Tuesday 30 November 2010

Black Horse Westerns BLAZING HOT NEWS

Thanks to Black Horse Extra for the nod on this hot news.

Black Horse Westerns go digital

BHW ebooks in January with a "Four for £10 bundle" through Faber Factory. Managing director Gill Jackson said, "The arrangements had to take place fast in order to take advantage of the hoped-for spike in orders of ebooks in January following anticipated sales of devices at Christmas." Later, individual titles would be added to the BHW ebook list, probably priced at £3.99 - £5. But Ms Jackson warned authors, "No one is going to get rich on ebook downloads until the proportion shifts substantially from physical books to electronic ones."

Expect more details on this at the Archive later today when we've heard from Hale publishing but this is a big step in making the Black Horse Western range more widely available at competitive prices. I'm excited at the prospect of eEditions of my Hale westerns and feel that this justifies the Archive's long held belief that eBooks are the future of mass market genre fiction.

Sherlock Holmes 2

The sequel is coming! Robert Downey, Jr. is returning as everyone’s most favorite pipe-toting detective. He’s bringing back Jude Law as Watson and  Rachel McAdams, too. But some new friends are joining in on the caper this time around and it seems that the rumours that Brad Pitt would appear are false.

French actor Gilles Lellouche is playing a villain. “I’m thrilled, and I’ll play a nice bad guy,” Lellouche said. This will be his first major Hollywood role.

 Mad Men‘s Jared Harris will portray the biggest Sherlock villain of all, his arch-nemesis, Moriarty and Stephen Fry is also a Holmes as Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft.

Swedish actress Noomi Repace of the original Girl with The Dragon Tattoo is also in the film.
It is scheduled for a December 16th, 2011 release.

The Tainted Archive - the blog the writers read

I'm overjoyed and honoured to see that on her personal website the brilliant writer Patricia Cornwell is linking to a story on the Tainted Archive - check out patriciacornwell.com

The Good, the Bad and Litopia

There's an absolutely amazing Internet radio show aimed at readers and writers which broadcasts two live shows a week, one on Friday and another on Sunday, both shows are then available as podcasts for later enjoyment. The show titled Litopia is hosted by Peter Cox and is a kind of talking heads show with a difference - listeners can interact with the show live in both the online chat show and via Skype or telephone.

I'm addicted and never miss an episode and so will you be once you've listened to an episode or two.  Find it HERE

Litopia is intelligent, witty and totally unpredictable. They do sometimes get it wrong though - last Sunday when they were going through a quiz in which author's names are read backwards, it's harder than it sounds, host Peter Cox had Louis L'amour as one of the authors - the clue given was that he wrote in a genre that no longer exists. The following talk was enlightening to see how the mainstream thinks of the western as a dead mass-market genre.

That sure riled me up folks  and I promptly went into overdrive in the chat room - pointing out that I myself write westerns, and pointing out that so do many others - what about Larry McMurtry? What about Stephen King's, Dark Tower series which is an apocalyptic western when all is said and done? Later on the importance of Radio Drama to new writers was discussed in the light of the BBC's plans to cut drama output on The World Service. I did in fact telephone in and heard my Welsh twang (well sort of since my Blackberry's circuitry seemed to make me sound as if I'd been castrated)  blasting out over the airwaves.

Anyway host, Peter Cox has promised to discuss westerns in a future show and you can guarantee that a certain Jack Martin will be phoning in for that particular episode.

Litopia is an amazing show and the regular panel all provide much entertainment, particularly the lovely and Scottish Eve, who once collected Poll Tax (in-joke there, folks) but now holds the position of the thinking hack's top totty.The saga of  Dave Bartram's puppies, all of whom sound like The Hound of the Baskervilles, has also been very entertaining.

Litopoa is a pioneer publishing online community. Its focus is publishing and writers and aims to help both the emerging and established writer.

Litopia - It's the X-factor for the less cerebrally challenged.

eBook piracy is here - so what?

While browsing a social news site the other day, I came across a link to an e-book search engine. Sadly, alongside the many free e-books available, such as those from Gutenberg, thousands of pirated e-books were being freely offered. I won't reproduce the details of the site here and I ask that, if you know of it (or others), you keep it to yourself too, writes PC World's Keir Thomas in an interesting article that can be found online HERE

I seriously urge you all to read it and decide for yourselves if eBook piracy is the problem it seems to be and please remember most writers, with the exception of guys like Stephen King, James Patterson and several others, often struggle to make a reasonable living. So buy your eBooks legally folks.

Star Wars director passes on and RIP Leslie Nielsen

Personally I've always though the Star Wars films are overrated but there is no denying their cultural significance and out of all the movies, most seem to agree that The Empire Strikes Back is the best - The Archive was saddened to hear that the film's director,  Irvin Kershner died Saturday just gone aged 87. Kershner also directed Sean Connery's Bond comeback, Never Say Never Again.

"When I finally accepted the assignment, I knew that it was going to be a dark film, with more depth to the characters than in the first film," Irvin Kershner on The Empire Strikes Back.

Kershner directed a number of noted features in the 1960s and 1970s, including "A Fine Madness" with Sean Connery, Joanne Woodward and Jean Seberg; "Loving" with George Segal and Eva Marie Saint; and "The Eyes of Laura Mars" with Faye Dunaway. His big-budget work also included 1983's "Never Say Never Again" with Connery and "Robocop 2" in 1990.
In recent years, Kershner taught screenwriting at the University of Southern California while continuing to produce, write and take still photographs, Guttman said. At the time of his death, he was working on a musical as well as a documentary about writer Ray Bradbury.

We are also sad at the news that comic genius Leslie Nielsen has died at the age of 84 -  Nielsen
was a serious actor until he struck comedy gold at 54 as the hapless doctor in Airplane!
"Surely you can't be serious," an airline passenger says to Nielsen's character in the 1980 hit disaster movie send-up.
"I am serious - and don't call me Shirley," came the deadpan reply.
He went on to achieve further fame with the Police Squad TV shows and the Naked Gun films.
The son of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer, he enjoyed a career of more than 60 years in television and cinema, appearing in more than 100 films - including his role as the ship's captain in The Poseidon Adventure in 1972.

