A Story For Sunday: Chelsea Girls

Chloe left the money and took the guns. She couldn’t carry everything and she knew that cash would be a hell of a lot easier to come by than a couple of AK47s that was for sure.

‘Fuck you very much,’ she said to Charlie Grimhaven’s unconscious form.

Grimhaven was naked, bloodied and handcuffed to a radiator. She’d forced him to take few sleeping tablets along with half a bottle of Mortlach, so he’d probably be out for the count for a few more hours.

She strapped a gun over each shoulder and paused to catch her breath. She was beginning to feel her turbulent, outlaw life catching up with her.

She closed her eyes and could hear the familiar thump of a Massive Attack song from the park opposite Grimhaven’s office block. She switched off the strip light, peeled back the blinds and looked out of the window. A constellation of streetlamps lined the deserted street below. She closed the blinds and eased the front door open. She peered into the darkened corridor to make sure there was no one around.

Chloe gave Grimhaven the finger and stepped out into the corridor.  She ignored the lift and took the stairs down to the underground car park. She kept in the shadows as she looked for her 2CV, banging a knee against a concrete pillar.

‘Oh, for shit …’

She limped over to her car, opened the car boot and put the guns in.

‘Shit,’ she said, feeling pain in her shoulders and knee.

Then she heard the footsteps.

High-heels clicked over concrete and stopped just behind her.

‘Is that you?’ said Adele.

Adele stood in the shadows. Apart from the footwear, she was dressed identically to her twin sister – black jeans and roll neck sweater. Chloe wore Dr Martin shoes. Adele’s hair was pulled back into a ponytail and Chloe’s was short cropped but both women wore black lipstick and nail varnish.

‘You know, the answer to that question is always going to be yes, no matter who I am?’ said Chloe. ‘You need to be more specific in your questioning technique. You’d never work in HR.’

‘Thank god for that. I’m filled with inertia as it is. Are we good to go?’ She tapped a foot impatiently and lit up an e-cigarette. Its tip glowed in the darkness.

‘Yep. Meet you at Bar Italia? I’ve had enough of Starfucks lately.’

‘No. I need something stronger. Vino vidi vici.’

‘The French House then?’

‘Oui! Oui!’

‘Yes, I need one of those too so let’s get moving.’

Chloe opened the door to the driver’s seat.

‘Are you going to drop off the machine guns first?’ said Adele.

‘They’re not machine guns, sweetie. They’re selective fire assault rifles,’ said Chloe.

She got into the car and started up the engine.

‘And yes, I will.  I’ll take the guns to Crispin first and then head back to Chelsea get changed. I’ll meet you at The French House in a couple of hours, OK?’

‘Oui! Oui!’ said Adele.

‘Stop bloody saying that! I’m bursting!’

Adele slammed the door, grinning.  She waved as her sister drove away and went into the building.

*

It was a stiflingly hot Friday evening and The French House was stuffed and stuffy.  Chloe and Adele were leaning against an open window drinking prosecco. They had exchanged their black clothing for identical white linen blouses and trousers, with matching accessories though the lipstick and nail varnish remained black.

‘The things that I like about the French House are,’ said Adele. She counted off on her long fingers. ‘The wine, the food, the location, the lack of music. Oh, and the fact that people can’t use mobile bloody phones. The things I don’t like are; it’s always full on a Friday night and full of media tossers at that.’

She took a swig of her drink.

‘But you still come here,’ said Chloe. ‘Week after, week, after week …’

‘Oh, I love it. You know that. It’s part of Soho history. Frances Bacon, Derek Raymond.  Real London. Well, the London we fled the sticks to escape to, anyway,’ said Adele.

She scraped away at her black nail varnish. It flaked off easily.

‘London’s changing, though,’ said Chloe. ‘Like everywhere else.’

‘And not for the better, I fear,’ said Adele.

She sighed.

‘Vive le difference!’ said Chloe.

‘Oui! Oui!’

‘Oh don’t start that again! I’ve just been for a slash and the queue for the toilets was bloody torture.’

‘Speaking of torture, how easy was it to persuade Grimhaven to turn grass?’

