Pulling a pint at the Rovers Return
I'm the author of three novels, “Out of Office” and “Fire Horses" (both published by Legend Press), my new comic novel "Kidology," and a collection of short stories and creative non-fiction, "Militant Factions." I've had dozens of major features in the Times, Sunday Times, Guardian, Independent, Mail, Express, Telegraph and many more. Email me at:
|Posted on January 9, 2018 at 6:30 AM|
“A tiny British anti-Muslim party called ‘Britain First’ benefitted from worldwide publicity at the end of 2017 when President Trump retweeted three videos purporting to show examples of Islamist violence. Closer scrutiny later proved that none of the videos was quite what had been claimed, but by then the damage had been done: the group claimed Trump as a fellow traveller in the fight against ‘Islamism.’ Parties across the political spectrum lined up to attack the President for appearing to endorse the views of the controversial organisation—if ‘organisation’ isn’t too complimentary a term for this bunch of misfits, Nazis and thugs…”
|Posted on January 6, 2018 at 6:55 AM|
“It’s just a few metres from Bartholomew Court, EC1, where a young man was one of four stabbed to death over the New Year, to trendy Hoxton, famous for its cereal bars and hirsute hipsters. It would be easy to say these two worlds – those of the trendy media types lampooned by ‘Nathan Barley’ and ‘Its Grim up North London’ and the large nearby estates – are separated by an unbridgeable gulf, but it would also be inaccurate. Areas like Hoxton became popular in part because of this edginess, this picturesque urban decay, where drugs can be bought cheaply from local youths and consumed in the safety of the adjacent wine bars and gated communities.
"When I first moved to this area in 1985, much of Hoxton was like Bartholomew Court; even now there are some areas even drug-craving hipsters avoid. Over the past 30 years the area has changed almost beyond recognition, with new apartment and offices blocks, trendy eateries and poodle parlours on every corner; yet many of the old council estates remain, their long-term residents confronted daily by the inequalities and injustices of modern Britain…”
|Posted on December 12, 2017 at 9:50 AM|
“How would you feel if a gang of fabulously wealthy twenty-somethings kept appearing in your young daughter’s bedroom, telling her she’s really special but then badgering her to send messages and money? If, like my 13-year-old daughter, she’s been taken in (and not yet spat out) by the YouTube phenomenon, it’s happening right now – in a bedroom near you…”
|Posted on December 10, 2017 at 6:05 AM|
This morning I was on Paddy O’Connell’s “Broadcasting House” to discuss Brexit with The Guardian’s Zoe Williams. Really enjoyed the debate, and hopefully we demonstrated it’s possible to have divergent views about the thorny subject without coming to blows. Which is just as well as Zoe’s bigger than me.
|Posted on November 17, 2017 at 5:15 AM|
Even though my year of abstinence ended a year ago, I kept my Just Giving page open up to today (17th November 2017) in the hope more people would donate to this incredibly worthy cause. In total, I received donations of approximately £322.30 – thank you so much!
As you know, I promised to match all donations up to the first £1,000. Last December I donated £252.30 so I’ve just paid the balance of £70. That means my abstaining from alcohol for a long, long year raised a total of…
Many thanks all (and never again!)
|Posted on November 8, 2017 at 11:55 AM|
In the last three days I’ve been lucky enough to have two new blogs published at The Spectator. On Sunday I argued that for all his many, MANY faults (!) Kevin Spacey shouldn’t have been dropped by Netflix. Today, why Lloyds Bank’s new charges are nothing short of a tax on the poor.
To celebrate, I've decided to reduce the price of Militant. Now just £6 in paperback, $6 in the US and Australia, and still just £1 on Kindle. Buy it here.
|Posted on October 23, 2017 at 9:55 AM|
“William Goldman’s famous quote about Hollywood—“Nobody knows anything”—could also apply to the prolonged, painful extraction of the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU), aka Brexit. The truth is, no-one knows the truth. Will it actually happen, or will there be another snap election where Labour includes the promise of a second referendum on EU membership? Will Europe (or, more specifically, France and Germany) “punish” the UK, or will they realise that to do so would be self-defeating? Will Brexit push up the price of food and drink, as claimed by Remain, those on the side of the UK staying in the EU, or bring them down? Can the UK survive as a single entity, or will Scotland and Northern Ireland pull away in a frantic (and probably hopeless) bid to stay within the common market?”
|Posted on October 21, 2017 at 3:00 AM|
For a short time only you can buy my comic novel KIDOLOGY and my collection of fiction and non-fiction, MILITANT FACTIONS, for just £1 each ($1 in the US or Australia).
