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Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Mean Streets Bundle

You know about StoryBundles, right? From their web page faq:

We take a handful of books—anywhere from six to nine—and group them together to offer as a bundle. Then you, the reader, can take a look at the titles we've chosen and decide how much you'd like to pay. Think of us like a friend that scours independent books for undiscovered gems, then bundles these titles together for one low price that you decide. Yeah, we mean it; you get to set the price that you want to pay!

Each bundle is available only for a limited time. If you miss out on the bundle, you'll have to buy the books individually from each author. We feature each bundle only once. Once it's gone, it's gone. 

Having the reader set the price is a pretty radical idea, but it seems to work. The proceeds also benefit three charities: SpecialEffect, Girls Write Now, and Mighty Writers. Which helps to mitigate the embarrassment I ought to feel in presenting Steven Savile's blog posting for today's launch of the Mean Streets crime fiction bundle.
Curated by Steven Savile

Steven Savile writes: When we were first mulling over the name of this bundle, Mean Streets, I had a very focused vision on what I thought it was going to be. I'd just finished working on the collaboration with Prodigy (the hip-hop artist from Mobb Deep's The Infamous fame, not the Firestarter) HNIC and was thinking very much edgy and dark stuff, hardcore, maybe not the poets of our generation but certainly a voice for a slice of society that's been disenfranchised by the system of living. It was a great starting place, the back alleys of Brooklyn Heights or Across Hundred and Tenth Street into Harlem, but they aren't the only mean streets. What we've got here, we're talking the pheromones of the city, the detritus of a nation. We're talking about the criminal elements that move and shake just below the surface, unseen but everyone is aware they're there… We're talking seminal TV shows like The Wire and The Shield. We're talking about outcasts forced to live hard or die harder. We're talking about the Lone Ranger or Shane riding into town and fix that shit even as it explodes all around them. We're talking primarily about heroes and villains where the cities they do battle in are as important as any character.
The first book I picked for this bundle, Stephen Gallagher's Down River, is one of those books that made me want to be a writer. Hell, I think I emulated if not outright copied elements of it for a dozen (unpublished and never to be published) stories. I make no bones about it, I adore this man's work. On any list of favourite authors I've written down from the age of 19 (when I first discovered his novel Rain) right up until today, Steve would be one of the first names down. You might not be familiar with his stuff. I could embarrass him by saying he wrote the Warrior's Gate and Terminus episodes of the classic Doctor Who era (Staring Tom Baker and Peter Davison respectively), or talk about the pure excitement in the Savile household reading copies of FEAR MAGAZINE in preparation for the release of his first creator-driven show Chimera, which was something of an event for a fanboy like me… I could mention The Eleventh Hour TV show with Captain Picard at the helm in the UK and Rufus Sewell playing Hood in the US, or the reimagining of Robinson Crusoe from a few years back, or that short lived Christian Slater vehicle, The Forgotten. If you're an anglophile I could mention some pretty devastating episodes of Silent Witness…

But instead, I'll tell you a little story about the first time I met Steve. It was at a dealer table at a convention, and I'd got a copy of a signed limited edition of his short story collection in my hand. We'd talked a lot before this, even exchanged old fashioned letters, and he'd been in my anthology Redbrick Eden which raised money for homelessness in the UK, but this was the first time we'd seen each other face-to-face… and what sentence preceded that auspicious event? Me saying 'Jesus Christ, thirty five fucking quid for a book, that's ridiculous!' and a voice behind me saying 'I know… it's rather embarrassing, but I didn't set the price…' as you can imagine… I did a very good impression of the Incredible Shrinking Man at that point. Suffice it to say, Steve is top man, and a terrific writer. I read Down River, the story of Johnny Mays, back in 1989 and I have never forgotten it. That should tell you something very important about just how good this guy is.


The second book I picked for the bundle was an easy choice, Ed Gorman. I've never had the pleasure of meeting Ed, but I consider him right there with John D. McDonald, Robert B. Parker and Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer when it comes to crime fiction. Ed is the very definition of a writer's writer. He's nothing short of brilliant READ MORE

There you have it. Pick up the bundle and look what you get. Clive Barker, Ed Gorman, Bill Pronzini, Steven Savile, Maynard & Sims, Tony Black, Sean Black, Dennis Niall Wilson, Tom Piccirilli, David Morrell. Heavy hitters, all.

A downside of seismic changes in the book market has been the lack of reliable guidance to the good stuff. Big sales and fan noise are just as likely to lead to disappointment as to discovery. There have been a number of experiments in curation, and StoryBundle seems to be one of the more successful. Their organisation and professionalism has certainly been impressive. It's a pleasure and an honour to be included.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

If You Can Get To Camden

There's this:

From tomorrow, Thursday April 16th, for three nights at Camden's Etcetera Theatre. I didn't have a hand in the show but there's some DNA in there somewhere.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Nightmare to the Max

Hey look, the kid's all growed up.