Tuesday 29 December 2015

Bristol Book Blog Book Wrap Up

2015 book totals:

125 books read of which 14 were unfinished (up on the 94 read in 2014, evidence also of the fact that novel number two has not finished being written in 2015, whereas novel number one was written in 2014) - I generally know within 50 pages (sometimes less) if I'm going to finish a book. Sometimes they are unfinished because they are bad, but most often it's because it's just not the right book at that time and a few will be added back to the TBR pile to come back round in a year or two.

There were 27 Brilliant rated books (11 of which was the Unwritten series by Mike Carey) these are:

Unwritten Vol. 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus…

The Unwritten Series (volume 1-11) - individually perhaps one or two of them wouldn't have made it to the Brilliant list but most are superlative storytelling and overall this is a very satisfying series and one I'd highly recommend to book lovers.

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by…

This is a classic, and rightly so. If you are at all interested in comics you should read this.

Discovering Scarfolk

If you'd like to know what the UK would be like eternally stuck in the 1970' then this is for you. Check out the website here

Screenwriting 101 by Film Crit Hulk! by FILM…

In HULK CAPITALS or wimpy Bruce Banner lowercase this is well worth reading if you are at all interested in films and how they should be written. You can check out Hulk's website here & he writes reviews here

The Enchanted: A Novel by Rene Denfeld

Powerful and beautiful writing Highly recommended

Dark Star by Oliver Langmead

This was a review copy and is an epic noir poem riffing off Dante - it didn't sound like it would work. It was brilliant. Unsung Stories are also a very nice little publisher.

The Skeleton Cupboard: Stories of Crisis,…

This was a raw experience and a very interesting reading journey into mental health issues.

American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett

Boy Robert Jackson Bennett can write, that makes me green with envy...

The Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a…

Another beautifully written poetic prose book

Trout Fishing in America by Richard…

I think you have to be in the right mood for this book, luckily I was

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
I did say he could write. Check him out.

Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City…

Could possibly be a little too pretentious on the philosophy but fascinating nonetheless, and with great photographs

Bete by Adam Roberts

Really interesting examination of what it would be like if animals could not only think, but communicate too

The Toaster Project: Or a Heroic Attempt to…

What is the true cost of building a dirt cheap toaster?

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and…

This is just brilliant. Read it. That is all.

Imaginary Cities by Darran Anderson

This is a monster of a book. Every page crammed with interesting facts and insights. If you are at all interested in the built environment then you should check this out.

The Devil in Silver: A Novel by Victor…

A man is arrested and consigned to a mental institute as a method for the police to avoid their paperwork. His institutionalisation is the subject of this amazing book.

I read 16 books by women. That's still shockingly low! Must do better than 12% next year - I hope to double that and read 25%

72 paperback
2 hardback
27 Graphic Novels
22 e-books
2 audio books

That's it from Bristol Book Blog for 2015....

Friday 11 December 2015

That was 2015 - what to expect in 2016

Today I wished a friend goodbye for the final time. David J Rodger was cremated today. It just doesn't seem real.

Usually my end of year wrap up is celebratory and optimistic but today's mood isn't suitable.

But I need to wrap up, and I do find that there are lots of things to be grateful for. There will be a separate "books from 2015" post next week...

I published two books:

North by Southwest: An Anthology by North…

North by Southwest  - the first anthology by North Bristol Writers


Product Details

Former Heroes - the second anthology from Far Horizons Magazine.

Far Horizons is still going strong - and approaching a second birthday & I've been writing a serial for it, which has had some nice feedback - Tales for the Ferryman

I had a story in Fossil Lake 2

Fossil Lake II: The Refossiling by Christine…

I've been reviewing books and interviewing folk for Urban Fantasy Magazine

I performed at the last ever Small Stories (David was on the same bill)

Final chapter of Small Stories Bristol story-telling event featuring incredible talent of Nathan Williams, Pete Sutton and David J Rodger

And performed at Let me tell you a story Jack

I went to the Kitschies awards and Nick Harkaway asked me to introduce him to SFX Dave!

