The wait will soon be over…

Tarzan, Jane and Boy anxiously await the publication of JUNGLE OUT THERE in which we meet MAN, LADY and SONNY.

colorised tarzan

 

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Work is progressing on my work in progress

Having recently submitted the sequel to VULTURES’ MOON, my current project is the sixth book in the Brough & Miller series of crime spoofs. Today, after a valiant effort, I reached the end of the first draft.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I enjoy writing Brough & Miller because they’re a fun bunch of characters; foul-mouthed and bungling, the Serious Crimes division somehow get the job done.

Like all the others, this one takes place about six months after their previous outing in COFFIN DODGERS. The cliff-hanger at the end of that book led to setting the current one in a hospital but with half a year past, the characters’ lives have moved on somewhat. Some circumstances have changed, others are still ongoing. But with a new case to occupy their time and one of their key members on extended leave, the Serious team have their work cut out for them.

COFFIN DODGERS and the four previous books are available now.

The sixth in the series, HOSPITAL CORNERS, will be coming soon.

cofifn dodgers

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Back in the Saddle

Last year when I wrote VULTURES’ MOON, I didn’t anticipate it turning into a series. (But then, I said that about what turned out to be the first Brough and Miller investigation, BLOOD & BREAKFAST – and I’m currently writing the sixth one of them).

I’d wanted to write a Western and, having done my research on the ‘rules’ of the genre, I began. However, my imagination had other ideas. As soon as I wrote the first line, I knew this was going to be something different. I went with it, and my sci-fi western was born. Now, returning to the setting twelve months later, I found it easier to write – the world had already been created; it was just a matter (‘just’!!) of coming up with a new adventure for my main characters Jed and his marvellous Horse.

The new storyline allowed me to reinforce what I’d established in the first book and to introduce new ideas and new characters, but I was determined to keep it very much the same flavour as the first. And so, Jed is present in every scene. There is no bad language. No one has sex – Westerns are very moralistic. But there are also science fiction and fantasy elements blended in.

I decided that both books should end with the same words – much like Christopher Reeve always used to sign off his Superman films by orbiting the Earth and grinning at the camera, my heroes fly away “like a shooting star”.

As far as titles go, it amused me to follow the original Planet of the Apes series of films. And so, in homage to Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the new book is called Under the Vultures’ Moon. If there is a third – and there most probably will be – it will be Escape from Vultures’ Moon… After that, well, we’ll see.

UNDER THE VULTURES’ MOON will be published later this year by Andrews UK.

VULTURES’ MOON is available now.

  vultures moon

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New book coming soon…

My next book has been twenty years in the making and was born of my lifelong obsession with Tarzan and the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

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I first became aware of Tarzan in the TV series starring Ron Ely

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and the old black and white movies of Johnny Weissmuller

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– for many, the quintessential ape man.

There was a series on the Disney Channel in the early 1990s in which Tarzan (Wolf Larsonwolf larsonwas depicted as an articulate and, of course, buff champion of the environment. This series first gave me the idea for a TV sitcom in which Tarzan, Jane et al decamp from Africa and move into a suburban semi-detached in my home town of Dudley. I wrote six episodes and submitted them to the BBC. I was invited to a meeting at Broadcasting House where I was told they loved my ‘ear’ for dialogue but weren’t sold on the concept.  There was no mileage in it, I was told

Since then, Disney released a full-length animated feature Tarzan, disney tarzanwhich did rather well, and the character continues to enjoy popularity.  This year there was a truly dreadful animated update from Germany that is best ignored, and there is a new live-action film Tarzan the Untamed being made for release in 2016.

2012 saw Tarzan’s centenary and so I was prompted to dig out my old scripts and do something with them. I wanted them out in the world in some form but I wanted any novelisation to add something to the quick-fire dialogue and slapstick situations I had come up with twenty years ago.

I decided to write the novel from the point of view of one of the main characters. I chose not to do it through Man’s eyes (he’s called Man, not Tarzan, for copyright issues) because he is a man of few words, although far from unintelligent. I opted for his mate, here called Lady Jane – in my version, she is the one of aristocratic background – this meant she could articulate her thoughts and experiences. I imagine her as something like Maureen O’Sullivan  maureen o from the Weissmuller films. Coming from a privileged background before she wound up in the jungle, Lady Jane knows little of the ways of the world anyway, having been sheltered from harsh realities and domestic chores by wealth and status.

It’s a fish-out-of-water story, in much the same vein as the alien family unit in 3rd Rock From The Sun or, of course, good old George of the Jungle george – I didn’t want my Man to be as goofy and dim as the lovable George, but wise and quick-witted. My king of the jungle is quick to adapt; he chooses not to waste words and always gets his point across.