Monday 29 November 2010

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 22 Nov - 28 Nov 2010
URL: http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com/

Unique Visitors2913573502993032942922,186312
First Time Visitors2693233102682762642571,967281
Returning Visitors2234403127303521931

Sunday 28 November 2010


If your answer to any of the following questions is in the affirmative, YES, please do sign this petition using the “Sign Our Petition” form HERE to register your support for the continued existence of the BBC World Service Drama and for the above authorities to reconsider their decision to axe such a strategically important service as of 1st April 2011:

  • Do you love listening to radio drama, including those produced for an international audience?

  • Please sign HERE

  • Are you a literary writer, dramatist or playwright whose works have been accessed internationally through radio drama?

  • Do you believe that axing BBC World Service Drama will cause a considerable loss to the

  • international literary landscape?

  • Do you believe that such a loss will create a major gap between those literary works deemed suitable for Radio 3 or Radio 4’s target audience and those deemed for an international audience only (eg. productions labelled “world-centric”)?

  • Are you concerned that cultural diversity is represented in mainstream radio drama?

  • Do you believe that drama is a valuable vehicle for communicating and sharing different life experiences and realities?

  • Do you consider the BBC World Service Drama an iconic world heritage?

  • Would you gravely miss the BBC World Service Drama if it is axed?

  • Does the BBC World Service Drama have a special place in your heart?

  • Do you believe that BBC World Service Drama has such an international strategic role in the advancement of the literary work from more culturally diversified experiences that its existence should be ensured and ring fenced by the British

  • Ten greatest thrillers - Lee Child's Choice

    Bestselling author, Lee Child lists his ten favourite all time thrillers in the glossy magazine, Live which is free with the Mail on Sunday - the author makes some interesting choices, some I've read, others I've not. In first place he places Ian Fleming's, Dr No which he credits with inventing the "Fantasy Thriller" sub-genre. This is closely followed by a more realistic style of espionage thriller with John Le Carre's The Spy who Came in From the Cold. Child states the book introduced the cynicism of Graham Greene into the genre.

    Ken Follet's Eye of the Needle is at number three which Child calls the last of the great world war II thrillers. Then we have Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell which Child calls a superb thriller debut. Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household, which is the first book I've yet to read, is at number five. And Alistair Maclean's The Last Frontier is at number six.

    Strangers on the Train by Patricia Highsmith is number 7 and at number 8 is the blockbuster The Hunt for Red October. Child makes the point that Red October is unusually paced for a thriller being expansive rather than lean.

    Day of the Jackal in in at number 9 and the list ends with Graham Green's The Third Man at number 10.

    There's gold in them there websites

    The fine western website Rope and Wire has had a mighty fine overhaul and now features, among other things, a corral full of B-Western movies to watch right there on your computer screen. Head on up the trail and visit Rope and Wire

    Saturday 27 November 2010

    The diary of Jack the Ripper

     Perhaps in my tormented mind I wish for someone to find this and understand.

    I remember the sensation surrounding this book on its original publication and I was first in the queue to get a copy. That was back in 1993 and it named  James Maybrick as the Ripper - the book was initially believed to be genuine and it received coverage in all the media but, like all good legends, it is today surrounded in controversy though there are still those who believe it is genuine.

    A little background to the diary -

    The 'diary' was first introduced to the world by Michael Barrett, an unemployed former Liverpool scrap metal dealer, who claimed at the time that it had been given to him by a friend, Tony Devereux, in a pub. It was published as The Diary of Jack the Ripper in 1993 to great controversy.  Some experts immediately dismissed it as a hoax, though some were open to the possibility it might be genuine. Debate was often heated, and one writer notes that the "saga of the Maybrick diary is confusing, complicated and inescapably tortuous."

    Tests carried out on the ink used in the diary produced contradictory findings. The first test, using thin layer chromatography (TLC) revealed the ink contained no iron, and was based on a synthetic dye called nigrosine, patented and commercially available in 1867, and in general use in writing inks by the 1870s. The second TLC test found nothing in the ink inconsistent with the date of 1888, and that the ink contained iron and sodium, but no nigrosine. The third TLC test found nothing inconsistent with the Victorian period. A fourth TLC test was attempted, but could not be carried out.

    Several tests were carried out to find out whether the ink contained chloroacetamide, a preservative, in an effort to definitively date the ink. According to one source, chloroacetamide was introduced into the Merck Index in 1857, but not used commercially in ink until 1972. In 1995, Dr Earl Morris of the Dow Chemical Company stated that chloroacetamide has been found in preparations as early as 1857. A fourth test, this time using gas chromatography, found chloroacetamide present, at 6.5 parts per million. A fifth TLC test found traces of chloroacetamide, but this was attributed to contamination from the control. The test was carried out again, and no chloroacetamide was found.

    Generally, the current consensus is that the diary is a hoax. This conclusion was reached after various investigators noted that the diary contains mistaken notions about the Ripper crimes that were only introduced in the 20th century, as well as some textual anomalies that seem to refer to modern Liverpool landmarks not present (or not known by the name given in the text) in Maybrick's time.

    My hand's are cold, my heart I do believe is colder still.

    The canonical five victims
    An interesting aspect of the diary is that if it is a hoax then the hoax was not carried out by Mike Barret, even though he did claim that he forged it at one point,  but someone else many decades earlier  - most experts seem to agree  that is was created prior to 1920 and yet until 1950 it was believed that the Ripper actually killed seven women and not five. And it was not until 1987 when the Ripper files entered the public domain that it was revealed final victim Mary Kelly's heart had been removed. Whoever wrote this diary knew all these details. Another detail mentioned in the diary and not revealed until 1987 was that an empty tin match box had been left at the scene of Catherine Eddowe's murder.

    It shall not be long before I strike again. I am taking more than ever. The bitch can take two, Sir Jim shall have four, a double event. Ha Ha!