‘Not desperately difficult, to be honest. One snapped little finger and a razor blade under one of his thumbs was pretty much all it took. It’s a pity about leaving the money, though. Still, you can’t have everything. ’

‘How much dosh did you leave behind?’

‘In cash? Just over twenty grand!’

Adele took out an e-cigarette.

‘Well, if that’s how much  he had in his desk drawer, can you imagine how much he could have in the office safe?’ she said.

‘Well, I really didn’t have a chance to look. I was more interested in finding out who ripped us off and getting out without getting caught.’

‘You know, I knew it’d be Sammy Lee. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him,’ said Chloe.

‘You wouldn’t be able to throw him that far or you might damage your nails. And, by the way, sweetie, that cheap nail polish you get from Poundland won’t be doing your nails any good, either.’

Adele looked at her watch.

‘You know, Grimhaven’s probably still there tied to that radiator. I bet no one has discovered him yet,’ she said. ‘His boys are all off on that booze cruise to Gdansk until Sunday night, you know? Why don’t we pop back there and get the money? You could have crack at his safe, too. ’

‘You mean, go back to the scene of the crime? You know what mum always said about that. Like going back to relight fireworks.’

‘Yeah, but she married dad three times, didn’t she? Anyway, if there’s enough money in the safe we could piss off for a bit until all this other shit has cooled down. Go somewhere more bohemian, like Barcelona or Prague. Even New York. You always wanted to go to CBGS.’

‘I very much doubt it’s still there. It’s probably a Starbucks now.’

‘You know what I mean!’

Chloe though for a moment, biting her bottom lip. She stared out of the window. A group of city boys staggered down Dean Street singing a Coldplay song.

‘Okay,’ she said. ‘Drink up. We’ve got to get back in black.’

*

‘Well, you were right. He’s still here. Well, his body is. His spirit has clearly departed this mortal coil,’ said Chloe.

Grimhaven’s office was exactly the same as it had been when Chloe had left it except for the fact that someone had cut Grimhaven’s throat and he was an even bloodier mess than he had been before.

Chloe closed the door behind her while Adele went over to the desk and checked out the cash.

‘It’s all still here,’ said Adele.

Chloe kneeled in front of the safe.

‘I wonder who killed him,’ she said.

‘Now, you’re not going to ask if he had any enemies are you?’ said Adele.

Chloe started twisting the dial on the front of the safe.

‘Yes, that would be too long a list, I expect.  And you’d be on there too since you’ve been married to him for the last ten years,’ she said.

‘An error of impetuous youth,’ said Adele.  ‘My own fault for mixing my drinks.’

She sat on the corner of the desk

‘Any ideas, though?’ said Chloe.

‘You know Charlie Grimhaven.  He was probably caught with his tail between someone else’s wife’s legs and was croaked by some disgruntled cuckold,’ said Adele.

‘Well, they’re very rarely gruntled, are they? Now praise silence, please,’ said Chloe.

With one twist she opened the safe door. She peered inside.

‘Oh bugger,’ said Chloe.

‘What’s he got in there?’ said Adele. ‘The crown jewels?’

‘Not far off, if it’s what I think it is,’ said Chloe.

She took a small wooden box from the safe and put it on the desk.

‘After you,’ she said.

Adele clicked the box open.

‘Oh bugger indeed,’ she said.

Chloe slipped the box in her pocket.

‘Let’s vamoose,’ she said. ‘As soon as we get in the car, phone Crispin and tell him what we’ve got. We want to offload this as quickly as we can and then …’

‘Leave the capital! Exit this Roman shell!’

‘Yes, something like that.’

*

Chloe slouched in the leather armchair. Checked her plane ticket and took a sip from her half-pint of London Pride.

Adele sat at in the chair opposite.  She put her coffee and Nick Hornby paperback on the table in front of her.

‘Start spreading the news,’ she sang.

Chloe smiled.

‘Here’s some news. So, you know, when I opened Grimhaven safe there was black nail varnish on it and on the white rug that was in front of it,’ she said.

‘That cheap stuff that flakes off so easily?’ said Adele.

‘Yes. The very same. It’s almost as if someone was trying to crack the safe earlier and their nail polish flaked off.’

‘That nail polish is very popular.’

