Tuesday 31 August 2010


The previous POST relating to the myths of the Old West got me to thinking of  a movie I watched recently - Sunset, which was directed by Blake Edwards and released in 1988, didn't do too well at the box office and seems to appeal to neither western nor comedy fans. And yet it's not a bad movie and the novelty of seeing Wyatt Earp operating in 1920's Hollywood is worth the price of admission alone.

The film opens with a wonderfully clichéd mini-western movie – a stagecoach, beautiful blonde passenger, flees a group of desperate gunmen. Suddenly amidst sweeping music Bruce Willis, star spangled tunic and ten-gallon hat, appears to save the day.

Willis is playing B-movie western legend, Tom Mix and he’s none too happy that he’s been asked to play famed lawman, Wyatt Earp in his next movie.

“I didn’t get number one at the box office by playing other people,’ Mix tells his manager played with extreme sleaze by Malcolm McDowell.

James Garner here plays Earp for the second time, but this time he plays the character much lighter though when things get nasty we are reminded of his Earp from John Sturges’ excellent  1967 Hour of the Gun. And although it was Willis who was given top billing it is actually Garner who is given the most to do as the frontier marshal  uncovering murder and vice in 1920’s Hollywood. And understanding that this is a black comedy Garner plays Earp as a darker Maverick.

The film becomes something of a buddy movie as Earp and Mix become involved in all manner of mayhem – at times it’s a western and at other times it’s a noir-comedy but it surely us an unappreciated gem.

How much of it is true – well all of it, give or take a lie or two.

Jack's adventures in The Wild West

I've always been fascinated by anything to do with the history of the American West and the myth that has developed alongside the real historical fact. Indeed in many ways the myth of the time often eclipse the facts in people's minds. People like Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Buffalo Bill and old Jesse James have had more lies and half truths written about them than  firm documented evidence.

No wonder though - because the West was being mythologised even while it was happening.

A man that created much of how we perceive the Wild West was Buffalo Bill Cody with his extravagant Wild West Shows which brought the legends of the frontier to audiences around the world. I've had a long and lasting interest in Cody and think I understand the kind of man he was and it is never far from my mind that before he was a showman, a performer he was an actual living Wild West Legend.

Click to Buy
Which was why using Cody in a novel appealed to me - I'd previously written two best-selling westerns for Robert Hale under the Jack Martin name, but this was not a western, or least not a traditional western. In truth it's a hybrid of the historical crime thriller and the western. Which is why I used my own name rather than my now established Jack Martin identity.

Jack Martin will remain with the traditional westerns, while his other self Gary Dobbs pens, for his sins, the Frank Parade crime series.

 Right off I knew didn't want to present Buffalo Bill with the primitive frontier as a backdrop, I wanted to show him almost as a fish out if water, though in truth Cody was never truly out of place, no matter where he was.

The result was my novel, A Policeman's Lot which saw Cody in industrial South Wales and as well as Western legends I also played around with  an equally mythical character, Jack the Ripper. For both of these men have had more lies written about them than fact and indeed in the case of Jack the Ripper we don't even know if he was, in fact, a she. Or indeed if there truly was a Jack the Ripper - I mean this in the sense of a serial killer roaming the dark streets of Victorian London.

Into the mix comes a no-nonsense Welsh copper, Inspector Frank Parade, who with both Cody's help and hindrance uncovers a trail that leads back to the infamous Whitechapel murders of sixteen years earlier.

I think the result is a thrilling read and quite unique in the answer it throws up for the Ripper killings - the reviews have been positive and the eBook is out there now, in most formats to be read on your eReader or even computer screen. Buy from Amazon and get the book on your Kindle or computer in less than a minute.

The UK price is only £3.62
The American $5.74

Below is one of the reviews posted on Amazon:

It was no surprise that I would like this book. The author had previously entertained me with two fine westerns(as Jack Martin).

Inspector Frank Parade of the Welsh town of Pontypridd heads a two man police force that is busy enough. When Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show arrives with it's five hundred performers and eight hundred livestock, never mind the thousands attending the shows, things get a lot worse.

Then the murders start up, involving a sixteen year old series of unexplained deaths. Throw in a thief, once arrested by Parade, who had threatened his life and had escaped prison by murdering a guard, a number of home break-ins, and superiors who want a fast, easy solution, and you have a fast moving novel that doesn't let up until the end.

And what an end.

The author uses Parade and Buffalo Bill to offer his own unique solution to the greatest unsolved serial killer mystery in history. RANDY JOHNSON - FIVE STAR REVIEW


Harper Collins are now selling more eBooks than hardcovers

Amazon is not the only company whom are selling more ebooks then hardcover books. While publishing giants Penguin recently confirmed that ebooks only account for %1 of their total market profit. Recently HarperCollins announced that this quarter then sold more ebooks then hardcovers.
The Most recent high profile launch from Penguin was the thriller by Laura Lippman, “I’d Know You Anywhere,” which hit bookstands Aug. 17. The total sales of this book in the first five days was 4,739 e-books versus 4,000 hardcover versions.
In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, HarperCollins senior vice president Frank Albanese said “What we’re seeing now is that if a book gets a good review, it gets a faster lift on the digital side than it does on the physical side because people who have e-readers can buy and read it immediately.”

Why do eBooks cost so much?

Sure, you can get out-of-copyright classics like Black Beauty for free in the Kindle store, but most newer books aren’t nearly as cheap in digital form as you probably expected. How can publishers charge almost as much for a handful of bits as they do for paper, ink, glue, printing, warehousing, shipping, shelf space, and everything else that goes into producing meatspace reading material?
Flame off: Fat-cat book pushers aren’t to blame. Not entirely. FULL STORY

Monday 30 August 2010

Hitchcock - he was a motherf***er!!!

