Crime in the Spotlight

15th of June 2018

Now that the line up for Bloody Scotland has been launched - see www.bloodyscotland.com it's now time for my favorite bit - the call for entries into Crime in the Spotlight. It's the chance for debut authors to get a chance to be the support act to some of the biggest names in crime writing. All you have to do is enter here https://bloodyscotland.com/take-part/spotlight/

Gordon Brown’s writing in 2017/18 – and why the 23rd of April 2018 is so important.

6th of April 2018

My New Year celebrations were muted this year and January the 1st was less of a haze than usual. This gave me time to reflect on the year gone and the year ahead, not something I'm often given to do. Here's my thoughts from back then and now 2017 was a whirlwind from a writing point of view. I've had three books published. Falling Too (the sequel to Falling) was released in the U.S.A. In the UK, Darkest Thoughts and Furthest Reaches were launched (with the third book in the Craig McIntyre series, Deepest Wounds, due out in early 2018). I've also had work appear in two short story anthologies (HES's 'Bloody Scotland' and the CWA's 'Mystery Tour'). At Bouchercon, in Toronto, a short story anthology I was included in (Blood on the Bayou) won the Anthony for best short story anthology. Add this all up and it's been a hell of a writing streak. But there's more. With the bulk of the writing for all the above having been done in late 2016 and early 2017 I sat down, mid year, and said - 'What next?' I had no idea if there would be a third Falling book or a fourth Craig McIntyre. I didn't want to stop writing, so I decided that maybe this was the time to look at a third series. But where to start? As with everything I've ever written I just sat down at the laptop and typed a first line - and kept going. As I sip my tea on January the 1st, I'm a month or so off finishing the new work. I have engaged the services of a fellow writer, Russel McLean, to help knock the manuscript into shape. So, with the New Year not twenty four hours old, I'm putting my feet up, watching the TV and smiling. Roll forward to today. The new novel is complete and is with a few publishers to see if I get a bite. I've started the third Falling book and plan to work on the fourth Craig McIntyre novel soon. We are well into planning for Bloody Scotland 2018 and I'm considering going to Bouchercon, this year in St Petersburg, Florida. However, there is something much more more important than any of this is and that is Monday the 23rd April 2018. That is the date of my wedding anniversary - my 30th anniversary - 30 years since I married Lesley - and I wouldn't change a second of it. And, despite the recent whirlwind of writing, my anniversary tops it all - by a mile - by a country mile - by a thousand country miles. All I want to say to Lesley is thank you for a magical 30 years, thank you for all your support, thank you for being there and here's to thirty more. Finally I just want to say, with all my heart, 'I Love You'?

A Whirlwind Romance that's lasted 30+ years.

Archive of older Posts 2017+

3/21/2018

David Adam - The Genius Within

I'm just off the back of chairing as session at Aye Write with David Adam on the subject of near enhancement. Now there's a subject worth looking up if you have a few hours to kill. Thanks to David for being such an easy person to chair and no thanks to me for forgetting to take any pictures.

1/24/2018

Digital Writers' Lab

I took part in an BeeBooks and Bloody Scotland initiative called the Digital Writers' Lab where they paired me up with author Abhijnan Roychowdhury to chat on all things 'place'. V cool. http://digitalwriterslab.in/single.php?pid=30

1/8/2018

Crime Review Review

A cool review from the Crime Review site for Darkest Thoughts. www.crimereview.co.uk/page.php/review/5655

12/13/2017

Reading Agency - Book of the Year 2017

Darkest Thoughts has been picked by Reading Groups for Everyone as one of the books of the year for 2017. Reading Groups for Everyone celebrates reading groups across the UK and is run by the book loving team at national charity The Reading Agency. For more info click here http://readinggroups.org/find-a-book

11/14/2017

Mystery Tour

I'm just back from Sunny Spain (you have to say it that way - it's an official rule when describing the country). I was attending the Xabia Negra festival, an event set up to celebrate all things noir. Myself and two fellow authors, Alxandra Sokoloff and Craig Robertson, were invited (under the auspices of Bloody Scotland) to attend and participate in a panel.

So what's not to like about a few days on the Costa Blanca talking about books and sipping beer.
At one point during our panel the discussion turned to location and wether the darkness of northern Europe provided a more fertile ground for crime writing than the sun bleached southern countries.
As a matter of happenstance I'd just written a short story for the new CWA anthology called Mystery Tour. I took this to give me license to write a story set abroad and I chose Xabia. The story opens on a glorious day with our hero lounging at the end of a pier watching the fishing trawlers return home. In fact the first page and half is more a description of the town and its surrounds than anything else. Yet, later, I squeeze in crime, a dilemma and try my best throw my protagonist under the proverbial bus.
Does the story work? Well Orenda Books and the CWA thought so as it's nestled in the heart of the new book which is out soon.
Not that this means that the darker lands are not a richer source of evil - but just because the sun is out doesn't stop the nasty buggers of this world from operating - in fact, if you think about it, where would you rather commit your next crime - on a beach in Spain or in a back alley in Glasgow.
Answers on a postcard.

You can see the new book at www.orendabooks.co.uk

10/17/2017

Bouchercon 2017

It started with losing my voice, moved to launching a book and ended with an ‘award’. That’s the top and tail of my Bouchercon 2017 in Toronto. For those who don’t know what Bouchercon is, it’s the biggest mystery/thriller (crime/thriller to us of a UK persuasion) convention of its type in North America. Seven panels running at the same time, with up to five authors on each panel from dawn to dusk – all over three and half days – that’s a hell of a lot of crime (mystery).

I’ve not been back to Toronto since I briefly lived and worked there in the eighties – when I delivered pizza, helped at rock concerts and worked for a brewery – sometimes I think my working life has gone backwards since then.

Wednesday

So, this time around, accompanied by my wife, Lesley, we landed in Toronto late on the Wednesday night, fought with the airport over a rip in our luggage, got in to the hotel late, ate and fell asleep.

Thursday

It was a sparrow fart start. I’d signed up to be a ‘speed dating’ author. Some forty plus authors had agreed, in some form of mass madness, to ‘pitch’ their wares to sacrificial readers. I was partnered by the lovely Jamie Freveletti.

Jamie and I – early morning.

Kilted (I promised my publisher that I would wear the kilt at some point) our mission was simple. Starting at the unholy hour of 8.00am Jamie and I had two minutes each to tell our table of readers about ourselves and our books. Then a bell rang and we both moved to the next table to repeat our spiel. We did this twenty times, by which time my voice was sounding distinctly Morgan Freemanish. I’ve never lost my voice before (my friends think this is a tragedy) but, by around two o’clock that afternoon it had nearly vanished. On any other day this might have been an inconvenience. With a panel to moderate that evening it was slightly more than that. In an attempt to rescue some semblance of speech I undertook the following:

  • Heather Graham gave me what can only be described as industrial strength, prescription grade throat sweets.
  • Rexall (the Canadian pharmacy chain) furnished me with cough sweets and Benylin.
  • I sat in the shower for two hours breathing steam.
  • I stopped speaking.
  • I prayed.

When it was clear that none of this was working, Craig Robertson did the knight in shining armour bit and promised he would take on my duties if my voice vanished completely. I was moderating a panel on ‘Dark Minds’ with Daniel Palmer, Alan Jacobson, Carolyn Arnold, Andrew Grand and J.T. Ellison. I arrived at the room and, apologising for my voice to both my panellists and the audience, I croaked out questions. Craig waited on the substitute bench for a call that would never come because my panel were stars. Recognising my limitations, they flew like jet fighters and made the whole thing a doddle. God love them all – the panel was great.

Left to Right – J.T., Daniel, Andrew, Carolyn and Alan.

Later that evening I was supposed to play the role of John Buchan, as the ‘Ghost’ of Honour, with a small speaking part at the opening ceremony. But, by then, the last of my voice had given in and I was left with a husky rasp that resembled, as Chris Brookmyre told me, a Glasgow gangster – which may have been appropriate for my role had anyone in the room known what the hell a Glasgow gangster sounded like. Craig stepped in and, after bedecking himself in his wedding kilt (he was flying to LA to get married to the delightful Alexandra Sokoloff after the convention – so just happened to have one in his bag), he took on the part of John Buchan. I can only thank him here for being such a brilliant understudy (or more truthfully a better actor).

I retired to bed that night hoping my voice would find me in the middle of the night.

Friday

With nothing official on the cards for Friday I dropped in and out of some panels and generally hob-nobbed. With little sign of my voice this wasn’t easy. I therefore used the time to distribute oversized book marks for Falling Too on what were called ‘the bumf tables’. A rather thankless task as, within a day, the tables were so full of other bookmarks, business cards and promotional material that my efforts had vanished beneath the waves and required frequent rescue to make them visible.

I took a little break from the convention to have some Lesley and I time. We walked down to Ontario Place. It’s a pleasant enough spot to wander about – but not a must-see for the average person visiting Toronto. For the two of us it holds a special place. Thirty-two years ago we stumbled upon a Canadian singer called Gowan who, on a small stage was, memorably, lying across a grand piano, playing the keyboard backwards. The memory has stuck with us and we wanted to re visit the place.

Lesley and I – near where Gowan played in 1985 (I think)

With my voice still on walkabout I hit the sack early once more.

Saturday

Another day of sitting in on panels and an evening set aside for my book launch. I say book launch but it was really just meant to be a few drinks to celebrate that Falling Too had been published by Down & Out Books (a huge thanks to Eric Campbell for all his support). I booked a corner of an Irish Bar called Quinns and sent out the word to a few of the authors. The biggest mistake I made was not taking any photos because amongst the authors who were there, in no particular order, were – Chris Brookmyre, Mark Billingham, Craig Robertson, Alex Sokoloff, Carolyn Arnold, Andrew Grant, Antti Tuomaninen, Thomas Enger, Wendy Jones, Caro Ramsay, Alex Gray, Harley Jane Kozak, Jay Stringer. Karen Sullivan,  was present also along with a host of others – and Donnie McGruther – who was celebrating his birthday that night.

There was also one Mr Craig Sisterton, a Kiwi with a penchant for whisky, who contributed, in no small part, to my hangover the next morning with a round of Glenlivet at some point in the evening. We manged to see the close of two bars – Quinns and, when they threw us out of there we retired to the hotel bar to be ejected in the wee small hours.

Me and my book.

Sunday

The last day of the conference and I wanted to attend the Anthony Awards (the big crime awards at Bouchercon) as Jay Stringer was up for two. Unfortunately he didn’t win, but he did brilliantly getting shortlisted in two categories. However there was a breath of an award for me. Greg Herren picked up the Anthony for the Best Short Story Anthology with Blood on the Bayou. One of the stories in the anthology, a Detective Sarah Tracy story called ebdgea, is from myself. So, in a way, I won a ‘fraction’ of an Anthony.

I’m in this book – somewhere.

Lesley and I concluded the day with a hazy trip up the CN Tower where I fulfilled a promise to my UK publisher to start photographing my new Craig McIntyre book, Furthest Reaches, in some ‘out there’ places.

My poor book, clinging for life to the CN Tower.

And, to top it all, we finished our time in Toronto by visiting a friend that we had met way back when Lesley and I were but burnished twenty year old children wondering how in the hell we had ended up being so lucky as to be working in Canada.

Did I also mention that we saw a Kiss tribute band play, ate way too much pizza, drank in the coolest bar I’ve been in for a while and consumed so much Tim Horton coffee that I own shares.

Here’s to St Petersburg (Bouchercon 2018).

10/3/2017

The Big Thrill

I’m participating in a roundtable discussion on the Big Thrill website - The Big Thrill. As part of this they did a Q and A on Falling Too – if you fancy a read click here – Falling Too

9/24/2017

Tidelines and Byres Rd Festival

The last few days have been fun. It started on Friday night when I chaired an event called Banned Books with Claire Gray and ‘Nippy Nora’ at the Tidelines Festival.

Just before kick off at Banned Books

An hour later I was chairing the ‘encyclopedic’ Stuart Cosgrove, talking about his trilogy of books that examine the social history of America and the rise of soul music across the years 1967, 68 and 69. A great event.

Just before kick off with Stuart Cosgrove

On the Saturday I headed for the Byres Rd Book Festival to appear with my three other cohorts and our ‘Four Blokes in Search of a Plot’ panel.

Spot the Tea Cosy of Inspiration.

9/18/2017

Publication Day for Falling Too

A huge thanks to Eric Campbell of Down & Out Books for publishing Falling Too. It’s the sequel to my first book, Falling, and has a hell of a streamline ‘The Crime of the Century is about to be Committed- Again.’

Falling Too

9/12/2017

Bloody Scotland – My Top Five Moments

I’m sitting at the back of St Osmand’s High School in Stirling listening to Helen Grant as she describes a visit to the catacombs of Paris. She draws an ‘Ooooh’ from the S2 pupils with a picture of skulls and bones. This is my start to Bloody Scotland 2017.

What lies ahead is nearly three days of crime writers entertaining Bloody Scotland audiences.

This has been a record festival. We launched six years ago and we’ve grown every year – our audience for 2017 was close to 8,500.

I’ve been part of the festival organising committee since day one and, sitting in the afterglow of this year’s festival, I’d have to say it has topped them all.

In truth I’m a bit tired, my iPhone says I walked some twenty odd miles over the weekend, between festival venues, but it was all worth it as there were some magical high spots. So, with this in mind, I thought I might list my personal top 5 moments from Bloody Scotland 2017:

5) The Scotland v England Authors Football Game (for the record Scotland won 6:3.)

Did I kick a ball? No. Was I an unused substitute? No. Did I take on the job of refereeing? No. I was behind the scenes, marking out the football pitch, covering my new shoes in paint, sweating profusely into my favourite  shirt, moving Craig Robertson’s (fellow board member) car because he had blocked the hotel car park and after all that I had to leave at half time, missing the winning goals. But I still loved it.

The Scotland Team and the Bloody Cup (note that Craig’s head has been replaced by Ian Rankins)

4) Crime in the Spotlight.

A few years back, I had a simple idea, shamelessly lifted from the music world, to allow debut authors a chance to be the support act to more established authors. This became known as Crime in the Spotlight. For a few minutes, just before the Bloody Scotland main events get underway, the new authors have the opportunity to tell the audience a little about themselves and read from their work. This year there were eleven of them – and they were fantastic – every one of them shone like a mini supernova.

Charlie McGarry speaking just before Chris Brookmyre lets rip

3) The Bloody Scotland Anthology Launch.

Eleven of Scotland’s best crime writers, and myself, were asked to pen a short story that featured a famous Scottish monument for the Historic Environment Scotland anthology, Bloody Scotland. I chose the little known but fascinating Crookston Castle, located on the south side of Glasgow, and set my story around the idea of a siege for the 21st century. The book launch was held on the Friday night in Stirling Castle’s Great Room.

Jamie Crawford (HES), Chris Brookmyre, E.J. Thomson, Craig Robertson, Val McDermid, me, Sara Sheridan, Denise Mina, Doug Johnstone and Lin Anderson (10 of the 12 authors from the Bloody Scotland anthology)

My box of anthologies.

2) The Torch Lit Procession.

Picture this – 300 people marching down from Stirling Castle, sun sinking in the west, led by two of the greatest crime writers ever, Val McDermid and Ian Rankin. Every one of the participants holding a burning torch aloft. Hair-raising is an oft used term – and, in this case, it isn’t apt – because it isn’t enough – the scene as we wove into the town, the line of glowing lights waving and flickering above the smiling crowd was brain-raising.

Yours truly mid parade.

1) Four Blokes in Search of a Plot.

A few years ago, fellow authors Neil Broadfoot, Mark Leggat and Douglas Skelton did me the honour of letting me share a stage with them for a book event. Four Blokes in Search of a Plot was born. With a dozen or more events behind us we upped the ante for our panel at Bloody Scotland. Following a session for ScotLitFest where the four of us had to make up a story live on Facebook we took this idea to the stage. While three of us chatted with the audience one of us had to put on the Tea Cosy of Inspiration and type. After writing fifty words the typist stopped and read their creation. The audience then chose who should be the next to wear the Tea Cosy and to write the next fifty words. So we wrote a very short story, (to be circulated soon), demonstrating that the first words from many writers’ minds are raw and in need of a good, hard edit. But boy we had fun – and now we’ve agreed to take the format on the road. If you want to know more see our Facebook site @4blokes.

Four Blokes mid flow at the festival. (From the left Neil Broadfoot, me, Douglas Skelton (with the Tea Cosy of Inspiration on his head) and Mark Leggatt.

Of course, this list doesn’t recognise how superb all the authors were over the weekend. It doesn’t pay homage to the enthusiasm of our audience, or highlight the hard work of the board. It doesn’t praise the unbelievable energy of the volunteers and fails to thank our sponsors for their support. For all of this I am amazed and grateful because these things all make Bloody Scotland very, very special indeed.

Me bagging a photo with Ann Cleeves and Dougie Henshall.

9/4/2017

Bloody Scotland Anthology

Look what just arrived. Thanks to HES for including me in this. Historic Environment Scotland. Can be bought at all good book suppliers.

Historic Environment Scotland

8/9/2017

All Live in Spain

Tune in on Sunday 13th August from 1.00pm – 4.00pm CET for live chilled music from the sunny Costa Blanca. Total FM

7/20/2017

Scot Lit Fest – LIVE

In a fit of ‘insert word that means madness’ I’m going to be part of an experiment on Sunday the 23rd ofJuly from 10.00am to 2.00pm on Facebook. along with Douglas Skelton, Mark Leggett and Neil Broadfoot we are gong to write a live crime story with Laura Jones as our ‘conductor’. I’ve no idea how this works but if you want to join in the fun here’s the website SCOTLITFST 2017

6/28/2017

First Draft Done

Stuck this magic words, The End, on a first draft of a new novel. mo McIntyre, no Wings – all new crime book – series?

6/11/2016

Bloody Scotland – the Launch and the Anthology

Due to the vagaries of WordPress I’ve been banned from my own website for a month. So time for a quick update.

Bloody Scotland was launched in Stirling and London. For the full line up click here Bloody Scotland.

The Bloody Scotland Team at Stirling Castle. Impressive aren’t they?

The Slice Girls in action at the London launch.

I made an appearance on telly.

Me confusing the hosts of Live at Five on STV 2

I’ve done a number of radio interviews and ticket sales are well ahead of last year – so if you fancy going I’d be quick.

I’m also going to be part of a new crime writing anthology sponsored by Historic Environment Scotland along with a host of Scotland (and the world’s) best crime writers.

Oh and I’ve started writing a new novel.

Apart from that not a lot has happened.

4/13/2017

Darkest Thoughts Launch Night – Thursday, 27th April

The launch of Darkest Thoughts will take place at 6:30pm on the 27th of April at Waterstones Argyle Street. My publisher has printed a special edition of all three books in the trilogy for the evening. https://www.waterstones.com/events/gordon-brown-launches-darkest-thoughts/glasgow-argyle-street

4/1/2017

Sunday Times Crime Club

Myself, with the help from a few below authors made the Sunday Times Crime Club this month:

Crime ClubWe love their books — but what do we know about our favourite crime authors? John Connolly gives some frank answers about the nature of evil and 1980s pop music (apparently unrelated) in our Q&A, while Abir Mukherjee and Eva Dolan, among others, reveal the deepest fears they tap into in their writing. We’ve got terrific giveaways in this bulletin, including the chance to win Donna Leon classics and novels by Val McDermid’s favourite new crime writers, and there’s a free Stuart MacBride ebook for every reader. I hope you enjoy Crime Club each month — let me know what you think on the email address below.

Karen Robinson

The Sunday Times

karen.robinson@sunday-times.co.uk [6]
@timescrimeclub [7]

Q&A: John Connolly

A GAME OF GHOSTS IS YOUR 15TH BOOK TO FEATURE PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR CHARLIE PARKER. HOW DO YOU KEEP HIM INTERESTING?
I made a decision to write a series of novels that allowed readers to start anywhere in the sequence and not feel lost, but to have a larger story building up in the background, so that if people read the books in order, they had a different experience. I’ve also let Parker grow older, so he is not the same man he was nearly 20 years ago. I still get a great deal of pleasure from looking at the world through Parker’s eyes.

YOU GREW UP AND LIVE IN IRELAND, YET PARKER IS AMERICAN. WHY HAVE YOU CHOSEN TO SET THE BOOKS IN THE USA?
I wanted to get away from what I felt was a very restrictive view of what an Irish writer should be: someone who wrote about the nature of Irishness. I was lucky in that we didn’t have a strong tradition of mystery fiction, so the models I looked to were mostly American. That left a choice: should I try to import the conventions of the American mystery novel to an Irish context — which I didn’t think would work — or could I bring a European perspective to that American model, and try to create something new? I hope that’s what I’ve done: combined the hard-boiled novel, which is very American, with mythology and folklore.

THE SUPERNATURAL HAS A PRESENCE IN YOUR BOOKS. HOW DO YOU MAKE IT WORK WITHIN A HARD-BOILED PI CONTEXT?
Along with mystery fiction, supernatural fiction was what I devoured when I was young. It may also be related to my Catholic upbringing and its themes of reparation and redemption. And I was interested in exploring concepts of evil — from human selfishness to the possibility of an older, deeper evil from which humanity, in extremis, sometimes draws. I think there was a feeling among a rump of narrow-minded critics and writers that it wasn’t appropriate to mix genres, but it’s a view many readers don’t share. There has always been a tension between the rational and the anti-rational in the genre: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, one of the earliest English detective stories, is suffused with a fear of the supernatural, and Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the paragon of rationalism, Sherlock Holmes, attended séances and believed in the Cottingley Fairies.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE “EVIL”?
Most human beings aren’t evil. They’re selfish, or fearful, or angry, and as a consequence they do terrible things, but they don’t actively set out to do evil. Real evil requires premeditation. I used to think of it as the absence of empathy, but I’m not sure that’s sufficient anymore. It’s close, but it’s not quite there.

DO YOU THINK IT’S TIME PARKER MADE IT INTO FILM OR TV? WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY HIM?
The Parker books were never written with film or TV in mind. They’re not structured that way, and I think the pleasure for readers lies as much in the narrative voice and the language as it does in the characters. That’s hard to transfer to screen. (God, I seem to be talking myself out of an adaptation.) But if it happened, it would be great, and we’re close to signing a deal. I’ve never described Parker in detail, and I’ve always been reluctant to put an actor’s name to him.

ON YOUR DUBLIN RADIO SHOW, YOU PLAY EIGHTIES MUSIC. THREE TOP TRACKS FOR THE DANCE FLOOR?
Keep the hardest question for last, why don’t you? Off the top of my head, and in my current mood, Antmusic by Adam & The Ants; Mirror Man by The Human League; and Baggy Trousers by Madness, but ask me tomorrow and you’ll get a different answer. When it comes to the Eighties, we’re spoiled for choice.

_A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly is published by Hodder on April 6. Buy it here [8] / Read first chapter [9]_

Gordon Brown: the fear of writing

When I was a kid I’d often wake up, pouring with sweat, unable to take a breath. Each time, I was convinced that I was going to die. This has left me with a morbid fear of suffocation that has surfaced in many of my books. Am I alone in tapping my deepest fear when writing? Here’s what some of my fellow authors confided in me when I asked them.

STRANGER DANGER: Alexandra Sokoloff (_Bitter Moon, Thomas & Mercer / Buy it here [10]_) told me of the time a paedophile tried to grab her when she was walking home from school. “That specifically gender-based fear and experience of being prey, and my anger about it, constantly informs my books and screenplays,” she says.

CAR CRASH: Abir Mukherjee (_A Rising Man, Harvill Secker / Buy it here [11]_) was in the family car when it was crushed between two trucks in India. “I remember the crack of shattering glass, the wrenching of metal and the heart-stopping fear that we were about to die,” he says. “I now channel that feeling of dread when I write.”

CONFINED SPACE: “Many years ago I was led into a disused underground tunnel in Glasgow which I found terrifying,” admits Alex Gray (_Still Dark, Sphere / Buy it here [12]_). “I am now terribly claustrophobic and I make my protagonist suffer from this phobia as well.”

Abduction: Simon Kernick (_The Bone Field, Century / Buy it here [13]_) was 16 when he was abducted, beaten and threatened with death by a gang of three men he’d accepted a lift from. “I’ll never forget the sheer terror I experienced as they drove me to an isolated wood and dragged me from the car. It’s this memory that I always call upon when trying to recreate a sense of fear in my books.”

INSECURITY: When Eva Dolan (_Watch her Disappear, Harvill Secker / Buy it here [14]_) was young she “didn’t mind spiders and wasn’t scared of clowns”, but she was “truly terrified of having the security of family whipped away.” Her novels frequently focus on this fear.

_Gordon Brown is a founding board member of Bloody Scotland, an international crime writing festival. His latest book, Darkest Thoughts, is published on April 27 by Strident. Buy it here [15] / Read first chapter [16]_

Looking ahead: our April picks

Death Message by Kate London

Corvus

In Post Mortem, London’s 2015 debut, detective Sarah Collins first encountered PC Lizzie Griffiths — and the relationship was fraught from the off. As their paths cross again on two troubling investigations, the prospect of a thaw is distant, so there’s hope that the duo is being set up for a series-long sparring partnership. London uses her experience of working in the Met’s homicide division to describe policing with immediacy and a telling eye for detail.
Read first chapter [17]

Buy this book [18]

★ Star pick

Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr

Quercus

Twelfth outing for German cop Bernie Gunther, which finds him in 1956 fleeing the French Riviera pursued by the Stasi and remembering a 1939 murder investigation at Hitler’s Bavarian retreat. Off his head on the Berchtesgaden drug of choice, methamphetamine, Gunther offers a wry view of several real figures, notably Heydrich and Bormann, and a pithy up-close analysis of the whole Nazi machine. Thrilling. Read first chapter [19]

Buy this book [20]

The Awkward Squad by Sophie Hénaff, translated by Sam Gordon

MacLehose Press

Misfit Paris cops bring an entertaining collection of idiosyncrasies to the newly-formed cold-case team headed by impetuous detective Anne Capestan — though the fun has to stop as they start to piece together evidence of serious corruption in high places. Original and amusing, it’s French noir with a sly smile.
Read first chapter [21]

Buy this book [22]

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys

Doubleday

It’s 1939 and glamour, danger, intrigue, snobbery and best frocks are all aboard SS Orontes as the liner leaves Tilbury for Sydney. As ex-waitress Lily, on her way to domestic service in Australia, gets to know her fellow passengers — including a dazzling couple from the first-class deck — it becomes clear that they are travelling with as many troubling secrets in their baggage as she has. The menace builds, with a backdrop of exotic ports of call, to an excitingly modern twist.
Read first chapter [23]

Buy this book [24]

The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

Serpent’s Tail

In the thriller landscape, Washington DC is where media, power and sex are all at their most intense. Kovac, a veteran Beltway TV news producer, has her heroine Virginia — a veteran Beltway TV news producer — propelled into ever greater danger as the mystery of a disappearing woman spirals into areas important people would rather she stayed out of. Pacey and tense, with added stress for Virginia courtesy of her boss-from-hell.
Read first chapter [25]

Buy this book [26]

Three Envelopes by Nir Hezroni, translated by Steven Cohen

Point Blank

A chillingly smart Israeli intelligence assassin has taken his job rather too seriously. But why is an agent being sent to mess with his head — and who’s she working for? Bold forks in the plot and contemporary neuroscience make this an inventive page-turner.
Read first chapter [27]

Buy this book _ [28]

The Thirst by Jo Nesbo, translated by Neil Smith

Harvill Secker

The Norwegian blockbuster-merchant brings his edgy detective Harry Hole back into the Oslo police to catch a killer who has eluded him in the past. Powerful writing weaves a switchback story around Hole and his unusual relationships with his colleagues, though the sickening violence the villain wreaks on defenceless female victims may turn your stomach. You can find Nesbo’s national book tour schedule HERE [29]_
Read first chapter [30]

Buy this book [31]

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles

Simon & Schuster

Voted Sweden’s best crime novel of 2016, Quicksand is narrated by Maja, sole survivor of a mass shooting in an exclusive high-school. Nine months after the event, she’s on trial for her role in the killings — but is she a cold-blooded murderer or the innocent victim of her disturbed boyfriend? Keeps you guessing.
Read first chapter [32]

Buy this book [33]

Hope to Die by David Jackson

Zaffre

Even by the standards of the genre, Liverpool detective Nathan Cody’s backstory trauma is intense, though surprisingly his superiors don’t seem to worry much about it affecting how he does his job. Reunited with DS Megan Webley to investigate the murder of a schoolteacher with an apparently blameless life, and pushed to the edge by taunting reminders of his past, Jackson’s flawed hero has a case and a beat that serve up plenty of excitement.
Read first chapter [34]

Buy this book _ [35]

A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride

HarperCollins

Dark and sharp as malt vinegar on a deep-fried fish supper, MacBride’s sense of humour splashes all over his crime fiction as DC Callum MacGregor hunts for a serial killer and for answers to the long-ago disappearance of his mother, while facing shattering personal betrayal. Lifelike portrayals of his colleagues and the whip-smart LOLs make this stonking 600-pager a first-class swathe of tartan noir. Don’t miss your chance to download this month’s free Times+_ _ebook, In the Cold Dark Ground by Stuart MacBride. The offer closes at midnight tomorrow, March 31. Download it _here [36]_._
Read first chapter [37]

Buy this book [38]

Fatal Crossing by Lone Theils, translated by Charlotte Barslund

Arcadia Books

Young London-based journalist Nora stumbles across the 20-year-old mystery of two Danish girls who went missing on a ferry to England and is determined to find out what really happened. The plot ricochets between Denmark and Britain, propelled by youthful enthusiasm and a rekindled high school romance.
Read first chapter [39]

Buy this book [40]

★ Star pick

Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love

Oneworld

Women are supposed to take a minor role in Los Angeles’s Latino gang life, but Lola finds herself at the centre of complicated, dangerous narco power struggles — while still playing the dutiful roles of daughter and girlfriend. A tough, enterprising and vulnerable heroine, Lola gives the reader an unvarnished insight into ghetto life.
Read first chapter [41]

Buy this book _ [42]

Donna Leon giveaway

Commissario Guido Brunetti has been on the Venice beat since 1992, and will make his 26th appearance in Donna Leon’s latest novel Earthly Remains (Buy it here [43] / Read first chapter [44]_). To celebrate the Venetian veteran’s amazing career, publisher Heinemann is offering 10 Crime Club readers the chance to win four books from the Brunetti backlist: By Its Cover, Beastly Things, The Waters of Eternal Youth and Death at La Fenice. To enter, email your name and address to donnaleoncontest@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk [45] by April 13, with “LEON” in the subject line.

