Coming soon (November 11th, 2021, to be precise) and exclusive to Kindle, all my Christmas-themed short stories collected together for the first time.
Trees, presents, myths… they’re all here, along with lashings of dark humour and more than a sprinkle of gruesomeness. Not for the fainthearted, TWISTED CHRISTMAS is an antidote to all the clichés that are trotted out year after year.
There’s a new author in town! The time has come to introduce you to WILHELM SCREAM, writer of new book, BAD BLOOD – A Tale of Two Vampires. Mr Scream can’t wait for you to read it, or for your children to read it, because it’s meant for them really, but if you sneak a peek between the covers, he won’t mind. In fact, he encourages it. It wouldn’t be the first time a grown-up has enjoyed a kids’ book now, would it?
Personal details about Mr Scream are difficult to pin down. Some say he crawled out from under a rock. Others say he hatched from an egg. You may have other ideas. But he’s harmless enough and only seeks to entertain with his tales of the macabre.
BAD BLOOD is about two neighbours who happen to be vampires. Or two vampires who happen to be neighbours. Vincent, the scruffy one, plots to get rid of Vlad, the well-dressed one, while Vlad only wants to look good and to help Vincent survive in the modern world. Add to the mix a television programme about antiques, an automaton made from mud, and a couple of vampire hunters, and the scene is set for a fast-moving and funny story suitable for anyone above the age of 9 human years. It’s not very gruesome, honestly!
BAD BLOOD will be available as a glossy hardback, a floppy paperback, and even an electronic version you can read on a tablet. Mr Scream tried reading a tablet once but all it said was ‘ASPIRIN’.
Mr Scream is not going to stop at vampires. He is already working on his next book which will be about werewolves, and he has a germ of a plan forming in his twisted mind for a third book which will probably be about a mummy or something equally horrible.
Mr Scream awaits your reviews. In fact, there he is now, standing in your back garden, staring at your house. Like I say, he’s harmless. No, really.
Many of my protagonists are gay, but their stories are not about the problems of being that way. They have plenty of other stuff to deal with! Here’s a brief look at my gay heroes, without giving too much away, I hope.
DETECTIVE INSPECTOR DAVID BROUGH – The Brough & Miller series.
Throughout the series (currently running to ten books) D I Brough has a couple of serious relationships and also periods of being single (hello, hook-ups; hello, internet pornography!) He has to deal with turning 40, which is like Death in gay terms, and he has to come to terms with loss, domestic violence, and even a spot of conversion therapy. All of this while solving bizarre murders. He is handsome, prefers his hair long, and keeps himself in shape, but he can also be pedantic and snitty.
OCTAVIUS MINT – Octavius Mint and the Indigo Dragon
Octavius is quick-witted and promiscuous. Pansexual, I suppose you’d call him (in fact, one reviewer complained they couldn’t tell if he was male or female because of his attraction to both of those genders! How narrow their world-view must be!). He spends most of this sci-fi adventure searching for his love interest, ‘Love Interest’, while navigating a life that keeps resetting itself, like a video game. He can’t understand asexuals at all. To him they are the opposite of what he believes in (unbridled hedonism, and hey, perhaps the bridle is OK too) and so he tends to see them as the villains of the piece.
HECTOR MORTLAKE & CUTHBERT – The Hector Mortlake series
Victorian fop Hector meets Cuthbert on the Orient Express of all places, in their first adventure Kiss of the Water Nymph. He employs the younger, more athletic man as his valet – or at least, that’s the facade they present to the world as they bonk their way through some outlandish adventures in exotic locations. Hector is louche, vain and insecure, while Cuthbert is cheeky and chirpy and, dare I say it, handy with his fists. There is nothing Cuthbert hasn’t done, nowhere he hasn’t been, it seems, in his short life. Hector is lucky to have him.
DAMIEN DEACUS – Trapping Fog
Poor Damien! He is too embroiled in the grisly murders of sex workers in Victorian London to do anything about his proclivities. He is probably the least queer thing about this book, which I describe as ‘a slice of steampunk’ but he does have a nice line in Cockney rhyming slang.
PAUL BEECROFT – Poor Jacky
Best-selling author Paul is haunted by his past. Perhaps if he hadn’t fancied his co-worker at the time, there wouldn’t have been the inciting incident that triggers his torment for the rest of the book! This is my most Stephen King-like novel, so of course, the protagonist is a writer. I don’t think Mr King has ever had a gay writer as his leading man, but I’m ready to be proved wrong about that.
SPARAFUCILE – The Assassin and His Sister
Pronounced ‘sparra-foo-chee-lay’, this character was inspired by Verdi’s Rigoletto, but don’t let that put you off. My Sparafucile is dapper and dashing and ultimately too kind and/or incompetent to be an effective assassin. Good job sister Mad is on hand to do the necessary. Sparafucile suffers the pangs of love, but it’s not all pain without pleasure. He’s one of my favourites, bless him.