    Another twist occurred In January 1995, Michael Barrett swore in two separate affidavits that he was in fact "the author of the Manuscript written by my wife Anne Barrett at my dictation which is known as The Jack the Ripper Diary."Adding to the confusion, however, was Barrett's solicitor's subsequent repudiation of his affidavit, then Barrett's withdrawal of the repudiation, stating that he only admitted the book was a hoax because of all the publicity he was getting which was affecting his quality of life. He claimed he was tired of constantly being accused of being a fraudster in the press. Michael Barrett has never been able to convincingly state how he managed the so called 'forgery' which would seem to require the abilities of a Renaissance man even more accomplished than the guy who faked the Turin Shroud.

    Is this the grave of the ripper?
    "Every bit as mysterious as the Whitechapel murders themselves, the "Ripper Diaries" have intrigued and infuriated both historical researchers and the "Ripperologists" since they first came to light in 1992. Either one of the most sensational finds of the 20th century or one of its most brilliant literary hoaxes, the diary of Jack the Ripper has created its own tangled and tortuous history. It is this history which Keith Skinner, Seth Linder and Caroline Morris disentangle in a work of literary sleuthing which offers a reassessment of the evidence and insight into the personalities involved in Ripper research. "  Sutton Publishing

    Is it a fake? All indications seem to suggest so but all the same it is an interesting read and even those that do believe the diary is fake do not believe that Mike Barrett is responsible, despite what he says.

    Boyle and Macca

    Susan Boyle has revealed her dreams of working with Beatle legend Sir Paul McCartney.

    Boyle has been listened in to the Fab Four since she was a youngster. And now that she's found fame, she admits she'd love to collaborate with her idol McCartney, reports thesun.co.uk.

    "The Beatles are still around now, their music lives on. I hope to be in the same calibre one day. I know I've got a lot to do yet though. I'd like to meet Paul. If he ever wanted to perform together, I'd have no problem with it - here I am, baby," she said.

    Friday 26 November 2010

    The new Twilight?

    Tonya Hurley
    First there was the Twilight saga which  sold zillions upon zillions of books and then there were the scores of copycat vampire books hoping to cash in on the new romantic neck sucker craze. And now pubisher Hodder are touting a new supernatural romance saga with a difference - Hodder Children's Books have acquired an epic, new paranormal romance sequence THE BLESSED by Tonya Hurley. Publication will run simultaneously with Simon & Schuster US in Spring 2012.

    Hurley's high concept trilogy has a real point of difference.

    Brooklyn teenagers, Lucy, Cecelia and Agnes are three very different heroines. Each in peril. Each lost at the start of our journey, and found by our readers on a stretcher in an emergency room. Lucy, the superficial party girl; Cecelia, a drop out rock chick; and Agnes, a hopeless romantic, are all rebels running from their lives and themselves, plagued by broken hearts and broken dreams. Enter Sebastian. A hot bad boy-type who gifts each of them with a gorgeous ruby-beaded chaplet and then disappears into the night.
    THE BLESSED takes a singular look at love and relationships by drawing on the legends of the female martyrs of early Christendom – St. Lucy, St.Cecelia and St.Agnes. Saints were the first superstars of the Common Era and young martyr tales are amongst the first YA titles. This tale is a re-imagined redemption remix. Crashing the ancient with the present, the mythic with the modern, the romantic with the abhorred, and most poignantly, the superhuman supernatural with the foibles of the human heart and flesh, it is epic, in every sense.
    Tonya Hurley is the New York Times bestselling author of the Ghost Girl


    They’ve been stuck between a rock and a hard place for 48 years with neither ever learning to let it bleed. Now Mick and Keith’s antagonistic antics have led to the Rolling Stones being ascribed the title of rock and roll’s number one battling band by Rolling Stone magazine. The pair beat other famous warring factions such as Ray and Dave Davis and Steve Tyler and Joe Perry to the number one spot, despite being the only duo on the top five list to have never split.

    The full top five is as follows
    05. Ray and Dave Davis (The Kinks)
    04. Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend (The Who)
    03. Steve Tyler and Joe Perry (Aerosmith)
    02. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel
    01. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (Rolling Stones)

    In his autobiography, Life Keith describes Mick as “unbearable” and refers to him as “Brenda” and “Your Majesty,” . The same can be said of Yoko Ono, as Richards characterizes her former husband John Lennon as “a silly sod, in many ways.” It appears that the stuff of Life stands on the scurrilous side of the continuum of rock-star confessionals.

    The bond between two of The Rolling Stones’ founder members was now so strained, Richards said he has not set foot in Jagger’s dressing room in 20 years. He added he misses the friend with whom he forged one of music’s most successful writing partnerships.

    Phil Collins - King of the wild frontier

    He has mangled many a song in his time but now Phil Collins claims that in a previous life he mangled a few Mexicans at the battle for the Alamo -
    For Collins, the thrice-married Genesis percussionist and solo star, has become obsessed with the battle of the Alamo to such an extent there are mutterings he may be one drumstick short of a pair.

    Collins, who is 59 and was born and raised in Hounslow, West London, believes that he is the reincarnation of an Alamo survivor — having been told this by a ­clairvoyant whom he met in Texas while on a trip four years ago.

    The battle in 1836 saw 1,500 Mexican troops lay siege to 200 Texans — including Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and that bald git from Genesis — at the Alamo mission, San Antonio. All but a handful of the Texans were killed.

    He’s told friends his life as Phil Collins the singer is now ‘over’ (The Archive says, thank f**k for that!). Studying the history of the Alamo, and collecting artifacts from the battle, has become an all-consuming passion. ‘F*** music,’ he rather sourly told an interviewer this year.

    Following his third divorce in 2007 and failing health (nerve damage to his arms makes it impossible for him to drum), ­Collins’ interest in the Alamo has taken over his life.

    The little plump warrior
    He recently secretly bought a shop next to the Alamo mission ­simply so that he could dig under it in search of artifacts.
    He’s also spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on memorabilia (although as a hobby it’s certainly cheaper than getting married, which has cost him a staggering £42  million in alimony).

    Collins spends weeks at a time in Texas, and his friends believe that he is preparing to buy a home there to add to the more usual rock-star property portfolio of a home in Switzerland, a ski chalet, and a place in New York.
    He’s addressed a local historical society, is thinking of writing a book, and is coming out of semi-retirement next spring in order to do a benefit gig for a restoration fund in San Antonio.