The Birds is coming, ran the advertising blurb and the rest as they say is history.

‘Just the four of us, around the kitchen table.’

Alfred Hitchcock told Evan Hunter as he invited he and his then wife to dinner with the director and his own wife, Alma. The purpose of the dinner was to discuss the progress on the script of The Birds, which Hunter was writing for Hitchcock.

Hunter’s memory of the dinner, as told in his autobiography, was that the Hitchcock’s were wonderful easy going people, though Hitch did get grumpy with the writer’s wife, Anita when she turned a bottle of wine to the side, risking its sediment tainting the wine.

“Hitch had bought a bizarre novella about plain people attacked by the gentlest of creatures,” Hunter said, “And hired a realistic novelist from New York City to write the screenplay.”

Director and writer clashed several times during the production of the screenplay, though Hunter, while initially feeling that the screenplay never really worked, later came to appreciate the movie which is now regarded as a classic.

It wasn’t only Hunter who clashed with Hitchcock and the actress Tippi Hedren felt he was a monster.

Indeed Hitch later sent  a gift to Hedren’s daughter Melanie (the actress Melanie Griffith) – a doll dressed in the same green suit her mother wore in The Birds. The doll also had the same elaborate hairstyle her mother sported in the movie. There was no way to mistake whom the doll represented. The problem was the box the doll came in was a coffin.

“He was a motherfucker,’ the adult Melanie Griffith told a friend. ‘And you can quote me on that.”

“Hiitchcock was more concerned about how the bird were treated than me,” Hedren said. “I was just there to be pecked.”

Indeed conflict with the actress and the director became even worse on the later film, Marnie. The writer Evan Hunter also fell out with Hitch on Marnie and he was fired from the production.

At the start, filming The Birds was “wonderful”. Hedren says she “became quite fond of the birds. One was so nice Hitch couldn’t put him in the movie because he wasn’t aggressive. He’d come hopping up the steps of my dressing room, play with my make-up and sit on my shoulder.”
But near the end of filming, Hedren shot the final attack scene where Melanie is brutally attacked by the birds. “An assistant producer came in and couldn’t look at me. He told me they were going to use real birds, not mechanical ones. Those birds pecked – I’d seen what had happened to the trainers. They tied the birds to me with elastic bands. They hurled birds at me. One of the birds tied on my shoulder only just missed scraping its claw into my eye. I shouted, ‘Get these birds off me’ and I sat in the middle of the sound-stage and cried. At the end I was so exhausted I was out cold. I don’t remember anyone driving me home. I realised that Hitch had chosen an unknown actress because no famous actress in their right mind would have done this movie.”
Hitch had already told her, with some relish, about tying up Madeleine Carroll (the original Hitchcock blonde, star of The 39 Steps and Secret Agent) to a post and leaving her there all afternoon.

 Indeed it is a well known Hitchcock quote that, 'actors are like cattle.' But all the same he made some mighty fine movies....

Yesterday's Papers - David Whitehead interview

Intro issue one
Recently I wrote about an old magazine called, The Western as part of our Yesterday's Papers series. I had only come across the magazine by chance on eBay and had not previously been aware of it. Anyway I discovered that only four issues had been published and by coincidence I found a lot of all four issues on eBay and so I promptly placed a maximum bid of £15 and, such was my desire for these magazines, I would have gone higher but there were no other bidders and I got the lot for 99p - bargain.

Now as I said in the previous post on the subject I wasn't aware of the magazine back in the day, which I can't figure out - since I was sixteen at the time and most certainly would have bought it had I seen it. The only thing I can think is that the distribution was not that good and it didn't find its way out to the backwood where I lived. However I did discover that David Whitehead, fellow Black Horse author and friend of the Archive was involved, as was Mike Stotter which is another name well known to westerns followers, particularly those fans of the British westerns of the 70's and 80's.

"Western Magazine grew out of the original George G Gilman Appreciation Society. I started that and ran it for the first year, producing three issues of the magazine "Steele Edge" and the "Steele Edge Annual 1977". Mike Stotter took over the running of the club after that and I remained involved, albeit to a lesser extent," David Whitehead points out, "During this time, Mike and I got to know the Piccadilly Cowboys pretty well and one of them (I forget which one) suggested we ought to try and take the idea of a western magazine further. We thought that was a pretty good idea so we cobbled together a proposal and sent it to IPC Magazines. We didn't hear anything for quite a while, and then right out of the blue we were summoned to King's Reach Tower, where they had their offices."

King's Reach Towers - now that's a familiar address to anyone who read comic books during the 70's and 80's - of course it was not really a building at all but 2000AD editor Tharg's spaceship using a cloaking device, but that didn't deter David and Mike. A man's got to do what a man's got to do, and all that.

"As I recall, we saw the head honcho in a top-floor office. I remember it was a massive office, men in suits standing around as if the guy behind the desk was a Mafia kingpin, and Mike and I nervously pitched our idea. At the end of it they said they agreed -- it was a great idea and they were going to go with it. It's strange, we were told. We never take ideas from outsiders, and yet yours is the second one we've taken in as many weeks.The other one was from someone who'd suggested a skateboarding magazine" David continues, "Next came the sticky problem of just how much they were going to pay us for the idea. The figure of £50 was mentioned, which was a bit of a disappointment. Mike sought advice from (I think) Laurence James, who confirmed that £50 was an insult. He rang IPC and told them that if they didn't make a realistic offer, he and the other PCs would withdraw their support for the project. IPC came back with a revised offer ... of £600!"


The Piccadilly Cowboys are well represented in each issue - there are short stories from George G. Gilman,  James A. Muir, Neil Hunter ,John B Harvey and J. T. Edson, but it wasn't all the brits and issue 1 even boasted fiction from the legendary Louis L'amour.

