Ghost of the Black back in print

photoAfter a few requests from various places, I’ve made my sci-fi noir novella, Ghost of the Black: A ‘Verse Full of Scum, available in print again. It was originally self-published in serial form on this very website (and is still available to read here), then I made it available as an ebook and paperback through my little micro-press, Blade Red Press. It’s still available there as an ebook, even though Blade Red is on indefinite hiatus.

However, thanks to the wonders of CreateSpace, it’s now available in paperback again. You can find it in on Amazon here. It can also be ordered via Ingram’s and will propagate out to all the other online bookstores over time.

It’s a bit over 100 pages of magical, science fiction, crime noir fun, so if you’re keen, grab yourself a copy. Or it would make a fine gift for a friend. Here’s the blurb:

Ghost is possibly the best bounty hunter in the universe and he always gets the job done. At least, that’s the reputation that he rides on. When the DAP employ him to track down and capture a rogue Magicker who’s running across the galaxy killing anyone who gets in his way, Ghost realises that this is a job that could cost him his reputation. It’s also a job that could cost him his sanity. A sci-fi noir novella from the author of RealmShift and MageSign.


The Darkest Shade Of Grey ebook now available

DSOG-coverI’m really excited about this, so excuse me while I Snoppy Dance. My novella, The Darkest Shade Of Grey, is now available as an ebook, from Amazon and Smashwords. It’ll soon populate out through the Smashwords Premium catalogue to iBooks and all the other good places for ebooks.

David Johanssen’s drinking problem goes beyond the usual need for self-medication. He sees things he shouldn’t be able to see, things no one could handle seeing. And he has no one but himself to blame.

When a chance encounter offers the possibility of answers, he follows the bloody trail in spite of his own fears. It could be the big story he needs to keep his job. It could be the meaning of life. Or it could be the end of his world.

The story is published by The Red Penny Papers, and serialised on their site in four parts. Those four parts and a mini interview with me have subsequently been collected into this ebook edition, which will only cost US$1.99 of your Earth money. Less than half a cup of coffee for what the publisher calls “stunning supernatural noir”. How can you go wrong?

Don’t trust me or the publisher? Well, don’t panic. I’m also Snoopy Dancing due to this excellent review of The Darkest Shade Of Grey from the Australian Godfather of Darkness, Robert Hood. I couldn’t be happier that someone I respect as much as Robert Hood enjoyed my work and gets what I was trying to do. Thanks, Rob, for a great review!

I’m very proud of this story and pleased that it’s been publihsed by such a classy outfit as The Red Penny Papers. Go get some. If you do read it and enjoy it, please leave a review at Amazon, Smashwords or wherever else you usually hang out. Reviews are the very life essence of a writer’s career. Well, actually, love and royalties are the real life essence, but they’re powered by reviews.

The Darkest Shade Of Grey at Amazon.

The Darkest Shade Of Grey at Smashwords.

The Darkest Shade Of Grey at The Red Penny Papers.


The Darkest Shade Of Grey now complete, and ebook on the way

The Darkest Shade Of GreyI’m very proud of this story, and it’s now up at The Red Penny Papers in its entirety. It’s a novelette in four parts, totalling about 18,000 words. I’m also very pleased to announce that it will be the first in a new range of novella and novelette ebooks from Red Penny Papers. They run regular serials as well as their short story editions, and now all the serial authors will have the option to have their serial collected in an ebook edition after the initial web run. The stories will stay on the web as well, and be available on Amazon Kindle and via Smashwords. The Darkest Shade Of Grey ebook will be out next week for $1.99. Bargain! Details here. I’ll make another quick post with links when it’s available, or you can read the story now at The Red Penny Papers. Click the link or the book cover on the left.

And what a great cover it is, too. Megan Eckman was commissioned by RPP for that and she did a great job. It really captures the story, I think.

The story itself was inspired by a friend of mine, who told me about something that happened to him back in his days as a journalist. From that account, the germ of this story idea grew and it just blossomed into what eventually became The Darkest Shade Of Grey. The story is set in Sydney and tells of a bitter, divorced, alcoholic journalist, David Johanssen, who’s desperately trying to see the point to his existence. He’s saddled not only with his bitterness and alcoholism, but with unwanted supernatural abilites he developed after messing with occult practices he should have left well alone. And then one day he crosses paths with a very strange homeless man, who sets in motion a series of events that could make David’s career. Or destroy him completely.

The publisher describes the story as “a bit of stunning supernatural noir”.

I hope you enjoy it. Please tell your friends and colleagues if you do and share the links around.