    For Collins, who says he has had suicidal thoughts and can be lonely and depressed, this other life as a reincarnated Texan hero seems to give him purpose.

    Collins believed he was John W Smith, a horseback courier who left before the massacre to take a message. He went on to become mayor of San Antonio.

    Thursday 25 November 2010

    They were actually Irish you know

    Brendan Burke and William Hare were actually Irish and didn’t steal cadavers from the grave – faced with a lack of bodies they embarked upon a murderous plan and provided 17 bodies for dissection by a medical lecturer, 16 of them were murdered.
    Writer Martin Conaghan admits that his son and the success of other Scottish comic writers prompted him to try his hand again. He said: “Mark Millar and Grant Morrison were an influence on me.
    “These guys are lynch pins in the global comic industry and to think a guy from Coatbridge (Millar) with a basic education is among the top five comic writers in the world is a great source of inspiration.”
    A couple of years ago Martin spoke with Insomnia Publication’s creative director Nic Wilkinson about creating a line of books based on historical facts and then teamed up with graphic artist Will Pickering to resurrect and produce the graphic novel Burke and Hare.
    “I had tried to follow the same career path as Mark Millar and became a bit disillusioned with it – it’s such a small industry.
    “It seems large because of the movies it’s spawned but not a lot of people are employed in it.
    “I have two kids of school age and my 8-year-old son was reading 2000AD and Star Wars comics and that got me back into it.”
    Martin admits that Robert Louis Stevenson is such a renowned writer that some of his literary works have now been accepted as fact rather than fiction.

    “I went through loads of historical papers, the book is entertaining and educational as well as being accurate. It’s a comic but it’s historical, there was so many gaps in the story and I’ve managed to merge fact and fiction.”
    Burke was hanged in January 1829 while Hare was granted immunity from prosecution for testifying against his partner in crime.
    During their research, Martin and Will went to see William Burke’s skeleton at the Anatomy Museum at Edinburgh University, where it remains on display to this day. The convicted murderer’s body was publicly dissected at the university and his bones put on permanent display there.
    “They invited us in and to see Burke’s skeleton and it was a chilling thrill” said Martin.

    He continued: “There were also masks made of their faces, this was a time before criminals fingerprints were taken. He was only about 5ft 4inches with rotten teeth and it really brought it home to us that this was the most prolific serial killer in Britain’s history.
    “We looked at sketches that had been made of Hare and he looked like the Joker from Batman.
    “When the Dark Knight came out The Joker looked like a force of nature; a nasty character who caused chaos. It was the same with Hare – little was known about him before the killings or after the court case.
    “It was as if he was almost supernatural like a comic book villain.”
    Martin Conaghan’s book costs £10 plus £2 p&p and is available at Waterstones Books, Amazon or HERE

    The name's Bond, boyo!

    The world's second sexiest Welshman has revealed that he came very close to playing James Bond back in the Sixties.
    Sir Tom Jones almost landed the role of James Bond.
    The Welsh singer has revealed how Cubby Broccoli – who produced the action film franchise – seriously considered casting him as the iconic British spy, but decided against it because he was too famous.

    Tom told Smooth Radio: “When I was young I would have liked to be James Bond, and at one time it was discussed.
    “I think it came from Cubby Broccoli, who was the man in charge, of course, and he said when my name was put forward, ‘Tom Jones is so recognisable as Tom Jones – he’s a character, he’s become this singer with a big character. So in order for him to do James Bond, would people accept him as being James Bond? Could they get past him being Tom Jones?’ – and so apparently that was what the problem was.”

    The 70-year-old star did not specify exactly when he was considered for the role – which has been portrayed by movie stars including Sir Sean Connery, Sir Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and the latest spy Daniel Craig.
    However, it is believed to have been during the late 60s or early 70s, shortly before Sean left the franchise.
    In 1965, Tom recorded a track for the 1965 Bond movie ‘Thunderball’.

    Genre Overview - Historical Crime

    "After writing some thirty books or more I find writing historical mysteries to be the greatest challenge of all, especially those set in the early medieval period, such as my John Crowner series." Bernard Knight.

    Most periods of history have been tackled at one time or another by the scores of historical crime writers out there - From ancient Rome in the entertaining Lindsey Davies novels, to ancient Greece in the works of Margaret Doody. There are crime novels set during the American Civil War and some set in prehistoric times. Roman Britain has been explored in the works of Rosemary Row and the streets of Victorian London brought to life by countless writers.

    Perhaps the best known of all historical crime writers is the late Ellis Peters with her hugely entertaining Cadfael series. The character of Cadfael himself is a Welsh Benedictine monk living at Shrewsbury Abbey, in western England, in the first half of the 12th century. The historically accurate stories are set between about 1135 and about 1145, during "The Anarchy", the destructive contest for the crown of England between King Stephen and Empress Maud.

    Historical Crime  is a sub-genre of historical fiction which bears elements of the classical mystery novel, in which the central plot involves a crime (almost always a murder) and the setting has some historical significance. One of the big areas of debate within the community of fans is what makes a given setting historical. Most (but not all) agree that it should involve a time before the book was published. But how much before? 25 years? 50 years? 100 years? All have their proponents. Others think the setting should be X number of years before the author's lifetime, or before the readers' lifetime. There's also a lot of debate over how much historical accuracy is required to make a given setting historical rather than fantasy or alternate history or really just a modern story in fancy dress. While there has to be some elements of real life history to the setting under most definitions, the "detective" may be a real-life historical figure, eg. Socrates, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens,Mozart, or a wholly imaginary character.

    "Writing historical fiction is a lot of fun. The research involved in producing medieval mysteries is exciting and absorbing and it seems that however much I do there is always more to learn." Susanna Gregory

    I myself have dipped my toes into the historical fiction pond - my novel A Policeman's Lot is set in the year 1904 in South Wales and features such historical figures as Buffalo Bill Cody and Jack the Ripper. How does that come about? Well read the book and find out but I will say that my answer to the Ripper murders is credible and has never been done before. I'm proud of that...and you know I may just be right. It's certainly an answer that comes out of left field but I won't give it away here - check out the book and discover for yourself.