The resulting magazine was indeed excellent - a dream for western fans and it is such a pity it didn't survive longer. The four issues I've collected form the entire run and they'll take pride of place in my collection. Each issue contains some brilliant well researched articles. In fact David Whitehead's article looking at the beginnings of western fiction with the dime novels, which appeared in the first issue, is a great read. But then so too are all the other articles - they all share a clear, concise writing style and are deeply researched.
the artwork was exceptional

"The development of the magazine was given to an IPC staffer named Dennis Winston. He and his assistant, Willie Shrimpton, grasped the concept at once. Mike and I were engaged as consultants and basically we came up with ideas for articles and suggestions for the kind of fiction western readers would want to see," David Whitehead recalls. "I remember that at the time I'd just read a stand-out Louis Masterson MORGAN KANE book called KILLER KANE, and learned shortly thereafter that Corgi Books wasn't going to issue any more. Bitterly disappointed, I suggested that Dennis could do worse than run a Morgan Kane short story. To my delight he contacted Masterson's Norwegian  publisher, Bladkompaniet, got a story called "The Gunfighter", and had it translated into English. It appeared in the magazine as 'Wind of Death' I think (Wind of Death did indeed appear in issue 2. Tainted Archive). That was the kind of clout Mike and I wielded at the time!"

So David and Mike now found themselves big players in British western circles.

"The magazine was a long time in development, but when it was finally launched in November 1980 IPC ran a couple  of TV adverts during World of Sport and held a launch party at Frontier City, a fake western town out in Hungerford. They ferried everyone from London to West Berkshire by coach, and as the coach approached its destination it was attacked by Indians on horseback, firing sucker-tipped arrows!" Recalls David Whitehead. "I can't remember why, but my girlfriend (now wife) Janet and I had to make our own way there by train, and when we arrived at the station and checked the map that had come with our invitation, we realised that it was hopelessly inaccurate. It made Frontier City look as if it was right next door. In fact, it was about two or three miles outside of town. We went into the local police station to get directions and then set off on foot. A moment later we heard a car horn. When we turned around, there was a policeman in a police car. 'You're going the wrong way,' he said. And then: 'Come on, get in.' So Janet and I really arrived in style, in the back of a patrol car. Frontier City was fabulous. I remember pushing through the batwing doors of the saloon and weaving between tables and saloon girls to reach the bar. The bartender asked us to name our poison. Clint Eastwood-style I replied: 'Two Pepsis, please.' "

Sounds like a wonderful evening - of course back then The Archive would have been tucked up in bed back in South Wales - I was only just fifteen you know!

"That evening the magazine's financial director sought out Mike and I and gave us each an envelope. When we opened them, we found letters thanking us for our hard work ... and cheques for an additional £400 'because we'd like to make your fee up to £1000.' What a far cry from the original £50!! That night I also met B J Holmes for the one and only time, and yet we really clicked and are still firm friends today."

With such a high profile launch it would suggest that the magazine was expected to do well, so it must have come as a shock when the title was folded after just four monthly issues.

"  I'm still not entirely sure why. It was either some kind of tax write-off or a casualty of a recent NUJ strike. I think it could have run forever. It still looks pretty impressive, even all these years later."

And so to finish I ask David if he can remember anything particularly well from those days?

 "There is one postscript I can add. I went up to Melton Mowbray to have lunch with J T Edson at the infamous White Lion, and J T confided that he was considering financing a similar magazine. His secretary wanted to call it HEAD WEST, the HEAD part being a play on the ED part of Edson, but J T had his doubts. Later, when J T came down to London to appear on an Esther Rantzen chat show, we met again at the offices of IPC to discuss the project further. Sadly it never came to pass."

Check out David's own website HERE


Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 23 Aug - 29 Aug 2010
URL: http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com/

Unique Visitors2312702432112482382221,663238
First Time Visitors1842241981741991911861,356194
Returning Visitors4746453749473630744

Crappy memorabilia

A toilet that once belonged to John Lennon was sold for £9,500 (about $14,700) at an auction in Liverpool on Saturday, Reuters reported. Lennon had the blue-and-white porcelain commode removed from his home in Tittenhurst Park in Berkshire, in southern England, where he lived from 1969 to 1971; he gave it to a builder, John Hancock, telling him to “put flowers in it or something,” according to the auction catalogue. Mr. Hancock stored the toilet in his shed for 40 years, and on Saturday it was sold to an unidentified buyer as part of a sale of  memorabilia

Sunday 29 August 2010

The golden age of the western is tomorrow

Let's talk westerns - when the Archive started out it was all westerns - back then I was keyed up for the publication of my début novel, The Tarnished Star with the wonderful Black Horse Western line from Robert Hale LTD. Since then the Archive's grown and includes much more than westerns but the genre, my first love, has never been far away - the Wild West Monday initiative, The Black Horse western weekend, the interviews with western authors and enthusiasts - we even talked to son of legend, Louis L'amour. Now that was a honour -  and Mr John Hale, the publisher of the Black Horse Western range agreed to an interview which is something he doesn't normally do.And don't forget we also presented the Chap O'Keefe novel, The Sheriff and the Widow for free online for all readers and it can still be found in the Archive's sidebar. In fact do a Google search on ,"wild west" or "western" and chances are some of those results will point you to the Archive. Yep the Archive always been at the forefront of spearheading the western revival.