Barry Forshaw: four underrated US crime writers

BARRY FORSHAW’S AMERICAN NOIR, COVERS US CRIME FICTION, FILM AND TV. HERE HE MOVES BEYOND THE OBVIOUS SUSPECTS TO TIP US OFF TO FOUR WRITERS YET TO RECEIVE THE ACCLAIM THEY DESERVE

LAURA LIPPMAN has been producing some of the best-written domestic noir in the USA for years. After I’m Gone (Faber / Buy it here [46]) shows that the genre can be infinitely flexible in tackling its basic concerns (and a few new ones). Lippman describes the lives of five women whose happiness is destroyed by Felix Brewer, a white-collar crook and adulterer who vanishes in 1976, leaving chaos in his wake.

After Ryan Gosling, pictured above, starred as a cool getaway driver in the film of JAMES SALLIS’s lean and sinewy masterpiece Drive (No Exit Press / Buy it here [47]), the writer became known to more than just the cognoscenti. Personally, I’d be happy if he remained caviar to the general, but you can’t blame the Sallis and his publisher for wanting the kind of success enjoyed by many a less talented writer.

ATTICA LOCKE’s debut novel Black Water Rising — ambitious, socially committed and beautifully written — created a stir, and the subsequent Pleasantville (Serpent’s Tail / Buy it here [48]) is just as impressive. In Houston, a mayoral election is pending, and a key swing area is the African-American neighbourhood Pleasantville. The nomination seems to be assured: Axel Hathorne has the perfect pedigree. But Axel’s nephew is charged with murder and the would-be-mayor’s credentials are soon under threat.

THOMAS H COOK is cherished by aficionados, but The Quest for Anna Klein (Corvus / Buy it here [49]) deserves wider appreciation. In 1939 the privileged Thomas Danforth is tasked with training an enigmatic young woman at his estate in Connecticut as part of a secret wartime project. The result is a mystery that he is forced to pursue over decades and continents.

_Barry Forshaw’s American Noir is published by Pocket Essentials. Buy it here [50] / Read first chapter [51]_

Harrogate festival giveaway

_

One of the highlights of the annual Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is Val McDermid’s New Blood panel, when the reigning crime queen anoints a handful of chosen successors. Val said: “Over the years, I’ve been able to introduce some formidable new talents to the Harrogate audience, and through them to a wider readership.” The organisers of the festival, which takes place in Harrogate on July 20-23, are offering five Crime Club readers the chance to win signed copies of each of this year’s New Blood titles: Rattle by Fiona Cummins (Pan Macmillan), The Dry by Jane Harper (Little, Brown), Sirens by Joseph Knox (Doubleday) and The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka (Faber & Faber) — you’ll have to wait for Lepionka’s novel, it’s not out until July. For a chance to win, email your name and address to crime@harrogate-festival.org.uk [52] by April 13, with “NEW BLOOD” in the subject line. For the full festival programme, CLICK HERE [53].

Crime wave: the latest books news

SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS? Winnie M Li has been named as one of Lancôme’s 40 Incredible Women, a list that includes cyclist Laura Kenny and disabled TV presenter Sophie Morgan. Li says she’s “very honoured and slightly amused” to have been chosen for the — unpaid — role selling the new range of Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation for the cosmetics giant. Legend Press, her publisher, says she was awarded the accolade “for her inspiring work as a sexual assault activist”. And it might well widen the potential readership of her forthcoming debut thriller, Dark Chapter (Buy it here [54] / Read first chapter [55]_), which is based on her own personal experience.

HORRIBLE HISTORIES: from the 1671 attempt to steal the Crown Jewels to the 2015 Hatton Garden heist, and taking in Burke and Hare, Bonnie and Clyde and the Bandit Queen of Uttar Pradesh, The Crime Book by Dorling Kindersley is an exhaustively researched and lavishly illustrated treasure-trove of malfeasance through the ages and around the world. The publisher is giving away five copies to Crime Club readers. ENTER HERE [56] by April 13.

THE ICE QUEENS COMETH… soon, to CrimeFest in Bristol, where Yrsa Sigurdardottir will be joined by three of her Icelandic crime-writing sisters for a thrilling, if chilling, panel. Other attractions at the event on May 18-21 include Ann Cleeves, Anthony Horowitz and several panels featuring new talent on the crime scene. I’ll be hosting two of those and I’m looking forward to interrogating Steph Broadribb, GX Todd, and others. For full details, visit crimefest.com [57]. To book tickets with a Crime Club discount of 25% on the four-day £195 pass, BOOK HERE [58] before May 15.

DOING TIME: Scottish novelist Christopher Brookmyre is always happy to promote his own books and his fellow crime writers, usually at bookshop signings and literary festivals — but now he’s found a new captive audience. On April 20, the day his new book Want You Gone is published by Little, Brown (_Buy it here [59] / Read first chapter [60]_) Brookmyre will visit Scotland’s toughest jail, meeting inmates at HMP Barlinnie, in Glasgow. He’s already been behind bars at HMP Cornton Vale, a women’s prison near Stirling — thoughtfully coinciding his visit with International Women’s Day — where he “found the audience to be highly receptive, engaged and appreciative”. He’s hoping for a similarly warm welcome at the “Bar-L”, where he is “looking forward to once again being kept on my toes”.

PRIZE CONTENDERS: six titles have been shortlisted for the 2017 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year published in the UK. Neil Smith translated the two Swedish books on the shortlist: The Dying Detective by Leif GW Persson (Doubleday), and The Wednesday Club by Kjell Westo (MacLehose Press). Small indy publisher Orenda Books claims half the list with The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto, translated from Finnish by David Hackston, plus two from Norway: The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn, translated by Rosie Hedger, and Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen, translated by Don Bartlett. 2015 Petrona winner Yrsa Sigurdardottir is on the list with Why Did You Lie? translated by Victoria Cribb (Hodder & Stoughton). Well done all of them — authors and translators — even if geography purists might complain that Finland and Iceland aren’t actually in Scandinavia — though they’re definitely Nordic. The winner will be announced at CrimeFest on May 20.

DEATH OF A HERO: “In many ways he mirrored characteristics of the much earlier, similarly cultured intellectual sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, with his fierce brain and quiet nature, and like Holmes, he came off the page and stepped out of our screens to become a living person, someone any of us could imagine meeting for a drink in a pub.” Last week, Peter James led the tributes to the creator of Inspector Morse, Colin Dexter, who died earlier this month at the age of 86. John Thaw famously played the grumpy sleuth on television — search catch-up TV for episodes. There’s still time to hear Neil Pearson’s version of the character in House of Ghosts, an original Radio 4 Morse drama by Alma Cullen set in 1980s Oxford, broadcast last Saturday [61]. Read The Times obituary of Colin Dexter HERE [62].

Shady seaside dealings

HARRY BRETT (AKA HENRY SUTTON) DIDN’T HAVE TO LOOK FAR FROM HOME TO FIND CHARACTERS FOR HIS LATEST NOVEL

The Haven Bridge crosses the River Yare, linking Great Yarmouth to Gorleston-on-Sea. My great uncle Ralph Moore, who went on to become a squadron leader in the Second World War, flew under this bridge in a Tiger Moth. The tide was out and the river low. Also for a bet, he once raced someone from Great Yarmouth to Lowestoft, in reverse. This was in a Rover 14, and I’m told that all the gears could be used going backwards as well as forwards. Needless to say, he won.

He came from a family of gamblers and builders. His biggest ambition, however, was never realised.

In the 1930s, Moore and Sons put in planning permission to build a vast, glittering hotel out on Scroby Sands, a series of sandbanks or shoals some two miles off the coast of Great Yarmouth. Seals frolic there, ships used to get wrecked, and now it’s a massive wind farm.

The war and some unexpected storm surges scuppered that idea, much to Ralph’s dismay. (He died from eating a chicken bone — the bet being that he could eat the whole carcass.)

Before the war, Yarmouth was still something of a great British seaside resort. Centuries earlier, Daniel Defoe thought it “infinitely superior to Norwich”. These days the town is troubled by unemployment, crime, alcohol and drug abuse.

Part family homage, part a desire to curb the deprivation, if only in fiction, I made the central premise of my new novel, the first in a series, Great Yarmouth’s regeneration. My fictional crime family — they were never going to be straight — are planning to build a massive hotel and casino complex on a couple of piers pointing towards Scroby Sands.

_Time to Win by Harry Brett, is published by Corsair on April 27. Buy it here [63] / Read first chapter [64]_

Crime in the papers

Heretics by Leonardo Padura, reviewed by Siobhan Murphy

Read the full story [65]

Joan Smith’s monthy crime roundup

Read the full story [66]

Thrillers roundup by John Dugdale

Read the full story [67]

March crime roundup by Marcel Berlins

Read the full story [68]

Crime bestsellers

HARDBACKS
1 16th Seduction by James Patterson
2 The Girl Before by JP Delaney
3 The Caller by Chris Carter
4 War Cry by Wilbur Smith & David Churchill
5 Backstabber by Kimberley Chambers
6 Ragdoll by Daniel Cole
7 Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
8 Dangerous Lady by Martina Cole
9 Shadow Kill by Chris Ryan
10 The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

PAPERBACKS
1 Never Never by James Patterson
2 The Twenty-Three by Linwood Barclay
3 Out of Bounds by Val McDermid
4 Saturday Requiem by Nicci French
5 Every Dark Corner by Karen Rose
6 The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
7 Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi
8 The Gangster by Clive Cussler & Justin Scott
9 The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons
10 Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant

_Lists prepared and supplied by and copyright to Nielsen BookScan, taken from the TCM for the four weeks ending 25/03/17_

2/22/2017

Look What Arrived in the Post

Look What Arrived in the Post

2/17/2017

Falling Too

I’m delighted to say that, after a few years in the wilderness, that Charlie Wings, the star of Falling, is to make a comeback in Falling Too – a new novel, to be released by http://www.downandoutbooks.com in September 2017. A big thanks to Eric and the team and Down & Out Books.

Archive of older posts 2016+

2/10/2017

Festivals

In advance of the upcoming book launch I’m lined up to talk in front of the masses at the following:

Granite Noir – 24th and 25th February – see Granite Noir. I’m interviewing Stuart MacBride on the Friday night and I’m on stage with Quentin Bates on the Saturday.

Nithsdale Noir – 10th March –  see Nithsdale Noir.

Aye Write – 11th March – see Aye Write . Interviewing Steph Broadripp, SJI Holliday and Russel McLean

12/22/2016

2017

Ok sneak preview of what’s to come, on a writing front, in 2017 (always subject to change).

Relaunch/re edit of The Catalyst and Meltdown – with new titles.

New Craig McIntyre book.

Sequel to Falling – for the U.S. market

Book of Detective Sarah Tracy short stories.

See you in the New Year.

11/2/2016

Crying Over Spilled Words

Over at https://elementaryvwatson.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/guest-post-g-j-brown-on-crying-over-spilled-words/ you can see why slicing 40,000 words from my new novel was a good thing. https://elementaryvwatson.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/guest-post-g-j-brown-on-crying-over-spilled-words/

10/13/2016

Speed Learning – what in the heck is that?

I’m a guest blogger at the Criminal Minds blog. Want to find out what speed learning is? Click here. http://7criminalminds.blogspot.com/2016/10/speed-learning-gordon-brown-guest-blogs.html

10/4/2016

Sarah Tracy is Back

I introduced Sarah Tracy, a detective in the LAPD, in the Bouchercon Anthology, ‘Blood on the Bayou’. Well, she’s back, in a new short story, entitled ‘The Why.’ at Crime Thriller Girl’s website. Enjoy. CTG EXCLUSIVE: A SHORT STORY BY G.J. BROWN – THE WHY

9/22/2016

Blog

A big thanks to Patricia Stoltey for publishing my blog on her website. http://patriciastolteybooks.com/2016/09/3-minutes-by-g-j-brown/

9/20/2016

New Orleans – Bouchercon Day 6 (Last Day)

My last day in New Orleans. I’m free to wander at will – a rare occurrence for me in the last few years. I could go to the gym, but I’m tired of that game. I could lie in bed all day, which would seem like a bit of a waste. I work out a plan.

Breakfast, ferry to Algiers Point, a quiet wander amongst the historic district and home for tea. Then, as with all good plans, it falls apart when the lens falls out of my sunglasses. It’s fixable but only with the aid of the world’s smallest screwdriver. There are two sources for such an animal – the optician (according to Google the nearest is 2 miles away) or a hardware store (only 1 mile away). I decide to walk to the hardware store. Mistake. Walking in the U.S. is cool if you live in Manhattan – sidewalks aplenty. In New Orleans it’s a little less straightforward. My route, in 90 degree heat, takes me under a freeway, over a three lane exit ramp, into an industrial estate and across an expanse of waste ground.

‘Pedestrians not welcome.’

I arrive at the hardware store ten pounds lighter and have to spend half an hour sitting in the air conditioned entrance to prepare for the return journey. Even so I need to break the return trip and rest in the local bus depot, where I consume a pint of Coke in just under ten seconds.

As it transpires the diversion to get my sunglasses fixed allows me to briefly visit the ‘World War II museum.’

‘They take their guns seriously around this neck of the woods.’

After another brief detour through a shopping mall (to bathe in the A/C) I jump on the Canal St ferry – a sort of industrial hulk that feels like it was built in the fifties.

‘Me on the ferry across the Mississippi. I sang ‘Ferry Across the Mersey’ – swapping out Mersey for Mississippi  – all day long.’

The journey across the Mississippi is quick, if not quiet – 50’s engine technology is noisy. I’m deposited in Algiers Point and from the get-go it’s clear that this is no tourist hotspot. I start along what they call the Jazz Trail, a concrete path that traces the river bank.

‘I had to get a photograph of me and a paddle steamer. You have to look hard to see it.’

I quit the trail when I started to feel my skin fry. Walking amongst the clapperboard homes I attempted to find the town centre. I failed.

‘Proof, if proof were needed, that New Orleans has a hankering to be chilled.’

Resorting once more to Google Maps I typed in ‘hostelry’. It seemed that I had Hobson’s Choice – The Old Point Bar or The Old Point Bar. The Old Point Bar it was.

Now sometimes in life you just happen to stumble upon a gem. Set next to the Mississppi but hidden from it by a giant grass levy, the Old Point Bar, is as American as mother pie and applehood. I fell in love.

‘Not a beer – more a fire extinguisher.’

After dropping my body temperature by twenty degrees in the welcome A/C I stepped outside, sat down, opened my book – and chilled, and chilled, and chilled.

‘A very chilled view for a very chilled few hours.’

With the edge of the sun I walked back along the banks of the Mississippi before sliding back across the water on the ferry.

‘It seems they have a brewery named after me.’

With a trip back across the Atlantic and then onto Spain due the next day, I called it quits, slept for twelve hours, woke early and headed for the airport.

Bye New Orleans – it was good to see you again – but next time could you turn the heating down a little?

9/19/2016

New Orleans – Bouchercon Day 5

Today’s the last day of Bouchercon. No gym this morning – rolling over in bed, for an other hour, won out. I was due to chair one of the last panels of the festival today. Having sat through some great sessions I scratched my head to think of something original for my panel to do. In the most amazing burst of creativity I came up with the stunning idea of getting the panel members to ‘read from their work’ – I know, crazy.

My panel consisted of Mary Coley, Maegan Beaumont, Jim Sanderson and Matt FitzSimmonds.

It’s not always easy being the moderator on panels. In some cases the authors can dry up and leave you stranded, short on questions to ask them and facing an audience that can smell blood. In this case it was a breeze. The four of them sailed through with an entertaining hour of reading, chat and laughs.

‘Me, Maegan, Jim, Mary and Matt. It’s not often I feel small but Matt is six feet six.’

With my formal duties over there was last event on the calendar where the guests of honour were on a final panel. Chaired by Heather Graham we had Harlan Coben, David Morrel, Craig Robertson, Alexander Sokoloff, Harley Jane Kozak, Ruth Jordan and Jon Jordan. Heather had fun with the questions and the audience ate it all up.

‘The All Star Line Up.’

It was then time for ‘goodbyes’, ‘farewells’, ‘see you laters’ and ‘see you soons’.

With the festival officially over I put on my shorts and went for a wander in the city – and a strange thing happened. Well, strange to me.

This is not my first time in New Orleans. I was here back in the late eighties, a couple of times, with my wife, Lesley. Back then we went for a walk in a shopping centre called the Riverwalk. It’s still standing, refurbed but still there. On the last visit, nearly thirty years back, we visited a shop that sold fudge. In full sight of the customers, and on top of white slabs, hot fudge was poured out, left to cool before it was moulded into shapes. It’s an enduring memory of that trip. I have vivid recollection of watching the ‘chefs’ chasing the hot fudge around the table, catching it just before it flowed over the edge and cutting it it up to sell it. So why do I mention this? Well, who knew it would still be there, white marble tables and all? Hot fudge was dully being poured and shaped. It was  a tiny time slip in my life as I stood, watching the ‘chefs’ at work.

‘This photo will mean nothing to anyone but me – but talk about nostalgia.’

Next up was a trek, deep into the French Quarter. According to the unreliable health app on my iPhone I walked ten miles. Mmmm. Whatever the truth, I do know is that the walk was further than I intended. At one point I was so off the beaten track I needed Google Maps to find my way back to the hordes.

‘New Orleans – the ‘back end of nowhere.’

Near the end of the trek I heard drumming coming from what turned out to be ‘Louis Armstrong’ park – a lovely backwater not far from the commercial district of New Orleans. I’m not quite sure what was going down, you can judge for yourselves if you click the link, but it looked like a therapy session to me – anyway up, the drum beat is still banging around in my head.

https://www.facebook.com/gordon.brown99/videos/10209172865550374/

The evening was heading for a quiet one until I got a Facebook message from Craig Robertson telling me a ‘few’ people were off to the French Quarter for a drink and some music. The ‘few’ turned out to be Craig and the ‘Slice Girls’ who, with the exception of Susi Hollliday, eventually retired to be replaced by Stuart Neville and some of his publisher friends (they just happened to be visiting the same public house).

I forget where the conversation went after this but the taxi home was a late one.

A fitting end to Bouchercon.

9/18/2016

New Orleans – Bouchercon Day 4

More gym this morning. I think this will be the end of the fitness phase for a while. Lying-in has its attractions. I pulled on my publishers t-shirt to show support today, that and it’s also a cool t shirt.

‘Ready for the day.’

My first stop was a healthy breakfast in McDonalds.

‘Wall St Journal, Egg McMuffin and a Tram.’

I bumped into an author while queuing for my McD. Charles Finch has written 10 historical novels. He was due on a panel shortly. Not having seen many panels to date I popped in to listen to the world of historical crime fiction with authors speaking about setting as diverse as 16th Japan, 18th Century Victorian England and 1974.

‘Charles, third left, talking history.’

My main event today was the launch and signing of the Bouchercon Anthology, Blood on the Bayou.

Authors had submitted short stories based on the theme ‘Blood on the Bayou.’ I was lucky enough to be one of the twenty two selected for the anthology. My story is called ‘ebgdea’ – which are the first six chords of the song ‘Duelling Banjos’. If you want to know what the story is about you’ll need to buy the book. The signing was in a large ballroom and once readers had purchased a copy they could skip from table to table asking the authors to sign the book.

‘Me and one of the many readers.’

While I was signing Joe Abramo sat down next to me. Joe is a Brooklyn born author now living in Denver. I first met him three years ago at the Left Coast Crime Festival in Colorado Springs where he was a on a panel with me. We’ve kept in touch and been promising to go out for a beer ever since. Last book signed we eventually had that beer.

‘Joe and I celebrating Joe’s Seamus award for ‘Circling the Runway.’

With little to do until the night’s festivities I took the opportunity to look around the whole festival – and bumped into Lee Child. As a fan of Jack Reacher I had to get a photo but, in my haste to do so, I managed to blur the shot. So now I have a fuzzy Lee Child photo for my collection.

‘A fuzzy Lee Child.’

Towards the end of the afternoon Craig Roberston was interviewed by Catriona McPherson on the 41st floor of the hotel. They both did a great job.

‘Craig and Catriona and the view they were competing with – and beat.’

Later that night there was a party at the ‘House of Blues’. The centre piece to the event was various authors doing their turns on stage. With echoes of Bloody Scotland a range of authors hit the microphones – Mark Billingham, Stuart Neville, Doig Johnstone – to name a few. The highlight, for me, was the return of the Slice Girls – who cut the place up big style.

‘The girls – knocking it out of the park (as they say here).’

Bed once more beckoned and day 4 drew to a close.

9/17/2016

New Orleans – Bouchercon Day 3

Day 3, early rise, sweaty gym – again. I hope this is not a pattern. I have a panel today, so off with the shorts and on with a shirt – presentable is the name of the game. It kicked off at 11.00am and there’s a green room in the hotel to meet you fellow panellists before hand. My fellow panellists weren’t there. I sat for fifteen minutes as ‘Jimmy nae mates’ before making my way to the room where my panel was scheduled. Ta da – there I find them all.

Day 3, early rise, sweaty gym – again. I hope this is not a pattern. I have a panel today, so off with the shorts and on with a shirt – presentable is the name of the game. It kicked off at 11.00am and there’s a green room in the hotel to meet you fellow panellists before hand. My fellow panellists weren’t there. I sat for fifteen minutes as ‘Jimmy nae mates’ before making my way to the room where my panel was scheduled. Ta da – there I find them all.

I know one of them, Susi Holliday and, like many of the others over here from the UK, I feel like we’ve all just jumped into the TARDIS to run a mini Bloody Scotland this side of the Atlantic. My other panellists were Sean McDaniel (A panel virgin), Nik Korpon (an American Glasgow Celtic fan), John McFetridge (all the way from Toronto) and the chair, Duane Swiercynski (very well prepared). The panel went well – it was funny, insightful and I swear it only lasted ten minutes.

‘Susi and myself on the panel – iced water at the ready.’

‘Our perfectly formed and enthusiastic audience.’

The audience seemed to like it all, and afterwards, at the signing, I sold and signed all the copies of my books – I now have no books for sale.

‘Julie Gerber and me – Julie was one of the mad fools who bought one of my book – thanks Julie.’

‘Lisa Brackmann, a fellow Bouchercon author, was sitting next to me at the signing table – Lisa wants to go to Bloody Scotland – I think she might have told me this one or twenty times.’

After the signing I’d arranged to meet up with the members of the panel I’m chairing on Sunday, at the coffee shop. I think I screwed up on communication as only Maegan Beaumont and Matt FitzSimmonds turned up. I’m hoping that Jim Sanderson and Mary Coley (the missing members of Team Gordon) make it along on Sunday. Maegan and Matt were in good form and, after we finished our meeting, we walked through the lobby where I bumped into Craig Robertson –  who was heading for lunch. Mmmm  –  a bit of a fatal encounter as lunch turned into watching the Liverpool v Chelsea game, turned into having a beer, turned into an afternoon in the bar. It’s a hard life.

‘There’s no such thing as ‘warm beer’ in New Orleans – especially in the bar we were in.’

I knew there was a parade on as part of Bouchercon. We arrived back at the hotel just in time to catch the parade starting off. Now this is/was/and shall, for ever be, a cool moment in my life. With marching bands at the top and tail of the parade, all the ‘Boucherconners’ marched through New Orleans, police escort at the front, traffic jam behind. The various stars of the weekend were on floats and I thought it a good idea to video it all. (click below).

https://www.facebook.com/gordon.brown99/videos/10209156270655512/

So that’s another one off my bucket list – taking part in a parade in New Orleans.

We all arrived at the Orpheum Theater to watch Lee Chil interview David Morrell – the author who gave the world Rambo when he wrote ‘First Blood’ – and, in case you’re wondering, the name Rambo comes from the name of an apple – you’ll need to contact David for the full story.

‘Lee Child and David Morrell on stage at the Orpheum. Lee didn’t get to say much – boy can David talk – good though.”

This was followed by the Anthony Awards chaired, in part by Alexander Sokoloff – who, dressed in a lemon/green/yellow wig, did a fantastic job of holding it all together.

‘Alex announcing one of the winners. I believe she dresses like this on a regular basis.’

The evening finished as I stepped out into the, still warm, night that had wrapped New Orleans. The pub beckoned and I ignored it. Bed was calling.

I really am getting old.

9/16/2016

New Orleans – Bouchercon Day 2

You’d think that a journey of 24 hour would knock your body for 6. Not so. Come 6.00am on Day 2, I’m part of the wide awake club. I spend half an hour trying to get back to sleep before I give on and go the gym – a small, hot sweaty (this word will figure a lot in the coming days) box buried deep in the hotel.

You’d think that a journey of 24 hour would knock your body for 6. Not so. Come 6.00am on Day 2, I’m part of the wide awake club. I spend half an hour trying to get back to sleep before I give on and go the gym – a small, hot sweaty (this word will figure a lot in the coming days) box buried deep in the hotel.

Bouchercon is being held at the Mariott Hotel on Canal St, a five minute walk from my hotel. Today it’s hot and humid – the locals told me it’s nowhere near what they call ‘hot and humid’. It’s the same the world over, whatever the weather, the residents will always start a reply with ‘This is nothing…’

‘Failed Attempt at photographing the heat and humidity on Canal St.’

I reached the hotel and registered for the festival – a convoluted affair that provides you with badge, bag, programs, free books and t -shirt – each obtained at a different table.

‘Choose a book – any book – they are all free.’

I met Craig Robertson, Bouchercon’s ‘International Rising Star’, (that’s his official title for the duration of the festival) and we wandered into the French Quarter for breakfast –  a deep fried plate of cholesterol washed down with decaf coffee.

My first panel is not until tomorrow so I nipped into to see Alex Gray’s panel to find out if they the U.S. version of a panel differs from the ones at Bloody Scotland. The answer is  – not really.

‘Alex in full flow.’

I had some time on my hand and headed for Bourbon St –  a sleazy strip of bars that disappoints and wandered through the French Quarter before walking along the Mississippi. I lost five pounds in sweat in an hour.

‘This sign tells you all you need to know about Bourbon St.’

‘Me with street sign, me with tram, me with river.’

I had one importune date in the diary for late afternoon to meet my U.S. publisher, Eric Campbell of Down & Out Books. It’s Eric that I have to thank for being here. He took a chance on publishing ‘Falling’, in the U.S., earlier this year. Eric is an amazing man. He holds down a full time job and publishes books – by the end of this year he will have published over 150 in the five years he’s been at it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the meet. Communication across the Atlantic has been of the patchy email and the occasional Skype variety. I wondered if the meet was to say thanks but we’ve decided not to take anymore of your books in the future. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Over a coffee and, subject to crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s, I have now have a two year publishing plan with Eric to release at least two, if not more, of my books from now ’till 2018 – GO ME.

In celebratory mood I went back to the hotel to get changed for the 5th anniversary bash that Eric was throwing that night. And, as is my want in my advancing years, fell asleep.

I woke up in enough time to get dressed – I promised Eric I’d wear my kilt – and walked the mile and a half to the venue. Reminder to self, never walk to anywhere in a kilt when it’s 87 degrees and north of 70% humidity. I was, for the second time today, a puddle of sweat by the time I arrived.

It was a great night with some thirteen of Eric’s authors reading from books, short stories or playing guitar. My one regret was missing the opening of Bouchercon but given the coffee conversation earlier that day there was no way I was missing the birthday bash.

‘Cosimos in the French Quarter – the venue for Down & Out Books 5th Anniversary.’

After drink, chat and a lot of laughter, a clutch of us wandered back through the French Quarter later that night. I intended to have a drink at the Mariott but after a quick chat with two of the Bouchercon board of directors, Jeff Siger and David Magayna, I called it quits instead – tiredness catching up at last.

Well almost quits – if you don’t count the stop for a pizza and coke on the way back to the hotel.

Roll on day 3.

9/15/2016

New Orleans – Bouchercon Day 1

I’ve been looking forward to Bouchercon for weeks but with Bloody Scotland landing the week before I haven’t had time to focus on it. Bouchercon is Set in New Orleans and I flew out from Glasgow on the Wednesday, catching the 9.00am flight to Newark. The trip got of to a great start with an upgrade. Then things slide backwards.