CARADOC SPRAT – Space Pickle
Captain of space liner, The Merry Widow, Caradoc Sprat is what Captain Kirk might have been like if he were gay and indecisive and involved in Customer Service. Hooking up with an irresistible passenger is just the start of his problems.
QUENTIN QUIGLEY – Quoits & Quotability
What if the protagonist of a Jane Austen novel were a young gay man? That was the question I set out to answer in this Regency romp. Quentin is pretentious, petulant, and proud, infatuated with the local doctor and wary of the impertinent stable boy who seems to dog his every step. Oh, and a lesbian features quite significantly too. Forget Bridgerton; this book would be fabulous on Netflix!
DOMINIC and SEBASTIAN – The Rough Rude Sea
A gay pirate love story fantasy adventure. What more do you want? Inspired by the song Gay Pirates by Cosmo Jarvis, this rollocking, romantic romp puts our two leads through the mill and then some. Bonus points if you can identify the Shakespeare play I nicked the title from.
There is more LGBTQ+ representation in other books. Banishing The Bogwitch for example (but that would be telling!) I don’t think queer stories have to be about coming out or homophobia – other people have already written those stories countless times, and probably better than I could. My characters’ queerness is a facet of their identity, just like mine is of me. I write books that I would like to read, in the hope that someone else will like them too.
The publication this week of my latest book, the ninth case for Brough & Miller, SHAME AND PREJUDICE, marks the completion of 30 books. Yes, that’s THIRTY books, all written by me. And I think that’s something to be proud of. Yes, I know, there’s that British thing of not wanting to blow one’s own trumpet (a quick way to put your back out) but I’m putting that aside to write this message of self-congratulation to, well, myself.
Perhaps you’ve read all thirty. Perhaps you’ve read one or two. Perhaps you’ve read none (for shame!) I’m confident there is something for everyone on my list, providing you have a sense of humour. My main aim, with every book I write, is to take the reader on a journey and give them plenty of laughs along the way. The journey may surprise you. Sometimes, the journey might scare or move you. But I hope you’ll arrive at the end of the journey having had a good time.
I don’t restrict myself to one genre. I write fantasy, science fiction, horror, historical, crime… wherever the ideas take me. On my list you will see series: the sci-fi wild west trilogy, Vultures’ Moon, for example; the exploits of the outrageous Edwardian adventurer Hector Mortlake; and the long-running crime series of Brough & Miller investigations. There are stand-alone novels too: Renaissance romp, The Assassin and His Sister, for example, Regency romance Quoits & Quotability, in which I imagine what a Jane Austen novel might be like if the protagonist were a young gay man…
You can see all thirty books here on my Amazon page. All are available as ebooks, but a few (like Trapping Fog, Banishing the Bogwitch, and Space Pickle) are also in paperback editions. I hope more of my back catalogue will also appear in print in due course.
As this year finally draws to a close and a new one looms on the horizon, what’s in store from my prolific mind?
There’s a fourth adventure for Hector Mortlake in the works, and a tenth case for Brough & Miller is taking form in the back of my mind. There might be a second Space Pickle, depending on how well the first one is received… and I’ve an idea for a dark fairy tale I’ve been kicking around for a while.,,
You’ll just have to watch this space!
If you’ve bought, read and enjoyed any of my books this year, THANK YOU! If you’ve posted a review DOUBLE THANK YOU! Any and all feedback is welcome.
Meanwhile, I’m off for a celebratory drink of something restorative. Cheers and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
When Little Fladgett’s annual Banish the Bogwitch ceremony is disrupted, a child goes missing. Locals believe an old evil has come back to terrorise the town. With the local police woefully under-resourced and clueless, teenager Jenna, her grandmother, a would-be psychic, and a reporter off the telly join forces to investigate. Horror and humour combine in this fast-moving contemporary fantasy from prolific author William Stafford.
People are always asking where writers get their ideas. All I can say to that is, “It depends!”.
In the case of this book, I saw a meme on Facebook or somewhere (see below) that really made me laugh. I liked the idea of a bog witch and felt there was fertile ground there for a story. Research told me that bog witches do exist, although they prefer to call themselves ‘new age practitioners’ or something like that. As my story took shape, I moved further from the meme, but that’s not important. The meme provided the impetus I needed. My imagination and research did the rest.
The town of Little Fladgett is entirely fictitious. It’s ‘somewhere’ in England — wherever there’s a large expanse of bog. The occult practices mentioned in the book are riddled with dramatic licence. This book is not a manual on How To Conduct A Séance, or even How To Search For A Missing Child.
I’ve tried to blend mystery, thrills, horror and, of course, humour in this story. I hope you’ll find something in it to enjoy.
It’s not every day you achieve a life goal. Today I achieved two of mine at one fell swoop with the publication of my 26th novel, YOUNG GIFTED AND DEADLY.