    Possibly the first full-length historical whodunnit. was written by Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime herself when she set Death Comes to an End in ancient Egypt. So what is the appeal of historical crime fiction? Well I'll counter the question with another question, what is the appeal of any genre?

    Top Ten Films of the year

    Every year author, Stephen King publishes a list of what he considers to be the top ten films of the year. This year's selection contains some interesting choices.

    10. Green Zone
    9. Jackass 3D
    8. Monsters
    7. Splice
    6. Kick-Ass
    5. Takers
    4. The Social Network
    3. Inception
    2. The Town
    1. Let Me In

    King made a few comments on his choices.  On his choice for The Social Network he says “succeeds where Michael Douglas’ Wall Street sequel fails."  Perhaps the most interesting choice, Takers, King had this to say, “This satisfyingly complex cops-’n'-robbers movie features great performances … and the armored-car heist is the best action sequence I’ve seen this year.”

    The Patterson Factor Redux

     The following post was sent in my writer Chap O'Keefe AKA Keith Chapman in response to the Archive's James Patterson article HERE. It was of too big a length to go in the comments section of the blog and so I am posting it here.

    The Patterson case is a sad commentary on the state of a book world where success is based as much on hype and brand-name as content. New writers are driven to desperate ploys to make a mark in this rat-race environment.

    Today, I received an email from a debut novelist. Here it is with names and titles deleted "to protect the (I hope) innocent":

    Hey folks!

    This is a mass email I'm sending out to a whole bunch of you. Forgive the lack of "personal touch" ... it would take too long.

    As most of you know, earlier this year my first novel was published: [TITLE DELETED]. It's received very good reviews and I've been contracted to write two more. One's already done, and will be published in the UK and US in March, the other is currently being written.

    Despite what most people think, novelists don't get rich. In fact, they hardly make any money at all. Those who do, do so because they are good self-publicists and they do as much as possible to raise awareness of their book.

    So that's what I must do, and I would be HUGELY appreciative if you could take 3 or 4 minutes to help me by going to this website - http://awards2011.sfx.co.uk/ - and voting for me.

    Basically, you will have to vote on a few pages; things like BEST SCI-FI FILM 2010 and BEST ACTOR 2010. Each page has a drop down menu in which you can just click something at random if you're not interested in what you vote for.

    HOWEVER, when you come to BEST BOOK, if you don't see "[Title Deleted] by [Author Deleted]" in the drop down, please write it in the field and vote. Then finish the survey ... and THANK YOU for helping me to achieve my greatest ambition!

    Me am novelist, yay!


    I responded as follows:

    "Thank you for your email, and congratulations on publication of a first novel. Frankly, as a professional fiction writer for more than 40 years, I am appalled by, though not unaware of, modern methods of becoming a success in the digital age. Social networking and self-publicity are all very well, but I don't feel I can stoop to participation in an attempt to rig an 'awards' system. Indeed, if the objective can be achieved by soliciting votes from all and sundry, it only undermines the worth of receiving the award! Please forgive me if that sounds pompous.

    "As you seem to suggest yourself, there will be people voting in all categories who'll 'just click something at random if [they]'re not interested in what [they] vote for'. Won't the SFX followers know this? How long will the awards continue to be coveted? Perhaps readers (i.e. intelligent people?) can be fooled for a while, but I'd prefer not to have to accept that.

    "I don't ordinarily read sci-fi and fantasy these days, but my hope is many sci-fi people will become aware of your book by more conventional means, will read it, enjoy it, watch for the next (and the next), and tell their friends. I like to think it's still possible to build a lasting career in genre fiction, though I believe this has never been credible in less than ten years and without a hardworking publisher who knows his business and can predict its trends and potential.

    "You and your publisher have done well so far to gather a clutch of enthusiastic reviews."

    I feel that both Patterson and my new-entrant correspondent make a mockery of the profession.

    Best, Keith

    True Grit may spawn a sequel

    The Coen's re-make of True Grit hasn't hit cinema screens yet but Joel Coen has been telling media journalists that there are plans for a True Grit 2 - why not? Coen said, John Wayne made two and Warren Oates also did a TV movie so there's plenty of scope out there for Rooster.

    Below find the latest TV Spot for the highly anticipated movie.

    Those naughty superheroes

    The You couldn't make this stuff up department reports that the hilarious porn parody BATMAN XXX has been named as the bestselling porno movie of 2010 according to Adult Video News (AVN).
    Axel Braun wrote, directed and produced the parody while Vivid Entertainment distributed it. The movie also received the honor of Best Rental of the Year as well.

    “I am absolutely stoked” said Braun. “In 2010 I honestly worked harder than ever, but I was also lucky enough to be in a position where I could choose projects that I was truly passionate about. Being recognized for doing something you actually love is quite a fantastic feeling!”

    Batman XXX: A Porn Parody spoofs the classic Batman television series and the details from the old series are spectacular. The look and acting are a loving callback to the beloved television series.
    The movie has garnered 16 AVN nominations and has already won Best Parody awards earlier this year at the NightMoves Awards Show and at the F.A.M.E. Awards.
    Braun is currently finishing up the editing of SupermanXXX: A Porn Parody, and is casting the lead roles for his upcoming Spider-Man XXX: A Porn Parody, to be shot in February for the Vivid SuperXXXHero imprint.

    Since this article was first published there has been a plethora of super-hero themed porno movies - believe it or not you can now get XXX versions of Superman, The Avengers, Wonderwoman and just about anyone else you can think of - Just goes to show that the geeks have indeed inheritated the world. Well, the porn industry at least. There was a time when porn movies usually consisted of a plumber visiting a house and proceeding to satisfy the sex started housewife but these days it seems that nothing less than a super powered bonker will suffice.