I ran a Horror Wrioting competition and three submissions - Far Horizons Forever Hungry & Fantastically Horny anthologies and Sick City Syndrome - having been busy with reading for them, my reviews kind of tailed off...

I went to Archipelacon and moderated a panel on comics as well as did a talk on "Dark Fiction" - scary and fun!

I got to interview Karin Tidbeck - always nice to meet your literary heroines! (Jagannath is amazing)

I was at Nine Worlds, as a punter for the first time, no panels, no readings, just relaxation (no such thing at a Con) - they need to fix their attendance for next year so it's not so packed!

I was at BristolCon again, which was awesome again - so nice that one of the friendliest, best run Cons is right on my doorstep.

Got a story accepted for Sproutlings

 Which has led to more Australian opportunities (news to share next year!)

Bristol Festival of Literature was back - with a great program which included me adapting a Jonathan L Howard story for radio.I also performed one of my published stories in an artist's studio which was a great experience. The North Bristol Writers came second in the inaugral Flash Slam too.

I appeared on Ujima radio

I read a story at BristolCon Fringe (and will be performing again in March next year with Myfanwy Rodman)

I hosted a panel at HorrorCon

I was a guest of Bristol Women's Writers at their Halloween Spinetinglers event.

I performed at Talking Tales (and will do so again this coming Monday)

I performed at Page and Performance, a poetry evening at my local pub - I performed one of the very few poems I've ever written, It got its first outing at Sanctum which was an amazing 24 days, 24 hours a day performance by American artist Theaster Gates that North Bristol Writers were honoured to be part of.

I had some more stories accepted - including one for Speculative Bookshop Anthology & others that news will no doubt be released early next year.

I finished (well until an editor gets their hands on it) my novel Seven Deadly Swords - which is doing the rounds looking for a publisher at the moment.

So - all in all a busy writing/bookish year (I have read 122 books this year so far - possibly will make it a couple more by year's end but my reading wrap up will come before Christmas as usual)

Looking forward? I aim to publish (or at least start the process to crowdfund & self-publish) my short story collection which I have been calling Thunder & Magpies - but which may have a name change to A Tiding of Magpies (vote in the comments as to which you like the best)

And, of course, I'd love for Seven Deadly Swords to be published! I will finish Sick City Syndrome. Forever Hungry & Fantastically Horny will also publish and I wil start to submit my stories (I've been remiss a bit this year)

I'm sure next year will be as busy, if not busier, than this!

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Guest post from Dan Buri

Dan Buri's first collection of short fiction, Pieces Like Pottery, is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. His writing is uniquely heartfelt and explores the depths of the human struggle and the human search for meaning in life. 
Mr. Buri's non-fiction works have been distributed online and in print, including publications in Pundit Press, Tree, Summit Avenue Review, American Discovery, and TC Huddle. The defunct and very well regarded Buris On The Couch, was a He-Says/She-Says blog musing on the ups and downs of marriage with his wife.
Mr. Buri is an active attorney in the Pacific Northwest and has been recognized by Intellectual Asset Magazine as one of the World's Top 300 Intellectual Property Strategists every year since 2010. He lives in Oregon with his wife and two-year-old daughter.
Pieces Like Pottery Links
Currently at promotional pricing!

BRSBKBLOG asked Dan for "Ten things he learned by writing his book"

Monday 7 December 2015

Imaginary Cities


And I finished Imaginary cities - wow, what can I say - this is one of the richest books I've read in a long time - it's so incredibly chewy though because every page you think - I don't know about that person, or that building, or that book, film, play, thing and spend half the time when you should be reading getting lost down a rabbithole of references. It took the author 15 years to write the book and I was lucky enough to meet him at the Future Cities festival in Bristol where I got to have a bit of a chat with him. Although I was only about a third of the way through at that point...

Taking Virilio's point - "The invention of the ship, was the invention of the shipwreck." The author posits that every dystopia is someone else's utopia and proceeds through almost 600 pages to explore this fascinating theme through history, architecture and story.

