Friday 30 May 2014

The Frome Writers Collective

Thanks to David Lassman for this guest post



Frome basks in collective success


If you happen to have been in Frome or the surrounding areas lately it is more than likely you crossed paths with rumblings about a new initiative that has already received several column inches worth of positive media coverage and has the local creative writing scene buzzing with anticipation.
The Frome Writers Collective is a recently formed, not-for-profit organisation which has as its remit the sharing of information and resources in order to help and support the local community of aspiring and established writers and associated professionals; the latter comprising of such groups as illustrators, editors, proof-readers and publishers.
And, as if to offer proof the wider creative communities there have instantly given their stamp of approval to the enterprise and taken it to their hearts, one of the most celebrated names in publishing has agreed to speak at the FWC’s official launch next month.
Perhaps best known locally as the man behind Chicken House, the Frome-based publisher of children’s books that has more best-sellers to its name than most publishing houses in the south-west put together, Barry Cunningham is also, to anyone with more than a passing interest in the publishing world, the man who discovered J.K. Rowling.
It is hardly surprising then, as I write this blog, the event at Frome Library where Barry will be appearing as one of a quartet of speakers is rapidly selling-out and becoming one of the ‘must attend’ soirees of the town’s summer creative diary.
Add to this a rapidly expanding FWC membership base that already includes the town’s mayor, a self-published author himself, long-listed novelists, short-listed poets, award-winning writers and even an internationally-acclaimed steampunk aficionado, and it becomes very hard to predicate a limit to the group’s ascendancy.
But just in case you want to witness this phenomenon for yourself, with the proviso there are still tickets left to be had of course, details of the launch are: Publishing in the 21st Century / Frome Writers’Collective Official launch Frome Library, June 8, 2-4pm. Tickets cost £7.50 and are available from the Cheese and Grain box office, tel: 01373 455420 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 01373 455420 FREE end_of_the_skype_highlighting. For more information on the Frome Writers Collective in general, see

Zero Alternative by Luca Pesaro - Review

Zero Alternative by Luca Pesaro
Zero Alternative by Luca Pesaro


Scott Walker is a city trader nicknamed “Yours” (which to be honest is a bit confusing in the first half of the book) who is working with a friendly mathematician and programmer to create a set of algorithms called Deepshare. Deepshare is an Oracle of formidable power and is coveted by a rival bank for the fact it can unerringly read the market. Walker is thrust into a world of espionage, conspiracy and betrayal with a cast of billionaires, hitmen and hackers.


This is a punchy thriller that just fizzes with energy and bowls you along. It’s an interesting premise and one that should now be familiar to all of us, The murky world of international trading, secret cabals of billionaires etc & pondering the question - when are banks too big to fail?. But in Pesaro’s hands this feels fresh and exciting and very relevant. Some of the trading went over my head (or I wasn’t paying enough information perhaps) and when Pesaro takes his foot off the accelerator and we pause from breakneck action and go to character development it is hard to feel any sympathy with the main character, who is pretty superficial, or in fact most of the characters if truth be known. Although the characters were mostly well drawn there’s not exactly a lot of women characters (and they may all be beautiful and attracted to our MC too). There’s some really nice set pieces and I really liked the part set in a crumbling mansion which felt very “Uncharted.”


Overall – Enjoyable thriller

NYC Midnight short story challenge 2014

So it's all over - and how did I do? I got an honourable mention. I'm happy with that, maybe next year I can make my way onto the Top Ten?

I'll present my musings on the experience and then post my three stories below warts and all, as they were sent to the competition - typos, missing punctuation and all....

Friday 23 May 2014

Take it cool review

Take it cool by Jonathan Pinnock


Jonathan Pinnock goes through that “where did I come from?” moment that many of us get. Wondering about the family history, the origin of his last name etc. At the same time he is intrigued as to why there is a black reggae singer with the same surname and the fact that there are a lot of Pinnocks from Jamaica. Being a fan, and becoming slightly obsessed with Dennis Pinnock, the reggae singer, Jonathan goes off in search of the history behind the name and attempts to meet  with Dennis and interview him about his career. However how do you go about tracking down an obscure reggae singer anyway? Obviously Facebook will come into it, and email, but how do you get people you don’t know to speak to you about this sort of stuff?