And now, as well as everything else going on, the Archive will become the place for all the news on the new Solstice Publishing's Western Line. That doesn't mean there'll be no more Black Horse westerns - on the contrary, next year I will publish The Ballad of Delta Rose with the imprint and Arkansas Smith 2 will also be going to Black Horse. In fact I fully intend to continue writing for the Black Horse imprint as does, I'm sure, my co-editor Nick Morton. This just means that I can write for Solstice Western too and besides publishing one western a year is not enough for me and I feel that the Solstice deal with allow me to grow as a writer and  try new challenges. I don't want to just write westerns - I want to produce something that is up there with the very best the genre can provide. It may take me some time but I'll do it. As Clint Eastwood said in, Bronco Billy, one of the screen's finest laments for times past, "a man can be just want he wants to be. He's just got to go out and become it."

And as the submission come in for the Solstice westerns and the slush pile grows then maybe there'll be another Lonesome Dove hiding away in there - now that would be good.

I also think the fact that Solstice are chiefly a digital first publisher is exciting and we need to make sure westerns are firmly represented in this new medium from day one if the genre is going to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with all the other popular fiction out there. The fact that the line has recently published the first in the classic Edge series by George G, Gilman means that we are already making waves with the genre that  is too tough to die. Fashions in reading come and go but the western's never truly gone away and when it comes back it will be with a bang more forceful than a .44.

So the next time someone tells you that the western's had it's day, just smile tell them that, the golden age of the western is tomorrow.

Radio 007

Thought Daniel Craig was the toughest James Bond, well Michael Jayston (left) certainly gives him a run for his money in this literal BBC radio adaptation of Fleming's novel, You Only Live Twice. The BBC Radio drama department are superb at creating effective and thrilling audio thrillers - movies of the mind. And this Bond drama, which was originally broadcast in 1990 is well up to their usual standard.

The drama is currently available for the next six days on BBC Radio 7's homepage - HERE

Thanks to Anthony for alerting me to this show.

Saturday 28 August 2010

Bonanza - the birth of a legend

'Maybe I've never been to Heaven and maybe I'll never get the chance,'  Opined Ben Cartwright, ' But Heaven will have to go some way to best the thousand square miles of the Ponderosa.'

And it certainly looks heavenly in the new remastered DVD.

The Cartwright clan are certainly an anti-social bunch and they treat everyone who rides onto their land with suspicion - even a beautiful actress, played by a young Yvonne De' Carlo,  who is stranded when her wagon throws a wheel. However the actress charms the Cartwrights and youngest son, Elvis, I mean Joe, takes her back to the house for refreshments while pa and the other two boys help the driver fix the wagon.

Bad mistake for the actress is part of a plot to kidnap Elvis Cartwright in order to get at the Ponderosa's timber supplies.This leaves Pa Cartwright all shook up -  Ben, you see is a man ahead of his time and believes that every tree is sacred and will allow not one single tree to be chopped down for use as supports in the mines that are ruining the landscape.

I've seen countless episodes of Bonanza over the years but seeing this pilot episode I was surprised at how tough the show originally was, of how much Little Joe resembles then current pop idol, Elvis Presley, of how Hoss' character was initially something of a hulking simpleton. At this stage in the show it was also less of an ensemble cast with Pernell Roberts clearly the star.

'The Lord sayeth: "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" I want my son...or your life.' Ben Cartwright tells the cheif plotter, Alpheus Troy.

The characters of Bonanza became more refined and likeable as the series progressed, Ben Cartwright especially became a much more level headed man and Little Joe less of a rebel, far removed from the James Dead/Elvis Presley amalgamation he is presented as in this first episode, Hoss also developed from a hulking food obsessed simpleton to a likeable and gentle giant and Pernell Roberts had to take his place among the cast,  but this is where the legend all started The show claimed a place in America's top ten shows and stayed there for over a decade  Indeed for three successive years in the mid-60's it was the most watched show bar none.

I've subscribed to the part-work magazine which comes with a DVD each fortnight, containing three episodes of the series in the correct broadcast order so expect an episode by episode guide here on the Archive as I dip into the discs from time to time.

Trivia - in the original script the Ponderosa Ranch was actually named the Panamint after a mountain range in California. However the name was changed to the Ponderosa, which was a tree that was native to the area, at the eleventh hour.

Payback Time

In relation to -

A woman was caught on CCTV petting a four year old cat seconds before picking her up and dumping her in a wheelie bin in Coventry.

UK, 28th August 2010: Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister expressed shock and disbelief at the actions of a bank worker who dumped a defenceless animal in a wheelie bin after petting her. The woman is seen dumping the cat, Lola, in the bin before walking away.

It's time to do it in public!

Apparently today is National Read A Comic-Book in Public Day!

From the “About” page of “International Read Comics in Public Day:

Comics are now widely accepted as a legitimate and vibrant art form—so why do I still feel a bit embarrassed to let strangers know about my not-so-secret passion?
My fellow Daily Cross Hatch editor Sarah Morean suggested that we turn the joke into something a bit nobler—and perhaps more permanent. And thus, the first annual Read Comics in Public Day was born.
The concept is fairly simple: we’re asking that everyone take an hour or two out of their day on August 28th (also the birthday of Jack “King” Kirby, incidentally) to read a comic book in a public setting—a park bench, a beach, a bus, the front steps of your local library (we do ask, however, that you be mindful of local loitering laws). Let strangers see you reading a piece of sequential art.

This was prompted by Nancy King who is running for re-election as a state senator in Maryland.  Her campaign indicates that the consequences of her not winning re-election would be teacher layoffs, which would lead, naturally, to kids reading comic books (horrror of horrors!).

“The message King’s sending to her constituents — and to me, Dean Trippe and our entire industry — is that comics are a terrifying consequence, that reading them is the equivalent of not having teachers. That they are, in fact, the opposite of education. It’s a “This could happen… TO YOU!” scare tactic that, again, literally uses children reading as the consequence that we have to elect her to avoid, and that just blows my mind.
What’s the worst that could happen from kids reading comics? Watch out, they might learn to enjoy reading! Be careful, they could learn new words like “sepulchre” or “fission,” two that I picked up as a kid reading Batman stories. They might even learn to use their imaginations to create stories of their own, and then what a world we’d be living in.” Chris Sims Comics Alliance.