Reading this is a very rich experience and I have no hesitation in giving it 5 stars, even if it did take me about a month to read! (only because you can only read it in little gulps and take time to digest each magnificent morsel)

Guest post - James Roberts - To PC or not to PC that is the question?

James Roberts is a forty-something writer and self-proclaimed fool who currently resides in the remoter outreaches of the Highlands of Scotland. His debut novel, Pardon Me: A Victorian Farce, has been described (by himself) as one of the funniest books ever written in the English language. To see just how wrong he is please visit http://www.jamesroberts.scot

Thursday 3 December 2015

Neglecting the blog

I should be posting a review of my time at Sanctum - https://vimeo.com/133755713

and the Future Cities festival

and my forthcoming appearance at Talking Tales  - https://www.facebook.com/events/1687673228122347/

and perhaps the reason I'm not would best be because of being "busy"

But truth be told I am lacking motivation at the moment. I feel like hibernating. I have Forever Hungry to edit, a story to write for Refuge (An Australian horror anthology for charity) and my monthly "Tales for the Ferryman" for Far Horizons. As well as a story for the aforementioned Talking Tales.

But I am not.

I am suffering a massive attack of sloth.

Hope to back, fighting fit, soon - I have too much to do to give in to this ennui!

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Sad News David J Rodger 1970-2015

It is with a heavy heart that I report that David J Rodger took his own life at the weekend.

Image result for david j rodger

I have been stunned and, of course, terribly saddened by this news.

His guest post on this blog is here: http://brsbkblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/todays-guest-post-is-by-david-rodger.html

Tom has some very nice words on his website - http://www.thomasdavidparker.com/for-david/

Jo Hall has also some nice words here: https://hierath.wordpress.com/2015/11/24/david-j-rodger-1970-2015/

David was in deep pain with anxiety and depression yet he hid it so well. Only on our last meeting did I feel like something was wrong. Yet even then he was full of plans, his last mail to me looking towards the future. David and I (with Tom Parker) were planning on working on a project together next year.

He will be sorely missed by the Bristol writing community, and of course his friends and family.

Rest in Peace!

Thursday 12 November 2015

Guest Post - Narek Vardanyan - Best Crowdfunding Videos: The Formula for Success


Narek is an author and consultant and blogs about Crowdfunding at http://thecrowdfundingformula.com/index.php/about/

Today he has dropped by to talk about Crowdfunding videos.

Monday 2 November 2015


Last night, braving the fog, I went along to an event organised by the Bristol Women Writers

Spine-Tinglers billed as "members and guests make you shiver or smile with their spine-tingling stories."
We had decapitations, carnivorous slugs, dancing nuns, rats, ghostly goings on, icy wastes, death row and much much more. It was a great evening of tales and I had a great time.

It was really atmospheric walking home in the fog afterwards too!

Spine-Tinglers Flyer

Belated literature shenanigans

Bristol Festival of Literature came to an end on October 24th and I've been remiss in blogging.

On Tuesday it was "Unreliable Histories" in Redcliffe caves - the caves are a special venue and always packed out and this year was no exception. The Bristol Writers filled the caves with some wonderful tales

On Wednesday I was reading at "Written from Art" and it was also Word of Mouth at the Thunderbolt.

The Written from art event went really well and Carol Peace's studio is well worth a visit. The poetry after in the Thunderbolt was also really good.

 (One of Carol's sculptures)

On Thursday I took a break from the festival, but still did some book related stuff by dropping in to see Jonathan L Howard signing books at Forbidden Planet.

Friday was the Flash Slam, compered by Nikesh Shukla. The North Bristol Writers came second. Mel Ciavucco of the Stokes Croft Writers has a fantastic blog about it here & yes we were taken aback by having to write a story in 20 minutes. Congratulations to the Bristol Novelists for winning!

Saturday was the wrap up - the Speakeasy - with music, Talking Tales and an interview with Tracey Alexander. Time to let our hair down and unwind from another fabulous festival. 

The festival was a great success and people are already talking about next year - which is great!

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Interview with David Thomas Moore

David Thomas Moore is the commissioning editor over at Abaddon. We tracked him down to talk to him about the open subs process. Many thanks to him for the great answers!