I’ve been looking forward to Bouchercon for weeks but with Bloody Scotland landing the week before I haven’t had time to focus on it. Bouchercon is Set in New Orleans and I flew out from Glasgow on the Wednesday, catching the 9.00am flight to Newark. The trip got of to a great start with an upgrade. Then things slide backwards.

A Misty Manhattan on approach to Newark

I had a layover of 7 hours in Newark and, having been in New York a dozen times in the last year, I decided not to take the trip to town and prep for my Bouchercon panels.

This year there is a slew of UK crime authors en route to The Big Easy. I met Russel McLean at the Newark luggage pick up. I got chatting and failed to notice an earlier New Orleans flight. I could have flipped flights but, hey I was talking books and drinking coffee with Russel.

Russel was going via Washington and when he left I got down and dirty and read up on my fellow panellists until Facebook told me that Doug Johnstone was waiting on the same flight as me. A few weeks ago he had asked me for some tips on seeing Manhattan in three hours and was just back from The Big Apple. We tied up for a drink, then another drink – then another as our flight slipped from a 6:45pm departure to a 7:15 then 7:45 and then to 8:00 and then, big leap coming, 10:45pm.

What can you do. Drink, eat and wait.

Doug Johnstone helping me while away the hours in Newark Airport.

By the time we landed in New Orleans it was 12:30am local time and I got to the hotel an hour later. Total journey time – door to door – 24 hours – ouch.

Let’s hope Day 1 is easier on me.

9/12/2016

Bloody Scotland 2016 – My Top 5 Moments

I’m sitting in my dressing gown on the Monday morning. My head is mince and my body is telling me that I’m not 21.

Three days and two nights of festivalling have done for me. But what a weekend. This is year 5 of Bloody Scotland and attendance is up. The feedback I received over the weekend was brilliant. So I thought I’d try and detail my top 5 highlights (although it could easily be a top 20).

Number 5: I don’t really want to pull out any one session as being better than the others but I have to give a big thumbs up to Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyres’ Friday night slot. They rocked the place and, according to Chris only four people walked out  – oh and one person fainted (don’t worry the casualty is fine).

‘Chris and Mark  – A quiet night was had by all.’

Number 4: My own panel – chaired by the wonderful Catriona McPherson, I was subjected to a gentle, but probing, examination of my knowledge of all things America along with Mason Cross and Steve Cavanagh (because all three of us set our novels in the U.S.). Mason won Catriona’s pop quiz. Steve insulted my surname and Catriona won us all over from minute one by bringing coffee.

‘Me, Steve, Mason and Catriona – I forgot to take a photo of my own panel in action – go figure.’

Number 3: Crime at the Coo – the alternative event down at the local pub (now in its second year) was a runaway success. The authors were allowed to cut loose and entertain us in any way they fancied. Val McDermid and Doug Johnstone rocked the place with 500 miles. Bob McDevit and his friend Tommy did a Full Monty on us (but didn’t strip), Alex Gray and Lin Anderson sang a few Scottish songs, the Slice Girls heated the place up no end and… – well there were just so many ‘ands’.

‘Slice Girls in full flow at the Curly Coo.’

Number 2: Crime in the Spotlight – I spent the weekend with what I called my ‘kids’. 12 new authors who each had an opportunity to open for one of the main sessions. They all read a short passage from their new book. Not easy as , for many, this was the first time in front of such a large audience. I need to name check them all because they were all simply fantastic. So in order – Stephen Watt, Shelley Day, Daniel Pembrey, Amanda Fleet, Eva Holland, Les Wood, Tom Ogden Keenan, Michael Grothaus, Jackie Baldwin, Sandra Ireland, Liz Mistry and Lesley Kelly. Thanks to them all.

‘Some of the ‘Spotlighters’ – pre their slots – spot the nervous smiles.’

Number 1 – truthfully I thought Crime in the Spotlight would be number 1 – but then along came Alanna Knights’ play – ‘The Horrific Hotel Slaying’. Stuart MacBride played Inspector Faro, Theresa Talbot was Pearl Stark, Amir Mukherjee played Paul Vane, Marsali Taylor was Isobel Vane and I played P C Baillie. Now let’s put a little perspective on this. Our rehearsal was a quick meeting just before the play. The ballroom was sold out. And we were all looking at the audience thinking – ‘Are you all expecting a professional show?’ But what a show. We had a ball. Everyone of my fellow actors (first and last time I’ll probably use those words) were superb. Theresa’s Russian/French accent, Abir’s discovery half way in that he was supposed to be Scottish, Marcelia Oscar winning solilioqhy and Stuarts;’ show stealing leading part – were all magic moments in an evening of magic moments. I had to leave straight after the play to introduce the next Crime in the Spotlight author and missed the standing ovation.

‘Myself and fellow thespians in full flow.’

And if you want proof I enjoyed the play (and the weekend) – well this photo says it all.

9/4/2016

Sunday Herald

My essay, done in the run up to Bloody Scotland appeared today. Cool. http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/14721987.Essay_of_the_week__The_power_of_fear/

8/13/2016

Crime Book Junkie

My first Craig McIntyre short story is on Crime Book Junkie. Let me know if it cuts the mustard? http://www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk/2016/08/gordon-brown-partners-in-crime-special/

8/10/2016

Femmes Fatales

I’ve written a guest post on the Femmes Fatales website – thanks to Catriona McPherson for letting me muscle in on the website. Click away and read:

http://www.femmesfatales.typepad.com/my_weblog/2016/08/the-special-relationship.html

8/7/2016

Bute Noir – Crime on an Island

I got off the train at Weymms Bay station, dragged my bag through the category A listed, turn of the century, railway station and joined the rag tag line of passengers waiting on the ferry to Rothesay.

It’s midday on Friday the 5th of August and my thoughts are on the weekend ahead. I turn round to see how many more people have joined the queue and a familiar face smiles in my direction. A Liverpudlian accent says hi and I walk back to join Luca Veste. This is the start of Bute Noir for me.

Bute Noir is a new crime writing festival, the brainchild of Craig Robertson and Karen Latto, that lined up 12 authors for a weekend of crime across three venues on the Island of Bute – Rothesay Library, Bute Museum and Print Point.

(The line up.)

I board the ferry and enter a floating crime writer’s convention in its own right, as Luca and I are joined by some of our cohorts

(From left to right – me, Craig Robertson, Alex Sokoloff, Luca Veste, Douglas Skelton and Michael Malone. Present, but missing from the photo, Alex Gray, Alanna Knight and Caro Ramsay.)

The hub for the festival was the Argyll Guest House, which we had to ourselves. On the ferry Craig asked if I minded sharing a room with Douglas Skelton. I said yes too quickly. Seconds after I nodded my head Douglas turned to me and said ‘I’m trying nasal strips to help with the snoring.’ My relief was palpable when I checked in to find we all had our own rooms.

The first event kicked off at three o’clock with me chairing Craig and Luca.

(Luca’s body language saying ‘OK Craig – enough with the sarcastic remarks.’)

The theme was serial killers with Craig’s new book, ‘Murderabilia’ and Luca’s latest, ‘Then She Was Gone’ featuring a slew of dead bodies. The audience, setting a trend for the whole weekend, were engaged and loaded up with questions at the Q & A section. Books were signed, wine drunk, thanks given and we were off to a flying start.

I’d like to say that I made it to every event but there was a technical issue that prevented me from doing so (and before it’s said it wasn’t the pub). Venues selling out meant that space was limited for the authors. So I made the sacrifice and stepped aside to let the paying guests take their rightful place for the next few events.

Everyone involved in the festival did us proud with some stunning displays across all the venues.

(Display in the library – the press took a photo of us all in front of this but I forgot to do the same.)

With a nice creative twist the festival had linked a book from each author to an object in the museum – providing content for posters and bookmarks.

(My poster – with me trying, and failing, to look cool in sunglasses and black t shirt.)

Later in the afternoon Craig, Luca and I were grabbing a refreshment when Craig snapped upright and announced that he was supposed to be on Bute Island Radio in five minutes. He rushed out leaving Luca and I in his dust. Ten minutes later the manager of the station appeared and says to the two of us that Craig wants us to join him on air. We are whisked into the studio to talk gibberish. Just as we are settling into our rhythm the studio door opens and in walks Chris Brookmyre to join us.

(Luca, me, Chris, Mike Blair (DJ) and Craig in the Bute Island Radio studio)

The first day finished with Chris in the library. He signed off the evening with a short story entitled Puck Knows – so Chris.

We were all good people and off to bed we went (believe what you want).

The next morning I took a stroll up the Serpentine to ‘Spring clean’ my head.

(Go on, beat this for a Saturday morning view – Rothesay in the sun)

Before we all kicked off again the inaugural Brookmyre Cup was held on Rothesay’s famous putting greens. Six players entered (Chris, Luca, Craig, Douglas, Michael and me – with Caro as official umpire) and I emerged victorious.

(There were six in the competition but I suspect that Luca was having a quick ciggie when this photo was taken.)

The festival resumed at lunchtime with an event entitled ‘Caro Ramsay and Friends’ (who knew she had friends). Chris and Craig did the manful thing and stepped in to be Caro’s mates – another one I missed because there wasn’t a spare square inch the room.

Later in the day Michael chaired Alex.

(Michael deciding a glass of vodka is in order)

Next I found myself squeezed in at the back of Print Point. When I say squeezed I use the word to its full effect. The only way to explain the crowd that sat down to watch Luca and Douglas debate the merits of Liverpool and Glasgow is to introduce that well known acronym – TARDIS. Not being bias in any way the outcome of the city debate was a forgone conclusion. Glasgow won. (I’m writing this – so my view is all that matters).

(Luca and Douglas in full flow. Look closely – strategically Luca is in the Health section with Douglas filed under Cookery  – just saying).

As the festival drew to a close Alex Sokoloff and myself debated the role of supernatural in the library (and were told some very chilly ghost stories by the audience).

The whole event was rounded off by a quiz. Not to put to fine a point on it my team, Ramsay, Skelton and Brown, roundly beat Brookmyre, Veste and Malone despite Craig, as the chair, docking us points for various infringements (he even knocked off a point when I gave him a tenner).

(An unstaged shot if ever I saw one)

The weekend finished on a high with the quiz. We all mingled with the audience afterwards and gauging by the number of requests for it all to happen again next year I feel that something good has been born.

The next day even the weather was a little melancholy that it was all over.

Summing up the weekend is easy. Wonderful. It’s the only word I need. Let’s be serious – when you turn up to find a goodie bag like this – what else can you say.

7/25/2016

Bute Noir

Running order for Bute Noir.

7/6/2016

Bute Noir

To add to the current Crime Factor tour I’ll be appearing in Bute Noir on the 5th and 6th of August. Great line up.

6/25/2016

American Booksellers and Readers

A message from Denise Minah and I was asked to attend a small soiree with a visiting crowd of U.S. booksellers and readers at the Indigo Hotel. I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was a lovely evening talking books with the visitors, catching up with fellow authors and taking a break from the real world.

11/4/2017

A Walk in the Hills

I remember, after a few pints, saying that I quite fancied joining the Bloody Scotland team on the Caledonia Challenge. A few tweets later and I was signed up. Then, being male, I read little on the subject.

A few weeks before the walk a dribble of nervousness began to seep into my ignorance. My fellow walkers, two in particular, were posting photos of their training. Posts such as ‘just done Ben McBen in 43 minutes’ told me that the ‘walk in the hills’ I was about to undertake might not be as easy as I assumed. Even so, as I sipped a cocktail on the beach in Spain, I still held out hopes that all would be well. After all, I had once walked the last half of the West Highland Way (some twenty five years ago) and the Caledonia Challenge covers the last twenty four miles of the Way in reverse. So how hard could it be?

The briefing the night before injected some reality – when they showed the route on a large screen. The hills I had been telling everyone about, now looked like mountains.

(We started just where the green spikes on the left and finished at the bottom of the highest spike – easy)

Still, the next morning spirits were high.

(Left to right – Chris Brookmyre, Matt Bendoris, Doug Johnstone, Craig Robertson and me – you can’t see the midges – but the little buggers were seeng us off in style)

We set of at a hell of a pace and, with some forty three teams involved, the masses at the start soon began to thin out.

(Matt and Doug about mile five – Bailey (Matt’s dog) is out of sight. If we walked 24 miles, Bailey walked/ran three times that distance)

We reached Kinlochleven, the half way checkpoint, in a little over four hours. Lunch was curry and rice.

(Craig showing me respect, Matt with far too much energy)

We were in no rush to leave the checkpoint. Feet up and a cup of tea was the order of the moment. We even considered a cone from the ice cream van that sat outside.

Roll on the second half.

Spirits were still up in the sky.

(All smiles – the face between Craig and Chris is Snow Irwin – Snow told us she hadn’t done much training – but was as fit as Bailey)

Then we hit ‘the hill’. When I say hill, what I really mean is the ‘vertical climb rejected by Sly in ‘Cliffhanger’ because it was too steep’.

By half way up the thing the fun part of the event was vanishing into the mist around us. The midges descended, forcing us into midge hats (I had a very fetching midge suit – but sadly no photo of me in it). The team began to split. Craig and myself drifted to the back. Craig was suffering with his feet but showed no sign at all of giving in – quite the opposite – head down he was determined to finish.

To ease the pain as we worked our way to the top of well named Devils’ Staircase (for those paying attention this was the second green spikes bit on the first photo) there were views to sooth the soul.

(The path to the Devil’s Staircase)

The walk had one last sting in the tail. As we crested the Devil’s Staircase we could see the Glencoe Mountain Resort, our objective. At a guess it looked a few miles off – the reality was a three times this – or maybe it just felt that way.

(The last few miles – if we could have walked on the road we would have knocked a few miles off the walk and probably have been killed)

By now, through the wonders of modern technology, we knew that our team mates had finished. Craig and I were about half an hour behind. Craig sucked it up and we ground out the last stretch. And, just to add sauce to the whole thing, the final half mile was up hill.

When we crossed the finish line we discovered that the others had used the intervening half an hour to decompress, change socks, tops, feet etc – Craig and I by-passed this, walked another hundred yards up to the cafe, and ordered beer.

(Us at the cafe after finishing. The smiles are back – beer has an amazing way of making you forget the past).

We did the whole thing in 8 hours 47 minutes – that placed us 7th out of the 43. Not bad (especially given the extended lunch break we indulged in).

As we sipped at the alcohol there was a short (very short) conversation on the merits of entering the longer walk next year (54 miles). This ended when we looked at the electronic score board. It would seem that some madman had just finished the 54 in a little over nine hours.

Some of us spent that night in Fort William eating curry, ignoring the football and groaning every time we stood up to get a round in.

My final thoughts on it all are simple:

Well worth doing.

A great team.

Great fun.

Pain what pain?

Oh, and, the cup of tea back home was magnificent.

6/7/2016

Caledonia Challenge

Along with four other authors; Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone, Craig Robertson and Matt Bendoris I’m off to undertake the Caledonia Challenge this weekend. 24 miles in 12 hours over a few wee hills on the West highland Way starting at Fort William. If you fancy donating to a good charitable cause click on the link. Also there is a small message from the team.

http://www.caledonianchallenge.com/teams/BloodyScotland

5/2/2016

Crime Factor 2016 – the tour goes on

Here are the upcoming dates for the Crime Factor tour with Mark Leggat, Neil Broadfoot and Douglas Skelton. Thursday June 2 – the AK Bell Library, Perth, in association with Waterstones Perth Thursday June 9 – Behind the Wall, Falkirk, in association with Waterstones Falkirk Thursday June 16 – Carnegie Library, Ayr, in association with Waterstones Ayr Thursday June 23 – Reuben’s, Dunfermline, in association with Waterstones Dunfermline Thursday June 30 – Waterstones, East Kilbride, in association with guess who? Thursday July 14 – Blackwells, Edinburgh.

4/19/2016

Omnimystery – or how I used my grandparent’s house as a setting for a key moment in Falling

Thanks to the Lance at Omnimystery for a great article.

Omnimystery News

4/15/2016

Free Short Story

I’ve no idea where this one came from but it seemed like a good idea at the time – enjoy.

‘Cannon Fodder’

A Short Story

by

G. J. Brown©

Cannon fire woke Trent. In itself, an unusual occurrence in the annals of Glasgow history. Not the cannon fire. It’s a fair bet that cannons were in regular use a few centuries ago, in and around the Clyde valley. The unusual news was that Trent didn’t sleep through it. He had a reputation for sleeping like a corpse. Famously, once falling asleep leaning against the speakers of the loudest night club in Scotland.

Trent could, and would, take to dreamland with the sort of ease that suggested a serious, undiagnosed medical complaint. He needed a minimum of fourteen hours sleep on an average day. More, if he’d been deprived of his bed due to a heavy weekend in the pubs and clubs in town.

His record for an uninterrupted snooze was twelve minutes short of twenty-four hours. Trent despised those twelve minutes. He wanted to claim a full day. His partner of the last three years was witness to the shortfall. She had seen him fall asleep as the credits had rolled on Coronation Street. He had risen from the sofa, the following evening, just after the break in River Monsters. Failing to make the twenty-four.

Trent slid from his bed with the enthusiasm of an oil man forced to drive an electric car. He wasn’t yet aware of what had woken him. Only that dust was falling on his head and one of the panes of glass in his window seemed to be missing. There also seemed to be an abundance of car alarms in play.

Trent shouted ‘Hey Siri’ at his phone. A new feature that saved him the bother of picking the thing up. The phone pinged. He shouted again. ‘What time is it?’. The phone thought about if for a few seconds. ‘It’s 2 oh 3. Time to be asleep. I think.’

In the morning?’

Siri didn’t answer.

The dark outside confirmed that Siri was either right, or there was an eclipse that Trent hadn’t heard about.

The second cannon shot was more accurate. The steel ball entered Trent’s flat a few feet above the bedroom window. Taking out the lintel. It ripped through the ceiling of the room, coming to rest in Mrs Lorimer’s bedside cabinet, on the floor above. Mrs Lorimer would require sedating.

In Trent’s sleep addled head he wasn’t sure what was happening. His first coherent thought was that a terrorist bomb had gone off. Not as far from the truth in reality. As to why a terrorist would target a tenement on the south side of Glasgow was no longer a question of note. Trent had read about too many terrorist attacks in too many random places to think this was off the mark.

His real problem was what to do in such a situation. He had issues even when he woke up at his own pace. Accelerated ejection came with its own set of problems. Not least, that he was dying for a piss. The fright from the cannon ball rendered this problem mute. Replacing it with a new imperative – the need for a fresh pair of boxers sooner, rather than later.

The tenement flat was of Victorian build. The ceiling still the lathe and plaster construction of the late nineteenth century. A technique that could, and had, survived the decades but, when breached, tended to bring the entire ceiling down. Chunks of plaster the size of a rock star’s wedding cake rained down. One slab caught Trent on the back of his head. Pole axed, he fell to the floor.

It took a while for the third assault. Reloading a cannon is a slow process. It was also one that the gunner had not expected to undertake. He had, in his mind’s eye, seen this as one shot deal. Cannon balls in the movies would rip holes in castle walls that allowed armies to flow in through the gap created. Boats would sink with a single shot.

The first shot had fallen somewhat short of the first floor window it was supposed to enter. A lack of any real practice was to blame.

The Internet had been very informative on how to fire the thing; it had also made it look very easy. The YouTube video had demonstrated the power of the single ball. A young man, dressed in a U.S. Civil War uniform, took out the side of an old railway shed with the minimum of effort.

Even the required ingredients for the cannon had been easy to obtain. The gunner wasn’t sure that his search history wasn’t a little bit incriminating. But, no one had come knocking at his door when the delivery man had appeared with a small box of explosives, primer and fuse.

The canon had been more problematic. The gunner knew where to lay his hands on one. He also knew that the ball would have to be a certain size, the firing kit a certain make up. The cannon he had in mind was a working model. Every year it was used in Pollok Park to mark the anniversary of something or other. The blaze of fire and smoke from its mouth told the gunner all he needed to know. It worked.

Stealing it was a touch more complex than the gunner was prepared for. For starters it was stored at the back of Pollok House, an imposing stately home with an industrial set of doors guarding its cellar. Getting the stolen 4×4 round to the back of the house had not been easy either. The tyre tracks would take a few months to vanish completely from the pristine lawn.

And, to make a bad situation one that had dog dirt on it – no one – not the guy in the video – nor Wiki – and certainly not the gunner’s sidekick, Chas, had hinted at how heavy a cannon was. The original plan to lump it into the back of the Land Cruiser went out the window in seconds. Fortunately, the cannon was on a trailer. A length of rope, a bad knot tied round the handle of the 4×4’s back door, and they were away.

As to how they had not been stopped on the short journey to the tenement was down to a fight in a nearby pub that required the full attention of the local constabulary.

By morning there would be a slew of photos on Facebook and Twitter. Mostly of the devastation, but a few came from people who had caught site of the Toyota and cannon combo. In one photo Chas was waving at the camera.

The reason for the shortfall on the initial shot was a failure to properly secure the canon. The barrel depressed as the fuse was lit. The carnage was still quite impressive. All be it, the flat below Trent’s took the full hit. Sanjay Kahn’s pride and joy – a full replica of Preston railway station, replete with track and trains was reduced to matchwood. Sanjay, thankfully had been in bed.

The second shot was a beauty. An accidental beauty. A wonderful, heat seeking beauty. The sort of three hundred and fifty yard, curving drive off the first tee, beauty. Chas had his phone on video. He caught the shot like a pro. He uploaded it before the third cannon ball was loaded.

The third shot was a resounding disaster. Bathed in the euphoria of the previous shot, the instructions of the Civil War dude were ignored. The over loading of charge, shortening of the fuse, lack of wadding and ill placed cannon ball added up to an internal cocktail that the cannon could not survive. The gunner and Chas’s proximity to the destruction of the cannon should have killed them both.

They were spared, due to a flaw in the cannon makers art some two centuries before, when, through an overindulgence in the local brew the blacksmith had screwed up the casting of the cannon, and imbued a slight flaw on the left hand side. The gunner and Chas were standing on the right when the cannon exploded.

Ten streets away, the revellers at a party, on the top floor of set of new apartments, witnessed the mushroom shaped cloud of the cannon exploding. It’s uncanny resemblance to a small nuclear detonation was commented on. Again, the talk of a terrorist attack was raised. Again, it wasn’t dismissed. A sign of the times.

The police arrived. As did the fire brigade. As did an ambulance. As did an army vehicle. The latter called in by a retired SAS sergeant who lived in the next block. He had been the first to pick up the phone when he had seen the nutters unloading a cannon.

The gunner and Chas, both unconscious, were taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital for treatment. Cannon wounds were a new one for the staff.

Trent was placed at the same hospital. He had no recollection of events.

The police were left dumfounded. Firstly, be the sheer stupidity of the actions. Secondly by the fact it was even possible to steal, load and fire a cannon. Lastly, as to the why?

With the victim and the accused all out of action, it was left to speculation as to what the hell had gone down.

The truth would emerge in fits and starts. When it did, it did little to dampen the madness of the whole incident.

Trent, a man in a full time relationship, had strayed from the path of fidelity. One night, full to the gills, he had propositioned and won over a young lady in a night club. The resultant dalliance in the back lane had been quick and dirty.

The gunner, better known as Dave, had known the young lady. In fact, he was of the impression he was the only man in her life. What he didn’t know was that he wasn’t even the only man on his street, in her life. Her name was Diane.

Dave, through Chas, through a mutual contact, discovered Trent and Diane had been taking the night air together. Dave, and the term is an old one but a good one, went Radio Rental.

To his credit he did not knee jerk into action. He planned the revenge. Identifying Trent’s home. Considering the options.

When he had visited Pollok Park a few days later the sight of the canon sparked inspiration. He knew what he had to do. It was the perfect way to make his point.

After all, how better to send a message when your girlfriend’s name was Diane Canon.

The End

4/5/2016

Crime Factor 2016

Great to be on tour with Neil, Douglas and Mark. Looking forward to the banter, insults and general chaos that this promises.

4/3/2016

Falling in the U.S.

It behoves me to say a few words about the U.S. launch of Falling. First off its a ‘mild’ edit of the original book, which came out in the UK a few years back. When I say mild I’m talking the best part of 10,000 edits. Most of this is down to an evolution of writing style over the last few years. Some of it is down to re reading the original and spotting some areas for improvement. A little is down to me fixing things that I missed the first time round.
I asked Eric, my publisher, at Down & Out, if I should consider ameliorating the book by tackling some of more choice Glaswegian language. Eric said no. A firm no. And all the better for it in my opinion. Ok so a few phrases may cause some to make a quick dash through Google. But I hope not. Where I saw language as being an issue I re read the surrounding text to see if the context aided. In all cases I’m happy. Now and again there are examples that might still cause a little head scratching. My view, for what it’s worth, is that this is no bad thing. Eric’s stable of writers come from a vast swathe of life. Every one has a different approach, but all of them have a laser focus on squeezing the best possible read onto the page. All of this is down to bringing character and plot to life. My book is set in Glasgow. Without a does of Glaswegian my characters would have been lifeless.
So have a read. And if you really don’t understand something I apologise.Falling – Down & Out Books

Gordon

3/29/2016

U.S. Launch Day

Big day for me today. Falling is launched in the United States. Big thanks to Eric at Down & Out Books for the faith. Amazon

3/17/2016

Mass Reading

Some of my colleagues in the U.S. pre ordered copies of Falling and sent me a photo of a mass reading in their office in New York on Park Avenue South. V cool.

3/4/2016

Cool

Just cool. AI for Falling in the US.

Archive of older posts 2014+

3/1/2016

Pre Order Links

The pre order links for Falling are now live – pass onto anyone in the U.S. that you know that might like a Scottish crime book.

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

2/28/2016

Falling to America

The pre order for the US launch of Falling is up and running.

2/22/2016

J. L. Abramo

See the attached link. J. L. Abramo (Joe)’s seventh book is coming out on Down & Out Books this month. If you like grit and hard guys – click here.

1/15/2016

New Short Story

My first book, Falling, is due to be launched in the United States next month. As part of the promotional activity I’ve written a short story ‘prequel’. You can find it on the Down & Out book website. Enjoy. ‘Before I Fell.’

11/30/2015

Meltdown Giveaway

As the Christmas period approaches and since the giveaway of The Catalyst did so well I thought I’d set up a new giveaway, this time for the second in the Craig McIntyre series, Meltdown.

So, for a SIGNED copy of Meltdown follow the instructions on the below Rafflecopter widget.

If you follow me on Twitter, you get 1 entry. If you do that and then tweet the giveaway, you get 3 entries. Signing up to my mailing list gets you 2 entries. And so on. The more you participate the more chance you have of winning. Clever, huh?

It’s open until Monday Dec 7th. Sorry, it’s UK only.

Good luck!

11/24/2015

New Start

Because I’m a writer. And writer’s need inspiration. Since I’m writing this less than thirty seconds after I posted I may find that no one contributes. Why should they? After all I’m just about to use their line to inspire a story that will have my name on it.
My plan is to list the lines here (please note if the next line is blank you’ll know why.)

‘It was a dark and stormy night , suddenly a shot rang out ….?’ Scott Ballantyne.
‘A long time ago in a galaxy far away…’ John Calderwood.
‘The bleeding had slowed.’ Mark Leggett.
‘He fought like mad while they tried to get the handbag off him..’ David Manderson.
‘There was a brick missing from the wall…’ Stewart McAbney.
‘I need a line to start a story.’ Joey Falco.
‘Once upon… you never got off’ David Barber.
‘It was a fully lit and windless night…’ Hugo Charles Hansen.
‘I woke up feeling fine, and then, I remembered what day it was’ Tracy Hall
‘I like what I do, but today is different. I know that I have to go through with this, but it’s not through choice or love.’ Si Skelly.
‘He throws a punch at me. I let my own punches explain why doing so is such a mistake.’ Graham Smith.
‘As I walked towards the station a piece of toast fell from the sky.’ Julie/Doug Easton
‘I turned around and there he was….’ Harley.
‘It was an ordinary cat in an extraordinary bag’ Paul Rudge.

And a few from me:

‘Holding the last card in the pack close to his chest, Malcolm wondered if he was about to die?’
‘Cherry blossom hung in the air as the pilot stripped naked and boarded the plane.’
‘It’s Tuesday.’ There he’d said it.’
‘The ship had a single yellow line running from bow to stern. Half way along it a severed finger stuck to the wait paint.’
‘Two days before Christmas. Three days before the loan was due.Four days would be a blessing.’
‘His fist punched another hole in the wall.’
‘It sounded like the last beat of a heart.’
‘Touch what?’
‘Mary’s eye lay on the floor.’

11/20/2015

So What if I Want to Write Like an American?

While the first in my Craig McIntyre thriller series The Catalyst is free for a very brief amount of time on Kindle I thought I’d write about why I changed its setting from Glasgow to the US…

11/10/2015

New newsletter

Just thought I’d drop in to say I’ve now got a shiny new monthly newsletter (well, I’m aiming for monthly) that will include updates on the third book in the Craig McIntyre series (coming very soon), info on any events I’ll be attending and maybe some special deals and promotions only for newsletter subscribers.

I hope to send out my first newsletter in December with a special welcome promo. To avoid missing out you can sign up to the mailing list at this link: http://eepurl.com/bFqIf1 or on the sidebar on the right. Thanks for joining in.

Anyway, back to work!

10/31/2015

First Draft of new Craig McIntyre Novel

Just put the full stop on the next Craig McIntyre novel. Provisionally entitled Dynamite and due out early to mid next year. Time for a beer.

