Have A Brit Grit Christmas!

martinaI asked a bunch of Brit Grit writers about their favourite Christmas book, film and song, and this is what they said:

Martina Cole:

Well my favourite Christmas book has to be John Updike and Edward Gorey’s ‘The Twelve Terrors of Christmas.’ Film has to be Lon Chaney as The Wolfman. I love old horrors especially at Christmas! And song has to be ‘Fairytale of New York’ as I adore The Pogues and Kirsty! (I remember when they were called Pogue Mahone! Kiss my arse in Gaelic!)

Lesley Welsh:

I’m going to be really tedious and say ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.‘ Still gets to me every time. Music-wise, Jona Lewie and ‘Stop The Cavalry’. Christmas book? That’s a difficult one, I never much liked Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol.’ and don’t really recall others specifically about that time of year as I would probably have avoided them like the proverbial. So can I have a play instead? For which I nominate Steven Berkoff’s one-man short play ‘Harry’s Christmas‘. Devastating.

Douglas Skelton: 

The book has to ‘A Christmas Carol,’ obvious I know but it’s the only actual Christmas book I can remember reading! I know when I see other choices I’ll kick myself (so if you have any suggestions, let me know) For film I’d have to go with ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, although ‘The Bishop’s Wife’ comes a close second. And song – there are so many – but ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ has the right blend of sweetness and melancholy for me.


Book I can’t really look beyond Dickens with ‘A Christmas Carol’, though you can’t beat a winter’s evening in the warmth with a book from a favourite author. Film Being a cynical and hardboiled crime writer is fine for 364 days of the year, but the remaining day has to be reserved to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Song, all of Kate Rusby’s “While Mortals Sleep” is great and the use of a brass band gives it that distinctive Yorkshire feel that warms me.

Luca Veste:

Book – ‘The Grinch who Stole Christmas’ by Dr Seuss Film – ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’. Song – ‘White Wine in the Sun’ by Tim Minchin

Matt Hilton:

The Spy Who Came For Christmas” by David Morrell, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “Silent Night” by Bing Crosby

Mark West:

Favourite book –‘The Mystery Of The Invisible Dog’ (it takes place between Christmas and New Year. Favourite film – either ‘Scrooged’ or ‘Die Hard’. Favourite song – ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ by Slade.

Alex Shaw:

Book: ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Film: ‘Die Hard.’ Song: ‘Feed The World.’

Sheila_Quigley-320x320Sheila Quigley:

‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’  – I can’t count how many times I’ve seen it – ‘White Christmas.’

Sarah Hilary:

‘The Long Shadow’ by Celia Fremlin. ‘The Bishop’s Wife’ (Cary Grant, David Niven).’The World of Winter’ by Bing Crosby

Ian Ayris:

Here we go: Christmas Book – ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charlie Dickens, Christmas Film – ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, Christmas Song – ‘White Christmas’ – SLF.

Richard Godwin:

Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Deep Throat’, Frank Zappa’s ‘Bobby Brown.’

Martin Stanley:

Okay, right now, off the top of my head: my favourites are Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Bad Santa’, and The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’.

jason 2016.Jason Michel

Book/ story – ‘A Christmas Carol’, Film – gotta be a Bond, not traditional, of course, but the nostalgia of a Christmas evening Bond flick, Song – I would say Slade then again, I have a tradition of listening to Frank Sinatra at Christmas.

Graham Wynd:

Um…’Little Women’, ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight’, and oh, everyday a different answer so….Darlene Love, ‘Christmas Baby Please Come Home’. Best Xmas LP ‘A John Waters Xmas’.

Ryan Bracha:

‘The Little Matchgirl’ by HC Anderson for book, or ‘Mog’s Christmas’. The best and most underrated Christmas film ever is ‘Scrooged’. Song has to be ‘Mary’s Boy Child by Boney M’. Tune.

Betsy Reavley:

Oh easy, Charles Dicken’s ‘Christmas Carol’, ‘Merry Christmas Baby’ – Elvis Presley and film would have to be ‘Home Alone’.

nigelbirdNigel Bird:

Run Run Rudolph’ by Chuck Berry, ‘Diner’ (Barry Levinson) and ‘The Christmas Star’ (it’s a short story, so I hope that counts) by Mina Lewiton.

Graham Smith:

Can’t think of an Xmas book but ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Fairytale of New York.’

Paul Heatley:

My favourite book is ‘Sausagey Santa’ by Carlton Mellick III, song is ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ by Slade, but film is a toss up between ‘The Santa Clause,’ ‘Elf,’ and Ron Howard’s ‘The Grinch’ – I like the garishly colourful and OTT ones!

Tess Makovesky

I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas on the planet.  I quite like some of the old traditions, but hate the modern, consumer-driven, hyped-to-hell-and-back, be-perfect-or-else-you’ve-failed version, which tends to bring me out in a severe case of Bah Humbug.  So my choices of reading, watching and listening matter over the festive period tend to reflect this.