‘More common than popular, I’d say,’ said Chloe.

She looked at the tickets and checked the time of their flight to New York again. She was always stressed before flying.

‘Any ideas as to how that happened?’ said Chloe.

Adele shrugged.

‘Well, maybe …’

Chloe leaned forward and looked Adele in the eye.

‘Continue,’ she said.

‘Well, it was cheaper and easier than a divorce,’ said Adele.

Chloe rubbed her eyes.

‘You know Grimhaven’s boys will come after us?

‘Of course. But wouldn’t they anyway? We weren’t exactly going to be on his Christmas card list once he regained consciousness. This is a clean break. Or cleaner.’

‘Have you got the new passports and ID?’

‘Of course.’

Chloe took a sip of beer.

‘Plus ça change,’ she said.

‘Oui! Oui! Oui!’ said Adele.

‘Yes, good idea,’ said Chloe. ‘I’ll go before we get on the plane. Better safe than sorry.’

CHELSEA GIRLS IS INCLUDED IN MY FLASH FICTION COLLECTION SMALL TIME CRIMES, WHICH YOU CAN PICK UP HERE, IF YOU FANCY.

SMALL TIME CRIMES’ SOUNDTRACK

SMC

Well, I’ve certainly lifted plenty of story and book titles from songs over the years. Small Time Crimes, my new collection, has more than a few yarns with titles nicked from songs I like.

Chelsea Girls

I suspect most people would think that the title Chelsea Girls was pilfered from the 1967 Andy Warhol film and perhaps, indirectly, that’s true. It is, in fact, named after art rockers Simple Minds’ second single. I liked their first single, ‘Life In A Day and ‘Chelsea Girls’ too.  I saw them live around the same time -1979 – at Middlesbrough Rock Garden and always associate the gig with beer and marmite.

In The Devil’s Name

The shadow of the shadow of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band hangs over this yarn. SAHB recorded a song about the Scottish witch Isobel Goudie and the pub in the story is called The Swampsnake. SAHB were one of my favourite bands in pre-punk times.

Life After Life

‘Lord Let us pray for life after life,’ sang Sniffin’ Glue founder Mark Perry in a cod reggae song.  It was actually one of my least favourite of their singles but I bought it at the time and still like it.

New Dawn Fades

In rain soaked Leeds in September 1979, I saw Joy Division as part of the Leeds Futurama Festival- along with The Fall, Public Image and many more top turns. And JD made an impression for sure. Their first album Unknown Pleasures certainly did. This was before synthesisers softened their sound. They were still hard edged as well as mournful. They still had punk energy.

Band On The Run

Wings were ‘the band The Beatle’s COULD have been’ according to Alan Partridge. I certainly liked them more than The Fab Four as a kid. The cover of Band On The Run was well talked about at school in 1973, spotting the celebrities, most of whom are probably dead now.

The Friend Catcher

Before Nick Cave turned into the Goth Billy Joel, he was in The Birthday Party, an essential band that mashed up The Stooges with Pere Ubu and more. The Friend Catcher is a spooky ditty that always reminded me of The Child Catcher in Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang.

Yesterday’s Wine

I suspect Willy Nelson sounded old and nostalgic even when he was a child and this is for sure a fitting title for a story about growing old.

Right Place, Wrong Time

This LP was always in the 50p section of the second-hand record shop where I worked but it was years later when I actually listened to it. See what I did then?

Sheila Take A Bow

Morrissey’s tribute to Shelagh Delaney, writer of A Taste Of Honey, Charlie Bubbles and more. Mozza pilfered many of her lines for his songs over the years of course, so it was the least he could do, really. From a time when The Smiths were more than just a soppy student band.

Small Town Creed

The Kane Gang, a bunch of working class lads from the north east of England in love with the sound of Detroit. Back in the ‘80s they had a couple of big hits in the UK but are mostly forgotten these days, sadly.

Pretty Green

One of The Jam’s best tunes with a typically great bass line.

Life On Mars

My older brother Eric gave me Bowie’s Hunky Dory in the early ‘70s and I remember not being able to make head nor tail of the lyrics but bloody well trying! It’s all about our insignificant little lives, isn’t it?