|Posted on October 19, 2017 at 11:20 AM|
“My nan turns 96 today (Wednesday 18th October) but it won’t be much of a celebration. I’ll go and see her with my 73-year-old father at the care home where she resides. If she’s having a good day, nan might remember who I am – her only grandchild; I say “good day” because last time dad visited, she asked him if she’d ever had children. Despite being by now somewhat inured to nan’s fading, dad was naturally somewhat stunned, and more shocked when a care worker said nan claimed to have voted Tory all her life – she’s a lifelong socialist and Labour supporter who once showed Dennis Potter round her local group. Dementia is a miserable end, less a full stop than a trailing off…”
|Posted on October 16, 2017 at 8:35 AM|
As Hurricane Ophelia reaches Ireland and the UK, my memories drift back to 1987 when, 30 years ago today, I wandered across London on acid as the Great Storm hit. I later used my memories in my first book, Fire Horses, published by Legend Press – where you can read about that strange day here and now…
|Posted on October 9, 2017 at 11:20 AM|
“The mood at the Labour Party’s annual conference is jubilant this year. Following a general election where he performed better than expected—though he still lost—leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has crushed his many critics within the party (or, as his supporters would prefer, re-educated them to his point of view) and, if yet another general election were to be called, would march into Downing Street, where no doubt he would soon be turning the back garden into an eco-friendly allotment. The UK, no longer hindered by the EU's harsh economic restrains, would soon become a socialist wonderland where education, health and transport are efficient, public-owned and free to use…”
|Posted on September 28, 2017 at 6:20 AM|
Yet again I'm indebted to the Royal Literary Fund - this time for providing me with funding to purchase brand new computer equipment! Thank you RLF, I hope I can justify your faith!
My dream is to one day be able to repay the RLF for all the funding they have provided and which has come in incredibly useful following the abrupt termination of my contract by the International Business Times back in May. Four years, well over 2,000 articles and countless page hits - and I didn't even get an explanation from IBT, let alone a thank you. Shabby way to treat your freelancers - and now they're advertising for more freelancers apparently. Good luck, guys!
Anyway - one way you could help me repay the RLF (and stick it to the IBT) would be to buy one of my four books - Militant Factions, Kidology, Out Of Office and Fire Horses - in paperback or on Kindle. That would buy me the time to write two more books which hopefully will help me get a new agent - I'm almost starting to regret sacking my last one now...
(Actually - no I'm not. A YEAR to read a draft of a book?!)
|Posted on September 15, 2017 at 9:20 AM|
Many thanks once again to the Royal Literary Fund for providing me with a very generous grant for the second year running. Means a great deal when such a respected organisation shows such faith in your writing.
|Posted on September 14, 2017 at 7:25 PM|
"In 1982, aged 15 I boarded my first plane and flew to meet my father and step family in Los Angeles. I never forgot that trip: sleeping in a car in Death Valley, smuggled into motels in LA, walking through Tijuana street markets and squatting in San Francisco when Freddie Laker went bust.
Now my wife Lynda and I have decided to take our children – Daughter, 13, and Son, 10 – on an even more epic journey. Already we’ve taken in Toronto and Niagara Falls, watched the Yankees with hot dogs, eaten at ‘Cake Boss’ Carlo’s Hoboken bakery, farted in the UN security council, melted in Vegas, hunted aliens at Area 51 and been dumb-struck by the Grand Canyon before reaching San Diego..."
|Posted on August 29, 2017 at 9:50 AM|
Delighted to announce that my (very) short story, "Behind every cloud there's a clear blue sky," has been published at Legend Press, which published my first two novels "Fire Horses" and "Out of Office."
My short story collection, "Militant Factions," is now available in paperback and Kindle. Be warned - some of the stories are extremely graphic...
|Posted on August 28, 2017 at 6:30 AM|
Recently a man in Ipswich made headlines when a seagull reportedly ripped of his gonad as he sunbathed nude in his garden. Thankfully the story, which was widely shared, was probably fake - but nevertheless eerily reminiscent of my short story, "White Hawk," first published in my "Militant Factions" anthology.
|Posted on August 3, 2017 at 6:15 PM|
"As a freelance journalist, when my main employer of four years called to say they were dispensing with my services without any prior warning, I was shocked but exhilarated. With my skills, I reasoned, it wouldn’t be long before I found a far more attractive job with better conditions and perhaps even holiday and perhaps even sick pay..."
|Posted on July 11, 2017 at 5:05 AM|
Pleased to see my letter (alright - whinge) about finding an agent published in the latest issue of The Author (Summer 2017, Vol CXXVIII No.2). Here is the full text. By the way I'm toying with the idea of listing agents who didn't even respond to my letter asking if they'd like to read a sample - and calling it something catchy like, ooh, I dunno, the Shit List. What do you think, agents?