Favourite Christmas song: there’s a special mention for Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ which brings back happy memories of school Christmas parties.  But the winner, hands down, is ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues and Kirsty McCall.  Any Christmas song that includes lyrics like You scumbag, you maggot, You lousy old faggot gets my vote every time, and the harmonies (even with lead singer Shane McGowan apparently on such a massive bender he could barely stand up during recording) are amazing.

Favourite Christmas movie: I can’t really handle all those mushy-gushy sanctimonious ‘isn’t family wonderful’ type movies that you’re supposed to like at Christmas.  But Home Alone won me over the first time I saw it.  It has just the right blend of mischief, quirkiness, and sheer evil joy, from parents forgetting one of their own children, to Macauley Culkin’s 8 year old dreaming up ever nastier ways to keep the burglars out of the family home.  Great fun!

Favourite Christmas book: this one really had me stumped.  I wasn’t sure if there were any specific Christmas books, and when I googled, I’d never read most of them and wasn’t keen on the rest.  However, my favourite as a kid was probably ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ by C S Lewis for the sheer magic and inventiveness of the story.  Although these days, I probably have more sympathy with the Wicked Witch than I ought to.  Imagine: always winter but never Christmas.  I can think of worse things…!


Recommended Reads: Lady In Red by Sheila Quigley

sheila-quigley-lady-in-red-e1398201427767Sheila Quigley– the Queen Of Brit Grit – returns to her best-selling Seahills Estate series after a break to pen the high-octane Holy Island thriller trilogy. And to say the break has reinvigorated her is an understatement.

In Lady In Red, multiple plot threads abound – a man fresh out of prison and bent on revenge, a hit and run killing, a gruesome murder, a cop drugged and left for dead, a missing teenager and a seismic blast from the past who is back on the scene and up to no good.

Lady In Red is just as gritty and down to earth as the previous Seahills books, with likable and recognisable characters, but the pace and multiple POVs make reading it a breathless and fast-moving race to a tense climax which leaves just enough story strands dangling to make reading the next Seahills novel –  The Sound Of Silence – pretty much essential. A belter!

Short, Sharp Interview: Sheila Quigley

Sheila_Quigley-320x320PDB: Why did you decide to write a trilogy – Thorn In My Side, Nowhere Man, The Final Countdown instead of a standalone or on-going series?


I had started Stand By Me, which was to be number six, but now more likely to be number seven when suddenly this street kid named Smiler walked into my mind, followed by Mike Yorke and Aunt May. Smiler brought his own story with him, and no way did it fit in with the Seahills lot.  I started work on Thorn In My Side, ten minutes after I met Smiler and it just rolled along.

PDB: Will we see more of these characters in the future?

Well, although it’s supposed to be a trilogy -and The Final Countdown book three, is out now -Smiler dam him, just won’t go away, so yes I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a book four.

PDB: A lot of writers blog regularly but you don’t. Why doesn’t it appeal to you?

I have a blog on my website and every day I keep meaning to start it.

So watch this space.

tfcPDB: Your first writing love was horror. Any interest in writing a horror novel?

I have a horror novel in the bottom drawer which I wrote twelve years ago, I sent it to a publisher and he liked it BUT!

Now and then I think about getting it out. One day perhaps.

PDB: What are you working on now?

Lady in Red a thriller set on the Seahills estate. Where the heroes are normal working class, have never owned a house or big flash car and probably never will. Back to most of the characters in Run For Home. Although I turn out one book a year the books are set more seasonally than yearly, so although this is book six in the series six years have not passed, rather like two years. And some Christmas shocks in store for the locals.

PDB: Where can people find out more about your writing?

My website www.theseahills.co.uk

Facebook and most bookshops.

True Brit Grit At The Cinema And On TV

True Brit Grit

A bit back, I wrote an article for The Sabotage Times about Brit Grit television. I took a gander at three shows in particular, Public Eye, Gangsters and Cracker. All were in-your-face, hard-hitting crime dramas from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s respectively.

And now, it looks like a bunch of the writers that have contributed to the True Brit Grit charity anthology that I co-edited (with Luca Veste) are going to be putting the grit back on the box.

Tony Black, for example, is due to have his intense crime novel Long Time Dead made into a film, directed by Richard ‘Jobbo The Yobbo’ Jobson. And Black’s debut, Paying For It, is due to have the television treatment.

And there’s more.

Howard Linskey’s critically acclaimed The Drop is being adapted for the small screen by JJ ‘Layer Cake’ Connolly, no less!

Sheila Quigley’s Seahills Estate debut, Run For Home, has been scheduled to be made into a telly series, too.

Adrian Magson’s first Harry Tate novel, Red Station, is due to blast out on to big screen as the start of a franchise to equal that of Jason Bourne!

So, who’s next?

Certainly, Matt Hilton’s Joe Hunter thrillers would make great high-octane action cinema and wouldn’t someone like to be able to get a handle on Charlie Williams’ blackly-comic Mangel books or Ray Banks’ poignant Cal Innes Quartet?

So, if you want to get a taste of these stars in the making, you could do worse than pick up True Brit Grit- A Charity Anthology. Here’s the blurb:

“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

Get stuck in there!