Train In Vain

I saw The Clash in 1978 when the front doors were literally pulled off Middlesboro Town Hall. This song is smooth sounding aim at the American charts but it still has its appeal. They were always a conventional rock band, after all.

Seven Minutes To Midnight

Melodrama from Pete Wylie, the only one of The Crucial Three that I could bare to have a pint with. All sound a fury signifying quite a lot.

Fiery Jack

Flash fiction is sharp and spikey, as were The Fall, and as is this song from my favourite Fall period.

Getting Away With It

The Smiths meets New Order meets … The Pet Shop Boys? Much ridiculed at the time, I think, it was a top 20 hit in the UK and still stands up. And don’t we all like to think we’re getting away with it?

I made a You Tube playlist here 

(This post first appeared  at Toe Six Press)

I’m Interviewed at My Book Place

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Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I write as and when I can, in an ad hoc and slapdash manner. It’s a pretty good reflection of how I live my life, really.

What authors, or books have influenced you?
Damon Runyon because he created his own world. Allan Guthrie because he showed a darkly humorous view of the world that fit mine. Graham Green’s Brighton Rock and Gerald Kersh’s Night and The City. Jim Thompson and Elmore Leonard. Patricia Highsmith. Les Edgerton.’

You can read the rest HERE.

David Nemeth interviews me at Do Some Damage

MY XMAS NOIR AT DO SOME DAMAGE

David: I enjoyed one of your latest books, “Last Year’s Man” which displays the wit in your writing. So, what makes Brits funnier than Americans? Kidding. A bit of a safer question, what is it that makes the English so damn funny?

Paul: I think the Brits revel in our own ridiculousness, we know that life and people are absurd. After all, there are two types of people in the world and they are both preposterous. The most preposterous are the ones that don’t know they are, of course.’

Rear the rest of the interview over at DO SOME DAMAGE.

Small Time Crimes’ Soundtrack at Toe Six Press

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Well, I’ve certainly lifted plenty of story and book titles from songs over the years. Small Time Crimes, my new collection, has more than a few yarns with titles nicked from songs I like.

Over at Toe Six Press, I talk about those songs.

Chelsea Girls

I suspect most people would think that the title Chelsea Girls was pilfered from the 1967 Andy Warhol film and perhaps, indirectly, that’s true. It is, in fact, named after art rockers Simple Minds’ second single. I liked their first single, ‘Life In A Day and ‘Chelsea Girls’ too.  I saw them live around the same time -1979 – at Middlesbrough Rock Garden and always associate the gig with beer and marmite.

In The Devil’s Name

The shadow of the shadow of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band hangs over this yarn. SAHB recorded a song about the Scottish witch Isobel Goudie and the pub in the story is called The Swampsnake. SAHB were one of my favourite bands in pre-punk times.’

If you fancy, you can read the rest here.

Graham Wynd Reviews Small Time Crimes

SMC

And Graham says:

Raymond Chandler advised struggling writers, “When in doubt…have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand” and the story would work itself out. I’d say the Brazill corollary is, ‘When in doubt have a man head to a pub.’ While many of his characters try to reform their ways both bibulous and violent, these hard-bitten by life folk generally find they picked the wrong week to give up their vices.

Or is the WC Fields rule? Never give a sucker an even break — and even the most well-intentioned characters here find themselves driven to desperate acts of violence. Most of them don’t have good intentions though: they’ve got axes to grind and long-nursed resentments to avenge and it’s no surprised to find everything going pear-shaped like life had been formed in a pear-shaped mold.

And it’s all hilarious, brutally so. These are not genteel stories. They’re laugh out loud, bitter wincing fun. If you have a black heart and even blacker humour. Some quotes because Mr B is eminently quotable with a boatload of absurdities, musical swipes and clever allusions:

Yeah, and I used to like Benny Liens. He used to be my best mate. My mucker. My partner in crime. Until he screwed my missus, that is. I sharp went off him then, I can tell you. Which is why I killed the fucker.

They used to say he had more tarts than Mr Kipling. He looked as rough as toast now, though. Hair like straw, face like a blackcurrant crumble, wearing a shabby grey shell–suit. The booze and the divorces had certainly taken their toll on George.

