My Writing Summer So Far

I often think giving random people a report of what you've been up to for the last couple of months and expecting them to be in anyway interested is the sort of mind-bogglingly self-centred thing only a writer would think to do... so here's mine.

In May I was lucky enough to (finally) have something chosen by Rattle Tales, the Brighton writing/performing collective, for their Brighton Fringe Festival evening gig. This was a public paying event, the first time I've read a piece at such, and I took the opportunity for a day out in this fab city by the sea to have a wander around the Marina, the Lanes, and anywhere else I could dredge up from my ancient memory of having lived there for a short while after art school. The main reason though was to calm my nerves; it almost worked and when I met the friendly crowd who ran RT and the night's other readers, all of whom seemed frighteningly talented writers but also very nice people, the whole thing became as enjoyable as I'd hoped it would. I read a 500 word flash fiction piece about a cocky bomb disposal expert who has to (literally) think fast. The crowd seemed to like it okay. Here's a link to RT's own review: http://www.rattletales.org/rattle-tales-shines-brighton-fringe-festival-2/

One of the other readers at Rattle Tales was Melanie Whipman who gives creative writing lessons at Farnham and is an Associate Lecturer at the University of Chichester. She's also very friendly and approachable so when I saw on her blog that she was holding her own (second) Lit-Live event in June, at a beautiful old pub in the quaint village of Frensham, I asked if I might be a part of it (having enjoyed the adrenalin rush of RT). She had a full programme already but managed to fit me in last place on the bill, which was very kind. The long drive after work, deep into the Surrey heartland on a warm balmy evening, was well worth it for an interesting and varied evening of poetry (some of it startlingly good from three young local students who took their craft extremely seriously) and prose. I read my short story 'Girl in a Shoebox' which seemed to survive a quick Q&A session from Melanie and the audience. There will be another Frensham Lit-Live sometime in late September and I'm hoping go down again. Here's a link to Melanie's previous scene-setting article from her blog: http://www.melaniewhipman.com/news.html

A few weeks ago I dodged my Chairman duties at VWC for the evening to pay my second visit to Hertford Writers' Circle's Wednesday monthly meeting at the very (very) old White Horse pub in the town. For a tall person this was like taking a continual assault course inside a Wendy house but we all crammed into their club room upstairs to listen to me blather on about my last two novels and later their own Xavier Leret preview his excellent debut novel 'The Romeo and Juliet Killers'. We both did some reading and managed to sell some books; the main point being we all enjoyed the evening; Hertford are a very nice bunch who mob-handedly supported Openmicnight2 both attending and reading, and I'm grateful to them for that and the opportunity to share my Japanese Daisy Chain and Black Hole Bar novels with them, same as I did with my first one a couple of years ago.

Lastly, I'm meeting with the St. Albans Book Club next Tuesday (14th July) at the Goat pub in town to discuss that first novel, Jacey's Kingdom, which they've kindly picked as their book of the month for July. I've never done this before with a group of readers and am slightly apprehensive of their questions (and my memory of the text) but also greatly anticipating the experience; almost like being a real writer in fact...

See you soon,  have a great summer.


'Out of My Head' speculative short story collection FREE for five days on Apple Kindle

My collection of short stories covering science fiction, fantasy and everyday emotional drama. With the odd, sometimes very odd, twist. 
Available FREE on Amazon Kindle for five days.

Please take a look and download: 


'Six Loners' FREE for five days from April 22nd on Amazon Kindle

From tomorrow (Wednesday April 22nd) for the next five days my collection of short stories involving the thoughts and destinies of six famous 'loners' is available FREE on Amazon Kindle. Please take a look and download if you fancy an interesting read.
The blurb is as follows:

'Six stories about famous personalities, both historical and more recent, at critical times in their lives. Seen from 'their' point of view in their own imagined words. They are identified simply by what they do but are easily recognisable. Their common denominator? They are all what might be described as 'loners', unique one-off's that make them different from you and I. An attempt to get inside their minds, to see what made them 'tick' and affected how they faced up to their ultimate individual destinies. Six loners; six imagined scenarios; six glimpses of mortality for the famous we were never meant to see.'



New short story collection 'Out of My Head' self-published on Amazon Kindle

Hi everyone.

‘Out of My Head’ is a collection of old and new short stories I’ve just self-published on Amazon Kindle that I hope will point new readers to my three published novels from Elsewhen Press (shown in right hand column). 