I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry when I read your assertion that a publisher "offers an author that most crucial thing: capital investment" (Foreword, Vol. CXXVIII No.1 Spring 2017). My experiences as a published author who has been on the books of three literary agents have been so appalling that at times I was in despair, and having self-published feel I have some control again.
After years of near-misses, an agent advised me to complete an MA in novel writing, which made a huge difference. Almost immediately after completing the course my first novel "Fire Horses" was accepted by a (then) small publisher. The managing director and I got on well and despite the fact I received no advance and there was no money for promotion I was just happy to be published.
The same publisher accepted my second book, "Out Of Office", and now I was approached by a literary agent. He managed to negotiate a small increase in my advance (the increase was almost all taken back in commission), and with book two on the shelves I started work on a third. However sales of my first two were poor - not surprising, as they hardly had a review, despite being praised by other authors.
My agent was unable to sell my third book, even to my "own" publisher - which I found staggering as I thought it was far superior to the previous two. Nevertheless I started work on a fourth, a comedy, which my agent liked, but took so long suggesting amendments I lost patience. The final straw was my waiting a YEAR for feedback - when I gently enquired what was taking so long he said, "I thought I'd sent them". Despite his pleas, I sacked him.
By now relations with my first publisher were strained. Nevertheless he agreed to read my fourth novel. After 18 months, he said he liked it a lot, but they no longer publish comedy. I also wrote to around 40 agents asking if they'd like to see a sample; over 30 didn't respond whatsoever and 2 or 3 others said my submission wasn't right for them - even though I hadn't sent one. (Quite a few agents, of course, have a "no unsolicited submissions" policy - WHY!?)
I'm not exactly an unknown quantity. In the past few months I've had major features in the Sunday Times magazine and Spectator, generous bursaries from the Society of Authors and Royal Literary Fund, been interviewed on peak-time Radio 4 and have an occasional column at the Huffington Post.
Finally, after months of soul-searching (and, connectedly, my 50th birthday) I decided to self-publish the comedy, Kidology, and a collection of short stories and creative non-fiction, Militant Factions, on Amazon Kindle and in paperback. I don't feel the need to be validated by some multinational (weird how even one's right-on friends and family believe that's so important); I have complete creative control; I decide what to put in and leave out; I designed the cover; and there has been zero financial outlay. Obviously, now I have to try and promote my books - but that's the point: they are MINE. I'll stand and fall on writing quality alone. I feel liberated from the tyranny of imbeciles. It feels like the DIY punk ethos of '77: exhilarating, liberating, frightening.
It feels like freedom.
|Posted on July 2, 2017 at 5:20 AM|
Delighted to announce that the latest versions of all four of my books - "Fire Horses", "Out of Office", "Kidology" and "Militant Factions" - are now available on Kindle at just £3 each.
"Fire Horses" - my epic trawl through the gutter over a 25 year period - has been sharpened up for 2017, as has "Out of Office", with its topical plotline involving terrorism in London, militant Islam, the Far Right and, um, sea monsters.
"Kidology" - my comic novel about a middle-aged lecturer who turns to crime - is very much set in post-Brexit Britain, as are some of the short stories in my collection, "Militant Factions." The latter book also includes some of my creative non-fiction, plus samples from all three published novels.
For a limited time only, you can buy the Kindle version of all four books for just £3 each. All four books are of course still available in paperback. More details about my books can be found on my website, my Amazon author page and on Facebook. Links below. Happy reading!
Buy all four books in Kindle or paperback at:
PS Still unconvinced? Blimey - tough crowd. Okay, simply type these search terms into Twitter and get 100 quotes from each of the novels...
|Posted on June 30, 2017 at 7:30 PM|
On Tuesday, as I’m inspecting my navel (see past and indeed future blogs), out of the blue I get a call from the head of HR at the company that has been my main employer for almost four years.
“Hello Mark, we’re having to make a few savings by cutting back on freelance reporters at the moment so we won’t be requiring your help anymore. We’ll pay you for your next four shifts but you won’t be expected to work them...”
By the way you can read 100 extracts from my new comic novel, KIDOLOGY, by typing this into Twitter:
Thanks for listening folks!