Showing posts from 2009

2009/2010: Looking Back, Looking Forward

All in all 2009 was a strange year - quiet in many respects but eventful, too. In the past twelve months I've had only a handful of short stories published (my quietest year yet) but I also had my first book published (The Hotel Galileo) at the start of the summer which was a wonderful experience. In September I visited Nottingham once again for my second FantasyCon and, despite feeling like "warmed-up death", I enjoyed it much more this year. It was a particular highlight to see Allyson Bird winning the award for Best Collection.

>Didn't get to the cinema very much in 2009. I just about managed to catch Star Trek back at the start of the summer and A Christmas Carol in November, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. Over the Christmas break I've managed to squeeze in Avatar (awesome) and Sherlock Holmes (enjoyable romp).

> I joined LoveFilm this year so I've had a steady stream of DVDs to watch, but nothing that's really blown me away. In fact the film…

Christmas Estronomicon

The latest issue of Estronomicon went online on Christmas Eve over at Screaming Dreams. This is a bumper issue featuring lots of festive-themed fiction from such notable pens as Rhys Hughes, Bob Lock, Gary Fry, Shaun Hamilton, Hugh MacDonald and many many more. My own contribution is a story called Crack'd featuring two very special young women, Epiphany and Jade - the Crowe sisters. As I was writing this story I really came to like them and the more I filled in their back story the more I wanted to explore their world. Initially Crack'd was only intended as a one-off story but I'm thinking about revisiting the Crowe sisters at some point in the future. In the meantime, if you have time to peruse the issue I hope you enjoy the stories on offer.

Best of luck in 2010 everyone!

And the title of the next Barclay Heath mystery is...

So that's it. The Vanished Race. For a very long time the working title was 'The Everlasting Universe of Things' but when this title came along it just fit so perfectly, not only for this particular story but for the series as a whole. Work is almost complete on the manuscript and I'm hoping to be able to give a little more info about the story in the near future. As always, any thoughts are greatly appreciated. Thanks for dropping by!

Writing and Music

I used to write with headphones on and loud music playing. That was in my youth (what seems like a very long time ago) and was in part due to my living circumstances. I grew up in a happy, busy household and it was a necessary thing to cut off the hustle and fuss around me in order to find that special focus. Now, though, things are very different. The most productive writing sessions I have these days are just me in a quiet room (thankfully I have a place at a friend's house to go to sometimes) with no music or any other distractions. This is especially helpful during editing when acute concentration is required. During composition, however, I do still like to have some kind of background music. The best music is unobtrusive and, at best, inspirational in a filmic sense. I like to have a movie soundtrack playing - some of favourites are the soundtracks to movies like Batman Begins, Rocketeer, or Star Trek 2 or 3 (yes, there's a James Horner theme going on here). As J.K. Rowli…

Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars Trailer

The beginning of the end . . .


The recent lack of blog posts on the Steam-Powered Typewriter are not due to chronic lazyboy-itis (honest!) but the same old demands of day-to-day life: I began my final Open University course, Children's Literature, last month and the sheer mountain of reading involved (thirteen novels from Swallows and Amazons to Treasure Island to Harry Potter) is taking up the majority of my spare time - as well as the various assignments, of course.

Right now I'm in the final editing stages of the second Barclay Heath mystery (the follow-up to The Hotel Galileo) but finding the amount of time needed to make any kind of progress with it is proving increasingly difficult. I am however very excited about the second book. I've had some amazingly positive feedback from Galileo and also some healthy, constructive criticism, too, especially in the area of maintaining a returning character within a series of books. I'm happy to say that all of these comments and suggestions have been addre…

FantasyCon 2009

Last year I attended my very first FantasyCon as a non-member, and it was a very pleasant and inspiring experience. In the twelve months since then much has happened: I am now a fully paid-up member of the British Fantasy Society, I've had my first book published (a novella called The Hotel Galileo, which I may have mentioned once or twice here on this blog!) as well as an ebook of Medea's Children through Screaming Dreams and a few other short story publications, most notably in the final print issue of Whispers of Wickedness, which has in the past year ceased publication, taking its thriving and friendly forum community with it into the smoke-obscured afterlife...