10/3/2015

A Bad Day at the Office

My new promotional video for the Craig McIntyre series. This was great fun to make.

9/29/2015

So What If I Want To Write Like An American

With a little help from my friends here’s an article on the difference between American and Scottish Crime Writing. Crime Of It All

9/23/2015

Westender Magazine Feature

A cool thing to do – interviewed outside my gran’s old flat by WESTENDER Magazine – why? – because the final scene of my first book was set in her house. WESTENDER MAGAZINE

9/20/2015

Crime in the Spotlight

Now that the dust has settled on Bloody Scotland for another year I thought I’d reflect on a small but significant debut amongst the wealth of talent and events that we showcased over the three days. Spread across the Saturday and the Sunday five new authors were given the opportunity to read from their work in front of the audiences of Martina Cole, Ian Rankin and Chris Brookmyre, amongst others. In each case they walked onto stage before the main event and, after a deep breath, read. We called this little gem ‘Crime in the Spotlight’ and it’s now penciled in for reappearance for 2016. It’s part of the DNA of Bloody Scotland that we give new and aspiring authors a spotlight and ‘Crime in the Spotlight’ is another notch in our bedpost. My thanks go to the star authors who made the ‘Crime in the Spotlight’ team so welcome. Everyone of them was welcoming and supportive and more than happy to give up a little of the limelight to support our new authors.
I was privileged to run the initiative and prouder still to be the one that asked them on stage. I wish them all well in the future and thought I would leave the last word to each of them (in no particular order of course).

“Being chosen to be one of the speakers at Crime in the Spotlight was a wonderful opportunity for emerging crime writers and I am truly honoured to have been selected by my peers. I hope Crime in the Spotlight is repeated in future years so other new authors can also benefit from the festival committee’s forward thinking.”

Graham Smith – author of ‘Snatched From Home.’

“It was a great thrill to be part of Crime in the Spotlight, to have the attention of a big audience for two minutes to read from The Blue Horse and hopefully introduce them to my debut novel. It was a great chance to not only read in public but perhaps create more interest in my writing. I applaud the festival, also, for introducing the scheme and I am grateful it chose me to read from my book. It is a great gift for a debut writer.”

Phil Miller – author of ‘The Blue Horse.’

‘Now that the knees have stopped knocking and the heart-rate has eased, I can look back clearly at how I was welcomed so warmly by Gordon, Dom, Craig and the rest of the committee. I can’t thank you all enough for this amazing opportunity. Didn’t think I stood a chance of winning a slot on ‘Crime in the Spotlight’, since I’m English – although there is a Scottish police dog-man who plays an integral role in My Kind of Justice! ‘

Col Bury – author of ‘My Kind of Justice.’

“Crime in the Spotlight was a fantastic opportunity for me to introduce my work to the Bloody Scotland audience. It was a great experience to be involved in such an important festival, and to meet and chat to readers and more battle-hardened authors.”

Graeme Macrae Burnet – author of ‘His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae.

‘Crime in the Spotlight’ is a fantastic initiative and I thoroughly appreciate the opportunity I had to showcase myself and my writing. Despite having had good success in international book prizes it has been incredibly difficult to attract interest from agents and reviewers and a festival appearance, with an opportunity to engage with audiences directly, has been but a distant dream. However, the Bloody Scotland initiative was bloody brilliant in generating publicity, giving me a chance to flaunt my narrative drive and speak to audience members directly who didn’t just buy my book but asked me to sign it!(HURRAH!)
Margot McCuaig – author of ‘The Birds That Never Flew’

9/18/2015

Bloody Scotland – post event blues

Well it’s all over for 2015 – a record year with more memories than I care to catalogue. Highlights were the panel with Tom Wood, Simon Kernick and Mason Cross, chairing Chris Brookmyre, introducing ‘Crime in the Spotlight’, officiating at the Curly Coo, meeting Martina Cole and so much more. Here’s to 2016.

9/12/2015

Bloody Scotland

Out of the gate on Bloody Scotland – 5 authors to introduce as part of the ‘Crime in Spotlight’ initiative, interviewing Chris Brookmyre, on stage with Mason Cross, Tom Wood and Simon Kernick and helping out at the Curly Coo – pictures soon.

8/29/2015

Review

A great review of The Catayst at Big Al’s Books & Pals

A great review of The Catayst at Big Al’s Books & Pals

http://booksandpals.blogspot.co.uk

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Psychological thriller

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

Availability
Kindle US: YES UK: YES Nook: NO Smashwords: NO Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Gordon Brown is a marketing executive by trade. He has lived and worked abroad, including a stint in Canada. He was born and still resides in Scotland with his family. When not working Gordon writes and is a founder member of the Bloody Scotland literary festival and he shares the same name as the ex-Prime Minister of the UK. Apparently Gordon is very bad at playing golf. Catalyst is his third novel.

You can learn more about the author at his website.

Description:

Craig McIntyre, ex US military turned bodyguard, has a powerful and uncontrollable affliction: his mere presence removes people’s inhibitions, transforming their darkest thoughts into action.

When a US senator sees the unique potential to create the ultimate assassin he orders a covert agency to capture Craig and Craig’s wife, Lorraine.

In an attempt to mould him into a lethal weapon, the senator has Craig drugged and tortured and forces him to witness Lorraine’s murder.

Craig escapes and, distraught at the death of his wife, he vows to kill the senator. But he has to act fast because the agency has orders to hunt him down and bring him back: dead or alive.

Appraisal:

Well, this is an interesting novel and a different take on the use of a person as a weapon. McIntyre, is no slouch when it comes to his military abilities, but throw in his ability to force people to turn on each other he’s deadly. The trouble is McIntyre is at first unaware of his ‘skill’. Once he gains awareness (by force) he can’t figure out how to control it. Instead a US senator tried to turn him into a killer to be directed as he sees fit. McIntyre wants to break out, but he can’t and in the process he ends up killing the few people around him he cares about and many more beside. And there’s absolutely nothing he can do about it.

Overall it’s brightly written. Brown has a taut, very economic style to his narrative that whips the story along at pace. Descriptions are minimal, which adds to the breakneck speed. Being written in the first person adds greatly, the reader becomes immersed in McIntyre’s world, sensing his confusion, his loss and, ultimately, his hate.

I thoroughly enjoyed Catalyst and read it over a couple of sittings. It slips along easily, the twists and turns in the plot kept me well entertained. If you like something a little different, this is the book for you. Cleverly plotted it’s a winner.

8/2/2015

Film Star

My friends at SteinIAS have been helping me out. So far I’ve been covered in dirt, blood, beaten up. wrapped in tape, tied to a chair and attacked with a crow bar – all in the name of shooting a video for my Craig McIntyre series. Teaser attached – full video soon.

6/7/2015

Me and the First Minister

Bumped into the First Minister at the airport in New York today.

5/24/2015

US Publication with Down & Out Books

I’m delighted that Down & Out Books have signed up to publish Falling, my first book, in the US next year. A big thanks to Eric Campbell for having faith in me.Down & Out Books

5/22/2015

Free e-Book

This weekend I am launching my four novels on amazon e-books under the author name of G.J. Brown (although they will also temporarily be available under Gordon Brown).

To celebrate I am making The Catalyst FREE to download on Saturday 23rd May and Sunday 24th May.

This is a limited time offer – all you need to do is click on the link below and away you go (you don’t need a kindle to do it – instructions for app are in the link)

Link – Click Here

Remember it’s free on Saturday and Sunday only – Please tell your friends (or your enemies) and let Amazon know what you think of the book.

4/12/2015

Missing in Action

I’ve been remiss in my update of the website. With work being full on, Bloody Scotland taking shape and writing taking up all my spare time I’ve been web shy. I’ve just agreed to a new event at Bookpoint in Dunoon on the 16th May. For your diaries Bloody Scotland – see www.bloodyscotland.com is from the 11th to the 13th of September with the programme being launched on the 3rd of June.

11/17/2014

Launch Night

Has a brilliant night at the launch of Meltdown with a full house and we sold out of books. A big thanks to everyone that came along and to Waterstone’s on Argyle St for hosting the event.

11/17/2014

Launch of Meltdown

I’ve had a couple of great pieces of coverage in the press from both the Sun and the Daily Record for the launch of Meltdown.

10/7/2014

Meltdown Launch – November 13th

The launch of Meltdown will take place on November the 13th at Waterstones, Argyle St in Glasgow. The multi talented Shari Low has agreed to act as compere for the evening. Should be fun.

8/16/2014

Meltdown – New Craig McIntyre Novel

Meltdown, published by Gallus, will be launched in November. As a taster here is the back cover blurb.

Craig McInytre is back and sometimes the unthinkable happens.

‘Ex bodyguard Craig McIntyre has a unique affliction: his mere presence removes people’s inhibitions turning their darkest thoughts into actions. When captured by arch enemy and state senator Tampoline, McIntyre fully expects to be killed, but instead finds himself on a mission to help replenish the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve which has been destroyed in a hushed up attack by white supremacist group the Factor.
As McIntyre tries to use his unique ability to avert global economic meltdown, he must stay one step ahead of both Tampoline and the Factor. And as this thrilling story unfolds the stakes only get higher.’

Out November 2014.

7/8/2014

‘The Time Thief’

Life from the In-Between

When I skulked out of university after four years of home based indulgence I decided I was leaving the mother ship and struck out for London. I worked as a graduate trainee in a Sainsbury supermarket in Putney. My job description promised a wide and varied introduction to the world of supermarket retailing. On arrival I had been assigned to the produce department and, as soon as I took off my coat, my new boss announced he was off on holiday soon. So, four weeks into the job, I was in charge of the department and the staff. Well you can tell that this was going to go well. Me in charge of a team who viewed me with disdain oozing from their brown overcoats and clip ties.
Due to a combination of unbridled ignorance and long hours I survived the fortnight and the experience made a small but perceptible mark in my psyche. In working from six in the morning to midnight I garnered a full and unfettered understanding of the benefits of ‘me time’. Something that had been in no short supply at uni. Off course, being young and blessed with an Atlantic type distance to the grim reapers visit, I utilized the few free hours on offer consuming food and drink. Sleep was optional.
With the Atlantic gap to my demise now more like the North Sea the concept of ‘me time’ has crystalized into an absurd parody of itself. The intervening years have taken the hours set aside for my delectation and dictated that they’re available for reallocation on an arbitrary basis to non ‘me-time’ activity.
This redistribution is not led by some Machiavellian outside force. It would be easy for me to blame relatives and friends for nicking my precious spare minutes. The truth is touch more bizarre for I’ve discovered that the thief in the night is none other than myself. I’m the root cause of the removal of my own free time.
Why would I do such a thing? Well let’s hang out the beast for examination. It all takes the shape of an endless need to be doing something when I could be doing sod all. Well, as close as you can get to sod all. When a ‘Carry On’ movie beckons I’ll take a notion to cut grass. A chance to read another chapter of my latest book becomes an opportunity to touch up some paint. And, when a whole weekend rolls into view, my time-thief lets rip with a cry of joy. All those seconds to be filled. Stuff to be done. Jobs to be planned. Forgotten promises of work. A list unfurls and pins itself to the inside of my eyelids. Striped sweater, swag bag and masked up the time-thief sneaks in and swipes his booty.
I can foil him. Sometimes. Forced inactivity is one weapon. A hotel room in a backwater place. Far away from home. Or a walk. But he’s a persistent beggar. I know that the solution is to front him up, stand my ground – or rather lie down on my ground and tell him to feck off.
I should but I don’t. Anyway I need to go. I’ve just remembered I haven’t cleaned the sills on my car for a couple of weeks.

7/2/2014

The Catalyst Now Available On line

After a long and arduous battle with the world of eBooks ‘The Catalyst’ is now available on line through a variety of routes including Amazon at the amazingly low price of £1.81. http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Catalyst-Gordon-Brown-ebook/dp/B00LFJGA1S/ref=sr_1_sc_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1404289410&sr=8-2-spell&keywords=catlayst+gordon+brown

6/22/2014

Independent Bookseller Week – Dunoon 28/6/14

Doing a gig for Independent Bookseller Week in Dunoon at Bookpoint this Saturday at 12.00pm

6/10/2014

Life from the In-Between

‘The Big Apple’

Sirens, car horns, truck horns, air conditioning hissing, mobile phone tunes I don’t know – sounds.
Food smells at every corner, car exhaust fumes, rubbish bins – smells.
A feeling that you need to wash your hair, ten minutes after washing it – touch.
Yellow cabs, blue police cars, silver buses, famous buildings – Empire State, Chrysler, Grand Central, 42nd Street, Park Avenue, hobos, delis – sights.
New York is a mild mugging of your senses. It doesn’t sit well with the city to prick at just one of the physiological capacities of organisms that provide data for perception (Wiki’s description – not mine). It has an inbuilt desire to take them all on. Or, if the city was honest with itself, win you over, sense by sense. It opens the pores, dilates the pupils, brushes the ear-drum and gets up your nose. It wants you to remember who’s really in charge. The people on the sidewalk, the cabbie at the lights, the police officer with a coffee, the mother with the stroller – all think the world centres on them. The city knows different. It sits square in the middle of the local universe. It calls out to you, with a degree of subtlety that would make a trained hostage negotiator cry with envy, to comply. The freedom so close to an American’s heart is one of a gilded cage. It dictates pace. Restricts movement. Steals time. And there is nothing you can do about it. The TV brims with technology trying to beat the city. Colour coded traffic reports, public transport incident alerts, radar driven weather updates – all of which give the illusion of control.
Take last Sunday when I arrived from the UK. The taxi rank at the airport promises swift, all be it expensive, transport to Manhattan. But the city is holding Puerto Rican Day. A solid wall of red, white and blue marching down 5th Avenue – slicing the city in two. Placing a barrier to cars that can’t be breached. I was liberated from my money and deposited three blocks from my destination – it may as well have been thirty. Progress was imposed upon me at a pace a baby on its first crawl would have beaten. Around me people are celebrating the joy of being while the city holds them in velvet handcuffs.
I love the place. It has a heartbeat hard to match anywhere on the planet. But there is a price. New York takes more than it gives. You leave with a sense of weary exhilaration. Every time you leave something of you stays behind. Just enough to make you want to return – because, after all, every beast needs a regular supply of food.

5/30/2014

Life from the In-Between

‘Buying Stuff.’

When I was a lad (said with the required Yorkshire accent) buying stuff was simple. Three main options were open to you. A private sale, buy through a shop or order from a catalogue. Most deals were for cash or on tick. Your rights were weak – caveat emptor was the norm. Warranty’s and guarantees were thin on the ground. But so were sales. Impulse purchasing was a phrase from a future decade. Disposable income was measured in pennies. And, unless you lived on the west side of the Atlantic, the shopping experience was as weak as tea from used tealeaves.
Today we swim beneath an ocean of buying opportunities. Your three basic options have been boosted by the arrival of the Internet and alternate technology.
But all is not as it seems. In 1979 I purchased Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark first album on vinyl. Yesterday I bought Rufus’s new album at Fopp. I could have downloaded it but I want the CD and Amazon takes too long to deliver. Save it’s a CD and not vinyl, and that’s a debatable advance, not much change there then. I saw Star Wars four months after it premiered in the US. Now I’ll watch ’12 Years a Slave’ four months after release – admittedly at home.
I can order a new t-shirt from Australia. In the seventies my mum’s Kay’s catalogue let me do the same thing.
So is technology really changing the way I buy? Well let’s look at the top five strangest things you can buy on the Internet (according to the Internet)

1) Urine Powered Batteries
2) A Mech ( a kind of robot)
3) A Celebrity
4) A Serial Killers Fingernails
5) A banana guard

Now let’s consider the top 5 strangest things you could buy in the seventies – and not a URL in sight:

1) Own your own Texas Ranch (a one inch square of genuine Texas land and a map to show you where it is – 2 dollars)
2) Automatic Firing Tripod Machine gun ($1.98) – ten pellets a second
3) A Polar Nuclear Submarine ($6.98) – seven feet long and sits two kids.
4) Hypno-Coin – hypnotize your friends in seconds – $1.00.
5) And, off course, X Ray Specs – £1.99

Be honest the seventies list is far more intriguing. There may be more opportunities to purchase today but has buying stuff really changed for the better? My answer – I’m off to order my X Ray Specs.

Archive of Older Posts 2011/2012/2013/2014

5/22/2014

Life from the In-Between

‘Keep Calm and …’

Annoying isn’t it. The ‘Keep Calm and…’ epidemic that has spread across our world. It seems if you can’t come with an original slogan just borrow ‘Keep Calm and…’ as a cheap way out. Originally produced in 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War, it was designed to raise the morale of those in the areas where mass air raids might be expected.
The rediscovery is credited to one Stuart Manley; who co-owns a bookshop with his wife in Northumbria. He found an original poster in amongst some books. He framed it and put it up above his till. And people went nuts for it.
We can thank Tom for the poster’s newfound popularity but we can’t blame him for the explosion of imitations both of the phrase and of the layout and font (no one seems to no exactly what font type it is – but it’s close to the one used for London Underground). Top a poster with a crown, alternate your cap size as you drop down and bingo.
Some enterprising people have even formed Keep Calm and Carry On Ltd and are laying claim to the intellectual property of the phrase.
My problem with it all is that none of the myriad of poor copies gets close to the original. Every variant that I have seen misses the point. They fall into two camps. A blatant substitution of the words ‘carry on’ for ‘insert inane action here’. Pointless as there is not a cat in hell’s chance that you were undertaking said action in the first place. Or in camp two you ignore the phraseology and borrow the look and feel. An action so lacking in creative thought that the perpetrators may as well have set their creations in italicized Comic Sans and Swahili for all the stand out they will achieve.
Take the original sentiment. It’s direct, instructive and concise. It assumes that the reader is already in a calm state but that’s no bad thing – people like to think they are in control. It doesn’t tell you what to do. It just tells you to keep doing whatever it was you were doing. You can’t argue with its logic either. Doing the opposite is fraught with uncertainty.
As such it does a fine job. So why, other than for blatant t-shirt selling commerce, copy it. Your message can only be second best. You can only look second rate and people will only remember the original phrase. Your communication will vanish from their heads like faded type from an old manuscript – only a damn sight quicker.
So if you are tempted to rip off this venerable piece of communication – take my advice and do the antithesis of what it says – ‘Panic and do something else’.

5/12/2014

Life from the In-Between

‘The Lad’s Weekend’

I’m not long back from the Isle of Gigha. A small island off the west coast of Scotland. Seven miles long, a mile and half wide – a hotel, a boathouse, a nine hole golf course, a shop, gardens, space for walking – and that’s kind of it. I’ve been going, on and off, since I was seventeen. Or should I say WE have been going. Of the eight that went this year, it’s now an annual thing, six of them were there when I first stepped ashore. It’s all the fault of a friend called Trevor – he got a job in the hotel in the early eighties and we swarmed over after him. Teenagers keen to sample the freedom that an island provides.
Thirty-five years later and a greying, slightly more portly, less energetic version of the fresh youth of yesteryear still hirple off the ferry and onto the island. We’ve picked up a few new friends along the way – but even they’ve been in the fold for twenty years plus.
And that got my cerebrum working. When does a ‘Lad’s Weekend’ stop being a ‘Lad’s Weekend’. At what age is acceptable to still be ‘doing the Lad’s Weekend.’ So I emailed the crew with a simple question and asked them.
Here are a few of their replies:
‘Never, cause we will never accept that we are old so a group of lads / boys can be any age.’ John, aged 52.

‘That obviously only applies to the majority of the group!! :-)’ Paul, 42 (the baby)

‘As I have said on many occasions ‘age is a state of mind, not a physical condition’ therefore there is no age limit!’ Ian, 56.

’90 – when you can no longer do all the things you want to do.’ Scott, 50.

It seems that there is no real time limit on the ‘Lad’s Weekend’ as long as you can wander up that hill, meander to the next pub, shoot the breeze, drink the drink and can stand each other’s company.
Mentally we are all still twenty-one – maybe younger. We have no concept of being ‘too old’. We lack the ability to perceive time as the fire in which we burn. We talk about events that happened two decades in the past as if they happened two days ago. We can’t even pin-point what happened when. Vagueness is the atmosphere we breathe.
The ‘Lad’s Weekend’ is a time machine. When on the island the time between visits seems to vanish. Like Brigadoon we perceive the day we arrive as the day after we left. We never age. The island takes those thirty-five years and squeezes them into a few months. There is Gigha time and then there is the time in between.
The ‘Lad’s Weekend’ is also a family that we are welded into. We step onto the slipway and we are in our spiritual home. Each of us has a familiar role. Some one is in charge of the food. Accommodation is sorted. Kitty man exists to act as a bank. We have even have someone in charge of the weather. (He didn’t do a great job this year).
So where does that leave us. In a good place is the simple answer. Friends united by a common purpose. To chill out, chat about nonsense and chew the mental dragon. An escape valve that opens once a year.
And will this all continue? Like a ferry coming through the night I can see the light broaching the horizon already. After all, as I handed in the keys to our dwelling, I was the one that booked the same weekend for next year.

5/7/2014

Interviews

As part of the run up to Bloody Scotland I’m interviewing Louise Welsh and Chris Brookmyre on the 4th and 5th of June respectivly for our main sponsor, Mazars, launch events. Looking forward to it.

4/30/2014

Life from the In-Between

‘The Distraction of Focus’

A week ago I was standing on a station platform in the midshires of England. I was waiting for a train back home after a few days of running workshops. My head was scrambled but my focus was on one thing – to get a decent seat on board the train. One next to a window. One with a table and, if possible, one without someone sitting across from me. As I paced around the all but deserted station I had a moment of clarity. My brain had been spinning with my ‘to do’ list and my ‘not done yet and isn’t on my to do list’ list. Now it was focused on one thing. Getting that seat. Nothing else. My world had been reduced to one simple task. And it was liberating.
Ten minutes to the train’s arrival.
My new found state of enlightenment begged a question. Why had my desire to achieve a prime location on the train pushed all else to one side? My competing priorities and conflicting thoughts were on a siding. All else was focused on the London to Glasgow mainline and the availability of a prime bottom resting location. For a few minutes I had found escape from my inner voice – the chatter monkey that fills every gap with corroding babble. I had peace – of a sort.
I breathed deep and stepped fully into this distraction. I added nuances to my thinking. Front of the train or back of the train? Forward facing or rear facing? Near the toilets or not? My other worries receded. Driven back by the growing choices I could make. Where do I want to be in relation to the buffet car? Do I want to sit over the wheels?
Five minute’s to ETA.
What if I change the game and stand for the whole journey. What would the implication be? After all standing would help my slouch. Improve my circulation. Burn off a few calories. Add in regular strolls along the train and I could exit at Glasgow a few ounces lighter than I got on. Maybe I should lie down. Is there space on a train to lie down and not be an obstruction? Would the driver let me in to sit? Is there a spare seat?
Three minutes.
On top of the train? Cool. Dangerous but not impossible. Illegal? Maybe. Under the train? Lethal. Let’s not take the train. How long would it take to walk? A flick of my iPhone and Google Maps informs me I need 66 hours. Swim. Fly.
Two minutes.
What if I don’t go home? Set up camp on the platform. There’s enough space and there has to be a camping shop nearby.
Check into a hotel. Buy my own yacht. Off to the Med. A bigger yacht. Caribbean time.
One minute.
Or I could use the seat reservation I have and make my life simpler.
The train arrives.
My seat is vacant.
I’m at a window. I have no one opposite. I’m at a table.
With no distraction the chatter monkey kicks in again. My distraction is gone. I need to find another.
I do.
On my laptop.
It’s called Skyfall.
But your mind wanders during a film. Doesn’t it? And that invites back the chatter monkey.
Then again how would M know about the ejection button on a DB3 or why would Bond even have a DB 3 or…
…my new focus is just as distracting.

4/29/2014

Making a Commitment

My site sits in the background as my life unfolds and, at the weirdest times, I remember that I’m meant to update it. And maybe that’s the problem – I’m meant to update it. No I’m not. I should be all over it. It isn’t a hateful task. It should be a fun one. After all if I can’t make the effort to put a few words in the right place I should retire from this game. So we (the royal we is so liberating) should make an effort – or better still set a challenge. Give this site a reason to exist for a bit.
Having given this no thought at all (trust me I’m not even sure how this sentence is going to finish) I’m going to commit to put something of use on these pages – well maybe not ‘use’ – maybe – well maybe just anything. And there in lies the rub – what?
Well for a while I did ‘A Brown View on Life’ – rubbish name so it needs changed. However it was a good idea and deserves to be reborn. So from next week I’ll be bringing the world – ‘Life from the In-Between’. A stream of nonsense that will mean something to me and maybe something to you. AS view on this world from someone who sits between two worlds – writing and the day job. A land where nothing is clear, everything is shades and it’s hard to separate fact from fiction.
Watch this space – and kick me if it doesn’t happen.

3/18/2014

Bloody Scotland 2014

Can’t reveal any of the names for this year’s event but things are looking good. As a founding committee member my biggest goal for Bloody Scotland is not to end up on the same time as one of the star attractions – last year I ended up opposite Jo Nesbo. You’d think I’d have some influence.

1/30/2014

New Book

First draft of the new book is done. Tentatively called Meltdown. The good news is that Craig McIntyre from The Catalyst is back.

11/19/2013

Book Week Scotland

Bloody Scotland is going on tour. for full details see here – www.scottishbooktrust.com/reading/book-week-scotland/about

Bloody Scotland is going on tour. for full details see here – www.scottishbooktrust.com/reading/book-week-scotland/about

As part of this I’m off on tour via Dundee, Orkney and St Andrews as follows

Address
Steps Theatre
Central Library
Dundee
DD1 1DB
United Kingdom
Time
19:00 – 20:30
Date
25 November 2013
Telephone number for queries
01382 431533
Author or event host
Gillian Galbraith, will Jordan, Chris Longmuir and Gordon Brown

Address
Orkney Library
44 Junction Road
Kirkwall
KW15 1AG
United Kingdom
Time
18:30 – 20:00
Date
27 November 2013
Telephone number for queries
01856 873166
Author or event host
Craig Robertson, Helen Davis, Gordon Brown

Address
St Andrews
Venue TBA
United Kingdom
Time
14:00 – 15:00
Date
30 November 2013
Telephone number for queries
0843 2908603
Author or event host
Alex Gray, Lin Anderson, Craig Robertson, Frank Muir, Gordon Brown

9/16/2013

Bloody Scotland – what a weekend

So Bloody Scotland is over for year 2. What a weekend. Record ticket sales, great events and brilliant feedback from the audiences. I met some wonderful authors (and drank with some ’till late in the night) – said hello to Lee Child, drove William McIlvanney home, made tequila cocktails on stage, talked nonsense with Doug Johnston and Craig Robertson on a panel, acted as taxi driver, dressed up in a pink apron and abused my liver. All in all a great Bloody Scotland. But the first committee meeting for 2014 is tomorrow? It all starts once more.

9/9/2013

Sneak Preview

A sneak preview of an interview I did for http://theresbeenamurder.wordpress.com

1. How did you get started writing?

When I was a kid I used to love writing short stories but my ambition to become a writer kicked off when I read James Herbert’s ‘The Fog.’ Until then I’d been reading books such as the Hardy Boys or even Nancy Drew. When I was fifteen I was on holiday at my Gran’s and one day she asked if I wanted any books from the library. Being a lazy teenager I nodded my head. She returned with ‘The Fog’ and my eyes were opened to the world of adult literature.

2. What drew you to crime fiction?

I wasn’t drawn to the genre. It found me. When I started my first novel I had one line in my head – ‘Falling is the last thing I wanted to do.’ In turn it was a criminal who was throwing the main protagonist off a building and it morphed into a crime book. Until then I was until then, a reader of thrillers and books of facts.

3. Which crime writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?

Crime writers have not influenced me as such. My main influences have been authors such as Stephen King, Larry Niven, Tom Sharpe, Clive Cussler, James Patterson, Lee Child etc. I’m a page-turner kind of guy.

4.  Out of the three books you have written so far, which one has been your favourite and why

My newest one – ‘The Catalyst’. It’s an ‘out and out’ thriller. I set it in Iraq and the USA and it’s written from an American’s point of view. I changed my writing style a little to accommodate this and the words flew out. I wrote it in the first person and in the present tense to give the narrative both focus and drive. I also introduce Craig McIntyre – a man with a powerful and uncontrollable affliction; his mere presence removes people’s inhibitions, transforming their darkest thoughts into action. I’m writing the follow up to this and if it gets traction I can see Craig becoming my central character.

5. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?

Roll on thirty years from reading ‘The Fog’ and I have a stack of novels, short stories and other material scattered across the house. By now I’m finishing a job as Marketing Director of STV and decide to give myself one last shot at getting published. I set a target of writing a novel from scratch over the summer of 2008. I finish ‘Falling’ the day before the kids head back to school. I tidy it up over the next month and send it to four publishers – and one of them picks it up.

6. Did you find the experience of writing your first novel an easy task or a quite daunting one?

I found it quite easy but I had done a fair amount of writing up to that point. I simply set out to write a minimum of 1,000 words a day and stuck to that schedule. I had no plan. No blueprint. I wrote for three months and then stopped. I left it alone for a few weeks and then edited it for a month before sending it off.

7. Why did you decide to set your books in Glasgow?

Two reasons. In the first instance it makes it easier to write. I know Glasgow well and when I’m describing people moving around the landscape it comes naturally. By setting it in Glasgow I don’t have to remember the geography of a strange city. It’s all in my head.

