Short, Sharp Interview: Nigel Bird

Blasted Heath, BRIT GRIT, brit grit alley, Nigel Bird

nigelbirdPDB: Can you pitch SMOKE in 25 words or less?

 NB: The Ramsay brothers arrange a dog-fighting tournament to help them escape Tranent. A teenager and a one-armed man aim to throw spanners into the works.
PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?
NB: Ishmael Toffee and Lost Thingsare tremendous novellas.  Booze And Burn and What It Was are 2 top-notch novels. The Devil All The Time is amazing. The Great British Bake-off works for me on TV and usually makes me hungry. The Guard and The House In The Woods are very entertaining movies.
PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?
NB: I surely hope so.  I think I only notice things from a writer’s perspective if they’re really badly done and thankfully it’s not that often.
PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?
NB: I did once write what I thought was a romantic-comedy for the screen. I wouldn’t set off on the path for script-writing, but if I were asked I’m sure I’d jump at the chance.
PDB: How much research goes into each book?
NB: As little as possible.  None if I can get away with it.
PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer? 

NB: I really enjoy the social media and the links with people I’ve made through them.  I’ve also been able to read a lot of good work (fiction or on the processes of writing) that I’d have missed if I wasn’t involved in social networks.  It’s like having a great filter that saves surfing through lots of crap to find the gems.

SMOKEIn terms of my perception of my own work, experiencing a feeling of worth and of being cared for, it’s been wonderful and it’s the online friendships that are most rewarding.  At Bloody Scotland I met a number of folk whom I’ve only known online and it was wonderful – there was no need for long-winded introduction, it was just like meeting old friends.
PDB: What’s on the cards in 2012?
NB: It’s been busy so far –Smoke, In Loco Parentis and Pulp Ink 2 all up and running.  I was made-up to have a story in Protectors and in Both Barrels, from Shotgun Honey.  I also have the first 6000 words of a novella on the shelves; I’ve been hiding from it, but it’s time to be brave and take on the next sections.

What The Hell Is Brit Grit ?

BRIT GRIT, brit grit alley, Byker Books, Cathi Unsworth, Charlie Williams, Christopher Brookmyre, Col Bury, Colin Graham, Darren Sant, Donna Moore, Graham Smith, Ian Ayris, J J Connolly, Luca Veste, Martina Cole, maxim jakubowski, McDroll, Nick Quantrill, Nigel Bird, Pete Sortwell, Richard Godwin, Tony Black, True Brit Grit, Writing


America may well be the  official home of pulp and noir but the United Kingdom, long  perceived as the land of True Brit Grit Guest Blog: It’s a Case of Having Good Genes! By Graham Smithtame 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)



ANTHOLOGY, CHARITY, Ian Ayris, Josh Stallings, Les Edgerton, Nigel Bird, Patti Abbott, Protectors, Thomas Pluck, Tony Black

’41 stories. One cause: PROTECT 100% of proceeds go to PROTECT and the National Association to Protect Children – the army fighting what Andrew Vachss calls “the only holy war worthy of the name,” the protection of children.

We’ve rallied a platoon of crime, western, thriller, fantasy, noir, horror and transgressive authors to support PROTECT’s important work: lobbying for legislation that protects children from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

Powerful stories from George Pelecanos, Andrew Vachss, Joe R. Lansdale, Charles de Lint, Ken Bruen, Chet Williamson, James Reasoner, Charlie Stella, Michael A. Black, Wayne Dundee, Roxane Gay, Ray Banks, Tony Black, Les Edgerton and 16 more, with 100% of proceeds going to PROTECT.

PROTECTORS includes a foreword by rock critic Dave Marsh, and fiction by Patti Abbott, Ian Ayris, Ray Banks, Nigel Bird, Michael A. Black, Tony Black, R. Thomas Brown, Ken Bruen, Bill Cameron, Jen Conley, Charles de Lint, Wayne D. Dundee, Chad Eagleton, Les Edgerton, Andrew Fader, Matthew C. Funk, Roxane Gay, Edward A. Grainger, Glenn G. Gray, Jane Hammons, Amber Keller, Joe R. Lansdale, Frank Larnerd, Gary Lovisi, Mike Miner, Zak Mucha, Dan O’Shea, George Pelecanos, Thomas Pluck, Richard Prosch, Keith Rawson, James Reasoner, Todd Robinson, Johnny Shaw, Gerald So, Josh Stallings, Charlie Stella, Andrew Vachss, Steve Weddle, Dave White, and Chet Williamson.

Among PROTECT’s victories are the Protect Our Children Act of 2008, which mandated that the Justice Department change course and design a new national nerve center for law enforcement to wage a war on child exploitation, the Hero to Hero program, which employs disabled veterans in the battle against child abuse, and Alicia’s Law.

Join the fight, with 41 stories by top writers. Be a Protector!

41 stories. One cause: PROTECT

Trade Paperback: Createspace. Soon from online retailers and bookstores.

E-Book: Amazon Kindle Amazon Kindle UK Smashwords Barnes & Noble Kobo Bookstore Smashwords (all formats, and read the book in your web browser) Apple iPad (coming soon). Direct Purchase.’

More information HERE !