I decided about 22 books ago that I would set myself the challenge of writing a book for each letter of the alphabet and, by Jingo, I’ve done it! There’s a list below this if you don’t believe me, the A to Z of my fiction. I’m pretty pleased about it, I can tell you, and rather proud of myself. The awkward letters, like Q, X and Z, ended up sparking some of my most inventive work. See below for further details.
And the second life goal?
It’s been a lifelong dream to get a book in print, an actual book you can hold in your hands and turn the pages in the old-fashioned way. From today, you can order a paperback version of YOUNG GIFTED AND DEADLY, and I hope you do, all those people who’ve been resisting my work because you’re holding out for hard copy. Well, here it is! Get reading and let me know what you think!
I’m already working on Book 27, which will complete the Hector Mortlake trilogy (see K and X on the list) and then I’m going to focus on scripts and screenplays for a bit.
But first, I’m going to raise a glass to myself. I think I’ve earned it. Yay, me!
The Assassin and his Sister
A Comedy of Murders – inspired by minor characters in Verdi’s Rigoletto
Blood & Breakfast
West Midlands Noir – The first case for Dedley detectives Brough and Miller. In the first draft, the police hardly appeared at all but I found I enjoyed writing them and so reimagined the whole story. My intended Nordic Noir spoof became the springboard for a series of comic crime novels, of which there are currently eight.
Brough and Miller’s 5th investigation
A Tale of Highwaymen – historical fantasy, a love triangle and some folk ballads.
Escape from Vultures’ Moon
The third ride with Jed and Horse
The Footprints of the Fiend
Brough and Miller’s 3rd investigation
Brough and Miller’s 2nd investigation
Brough and Miller’s 6th investigation
I Am The Cat
Dick Whittington’s companion tells his side of the story
Jungle Out There
A suburban adventure in which a Tarzan-like figure and his family move to Dedley. A nod to the master, Edgar Rice Burroughs, but my Vultures’ Moon books owe a lot to his Barsoom chronicles.
Kiss of the Water Nymph
The first Hector Mortlake adventure – If Oscar Wilde did Hammer Horror, it might turn out like this.
Leporello on the Lam
My debut novel! The further Adventures of Don Giovanni’s Man. Inspiration struck when I was watching a live broadcast of Mozart’s opera from The Met. A month later, I’d finished the first draft.
Murder on the Knees
Brough and Miller’s 4th investigation
Navarin, Thunder and Shade
A Fantasy – swords, sorcery and broth. Not so much a Game ofThrones as a round of musical chairs, my go at an epic fantasy and also my longest book to date.
Octavius Mint and the Indigo Dragon
The Adventures of an Action Hero who is all mouth and no trousers – sci-fi and smut!
The Ghost of Dedley Hall – My attempt at a Stephen King, I suppose, mixed with some historical melodrama. Dedley Hall is based on Himley Hall, so you could go there, if you dare.
Quoits & Quotability
A Regency romp – Jane Austen with a gay protagonist. I went all out with Q words and found it a liberating rather than a constricting factor in my storytelling.
The Rough Rude Sea
A Pirate Adventure – This fantasy gets its title from Shakespeare’s Richard II – but you knew that, didn’t you?
Someday My Prince
A Fairy Tale – my most Disneyesque novel and definitely the most kid-friendly!
A Slice of Steampunk – Jack the Ripper gets a supernatural twist
Under the Vultures’ Moon
Jed and Horse ride again in this sequel to Vulture’s Moon
A Space Western – I wanted to write a traditional Western but from the off, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. As soon as Horse hovered into the valley on the first page, I knew this was going to be a sci-fi story but one which follows the conventions of the Western.
Where The Bee Sucks
A Tale of Magic and Shakespeare – A satire of Dan Brown’s books about Catholic art, using the cult of Shakespeare authorship instead and set in Stratford upon Avon rather than Venice or Rome. The title comes from The Tempest.
The 2nd Hector Mortlake adventure. Letter X gave me one of my best books – a little bit of research into Aztec deities and I was off.
Young, Gifted and Deadly
Brough & Miller’s 8th investigation. My 26th book and the 1st to appear in a paperback edition.
Zorilla at Large!
Brough & Miller’s 7th investigation. Letter Z inspired a lot of this whodunit as it turns out. This is my favourite of the Brough & Miller series – so far!
Over on my Facebook page (please Like me!) I’ve been hinting at a “secret project” that I began in November. It’s all very exciting so I hope you’ll forgive me if I keep it on the downlow for a while longer. Watch this space!
Also, last week I recorded an interview for the wireless. I’ll let you know when that’s going out and how you can listen.
Meanwhile, I am currently working on my 20th book, the seventh case for Dedley detectives, Brough and Miller. I’m not going to say much about that either – So why am I bothering to post this update? – but I will say it involves lots of murders and an escaped animal from Dedley Zoo.
Here’s a pictorial clue, which gives nothing away.
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.
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.