Secondly Glasgow has a grit and history to it that gives my first two books a great backdrop. It may no longer be ‘No Mean City’ but it still has that air about it.

8. If you can can you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned

Craig McIntyre is embarking on another adventure in a new book. I’m starting where the last one finished and having fun giving him a bad time.

9. What kind of research did you have to undertake for your book

Mostly it’s my imagination. Although the one thing I do like to do is to place the action in places I know something about. I recently attended the Left Coast Crime Festival in Colorado Springs and Craig will probably make a visit. It means I’m giving the narrative a real background. One that I can see in my mind and I think this helps bring the story to life. The other big aid is the internet. In The Catalyst the action moves across America and although I had been to many of the places Google Street-view was a great tool to fill in the gaps.

10. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?

Probably but not on anyone who would recognise themselves. I find characterization is an amalgam of many people’s traits but in the end there is more of me in them than anyone else.

11. Since you have started writing crime novels have any known authors given you any advice

Not really. Most authors plough their own field. That’s not to say that if you are stuck or have a question that they won’t help. On the other hand editors and publishers are full of advice.

12. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?

Yes. Although people make the mistake of thinking that every one of my character’s words, deeds or thoughts reflect mine. I sometimes get comments about something a character has done or said and I’m asked if that’s what I’d do or say. The simple answer is maybe. But imagination is a wonderful thing.  Look at Facebook or Twitter – some people have invented whole new personas that they live out online. How much of it is true is another matter.

13. In your book 59 Minutes it is written as if the main character is giving you an autobiography of his life, as it easier to write like this or do you find it easier to write novels where someone else is telling the story

I love first person. Mamie Lang, the then writer in residence for Glasgow South, told me, many years ago, that first person was for me. It gives pace and focus. Although it has its challenges. When you write this way you are creating a world as seen through the eyes of the main protagonist. As such you have to be quite inventive to give the reader a helicopter view when they need it.

14. At the moment there are numerous authors setting their books in Glasgow, what do you think sets yours apart from the rest

I’m not sure that I can answer that as I’m not sure that where a book is set is that crucial. I think it gives flavour and a canvas to write on but for me it’s about the story. On top of that my new book moves from Basra to LA to Florida and the only connection with Scotland is that Craig’s mum is from Glasgow. In addition it is a thriller and not a crime novel – so it is all change.

15. As a blossoming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share

The real change in my approach was after reading Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’. That gave me an approach to writing that so far had eluded me. I’d recommend it to any writer. From this I took four pieces of advice that have served me well.

a) Start writing. As soon as you put finger to keyboard you move from the phrase ‘I am going to write a book’ to ‘I’m writing a book’ – that is a huge mental wall to overcome. And if you share this fact with friends and family it spurs you on to complete it – as they will ask you how you are getting on.

b) Set yourself a target – a hundred words a day, a thousand words a day, five thousand words a week and try to stick to it. I’m not advocating writing for the sake of writing but it works for me as it disciplines me to sit down and over the weeks, as the word count grows, you can see your goal getting closer.

c) Keep reading. Inspiration comes from stimulus and the best stimulus you can find is in other people’s work. Although there can be a downside – I’m reading William McIlvanney’s Laidlaw and you can get a little depressed when you compare the quality of his writing – but it’s also a driver to improve my writing.

d) Last, but not least, write about something you like and enjoy. Don’t try to write the next Harry Potter or 50 Shades etc – unless you love this stuff. The reader will see through it. Passion for your writing shines out and, for me, that only comes if you enjoy what you’re writing about.

Gordon

9/6/2013

Bloody Scotland

I’ve just spent two nights interviewing William McILvanney at the National Library (Wednesday night) and Chris Broookmyre (last night) at the Mitchell Library for the Bloody Scotland sponsors Mazars. Two magic nights. I’d thoroughly recommend, if you’ve not done so, that you go and discover the Laidlaw trilogy by William and Chris’s latest book – Flesh Wounds. Looking forward to Bloody Scotland – Jo Nesbo just sold out. Great news as my panel was on at the same time so now you can’t see Jo you can see Gordon, Doug and me.

7/26/2013

Reviews

Amazon can be a curse and a blessing – today it’s a blessing – reviews from Amazon for The Catalyst – and before you ask I don’t know who they are.

5.0 out of 5 stars The Fog- with attitude! 26 Jun 2013By AggiI’ve read all of this authors books and this is his best by a country mile. A difficult book to categorize thriller? horror? pursuit? supernatural supernova? It’s a bit of each but as I was reading I got that same feeling of uneasy creeping violence I got while reading ‘The Fog’, violence much more terrifying because nobody knows exactly where it comes from. Or why. But we are sure about ‘the who’! And he’s the hero.
I hope we see Craig MacIntyre again.
I hope he’s calmed down a bit. For all our sakes.5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting premise for an action packed novel 19 Jun 2013By AliscotiaI do think Gordon Brown is a good writer. Well thought out plot, believable dialogue, fast action. In Catalyst the main character has a “gift” he is not aware of, the ability to drive those around him to acts of violence upon each other. It’s not long before this gets him into trouble, the authorities alerted and so the chase begins. I’ve enjoyed all three of Gordon’s books and particularly enjoyed the Glasgow setting in “Falling”.

7/15/2013

Book signing – Waterstones, Glasgow, Sauchiehall St, 19th July – 5.00pm

Well I’ve survived T in the Park (just) and now I’m looking forward to a book signing this Friday at Waterstones, Sauchiehall St at 5.00pm – all welcome.

6/2/2013

Pulp Pusher

Tony Black interviewed me for his wonderful website – Pulp Pusher. Take trip to http://pulppusher.blogspot.co.uk to see the interview.

5/25/2013

Daily Record Review

Today’s review of ‘The Catalyst’ in the Daily Record.

4/11/2013

Launch Date

It looks like the new book – the Catalyst – will be launched on the 22nd of May at Waterstones in Argyle St.

3/21/2013

Tour of America

Tour of America continues (well short tour of America continues). Itinerary – Glasgow – New York – Denver – Colorado Springs – New York – Glasgow. Followed by trip to Manchester next Tuesday (oh the glamour).

3/18/2013

Left Coast Crime Festival

Cool – Craig Robertson and myself are appearing at the Left Coast Crime Festival this week. http://www.leftcoastcrime.org/2013/ All the way to Colorado Springs – I’m sure that’s a song somewhere.

2/12/2013

The Catalyst – Cover

The new cover for my next book has arrived. Wonderful.

2/1/2013

Silence is Golden

Having neglected my internet duties I thought I better get my backside into gear.

Having been taken on by Gallus Press for my new book see www.olidapublishing.moonfruit.com –  I owe a a big thanks to Allan Sneddon. My new novel – The Catalyst is due out March 20th 2013. I can’t give you  sneak peak yet but I can post up the blurb from the back of the book:

The Catalyst by Gordon Brown

‘Transforming their darkest thoughts into action’

‘Craig McIntyre, ex US military turned bodyguard, has a powerful and uncontrollable affliction: his mere presence removes people’s inhibitions, transforming their darkest thoughts into action.

When a US senator sees the unique potential to create the ultimate assassin he orders a covert agency to capture Craig and Craig’s wife, lorraine.

in an attempt to mould him into a lethal weapon, the senator has Craig drugged and tortured and forces him to witness Lorraine’s murder.

Craig escapes and, distraught at the death of his wife, he vows to kill the senator. But he has to act fast because the agency has orders to hunt him down and bring him back: dead or alive.’

I’ll post up the cover soon.

12/8/2012

Daily Record

10/5/2012

Bottle Part 12

The distillery became a media hot spot. Charlie did more interviews than Usain Bolt after breaking a world record. TV and radio adore a ‘hero and ‘Quick Question Charlie’ became ‘Have a Go Charlie.’ The internet caught fire and with the speed only the digital world can deliver Charlie went global. A Facebook page was set up. #haveagocharlie became the number one spot on Twitter and a young pupil from the local school snapped together a website and Charlie was immortalized in pixel form.

The next day the newspapers spread Charlie over the front pages. ‘Four drinks and you’re out cold.’ ‘ It’s a ‘whisky’ game working in a distillery.’

A US TV network phoned and offered him a first class ticket to New York to appear on the morning breakfast show. They threw in a weeks’ stay in a hotel and a VIP tour of the Big Apple. But Charlie declined. He had always wanted to go to New York but he had his reasons for staying.

So it’s Monday and I’m opening the gate. So I should have retired on Friday. So Nora isn’t too happy. But the publicity from the raid has put visitor bookings through the roof and if ever I had questions worth answering I have them now.  Especially when they’re going to name a whisky after me.

Charlie walked into the distillery thinking that when retirement beckoned it would be worth the wait. But that day now felt a long way in the future.

The End

10/4/2012

Bottle Part 11

The bottle was curving to the ground and Charlie had to bend to catch it before it could smash on the concrete. As he did so Number Three hit him but flew into the air as he tumbled over Charlie’s bent form.  Charlie stood up and turned round but the gang member was already getting to his feet. Charlie hadn’t the time to reach for more bottles. ‘Please forgive me.’ The prayer made to the God of whisky. He sighed before smashing the forty year old bottle onto the head of Number Three.  Crystal and whisky exploded into the air and the engraved top spun over the roof of the Merc.

The last gang member hurtled through the shop door and found Charlie standing over the bodies of his three colleagues. Carrying two bags in one hand the fourth gang member had a leather cosh in the other. He took one more look at his comrades and raised the cosh to attack. Charlie was defenseless. Too far away from the boot for more bottles and, out in the open, he knew his luck wouldn’t hold for a fourth time. The last man started to leap forward and stopped – his head the centre point for a firework display of gold and silver as Tony neatly stepped from the shop behind him and brought down a bottle of seventeen year old on the man’s head. The man dropped to the ground.

Whisky bottles 4 – Thieves 0.

Charlie started a wide smile.

10/3/2012

Bottle Part 10

As the man in black stood there Charlie cracked the top of the bottle in his hand and offered it up to him. ‘Fancy a taste.’ Charlie took a slug from the bottle, stepped forward and spat the whisky into the eye slit in the man’s hood. The man screamed, throwing his hands to his face. The sound of the scream brought the driver out of his door and Charlie lifted another bottle and, using muscles that had lain dormant for years, heaved it at him. At one time Charlie had been a dab hand at throwing rocks over his house. It took co-ordination and a fair effort to do that. Now the practice paid off as the bottle caught the driver square in the face and he crashed to the ground.

The first man was still screaming and Charlie casually walked over to him and swung the bottle onto the crown of the screaming man’s head. He collapsed like a wet sponge.

Number Three ran out of the door and tried to take in the scene. In his hand was a crafted crystal bottle. Charlie recognised it as the forty year old. A precious thing. Charlie began to reach into the boot for another bottle but, unlike his two companions, this one was quick on the uptake. He charged at Charlie, throwing the forty year old at him as he came. Charlie had a choice. Dodge the attacker or save the forty year old.

Charlie chose the latter.

10/2/2012

Bottle Part 9

Over fourteen thousand six hundred days without incident. Like those signs they put up in building sites. Fifty one days since the last accident only around here fifty one days was nothing. Not in a world where some of the whisky distilled today might not touch the inside of throat for another half a century. Around here things moved slowly. Took their time. Like the whisky. Slow. And no one spoiled that. Not on Charlie MacKay’s’ last day.

Charlie had reached the boot of the car. Six bags lay scattered, bottles spilling from their insides and that made him madder. No way to treat fine whisky. He reached into the first bag and pulled out a bottle of Tea Pot Dram. A fine whisky. A tribute to the drams that the distillery fold used to get many years ago. Lovingly recreated in memory of the days when all ‘our boys’ helped themselves to three large drams from the canteen teapot each day. A damn fine whisky indeed.

Another gang member raced out of the door and crunched to a halt when he saw Charlie.

Later on Charlie wouldn’t’ t be able to say exactly why he did it. The policeman taking the statement had been amazed that a man of Charlie’s age had taken on four hardened criminals.

‘You did what?’ was the first question out of the detective’s mouth when Charlie had told the story.

Charlie had looked at him, eyes moist. ‘Such a waste, such a bloody waste.’

10/1/2012

Bottle Part 8

Starting at thirty pounds a bottle, whisky in the shop rolled all the way up to a forty year old Glengoyne at three and half grand. Thousands, tens of thousands of pounds worth of whisky sat in the shop – maybe even more. Charlie didn’t know how much the Merc could take but the gang clearly thought it could hold enough to make the whole thing worthwhile.

Charlie was now less than ten yards from the rear of the smoking car. The first two out hadn’t seen him because they were focused on the whisky but that wouldn’t last. The next one out could spot him and Charlie had no idea what that would mean – other than not good news for Charlie McKay. Not good news at all.

Charlie started walking again. Standing still was a stupid option. He didn’t know what he would do when he reached the car but the sight of the gang emptying the shop had dipped his blood in hot lead. This was his distillery. His home for forty years. A place he loved. Full of wonderful memories. Not a place that he wanted sullied with some cheap cons who fancied a quick couple of quid. This was supposed to be his day. His last day. A special day. Not a bad day. He couldn’t remember a single bad day since the morning he had walked into the distillery in the early seventies.

Charlie was damned if that track record was going to be ruined today.

9/30/2012

Bottle Part 7

He hoped young Tony was ok. Tony had only started three months ago and was a quiet lad. He liked to open up shop. Quiet. That was Tony’s style. Quiet. Only now it wasn’t so quiet. Not in Tony’s world. Some more angry words sprang from the shop door and Charlie hesitated. What in the world was he doing? The gang might be a bit cockeyed raiding a distillery but that alone was good reason not to mess with them. Whatever they were up to he could just let them be. The car was primed to go. Pray that young Tony would be ok and just watch them rip rubber as they vanished. Better still take the number of the car and use his mobile to call the police. ‘Robbery in progress officer.’

The door flew open and one of the gang emerged carrying three full bags and yanked open the boot of the Merc; dropping the bags in before grabbing some more empty ones. As he ran back to the shop a second man flew out and threw three more bags into the back of the car.

The crash of glass hitting glass as the bags bounced on the boot floor told Charlie all he needed to know. This crew were here for the whisky. Things made a bit more sense now. The shop was rammed with Malt Whisky. Expensive Malt Whisky.

Charlie had no idea of what the stock might cost. He had never thought to ask.

9/29/2012

Bottle Part 6

As the car raced at Charlie he didn’t think he could be seen and, even so, how interested in an old tour guide would the driver be?  Charlie suspected very interested so he scrunched himself as low as he could. The driver used the wider bit of the path in front of the barrels to u-turn. Charlie stared at the windows through a gap but the black theme even stretched to the tint on the car windows and he could see nothing. The Merc headed back, drew up next to the shop door again and waited.

It seemed to Charlie that the car hunkered down when it stopped. Ready to leap forward. A dark beast waiting to strike.

Charlie knew he should act. Was surprised that no one else had appeared. Even this early the distillery had workers in full flow. Charlie had the feeling that his last day might be a touch more memorable than he had anticipated.

He walked towards the car keeping to the left and out of sight of the rear window. He expected the door to open and the driver to appear, gun in the air shouting at him to get on the ground, but as the distance to the car closed Charlie reckoned the driver was focused on what was in front and not what was behind.

He could hear noise from inside the shop. Shouting and clinking. Raised voices mixed with glass on glass.

Charlie wondered what in the hell was going down?

9/28/2012

Bottle Part 5

The car slammed to a halt outside the shop and Charlie stared as three men exited the car. Two from the back and one from the front passenger seat. Hoods. They all had hoods on. Black hoods on top of black jumpers. Black was the dress code for the day. Black trousers and black shoes and each of the three were carrying a clutch of black canvas bags. The three men in black hammered through the shop door leaving the Mercedes to pour exhaust into the cool morning.

Charlie sat there. Stunned. Confused. Wondering what in the hell was going on. The scene in front of him had the feel of some old gangster movie. The lads out on a hit. But this was a distillery – not a bank. The shop wouldn’t have anything other than the morning float and that was hardly worth getting all ‘Goodfellas’ on the place. Maybe what he was witnessing had a more innocent explanation. A plausible reason to haul an E class Merc into the distillery and empty out three men top to tail in black. A movie? The distillery was a set and Charlie hadn’t been informed? But where were the cameras, the filmmakers – the production crew?

A mistake. It can happen. Some drugged up team who had mistaken a whisky distillery for the local branch of RBS?

April Fool – but a bit late?

The Merc spun its rear wheels and headed up stream.

Charlie’s heart beat hard and he squatted down.

9/27/2012

Bottle Part 4

He also took the opportunity to learn as much as possible from as many people as would indulge him. ‘Quick Question Charlie’ had been his nickname. ‘Sorry Pete? Just a quick question?’ ‘Mary I’ve got a quick question.’ Quick question had become QQ and the balloons in the swanky hotel had all been printed with a double Q. Even the solid silver Quaich had been engraved ‘To QQ the answer is we will miss you.’

When Charlie was offered a small promotion two years later he took it but he already had his eye on the visitors. Questions worked both ways and Charlie had a natural way about him that visitors loved. No question too hard or too trivial and before long he had taken up the role of tour guide. A rare position back then. Sure, nowadays, there could be up to twenty of them on the go. After all fifty thousand people a year came to see the magic going on inside the copper and wood. But back then he had been king. Still was. Or rather would be until five o’clock today. The king is dead. Long live the king.

The day was cranking up for a hot one but in the shade of the glen there was still a touch of ground frost from a chilly mid summer snap the night before. Charlie swung his legs against the wooden barrel, beating out a rhythm with his heels.

Charlie jumped when the black Mercedes screamed into sight.

9/26/2012

Bottle Part 3

He drifted up towards the shop, passing the white buildings, some built when Queen Victoria was still one monarch in the future. He looked up at the ventilator that sat above the old malting rooms and smiled. His Japanese Crown. No longer used, the pagoda shaped ventilator was a well kent sight for the whisky enthusiast.

He reached the shop but didn’t enter. He didn’t want to look at the rows of fine whisky, lit by spotlight, cocooned in fine wood. It would just remind of him of what he would miss. He passed the visitor centre with its balcony hovering above the waters of a small lake and followed a stream up to the bottom of the waterfall that poured down at the far end of the distillery.

Hidden from view he planked himself on one of the wooden barrels that lay scattered on the banks of the stream and stared back at the place he had worked for most of his adult life.

Twenty four he had been when his father’s friend told him that Glengoyne were looking for some manual labour. He had been lean and fit back then. Six feet tall and not a scrap on him but muscle and bone. A sharp dresser and one for the girls. Labouring at Glengoyne had provided the pennies he had needed to lord it up in Glasgow city centre once a week. He loved the new job.

Charlie took to Planet Whisky like a child to a toy.

9/25/2012

Bottle Part 2

The leaving do had been a mess.  A swanky hotel in the west end. As much food and drink as anyone could ingest and a room full of friends. But Charlie’s heart hadn’t been in it. He kept imagining it was someone else’s do. That it wasn’t him that was leaving. At one point, a few drinks to the wrong side, he had begun to believe it. Convinced himself that this really was someone else’s exit bash. He had cheered up and made a fool of himself by mucking up the leaving speech. Confusing everyone by thanking them all for coming to his best mate Jim Laidlaw’s leaving do. Jim was the most confused of the lot.

Charlie looked over the road beyond the gate at the storage buildings in the distance. He had been here for four decades but there was whisky lying in the stores that had been laid down before Elvis had his first number one. Charlie was a youngster compared to some of the barrels that oozed the angel’s share out year after year.

He didn’t even have anything to do today. He had been due to finish a week ago but when one of the other tour guides had fallen sick Charlie jumped at the opportunity to work one more week. But it had been a mistake. Charlie wasn’t needed. All the goodbyes had been said and when Charlie reappeared, awkward was the most used word of the day.

Charlie had never felt so unwanted.

9/24/2012

Bottle Part 1

The distillery opened at seven in the morning. Charlie rolled the gate home and sighed. Last day syndrome he called it. He’d been telling people about it for over a year. Ever since he had decided enough was enough and that his wife of thirty years deserved to see more of him than the whisky world allowed. Last day syndrome. Not to be confused with de-mob syndrome. That was reserved for those who don’t love their jobs. For the many out there who dreaded the alarm that each day brought them back to the reality of life.

For Charlie there was no feeling of elation as his last day approached. As the clock ran down, instead of cutting back, he had ramped it up. Putting in unpaid overtime. Filling in at weekends. In the last month there wasn’t a spare hour that he hadn’t grabbed. ‘You’d bloody live there Charlie!’ Nora was right. He would have loved to live there. But all good things come to an end. At least that’s what he had told himself when he informed the girl at HR that he wanted to call time on his job.

He’d expected a little resistance. ‘Why do you want to quit Charlie?’ ‘Have we done something Charlie?’ Not that his colleagues hadn’t been surprised.  But rather than challenge his decision they had taken the light hearted route.’ I thought they’d bury you here.’ ‘The place will collapse when you go.’ ‘Have you informed the papers?’

Charlie felt cheated.

9/23/2012

Bottle – A New(ish) Short Story

As part of Bloody Scotland I was asked by Glengoyne to write a short story of 3,000 words and publish it daily in twelve ‘250 word’ chunks.

The story itself was the easy bit but limiting each day to exactly 250 words was tough. A lot of editing later and ‘Bottle’ appeared. The short story was originally published as inspiration for the Bloody Scotland Glengoyne Short Story competition.

We received 232 entries from round the world for the competition and if you want a copy of the best 19 click here http://www.bloodyscotland.com/worth-the-wait-download/.

Well done to Sarah Reynolds who won the competition.

I’ll start publishing the 250 word daily pieces from tomorrow and do so every day.

Enjoy.

9/8/2012

Bloody Scotland

With Bloody Scotland approaching next weekend (14th to 16th September) I’m looking forward to a number of things.

6/11/2012

Nothing to do with writing

No reason for the post other than I met Catriona Shearer from the Beeb at a do recently.

No reason for the post other than I met Catriona Shearer from the Beeb at a do recently.

5/22/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 22.

Ten – part 22.

He walks over to the other door and unlocks it. It’s a black curtain beyond. A foul smell leaks from the darkness and he moves quickly. He wraps his arms under my emaciated body and lifts me as if I were candyfloss. He reaches the threshold to the next room and stops. ‘Thanks for trying.’ With this he tosses me into the void. I crash to the floor and the door is slammed.

I lie, too weak to move. Wanting to stand. Wanting to shout out. I try to scream but my vocal chords can raise little more than a rattle. I roll onto my back and breath. Shallow gulps that hurt. I flop my right arm out and my fingers land on something cold and hard. I twist my wrist and feel at the object. Smooth but with knobbled ends. I pick it up and feed it through my fingers. I drop it and search around and find more. Many more. They click and clack as I rifle my hand through them. Some are dry but some are slimy and as I slide my hand further some have bits of cloth attached and others have bits of something else.

I move my foot and kick a large stone. Only it’s not a stone. It bounces away smacking into something hollow.

I pull my hands back and scream. The first real sound in an age. A deep primeval scream.

Around me the other victims wait for me to join them.

The End.

5/21/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 21.

Ten – part 21.

The Bearded Man shifts his bulk to sit closer to me. ‘Do you know that this is one of the slowest distilled whiskies in Scotland. Most run off between ten and twenty litres of the stuff a minute. Not here. Five. Eight litres a minute. Everything about the whisky takes longer. They sun dry the cask wood in Portugal, fill it with sherry, leave it for three years, decant and then use the cask for the whisky. Some of the barrels in the store are half a decade old. Elvis was new in the charts when they were first laid down. Everything done slowly. And that’s where I got the idea. They say revenge is a dish best served cold. Time. That’s all I needed.’

He stands up. Bones cracking and a deep, draft of air whistling through his lips as he stretches.  ‘It takes over ten years to make my favourite tipple. Maybe fourteen if you count in the cask. Maybe a hundred if you count the time it took for the tree to grow that the cask comes from. But ten is good. Ten years is time enough. Ten is exactly what I need for payback.’

‘A decade owed to me by a backpacker and then I’ll be happy. But it isn’t going to be you. Maybe it’ll never happen. After all I’m not getting younger. But I’ll keep trying. Ten years in this hole in return for losing me the best job I ever had. Sounds fair.’

5/20/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 20.

‘I used to work here,’ says the Bearded Man. ‘Many years ago. A tour guide. Great job. I loved it. Lived for it. I used to be a bus driver before that. Loved that to but the job here was magic. But I got a bit careless. I like my whisky. I like the older ones. But my favourite is still the ten year old. Magic. I used to take a few bottles home. Not much. Not that I didn’t deserve them. After all I was the best tour guide they had. People told me that. Anyway someone grassed up on me. A visitor. A backpaker.’ He growls as he says the word. ‘ Spotted me collecting my bottles from my little hide and asked someone how many bottles the tour guides got to take home? Dropped me right in it. Fired. Me?’ He spits on the floor. ‘I told them that I’m the best guide they ever had and how could they possible lose me. I took them to tribunal. Well that failed. My next-door neighbour phoned them the day before and told them about my collection of whisky. Louse. The police found my stash at home and next thing I’m up in court. A few bottles that’s all I took. Well maybe more than a few.’

‘Three months I did in BarL. Three months and not a hope in hell of me working again. All because of a nosey backpacker.’

‘I spent a year working on my revenge.’

5/19/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 19.

‘Happy Christmas.’ I don’t bother to look up. I don’t move much now. Even going to the toilet seems too much effort. I live in a world that exists between this one and the next. Floating. Waiting. A parcel is dropped next to me. I don’t even open my eyes. I’ve stopped eating. It just seemed the natural thing to do.

‘I need to talk to you.’ The Bearded Man must be standing right next to me. ‘Look at me.’

I don’t.

I feel the knife on my finger and roll over. My hair, matted and wrapped round the top of my arm almost blinds me. I try and swipe it away but it’s too much effort. I can see through it a little. I look at him.

‘You’re doing well. Better than most,’ he says. ‘Not quite the record. Not quite though. But that’s better than most. Better than most. But you aren’t going to be the one. Good as you are you’ve given in. You might surprise me but I doubt it. You’re not eating and that means your weight is all wrong. Time to move on I think. New blood.’

He kicks at the dirt looking down at the muck around me. ‘Sorry it had to be you but one doesn’t get the girl if one doesn’t step up to the mark so onward and upward.’

Next to the parcel he places a small scrunched up ball of silver foil. ‘They’ll help. If you want them to.’

5/18/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 18.

‘Happy Christmas.’ The Bearded Man has a brightly wrapped present under one arm, silver bow and all. He passes it to me. I drop it on the floor. ‘Open it.’ I don’t move. He glides over the room in an instant, drops his bulk on my outstretched arm and places his knife across the second knuckle of my small finger. ‘I’ll not ask twice.’ I nod and he gets up.

I take the parcel and open it. Inside is an old Barrat’s shoe box. I pull off the lid. Lying inside is small calendar courtesy of the distillery.

‘So you know the date.’ He smiles as he says it.

***

I’m sick. Burning up sick. My head is grinding out a headache that threatens to open up my skull and my guts are a toxic acid bath. Skin hot to the touch I shiver like a bike on a cobbled street. The mound of aspirin and five two litre bottles of water left for me are all gone.

I want to die.

***

The fever has gone. I’ve lost more weight and the Bearded Man isn’t happy. ‘You need to eat.’ I feel so far away from eating.

‘You’ve lost too much weight.’

I look at him. So what? ‘I…’ It’s the first word I’ve uttered in months. The Bearded Man does his ghost move trick and pain screams up my arm as the top of my small finger on my left hand is removed with a practiced slice of his knife.

5/17/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 17.

When the Bearded Man next appears he is carrying a set of bathroom scales under his arm. ‘Stand on these,’ he orders.

I struggle to my feet and stand on them. Two stone down on my fighting weight. I slump back to the floor.

‘Too much weight loss.’ With these he retreats through the door and returns with a half dozen bags of food. ‘Eat all of this by the time I come back or I slice one of your fingers off.’

Then he’s gone. I split open the bags and find a mix of junk food and soft drinks. You could feed the Broons for a week on the contents. I’m not hungry but the thought of losing a finger forces me to dig into the first sandwich pack.

Three days and the food is gone. I’m bloated and the bucket under the stool is overflowing. The Bearded Man returns with the scales. ‘On again.’

I feel my stomach wobble as I stand.

‘Better,’ he says. He looks at the bucket. ‘I’m not emptying that. Make a hole in the floor and bury it. He leaves two more bags of food and drink, crinkling his nose at the smell. ‘Your doing well.’ Then he’s gone.

It takes me a good few hours to dig out a hole in the corner with my bare hands, deep enough to take the bucket’s contents. I drag it over to the hole. Spilling some of it.

I wretch as I tip it in.

5/16/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 16.

A single window, high up, has an old curtain nailed across it. It sheds light on a second door. There is a room beyond this one but the door is locked. My clothes are rotting upon me and I spend most of the time lying in a ball. Sleep my only escape. I crave sleep and from somewhere deep inside I crave a far longer and more permanent sleep. The tools are lying around. Shards of glass. Enough to slice skin. I’ve piled them into one corner and covered them with dirt. They could be weapons against the Bearded Man or they could be my get out of jail free card.

Outside the planet is going into deep freeze. The blanket does the bare minimum to stop me freezing. I have dug a small pit and pull the earth over me at night.

Apart from the Bearded Man there’s no sign of a functioning world beyond.  No one comes along to check the cellar. Thinking back to the night I was brought here it can’t be more than a hundred steps back to the distillery road. A hundred small steps to freedom.