“I met him on a Monday and although my heart didn’t stand still, per say, it certainly skipped a beat or two, I can tell you,” said Martyna.

In the beginning was the sound. The light came later. The sound was a horrifying wail that skewered its way deep into my unconscious brain, until I awoke, drowning in sweat, my heart smashing through my ribcage, my head about to burst.

Truth be told, my most vivid and powerful memories of childhood were always in black and white. The monochrome serials that were shown at the Saturday morning Kidz Klub at the local Odeon cinema, and the Hollywood films on afternoon television, when I was throwing a sickie from school. It all seemed so much more vibrant than anything that real life could come up with. As you would expect of someone who grew up living more fully in his imagination than in the day–to–day, adulthood proved to be a series of disappointments and non–events.

“Hope is the real opium of the masses, Peter.”

I could go on and quote the whole damn book, but just buy it for yourself already. Five stars, shining accolades, Ladybird cover, the Kingsley Amis hungover prose award etc etc. Do yourself a favour.’

A Great Review For Small Time Crimes

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Over at Amazon.co.uk, Mark Hammonds says:

‘Mr Brazill has honed his craft in this collection of tales, some old, some new, to that of the short, sharp, smart uppercut. Rapid reversals of fortune have always been his stock in trade, but here they’ll give you whiplash. The trademark roguery is there and the one-liners come rattling at you as always, but mixed in is some real concentrated dark stuff.

His characters inhabit a morally polluted world and they know it. Life is one long, strange trip to a dodgy pub, slathered in rancid glamour and vomit, where it’s alway close to last orders. From the conniving to the exhausted, from the straight-up malevolent to the merely lost and bemused, they may whine and grizzle about their fates, but can only sigh and shrug it off, expecting no better. All that separates the one from the other are the temporary, flickering dispensations of luck.

Occasionally, you might see one or two attempt to live a better life. Their resolutions, count on it, are stillborn. And you smile. Not in this world, kid. Failure is all, and everyone falls sooner or later (spoiler alert: sooner), though some are falling and laughing. Without exception it all goes tilt, game over, and Charon’s yer man. And to forget this, they drink. And drink until it kills them, which is usually slowly.

Yet Brazill stitches these tales together with verve and glee, with so many tickles and bitchslaps that you go from story to story like a kid with Smarties, woofing them down til they’re gone and all you wish is that there were more. As the old punchline goes, it’s a treat, its a treat. And it is. Buy it, read it, tell your friends.’

Small Time Crimes is OUT NOW!

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Hit-men, con men, jewel thieves, career criminals, killers, crooks and cannibals. They all congregate between the pages of Paul D. Brazill’s Small Time Crimes – a brutal and blackly comic collection of short stories and flash fiction that views the world at its most askew.

Paul D. Brazill’s “Small Time Crimes” boils from the same rough vein that produced such classics as “Sexy Beast” and “Get Carter,” but it’s a nasty splash of British noir all its own’

‘a hard-hitting, fast paced, and darkly comic collection of short tales that go down as easy as your favorite ale!’

‘the prose is smooth and sweet as that top-shelf liquor you swiped on your way out the door. Make this your next book.’ 
You can grab the Small Time Crimes eBook or the paperback from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and the like.

Small Time Crimes Gets Its First Review.

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Over at Ciarfella’s Fiction Corner, Lisa  Ciarfella says:

Hey all,

Coming at ya on a rare Saturday with a crime fiction review that just can’t wait. This week, I’m serving up Paul D. Brazill’s “Small Time Crimes,”a hard-hitting, fast paced, and darkly comic collection of short tales that go down easy as your favorite ale!

Brazill’s pace and quick to the draw style are an entertaining way to spend an evening. Outlandish yarns spun like nobody’s business! A real one-two knock-down drag em’ out tone, his characters are like cowboys in the wild-wild west…rebels, without anyone’s cause but their own. 

TAKE ” 7 MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT.”

Compelling, chilling prose puts the reader in the story right away. I just knew something bad was gonna happen soon, and Brazill’s narrative cuts right to the chase:

“It’s seven minutes to midnight and the brothers will be here at the witching hour, for sure. Same as last night and the previous night. The motel room is dark except for the faint light from an old transistor radio that is tuned to a classical music station. Hinkson sits in an old rocking chair, eyes closed. A sawn– off shotgun across his lap. A half– empty bottle of whisky on the table beside him….” 

