Monday, 29 June 2009

Big Issue - four star review!

Better known as the smooth voice of Radio Scotland's afternoon show, but here Morton proves his renaissance-man credentials with a rattlingly good dark comedy thriller. Murricane is our flawed hero, searching for rogue terrorist Serpentine in the Gaza Strip, the Scottish Highlands and Northern Ireland.

Smooth voice? All those years smoking Golden Virginia, wasted!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Serpentine reviewed in The Scotsman...and one reader's 'first book for 30 years' Lesley McDowell. I suppose it was inevitable that Serpentine would be coupled with Alan Clements' Rogue Nation (same publisher, both authors working in the Scottish media, although I'm not the zillionaire boss of STV.) Fair points made, I think, though obviously as a writer you don't really want intelligent objectivity, you want TOTAL AND BREATHLESS ENTHUSIASM.
Read the review here:
My favourite extract would have to be:
I never knew Inverness was such a hive of secret government and anti-government activity, where not even retired lesbian agents can enjoy their peaceful Sapphic idyll without being captured or beaten to death by Irish Unionist thugs

Which only goes to show what a sheltered life Ms McDowell has led. It must be said that both Rogue Nation and Serpentine are treated with the same unwillingness to suspend disbelief. Ah well.

Meanwhile, I received an email this week from a woman who'd bought the book for her husband who, she said "had not read a book in 30 years." At the end of the first chapter he apparently said "this is hopeful" and proceeded to finish it in double quick time. Result!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

To the book signing! Or perhaps not...

I'm not sure about local book signings. On the one hand, you get a chance to meet fine folk who like you. Or the idea of you. Or the idea of your book. On the other hand, nobody may turn up. Or even worse, you can have competitive book signings with other authors, at festivals, where you're constantly assessing whether their queue is bigger than your queue...or worrying about the facft they have a queue and you don't...

My two hours at The Shetland Times was pleasant, as various folk I know and don't know bought books and chatted. Interestingly for the theme of Serpentine, it was Armed Foces Day, and a military band was marching outside, providing a suitably brassy soundtrack to Murricane and Flaws' torrid adventures.

But not everyone wants a signed book, and not everyone who wants one wants to actually meet the author. I had a pile of advance requests to sign, and a number of my friends locally had already bought the book and had no desire to see me deface it. They just wanted to read it.

Linda Glanville was in the Peerie shop Cafe, and had bought a copy of Serpentine when it first came out. No signature necessary. She's one of the biggest crime thriller aficianada I've ever met, and to whom I will be forever grateful for, a few years ago, lending me copies of the then-rare Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo Beck books. Not only did she enjoy Serpentine, she was even able to read the violent bits she normally avoids in other such tomes. "Except the bit about the seagulls."

Yes, that seagull bit is a tad...extreme. But then, I told her, if she thinks that's bad, she should try The Ossians by Doug Johnstone. It's a seagull slasher novel! Or crusher...

Friday, 12 June 2009

Excellent review in Shetland Times - signing next weekend

Many thanks to Shetland Times reporter Laura Friedlander for a lengthy and enthusiastic review which reflects almost exactly my wife's opinion of the book. Can't, alas, find it online so you'll have to trust my ability to extract the most flattering bits!

Headlined "adventure story will be summer's top read in the genre", I suppose (for future publication on the cover of any reprint) I'd add:

Meticulous research proves its worth...the book is excellent in its attention to detail and meticulous research...

I found the very fast pace of the book challenging, but it made me re-read passages to make sure I had not missed out. I would even go so far as to say it is a book perhaps worth reading twice as rather like a painting, more details come out on second examination. It is not the sort of book you can read last thing at night and it certainly won't lull you to sleep through boredom, because the book is a page-turner, no doubt about that. It could give you nightmares.

Hold on tight for a real rollercoaster read...this is real boy's own stuff. If you want to read a really macho adventure story, then this might just be this summer's top read in the genre.

I'll be signing copies of the book (and hopefully people will be buying them)between noon and 2.00pm on Saturday 20th June at The Shetland Times Bookshop in Commercial Street, Lerwick.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Big Red Bathtub heading for Fort William

No news from Rob and the guys...I can only presume all went well on their marathon trek from Norwich to Orkney. Today they're heading to Glenmorangie and thence to rendezvous with me at Fort William, where we overnight before heading to Islay.

I picked up the Triumph Trophy 1200 yesterday from the Mill Garage in Bonnybridge - seems fine, and fixed very cheaply, considering an official dealer would probably have written the thing off. Patched up the smashed panel with gaffa tape, stuck on wobbly rear light lens, replaced indicator bulb. It's not pretty, it sounds like a diesel but it seems to go...No parking on the street any more...The Big Red Bathtub is over at the BBC and I'm now heading off to pick it up, pack and ride to Fort William.

So, Fort William tonight, Islay tomorrow, Bladnoch on Saturday, Glengarioch on Sunday, Crieff Monday. If you're in the vicinity, keep an eye out for a big, battered old Triumph Trophy 1200 (red) which sounds like a diesel truck. Also a brand new Triumph Bonneville and an Enfield 500. Plus TV crew. Good to hear that my old pal Dave will be meeting us in Wigtown with his yellow Triumph Daytona.

By the way: My new thriller Serpentine is officially published today...find out more and follow the links to buy a copy at the Serpentine Blog.

Serpentine is out now!

...and available to buy from the outlets in the links section, as well as from your local book retailer, which I heartily recommend. Bookshops Must Be Saved, If Only For The Browsers Among Us!