This year, the FantasyCon experience was even more inspiring and enjoyable. To begin with I was able to chat with some of the people I had missed last time around, most notably with Gary McMahon, Paul Meloy and Gary Greenwood, as well as spending time with the always delightful Allyson Bird. I was very pleased to co…

Steampunk Tales

May I direct your attention to a stupendous new publication currently storming its way onto the interweb, a wonderful periodical which deals exclusively with the fantabulous steampunk genre? It's called Steampunk Tales and it's a thing of wonderment and beauty. Issue 2 has just been released for download at the meagre price of $1.99, whilst issue 1 is still available for free. The latest issue contains fiction from such talented individuals as Lawrence Dagstine, Phillip Challis, Brenda Cooper and many more. Take a peek, you'll be glad you did!

Stephen King Answers My Question

Well, in response to my open query at the end of the last post about the long and the short form, I came across this from Mister King. I could listen to SK all day long.

The Long and the Short

A little while ago I undertook an inventory of my written work and discovered that in the four years from 2004-2008 I had written forty short stories. That's an avaerage of ten a year. How many did I write in the past twelve months? Three. (That's not including the short pieces I wrote on my Open University course last year.) The simple fact is that things in the short story department have slowed almost to a standstill. At my most productive I was working on one story with about two or three in my head bursting to be written. That's not the case anymore. My mind is consumed almost completely by longer works. I have just completed the first draft of the next Barclay Heath book, a follow-up to The Hotel Galileo, which is in the same novella-length range of over 30,000 words. I'm also on the final draft of my novel The Silver Sea which is the first volume in a series and I am bursting to write the next episodes for that. As for new short stories, there's really nothi…

Thank You!

Despite the treacherous British summer weather (it rained ALL DAY) the book launch party for The Hotel Galileo was a great success. I am so grateful and indebted to the people who braved the summer rain and visited the Torbay Bookshop on Tuesday to buy a copy. It was a very special moment for me, a celebration of what Matthew, the bookshop owner, likened to 'a birth'. I couldn't help thinking how strange it was to have spent so long working away at this project (and many others) without anyone knowing about it; and then, down the line, here I am - standing in a bookshop signing copies of the book.

I received many messages of support also from people who were unable to make it to the launch. I'm pleased to be able to tell you that The Torbay Bookshop in Paignton are currently stocking signed copies of the book. So, if you are still interested in picking up a copy, please pop in when you have a chance and grab one. They can be found in either the SF & Fantasy section …

Book Launch Party!

Hi folks, I'm pleased to announce that my novella 'The Hotel Galileo', published by Wolfsinger Publications, will have its very own book launch party in a couple of weeks time.

The details:

Venue: The Torbay Bookshop, 7 Torquay Road, Paignton, Devon
Time: 6pm
Date: Tuesday August 4th 2009

If you are in the area on that date please feel free to come along and bring a friend or partner with you. I will be selling signed copies of the book and there will be wine and nibbles available. Everyone is most welcome!

Barclay Heath has arrived!

After a long wait, copies of my novella, The Hotel Galileo, have arrived and they are all shiny and lovely. I've been waiting for this moment for a very long time and now that it's finally here, it's ... better than I ever imagined. Flicking through a copy, it's hard to remember the hard work that went into the writing of it (three drafts and countless revisions/polishes). I just feel good about it. And I haven't felt good about things for a long while.

The character of Barclay Heath, the detective in the story, has been with me for years, about fifteen years in fact, as long as I've been married. (In fact, my wife is fond of saying that there have always been three people in our marriage - me, her and Barclay Heath!) This latest incarnation just feels right now, and everything else before it was just figuring him out and finding the right story and the right universe to really bring him to life. Work continues on the next Barclay Heath mystery and I'm havin…

The Hotel Galileo - Updated Ordering Details

Hi folks,

Just to let you know as concisely as possible the easiest ways to order The Hotel Galileo:

The cheapest and most efficient way is through Lulu printers via this link:
Lulu sell the book for £7.08 + £4.75 flat rate shipping to the UK.
Dispatch time is about 6-8 days.