And you got to luv the protag’s final way down:

Hinkson lights fire to a toilet roll and grabs his shotgun, shouting “bring it on.” What a way to go out, guns blazing!

 

“A man of sophisticated tastes” has its own charms, and could have you up late nights, worrying about the last burger you downed:

“ He ran a butcher’s shop and me ma worked at the old people’s home. Times were ‘ard after that Thatcher snatched the mines. And the oldies were droppin’ like flies. So, it just seemed like … well … an opportunity. It was just recycling, really. Very ecological.”

“A Big Payoff” is wicked funny.A dude hacks up people he doesn’t like, then cuts em up and sells em for dog food on the street! Then, for good measure, spikes their heads:

“It’s all about revenge. Impure and simple. Same as it ever was. The turban idea came to me after I saw a documentary on The History Channel about Vlad The Impaler. You know him? He’s the bloke that they say Dracula was based on? Anyway, he was a right nasty cunt and that was one his ways of showing everyone who was boss. And I was inspired,”

And “Gareth and Fiona” remind me of the young couple in “Pulp Fiction” who try to rob the diner before the two hit men intervene. These guys are a little more successful, and actually rob a postmaster, but not before Fiona takes out a blindsided teenager in the process who happens to wander in at the wrong moment! They’re violent, guilt-less, and all about the cash grab! ‘

A Short Interview and A Few Tasty Reviews

cropped-gazeta-wb-43.jpgOver at Unlawful Acts, Indie Crime Mastermind David Nemeth takes a look at Last Year’s Man and says:

‘“Last Year’s Man” is a one-sitting book, so grab a pint or two or maybe some whiskey, sit back and enjoy.’

Read the rest here.

Over at Amazon.com, Kevin McNamara also reviews Last Year’s Man and says:

‘Mr. Brazill is a master in this genre. A story about an aging hitman set both in London and Seatown. With a broad cast of characters, this book has action, wit and suspense. Highly recommended.’

Jack Strange reviews A Case Of Noir over at Goodreads and says:

‘The whole is greater than the sum of the parts – although the parts are so good you’ll savour them individually, as you work your way through them.’

Meanwhile, over at Near To The Knuckle, I say a few words about my forthcoming short story collection, Small Time Crimes.

NTTK: Thieves, killers and cannibals – the stories in your latest collection, Small Time Crimes, are brutal and dark. But they are also, at times, comic, and that fun factor really grips. What’s the trick to getting readers to laugh about crime and murder?’

Check it out!

Pre-Order Small Time Crimes

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Hit-men, con men, jewel thieves, career criminals, killers, crooks and cannibals. They all congregate between the pages of Paul D. Brazill’s Small Time Crimes – a brutal and blackly comic collection of short stories and flash fiction that views the world at its most askew.’

Small Time Crimes is now available for pre-order from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and all the other Amazons, if you fancy.

Small Time Crimes Cover Reveal

The Dorset Book Detective  has revealed the cover of my forthcoming Near To The Knuckle  story collection, Small Time Crimes.

30726003_10216365354109030_4468694681558974464_nAnd here it is!

‘Hit-men, con men, jewel thieves, career criminals, killers, crooks and cannibals. They all congregate between the pages of Paul D. Brazill’s Small Time Crimes- a brutal and blackly comic collection of short stories and flash fiction that views the world at its most askew.’

I’m Interviewed By Fiona McVie.

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N2TK

 

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

I’m Paul D. Brazill and I’ve shockingly made it to 55.

Fiona: Where are you from?

I was born in Hartlepool, England and live in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

.Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

Well, 3 of my novellas are now only 99p. They are: Too Many Crooks, Big City Blues, and A Case Of Noir. They are all published by Near To The Knuckle. I have a short story collection coming out in the next few weeks. It’s called Small Time Crimes.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

Apart from a rubbish screenplay in the ‘90s, I started writing in 2008 when I discovered flash fiction.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Only when someone tells me I am one.

READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW HERE.