Pinnock writes with verve and humour and gently leads you through his somewhat odd quest, blending information about the records themselves (all singles), the musicians, the producers, the reggae scene and the history of the Pinnocks in Jamaica. The format of the book will be familiar to fans of Dave Gorman or Tony Hawkes perhaps but still feels fresh in Pinnock’s hands. There are plenty of footnotes, a discography and the descriptions of the singles were great. If anything, and this is a only very minor niggle, there was a bit too much information about the records in the main text which maybe could just have been put in the discography. For some people this may break the narrative perhaps. This is recommended for fans of UK reggae, music lovers, record collectors, family history aficionados and people interested in Jamaican history and the history of slavery.


Overall – Entertaining and informative, well worth checking out.

Book giveaway - Open Waters by David Gullen

Open Waters

Open Waters…
At once beautiful and dangerous, a sun-dappled ever-shifting landscape, restless, emotionless , impenetrable, capricious and heartless.
Open Waters…Across which the voyager will sail to wars without end and to the hiding places of the desperate survivors of alien invasion, will follow in the footsteps of lonely, far-from-home explorers and colonists, journey back to Creation itself then burrow into the darker recesses of the human psyche.
Open Waters…
Sixteen tales of terrible beauty from the imagination of David Gullen

We are incredibly lucky here at Bristol Book Blog to have two signed copies of the book to giveaway to two lucky readers.

All you need to do is tell us the name of David Gullen's SF Novel by mailing all correct replies will be entered into a hi-tech randomiser (scraps of paper in a hat probably) and two lucky winners will walk away with a cool collection of stories signed by the author.

All entries to be in by June 19th & winners announced June 20th

The Bristol Book Blog review of the book will come soon.....

Tuesday 20 May 2014

The rule of three - guest post by Tom Pollock

 The Rule of Three. Today's guest post by Tom Pollock

Tom Pollock is the author of the Skyscraper Throne trilogy which coolly reimagines London as a city of monsters and miracles.

You can find him on the web here: & on Twitter here: @tomhpollock

From a Killer's Mind Review

From a killer’s mind by Jason Helford


FROM A KILLER'S MIND by Jason Helford

John is a serial killer. We follow him pursuing his ‘work’ as he meticulously plans another kill, using a map he has painstakingly noted all of the places he’s visited, the routes he’s taken etc. We see that he practices meditation to keep from going mad. When he brings his ‘epiphany’ home and chains her to a chair in his bomb shelter basement he sits down to meditate to obtain the calm frame of mind needed. When he wakes things are different. He has manifested, something (Tulpa – although never stated as such in the book). Things then get pretty complicated for John.


Helford takes his premise and runs about as far as he can with it. John’s current complicated life is interspersed with his pretty horrendous childhood, told in flashback. His monster of a father, aided and abetted by his mother torture him. His school life is pretty much as you’d expect, loner abused by peers. It’s a mainly psychological piece but does have a fair bit of torture and other “nasty bits.” It’s a pretty neat idea and there are some genuinely creepy moments. Readers with a strong stomach will enjoy this, not for those who can’t handle body shock. It’s a self-pub and there are a couple of minor things that could have done with a bit of tighter editing but only really nitpicky stuff, a couple of typos, no more than I’ve seen in some more trad published works.


Overall - A quick and entertaining read

Monday 19 May 2014

David Tallerman interview

Today we're excited to have an interview with the fantastic David Tallerman:

The author of the novel Giant Thief - described by Fantasy Faction as "one of the finest débuts of 2012" - and its sequels Crown Thief and Prince Thief, all published through Angry Robot.  He's also written the Markosia graphic novel Endangered Weapon B: Mechanimal Science and around a hundred short stories, comic and film scripts, poems, and countless reviews and articles.

You can find him on his website here:!page2/cjg9 & on Twitter @davidtallerman

Thursday 15 May 2014

Far Horizons e-mag

I have been helping out at Far Horizons - a new, free e-mag dedicated to genre (SF&F and Horror) that can be found here:!/farhorizonsemag & here: & here:

you can also find it on Twitter - @FarHorizonseMag

Got a Story or Artwork you’d like to submit? Email us:

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Fringe in a Flash

Cheryl Morgan has posted the Podcast of the BristolCon fringe readings in which I did a reading:

I'm on in the second half at abou 25 minutes - but I'd recommend you listen to both halves as there's lots of good stuff there before I came on last...

Monday 12 May 2014

Artifice Perdu - Dramatised

Southern Reach volume 2: Review

Below the review of the first is a review for the second in the series. If you've not yet read the first book go do so now. This post will wait for you. If you have read the first and don't want to know anything about the second (and I understand that urge) then again, this post will wait for you.

