin 15. Hard Boiled Poem (a mystery) by Alan Savage 16. A Dirty Job by Sue Harding 17. Stay Free by Nick Quantrill 18. The Best Days of My Life by Steven Porter 19. Hanging Stanley by Jason Michel 20. The Wrong Place to Die by Nick Triplow 21. Coffin Boy by Nick Mott 22. Meat Is Murder by Colin Graham 23. Adult Education by Graham Smith 24. A Public Service by Col Bury 25. Hero by Pete Sortwell 26. Snapshots by Paul D Brazill 27. Smoked by Luca Veste 28. Geraldine by Andy Rivers 29. A Minimum of Reason by Nick Boldock 30. Dope on a Rope by Darren Sant 31. A Speck of Dust by David Barber 32. Hard Times by Ian Ayris 33. Never Ending by McDroll 34. Imagining by Ben Cheetham 35. Escalator by Jim Hilton 36. Faces by Frank Duffy 37. A Day In The Death Of Stafford Plank by Stuart Ayris 38. The Plebitarian by Danny Hogan 39. King Edward by Gerard Brennan 40. This Is Glasgow by Steven Miscandlon 41. Brit Grit by Charlie Wade 42. Five Bags Of Billy by Charlie Williams 43. It Could Be You by Julie Morrigan 44. No Shortcuts by Howard Linskey 45. The Great Pretender by Ray Banks
You can get it as an ebook from Amazon.
Or a paperback from Lulu.
“It’s gonna kick off in here tonight, no fucking two ways about it,” the mohican said to his spiky-haired mate. ‘We’re just gonna have to have the cunts.”
“Too fucking right,” his friend replied.
They were standing side-by-side at the urinals while I was at the sink splashing water onto my face. The message they were broadcasting didn’t do my nerves much good.
It was the mid-80s and we were in Huddersfield having come up from Birmingham, about 30 of us piled into a transit van. It was knees against chests where most of us were, in the back, for a whole six hours on the motorway. The vehicle was rattling as it coughed its way up north. We had to get our heads down when a police car passed, which wasn’t easy as there was no room to move as it was but if the Old Bill had seen us packed in there, a hazard to ourselves and others, there’d have been no gig in Huddersfield.
Originally, we were supposed to go there by coach and one duly arrived outside the band’s favourite pub. Problem was not enough punters turned up to pay for it and the driver lifted the clutch and off he went, despite a last minute attempt by some of the lads to press-gang passers-by into coming with us.
In that interim between the coach leaving and the van juddering around the corner to proclaim its rescue mission, I considered claiming to be ill suddenly. I was only 16, after all. They would have understood. They would have also thought me a complete wanker. So I stayed.
Crammed into the van I suppressed a panic attack but at least I had my two school mates there as some kind of support, though they were as bemused and scared as I was. One was the band’s recently recruited rhythm guitar player, as unlikely a punk band member as you could imagine. He tried wearing torn t-shirts on stage to make himself look a bit naughty but it didn’t work. That said, the other musicians didn’t mind, as long as he could knock out the chords.
Period Pain and the Pungent Smells didn’t mind much about anything, least of all their music, which often got in their way of a piss-up and chasing skirt. Their lyrics were abominable, clouded by a ranting vocals and three-cord riffs. But the very fact of them taking nothing seriously was a winner. The lead singer was a black guy in an exclusively white world and the drummer was a 15-year-old who had already fathered a couple of kids. The bassist was aged 38 and was banned from his local chemists who didn’t believe he had a condition worthy of the drugs he frequently tried to buy.
The lead guitarist called himself Storm. It was apt because of his very fragile temperament. Tantrums were his forte. He was entitled to them because he and his brother, the “manager’, owned ‘the Van’, which usually took everyone to local gigs, but not all the way up to fucking Yorkshire.
Another bright idea during that trip was to fling in a couple of crates of beer on top of us all, who were already on top of one another. Aside from the gliffers (glue sniffers) inhaling their wares pathetically by the rear doors and already oblivious, the throng fell on the cans and started supping.
Inevitably, bladders weakened and nowhere near a service station. But in this decrepit, un-roadworthy wreck, were rusting holes in the side. Those that needed to pushed their dangly flesh through them to relieve themselves. Other drivers seeing the trail gesticulated to tell us that our tank was leaking.
Finally, we arrived in Huddersfield. It felt like heaven to me, just so that I could unravel my legs. Others exclaimed that it was a “fucking shithole”, even though as it was pitch black dark you could see nothing of it. That said, something in me sensed some truth in the prejudice.
We got to the gig venue, where Lancashire band The Macc Lads were to headline and the place was full of skinheads. The collective “Fuck” from our lot may have been under the breath but it was deafening nonetheless. There was a row in the pipeline.
The Macc Lads were above the fray because they were neither punks nor skinheads. They were more like football casuals a bit before that look became a common sight. They were also completely pissed so in no condition to pay attention to any agro that might be brewing. I had a chat with one of them before they went on. As one of the co-authors of the song ‘Sweaty Betty’, which includes the lines “Sweaty Betty/She’s got a Huge Vagina/Sweaty Betty/ You’d Fit a Bus inside her,’ he appeared to be a very intelligent bloke, though he could barely stand up.
PP and the Pungent Smells did their set and the local skinheads moshed about for their money’s worth, along with the Brummie punks.
Then after The Macc Lads’ set the crowd dispersed. We crawled back into the rear of the transit van, exhausted and even more numerous than before, for some reason. Then we halted at a traffic light and the van got pelted from both sides with boots and bricks. The skinhead attack, finally. “Let’s stop and have the cunts!” “Open the fucking doors!” Those were the refrains. But the manager, thanks be to Christ, just put his foot down.
Bio: Colin Graham is a British journalist/writer who has spent the best part of his life in Eastern Europe, including stints in St. Petersburg, Warsaw and Belgrade. His short stories have appeared at Thrillers, Killers N’ Chillers, A Twist Of Noir, Pulp Metal Magazine, True Brit Grit and Radgepacket Volume Five. The journalism has appeared in numerous publications, among them The Guardian, The Independent-on-Sunday and The Observer.
Stephen Walker is a writer who first came to my attention thanks to his excellent and addictive Steve Does Comics blog . Well, he’s just published a load of ebooks and judging by Carrying he’s someone well worth checking out if your a fan of paranormal/ urban fantasy. Carrying opens with a young woman in a Davy Crocket hat who takes a lift to the thirteenth floor of a twelve story building, where she meets a dead man covered in cobwebs. An then it gets strange.Carrying is smart, funny and an immensely enjoyable introduction to the weird world of Stephen Walker.
Colin Graham is an old boozing partner of mine from when I lived in Warsaw. He’s better know for his hard hitting journalism – which has been published in places like The Guardian and The Moscow Times-and dark noir stories that you can find at A Twist Of Noir and Thrillers, Killers n Chillers. Well, over at Pulp Metal Magazine he gives us an hilarious story of the day in the life of a superhero who copes with his super stresses in the same way that most of us would. He goes to the pub. LOL, as the young people say, and good to see this side of Colin Graham coming through in his writing.
Shotgun Honey has been constantly putting out brilliant, hard-boiled flash fiction since it started up last year. And they score once again with Edward Vaughn’s whip-crack of a story, T-Bone’s Girl, where we enter the rough and ready world of two pals, Dennis and Marty.I’ll say no more other than I loved this story and will deffo keep a bleary eye out for more from Edward Vaughn.