Short, Sharp Interview: Sheila Quigley


PDB: Can you pitch your latest publication in 25 words or less? 
Nowhere Man is the second in the Holy Island series, which started off with Thorn In My Side. A conspiracy thriller set on a small tidal island off the northeast coast of England.
PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently? 
Really enjoying Mrs Brown’s Boys, it’s a fantastic show.
PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?
Not sure about this although I still get lost in anything by Stephen King.
PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television? 
Don’t like the format, I much prefer novel writing.
PDB: How much research goes into each book? 
Not a lot for the Seahills series, as they could be set on any estate in England, just change the accent. But I love any excuse to get up to Holy Island for the new series.
PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer? 
I think its very important. With so many good books out there to compete with, an author needs whatever publicity he/she can get.
PDB: What’s on the cards in 2012?  
2012 Should see the last of the Holy Island books. The Final Countdown, then back to the next Seahills book, Stand By Me.

Thorn In My Side by Sheila Quigley

Sheila Quigley is without doubt the Grande Dame of BRIT GRIT
With Thorn In My Side, she kicks off an exciting  new series of books with a novel which is just as down to earth and hard edged as her previous bestsellers but is much more high concept, as they say in Hollywood. Indeed, I can really see an adaptation of Thorn In My Side making it to the big screen.
In Thorn In My Side, DI Mike Yorke returns to the north of England, after a brief stint in London, with a possibly clairvoyant street kid called Smiler in tow. As soon as he arrives home, Yorke is caught up in a weird murder case that involves flogged corpses, missing kids, a strange cult and dark, dark secrets.  
Thorn In Your Side has a smashing cast of characters and is as fast paced a page turner as you can imagine. This, I think, is a series that will run and run. It has all the Quigley trademarks such as warmth and humour but, in this case, the action is  pumped up to the max!
In the immortal words of Spinal Tap, this one goes up to eleven!



According to WIKIPEDIA
Sheila Quigley became a national news story when Random House acquired her first novel, Run For Home, with major coverage throughout the press and television. A documentary about Sheila and the making of Run for HomeBBC1. Her latest novel, Road to Hell, was published by Tonto Books on November 5, 2009.’ was broadcast on
That was back in 2004 and since then she’s published six more best selling novels -which take place in the fictional SEAHILLS ESTATE, with more on their way

Sheila was kind enough to answer a few of my questions as part of  HIT THE NORTH! where I talk to crime writers from the North of England.

Q1: Has your childhood had an influence on your writing?
Perhaps being an only child with huge dreams, I would say yes. Although I was equally happy with a book in my hand or climbing a tree.
Q2:Is the Seahills Estate based on anywhere in particular?
The Seahills is set on a large empty field opposite the estate called the Homelands that I used to live on. Although the Seahills does resemble the Homelands in some respects ie, working class people, everything about it is fiction. I would still be living there today if they had not pulled the place down around me. Yes there was trouble towards the end with drugs and booze, but the laughs and the good times far outweighed everything else.
Q3: Isn’t crime writing an unsuitable job for a woman?
No, I don’t think so. Woman are reportedly more the victims of crime than men. I read horror and that’s what the first thing I sent out was,a horror novel. It’s still in the bottom drawer. I suppose that crime, especially violent crime is the nearest thing to horror. And women can write about it every bit as good as men.
Q4: So which horror writers are you a fan off?
The first horror I read was Dracula by Bram Stoker. I was fifteen, started reading it at five o clock and finished it at one in the morning. The house I lived in had a long passage way with the light switch at the other end. I stood there screaming for my dad to switch the light on. Then I moved to Denis Wheatly, thought his stuff was great. But my all time favorite is Steven King.
Q5: The spiderwebs of a small community is a very important part  of Kings’s writing. Is it the same for you?
Oh yes. Every character should be well rounded even the minor players, this is what makes you feel part of the place you are reading about. Or, perhaps I’m just to damn nosy!
Q6: Do you watch a lot of crime shows on television and what interest has there been in adapting your books for TV?
Don’t really watch much TV, except for Emmerdale. There has been a lot of talk from a few companies, but that’s all it is up until now. Talk.
Q7: When and why did you start writing fiction?
When I was 11 I wrote my first play. Which I and a friend performed , without an audience in our shed. Why I started writing fiction is because I simply cant not write. It’s like breathing, something you have to do.
Q8: Which crime writers float your boat these days?
So many good ones out there that I can’t really pick one. When I have time I mostly read horror.
Q9: Do you see yourself as a Northern writer?
I think my books can be set on a housing estate any where around the world. People are people where ever you go. And I honesty got sick of reading about either middle class hero’s or hero’s with penthouses and big flash cars.
My hero’s are your ordinary guy off the street, struggling to make ends meet every day of the week.

Q10: What’s on the cards for 2010?

September 30, sees the first book in the Mike Yorke series, that starts off on Holy Island. Thorn In My Side.
I’m really excited about this book.

I’m now working on Stand By Me, another Seahills story and thinking about Nowhere Man, a

Mike Yorke story.

Sheila Quigley‘s website is  HERE!