Man and Lady have a son, a child they found after a plane crashed into the jungle. Lady Jane insists on calling him Baby even though he is now 13, while Man opts for Son or Sonny instead. Completing the family group is Uncle Mjomba (Swahili for ‘uncle’) a mysterious chimpanzee-like figure, who may or may not be human, who could in fact be the missing link…

Together and separately the family have mishaps and adventures as they try to come to terms with so-called civilised life. Going to the supermarket poses challenges and excitement, for example; and being a Burroughs fan, I tried to include as much sensational action as I could. Some scenes from the original scripts had to go completely – others had to be reimagined, and I invented a story arc to break up the episodic nature of the series.

The setting is now ‘Dedley’ the fictionalised version of my home town that features in my Brough & Miller detective series and also my ghost story Poor Jacky. Dedley is a place where anything can happen and usually does. Places based on real-life locations feature in the story: Dedley has its own zoo, for example – I couldn’t do a Tarzan-like story without wild animals.

This satirical look at modern life throws up some questions about the way we live. I don’t agree with all of the opinions expressed by the characters but there is a lot of me in this book, speaking through one mouthpiece or another.

Jungle Out There will be published by Andrews UK and will be available to download in all formats.

jane tarzan cheeta

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FlatMan

Reid Reilly had locked himself out. He checked there was no one else in the hall, no one else to see. He morphed his fingers into the dimensions of a credit card and jemmied the lock. No one must know he is FlatMan.

With relief, he closed the door behind him, glad to be home away from all the clamour and attention. The civic reception in FlatMan’s honour had gone very well. The Mayor awarded him the key to the city. The crowd had gone wild when their very own superhero had made his entrance, peeling himself away from a poster. How they’d roared! How they’d cheered! The Mayor’s speech was a peon of praise and gratitude, thanking FlatMan for saving all those lives, yet again – on this most recent occasion from Fire-Breath and Blasto, thwarting their explosive endeavours by making himself a giant blanket and stifling the villains’ fires. Now in asbestos cells, those two faced a long stretch before they could hold another orphanage to ransom.

Reid Reilly poured himself a drink of water – carbonated not still – and raised a toast to his alter-ego. He’d always wanted to be a cop but had failed the medical on account of his flat feet. Now, as a self-employed vigilante he had the admiration of an entire city and the adulation of all its children.

“Tell us, FlatMan,” the Mayor had shaken his hand, “What will you do with this award, the latest in a long line of many?”

“Oh,” FlatMan had shrugged, “I’ll put it with the others. In my flat!”

The crowd laughed and whooped; that joke never fell flat.

Representatives of the press hurled questions about his private life but the Mayor told them that was wholly inappropriate. Wasn’t it enough that the man had saved the day? Didn’t he deserve some privacy?

“What about Bubble-Girl?” asked one reporter who would not be put off. “Didn’t you two have a thing at one time?”

Ah, Bubble-Girl… Reid Reilly raised his glass again. They had flirted a little when he’d apprehended her in the act of robbing a jewellery store and he’d enjoyed wrapping himself around her curvaceous, lycra-clad figure until the police arrived.

FlatMan looked the reporter in the eye. “No,” he said flatly.

Then he folded himself like a paper aeroplane and leapt from the podium. He soared over the heads of the crowd before rising on an air current and flying up, up and away.

Now, in his flat, with his flat-pack furniture and flat-screen TV, Reid Reilly found the bubbles had gone out of his drink. When you’re not doing what you’re good at, he thought, when you’re not doing what you love, life is, well, rather flat.

hero

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I submit!

Today I submit the manuscript for my sixteenth novel to the publisher.

No clues to what it’s about…

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Number Five is Alive!

The fifth case for Dedley detectives Brough and Miller is now available.  It’s called COFFIN DODGERS and it’s a bit different from the previous four.

When the recently departed start getting up and walking around Dedley, the detectives of the Serious Crimes division are plunged into their most gruesome case so far. Meanwhile, Brough and his boyfriend hit a rough patch and Miller is laid low by a mysterious illness. With shocks and surprises along the way, this darkly funny story is the fifth Brough and Miller investigation, the fourth sequel to Blood & Breakfast.

It’s not so much a whodunit as a how-dunit; the identity of the perpetrator is revealed comparatively early on, the detectives are plunged into peril.  We get to see different sides to some of the members of the Serious Crime Division, and the seeds are sown for a sixth book – but I have other fish to fry before I set my mind to that.

coffin dodgers

Buy the book!

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New Book out now

I am very proud to announce the publication of my fifteenth novel COFFIN DODGERS – the fifth case for Dedley detectives Brough and Miller.