You can also order it from Amazon's printers CreateSpace but I've just seen the shipping costs and they are very high to the UK and dispatch time is very slow, too. I'd advise Lulu, but here are the CreateSpace details anyway:

You can order from CreateSpace via this link:
PLEASE NOTE: When ordering from outside the US please use this discount code: FAFPNMQH
which gives a 25% discount to help offset the cost of international shipping.

To avoid all that shipping-cost malarkey you can also order it from Mobipocket as an ebook at this link:…

The Hotel Galileo is available to buy NOW

I'm very excited to be able to say that my novella, The Hotel Galileo, is now available for purchase.

If you are ordering in the UK:
You can order it direct from the printers CreateSpace via this link:
VERY IMPORTANT: When ordering from outside the US please use this discount code:
which gives a 25% discount to help offset the cost of international shipping. Thanks!

If you are ordering from the US:
The page is up on Amazon here: You can, of course, also buy it from CreateSpace (see link above).
The paperback retails at $9.95.
Kindle version will be available on Amazon soon.
I hope that all makes sense. If there are any problems please don't hesitate to contact me and I will do my very best to address them.
Thanks for your time, and if you intend to buy a copy - THANK YOU! I hope you enjoy it.

Medea's Children

My science fiction story 'Medea's Children' has just been released as a free PDF ebook over at the Screaming Dreams website. The fantastic cover art is by British Fantasy Award-nominee Steve Upham.

It's about a young mother searching for her baby son on an alien planet and the lengths she goes to in order to find him.
Download the ebook free here:
I hope you enjoy reading it! You can also download the latest issue of Estronomicon at the website, featuring fantastic fiction from Paul Kane, Bob Lock, Paul Edwards and many more.

Hotel Galileo Publication Date

I'm very pleased to announce that my novella 'The Hotel Galileo' will be published in about a week's time. All being well, the book will be available by June 5th. For people in North America, it will be available for purchase from (I will post details and links asap.) Because of the large shipping costs, UK/European residents will have an alternative option to purchase the book - I will provide more info on that nearer publication date.

Battlestar Galactica - How did I miss this?

I've recently been watching the TV series Battlestar Galactica on DVD as I completely missed it when it was on the telly. I believe the final season aired earlier this year. Hearing good things about it, I went back and started with the initial mini-series, then watched season one and two back to back. And so far, I'm impressed. Very impressed.

When I tell people about it, their intial reaction is always the same: "Battlestar Galactica? That was for kids, wasn't it?" No, no, no, I say. This is the new version, the 're-imagining' as it's known. And that's exactly what it is. Taking the central idea of the original 1978 series, the producers have refashioned it, exploiting its full potential and bringing it bang up to date. It makes you realise how good that idea was in the first place, it was just a shame it came so soon after the massive impact of Star Wars and ended up suffering from that, I think. Anyway, this new incarnation is a million light y…

Arkham Tales Issue 3


The Time and Space to Write

In her brilliant book, Becoming a Writer (published some seventy-five years ago but still relevant today), Dorothea Brande spoke about two of the most important things a writer needs: the time and the space to write. Well, for me, time has always been a precious commodity, but as a father of four studying for a degree and working full-time there really isn't a lot I can do about that; I grab time when I can and make the most of it. When it comes to space, I've always struggled, too. I have no study, not even a shed or a roomy closet. At the moment, all I have is a tiny desk in the corner of the bedroom where I rest my laptop of an evening and try to produce good words. But it's not really conducive to the production of inspired work.