Some of these tales have already appeared in a previous collection, ‘Girl in a Shoebox’, so if you’ve already downloaded that you probably won’t want to bother with this. There are, however, some new or previously unpublished stories included in ‘Out of My Head’, and it’s the largest and most varied collection I’ve published to date. 

The stories are a mix of the everyday and the bizarre, each with an odd (sometimes very odd) twist; enough perhaps to make you reconsider what you’ve just read. Some are fantasy, a few science fiction, but mostly they are just about the quirks and foibles of human nature; the many twists of fate and circumstance life tends to dump in our lap without care or warning. 

I have set a price of £1.96 so that these stories may be read, and hopefully enjoyed, by as many readers as possible. Hopefully some of you guys with Kindles, Kobo’s or whatever, (apart from my older friends at Verulam Writers’ Circle who may well be sick at the sight of a few of these by now), will take a look, and a chance, on them too. 

Thanks for reading this latest blog and a Happy Christmas to all of you.


(please click this link to go to Amazon Kindle's website)


Some (very bad) pics and nice memories of a great day out at Loncon Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival 2014

Back in the middle of August I (along with the author Mike French of the 'Convergence' trilogy) went to the last day of Loncon 2014 at the Excel Centre in London Docklands, the first time in many years that this major fantasy/Science Fiction Convention has been held in the capital. My publishers Elsewhen Press had a pretty impressive stand in one of the vast halls which were stuffed to bursting with all sorts of sci-fi paraphernalia. There was a Hugo Awards stand opposite with every Hugo (the sci-fi writers' Oscar) statuette since the thirties, all in gleaming chrome, or hand-carved wood and ranging from 30's art-deco to something that wouldn't look out of place on a 60's Chevrolet's tail-fin. All of the various halls were vast hangers seemingly awaiting the return of their Apollo rockets; the main concourse with all its food stalls seemed to go on for miles. My publishers, basically Peter and Alison Buck, had already been at their station for days gamely plugging away at selling the marvellous Elsewhen catalogue to anyone who wandered in reach. Other EP authors were already in attendance; namely Christopher Nuttall (best-selling sci-fi author), Ira Nayman (very funny sci-fantasy), Sanim Ozdural (author of the fascinating LiGa sci-fi life/game distopia) and Caspian the magician who's new book 'The Magician in the Attic (first of a trilogy) was being launched later that morning by Elsewhen. Ira and Sanim had both travelled from their native countries just for this event (Canada and Turkey respectively) and had been staying over at nearby hotels (Ira's looked to me like a ship floating on the edge of Dockland's wharf, admittedly after we'd been in the pub for awhile) so a big effort had been made to support Team Elsewhen, and it was really nice to see Ira and Christopher (and his wife) again, and to meet Sanem for the first time. We cross paths digitally but actual personal contact can't be beaten. We all had a great day, especially Caspian's book-launch complete with dazzling magic tricks, ending with a lovely meal at a nearby restaurant with our tired but hopefully pleased hosts Pete and Al.
These pictures (admittedly poorly shot from my crappy phone and rather belated) are some glimpse of a very special day spent with my Elsewhen Press buddies. Next up for the EP team is Nottingham Fantasycon on November 16th; can't wait. 

Here we go, ready for a great day spent in this huge bizarrely-proportioned building which has the feel of an aircraft hanger gradually mutating into a Blade Runner-type shopping maul. Or something like that. It's both impressive and slightly surreal.

The wonderful and indefatigable Alison Buck of Elsewhen Press selling yet another
entertaining E.P. work to some lucky Con-goer (I don't mean she was dancing at the time).
 Peter Buck announcing the launch of Caspian's first YA novel in his upcoming trilogy.

 And the man himself about to read an excerpt from 'The Magician in the Attic' before wowing us with a number of baffling magic card tricks. Amazement/applause all round.
 Just one of a number of cavernous halls/hangers full of sci-fi/fantasy stuff - we're somewhere in the middle of that lot.
Somewhere near here I bought one of the biggest Cornish pasties I've ever seen (and eaten). It was lovely, if not particularly Cornish.
 A tents situation developing at Loncon.

Thanks for looking - Dave.