    Christian Bale says The Dark Knight Rises will be his final Batman movie

    Christian Bale first tackled the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman Begins in 2005.  The actor reprised the role in the film's sequel The Dark Knight, although Bale's performance was overshadowed by that of the late Heath Ledger, who earned an Academy Award nomination and win for his performance as The Joker.
    Since the Christopher Nolan era of the franchise began there have been questions as to whether Bale would continue to play the role of The Caped Crusade.  It seems that the only actor that has consistently been a part of the films, other than Bale, is the great Michael Caine, who plays the butler and wise sidekick Alfred.

    Many actors have come and gone from the most recent Batman films including, Morgan Freeman, Katie Holmes, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.  But now it seems that the forthcoming The Dark Knight Rises film (due out next summer) will be Christian Bale's final performance as Batman.

    Christian Bale made the announcement over the weekend while promoting his upcoming movie The Fighter, which opens December 17, and co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams.  The actor said "I believe unless Chris Nolan says different, this will be the last time I'm playing Batman."

    Wednesday 24 November 2010


    He has outsold Stephen King, Dan Brown and J K Rowling and yet James Patterson is seen as the Simon Cowell of literature - he's successful but ultimately without substance, his books leave the reader feeling empty and unsatisfied. He has turned his name into a brand much like Coca Cola and writes (or gets others to) in all genres.

    "My success revolves around the fact that I am fairly analytical, logical, have a pretty good IQ but I’ve got street smarts too. You know, a lot of people who have nice IQ’s are just dumb as a brick when it comes to thinking about how other people think and what they might like and how to act in public and things like that. I think I have, you know, gifts involved of those areas. I mean, if I am writing a story that kids are supposed to not want to put down, if I don’t feel it, then I don’t think kids will feel it. If I don’t think that the pages are moving in the story and the characters aren’t involving, then I’m going to assume that the people reading it won’t.” James Patterson recently told an interviewer in his defence.

    "I probably wouldn't try to write a literary novel. I think I can write an acceptably good novel, but I am not particularly interested in talking to that audience. I think a lot of the things that are praised are just kind of show-off prose, which is just not my thing. I can appreciate it, you know. I'm a big reader and I read all kinds of things, but it is not something I want to do." James Patterson

    I agree with Patterson on the last point, most literary fiction comes across as pretentious and plot less - give me a good escapist read over literary fiction any day and I guess he does give struggling authors an opportunity to reach a mass market but Patterson's name is always in bigger print than the actual author. And I somehow doubt that these writers for hire are making the untold millions Patterson rakes in from their labours.

    "My fundamental goal has always been simply to tell good stories. In that regard, my attitude I expect is much the same as it was 30 years ago." James Patterson

    That's all very well but seeing as Patterson doesn't write most of the books published under his name the argument falls flat. Now I've not read his early books so I can't comment on those but I had three of his books preloaded on my Sony eReader (pictured) and I deleted them after giving up on Double Cross - to my mind it was terrible writing with no characterisation and too many cliffhangers.  I mean some of his chapters are one page in length - what the f**k is that about?

    "James Patterson is a terrible writer but he’s very very successful.”  Stephen King

    Patterson has recently branched out into video games, again carrying the Patterson brand, and again this cheapens his books. It's okay for a video game to be based on a writers novel but when the game is marketed as by James Patterson it all comes out as a purely commercial exercise with all the integrity of the X-Factor. I mean let's be honest the X-Factor is flashy and fun but it's never going to produce an act of any lasting worth and it must piss off all those real artists who are learning their craft around the music clubs and festivals

    Patterson's advice to new writers - "Write a good book; that is what most authors can do. Just write a terrific book that has some kind of a hook or uniqueness that people are going to respond to. Write it in a way that people will not be able to stop reading it, and that they will compulsively read. That's really the best advice I can give most people."

    Maybe he should practice what he preaches.

    Patterson wrote his first book when he was 26 and won an Edgar so he must have the talent and I'm reliably told that some of his early works, Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls are excellent but I don't think I'll ever read them because of his dominance in all markets and the Patterson brand leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. I love reading but I want to read works that actually mean something to the author and are not driven by the desire to rake in even more millions and millions. Another problem I have with all this PATTERSON BRAND is that readers follow favourite writers because they know what they are going to get, they trust the author to give a good story but with Patterson books you're getting a mish-mash of writers and obviously some are better than others.

    Still Patterson is a genius - his bank balance is proof of that.


    Paul McCartney this week fell on stage in Brazil but promptly bounced back to his feet - you can view a fan filmed video of the fall HERE. Much was made in the press that the singer is now 68 but at the end of the day he's probably fitter than someone twenty years younger and anyone could trip over a set of wires. I saw McCartney in Cardiff's Millenium Stadium earlier this summer and he was bouncing about like a teenager and 68 is these days not the age it once was.

    McCartney often takes a kicking in the press and sometimes he deserves it - changing the order of the song credits from Lennon and McCartney to McCartney and Lennon for one thing, appearing on the banal Simon Cowell personal fortune making machine The X-Factor for another and hob nobbing with the Royals for yet another, but the way his fall was reported was frightening for long term Beatle fans like myself but it had F**K All to do with his age. Take a look at the video of the fall. It was a simple fact that Paul was too focused on the show to look where he was going. Clumsy oaf, that he is.

    Long live The Beatle.

    Big brother strikes back

    Good to know the feuding Gallagher brothers are still fighting, it makes for better entertainment you see - 24 hours after Liam announced tour dates for his new band, Beady Eye, Noel has now gone into the studio to work on his solo project - 
    NOEL GALLAGHER is moving on from OASIS by starting work on his first solo album, recruiting THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS star MILES KANE as a collaborator for his debut.
    Gallagher stunned fans when he quit Oasis in August last year (09) following a fight with his singer brother Liam.
    The band subsequently split and Liam recently returned to the music scene with a new group, Beady Eye, while Noel has now begun to record new material.
    Kane reveals he played guitar on one of Noel's new tracks as a favour after the rocker helped out by providing vocals for his own solo offering.
    He says, "I was mixing the record and I was going to do these harmonies to give it a boost - it was a bit flat. I text him (Gallagher) saying, 'I need some icing on this tune' and he said, 'Icing is what I do very well.'
    "It's only a really subtle thing on the middle eight and the chorus of this song called My Fantasy. It's nice, I'm very honoured that he did it. It's a nice little touch.
    "(In return) I play guitar on one of his songs for his album. I was only in there (in the studio) for a couple of hours. I did my thing. That was in return for me going on his one."