The next time the Bearded Man appears there’s snow on his shoes. He has a bundle in his arms and throws down a thick sleeping bag that needs washed. I crawl in. Silent. He drops a dozen Mars Bars and four two litre bottles of water on the floor. ‘This needs to last you a week,’ he says.

5/15/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 15.

Night and day no longer matter. They mean nothing. Time is a concept. Not a reality. I was released from the manacles and stocks at some point. My arms and legs flopping to the ground. An eternity before they began to respond.

When they started to work I crawled to the door and worked at the wood and handle but it is carved from a solid oak tree and the bolts, hinges and lock are industrial.

Every day I listen for sounds outside but only wind, rain and animals keep me company. Where in the hell is everyone?

Each time the Bearded Man appears he has a plastic bag of drink and food. When he freed me from the wall there were two bags. Stuffed with snack food and pop.

He clears the soil bucket when he remembers but the smell in the room must be painful. I’m immune. A filthy blanket I found in the corner keeps some of the cold out but the temperature drops by the day and the light around the door is present for shorter and shorter periods.

I tried shouting one day. Breaking the rule. I was still shouting when the Bearded Man walked in. He pushed me to the floor and used his knife to carve a small slice out of my shoulder. Standing up he looked down on me, eyes burning. ‘I told you no noise. Make another squeak and I’ll remove your manhood. Understand.’

Since then I’ve played the silent monk.

5/14/2012

A reader!!!!

Always nice when you get sent a picture of someone reading your book. The fact he’s a great friend is even better – trust me your best friends can be your biggest critics. Thanks Andy.

5/14/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 14.

In the Bearded Man’s other hand is a plastic bag from the Co Op. He drops pulls a baseball cap. From the bag.  The San Francisco emblem is fading on the front. Sitting on top of it is a plastic holder. We are in American bleacher world. The holder will take two cans of beer and curly straws meet at the peak and drop down waiting for a mouth to grab them. He rams the cap on my head. Removes a can of coke. Pops the ring pull and places the can in the holder above me. He shoves the straw into my mouth and I suck like a baby on their first bottle. I drain the can in seconds. The Bearded Man pulls a sandwich pack from the bag and splits the cellophane.  He tears off a chuck and pushes it into my mouth. I chew. He feeds me the rest of the contents, chicken salad, in stages.

‘When you learn to behave you can feed yourself.’ His voice has lost the edge from the night before.

‘For f…’

The knife is at my throat. The speed of his movement ghost like. He nicks the skin on my neck. ‘Did I say you could talk?’ I don’t move. He lifts the knife away.

‘The rules are simple. No noise and you live. Noise and you die. Understand?’

I nod.

‘Good.’

He cracks another Coke and rams it home. ‘Take it easy on that one. I may be gone sometime.’

5/13/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 13.

I’m seated on a stool and it feels like there is a hole in the middle of it. My trousers are round my ankles and both feet are fixed to the floor. Cold wood against my buttocks and feet. I struggle to move but I’m fixed tight. In the dim light supplied by the cracks in the door I inspect the fixings that hold me in place. Ancient manacles, from your best Hammer House of Horror movie, wrap round my wrist and are held on the damp, stone wall by rusting chains. My feet sit in stocks held shut by a brass padlock and fixed to the floor with bread roll sized bolts. I don’t have to figure hard why I’m sitting on a stool with hole and my pants at my ankles. I struggle against the restraints but they are rock solid. My mouth is dry. A dusty carpet. Sucked of moisture. I try to shout out but the noise is an ant’s fart. My tongue roots around for liquid but swollen and spilt it finds none. My body’s desire for water doesn’t seem to stop it needing to vent some. My gut is drum tight and I’m fit to burst. I try to hold on but after twenty minutes I let rip and torrent bounces of metal beneath me. For a moment the relief is wonderful and then the door swings open and the Bearded Man walks in. This time he has a hunting knife in his hand.

5/12/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 12.

Ten – part 12.

I yank my fingers clear and something scuttles away. A mouse? Rat? I keep my hands off the ground. I want to shout out but not yet. Not quite yet. I need the Bearded Man to be gone. I count to a thousand in my head and decide that is no where near enough. I pick a random figure. Two thousand three hundred and forty seven. After that I’ll shout myself hoarse. But off course I don’t. I’m too scared.

At some point I feel my eyes close and I fight it. Sleeping with rats waiting to gnaw my eyes out is not a good agenda item.

An hour later my eyes close and my head drops for the last time.

I’m gone.

***

I wake up as a hand grabs my face. A wet cloth is slapped over my mouth. A sickly sweet smell engulfs me. I lash out and my head is pushed down – scrubbing in the dirt. I feel woozy and twist my head. I see the door. Light beyond. Framing the Bearded Man’s bulk as he presses the clawing cloth to my lips. Gasping I helter skelter my way down to unconsciousness.

***

As I rise from the darkness I feel like my meager dinner is coming back. I try to throw my hand to my mouth to catch it but it doesn’t want to move. I’m confused. Unsure. My arm is pinned. Both are. Splayed out like Christ on the cross. I’m starfished against the wall.

5/11/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 11.

Total darkness isn’t something that many sighted people deal with well. A cosy bed in a dark room is one thing. Being thrown into a cellar is another. The absence of light plays tricks as the cones and rods in my eye sockets play fireworks. I slither my foot through the dirt and draw back as my toe catches something sharp. I decide to squat down. Blood seeps down my cheek and the broken tooth will start to bitch soon.

I clear a space in the debris of the floor as best I can and cross my legs. Thinking is the order of the day but none of this makes sense. Where in the hell are the workers in the distillery? Who leaves a stranger asleep in a strange place? Kidnapped at gunpoint for walking in the wrong field. Where’s the sense? Where’s the good reason? I breathe deep. Filling the bottom of my lungs. Inflating them until my chest moans and curses. Hold it. Let go slowly and try and calm my over-clocked heart.

I open my mouth and let my jaw hang. Someone once told me it improves your hearing. The wind outside is picking up but the sounds is muffled. Like a sound through a thick dish cloth. A drip snips at stone somewhere. Other than that the world is dead.

I dig my fingers into the earth and rub it in my palm. Wet. Gritty. I extend my arm to explore further.

Something touches my fingers.

5/10/2012

Ten – part 10.

It’s amazing what a loaded 12 bore can do to make you overcome a gubbed ankle. My pace is dictated by the pressure of the barrels. Drilling into my skin. The Bearded Man is in a hurry and there will be a dance floor full of bruises around my spine to deal with if I get through this. He coughs. ‘To the right.’ ‘I can’t see.’ ‘You don’t need to see – just walk.’ My feet are turning to blocks as the lack of shoes sucks the heat into the cobbles below. I want to inch forward but the Bearded Man is urging me to take up one hundred metre pace. My toe takes a brick wall full on and I shout out. ‘Shut up and work your way to the left.’ I grab at the stone wall and Marcel Marceau my way along the brickwork. My hand hits a right angle and I stop. ‘Keep going. Follow the wall.’ The Bearded Man has done this before. Four turns later and I feel like a blind mouse in a maze. My hand hits wood. I hesitate. ‘Take another three steps and stop.’ I obey and with a click a lock is thrown. ‘Inside.’ ‘Look…’ The barrel of the gun burst my cheek open and shatters a crown I’ve need seeing to for a while. ‘ ‘IN. NOW.’ I stagger through the doorway and feel cold earth beneath my feet. A shove in the back and the door is slammed shut.

It’s amazing what a loaded 12 bore can do to make you overcome a gubbed ankle. My pace is dictated by the pressure of the barrels. Drilling into my skin. The Bearded Man is in a hurry and there will be a dance floor full of bruises around my spine to deal with if I get through this. He coughs. ‘To the right.’

‘I can’t see.’

‘You don’t need to see – just walk.’

My feet are turning to blocks as the lack of shoes sucks the heat into the cobbles below.  I want to inch forward but the Bearded Man is urging me to take up one hundred metre pace. My toe takes a brick wall full on and I shout out.

‘Shut up and work your way to the left.’

I grab at the stone wall and Marcel Marceau my way along the brickwork. My hand hits a right angle and I stop. ‘Keep going. Follow the wall.’ The Bearded Man has done this before.

Four turns later and I feel like a blind mouse in a maze. My hand hits wood. I hesitate. ‘Take another three steps and stop.’ I obey and with a click a lock is thrown. ‘Inside.’

‘Look…’

The barrel of the gun burst my cheek open and shatters a crown I’ve need seeing to for a while. ‘

‘IN. NOW.’

I stagger through the doorway and feel cold earth beneath my feet. A shove in the back and the door is slammed shut.

5/9/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 9.

‘Don’t move. Not an inch.’ The voice is familiar. ‘Walk towards me. Slowly.’

I stumble forward. Cold stone passing across my palm as I steady myself. I can see nothing.

‘Keep walking.’

I find my voice. ‘What the hell.’

‘A little payback for a trespasser.’ Headlights wash over the scene picking out the gun man. Fat, bearded – now in a Driza-Bone ankle length coat. Voice still in the upper octave and no use to a big man. The double barreled end of the gun is pointing right at my gut. The light flicks out and we are in dark-again land.

‘Follow my voice.’

I should run. He can’t see me but my busted ankle would make more than a slow walk impossible. At this range he couldn’t miss. But would he risk a shot? There could be a dozen people hiding behind the windows and doors. And why would he shoot? Because I’d accidentally trampled on his precious sod? Who kills for that?

Nutters.

That’s who.

Real long term matured nutters.

That’s who.

I take another step. My feet trying to ignore the order from my head. Stomach churning and spitting hot fat I take a small heel to toe.

‘Quicker.’ His voice dances up a notch. This is exciting him. I lift my leg to plant it a little further forward and I feel air move and the smell of old cigars drifts past me.

Then there are two bores of gunmetal in the small of my back.

5/8/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 8.

The moon finds a small button hole in the clouds to peak through and I see the outline of a cat at my feet and shake my head, trying to kick out at the beast. I begin to hobble down a small hill and I’m deep in distillery land. Ancient, small windowed buildings rise on either side and the smell of distilling is strong. High on my right there’s the shadow what looks like small pagoda – a familiar sight to distillery visitors. My limited knowledge of the industry knows it is some form of ventilator but as to how it works or why is beyond me. The road opens out and light from ahead gives me some more vision. A car cruises by and I realise that there is a road a hundred yards further on. The doorways around me are shuttered on either side and light leaks from a few.

I spin on my good foot, convinced someone is right behind me. I even raise my hand to protect my face but there is no one there. Only a puddle of light from an upstairs window.

There must be someone around.

A click.

My eyes give up nothing. The moon has gone. Beyond the puddle is pitch.

Another click and a scrape.

I step away. Dragging my bad foot and leaning on the rough wall for support.

The snap of metal finding a home with metal pings around the walls.

The sound of a shot gun snapping closed.

5/7/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 7.

I awaken lying on a sofa with a blanket wrapped round me. It’s dark outside and I can’t sense anyone nearby. I sit up and my chest informs me that it’s not happy at the fall down the waterfall and I bite my lip to stop screaming at the pain. I’ve no idea of the time and given I never wear a watch I search the room for a clock but come up empty. I swing my legs out from the blanket and wait for the rush of blood to pass before standing up. I’m sure someone must be nearby. After all you don’t leave strangers alone in the heart of a distillery.

The clothes I have on are all but dry but my coat, shoes, waterproof trousers and back pack were taken away when Arthur brought me in. I check a few doors but they are locked and the whisky tasting room is dark. I try the front door and it opens. Bare footed I limp onto the small path and down onto the road that winds through the distillery.  The sound of water from the stream behind is carried by the wind and I can see no lights from that direction. Above the clouds are thick as a wet duffle coat and the dark is almost total.

I grab at the wall for comfort and wait for my eyes to adjust. Where is everyone? Why leave me on my own? Something rubs at my leg and I yelp.

5/6/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 6.

A jovial man with a black jumper stretched over a well fed gut is looking down on me. Words are embroidered on his left breast. ‘You won’t get much swimming done in four inches of water.’ He smiles as he talks. ‘Need a hand out?’

I nod and he reaches down and I struggle to lift myself out of the stream. The water I‘ve soaked up adds pounds to my clothes.

‘Daniel’s the name, ‘ says the jovial man as I flop on the ground. ‘And there’s a entrance with a gate, path and everything if you ever want to come in the way most visitors do.’

I’m still checking for the busted parts of my frame but apart from the howling ankle and some nasty pains around my chest I seem remarkably free of consequences.

‘I’m one of the tour guides around here,’ says Arthur.

‘Around where?’ I ask.

‘The distillery.’

I smile. ‘Well the distillery’s on my list of ‘to do’s and a dram wouldn’t do any harm.’

He smiles back at me.

Twenty minutes later I’m sitting in a comfortable front room of a small  house that the distillery uses for visitors. The room next door is an Aladdin’s cave of malt whisky and the table that sits in the middle is set out for a whisky master class – or so Daniel tells me. A small dram of malt whisky is nestled in my hand and the worst of my wet clothes are drying somewhere.

Then darkness.

5/5/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 5.

My back pack bounces of rocks and I tumble forward. Beneath me a waterfall drops away. A narrow twisting hose of high pressure water sliding into a small glen. I try to grab at something to stop my fall but the rocks are worn smooth and when my head smacks on an outcrop I curl up and try and ride out the fall. I pinball down the slope and hit the bottom with a wet slap and an injection of pain. Water pours into my jacket as I lie in the stream at the foot of the waterfall. I let the water wash over me as I try and unscramble my head. I force myself to sit up and water pours either side of me, crashing over my legs. I have pain registering in three or four places. The worst in my left ankle which feels like someone is pumping it full of hot lead. I need to get out of the water. It may be late summer but the ice cold of the water is draining heat and my cheap walking clothes are proving about effective as a cotton hanky in keeping me warm and dry.

The stream channels into an artificial race about twenty yards down stream from where I’m sitting and beyond I can see a glass framed balcony sitting above a small lake with white buildings beyond. Whisky barrels lie scattered on a path to my right.

‘Do you want me to phone an ambulance son?’

5/4/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 4.

Now get off my land.’

‘But,’ I say.

‘Right now you idiot.’

‘Now there’s no need…’

‘Get of my land NOW.’ His teeth are badly stained and the words are spat at me with breath that smells like a mix of garlic and Stilton. I climb over the fence. All the time he holds the gun in his left hand. Swinging it back and forth. As if waiting for an excuse to use it.

‘One of you nearly shot me.’ I shout as I retreat.

‘Pity we missed,’ he shouts back before turning away to join his buddies. I’m left seething. I want to go back and square up but a shotgun has a way of drowning your machismo. Instead I turn my attention to the walk ahead.

If I’ve got my bearings right I’m on track to make a short climb up a twelve hundred foot plug of forty million year old volcanic rock the hill sits above a couple of distilleries. It’s on my list of must do’s for this trip. That and a tour of one of the distilleries. I try and forget the man with the gun and get back to enjoying the scenery, my own company and the anticipation of the dram that will conclude the distillery tour.

I dismiss the man with the gun, cross a muddy patch in the field and hop another fence. My feet plunge into water before the rush of a stream takes them from under me and I’m airborne.

5/3/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – part 3.

I drop to the ground as the sound of the gun shot echoes in my ears. A second shot sounds and I hug the earth. I wait for more. Nothing. Then the birds, silenced by the report, begin to sing and a dog howls in the distance. I raise my head from the dirt and scan the horizon. Nothing. I work my arms under my chest and push up; ready to drop back down at the slightest noise. I hear the sound of people talking being carried on the breeze. Twist round on the ground. A line of men carrying shotguns are walking towards me. I begin to stand up. Holding my hands high and waving. The chatter stops when they spot me. One man breaks from the line and strides towards me.

He is north of twenty stone with a thick beard that rests on his chest. He has a deerstalker on his head and is clad in plaid shooting gear. For his size he moves easily and eats up the ground between us.

‘’What in the hell are you doing her?’ His voice is a touch high for the bulk he carries.

‘Trying not to get killed,’ I say.

‘Well why in the hell would you walk onto a shooting range?’

He points at a sign next to the fence I just climbed. ‘Danger. Do not enter.’ Below it is the symbol of shotgun.

As he points his left eye twitches and he raises his gun an inch.

5/2/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – part 2.

I’m not a seasoned veteran when it comes to hill walking but I get by and I’m long in the tooth enough to be dressed for a Scottish autumn. Waterproof and warm being the dress code.  My only concession to the expensive end of the hikers wardrobe is a pair of Brasher Supalite GTX walking boots. A gift from my wife. A hint that I should get out of the house more often.  Everything else comes from the bargain bins of half a dozen shops at the height of the January sales.

Last night I slept in my tent but tonight I’m determined to snooze in some comfort. With the exception of a brief tour round a nearby distillery I want to press on and get as close as I can to Stirling. Hoping to find a hotel on the way. The fact that I have no idea what hostelry might be near by reflects the way I chose to hike. I have no plan.

This is my first break in nearly two years. Work has been tough. Seven day weeks the norm. Last year I had a ninety three day stretch without a break. The manufacturing plant that I’m in charge of building is now back on track but at one point my company was on the line for late delivery. The penalty clauses would have sunk us. And sunk me.

The bark on the tree next to me explodes followed by the single crack of a gun shot.

5/1/2012

Ten – a short story published daily – Part 1.

The door to the cellar lies open. A hand draped across the threshold. Dull light leaks from a single window high up, but not enough to penetrate to the cellar floor. Darkness swallowing the arm. The ring finger is missing. Severed. Wet slabs of stone are spotted with blood.

The smell in the room is rich. A familiar scent. Bakeries, wet dog and freshly mown grass familiar. It hangs in the cold air. A sour note mixed to perfection with sweet. Promising bitter and smooth on the tongue. As if the cellar door were the door to the local pub. The smell is embedded in the wood and stone. One hundred and eighty years to do so. And now it’s joined by tang of copper. The smell of blood.

The storm outside is a distant thing. The peak passing more than an hour ago. Rain smacks the window and, hidden by shadows, a hole in the roof lets a steady stream of water flow down one wall. A heavy set man, more fat than muscle, kicks the arm into the dark and slams the door shut.

The cry of a land locked seagull bounces around the room. Then the storm spits out one last breath and the wind rattles the window. The man stretches out his arms and sighs, as if rising from a chair after watching a long movie. He rubs his distended stomach and glides to the room’s other door and locks it behind him as he leaves.

4/16/2012

Bloody Scotland – Glengoyne – Special Short Story

I’ve just finished the short story for Glengoyne to be published in their web site in daily ‘250 word.’ chunks. When it goes live I’ll place a link.

3/9/2012

Bloody Scotland/Glengoyne Serial

As I’m always up for a challenge I’ve agreed with Glengoyne to produce a crime short story in serial form on the run up to the Bloody Scotland festival. This will be published on their website on a weekly basis. This necessitates a visit to the distillery before I kick off and potentially a grueling lunch and tasting of their fine whisky – well someone has to do.

3/8/2012

Bloody Scotland Glengoyne Short Story Competition

We launched the Bloody Scotland Glengoyne Short Story Competition today at Blythswood Square – see http://www.bloodyscotland.com/competition/

2/23/2012

Bloody Scotland

We announced the main sponsor for the Bloody Scotland festival and launched the website at www.bloody-scotland.com today. Even had my photo taken with Alex Gray and Lin Anderson.

2/11/2012

Further Digging Around

After further digging around in the bottom of the old suitcase I’ve unearthed another half finished story.

1/16/2012

Digging around in the suitcase under the bed.

I took the Christmas break as an opportunity to do a bit of early Spring cleaning. And failed.

11/10/2011

No More Brown View On Life

After twenty issues of the local magazine Fiona, the person behind, My G76 has decided to call it quits. As such A Brown View on Life is no more (see elsewhere on the site for the published ones). Ah well all good things come to an end but if the mood takes me I may just pen one or two for the hell of it.

11/6/2011

Waterstones

Waterstones have chosen ’59 Minutes’ as one of their promotional books for Christmas – good news.

10/13/2011

Next novel

The following is the synopsis for my next novel – if it ever sees the light of day – I’ll publish the first chapter soon.

The following is the synopsis for my next novel – if it ever sees the light of day – I’ll publish the first chapter soon.

Set in modern day Iraq and the USA, THE CATALYST is a 77,000 word thriller about Craig McIntyre, ex US military turned bodyguard, who has a powerful and uncontrollable affliction: his mere presence removes people’s inhibitions, transforming their darkest thoughts into action.

Craig discovers he’s the unwitting catalyst for violence when a prostitute murders a diplomat he is guarding in Iraq.

As the violence around him escalates Clive Lendl, the head of a clandestine US agency, discovers Craig’s curse. Seeing the unique potential to create the ultimate assassin and backed by a US senator, Lendl captures Craig and Craig’s wife, Lorraine. While torturing and drugging Craig, in an attempt to mould him into a lethal weapon, Lendl forces him to witness Lorraine’s murder.

Craig is rescued by Charlie Whyte, an ex Navy Seal when an attempt to assassinate the head of an African state goes badly wrong. Distraught at the death of his wife and mentally scarred from months of torture, Craig vows to kill Lendl and the senator and bring an end to their depraved scheme.  But he has to act fast because Lendl has ordered the agency to hunt Craig down and bring him back: dead or alive.

9/16/2011

Bloody Scotland

The launch of Bloody Scotland took place today. the following was posted up by Stirling University – one of our partners in the festival:

A starry line-up of crime writers gathered in Stirling’s Smith Museum & Art Gallery today to launch Bloody Scotland, an International Crime Writing Festival which will take place in Stirling on 14-16 September 2012.

Writers in attendance at the launch included Ian Rankin, G J Moffat, Stuart MacBride, Anne Perry, Lin Anderson, Allan Guthrie and Craig Robertson. Ian Rankin took to the floor to applaud this, the first Scottish literary festival to celebrate Scotland’s most popular fiction genre. And to prove how Stirling is a perfect location, he revealed that his next novel reaches its finale here…

The festival has support from Stirling CouncilCreative Scotland, and will work alongside Stirling’s existing Off the Page festival, which we reported on last week. Excitingly for us, the festival is also organised in collaboration with the University of Stirling’sCreative Writing courses and the Centre for International Publishing and Communication.

We’ll be working with Bloody Scotland on Creative Friday, hosting masterclasses, workshops, and a publishers’ and agents’ forum. More details to come… and don’t go down any dark alleyways in the meantime!

8/4/2011

A Brown View on Life

Life On Mars

This summer my family and I decided to take a holiday on Mars. Red rocks, miles of desolation, mountains, no plants, – you know – Mars. As a result I can confirm a few facts and clear up a few misconceptions.

Firstly, there is life on Mars. In the main goats and donkeys.  There’s no fresh water – although there’s a ready supply of beer and Indian food. The currency, should you choose to visit, is Escudos but they will accept Euros. The only practical mode of transport is a moon buggy (although at a push a Toyota Land Cruiser might suffice). It can get hot during the day – 100+ Degrees Fahrenheit (to use old money) is not uncommon. It’s also a fair hike to get there from Glasgow and, at the moment, there is only one flight a week.

Interested?

Ok so maybe we didn’t go to Mars but if someone ever wants to shoot a movie about the red planet they could do far worse than film on Boa Vista in Cape Verde.  I defy anyone to spot the difference between the southern half of the island and Mars (apart for the goats and donkeys.)

I also predict that Cape Verde will be one of the hottest tourist destinations for Europeans in ten to fifteen years. Ten islands a few hundred miles off the coast of Senegal. Miles of beaches. Caribbean sunshine and, in the main, un-spoilt.  It’s probably what the Canary Islands looked like in the 60’s.  Watch this space.

A tip if you do go – don’t hire a car. Unless you are a world four by four expert, in need of rattling every bone in your body, don’t do it. The best way to describe the roads, save the new one one built for the hotel we were staying in, is to imagine a badly cobbled lane that someone has taken a jackhammer to and that’s the M8 of Boa Vista.  Outside of this you are talking full blown, hard-core off-roading. I should know as we hired a Suzuki Jimny – look it up – the world’s smallest four-wheel drive car. It had wheel wobble that made me fear for my life and the sort of suspension that I used to fit on the skateboards I made when I was eight years old.

We enquired as to what there was to see on the island and were reliably informed that we needed to visit the site of a shipwreck in the north. The fact that the island is only twenty miles long and it took us two hours to get there is testament to the lack of maps, roads and directions.

We eventually arrived, courtesy of a very patient local lad we bumped into at the petrol station and the help of a German family who had hired a proper off road vehicle and driver, to find a stunning beach, resplendent with a decaying ship.

The ship was beached in 1968 and had been carrying food stuffs, general merchandise and large quantities of adult magazines. I had a quick hunt around just in case some issues of the aforementioned literature was still to be found and, as I flew home, I was left wondering at what an island with such a tiny population would have done with said magazines especially since, according to one resident, there was in excess of two tons of them.

Two tons!

Maybe I should have looked harder.

7/15/2011

Summer Reads 2011

’59 Minutes’ has been included in the Ticket to Read Summer Reads for Scottish Libraries – good news – see http://www.booksfromscotland.com/News/Scottish-Events/Summer-Read-Selection-2011

7/13/2011

Interview

Click here for an interview I did with Allan Guthrie on his excellent blog. Allan Guthrie – Criminal – E

6/18/2011

Change

Nostalgia – it’s a thing of the past? I was running a Social Media event on Thursday and some of the stats would scare you.

– Linked In – 90 million members and someone joins every second.

– Facebook – 500 million members and 23 Billion minutes a day spent on the site.

– You Tube – 36 hours of video uploaded to the site – every minute – if it was a country it would the third largest on the planet.

– Twitter – 1.4 billion tweets a week and 300,000 people a day are joining the site.

– Blogs – 200 million in existence and 1 million new blogs are started every day.

– 23% of all time on the Internet is Social Media = e-mail is 8% and falling away. Prediction is that stand alone e-mail will vanish in ten years – it’s already old school.

And just to show you how fast the world of books is changing

‘Sales data from US publishing houses shows that total ebook sales in February were $90.3m (£55.2m). This makes digital books the largest single format in the US for the first time ever overtaking paperbacks at $81.2m. In January, ebooks were the second-largest category, behind paperbacks.

America’s ebooks enjoyed a 202.3% growth in sales in February compared with the same month the previous year.  Print books fared much worse by contrast, with the combined category of adult hardback and paperback books falling 34.4% to $156.8m in February. The children and young adult category of print books fell 16.1% to $58.5m.’

Change – it’s not going to stop.

6/17/2011

Falling is now an eBook

Great news. My publisher has been working hard and Falling is now available as an eBook - click here.

6/6/2011

A Brown View on Life

Coals to Newcastle. Sand to the Sahara. Add to that – Crime to a Crime writer. With swift slight of hand by a fellow train passenger, I’ve just become the victim of a real crime and I’m now one iPhone lighter than I want to be.  The sheer brazen way in which the perpetrator half-inched my phone when it fell to the carriage floor amazes me. I’m mid type on my laptop when I hear a thump. ‘My phone!’ I think – given it was resting on my bag I assumed it had fallen off. I close the laptop, check my bag and notice that the person behind me seems to be rooting around beneath my seat. By the time I stand up he’s sitting upright and tries to look surprised when I ask if he has seen my phone. ‘Why did you drop something?’ comes the reply. The look of innocence convinces me that maybe I was mistaken so I go through the ‘I’ve lost something routine’.

Check bag. Check jacket. Check bag again. Check pockets. Check floor. Empty bag. Re-check jacket. Re-check floor. Empty bag once more. Check floor once more. Pause. Consider where else it could be? Come up blank and go through the check and re-check thing all over again. Ask one of the other passengers to phone my phone – they do so three times – answer machine only. Back to the check thing.

A dozen phone calls to various lost property offices and the British Transport Police and I’m more convinced now, than ever, that the person sitting behind me on the train has flogged my phone down the pub for fifty quid!

Of course I could have lost my phone. I doubt it, but I can be forgetful.  Every time I leave the house my wife awaits my return – which is never more than sixty seconds later – and looks on as I hunt for forgotten keys, phones, briefcases, jackets, wallets etc. Hotels around the land now possess a range of my clothes, toiletries, chargers and assorted bric-a-brac. Pens lie in my client’s offices never to be collected. Half finished books lounge by pools in foreign lands. All in all I have to admit that I’m cursed with the forgetful gene. But I’m not the worst.

Many years ago I worked in a garage pumping petrol. It was the good old days when self-service was still a thing of the future. It was a Sunday just after lunch and a man in an Austin Allegro rolled in. I fill up the tank. £5 to the brim. And he looks at me. I’ve seen the look before. No money. So what does he do? He asks his seven year old kid to jump out the car and, before I can object, drives off shouting that he’ll nip back for his wallet and the kid can act as collateral.

Half an hour later, and with the child full of lemonade and crisps, there is no sign of dad. I ask the kid ‘Where’s your house?’ and he informs me that  ‘It’s near the school’ just as the Allegro reappears – burning rubber. The passenger door flies open and the mother rushes up to me to reclaim her child. I smile, she looks at me and points to the car. ‘He forgot about our son. He was heading off for golf when I asked him where John was? Can you believe my husband?’

Back then the answer was no. Thirty years on – the answer is probably yes. But please don’t tell my wife.

