So, where do I start? Well, the first picture above is my new cover design for my combined short story collection. The photograph was supplied by excellent Southampton photographer Kenny Bowers. Kenny takes amazing sports photography, he's a huge boxing fan, and he got in touch a while ago to tell me he had a great shot looking down the barrel of a shotgun - I said I'd take it. I did a bit of editing and the result is the cover image you can see above, I'm pretty pleased with how it came out. Coming up with a title for the collection was pretty tricky, titles always are for me. I finally settled on 'Tales from the Underbelly'. I think this portrays what the collection is all about, tales of the sort of lives people don't really want to be part of, but love to look at on a screen or a page. I'm currently working my way through all of my stories getting them in shape to release this thing later in the year - so keep your eyes peeled.
What else? Well, I became a published poet - and weirdly I haven't written a poem in years. I saw a post by Gareth Spark on Facebook or Twitter sharing that he'd had a poem published at a site called In Between Hangovers. I followed the link and of course I loved what I was reading - it was Gareth fucking Spark, of course I would, the man can do no wrong in my opinion - well apart from that baseball cap maybe... I thought, I've got a bunch of stuff sitting in a dusty drawer somewhere and sent three off to Gareth to see what he thought of my work. Gareth enjoyed them and encouraged me to send them on to In Between Hangovers and a couple of days later the first one was published and I had one a week published for the next few weeks. If you like a bit of poetry In Between Hangovers is a great site to spend a few minutes on each day. Recent highlights obviously include Gareth Spark, but you should also check out people like, JJ Campbell and AC Turner.
The other two pictures at the top of this page are from a recent trip to the USA, five days in both San Francisco and Washington DC. I've been chatting with fellow writer Christopher Davis about music, writing and life in general since we were published together in the Big Adios Western Digest - I've always known I'd get on well with the man despite only being able to exchange 140 characters at a time on Twitter. Chris had always mentioned if I was ever in California I should let him know. So a few weeks before I headed out I got in touch with him and he and his lovely wife made a trip to San Francisco where we spent a great evening discussing all sorts of stuff, including writing. I signed a copy of When the Music's Over for Chris and after a few hours he left to make the 4 hour drive home - I couldn't believe the effort he'd put in but I'm so glad he did, a top evening. Chris is one of the authors in Paladins, the charity anthology I put together at the start of this year. Paladins has a private group on Facebook and I shared a picture of us there. Next thing I know Matt Mattila is offering to meet up when I head to Washington, and sure enough, half way through the Washington stay Matt turned up after a 6 hour train journey to spend about 3.5 hrs in DC... Another fantastic evening, Matt is so young and yet so talented and it was great to speak with him about books we've both enjoyed by many of the people we count as friends, his work and his music. I was humbled that Matt had travelled with three books for me to sign, which I gladly did, but what I was most humbled by was that both these guys put in such huge efforts to spend an evening with me while I was over. If either of them are ever in the UK they'd be welcome house guests.
Speaking of the USA, Paladins and Christopher Davis my final bit of news this time out is about the publication of my tale The Milk Carton Girl in Dead Guns Press publication, Hardboiled Dames and Sin. Dead Guns Press are a US publisher who's output I've enjoyed for a while. Sadly the release of this book ,as well as a Western collection, this month will be their last (temporarily I hope) as the publisher has gone on hiatus. It's a great honour to have been published by this excellent press for a number of reasons, as I said their output has been strong, I often find it more difficult to 'sell' my particular brand of 'brit grit' to American markets but most importantly, amongst the impressive line up of writers in this book are my fellow Paladins Bill Baber and one of the men I just met, Christopher Davis.