At the beginning of the year Abaddon ran an Open Submissions Month, and they’re about to release three novellas by writers plucked from the (hundreds) of submissions they received.
The three novellas are Gods & Monsters: Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef by Cassandra KhawInvaders From Beyond: Midnight In The Garden Centre Of Good And Evil by Colin Sinclair; and Tomes Of The Dead: The Lazarus Conundrum by Paul Starkey.

BristolCon Fringe

Last night was the monthly Fringe event from the guys who bring you BristolCon

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It was a packed house - at the Shakespeare Tavern and it was pretty difficult to hear Jo hall reading from her new book Spark & Carousel as I arrived late & was waaaay at the back.

However for the second half I shuffled closer to listen to Jonathan L Howard read from his new book Carter & Lovecraft.

As ever the event was ably compered by Cheryl Morgan and the traditional Q&A was kicked off by Justin Newland.

It was great to see a few new faces in the crowd & catch up with friends old & new.

Monday 19 October 2015

Bristol Festival of Literature - the story so far


What a manic few days. The festival is in full swing and there are still 7 events to go over the next 6 days.

Last Wednesday I was interviewed by Cheryl Morgan  for Ujima radio which is probably still on the listen again function - it's the Women's Outlook hour & I'm on towards the end of the show.

Then on Thursday it was an Evening at the Fear Institute (of which I've blogged)

Friday there were three events - a workshop hosted by Moniack Mhor which I was unable to attend as it was in work hours.

The Creating Comics panel event at Waterstones hosted by Cheryl Morgan and featuring Mike Carey, Paul Cornell, Cavan Scott & Jess Bradley. I was especially excited to meet Jess  as my favourite squid t-shirt was designed by her. It was a very interesting chat and the differences between the panelists versus the similarities (big publishing houses versus small, kids versus adults etc) sparked lots of discussion.

Cheryl has a write up here:

The final event of the evening was Word Karaoke - sadly couldn't make it as was at the Creating Comics event but by all accounts it was great fun. Nick Rawlinson's Performance Masterclass, the traditional warm up for the Word Karaoke, shouldn't be missed!

Then after too little sleep Saturday was upon us and again we had three events (more if you count the many talks during the Book Bazaar)

I was at the inaugural Bristol HorrorCon which had a fantastic turnout (in the hundreds) ably organised by Tommy

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(Thanks to Tommy for the photo)

I was running the first panel of the day with guests - Mike Carey, Jonathan L Howard, Sara Jayne Townsend and Rosie Sharrat - we talked about monstrous fiction, zombies, scary stories, psychological and cosmic horror and zombies.

At the end of the panel we got to announce the winners of our horror writing competition:

Ro McNulty in 3rd place with Dead Angel
April Jane Rowan in 2nd place with Gardener's Delight
Baylea Hart won the competition with her incredibly creepy Jack-in-the-box

The winners will all be published in the November issue of Far Horizons Magazine

Also during Saturday was the Book Bazaar, but I didn't attend - the festival had a load of local writers and publishers together in the Lab Space on Bristol Harbourside. I was at the same event on the Sunday & the mix of talks and book buying opportunities was very nice.

Saturday night was the Festival Launch party (yes I thought it was odd that the launch came after several events too) with Natalie Burns hosting

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(Thanks to Tom Parker for the pic  - this is Ellen Waddell reading a hilarious "the truth of interviews" mono-dialogue)

Sunday may have been a day of rest but I was up early again and down to the Harbourside to man a table for the Book Bazaar. It was a pretty quiet day but the talks, about the business of selling books, were all very interesting. I thought Ken Elkes's talk on book publicity especially interesting.

There was a Haiku expert on hand to teach you all about Haiku's and it was a nice space with a constant trickle of members of the public come to browse books.

Also on Sunday, which I had to sadly miss as was manning the book stall, was Tom Parker's Scroll & Stroll and the Stokes Croft Writers "For the Love of Reading" - if I come across any blogs about any of the events I've missed I'll link them here...