5/16/2011

A Brown View on Life

Weather God

The lads and myself are not long back from our annual pilgrimage to the beautiful island of Gigha. When I say lads I may be stretching the definition a little but our behaviour, over the four days, can often have more in common with a herd of teenagers than a clique of quadragenarians.

Some of us have been going to the island, on and off, for thirty years and the squad that descended upon the isle this year are now on their fifteenth consecutive long May bank holiday trip.  As with most men of our age we have embraced our ever blossoming OCD to great effect and each of us has our allocated tasks to perform. So well-worn is our desire for order that we have reduced the need for communication prior to the trip to zero because we all know exactly what is expected of each other. Food, accommodation, drink, transport, the kitty – even the weather are all the responsibility of set individuals.

Weather?

Yes we have our own resident Weather God in our midst. For the avoidance of doubt his job is not to forecast the weather – that would be a mundane use of his talents. His job is to improve the weather. In fact his job is more than this.  He is singly tasked to ensure that the temperature is pleasant and the rainfall slight.  Each year he’s instructed by us all to do whatever it is a Weather God does and ensure that Gigha is blessed with the sort of weather normally reserved for small Carribbean islands.

The intriguing thing about this bizarre request is that in the last fifteen years he has yet to let us down.  For fifteen years we have climbed hills, lounged on beaches, drank in beer gardens and played golf without the need for waterproof clothing or the feel of a thick fleece upon our persons. Statistically it’s an anomaly of extraordinary proportions. We are, after all, talking the west coast of Scotland in late April/early May. We should be delighted if we enjoy even the odd day of sunshine but our Weather God stares at the sky and dares the clouds to darken our frivolities. And so far they never have.

Go figure. If we were to reveal this fact to the public at large we could have our own entry in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Our Weather God could easily become the Uri Geller of 2010’s.  His skill could transform our fortunes. Think of the demand for someone that can ensure that perfect wedding day will not need brollies or that the local fun day will require an extra large stall selling sun-tan lotion. William and Kate even benefited from our Weather God’s will this year when he gave a quick glance at the telly on the Friday and no rain fell in London.

Of course it could be that I am using rose tinted glasses to look back over many years of good times on the island with my friends but, deep down, I know this is not the case.  Deep down I suspect there is more to it all and I’ve already asked if our Weather God would work on four days of sun from the 27th April to the 30th April 2012. As such please take advantage of this event and book a barbeque for that weekend. No umbrellas will be required.

5/15/2011

Pulse 98.4

Scott and I did a special Laid Back from the Isle of Gigha – click here to listen – http://soundcloud.com/brown27/laid-back-may-13th/s-jcmxf

5/13/2011

A Brown View on Life

Foreigner, Journey and Styx. Not a London based legal firm of lawyers but three ageing giants of the 1980’s US rock scene. Resplendent in tight jeans (or for the brave – spandex), capped sleeve tee-shirts and topped off with long frizzy hair this trio, along with other ‘legends’ such as Reo Speedwagon, Chicago, Asia, Huey Lewis and the News  – the list seems endless – represented a world of excess wrapped in the Stars and Stripes.  I mention them because I have been arm twisted by a friend into seeing the triple act in full flow this summer, well let’s be honest here – almost full flow.  They are not quite in the Zimmer territory of some of the 1960’s bands on tour at the moment – but I’m not counting on witnessing any Dave Lee Roth trademark, ten feet high, leg splits.

What I am expecting is an audience that has, like yours truly, never quite let go of the 80’s. Not that I haven’t tried to divorce myself from the decade. Sometimes I can go months without playing OMD’s greatest hits. I even forgot the words to Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood once – but rescued the situation by playing it thirty times on my iPod while in the gym – damn fine gym track by the way.

Beyond music I still have every note, folder and book from my university days. Why? Good question. They have lain untouched since my graduation, twenty-seven years ago and I suspect that they may still be there, providing I’m still here, twenty-seven years from now.

It’s not a desire to stay young that drives this behaviour. Rather it’s my reluctance to let go of certain items. LP’s (for the young amongst you LP’s are Long Playing vinyl records) videos, DVD’s, books – I still have every one that I’ve ever purchased or been gifted. I can go on holiday with a dozen books and unless they are all in my bag on the flight home I feel cheated.

But I have a dilemma. A digital dilemma. As the proud owner of both a Kindle and iPod I now ‘own’ books and music that lack any tangible presence. My Virgin TV box is full of movies that are nothing more than one and zeroes on a hard drive. The radio show that I do every few weeks is no longer stored on a tape but is hidden in the guts of the station’s computer.

As such my hoarding is now moving from the physical to the electronic and I have a vision of me sitting in my dotage, surrounded by cracked and broken MP3 players, flaky PC’s and a pile of rusting hard drives.

But what’s to become of me with the next wave of content distribution – streaming. A world where Stephen King’s latest book or OMD’s fourth comeback album will exist in the so called ‘cloud’. What will I own then? A password? A user ID? Or maybe, just maybe, I will be able to stand next to some non-descript server in a darkened warehouse, stroking the metal casing – knowing my ‘virtual’ music and books live there.  Digital tourism at it’s most extreme. Then I will wait for the day that the server is consigned to the scrap heap and I can offer to purchase it, take it home and, happily, continue my hoarding ways.

3/17/2011

A Brown View on Life

Smashy and Nicey

Every second Friday I forget about the day job and, armed with a friend of longer standing than we both care to mention, take up the mantle as DJ’s on the local community radio station – Pulse 98.4. We enter the studios at three o’clock and pre record a two hour show of laid-back music (imaginatively entitled Laid Back with Gordon and Scott) and at five we move to live mode and host the drive- time show for an hour.

If you’re one of the poor souls who have heard us, you’ll understand why we have acquired the Smashy and Nicey tag. But we like to think that we put some care and attention into both programmes. We prepare before hand. Well, Scott does. He has become the king of Wikepedia in his pre show research. I fully expect him to pop up on TV sitting in that famous black chair to the introduction – ‘Mr Ballantyne you have two minutes on your chosen subject – Laid Back Music 1950 to the present day. Who reached number 9 in the US country Charts in 1967 with ‘Little Old Wine Drinker Me?’’

My research tends to be limited. In fact my co-host’s view is that I just talk rubbish for three hours.  Our audience is unknown. The station has no research budget to speak of and, as such, we rely on anecdotal feedback and the odd text  – you can text on 0753 898 4984 or find us live on www.pulseonair.co.uk – oops force of habit.

So, in a 21st century orientated experiment I decided to employ the power of Social Media to see if we could stretch the listening boundaries of the station. Well when I say me I really mean a friend who lives in Germany and happens to have an international Facebook profile. Using her network we trailed the show with her friends and, at five o’clock, waited to see what feedback we got.

The result was a global jamboree. Individuals from Singapore, Uganda, the USA, Germany (off course), Spain and Australia are now official Pulse 98.4 listeners. Which is impressive when you consider it was six in the morning in Sydney, two in the morning in Singapore and ten in the morning in Los Angeles. As to what use the traffic report for the M77 or the gig guide for the West of Scotland would be in those countries is hard to fathom. And the news story about the new bin lorry that East Renfrewshire Council had just purchased will no doubt be the talk of the steamy in Kampala. I’m also sorry to report that the request for “Tú mirada me hace grande” by Maldita Nerea.  (currently riding high in the Spanish charts) beat the Pulse 98.4 record library.

What they thought of the Glaswegian accents will have to remain a mystery.

Oh and just in case you are wondering who did chart with ‘Little Old Wine Drinker Me’ in 1967 – you lose two points if you said Dean Martin. It was, of course, that star of screen, Robert Mitchum.

3/6/2011

Quotes

I’m trawling through looking for favourite quotes. So far I like – ‘Creativity is the defeat of habit by originality.’ Arthur Koestler.

2/24/2011

Crime Night

I’m appearing with Karen Campbell at The ‘Wee’ Fish and Chips Crime Night at Milngavie Bookshop on Monday the 21st of March. Details will be avilable soon at: http://www.milngaviebookshop.co.uk/bookshopevents.html

2/22/2011

A Brown View on Life

Jailhouse Talk

I was recently asked to join two fellow crime writers, Alex Gray and Tony Black, on a visit to Barlinnie prison.  We were asked to do a reading for some of the prisoners to be followed by a ‘question and answer’ session. Alex has been on a number of these before but I was new to the whole prison thing.

Thirty expectant prisoners listened to the three of us read from our various books before we all gathered for a photo and some chat.  To say we were facing a critical audience was a bit of an understatement. In a previous event Alex Gray had been reading from her last book, entitled ‘Five Ways to Kill A Man’, when she mentioned the title. There was a cough and one of her audience was heard to whisper – ‘I know a lot more than five ways!’

But our audience was both attentive and inquisitive. Leading to quite a bit of banter.  After the reading Rhona Hotchkiss, the deputy governor, was kind enough to offer us a short tour of the prison.

Constructed in 1882 the prison is Victorian architecture at its most effective. Built when space was more of an opportunity than a challenge it could double as the set from Porridge in many places. Two prisoners to a cell is the norm. I spent a couple of minutes inside one of the cells used for those on their first night and it was enough to convince me I don’t want to become a resident.

The whole complex is a maze of buildings, walkways and walls.  With nearly a hundred and thirty years of history behind the establishment there are stories attached to every inch – ghosts (the third last man to be hanged in Scotland, Peter Manuel, still switches on the call light from his cell), infamous, (the building where Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi was held on arrival is nicknamed Gaddafi’s Cafe) and the famous (Andy Scott – the artists behind the Heavy Horse on the M8 – is working with prisoners to put their own horse in the gardens this year) means there is more than a book to be written on Barlinnie – a whole series awaits.

There is an overriding sense of politeness to outsiders from both staff and prisoners.  More so than you would get walking through a five star hotel. Of course we could have been getting special treatment but my overall impression was of peace and quiet – not what I had expected.

My summation of the day – interesting, intriguing and instructive but I’ll not be in a hurry to go back – one day in prison was more than enough for this man.

2/17/2011

Barlinnie Prison

Well the reading at Barlinnie Prison made the papers – see The Sun. An eye opening day. Alex Gray and Tony Black were the other writers on the visit (http://www.alex-gray.com/ and http://www.tonyblack.net/). I think I’ll do my next Brown view on the visit.

2/13/2011

Off To Barlinnie

Should be interesting doing a reading in prison. I can’t decide what to read but I’m sure that a chapter from 59 Minutes – a book where a criminal gets his revenge might just go down well (or maybe not?).

2/2/2011

The Herald

Yesterday’s Herald carried a piece in Ken Smith’s diary on the upcoming reading at Barlinnie:

‘WE note that crime authors Alex Gray, Tony Black and Gordon Brown are visiting Glasgow’s Barlinnie Jail on February 15 to talk to the inmates about the pure escapism of reading fiction, although that’s perhaps not the escapism some of the audience might have in mind.

We only mention it as having Gray, Black and Brown under the same roof makes it sound like a Scottish version of Reservoir Dogs, but of course, being Scottish, it is not as colourful as Hollywood’s Mr Pink, Mr Blue, Mr White and Mr Orange.’

http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/ken-smiths-diary/mirror-mirror-on-the-wall-the-diary-tuesday-1-february-2011-1.1082890

1/30/2011

A Brown View on Life

Back in Black

As spring threatens to blossom did you noticed the predominance of black clothing this winter? I can’t tell if it has always been this way or if I’m just noticing it more. It was as if someone famous had died and we were all in mourning. I’d guess that half the individuals I saw on the street were, in part, clothed in black. Yet, and here is the strange bit, when I walked through East Kilbride shopping centre the clothing shops were not awash with black garments.  They were (and, ladies, this is the official top ten colours for spring) a rainbow of Honeysuckle, Russet, Coral Rose, Peapod, Blue Curacao, Beeswax, Lavender, Silver Peony and Silver Cloud. For the lads, and I have this on good authority, we should be wearing Barberry, Firecracker, Turf Green, Beeswax, Linen, Russet, Regatta, Blue Curacao, Lavender or Flint Grey.

You will notice that at no point does black feature. I looked up the winter colours in case there had been a mad focus on the darkest of dark shades. I mean, maybe the January sales had been one giant ‘funeral-cortege’ and I had missed it all. But no – black was not a winter colour.

In fact black hasn’t been a season’s fashion colour for years. As such I am left with the inescapable conclusion that although many of us step heavily in the footsteps of the fashion gurus of this world, we do not renew our wardrobe anywhere near as often as the fashion police would demand. Gok Wan can pontificate all he wants about the importance of new clothes in changing your life but as far as I can work out most of us are wearing old clothes – seriously old clothes. How else can you account for the dominance of a colour that hasn’t seen a cat walk in a decade?

Do me a favour. Go to the place you keep your coats and lift out your favourite (no doubt black) coat and consider how long you have had it? A year. Two? More. I’m not a betting man but, and lads this is so much more likely to be you than the girls, some coats have more than ten years behind them. Why? Lack of cash? Laziness? Love?

Well US Senator Jim Hargrove has a theory. He recently sited (and this is gospel) that an old fraternity brother of his had been wearing the same trench coat for twenty years. Why? Because, as was observed by this respected member of the US political landscape, the coat owner in question has been smoking marijuana for the last two decades. Seriously. Marijuana?

Now I don’t know if the trench coat in question is black. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t but does this mean that if your next-door neighbour/friend/colleague (delete as necessary) has been wearing the same coat since the eighties that he/she has a serious narcotic addiction?

Does this potentially explain the sea of black that flowed down our streets?  Think of the consequences if it did? Answers on a postcard! Oh, and while your out buying the stamp, see if you can dig out a non-black coat and maybe we can add a little colour to these depressing times. Personally I fancy one with just a hint of Beeswax.

Gordon Brown lives and runs his business in Clarkston. He is a published author and his new novel ’59 Minutes’, published by Fledgling Press, is now out. For more info visit www.gordonjbrown.com.

1/16/2011

Flying Solo

I’m down to my first solo live outing on the radio this Friday. I’m on 5.00pm to 6.00pm Drivetime show on Pulse 98.4FM or live on www.pulseonair.co.uk.

1/9/2011

A Brown View on Life

Religious Tea

When I was young the background music to life was the whispering bubbling of a kettle coming to the boil.  This was born of two grandmothers who saw tea as more essential than air and held the drink in the same tones of reverence that the religious reserve for their God. Tea was a beverage for every conceivable occasion. From birth to death – tea was the one constant. Every disaster and every celebration had to be accompanied by a cup of fresh brew. On my grandmother’s planet the gap, in time, between cups of tea was so infinitesimal that it held a mathematical definition all of its own.

And tea came with rituals that were engraved on the front door of their homes. Loose tea – never tea bags. Warm the pot first. Leave to infuse for at least a month. Cup – with saucer of course and never, ever, a mug. Milk before tea and then sugar. Stir for another month. Leave for a heartbeat. Take an appreciative sip. Utter the words ‘that’s a lovely cup of tea’ and reach for the biccies/cake/bun* – (*delete as necessary.)

I was weaned on tea and the sad truth is that few kids nowadays drink the precious liquid. Too challenging a taste. Fizzy drinks are easier on the palate, they are less hassle and heaven forbid that a child would be asked to handle hot water! I entered the hallowed halls of tea before I could walk. My first cup of tea was not even a cup. Made with the same care as one destined for the best china but at the last minute diverted and poured into my bottle. Too milky, too sugary, too cool – but it was tea. Sucking it through rubber must have been ok because it started my life-long love affair with the stuff.

My mother has inherited the tea-worshiping gene and her fervour, along with two ‘tea addicted’ grannies, has given me a zeal for the stuff that borders on the obsessive. I have never knowingly refused a cup. I see it as an affront. My intake can be north of ten cups a day, but , and sorry Grans,  for me it has to be a mug – oh and I prefer tea bags (I can hear the sound of distant tutting as I type this).

‘I’ll just put the kettle on’ is such a great phrase. It presages everything that is good about life. In the good moments it is the bonus ball that will make you a millionaire. In the bad moments it is the super sticking plaster that will fix all.

If there is a way to sum up the power of the almighty tea leaf take the following as a case study.

Let me start by pointing out that the cardinal sin in the world of tea is to rise from a chair, with others around you, and make a cup for yourself without offering to do likewise for those nearby.  For a few years I worked at STV where I was notionally in charge of the station’s marketing, viewers enquiries and the voice over team. We all sat in an open plan office around tables that accommodated six people.  Sitting next to us was our colleagues that looked after the programme scheduling. As such, and it did take a few months to convert people to the correct tea etiquette, a trip to the office kitchen could easily result in the requirement to make a dozen cuppas. I think the record was fifteen. Did anyone complain? Did the flow of tea ever stop? Were we better off for the tea run? Answers – no, no and yes.  A powerful brew.

Tea for me is the ultimate bonding agent, a polite way to bring people together – a relationship maker.  Am I over-playing its importance? Well let me just make another cup of tea and I’ll tell you some more.

By the way do you take milk and sugar?

1/7/2011

Review

Scottish Field review for 59 Minutes – click on http://www.scottishfield.co.uk/review/214-59_Minutes.html

Archive of Older Posts 2009/2010

A Brown View on Life

12/14/2010

The Six Man Sledge

On the 14th and 15th of April 1931 over 87.5 inches of snow fell on the town of Silver Lake in Colorado – all in a period of twenty seven and half hours. As far as I am aware, not one driver attempted to get in his car and drive off without first removing some snow.

Compare that with November/December 2010 in Glasgow where a fair proportion of drivers got into their cars, switched on the windscreen wipers and drove off with a crown of snow on their roof that would struggle to get under the rail bridge at Busby.

But this is not a rant fest and I’m not going to go off on one (even if such driver’s should be removed from their cars, keys confiscated and their licenses revoked). I make the point because the cold weather sent me on a nostalgia trip. As I write my daughter is off to the park for a bout of sledging. I adored sledging – not that I had the premoulded sleek sliding machine that she is dragging behind her. No, the pinnacle of my ingenuity was to sneak a six by four feet slab of Formica out of our house – blissfully unaware that it was intended to form the top of our new kitchen table.

It was the ultimate multi person sledge. Sitting at the top of my road, and we are talking the Mount Everest of the south side here, six of us sat astride the shiny surface. (If you want a sense of perspective on what is to follow take a trip to Simshill and stand at the top of the Farne Drive looking down to Old Castle Road).

The night was perfect. The road was clear of cars – as it always was back then. The snow was deep and untouched. The sense of anticipation was thick and it took only the smallest of nudges to set us off. With no steering and nothing to hold onto we clung to each other as we gathered speed. A lot of speed. Ski jumping type speed. We lost the first passenger as we passed our next door neighbour’s house at around thirty miles an hour. Numbers two and three were thrown clear as we mounted the pavement and bounced off a garden wall at closer to sixty. Number four was ripped from our bosom when his outstretched arm clipped a lamppost. By now we had topped the ton.  Two of us hung on – zipping backwards at close to the speed of sound – hearts racing, screaming into the iced air. The one downside, and it was a big downside, was that my road ended in a T junction and, with no possible means of steering around the corner, we exited the road, crossed the junction, hit the kerb, executed the perfect take off, flew into the garden of the house at the foot of our hill and died.

Well, not quite. What we actually did was drag the Formica back to the top of the hill, picking up the lost passengers as we climbed, and set off again in, as it turned out, a vain attempt to reach the bottom with six bodies on board.

As I remember it we tried to well past midnight but somehow we never managed to keep the six of us together for the whole trip.

There is a side story to this. The following morning, in the bright white of a snow lit day, the Formica top that had performed so heroically did not quite have the pristine shine and ‘fresh out the wrapper’ look of the previous evening. In fact it had more scratches than a nineties DJ and more chips than McDonalds. I can’t remember my father’s reaction but I think I may have wiped the bad from the good that day to preserve the wonder of the six-man sledge.

Out of sheer curiosity I’ve just checked online and a six foot length of Formcia can be had for a hundred quid at B&Q – expensive but I wonder if I still have the contact details of my five friends from back then…

12/7/2010

Latest Review

The University of Scotland magazine – West has reviewed my latest book. I’ve posted the review below or you can click on http://www.uws.ac.uk/alumni/west-viewer.asp.

12/1/2010

The People’s Book Prize

Falling has been put up for voting in the People’s Book Prize – so if you fancy supporting me click on this link – http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/book.php?id=494.

11/18/2010

Hyndland Book Shop

A big thanks to David at Hyndland Book shop for the opportunity to do a reading at the store. Good fun and a nice evening.

11/2/2010

A Brown View on Life

Chewing Gum for the Mind.

Chewing Gum for the Mind.

I was checking on upcoming TV programmes a few weeks ago and noticed that the first ten Star Trek films were being shown back to back (well almost) on Film 4. So I hit the little red button a few times and set my machine to ingest twenty three hours of Trekkie fodder on to the hard drive. (Who knows how these things work – but then again I’m still stunned that you can pause live TV!)

I’ve seen all the films before – in some cases multiple times. So why record them – and worse still – after twenty three hours of down time – why watch them all?

Then again, why did I, one Christmas, ask for every James Bond film? Why do I start watching Doctor No, go all the way through to Quantum of Solace and start again at the beginning?

Why?

Escapism.

The need to get away from the day to day.

Or as I like to call it – chewing gum for the mind.

What’s yours?

I have many more.

  • I confess to listening to Women’s Hour when I’m in the car. A great show and a guaranteed way to stop thinking about whatever it is that is bugging me. I also kid myself that it puts me more in touch with the females of this world. Well, come on, the medical stories alone have opened my eyes to a whole world that guys usually avoid like the plague.
  • I read – and read a lot. Everything from the latest thriller to twenty year old editions of the Beano (I love the Numbskulls).
  • I go to the gym. I hate it with a vengeance but I go and, half way through the rowing machine – and it is always the rowing machine – my mind can focus on nothing else but the little clock telling me I have only two minutes of hell to go. All my other thoughts simply vanish.
  • I go to the pub. But this only works when there is nothing major happening the following day. I can’t relax when I know that the alcohol entering my system is going to come back and bite me in that important meeting at 9.30 the next morning. ‘Booze Breath’ is a big no-no. Changed days from when I started work life – working for a brewery – where ‘Booze Breath’ was part of the job description – oh how the world has moved on – but that is the subject for another day.
  • I go to a concert – I’m doing the sad retro thing at the moment – OMD, the Psychedelic Furs and Status Quo are all tickets in my pocket before Christmas. Sing-a-long time – or rather dance-a-long – or in the case of Quo – head-bang-a-long.
  • I write – the best escape pod on the planet. As someone once said ‘writing is all about making up lies about people that don’t exist’ – just a great thing to do! Even sitting at the computer doing this piece is an exercise in putting off what I really should be doing.

This list could be much longer but, in my case, will never include the likes of DIY, gardening, car cleaning, cooking, decorating, maintenance, taxi driving (or as it is called in our house ‘giving the kids a lift’) or anything else that can have the word chore attached to it. In my book these are not moments of escape but the domestic equivalent of going to the office.

And talking about the office I’m off to work shortly but, if I time it just right, I will catch the dulcet tones of Jenni Murray on Women’s Hour where I believe they are planning to discuss the merits of ‘real bread’ – wonderful.

Gordon Brown lives and runs his business in Clarkston. He is a published author and his new novel ’59 Minutes’, published by Fledgling Press, is now out. For more info visit www.gordonjbrown.com.

10/23/2010

Radio Clyde

I’m due to be on Clyde 2 on Sunday the 24th October – sometime between six and ten – on the Mike Riddoch show. You can get it on 1152AM or online at http://radioplayer.clyde2.com/

10/18/2010

Eastwood Today Review

Some coverage form Eastwood Today:

Some coverage form Eastwood Today:

10/16/2010

A Brown View On Life – 11 – Stuck

My family and I were on our way home from a weekend visiting friends in the Midlands.

My family and I were on our way home from a weekend visiting friends in the Midlands. After a brief shopping stop at Gretna – signs appeared on the motorway informing us that the M74 was closed at Junction 8. A quick bit of map reading, and my wife tells me to exit at junction 9 and we will take the back way home.

Good plan.

Unfortunately Junction 9 doesn’t have an exit going north – it is one of those junctions with an on ramp going south only.

As such we soon come across two lines of traffic that are, to all intents and purposes, parked. We are going nowhere at speed. With nothing to do but occasionally nudge the car forward a few yards I start to people watch. It’s not normally something I get to do while driving and, after a while, I realise that sitting in a queue reveals a lot about a person. I suspect that there is a doctorate to be had in understanding the behavior of people in such a situation, A situation, and lets be clear about this, where you really have Hobson’s Choice – wait it out – but that doesn’t seem to sit well with some people.

I spent a good hour trying to devise some sort of classification- well what else was there to do?

Category 1: The Lane Jumper – with two lanes to choose from people in this category will squeeze into whichever lane is moving quickest.  It doesn’t seem to occur to them that it makes no difference. They are all wing mirrors and indicators – forcing their way back and forth slowly but ending up almost exactly where they started. Only they have elevated their blood pressure a few points and hacked off the drivers around them. Annoying meter score – 7/10

Category 2: The Fresh Air Music Fiend – despite the vast quantities of carbon monoxide swirling around –  the queue is a signal to open every window wide and, because you can, turn up the music. This is done in the mistaken belief that everyone else will be so impressed by your musical selection that they will see you as some sort of rock guru – WRONG. Annoying meter score – 5/10

Category 3: The Emergency Lane Bandit – ignoring both the danger and illegality of using the emergency lane these people hammer up the inside – clearly with some inane justification in their head for doing so. What can you say about this? Idiots isn’t even close to strong enough. Annoying meter score – 10/10

Category 4: The Power Nappers – with movement as rare as a Scotland away goal, falling asleep is always a danger. Take the man in the soft top MG a couple of cars front of us. Twenty minutes in and he goes for a kip – the queue moves – a honk of the horn from the car behind – and does he say thank you? – nope – a flick of two fingers – wonderful. Annoying meter score – 4/10

Category 5: The Dreamers – this is me. Another world beckons and I’m gone. Off to planet Gordon until my wife nudges me to point out we should be on the move. Annoying meter score – ask my wife?

All in all there is a probably a sit com in here somewhere – so if you are stuck in a jam sometime in the future feel free to send me a note of any new categories you spot – just click on www.gordonjbrown.com.

10/14/2010

Signings/Readings

I have a number of readings coming up over the next few months and more to be confirmed: Tuesday 16th November – 6.00pm – – Hyndland Bookshop – 143 Hyndland Road Glasgow, Lanarkshire G12 9JA – 0141 334 5522 Saturday 4th December – 12.00pm – Bookpoint – 147-149 Argyll St Dunoon PA23 7DD – 01369 702 37. Web – www.dunoonbookpoint.co.uk Monday 17th January – 6.00pm – Books in the West – 89 Main St, West Kilbride, Ayrshire, KA23 9AP 01294 824872 – Web – www.booksinthewest.com

10/2/2010

Review – Daily Record

This review of 59 minutes in the Daily Record is great – 59 Minutes – Gordon Brown – Shari Low – Daily Record – 02/10/10 http://blogs.dailyrecord.co.uk/sharilow/

9/22/2010

Launch of 59 Minutes

What a great night at Waterstones last night. Thanks to everyone that turned out on a damp Tuesday night to listen to me waffle on. A big thanks to Waterstones for hosting the night. I’ve put a few photos from last night below.

9/17/2010

PR Release

For info this is what is going out to the media – just in case you are interested:

WHEN IT COMES TO REVENGE – TIMING IS EVERYTHING

‘59 Minutes’ is a high pace crime thriller set in Glasgow and is Gordon Brown’s second book, following on from the success of his debut novel ‘Falling’ last year.

The Glasgow Herald wrote of ‘Falling’  – ‘Brown keeps a skilful grip on his material in what turns out to be a very promising debut novel.’ and his second novel fulfils all expectations and more.

’59 Minutes’ tells the story of a Glasgow criminal as he rises to become one of the most powerful crime lords in the UK, only to have it all ripped away from him . Imprisoned then reduced to a life on the street, he becomes hell bent on vengeance.. Tough, hard-hitting and pulling no punches, Gordon Brown makes his tale come alive in a way that is likely to be admired by established crime writers and readers.  He has produced an exciting successor to his first novel with an action-packed tale guaranteed to keep readers turning the pages until the very last page.

‘Great stuff- 59 Minutes is a pacy, intriguing crime thriller with a stunning conclusion’ Helen Fitzgerald author of crime novels ‘Dead Lovely ‘ and ‘My Last Confession’

Richard Draycott, editor of The Drum writes: ’59 Minutes is an edge of your seat thrill ride from the first second to the last nail biting moment.  Hold on tight, it’s one hell of a journey with an explosive twist.  Brilliant!’

Gordon Brown was born and lives in Glasgow – having spent twenty five years in the sales and marketing world working on everything from alcohol (he was Director of Brands at Tennents) to global charities and from TV to lingerie.

Gordon started out life packing shelves for Sainsbury’s before moving to Canada to join the brewery business. He set up his own marketing business in Glasgow called Circuit Break (see www.circuitbreak.co.uk) in 2001. He has an honours degree from Strathclyde along with a MBA from Nottingham Trent University and is married with two children.

Gordon is launching ’59 Minutes’ in Waterstone’s, Sauchiehall St, Glasgow on Tuesday 21st September at 6.30pm.

ISBN: 978-1-905916-25-2

To receive a review copy,arrange an interview or place orders for the book, contact:
Fledgling Press
7 Lennox Street
Edinburgh
EH4 1QB
Phone 0131 343 2367
e-mail: zander@fledglingpress.co.uk
www.fledglingpress.co.uk

9/7/2010

Launch – 59 Minutes.