The Archive says: Good to hear it's not only the UK who suffers with moronic politicians.

Harper Collins concentrating on their digital business.

"“What we’re seeing now is that if a book gets a good review, it gets a faster lift on the digital side than it does on the physical side because people who have e-readers can buy and read it immediately.” Frank Albanes, senior vice president

This is interesting because we already know  that Amazon is now selling more digital books than hard-covers, but this comes directly from a publisher and a major publisher at that.

While there is clearly room for debate in the world of print books vs digital books it looks like yet another major publishing house is beginning to realize the power of going digital. HarperCollins made the statement after seeing the first week sales for the recently released “I’d Know You Anywhere” by Laura Lippman leap dramatically on eBook to become a bestselling title. In its first five days the title sold 4,739 e-books and 4,000 physical hardcovers, said News Corp.’s HarperCollins Publishers.
 In recent weeks, a number of leading publishers have indicated that e-books today account for about 8% of total revenue, up from 3% to 5% in the same period a year ago. Some expect that e-books will account for as much as 20-25% by the end of 2012.

Long live the king

Stephen King will appear at the New Yorker Festival on October 2nd - He will be part of a panel discussion on vampires which also includes Noel Carroll, Matt Reeves, and Melissa Rosenberg.

Simon and Schuster have posted an excerpt from the new novella collection, Full Dark, No Stars HERE

The book will be simultaneously released in hardcover, eBook and audio book - the readers for the audio  book, which starts recording next week, will be Craig Wasson and Jessica Hecht.

Friday 27 August 2010


Hot rumours floating around are that troubled actor Mel Gibson and co-star Jodie Foster are to reprise their roles for Maverick 2 - Gibson and Foster have recently worked together on The Beaver and both were said to be interested in another Maverick movie.

Edge NEWS of Amazonian proportions

Edge, truly is the western series too tough to die.

The problem that kept the half-breed from Amazon has been solved - thanks to Solstice, Hodder and Stoughton for digging out the old paperwork, and Terry Harknett himself - Edge the Loner in spanking new eBook format is now available on Amazon.

The problem arose because the American publisher of the original Edge Paperbacks went bust before formally reverting the rights back to Terry. We knew this was just a technicality and that Terry owned all rights, but Amazon, understandably were slightly cautious. However we were able to produce documentation of the UK rights reverting and thanks to Hodder and Stoughton who were kind enough to go through ancient files and find one of the original American contracts with the revert clause, we were finally able to prove that not only had UK rights reverted but the worldwide ones had also.

Anyway problem over and Edge is now available on Amazon which controls a large chunk of the eBook market - I'll be giving news later this week of how the Edge series is going to continue, indeed the half-breed with attitude is the figurehead of the new Solstice Western line.

Find Edge on Amazon HERE and enjoy a true western classic - hard hitting, adult, satirical and as cool as the Fonz at the North Pole. Edge is unlike any other western series. Edge is quite unique and kept me addicted to westerns for most of my teenage years and all of my adult life. I truly love this series and I know you will too.

And speaking of  George Gilman we have a Adam Steele short story lined up and it will hopefully run over the weekend here on the Archive. That is if I get time to format it with everything else going on at the moment, but rest assured the Archive will be all on Edge for some time to come.

And don't things move fast

I am delighted and honoured to announce that Nik Morton will be riding the digital range with me on the Solstice Western line. Nick's had considerable editing experience and of course he's a mighty fine western novelist himself.

Team Western is developing - more news soon.


A few days ago I was offered the post of Chief Editor on the new western line from Solstice Publishing - I had to think about this long and hard because I was worried it would impact on my own writing but at the end of the day it was always the proud boast of the Tainted Archive that we were spearheading the western revival. Well, is there a better way of doing this than presiding over and creating a western line that we hope will be second to none in the eBook stakes?

There's also the point that I have another western novel, The Ballad of Delta Rose out with Hale next year and that Arkansas Smith 2 is virtually complete, so that puts me two westerns in hand. So maybe I have got the time to devote to this.

You know the more I think about it the more excited I become - I want to make Solstice the place to go for western fiction, a publishing house with a list that is not afraid to push the boundaries of the genre, an exciting, vibrant list. The line's  already been given a cutting start with the Edge series (and yes it will be appearing on Amazon very soon but more on that tomorrow) .

I'm both excited and daunted by this new avenue I am about to walk, but I know one thing that whatever skills I do not possess I will develop, and the one thing I have got that nobody could deny is an undying love and understanding of the genre.

And so to kick off I announce that the western line is now taking submissions but (AND THIS IS IMPORTANT) do not send any digital files to me direct but rather use my spanking new Solstice email  inbox at - westernsubmissions.solstice@live.com

We are looking for both traditional and non-traditional westerns between 40,000 - 90,000 words, though the ideal length is somewhere between the two . We want good stories with good characters - to be grabbed from the first page and dragged through the entire story. At the moment I am building a team of editors around the list so initially decisions on books sent could be a little slow but I will endeavour to let anyone who submits work have a decision within a month, hopefully, in time,we will cut this down to a couple of days.

So come on  - Solstice, riding the digital range.

eBook value for money?????

The Wall Street Journal have an interesting article looking at the value for money of eBooks (thanks to Matt Mayo for bringing this one to my attention)  and they raise several interesting points, some I am in agreement with others than I'm not so sure about the main points raised below come from Brett Arends while the text in bold are my own particular thoughts on the relevant argument.