Tonight I'll be at the BristolCon Fringe where Jonathan L Howard & Jo Hall are reading from their new books.

Mor bloggage as the week progresses...

Friday 16 October 2015

An Evening at the Fear Institute

Last night was my first acting experience in, oh so long, so long in fact that I can barely remember my last one - iirc it was as "War General Death Chicken" at Lepracon in the early 2000's and that was just to run on stage, cluck a bit and run off (ah acting, it builds character you know) and before that it was probably in school.

Talking of school that was the last time I attempted to write a play, at age 12. I wrote a play (at a catholic school) where the main character was a chain-smoking kleptomaniac priest and the cast were stuck on board a ski lift gondola. Bless my teacher at the time, Miss Dempsey, the only one of my English teachers to encourage me to write. She put it on in front of the whole school during a performance week (other classes put on Shakespeare & other 'proper' playwright's plays). I don't remember my play going down very well...

(The Erishkagel Working)

(A Long Spoon)

Last night's performance was very different. We performed four plays adapted from Jonathan L Howard's Johannes Cabal stories. And it seemed to go very well.

Many thanks to Chris Cutting for directing us

 (Chris Cutting -  iPhone struggling with low light there)

Paul Donovan for doing the fantastic sound effects and for sitting in a cupboard throughout the performance

And my fellow writers and actors:

Death of Me - adapted for radio by AA Abbott & LE Turner
Exeunt Demon King - adapted for radio by Rosie SharrattThomas David Parker Pete Sutton
The Erishkagel Working - adapted for radio by Pete Sutton & Thomas David Parker
A Long Spoon - adapted for radio by Chris Cutting

Johannes Cabal - Ken Shinn
Jones the Hatter, Mr Curry, Pensey - Thomas David Parker
Myghin - AA Abbott
Parkin, Luan Da - Pete Sutton
Constable Copeland, Zarenyia - Ellen Waddell
Assorted Sprites, Zombies & Others - LE Turner
Maleficarus, Rufus Maleficarus - Chris Cutting

(Where's the audience?)

 (Death of Me in full flow)

Johannes Cabal is a great character and the stories are very funny. You should go check out Jonathan's books!

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Bristol Festival of Literature - where you can find me

The festival starts tomorrow and I'm going to be run off my feet

First up I'll be acting in "An Evening at the Fear Institute" four adaptations of Jonathan L Howard's Johannes Cabal stories. I adapted one of the stories and will be acting in two of them.

Then on Friday I'll be at Creating Comics with Mike Carey, Paul Cornell, Cavan Scott, Jessica Bradley and Cheryl Morgan

Saturday I'll be at Bristol HorrorCon where I'm hosting a panel with Mike Carey, Jonathan L Howard, Sara Jayne Townsend and Rosie Sharratt.

Following that I'll be at the BFL Launch party at the Watershed.

Sunday I'll be selling books at the Book Bazaar all day.

Monday I'll be at the Shakespeare Tavern for more Jonathan L Howard, and Jo Hall

Tuesday it's the Bristol Writers in the caves

Wednesday I'll be reading at Written from Art and then going to Word of Mouth

Thursday the North Bristol Writers will be turning up mob handed to Novel Nights (after stalking Jonathan L Howard once again as he does his signing in Forbidden Planet)

Friday is the Flash Slam where the North Bristol Writers will be competing

And it all comes to a resounding finish at the Speakeasy on Saturday

Phew - a whirlwind of literary events! I'll need a holiday once it's all over!

Friday 9 October 2015

Interview with Sara B Elfgren

Back in July we interviewed Mats Strandberg, one half of the writing team behind the amazing Engelsfors trilogy. Today we've got Sara B Elfgren the other half of the team giving her side.

Infogad bild 1
Sara B. Elfgren (B is for Bergmark) started her career in the film industry as a screenwriter and script editor. She has a degree in film studies. The Circle was her debut novel. She is currently writing a new fantasy book series and, together with comic book artist Karl Johnsson, the graphic novel Vei. She has cowritten the screenplay to the film adaptation of The Circle together with director Levan Akin.