Now, things have changed.
Thanks to a family friend I now have a study in her house, and it's a beautiful house. Surrounded by gorgeous flower-filled gardens and a view of the bay that is quite stunning, Peace Cottage is the ideal idyll for …

British Fantasy Awards 2009 - The Long-list

I recently joined the British Fantasy Society and as a fully paid-up member I am now eligible to vote in the society's distinguished awards. The long-list is extremely long this year, so long in fact, that the BFS have produced a downloadable PDF of all the nominees which can be found at the BFS website by going here:

I am very pleased to see Allyson Bird's first collection Bull Running for Girls (which I raved about a few blog entries ago) receive not only a recommendation for Best Collection, but her story 'The Caul Bearer' has also been recommended in the Best Short Fiction category. I sincerely hope she does well in both categories and goes on to make it onto the shortlists. This won't be possible, of course, without lots of votes. Well, I know where I will be casting mine, but if you are a member and haven't yet made up your mind, then I would recommend taking a peek at Ally's work. You won't be disappointed. Y…

The Hotel Galileo

The Hotel Galileo, my first published book, is scheduled to be released next month, and here is a preview of the fantastic cover art by artist Marge Simon.

You can view more of Marge's wonderful artwork here:

The Hotel Galileo will be available from May 2009. Check out the publicity page at the Wolfsinger Publications website:

"Sherlock Holmes meets Star Trek meets 28 Days Later" - Rhonda Parrish, editor of Niteblade Magazine

"The Hotel Galileo is well-plotted, fast-paced. A Roaring Twenties-style mystery set aboard a space liner, which will leave you wondering 'Whodunit' the moment you crack open the pages." - Lawrence Dagstine, author of Fresh Blood (Sam's Dot Publishing)

The Hotel Galileo Publication Update

Things are moving forward apace regarding publication of my novella, The Hotel Galileo. I was fully expecting it to appear towards the end of the year but publisher Carol Hightshoe contacted me the other day to inform she was hoping to release the book in May. I'm currently working on the advance reading copy and after that it'll be all systems go. I'm so excited. It will be so great to finally have a book 'out there'. I'm already far along with the next book (almost done) and planning a further dark fantasy novel as the next project. I've been dreaming of this moment since I was eleven years old. Twenty-five years of waiting has not lessened the feeling of excitement I'm feeling right now, I assure you.

More news to follow...

Star Trek: Reboot...are we excited about this?

When it was announced in late 2007 that Paramount Pictures were planning to reboot the Star Trek movie franchise, the initial reaction from fans and non-fans alike was underwhelming to say the least. The last Trek movie, Nemesis (2002), performed poorly at the box office and fans felt it was little more than a pale imitation of the franchise’s arguably finest moment, The Wrath of Khan, but it was just too ‘lite’ to light up the screen and people stayed away in droves. After that, general feeling was somewhere in the region of ‘let sleeping dogs lie’. Then, out of left-field, JJ Abrams (Alias, Lost, MI:3) was attached to the project, and a Spock-like eyebrow was raised all round. Fascinating. Surely, if anyone could inject new life into Gene Roddenberry’s space baby it was Abrams?
And so the questions began: which Trek crew would it be? Not The Next Generation, that’s for sure. Not Deep Space 9. (That one was going nowhere, literally!) Not Voyager, either. (They wrapped that up pretty s…

Small Steps...

The writing has continued these past few months but at a slower pace than ever before. I’m surprised, though, how I have trained myself to be more productive despite having less and less time. When I get the odd hour to work on a story, I do it. If I can snatch a couple of hours to do edits on my next book, I do the edits. Time is precious to me now, more so than ever, so I don’t have the luxury of goofing off and faffing about with stuff which is really just procrastination dressed up as something far more important and appealing. You know the stuff of which I speak…
Anyway, I recently received an advance from Wolfsinger Publications for my novella ‘The Hotel Galileo’. Such an amazing feeling, hard to describe, and I couldn’t help but feel a certain sense of…I don’t know, that maybe this is a bit more ‘serious’ now. A great but weird feeling. I am looking forward to the book release with barely contained excitement and anticipation. I’m already getting requests from work colleagues an…