1. Casual readers probably shouldn't bother.
The median American book-buyer purchases just seven books a year, according to an AP-Ipsos poll in 2007.
An e-book reader right now typically costs about $150 (more on this below). Even if you save a couple of bucks per book by downloading them onto your e-book reader, the payback isn't going to be much for the casual reader. If you saved $5 a book, you'd have to buy 30 just to earn back your initial investment. If you only saved $2 a book, you'd have to buy 75.
I don't want to sound negative. I happen to think e-book readers are great. But that's because I read books avidly. (I've been known to take 10 books on a beach holiday.) If you are in my camp, e-book readers let you carry a library in your pocket or bag. But if you're a casual reader, they probably don't make much economic sense yet. (On the other hand, once you buy an e-book reader you will probably buy and read more books.) This is a major plus of eBooks - they should end up encouraging people to read more and may even help a lifelong reading habit develop. That makes all this worthwhile.

2. The books aren't as cheap as they should be.
E-books are far, far cheaper to produce, distribute and sell than paper ones. There is no paper, no printing, no trucking and no retail space.
So they should cost a lot less to buy, but the deal often isn't anywhere near as good as it should be. Amazon has tried to drive prices for best sellers down to $9.99, but the publishing industry has fought back. A lot of best sellers go for $12.99 instead. That may be cheaper than the hardbacks, but the gap should be wider.
As in the case of Elizabeth Gilbert's runaway success, you may sometimes find the traditional version cheaper. Looking for Stieg Larsson's "The Girl Who Played With Fire"? It's $7.99 on the Kindle. I bought it in Borders, with a coupon, for $5.68.
Books are cheaper in electronic format, but not all. This point I agree with entirely and publishers overcharging for eBook will give book pirates a valid moral argument. Why should people pay the same for an electronic book as a physical one? I do wish publishers would learn from the battering the music industry too over MP3's and charge accordingly. Besides cheaper book sell more copies and that is a fact.

3. Savvy readers read the classics anyway.
Why? Because they're free. From Aesop to "Zarathustra." From "Hamlet" to "Huckleberry Finn." They won't cost you a penny. These books are outside of copyright. Just go to Gutenberg.org and download them. Thousands of them. And they're better than most of the stuff published more recently anyway. Again a very good point - since owning an eReader I have read books I'd always intended to but never gotten around to. For instance Huckleberry Finn, received as a free download from Gutenberg, is one of my all time favourite books.

4. Be aware of the potential costs of buying a Kindle.
Amazon sells the best-selling e-book reader. It's a great product, very easy to use—much easier, I've found, than the competition. But Amazon has given the device a cellular connection and a keyboard so you can access its online bookstore any time, any place, to buy a book. Good for them. Not so good for you. The results are predictable: You may end up making lots of impulse purchases. Don't be surprised if you spend hundreds of dollars on books in your first year. (Amazon now sells a Kindle that only has a Wi-Fi connection instead of cellular. This may save you money, as the connection will only work in a Wi-Fi hot spot. By the time you've found one, you may have decided you don't want the book.) This does worry me about the Kindle - that you can only buy books from Amazon, though you can use PDF eBooks on the device but it doesn't support the ePub format which to me is a big problem. Personally I prefer the Sony eReader over the Kindle even if it is slightly more fiddly to get used to downloading books. Once you have mastered the system though it is easy to buy from various sites Barnes and Noble, W H Smiths, Border etc but not Amazon who only want their books read on a Kindle. Another good thing with the Sony is that the wonderful Pocket edition is now only £99.99 and once you've registered your item online you can download a hundred classic books in ePub format.

5. Be aware of the costs of the rivals.
The main ones are time and hassle. The many rivals to the Kindle generally use a software platform from Adobe, and it can be a pain. Even worse: Adobe provides only very basic help if things go wrong. In extremis, you may find yourself emailing India. I asked Adobe why this was. A spokesman explained that because Adobe Digital Editions was given away for free, the company only provides "a baseline level of support, which is web-based," he says. This includes "an active user forum"—in other words asking other customers how to solve your problems. Good luck with that.
If you can overcome that problem, rivals do offer benefits that may save you money. First, they let you shop around for e-books at different online bookstores, and many run promotions. Second, they will let you borrow some e-books online from your local library. Third, many of them come without any wireless connection whatsoever. That means fewer impulse purchases. Yes Adobe's system can be fiddly but in fairness this is only when using it for the first time. I bought three eBooks today from W H Smith's site - The Searchers, Apache Sundown by Jory Sherman and Terry Practchett's Making Money. And they all synched to my reader effortlessly. Another interesting point is that eBooks are good for genre fiction - for instance Jory Sherman is a great American western writer whom I've never seen in a British brick and mortar bookstore.

6. And if you're thinking of buying a book reader—wait!
At least, hold off for a month or two or maybe even a few weeks. Prices simply have to come down. They may do so fast.
Amazon's first Kindles went on sale three years ago for $399. Its latest versions, out this week, start at just $139. That's cheaper than rivals. They're going to have to respond.
There's an upgrade cycle going on as well. E Ink Corp., the company that makes most of the screens, has developed a newer version with somewhat sharper contrast. (Handy if you're reading fine print, but not so important for most books).
In a rational market, we should see big price cuts this fall, especially as the last of the old models go on sale. Of course, that's in a rational market. Let me know if you ever find one. This is always good advice when dealing with technology but I don't think eReaders will come down below the £99.99 mark for quite some time. Of course at that price they are excellent value for money.
I've just bought my first western from W H Smith in what must be about twenty years - it's been that long since Smith's have had westerns on their shelves. They still don't but their eBook store stacks a fair selection of westerns, as do most eBook stores, which is where I picked up this copy of The Seachers (always wanted to read the original novel) for the paltry price of £2.24. A bargain.