Sara was born in 1980 in Stockholm, and she still lives there with her husband.

So this is your chance to put your side of the story - how did the collaboration with Mats Strandberg come about?

I don’t really have anything to add! Other than that he is an amazing co-writer and human being. I’m very lucky to have met him, and I look forward to writing with him again.

What's it like to create in collaboration as opposed to solo - what are the ups and downs?

As long as you have the right partner there aren’t any drawbacks to collaboration, except the need for more logistics. I love working on my own and making all the choices, but I couldn’t be without my collaborations. I just published my first children’s book, Just nu har vi varandra (Time for each other), and the illustrator Maria Fröhlich and I are working on a second book with the same characters. I’m writing a fantasy graphic novel with artist Karl Johnsson, and working on scripts with several directors and other writers. I learn so much from these collaborations and they give instant energy that sometimes can be hard to find when you’re writing on your own. With that said, I’m super excited about having started on my first solo novel. If everything goes according to plan it will be out in 2017.

Omslagsbild: Just nu har vi varandra

I was made aware of the trilogy by a Swedish friend but now the trilogy has spread far and wide, I asked Mats about the translations already, so I'll ask you about the covers - what's your favourite foreign edition cover & why?

I’m very pleased that so many foreign publishers chose to use the original covers with illustrations by Kim W. Andersson. His collection of romantic horror short stories – Love Hurts - is being published by Dark Horse in October this year (I actually wrote one of them). It was a fun treat to see the Chosen Ones as manga characters on the cover of the Japanese edition. The character Linnéa, who is a huge Dir En Grey-fan is wearing a Dir En Grey-top. The band gave special permission. She would have loved that.

Which piece of writing are you most proud of?

The Engelsfors trilogy has changed my life, and it has touched other people’s lives as well, sometimes making a profound difference, as we’ve been told by some readers. I’m definitely proud of what I do, but mostly I feel grateful for being able to work full time, and meeting all these amazing people. I love my work.

You've worked as a script editor - how's that helped you in your prose writing?

I’ve had to hone my skills when it comes to analyzing what is amiss in a story and to find concrete solutions. Working as a screenwriter has taught me to listen to and process criticism without getting too hurt in the process. Developing a thick skin is vital if you want to survive in the movie business.

Did you have any input into the film? Is it weird seeing someone else's vision of characters you've lived with inside your head?

Oh yes. I wrote the screenplay together with the director Levan Akin, who is a very close friend. I’ve learned so much from working with him. I was at the rehearsals with the actors and rewrote lines and sometimes whole scenes. I was also in the editing room almost every day during the main part of the editing. It is very rare to get such insight into the film making process as a screenwriter and I’m so grateful for that experience. Since I was so deeply involved, I didn’t get the ”wow!” or ”wtf?” experience that many writers get when they view a film based on their book. It was an organic process. I’ll always have my own interpretations of the characters, but the movie version feels completely natural to me.

If you could be a character from one of your books who would it be and why?

Like Mats said, we put most of them through hell so I wouldn’t want to trade places. But if I had to choose … Probably Vanessa, because she knows how to enjoy life, and she has really cool powers. 

Do you also write short stories? If so where can people find them, if not, why not?

A little more than ten years ago I came pretty close to getting a collection of short stories published. Sadly, Sweden isn’t a very friendly place for short story writers.  There are hardly any magazines that publish short stories, and most publishers’ view is that short story collections don’t sell. With that said I still write them sometimes, and perhaps one day I’ll publish them, who knows?

The Key (Engelsfors Trilogy 3)

What’s the one question you never get asked in interviews that you really want to answer?

What are your favourite black and white horror films? Answer: The Haunting, The Innocents, Night of the Demon, Les yeux sans visage (Eyes Without a Face), Night of the Living Dead, Carnival of Souls, The Night of the Hunter.

In one sentence what's your best piece of advice for new writers

Your writing is going to suck and it doesn’t mean that you suck as a writer. It just means that writing is not all about putting words on a paper, it’s just as much – or sometimes even more – about changing them. It’s the same for every writer. It doesn’t matter if you’ve published 30 novels, you’re always going to suck at some point in the process. The cure is editing.   