The Dead of Night Awards

Yes, folks, it's that time of year again. Screaming Dreams are holding their annual Dead of Night Awards for Best Author and Best Artist. This is a list of authors/artists who have contributed to the Screaming Dreams ezine Estronomicon or to the eBook section in 2008. Voting closes on March 7th 2009. To cast your vote you can email the editor Steve Upham directly at:, replacing AT with @, and in the message include the name of the author and/or artist you wish to vote for. To see the full list of eligible author and artist names visit the Screaming Dreams website here:
If you vote for me I will love you forever.
The new issue of ArkhamTales is online and available for free download. My story 'Inheritance' is scheduled to appear in a future issue. If you like Lovecraftian fiction, this magazine is for you.

Download it here:

A Dark Love Story for Valentine's Day...


They met by moonlight in the shadows of the bone garden — a place of relative sanctuary in the old ruined city — and there lay down together, servant and princess, in the dust and the scattered remnants of ended lives. The boy, Stille, held his young lover close, drowning her in passionate kisses and limitless promises, for such was the capacity of his young heart that his love knew no bounds: he pledged to Almira his love for all eternity.
But Almira's father, King of the ruined city, discovered their affair from a servant's loose lips, and on the night of their next scheduled rendezvous, sent his men to the bone garden.
When the princess arrived she found only a small cloth sack with her name written upon the fabric. Inside was Stille's tongue, still bloody, still warm.
She wanted to cry out with sorrow and rage, but did not. Like Stille, she remained silent.
Almira knew that her father had ordered this. The king told her she was forbidden to ever see the boy again. …

Bull Running for Girls by Allyson Bird

Just finished reading:

Believe everything you may have heard about Allyson Bird’s debut collection Bull Running for Girls (Screaming Dreams Press, 2008), folks: this collection of adventure-horror tales is a stunning, absorbing read. The stories blend together seamlessly to create a unique travelogue style, mixing in supernatural horror and suspense, terror and tragedy. The twenty-one stories take in such locations as Pamplona (for the title story), Madison County, U.S., Hong Kong, the Silk Road in China, Bordeaux, Pompeii and more. So hard to pick a favourite story (they are all equally enchanting), but the highlights for me were ‘The Conical Witch’, ‘The Sly Boy Bar and Eatery’, ‘In a Pig’s Ear’, ‘Blood in Madness Ran’ and the longest story, ‘Silence is Golden’, all of which left me with the most amazing images in my mind long after having finished reading them.
The book is dedicated to Ally’s mother and her sister who both passed away recently, and it’s a wonderful tribute to them a…

Jupiter SF #23 Out Now!

From the website: "Issue 23 of Jupiter: Kalyke is out now! This issue features 5 stories. The Weight of Shadows by Lee Moan, The Darken Loop by Huw Langridge (this is a follow on from Huws story The Ceres Configuration which was featured way back in issue 4), Thicker Than Water by Ian Sales, The Rule of Law by Elaine Graham-Leigh (a prequel to her story The Blue Man's Burden from issue 18), Notes from the Apocalypse by Michael Pepper and finally a short The Bridge of the Compass Rose by John Rogers."

The cover is by yours truly.

If you wish to purchase a copy of this issue, or any of the back issues of Jupiter SF, go here:
Jupiter SF costs £2.75 for a single issue.

The Hotel Galileo to be published in 2009

Well, I'm still stunned, excited, delirious. After a polite query to Carol Hightshoe at Wolfsinger Press asking about the status of my short novel submission, 'The Hotel Galileo', I received a reply offering me a contract for publication! I was so excited about this I couldn't sleep Sunday night. Woke up for work this morning completely knackered and wondering if I'd imagined it! But no, it's true. Carol said the book was scheduled to be released "sometime in 2009" as a paperback edition as well as an eBook version for Kindle etc. The paperback will be available to buy through

This is the culmination of two, maybe three years' work. The Hotel Galileo is, so far, one of the most enjoyable writing expereinces I've had so far. I really did have a ball writing it, and it was one of the first times I finished a project and was able to read it back over and feel really proud of it. (I've written several other novels prior to this whic…