The launch of 59 Minutes will take place at 6:30pm at Waterstones on Sauchiehall St, Glasgow. If anyone wants to come along just let me know or turn up on the evening.

8/21/2010

59 Minutes

Ok so it’s all getting a little hectic. The new book is out next month and I’m finalising the launch date. I’m setting up some signings and posters arrived yesterday. Bookmarks are on their way and I’ve already had orders from WH Smith, Waterstone’s and a range of independent book shops. It is also available at www.fledglingpress.co.uk and www.amazon.co.uk. I’ll update the site with further details as they come on line.

8/15/2010

'59 Minutes'

Back cover blurb for the new book: ‘When it comes to revenge – timing is everything. Enter the world of a Glasgow criminal as he rises to become one of the most powerful crime lords in the UK, only to have it all ripped away from him. Imprisoned, then reduced to a life on the street, he becomes hell bent on vengeance. ‘59 Minutes’ is a high pace crime thriller and is Gordon Brown’s second book, following the success of his first novel, ‘Falling.’’

8/15/2010

New Book – '59 Minutes'

The new novel, ’59 Minutes’, has just rolled of the printer and is to be launched soon – however you can get advance copies at www.fledglingpress.co.uk. I’ll post up signings, launch etc shortly.

8/15/2010

A Brown View on Life 10 – Travel

A few weeks ago I, through a combination of work, pleasure and stupidity, flew home from holiday in Turkey and, almost immediately, spent six days driving to Manchester, to Birmingham, Stratford-upon-Avon before turning north to Harrogate and finally back home.

I stayed in two hotels, a guest-house and fell asleep in the car half a dozen times. I grazed my way through Sainsbury’s bought sandwiches, Tesco bought pasties and Shell bought Coca Cola. I rose no later than seven and went to bed no earlier than midnight.
I became a wrong turning junkie and visited some of the unsung sights of England. For example I enjoyed the delights of the waste disposal centre for Central Birmingham. I circled the Morrison’s car park in Stratford three times looking for the exit and paid a brief visit to someone’s flooded front garden in Bollington.
I created a new way to negotiate a one-way system just south of Macclesfield, tried to fill my diesel car with petrol and made an attempt to pay the bill with a Makro card.
My luggage for the trip contained more shirts than I needed but I short-changed myself on pants and t-shirts. I forgot to take toothpaste, deodorant and shower gel but I could have held a fire sale of dental floss and after shave.
I decided to use the hotel gym to offset the late nights, and dropped a weight on my toe. Not to be discouraged I tried the gym again two nights later where I duly emptied a glass of water down my front and, a few minutes later, sat in the puddle.
One hotel wanted sixty pounds for access to the WiFi (sixty quid!) but a neighbouring hotel was free. I logged onto the freebie and it took an hour to download ten e-mails – by which time my lap top battery had run out.
On three occasions I walked to my next appointment without a jacket – and it rained. On two occasions I wore a jacket and the thermometer hit the mid seventies.
I gave one elderly lady directions in Harrogate – even though I had just arrived and it has been twenty years since I was last there.
If you wish I can also pass on ten post-codes where O2 mobile phones don’t work.
I have little or no recollection of any of the motorway miles and managed to think that Thursday was Wednesday for most of the day.
When I got home I discovered that I had lost two novels, a couple of pairs of socks, half a dozen pens and a piece of paper with a very important phone number on it.
I was on the point of moaning about all this to my friend in the pub when he pointed out that he had just returned from Basra in Iraq where he had flown on six flights, passed through twelve x-ray machines (five of which he had to negotiate just to get out of Basra airport), spent a sleepless night in Amman airport in Jordan watching the news and had stayed in a hotel in Basra that would have pleased Norman Bates.
Add to that the inherent danger in visiting such a place and I realized that, all in all, mine was a very normal trip by comparison.

7/1/2010

A Brown View on Life 9 – Music

I’m sitting listening to Armin van Buuren’s Unforgiveable from an album called Cream Future Trance.

I love my Trance Dance music and, as I approach my fiftieth birthday, it seems that I am somewhat of a sad old man that won’t let go of his youth. At least that is what I’m told on a regular basis.
I’ve never been one to reach a period in my life and stop listening to new music. I don’t see the point. Sure I still listen to music from years ago – put it this way I’m going to see Status Quo, OMD and the Psychedelic Furs in the next few months – so I’m hardly rejecting my younger days. But, if I have a personal hobby horse (and I have many), I despair of people who not only reject, but actively avoid new music. You know the type. The Beatles fan who still thinks Dave Lee Travis is on Radio 1. The ABBA freak who thinks T in the Park is a picnic for old ladies in Rouken Glen. The people who perceive downloading as a fancy word for getting the trunk out of the loft.
iTunes has been a revelation to me. To others it is a product available from Boots to help them breathe easier. These are the same people that find music genres a mystery. Emo stars in Sesame Street – doesn’t he? Ambient is the temperature for a good bottle of red wine? Garage Rock is a collection of minerals from the trip to Ayr beach.
OK I can see why some people don’t move on. Why should you? You like what you like – right? But think of it this way. What if, back then, Mick and Keith had taken the same tack.
‘You now what, Keith? I like listening to the easy swing of Mr Glen Miller. Let us not form a pop group as I am happy with his clarinet and saxophone led tunes’
‘I agree. Mick. And, for me, the dulcet tones of Jim Reeves will satisfy me until I breathe my last.’
Your Rolling Stones fan wouldn’t be so much stoned as stoneless
iTunes just dowloaded its 10 billionth track. Not all of them are new but maybe, just maybe, there was the odd good one amongst the newer stuff. And maybe, just maybe, it might lead to a whole new world of music that you never knew existed.
I have a suggestion. If you know someone that lives in a musical time warp ask them to walk into HMV, go up to the assistant and say the following:
‘I am a fan of (insert your favourite band(s) name(s) here) and I am looking for similar music from new bands.’
No big risk there. No need to invest in the latest Chilled, Retro Boogie, Hip Hop, Rock fusion – just ask them to pop on the CD they suggest and listen. You can do the same thing from your armchair with iTunes – type in your favourite album and then simply click on the section that says ‘Listeners Also Bought.’ I just entered ABBA Gold and seemingly I would like Lilly Allen, Duffy, Black Eyed Peas, Mika, and Coldplay. And, if you are interested, Armin van Burren brought up OceanLab, Above & Beyond and John O’Callaghan – I have no idea who they are but my Visa card is already burning a hole through my laptop.
Go on try it – what is the worst that could happen?
Gordon Brown lives and runs his business in Clarkston. He is a published author with his second novel – ’59 Minutes’ coming out in August. If you want a bit more info why not visit www.gordonjbrown.com.

6/24/2010

New Novel Update

We are creeping ever nearer the launch of ’59 Minutes.’ Best bet, at the moment, is mid August. I’ll get the cover up on the site as soon as possible.

6/14/2010

A Brown View on Life

This is my latest article for my local magazine – MY G76 – see www.myg76.com. For more articles click on Writing and then on A Brown View on Life.

A Brown View on Life 8.

Holidays.

My fifteen year old son has just put the last full stop on his fourth year exams. He tripped through the front door with a smile on his face and the look of someone who is just discovering what the phrase ‘de-mob happy’ really means.
I watched his demeanor and memories flooded back. It has been a while since I sat exams and I’ve forgotten what it feels like to hand in that final paper, and walk down a road that now seems to be more akin to a bouncy castle.
It has been much longer since I handed in a paper and knew that summer now beckoned. All seven weeks of it. Or, as I remember it from my school days, all seven years of it. The endless days stretching before me like so many dominos in a row – just waiting to be toppled in glorious slow motion.
What did I do with all that time? What would I do with it now?
I suspect that today I’d treat the school holidays a little differently. When I was young I would be up and out of the door before the birds had moved to full song. Today I’d probably lie in bed and sigh deeply. Back then I would play from dawn to dusk – stopping only to take on food and juice. Nowadays I’d drift from the bedroom to the telly, drink tea and contemplate the fact that the lawn needs done. As a kid I’d treat every day as an adventure. Now I’d treat every day as an excuse to treat tomorrow as an adventure. Off course tomorrow would never come.
But some things would be the same. I’d lose track of time. My thought processes would shrink to the point that my IQ score would be in single figures. Tasks would remain undone, beds unmade, hair uncut – goofing off the norm and I would revert to my youth at speed.
How can I be so sure? Well I have proof. Each year my friends and I partake of a lad’s weekend and, each year, I sprout acne, talk nonsense and act like a spoilt teenager – and that’s before the car has even left my driveway.
Wonderful.
Off course there is the downside to this. At some point, and it always seems too soon, it will be time to re-enter reality. A tight stomach, churning gut, gloomy head and a desire to find a way to extend the holiday ad infinitum. First day back at school/first day back at work – not much difference and then the countdown begins to the next break.
So would I really like to return to school holidays?
What do you think?

6/3/2010

Ok so I lied!

I thought I was at the end of the edit process and then things went a little south. The new book decided it didn’t like the way I was treating it and after another read through it made it clear that it wanted me to work on it a bit more.

5/17/2010

New Book

Final edit done. Now with publisher. Cover agreed. Launch date to be agreed. time for a cup of tea.

5/12/2010

Crime Festival

I’m off for a sunny weekend of crime and, well more crime, at the Harrogate Crime Festival at the end of July. Hopefully I’ll have a copy of the new book to take with me as we are at final edit. I must dig out the cover and put it on the site.

5/4/2010

New Brown View on Life

Click on Writing and a Brown View on Life for another episode from the Brown side of life.

5/4/2010

What is going on?

Silence is golden or ignorance is bliss or … anyway I’ve ben remiss with the blog. The new novel is at final edit and will soon be heading for the printers – by soon I mean sometime in the next few months. We have a cover design we are happy with and a cracking strap-line – more soon. I need to change the sample chapters on the site as they are now out of date and I’ll do this soon. GB

4/15/2010

More Short Stories

Click on the Writing icon to find a few more new short stories that I have posted.

3/30/2010

59 Minutes – update

All being well my second novel – ’59 Minutes’ will be published in late autumn. More info soon.

3/11/2010

A Brown View on Life – 'Maybe'

My monthly article for the local magazine I write for:

Things have been fairly manic of late.  I always thought that life would calm down as I got older. I’m not sure what made me think that this would be the case but I know why it isn’t happening. You see I’ve fallen in love with a very seductive and tempting mistress. Her name is ‘Maybe’ and she is the ultimate forbidden fruit.

‘Maybe’ is a divisive mistress. She revels in being non-committal and teases me into thinking that I still retain some vestige of decision-making authority.  But she is a cheap, two-faced charlatan who so easily, against my deepest desires, transforms into her alter ego – ‘Yes’. The solution to this wicked lady is to court and marry her brutal sister ‘No’ – but being wed to ‘No’ would make life so much more confrontational.

Take the following example as proof of my dilemma

Mother that is a friend of a friend – ‘Do you want to come to see my baby daughter in a five hour singing and dancing extravaganza of mind numbing blandness and non-existent talent on the same night that Scotland are playing in the deciding qualifier match for Euro 2012 – to which I believe you have a VIP ticket?’

Me – ‘No!’

Same mother, but now indignant – ‘Sorry but did you say no? This is my daughter we are discussing. The shining apple in my basket of life. What is wrong with her? Why would you insult her, my family, all my ancestors, and myself by declining such a rare and generous opportunity.  Even though I understand that the said game of football is being played out in the wonderful city of Prague and that you have been offered both a complimentary flight and hotel room, along with free alcohol and food. So I will ask you again. Do you wish to accept my invitation?’

Me – ‘Maybe.’

You see the problem.  I think that by saying ‘Maybe’ I can postpone the moment of pain involved in using the word ‘No’ knowing I’m going to say ‘Yes’ anyway. I have tried many times to break my relationship with ‘Maybe’ but she draws me back time and time again. So I have developed a cunning plan. It came to me after watching the Jim Carey movie ‘The Yes Man’ in which Mr Carey discovers that life can be far more interesting if he says yes to everything he is asked to do.  Following this theme I think we should declare a ‘National Day of No’. For one day in the year we should say ‘No’ to every request – just to prove we can live without that vixen ‘Maybe.’

‘Do you want another slice of cake?’ – ‘No!’

Easy.

‘Do you want a complimentary ticket to see the ‘Best of the Eighties’ tour that is town?’ – ‘No!’

Still easy.

‘Do you fancy a free round of golf at Gleneagles?’ – ‘No!’

Harder but I’ll live.

‘Do you want a gratis, all inclusive four week holiday in a five star resort in the south Pacific with a thousand pounds spending money thrown in?’  – ‘Maybe!’

My ‘National Day of No’ is doomed from the start.

3/8/2010

Glasgow UNICEF Children's Short Story Competition

I’m a judge on the Glasgow UNICEF Children’s Story Competition...

2/20/2010

East Renfrewshire Storytelling Festival

I am part of the East Renfrewshire Storytelling Festival (see http://www.eastrenfrewshire.gov.uk/storytelling). I’m at the Clarkston Library on Thursday the 11th of March at 7:30pm – details are on the link.

2/1/2010

A Brown View on Life – ‘Them’

My monthly article for the local magazine I write for:

4. ‘Them’

I was invited to take part in a blog debate on the way that modern technology is invading our lives. A colleague of mine posted the following on the site:

“Starting from our very email address, a hidden host of psychological manipulators will profile us and every digital movement we make. They will track us around the web and they’ll know every sordid little thing we are up to. Every weakness, every failing, every hidden desire.

They’ll analyse every purchase we make, every specialist interest website we visit and each specific page or even word we dwell on. They’ll track us around every dating website we join and every naughty photo we look at. And then they’ll pounce. But not in our faces. Behind our backs.

Yes, they’ll sneak up on us by delivering covert and clandestine digital messages that will get to the very heart of our secret fears, hopes and dreams. And by Christ will they make us part with our money? And we won’t even know they are doing it.”

Paranoia is a dangerous thing and If I had a penny for every time someone told me that ‘they’ (whoever ‘they’ are) were watching our every move, listening to our every conversation or controlling our every desire I’d have a couple of quid. 
 I bet good money that the first person to send a letter was scared that ‘they’ would read it. (More likely the first tablet sent in Egyptian times – or before) 
But there are two things that occur to me that give me hope for a future where I’m not a victim of Big Brother:

a) There are 6.5 billion people on this planet to track – a number growing at a rate of knots.

b) There is a wealth of communication channels – Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, Myspace, this blog, e-mail, MSN, other blog’s, websites, forums, live chat, video conferencing, mobile phones, landlines, broadcast radio, local radio, internet radio, You Tube, web TV, snail mail, conversations in the street, debating societies, rock god’s pronouncing on the world, film etc etc etc – and the number of options is also growing at a rate of knots.

My hope lies in the fact that there is a simple equation that will protect me from ‘Them’.

The ‘Them’ equation:

(The growing number of people on the planet) multiplied by (The growing number of channels available for communication) =  (An inability for technology to track everything we do and say).

In essence people AND technology will defeat people WITH technology.

Now I’m off for a quiet lie down in a lead-lined cell – underground – but then again I hear the CIA have attached detectors to worms that can translate my thought waves at a distance of one hundred miles and through a mile of granite rock.

1/21/2010

A Brown View on Life – 'Facts'

My monthly article for the local magazine:

“I’m a bit of a freak when it comes to reference books. Take this Christmas – among my stocking fillers were titles such as ‘How to Make a Tornado – the strange and wonderful things that happen when scientists break free!’, ‘The Lucky Bugger’s Casebook – tales of serendipity and outrageous fortune.’ and ‘A Mess of Iguanas, A Whoop of Gorillas… an Amazement of Animal Facts.’ I love the things. Can’t get enough of them. Our house is full of books that are crammed with trivia.

I can bore the world in nonsense. Trust me – my friends and family will happily back me up on this. For instance do you know that the FBI can identify an individual by the jeans they are wearing. It seems that if they get a good enough quality photo from a CCTV that shows a close-up of a pair of jeans they can identify and match the weave – just like finger prints. Or that bats almost always turn left when they leave a cave. Or did you know that the period before the Credit Crunch was known as the Credit Binge?

I’ve no idea what the attraction is in such inane gibberish. I can waste hours reading titles such as ‘Why Don’t Penguin’s Feet Freeze.’ or ‘How to Avoid a Wombat’s Bum. – (the former is to do with the blood vessels in the legs and the latter doesn’t tell you to how to avoid it only that the animal has a habit of running flat out and then stopping dead letting any pursuing predator smash into its bum bone).

Do I really have to know that Jeremy Clarkson’s mother made her fortune from Paddington Bear merchandise. Why would I need to be aware of the fact that an average metal coat hanger is 112cm long when straightened? Would anyone care that the British Associations of Toy Retailers Toy of the Year in 1965 was the James Bond Aston Martin die-cast car?

In what part of the world will I ever find use for the fact that there is no single English word for the back of the knee or that it is quicker to say ‘world wide web’ than ‘www’ (three syllables versus nine – try it).

I’m sure that my kids were once fascinated to know that your skin weighs twice as much as your brain or that some snails have their reproductive organs located on their head. But it all gets a bit much unless you are careful. And it’s dangerous. Very dangerous.   You can look a king sized wally if you quote something that is wrong.

It is not true that a duck’s quack has no echo. Running in a zig zag will not help you escape a crocodile. Coca-cola will not dissolve a tooth if you leave it overnight. Bob Holness of Blockbuster fame did not play the saxophone on Gerry Rafferty’s Baker St (although if life were fair it should be true).

Stephen Fry and QI have even turned ‘fact bashing’ into a hit TV show but will I stop reading this rubbish? Absolutely not. Why would I? I might be reading the world’s most erroneous statements but come on – be honest – how could you live not knowing that Billie Piper made her TV debut impersonating Posh Spice or that rubber bands last longer when they are refrigerated or … well you get the idea.”

1/9/2010

Books that changed my life – update

I turns out that the submission I made to the Scottish Book Trust’s ‘Books That Changed My Life.’ competition has been selected to be included in the final book – to be published in March – see http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/thebook/story/gordon-browns-story-about-the-fog.

1/9/2010

New Novel

Having just put the full stop on the third novel (and now working on my fourth) I’ve added a section for my second novel – ’59 Minutes’ to the website. Have a read an let me know what you think?

12/16/2009

Keeping Busy

I put the full stop on the first draft of the third novel the other night. The second is with some people to look at and I thought I’d keep my foot down on the old accelerator and keep writing. So on that basis – it is onto the fourth. At the moment the second novel is entitled ’59 Minutes’ and when I get a chance I’ll pop up a chapter and the synopsis – probably over Christmas.

11/27/2009

More Borders

It seems all signings are cancelled – no more Borders.

11/27/2009

Borders

Sad news about Borders. They have been extremely helpful to myself and I hope they find a buyer. As a result of the news my signing that was due for tomorrow at the Fort Kinnaird branch has been cancelled. At the moment the two due in the Glasgow branches are still on.

11/21/2009

Books that changed my life.

Just sent off an entry to the Scottish Book Trust for their ‘The Book That Changed My Life’ initiative. thought it worth posting on the site:

11/19/2009

A Brown View on Life – 'Stuff'

I’m putting an article into the local magazine (my g76) on a regular basis and thought it worth sharing the first one.

I’m putting an article into the local magazine (my g76) on a regular basis and thought it worth sharing the first one.

A Brown View on Life.

1. ‘Stuff.’

It’s nearly Christmas and for many people it’s time for the attack of the ‘pressie panic.’  What should I get for Gran? Does my son really need an X Box, a Playstation AND a Wii? When will I start shopping?  A friend of mine is a Christmas Eve shopper; in fact it’s now a matter of pride that he waits until the last possible moment to buy anything as he knows it winds up his partner.

This got me round to thinking of Christmas presents that stand out. Presents that I really appreciated. And that’s where I started to struggle. I’m not being ungrateful but presents that I remember with affection are a bit thin on the ground and that’s a bit of a worry. So I talked to my wife about it and the conversation shifted to all the stuff we have bought over the years and what items we value. We started to draw up a list and it took on an interesting slant.

Take for example the double, collapsable buggy that we bought when our youngest was a few months old. It was a star – three trips to the US and my eldest, by now five and the size of a seven year old, happily flopped into it with his sister when the going got tough at Disneyland. Designed for a a couple of light babies – good for ten times that. Brilliant. Or the fold away cot that is still in use today with my brother’s newborn – fifteen years after we bought it – a multi coloured gem that has provided a string of children with a play area and bed non stop since the day it was removed from its box and shows no signs of being retired to the bin just yet.

What about the folding card table that we inherited from my mother in law. Forty years old, cheap as chips when it was bought, repaired within an inch of its life and now serving as a table for the barbecue food – genius. Then there’s my waterproof radio for the bathroom. Shaped like a penguin; eyes for tuning and sound, bow-tie for selecting FM or AM, mouth for speaker –  it has faithfully worked for years whether it is in the shower with me singing or sitting in the rain as I repair the garden fence. And, to top it all, bathroom radios recently won the award for the most useless item in the house. Voted on by WHO? Useless! My penguin is crying at the insult.

So what will I be looking forward to this Christmas? A thigh massager for the car? A holographic picture frame that changes colour? A four foot high Rubick’s cube? I have no idea but, as you open your presents this year, just take a moment to think about the stuff that has made a difference to your life. The stuff you look at and think – now that is a great thing to own. I bet you’ll be surprised.

11/6/2009

Keep on Writing

Been down and dirty with the keyboard working on the next novel and a burst of short stories for various competitions. Win or lose I’ll post them up to the site once .

10/17/2009

UNICEF Short Story Competition

I went to the UNICEF Crime Night last night at Hillhead Library. The night featured Helen Fitzgerald, Caro Ramsay, Karen Campbell and Alex Gray – really interesting night and all in aid of UNICEF – see http://www.unicef.org.uk/regions/products/index.asp?product=31. I also picked up the runners up prize in the short story competition. It is called I Scream, ‘Ice Cream.’ and I’ve posted it to the short story section.

10/15/2009

Weegie Wednesday

Just went to Weegie Wednesday last night – excellent. Met up with Helen Fitzgerald who was really nice and it turns out our kids are in the same year at the same school – spooky

10/11/2009

Weegie Wednesday

It is Weegie Wednesday this Wednesday at the Universal Bar in Glasgow. It is always a good night and I’m looking forward to this week as it is a crime night. If you are interested you can find more out at Facebook -http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=101857616173&ref=search&sid=1582261177.1051786058..1 or at http://weegiewednesday.webs.com

10/2/2009

Another Short Story

I’ve uploaded a very old short story. I can’t remember what inspired it but there is something that I like about it. It’s not a crime story although there is a death (in fact there are three deaths). Then again when I read it again maybe it is a crime story. Anyway let me know what you think.

9/13/2009

Night Out

Just been to see Crime Time at the local theatre – Denise Mina, Helen Fitzgerald, Karen Campbell and Louise Welsh. It was a good night and all four were v interesting.

9/12/2009

Listings

Great news. Waterstone’s have just agreed to take the book across all their Scottish stores from the end of this month on their ‘Buy 3 for 2’ offer – on top of Borders listing the book on their ‘buy one get the second half price’ deal across Scotland things are picking up momentum with the book.

9/5/2009

Short Story

I’ve uploaded an old short story that has been sitting on my hard drive for years. In fact so long that the original had a reference to a video recorder and if I remember correctly video recorders were still expensive and state of the art when I wrote this. I’ve changed the reference to a DVD player but maybe it should have been a V+ box – but a DVD player will do. Let me know if you enjoy it.

9/2/2009

Been Busy

I’ve been putting the nose to the grindstone with my writing. Balancing this and work is fun and games but so far Falling has gone to a reprint and distribution is improving by the day so maybe all this time at a keyboard will pay off. I need to get another short story up on the site and I’ll try and do that this weekend. anyway i thought i would just post a quick update – I really need to put more into the site – an early New Year’s resolution maybe. Gordon

8/26/2009

11/4/2017

21/08/09 Had a day out at the Edinburgh Book Festival and went to sessions to see Clio Gray, Catriona McPherson and Val McDermid. I bought the new Val McDermid book and got her to sign it on the condition I could sign and give her my book. I hope she enjoys it (or even reads it)!

I’ve also some great distribution news in the pipeline – more soon.

18/08/09 Borders have agreed to place Falling in their buy one get the second half price promotion across Scotland. I’m also looking to post a few more short stories to the site so watch this space (or rather the space that says short stories).

6/08/09 A new set of signings have been set up – see the signings section on the home page.

The Scottish Sun did an article on me and the book today. thanks to Marc and Gill at The Sun for the coverage:

26/07/09 Also managed to track down the Daily Record review:

25/07/09 Back from hols and managed to get a copy of the Herald review:

15/07/09 Still on hols but The Herald reviewed the book on Saturday and I’ve only just got a copy:

‘Obviously not that Gordon Brown. This Gordon Brown, from Glasgow, has been pursuing a career in sales and marketing while writing for his own enjoyment for the past twenty years. This is his first published novel and straightaway it’s apparent that all that practise hasn’t gone to waste.

Using multiple viewpoints Brown stretches the events of a few seconds across the first fifty pages – an ambitious opening which he brings off in style. It would be an arresting way to start any novel, as 54-year old accountant Charlie Wiggs is suspended from the roof of a 40-storey building by two goons, then let go.

From there we dive into the plot which explains what led the thugs to that building in the first place and why innocent Charlie has a ruthless money-laundering gang on his tail.

Throughout, Brown keeps a firm, skilful grip on his material in what turns out to be a very promising debut novel.’

The Herald – 11th July 2009

Can I thank Rosemary Goring for taking the time to have my book reviewed.

12/07/09 Just came across a website dedicated to Crime Fiction in Glasgow – check it out at http://bigbeatfrombadsville.blogspot.com/.

11/07/09 Sorry for the lack of updates. I’m currently on hols. However the Daily Record have just reviewed my new novel and I thought it would be worth taking a break for my break to share what they said.

‘George is a maintenance man doing his rounds of a Glasgow office block when he opens the door to the roof and sees two hoods dangling accountant Charlie Wiggs over the side of the building. But why? Wiggs has no idea why he is looking at the street from a great height. And the two hoods aren’t exactly sure about what is going on either.

Chaos reigns as the plot comes thick and fast in this thriller told from alternating perspectives of a brilliantly drawn cast of characters. If Guy Richie is looking for his next hit crime caper, he could do worse.’

Daily Record – 11th July, 2009

Can I thank Shari Low for taking the time to review my book.

19/06/09 Another new signing event to add to the calendar on Saturday the 15th of August at Borders in Dundee.

16/06/09 The advertising went live today so if you are in the Glasgow area look out for the posters at Glasgow Central Station and Glasgow Queen St Station.

13/06/09 The signing at Borders at the Fort in Glasgow went well. Thirty odd books signed and purchased and I had a great time just chatting to people about books. You could get used to this.

12/06/09 I’ve just confirmed another signing at Borders at Fort Kinnaird in Edinburgh on Sunday the 27th of June – exact timing to be confirmed.

11/06/09 Trying to recover from the launch last night at Borders – what a night. Over a hundred people turned up – amazing. Borders tell me it is the best new author launch they have done and it is a big thank you from me to everyone that came along and to Leah at Borders for all the help – I think the sales on the night might put me in the top ten for sales at Borders this week. Onwards and upward and I’m siging more books on Saturday at Borders at The Fort beween 12 and 3pm.

06/06/09

Ken Smith’s Diary – The Herald – 6th June

06/06/09 – Eastwood Today 4th June

5/06/09 Things keep moving apace – more stockists, a lot of people indicating they will attend the launch and The Drum have just published an article on the book and myself – see www.thedrum.co.uk.

2/06/09 I now have a second signing session booked for the 13th of June between 12.00pm and 3.00pm in Borders at The Fort Shopping Park –Glasgow Fort,390 Provan Walk, G34 9DL.

26/05/09 The advertsing support for the launch is taking shape. There will be posters in Glasgow Central and Queen St stations and ad bikes on the 10th and 11th of June.

19/05/09 Stockists have started to come on board – see the stockists page – including Waterstone’s and WH Smith. I am also confirming advertising support for the book and will update the blog on this later.

15/05/09 The book came back from the printers last night. Weird is not the word to describe my feelings but it looks good and I’m struggling with the idea that I now have my name on the cover a of a novel. Just brilliant.

14/05/09 Thanks to Alison, who owns the Village Bookshop in London for passing the word to some of the other independent book shops that she knows. First off the mark with an order was the Woodstock Bookshop in Woodstock.

10/05/09 Off to the printer tomorrow with the manuscript. So the last dot, the last comma and the last change has been made. With a following wind the book will be available the week after next. Fingers crossed.

4/6/2009

Official Launch Date for Falling

I’m delighted to announce the official launch date of my first novel, Falling. June 10th 2009 is that date and I’ll be in Borders on Buchanan Street at 6.30 for an official book signing. So come along and meet me and discuss the book, the weather, whatever you like.

4/5/2009

GordonJBrown.com is live!

It’s been quite a 6 months working towards the launch of me first novel, Falling, and today I’ve reached another major milestone with the launch of my own website. WOW! I feel like a proper author now :) On the site you can find out a bit more about me, some excerpts from the book (before it launches), a few short stories and details of where you can buy the book when it becomes available. I’ll also be keeping the blog up-to-date with my journey from novice to novelist so stay tuned. Thanks for popping by, Gordon Brown.

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