 Many thanks for Sara for taking time to answer our questions. You should go check out her novels!

Thursday 1 October 2015

Interview with Christopher Fowler

Today we are excited to bring you an interview with Christopher Fowler whose new book - The Sand Men will be released in the UK on the 8th October.

Christopher Fowler is the five-time British Fantasy Award winning author of over thirty novels and twelve short story collections, including the hugely popular Bryant & May series. His work has appeared in videogames, graphic novels and radio plays, and he has published two critically acclaimed memoirs, Paper Boy and Film Freak. He has a weekly column in The Independent On Sunday, and splits his  time between London and Barcelona.

Can you tell us a little about the book, what's it about?

In Dubai there’s a new world of high-end, high-luxury resorts emerging for the super-rich – but at what price to everyone else? Lea, Roy and their 15 year-old daughter Cara live in a gated community reserved for foreign workers. Roy has been hired to deal with teething problems at Dream World, a futuristic beach complex. In the oppressive heat, the wives follow behind their husbands, cooking and arranging tea parties, but Lea finds herself a prisoner in a land where Western women are regarded with suspicion. Then one night, the most outspoken ex-pat is killed in a suspicious accident. His death is the first in a string of terrible occurrences that divide the foreign workers. Lea’s neighbours start to blame migrants, Arabs and even each other. What happens in a world where only the rich are important?

Dubai is a fascinating place - I was reading a piece about drone technology by Tim Maughan, (a SF writer turned journalist) and he thinks that it is trying to position itself to cope with the end of oil. How much research did you do? Did you visit? Do you agree with Tim?

I stayed there twice, once on the community estate where the book is set, and talked to a great many people. I agree totally with Tim - the oil is going and a new society must replace it, but how will this world work within an orthodox culture? Some of their ideas are good, but perhaps their biggest problem comes from within.

You say that you've broken out of a pigeonhole with this so what did you learn about writing by writing this book?

I’m trying to step back from straightforward thrillers with this book, and make readers ask questions for themselves. For example, how much is the main character Lea responsible for what happens, and is she to blame at least in part for the fracturing of the community?

The cover is quite striking - were you involved in putting it together at all?

We all put in ideas, but this has been the 4th cover in a row from Solaris that has knocked me out - perhaps the best yet.

What are you most proud of in this book?

I think the sense of danger and uncertainty; you can’t simply say ‘well, this happened and that happened’ - I have an opinion about one of the key events which might surprise readers; we’ll see if there’s a discussion when the book comes out. I’d love to do a panel about it. Also, I wanted to catch the tone of JG Ballard in the writing, and I think there are places in the book that do this. 

You've written over thirty novels, do you have a set process? If so can you describe it. 

The thing that changes most is the amount of time I spend - this started life under the title ‘Dream World’ and went through a great many refinements. My Bryant & May books are more straightforward. Also the language in this one had to be absolutely right. I threw away about a third of my finished material to streamline it.

You've been descried as being "an author that would make a good serial killer" (Time Out) are you flattered or disturbed by that? 

That’s going to haunt me forever. It didn’t help that in a review of my memoir ‘Paperboy’ someone said that my Dad was ‘worse than Fred West’ - he wasn’t terribly happy about that.

What's currently on your 'To be Read' pile? 

‘Tigerman’ by Nick Harkaway, the collected stories of Daphne du Maurier, and some Ray Bradbury tales I missed.

If you could live in a luxury gated community in any country which country would it be and why?

 I wouldn’t and yet I accidentally do. I live in a warehouse in London that the architects next door owned the access to, so they put a gate across it, and I hate the enforced privacy. I also live in Barcelona, in a crazy building full of very rowdy neighbours, and love the fact that they play the piano and do the laundry at 2:00am, and argue - a lot.

In one sentence what's your best piece of advice for new writers? 

When you’re sure what you’ve written is rubbish, it means you’re getting better.

Many thanks for the interesting answers.

Go & check out The Sand Men - it sounds great!

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