Thursday 8 May 2014

Review of the brilliant essay anthology - Invisible

Invisible: Personal essays on representation in SF/F edited by Jim C Hines

People who read a lot of fiction form judgements based upon their reading about how the world works and should work. Books can give us dreams and ideals and goals. Saying to any group, "these dreams, these goals, are not for you" harms not just individuals, but our culture.


This slim, but important and packed volume, is a must read. As the editor explains: This project began as a call for a handful of guest bloggers to talk about representation in fiction, inspired by Alex Dally MacFarlane’s article about ending the default of binary gender in SF/F and the backlash that article received.
Giving voice to thoughts on representation are; writers of colour, women, Trans, non-traditional gender, disabled, a writer with Asperger’s and an impassioned appeal to stop making albinos evil, by an albino. Every single one of these voices underline why representation is important. More importantly, and highlighted in Derek Handley’s brilliant essay, why representation without understanding can hurt as much as, if not more, than no representation at all. This is a book I’d love to put into the hands of many authors, one I’d love to see taught in creative writing classes and one I will be referring to often when discussing why representation matters, with the numerous folk who don’t understand that concept. Stories make the world.


I’ll leave you with Derek’s words on representation:


Representation is important. When you’re a kid, it’s about having a positive role model with your defining characteristics. When you’re an adult, it’s about being reminded that you fit in somewhere and escaping into that character. And when you’re going through a major life change, it’s about finding solace in stories that show you that someone understands and that maybe you can overcome the challenges you face.


Overall – Slim but packs a mighty wallop. Highly recommended.

Check out Jim's website here:

Laura K Cowan Guest post

Today's guest on the blog is Laura K Cowan

Laura's new book - Music of the Sacred Lakes is a new arrival on my e-shelf. I am very much looking forward to reading more of Laura's work and recommend that you check this book out. I'll be posting a review of it in the next couple of weeks.

Over to Laura -

Tuesday 6 May 2014

The Immortalists

The immortalists by Andrew Hook

 The Immortalists: 1 (A Mordent Novel) by…

Two days before Christmas, but it wasn’t like I had anyone to feed or any presents to buy. The only person I had in the world to care about was me. And I wasn’t the caring kind


Mordent is an ex-cop turned PI with a tarnished past and a bubblewrap fetish. He is hired to look for a missing kid, disappeared off a ferry three years past, so the police suspect a suicide. Mordent though asks all the questions the police can’t be bothered to, and is tenacious in pursuit of the truth. Hook has got the wisecracking dialogue spot on, with plenty of nods to the 50’s pulp that Mordent is such a fan of, and his police contacts and crime lords really have no time for. Needless to say not everything is as it seems and when the other case he’s working seems to overlap we are headed for an interesting showdown. For it seems that the kid’s body, when found, has aged after death and when a second aged body turns up it appears that rival gang lords are competing in a quest for immortality. When Mordent’s girlfriend goes missing the case turns personal. The book is inter-cut with flashback chapters from his life as a cop, which becomes relevant to the case of course.


The characters are well drawn, if a bit too much from a male perspective (women don’t come out well here) and there are definitely mean streets and wise language. However the denouement doesn’t quite give the payoff I wanted from the story, doesn’t mean it was bad, just that it disappointed me personally. I also didn’t like the main character, which doesn’t necessarily need to be a barrier to enjoying a book (but it helps) but in this case I wasn’t quite sure where his tenacity (before the girlfriend going missing) came from. OK he’s a flawed man trying to do some good, but he’s too flawed.


Overall – Interesting modern noir, doesn’t quite deliver on the premise

Bookish events

Last week, I was at the Spindrift launch. Peter Reason read several extracts from the book and there was plenty of lovely food and drink. It was a really good launch.

Straight after the Spindrift launch I did a reading at the wonderful Novel Nights which went really well. First ever outing for an extract from the novel in progress.

On the Friday night I went to see Andy J Williams doing a gig at the Louisiana which was very good. Recommended.

Yesterday, after a very disappointing visit to the food fair (it just wasn't very good) I was at The Birdcage for Small Stories. Which is a hugely enjoyable evening of story. Last night there were ten writers and they tell me that they are inundated with requests. So I'm very happy they gave me the chance to read. I read my short story "Le Sacre du Printemps".

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