    The Tarnished Star trade paperback, large print now available for pre-order

    My first novel, The Tarnished Star written by my alter-ego Jack Martin is now available for pre-order in a spanking new trade paperback large print edition. The book did remarkably well on its original publication, topping the western charts for many weeks - pre-order the new edition HERE

    "TARNISHED STAR is an entertaining, fast-moving story, as are all the books I've read from the Black Horse Westerns line. From the pulpish cover to the final showdown in which plenty of bullets fly, it's a fine, action-packed Western that still manages to be character-driven." James Reasoner

    The Man from Uncle big screen movie mooted

    Actor, George Clooney is being mooted for the role of Napoleon Solo in a proposed big screen version of The Man from Uncle, which is currently in the very early stages of development.  Clooney is teaming up again with frequent collaborator Stephen Soderbergh on Man from U.N.C.L.E.
    Clooney has met and talked with Soderbergh about playing agent Napoleon Solo in the movie.
    The project is still in the early stages, since both Clooney and Soderbergh are busy with other things at the moment.

    And speaking of spies - Clooney would make a great James Bond.

    Still Fab

    Apple have sold over 2 Million Beatle downloads since the music became available on iTunes earlier this week -Those that  mocked Apple’s overblown Beatles build up a little have to eat their words. The numbers don’t lie. In the first week since the Beatles anthology has been available for download on iTunes, Apple has sold over two million songs and more than 450,000 albums by the band.
    “Abbey Road” took first place for US iTunes digital album sales, “Here Comes the Sun” was the most popular individual song, and The Beatles Box Set ($149) is currently sitting at number 10 on iTunes this week.
    The UK’s iTunes store is lagging a bit in comparison. “Hey Jude” is the single song to have broken the UK iTunes’ top 40 list, and only two of the band’s compilation albums have made the chart.
    Nonetheless, it seems as if the hype wasn’t without purpose, as Apple can now use any and all Fab Four tunes at its discretion and iTunes’ millions of customers are clearly taking advantage of the long-awaited addition.

    Paper eBooks????

    Many book lovers find the prospect of eBook Readers to be a painful subject and they are loath to give up on paper, but all that could change with a new generation of paper eBook readers. That's disposable eReaders.

    University of Cincinnati professor of electrical engineering, Andrew Steckl has shown that a paper based display technology is possible.  If Steckl can perfect it, expect low cost disposable eReaders to hit the shelves.
    Call this an ironic twist but eReaders have been touted as a way to do away with book waste.  Rather than tossing old paperbacks into the local landfill you can just delete books from your eReader – no muss, no fuss, no trash. 
    “One of the main goals of e-paper is to replicate the look and feel of actual ink on paper,” the researchers stated in [The American Chemical Society] (ACS) article. “We have, therefore, investigated the use of paper as the perfect substrate for EW devices to accomplish e-paper on paper.”
    Now Professor Steckl and his graduate student Duk Young Kim have demonstrated that paper can be used as the base material for Electrowetting technology.
    Electrowetting (EW) involves applying an electric field to colored droplets within a display in order to reveal content such as type, photographs and video.  Importantly, they found that the performance of the electrowetting device on paper is equivalent to that of glass, which is the gold standard in the field
    The Kindle and iPad use glass for a base material with “complex electric circuitry” printed on top.  The Kindle, Nook and several other eReaders use what is called “E-Ink” technology that mimics the look of print on paper.  Many people scoff at eReaders because they prefer not just the look but also the feel of paper books for reading.  Now they may be able to have both.

    Sony improve their eBook store

    Sony's eReader devices are equal to Amazon's market leader The Kindle, but their book store is a poor relation to Amazon's own. However all that is about to change with some exciting new additions to the Sony Store -
    Sony Corporation will extend its Reader Store ebook effort to iOS and Android smartphones beginning next month. A teaser page Sony Reader Storeposted on the Reader Store website confirms the move--according to Sony, consumers will be able to access digital titles purchased via the Reader Store across iPhone and Android handsets as well as PCs and Sony's own touchscreen Reader devices. In addition to new releases and New York Times bestsellers, Reader Store boasts more than a million free public domain titles from Google Books as well as links to borrow ebooks from public libraries.
    Sony introduced its first portable ereader unit in late 2006--in mid-2009, the electronics giant rolled out the PRS-900, the first of its devices to integrate 3G wireless connectivity. Sony Reader units leverage an electronic paper display developed by E Ink Corporation--content is viewable in direct sunlight, giving users the choice between portrait or landscape orientation. Beyond ebooks, the device can also display Adobe PDFs, ePub format, RSS newsfeeds, JPEGs and Sony's proprietary BBeB ("BroadBand eBook") format as well as MP3 and unencrypted AAC audio files.

    Tuesday 23 November 2010

    Buffy to return but Whedon is out

    Warner Bros. is planning a reboot Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie—without the involvement of Joss Whedon, who wrote the script of the original Buffy movie and was the creative force behind the seven-season series on The WB.
    And just in case you're thinking this is one of those amicable deals, where Whedon hands off the series with his blessing, it's not. From the funny, resigned e-mail reaction he sent to E! Online: "I always hoped that Buffy would live on even after my death.  But, you know, AFTER.  I don't love the idea of my creation in other hands, but I'm also well aware that many more hands than mine went into making that show what it was. And there is no legal grounds for doing anything other than sighing audibly."

    The Walking Dead episode 4

    Episode 4 of this remarkable series may be the best to air so far - this time there are more character moments than usual and the makers still find time for a kick ass zombie attack to end the episode. An attack which is bound to have consequences for our rag tag bunch of survivors.

    By slowing things down slightly and allowing for the characters to grow, the viewer is sucked further into the story. It starts off with the two sisters in a small boat,enjoying a fishing expedition and talking about the father they may or may not have lost.

    'Perhaps Florida wasn't hit as hard.' One says to the other but it is obvious they are clutching at straws.