When the recently departed start getting up and walking around Dedley, the detectives of the Serious Crimes division are plunged into their most gruesome case so far. Meanwhile, Brough and his boyfriend hit a rough patch and Miller is laid low by a mysterious illness. With shocks and surprises along the way, this darkly funny story is the fifth Brough and Miller investigation, the fourth sequel to Blood & Breakfast.

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The Busker

Janet could hear the busker streets away.  She had already taken to walking a circuitous route to the office, one that took her along the side- and backstreets, neatly avoiding the homeless people in shop doorways, the charity collectors rattling their money boxes and above all the bloody busker.  He played – or, Janet sneered – attempted to play a grubby flute.  She shuddered to think of him, standing there, eyes closed as he played, a greasy hat like an artist’s beret lying hopefully at his feet. And it was always the same songs.  His repertoire extended as far as two half-remembered melodies.  One of them was Yellow Submarine and the other one wasn’t.  She could never quite place the other tune even though he was always playing it.  It had perhaps been a hit during her childhood, in those long days of summer when there was no school and she could lounge around for hours, collecting newspaper clippings of her favourite pop stars in her scrapbook with its green and purple pages, and listening to the radio.  She seemed to associate the tune she couldn’t name with those days, with that time in her life.

When do I get to listen to the radio these days?  I don’t – she answered her own question.

She turned down Short Street where some accountants had their offices.  This led her to Stone Road, where the back doors of department stores and restaurants could be found, far less appealing than their frontages and less well-kept.  Rubbish overflowed in wheeled bins like the stuffing coming out of burst upholstery.  Janet hurried up.  There were too many doorways.  The homeless could be lurking there.  Or muggers.  Or homeless muggers.  Or men with knives who would press you against the wall and lift your skirt.

At last she reached the office car-park.  A couple of cars were already in place.  The early birds who liked to be at their desks before the boss arrived.  Huh, thought Janet; probably facebooking each other pictures of their latest drunken night out.  She sneered again, despite her concerns of the lines that were coming at the edges of her mouth.  For her there was work and home.  And the journey between, avoiding people wherever she could.

Still, the shrill sound of the busker’s flute could be heard, cutting through the air, pervading her innermost thoughts.  That tune – the one she couldn’t name – it drowned out all other thoughts.  Oh, what the hell was it called?  Why was it so familiar and yet so strange?

Her legs buckled beneath her as an image flashed in her mind.  I’m having a stroke, she thought!  But she wasn’t.  She was back in her teens on a lazy summer day, in the garden with her scrapbook, when the neighbour had climbed over the fence, kicking her glue all over George Michael.  That song had been playing then.  It had been Number One.  It had been the soundtrack to the event she had blocked out of her mind all of these years.

“You okay, Janet?” said Beverly, dashing into the car park to assist.  “I only come out for a fag and I saw you there.  What’s happened?  Has somebody hurt you?”

“No,” said Janet, not wanting any fuss.  “I mean, yes.  Tell Henry I’m going to be late.  I have to go to the police.  There’s a man I should have reported years ago.”

Before Beverly could question her further, Janet strode away.  The police station was around the corner but Janet went the long way around.  She wanted to be sure to pass by the busker and drop a twenty pound note into his hat.

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Meanwhile, at the theatre…

Excuse me; you’re in my seat.”

“No, I’m not.”

Yes, you are. P13.  That’s what it says on my ticket.  Do you see?

“This is Q, mate.”

What?

“This is row Q.  You’re in the wrong row.”

My apologies.”

“Daft old bat.”

Excuse me; you’re in my seat.”

No, I ain’t.”

P13.

This is R.”

R?

Yes.”

Then where’s P?”

Don’t know, don’t care.  Now, piss off and let me watch the show.”

“Is there a problem here?”

Ah, yes; I’m looking for my seat.”

“What number is it?”

It’s P13.”

“Have you got your ticket?”

Yes.”

“Sshh!”

There, do you see? P13.”

“Yes, sir.  But this ticket is for the Royal Theatre.  This is the Theatre Royal.”

And there’s a difference?

“Yes, sir.  We’ve got The Cherry Orchard.  You want Hot Babes on Ice.”

Oh.  I see.  Oh, well.  Seeing as I’m here, I may as well watch to the end.”

Then last year, when the villa had to be sold to pay my debts, I left for Paris where he robbed me, deserted me and took up with another woman. I tried to poison myself. It was all so stupid and humiliating. Then I suddenly longed to be back in Russia, back in my own country with my little girl…

GET ‘EM OFF!

“Right, you:  Out!”

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