Guest post – The Copper Promise by Jennifer Williams

I’m pleased to present a guest post today from Jennifer Williams, where she talks about the way writing often seems to have a life of its own. I hope you enjoy it. – Alan

Copper PromiseThe Copper Promise

Where did it come from? How did it go from a small thing to a big thing? This is what I’ve been thinking about lately. Sometimes I feel like I’m a scientist in a 1950s B-movie, looking sadly from the broken cage that once contained a small, docile bunny rabbit, to the very large and ominous bunny-shaped hole in the wall. Around me there are test tubes of various lurid colours. Some of them are gently steaming. From outside I can hear the distant screams of people being devoured by a giant bunny monster, and I’m not really sure how this happened.

I’d written some short stories, you see, enough that people started to ask me if I’d written anything longer. I have actually, I’ve written a number of chunky old novels, but the trouble with these is that they all require a severe beating with the editing stick and that sort of treatment takes time. So my thought was that I could write a longer thing, a story especially for the people who wanted something to get their teeth into; it would be longer than a short story, but not as huge and unwieldy as a novel. It would be a novella: it would be zippy and sexy, it wouldn’t take all that long to do, and I could pop it straight up on Amazon for people to download onto their kindles.

In terms of keeping it small I didn’t get off to a great start. My first idea was a horror story about the ghost of a serial killer haunting part of South East London. Zippy, I thought. Super-fast. Unfortunately the story ballooned, and eventually became The Snake House, a full-length novel containing all sorts of nasty stuff I didn’t realise I was capable of, and just as needful of a damn good editing as all my other books. So, not so zippy.

I tried again. I asked myself, what do I really love? At the time I was reading a lot of fantasy, and had just launched into a merry re-read of the Discworld novels. Gradually, an idea formed; at this stage still a tiny wee fluffy thing with a pink nosie and tiny feet. Perhaps, I thought, I could write a novella that looked back to the golden age of pulp fantasy fiction. It would be quick and zippy and sexy, and that would be appropriate for a fast-paced adventure. I could make it modern too, trim off some of the sexism and racism that sometimes cropped up, and populate it with realistic characters.

At what point did The Copper Promise bloom into a series of novellas? It is difficult to say. One minute I had a bunny-rabbit of an idea, curled into my hand, peaceably munching on a carrot, and the next I had a beast chewing at my elbow. Perhaps, you could say, I have no self-control. You might suggest I got a little experimental with the test tubes and it’s all my fault. Personally, I blame it on the genre.

The thing with fantasy books, and I genuinely believe this, is that they grow. All by themselves. I suspect there have been many fantasy writers, their beards glistening softly in the pearly light from their laptops, wondering how this little book, this off-the-cuff thing that was supposed to be 70,000 words at the most became a sprawling twelve book epic, taking up its own shelf at their local Waterstones.

I think fantasy has a life of its own. As George R.R Martin said (he of the glistening beard and sprawling seven book epic) “the best fantasy is written in the language of dreams”; it’s coming from a place deep inside us that we can’t necessarily control. There are whole worlds inside us and sometimes they make themselves known. I think this explains a lot.

And perhaps I can blame it on the characters a little bit too. Wydrin of Crosshaven, my charming rogue who was born out of a desire to write a strong female character and a love of Fritz Leiber’s Gray Mouser, soon stopped listening to my instructions and disobeyed appallingly. Similarly, Lord Frith and my dear knight Sebastian soon showed themselves to be more fun than they had any right to be, and I knew that I couldn’t leave them after just the one novella. The monstrous bunny flexed its terrible hairy muscles, booted open the door of the cage and sprinted off into the night, smelling faintly of mead and leather.

My short zippy experiment is now a serial. I suppose I’m lucky really; The Copper Promise will be about the length of a normal book when it’s finished, and will still look puny next to the multi-volume epics. Although I do look at those test tubes, and I wonder…

Jennifer Williams is a fantasy writer from South East London. She started her career by making up scary stories to frighten her school friends, and when this inevitably attracted the ire of certain parents she took to writing them down instead. The Copper Promise is the first in a short series of sword and sorcery novellas.

These days she lives in one of the more excitingly eventful bits of London with her partner and their cat, and when not frowning at notebooks in pubs and cafes her spare time is often spent gesticulating wildly at her Xbox. Jennifer blogs about things like writing, video games and fandom at


The Darkest Shade Of Grey, episode 2 now live

My serial novella, The Darkest Shade Of Grey, is being published in four weekly installments by The Red Penny Papers. It’s free to read online, so get on over there and check it out.

Episode 1 is here.

Episode 2 is here.

Episodes 3 and 4 will be published over the next two weeks.

If you enjoy it, please do share the links with your family, friends and colleagues.