    And from there we are straight to Rik's misson in Atlanta which goes seriously wrong. There is a great scene here in a hospital filled with aged people and the relatives who protect the people from the zombie population.
    The episode ends in a bloodbath  While Rick and the others find another pocket of humanity, so do the undead, as they break through the camp's defences and mount a gory assault. Unlike other series, this shows how the threat is the same for a young attractive woman as it is for a tubby, unlikeable wife-beater, as Amy all but has her throat torn out. As does the tubby, unlikeable wife-beater.
    It's a bold and shocking move, but if you're going to portray the end of civilization, it's unlikely that just all the good looking ones will survive.

    Personally I'm not much of a TV viewer, preferring to watch DVD's and I tend to catch up on classic shows in one bite on the full season box sets, but this is one show that I'm not going to miss.  Bring on episode five.

    Zombie researchers bite back

    Believe it or not there is a zombie research society and the said society have taken exception to comments made by horror legend, Stephen King. The society founded in 2007 is dedicated to raising the level of zombie scholarship in the Arts and Sciences.  ZRS Members represent diverse backgrounds, interests, and theories, but are unified in their support of the Society's three foundational principles:

    1) A zombie is a biologically definable, animated being occupying a human corpse.

    2) The zombie pandemic is coming.  It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when.

    3) Enthusiastic debate about zombies is essential to the survival of the human race.

    Below is the story from the blog of  the Zombie Research Society:

    King, famously observed that zombies are popular in worry-free times, and vampires are popular in times of hardship.  We don’t know about vampires, but his assessment of zombies is dead wrong.
    The modern zombie was born in 1968 with George Romero’s classic, Night of the Living Dead.  At the time the United States was bogged down in a wildly unpopular war in Vietnam, and social unrest was common.  Romero’s Dawn of the Dead came out ten years later, at the beginning of the Reagan-era recession.

    Today we live in constant fear of terrorist attacks, environmental disaster, and economic meltdown.  In these uncertain times, zombies have never been more popular.
    In fact, since the global crisis of the past several years began the declaration that zombies are the new vampire has been made by Time Magazine (April, 2009), Newsweek (October, 2009), and The Hollywood Reporter (September 2010) to name a few.

    You can find the ZRS HERE

    Hammer's scream queen Ingrid Pitt dies aged 73

    Perhaps the most famous of all the scream queen, Ingrid Pitt has today died aged 73 -
    The Polish-born star passed away at a hospital in south London after collapsing a few days ago.
    She was regarded by many fans as the queen of Hammer Horror films.
    The star's death comes weeks after film-maker Roy Ward Baker, who directed Pitt in The Vampire Lovers, died at the age of 93.
    Pitt's daughter told the BBC News website that her mother's death had come as a "huge surprise".
    After the actress has collapsed recently, doctors told her was she suffering from heart failure.
    "She could be incredibly generous, loving, and she'll be sorely missed," Mrs Blake said.
    She added that she wanted her mother to be remembered as the Countess Dracula with the "wonderful teeth and the wonderful bosom"

    Official Hammer historian Marcus Hearn paid tribute to the star, calling her a "talented actress and fine writer".

    "All fans of Hammer and of British horror are going to miss her terribly”Marcus Hearn Official Hammer historian. He added: "She was partly responsible for ushering in a bold and brazen era of sexually explicitly horror films in the 1970s, but that should not denigrate her abilities as an actress."
    A good friend of the actress, Mr Hearn said she was "gloriously uninhibited" and "great fun to be with".
    Although she was not the first female star of a Hammer film, Mr Hearn said she had always been "very proud" of becoming the first prominent female protagonist in a Hammer after her role in The Vampire Lovers.
    "All fans of Hammer and of British horror are going to miss her terribly," he said.

    She was also a successful writer and responsible for many screenplays for TV programs and movies. In 1999, her autobiography, Life's a Scream (Heinemann) was published, and she was short-listed for the Talkies Awards for her own reading of extracts from the audio book. "I hate being second".

    Was Jack a Jill?

    Was Jack the Ripper a woman?

    From The Independent:

    The notorious serial killer who stalked London's East End, butchering prostitutes and terrorising the population, may not have been Jack the Ripper - but Jill.
    An Australian scientist has used swabs from letters supposedly sent to police by the Ripper to build a partial DNA profile of the killer. The results suggest that the person who murdered and mutilated at least five women from 1888 onwards may have been a woman.
    Ian Findlay, a professor of molecular and forensic diagnostics, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he had developed a profiling technique that could extract DNA from a single cell or strand of hair up to 160 years old. Conventional DNA sampling methods require at least 200 cells.
    Dr Findlay, who is based in Brisbane, travelled to London, where the evidence from the still-unsolved murders is stored at the National Archive. The material, which was kept by Scotland Yard until 1961, includes letters sent to police at the time, some of them signed "Jack the Ripper". Most are believed to be fakes, but a handful are thought to have been written by the killer.
    Dr Findlay took swabs from the back of stamps and from the gum used to seal envelopes, and possible bloodstains. He took his haul back to Brisbane, where - concentrating on swabs from the so-called "Openshaw letter", the one believed most likely to be genuine - he extracted the DNA and then amplified the information to create a profile. The results were "inconclusive" and not forensically reliable, but he did construct a partial profile and based on this analysis, he said, "it's possible the Ripper could be female".
    The victims were all prostitutes, murdered and mutilated in the foggy alleyways of Whitechapel. By the surgical nature of the wounds, the killer was assumed to have some surgical knowledge.
    The chief suspects, who included a barrister, a Polish boot-maker and a Russian confidence trickster, were all men. But Frederick Abberline, the detective who led the investigation, thought it possible the killer was a woman. This was because the fifth victim, Mary Kelly, was "seen" by witnesses hours after she was killed. Abberline thought this was the murderer running away, in Kelly's clothes.
    The only female suspect was Mary Pearcey, who was convicted of murdering her lover's wife, Phoebe Hogg, in 1890 and hanged. She apparently employed a similar modus operandi to the Ripper.


     Last night I watched the new cleaned up version of the Beatles Let it Be documovie - it was great to finally see it cleaned up, thanks to P...