'Take It Cool' by Jon Pinnock; a reggae odyssey

Apart from being the same rather extreme height as myself and an ex-Verulam Writers' Circler my good friend Jon Pinnock has just had his third successful novel published; 'Take It Cool' is Jon's attempt (for 'attempt' read obsession) to trace his white home counties Pinnock roots all the way to the way more exotic Pinnock's of the West Indies; an idea inspired by his discovery a few years ago of the nearly-famous reggae singer Dennis Pinnock's body of musical work. Would this quest bring him the cool his seemingly staid English heritage had, in Jon's eyes at least, so far denied him? Would he unlock the mystery of the two very different branches of Pinnock family connection? Would he get to meet the man in person? It's a great story from a superb raconteur; Jon couldn't tell a dull tale if his life depended on it and this book is laced with his usual acerbic wit and keen observation for human foibles, including his own, from start to climatic finish. In other words, its a great read.

Here's Jon's own take on 'Take It Cool':

TAKE IT COOL had its genesis back in the early 1980s, when I came across a secondhand reggae single with that name by a chap called Dennis Pinnock. It was pretty good, too, and I especially liked the dub B side, ‘Pinnock’s Paranormal Payback’. It intrigued me to think of a man of apparently West Indian heritage being saddled with the same daft two-consonants-away-from-disaster surname as me, but I didn’t take it any further until around ten years ago, when it suddenly struck me that I could Google him to see if he’d come up with anything else.

It turned out that he had. In fact, his discography ran to over twenty records, although he’d never got as far as making an album of his own, despite working with some of the biggest names in black British music. I began to wonder. What if I were to try and track him down? Might we be related somehow? There might be a story there, although at that point it seemed a bit thin to stretch out to an entire book.

But I wrote up a first draft of a chapter anyway and read it out to my local writers group, the Verulam Writers Circle. It went down very well, and during the discussion, one of the members of the group wondered if there might be a slavery angle behind our shared name. And that was the point at which the project suddenly became a whole load more interesting, because very soon afterwards I tracked down a Pinnock who – among other things – was a big deal plantation owner in Jamaica in the 18th century.

I now had several strands to work with. First of all, who was Dennis Pinnock? Was he still alive? Could I track him down? Secondly, what about all these other records? Were they any good? Maybe I could collect them all! (Sad, I know) Thirdly, what about the Jamaican connection? Was it even possible that – horror of horrors – I could be descended from a slave owner? So perhaps I needed to dig around in my past as well…

It took me almost a decade to pull all this together, partly because of all the research I had to do and also partly because I had no idea if it was ever going to be publishable. The one thing I did have in my favour was that no-one else was likely to come along and beat me to it. I’m still smarting from the way that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies waltzed in and stole all the glory while I was still writing Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens. But this one was always going to be a Pinnock project.

But finish it I did, and I did find a publisher in the end, in the shape of the wonderful Two Ravens Press. The finished book looks lovely – it’s even got colour pictures in the middle! – and everyone who’s read it so far seems to love it. As my publisher says, it’s unlike anything else on the market – which is both a problem and an opportunity. It’s a problem because there isn’t anything I can point to and say “It’s like that.” And it’s an opportunity for exactly the same reason.

Here’s where you can hear me reading the first chapter, which will give you an idea of what it’s all about:
https://soundcloud.com/jonpinnock/take-it-cool-chapter-one-two-consonants-away <https://soundcloud.com/jonpinnock/take-it-cool-chapter-one-two-consonants-away> . The text below it has details of where you can order the book, which of course you’ll want to be doing once you’ve had a listen.



Waterstones St. Albans Launch Japanese Daisy Chain - Thursday 22nd May, 7.30pm

Launch Night for my second novel from Elsewhen Press, 'Japanese Daisy Chain', will be tomorrow evening at Waterstones St. Albans, 7.30pm, Thursday 22nd May.

Drinks and nibbles, parking free in town multi-storey. Please come if you can, I'll be reading one of the shorter stories. If you can make it I hope to see you there. Should be fun!
Japanese Daisy Chain takes us on a very individualistic journey around contemporary Japan through the eyes of the participants in a series of apparently unrelated incidents. Events that, to an outsider may seem a little strange or hard to explain, but to which we are given an exclusive insight – enabling us to see the consequence of contact with the paranormal, fantastic or downright weird. As each episode unfurls and our journey progresses, we alone can see the invisible thread that connects these events, albeit tenuously. A participant on each occasion, a minor character if you will, becomes the main protagonist in the next, creating a human daisy-chain. Just like a daisy-chain, what goes around comes around. The chain is completed and we finally understand karma…