You know these eBooks just may be the saviour of mid-list fiction. Gone are the days when mid-list fiction wasn't even an option when visiting most book stores. I counted over 200 westerns in W H Smith's electronic store and there were more if I'd kept looking. Quite a choice of oaters there - almost like the old days when the genre was well represented.

Smell my circuits, baby!

Book lovers have been groaning over the imminent demise of the book, an object that over time acquires a  pungent smell.. They lament on the aroma a book picks up  and  then look with horror at the aisles of those new fangled eReaders.

Well, I'm of the opinion that anything a book can do an eReader can do just as well and so I've been sniffing eReaders. The salesman in Waterstones looked at me strangely, after showing me the latest eInk display and boasting of its pocket size, when I asked him what it smelled like. "
Um-er plastic, I suppose," was his answer.

It doesn't though - it smells like a Playstation 3. My emails to Amazon asking them what the Kindle smells of have gone unanswered, probably filed away in the folder marked, "Nutters.". My own Elonex smells a bit like cherry pipe tobacco, but then so too do most of my possessions, and a friend of mine owns a Nook and a quick sniff of his just gave me the whiff of electronics.

Unperturbed, I sniffed the new Mickey Spillane/Max Allan Collins hardback, The Big Bang - it smells of fresh glue, paper with the slightest hint of some warehouse on an industrial estate next to a greasy spoon, but of course this is probably all in my imagination. I reach to my shelves and take down an ancient paperback, open it to its centre pages and breath in deeply the dust that has embedded itself into the passage of time - I'm still sneezing ten minutes later as, no doubt, a silverfish burrows up into my brain.

"A smell or odour is caused by volatile compounds which we perceive by the sense of olfaction.  An odour of a book is a complex mixture of odorous volatiles, emitted from different materials from which books are made.  Due to the different materials used to make books throughout history, there is no one characteristic odour of old books.  A professional perfumer has evaluated seventy odorous volatiles emitted from books and described their smells as dusty, musty, mouldy, paper-like or dry." NakedScientists.com.


Thursday 26 August 2010

Age of the Gunslinger

"Most men knew him as James Conners, I knew him as Shadowheart."

This 2008 western, made on a low budget and released without much publicity, is actually quite a good western in a TV-Movie kind of way.

The films starts off with a prologue in which James goes through the agony of having his preacher father murdered by Will Tunney. The boy confronts the killer but fails to use the man's own knife when offered to him.  After this James Conners leaves town, swearing that he will kill Tunney when he returns.

It is 15 years before Conners returns to the town of Legend to avenge the death of his father
. But not only have the years altered James, turning him into a bounty hunter but Tunney's altered also - for one thing he's had his teeth done (maybe Doc Holliday fixed him up)  and he's also invested well and is now a the local land-baron and enjoys all the power that goes with the position. Oh and there's the little matter of him also being the mayor of the town.

Conners ain't happy with that - and the fact that Tunney has also been getting too close to James' childhood sweetheart is only rubbing salt into the wounds.-  Of course you can't keep a good man down and Conners quickly takes over his father's old church and arrests Tunney for murder. He then marries his childhood sweetheart, which seriously pisses Tunney off. And when Tunney escapes from custody the stage is set for a classic western style showdown.

It does get slightly corny but it's full of action and as good as a lot of the old B-westerns.

eBooks reader comparison

The video presentations here are embedded from You Tube, and although the market has moved on since these videos were produced they do give a basic idea of what is out there - there are many more review videos on You Tube and other sites, so if you're thinking of investing in an eReader then hopefully these videos may help you.

All indications are that readers are turning away from the printed book in favour of the eBook

FROM FORT SMITH CHANNEL 5 LOCAL NEWS - Having your nose in a good book these days may actually mean you're staring at an electronic screen. 5NEWS went to the Fort Smith Public Library and U.A. Fort Smith to find out why customers and students alike are going with e-books.

"The response has been crazy. People love it," Fort Smith Public Library Director Jennifer Goodson said.

The Fort Smith Public Library in cooperation with seven other local libraries now offers a thousand audio books and more than 700 electronic book titles. Once you have your library card, you can download books via the world-wide-web without ever leaving home.

"Every month the usage goes up," Goodson explained. "So we see that it's catching on more and more people are finding out about it."

"Library-To-Go" allows you to check out up to three titles for two weeks at a time. Many people put them on their computers or laptops, but others have electronic devices that simulate an actual book like the Sony Reader or Barnes and Noble's Nook. It's important to check compatibility. For instance, Amazon's Kindle will only work with products from their store.

But library goers aren't the only ones loving the page-turning technology. U.A. Fort Smith sophomore Dustin Hilliard has two e-text books for this semester: intro to education and earth science.

"It's a lot easier to access," Hilliard said. "You can take notes in the e-textbook programs, highlight in them reference a note to that highlight and go back and look at it later. I type a lot faster than I write."

He says e-books also make for a much lighter load--that's two less heavy books to haul. Hilliard says the format is often cheaper and more efficient.

Some e-textbooks can be rented for the semester, and then they expire at the end. Many students lug their laptops to class anyway, and like Hilliard find it faster to type instead of taking handwritten notes.

Since April 2009 nearly 5,000 e-books have been checked out among the eight libraries. Audio books have been checked out 17,000 times.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

BONANZA The complete collection part work out now

DeAgostini Publications have just issued their Bonanza collection -  each fortnightly magazine comes with a DVD containing three episodes of the long running television series. The first issue is priced at only £2.99 and contains the first three episodes of season one.

Eventually the entire series will be released as part of the collection -  running from 1959 - 1973 and lasting 18 seasons it is the second longest running western TV series ever - first place is held by Gunsmoke which ran for 20 seasons - though in the UK Bonanza is actually the better known of the two.

"You always saw stories about family on comedies or on an anthology, but Bonanza was the first series that was week-to-week about a family and the troubles it went through. Another thing about Bonanza that is interesting is that it is a period drama, but it attempted to confront contemporary social issues. That was very difficult to do then on television. Most shows that tried to do it failed because the sponsors didn't like it, and the networks were nervous about getting letters," explains Stephen Battaglio, a senior editor for TV Guide magazine

The magazine, slim though its is, is actually quite interesting on details on the making of the show as well as profiles of the cast. For instance I learned that the character name of Hoss was actually Eric and Hoss was just a nickname. I never knew that!

The price of £2.99 is just an introduction offer and the regular cost will be £7.99, but for a pristine DVD with three episodes as well as a well thought out magazine cum episode guide it does offer good value, even if collecting the entire set will turn out to be much more expensive that buying the full season box sets that are available.

Well I'll be subscribing in any case.
And below - found on You Tube - Lorne Greene gives us a song.

Which eReader???

Consumer magazine, Which have a useful series of comparison reviews and features on the different eReaders - they also list, what in their opinion, are the best readers available. HERE


As the UK government threaten UK libraries with cuts, the PLR payments to author's are under review to be cut. We urge you to sign the online petition to protect PLR with The Society of Author's and the Royal Society of Literature -  HERE

Statement on PLR by Authors

The Public Lending Right scheme, under which authors receive 6p when a book is borrowed from a public library, is funded by the Department for Culture Media and Sport. Over the last three years, while public spending has been buoyant, PLR’s allocation has fallen by 3%: over 10% in real terms.

While accepting that DCMS has been instructed to reduce its budget, we ask the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt, to recognise that the £7.5m spent on PLR gives effect to a legal right and is not a subsidy. It provides working writers with a modest income when their books are read by library users free of charge. PLR is particularly important to authors whose books are sold mainly to libraries and to those whose books are no longer in print but are still being used.

Press coverage tends to focus on a few successful authors, yet most struggle to make ends meet. PLR provides a significant and much-valued part of authors’ incomes. The £6,600 upper limit ensures that the fund helps those most in need.

The admirably efficient PLR Office has already cut its running costs very substantially. Any reduction in PLR will have an immediate and detrimental effect on the ‘front line’ payments to authors. 

How you can help

This petition will be shared with both the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt as well as with Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture at the end of the summer. Ed, a former Secretary of the All Party Writers Group, is a keen supporter of PLR. So please don’t delay and sign your name to this statement now.

Who should sign?

Any and all writers who feel strongly about this subject, regardless of your location.

Further information

Please contact Sarah Burton at the Society of Authors, or Alison Baxter at ALCS if you have any questions

Tuesday 24 August 2010


Check out Steve M's entertaining western news round-up HERE

The Edge will soon be travelling up the Amazon
And many of you are waiting for the Edge eBook to appear on Amazon - well sit tight because we've hit a little snag which will be remedied in a day or two. You see Amazon's servers are having trouble with the book because they are having clashes with the many second-hand copies of the old Pinnacle Edge books on offer from associate sellers on Amazon. The Amazon system is throwing this up as a copyright issue with Pinnacle. All Amazon needs is documentation of the ownership of copyright which is the original author, Terry Harknett as all rights reverted some considerable time ago. So the delay in the book being listed on Amazon, the biggest online marketplace is just a hitch that we are working to sort out at the moment. The new Edge eBook will be there very soon and The Archive will send you over. However anyone wanting to buy the book immediately can do so from the publisher's site HERE.

Edge is the western series too tough to die.

Yesterday's Papers - Western Magazine

This British magazine was published by IPC Publications from 1980 - 1981. I can't believe I was not aware of this magazine back in the day. I would have been around fifteen when it came out and would certainly have bought it but I can't recall ever seeing it. Maybe the distribution was not wonderful and it didn't make it into my local newsagents. Or then again 70p could have been a little steep for me back in the day.

In fact this issue which I came across in a secondhand shop is the first ever issue I've seen. Apparently the magazine was short lived - only four were ever published. I found them all on Ebay and have just won the auction so I'll be waiting eagerly for the postman over the next few days.

The magazine is a western fan's dream - it contains articles relating to the old west, film, book and even music reviews as well as short fiction. This particular issue contains a short story by Edge author, George G. Gilman as well as Hart the Regulator by John Harvey and an extract from The Return of Sudden by Fredrick H. Christian. Incidentally the Gilman story, Adam Steele Bad Business at Newville will be posted here on the Archive this weekend.

On the non fiction front there' a great feature on the Sharps rifle - the gun favoured by buffalo hunters, outlaws and lawmen everywhere. In fact the Sharps, along with the Colt must rate among the most iconic Wild West weapons.

There's also a detailed article on Miss Sure Shot herself - Annie Oakley. There's also a fun letters page with a £5 reward for the letter deemed the best of the month by the editor, one Dennis Winston.

Clint Eastwood is the cover star and there is an article by John B. Harvey, one of the Piccadilly Cowboys, looking at his career up to this date - it's an entertaining piece where the author bemoans the fact that a feminist friend felt he was sexist because there was a poster of Clint Eastwood in his home. An interesting point of the article is of how little the author seems to regard the Dirty Harry movies and how highly he rates the westerns.

It's a shame this magazine didn't go on longer - man, I wish something like this was published now. It's absolutely excellent - I notice in the credits that David Whitehead was a consultant - is that the David Whitehead who writes for, among others, the Black Horse range? Michael Stotter, which is another name I know, was also involved.

Still in a sense I've got three new issues to look forward to when that eBay lot arrives through my letterbox and into my eager hands.

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