Rise – The Story of Augustines

Rise - The Story of Augustines











Having been looking to put the novel writing on the back burner and return to film after many years, I’m delighted and honoured to be involved in the forthcoming film documentary by Big Vulture, ‘Rise – The Story of Augustines’ directed by my good mate, Todd Howe, ex-guitarist with my beloved The Boxer Rebellion.

Those not familiar with Augustines, apart from immediately checking out their music, would do well to read the excellent Brother’s Keeper by Ryan Berg. I also wrote a bit about them back in 2011 and interviewed singer Billy McCarthy, you can read that here

I first found Augustines through Todd, a friend of the band for many years, and then saw them supporting the Boxers. It was one of those strange musical experiences where the connection was immediate. Connection is something Augustines do very well. No matter the size of the venue or the crowd, there is a remarkable intimacy to an Augustines show, and it is most definitely a two way love with their audience. Having followed their journey since that first gig, I look at the astonishing strides they have made, the huge audience they have picked up along the way, and most importantly the smiles on their faces, and it makes me feel proud.

The Augustines are an important band to me. I would expect that they are to pretty much anyone that has ever seen them live. How they came to be, how they survived the many obstacles and life-changing experiences flung at them along the way, is a quite incredible story, and that they are here now, doing what they were born to do, and not just surviving but thriving, is a testament to the fact that a strength of will, a bond of friendship, and a wave of love can overcome most things. The music industry, much like the publishing industry, is littered with talent felled by the bullshit, the tortuous process of creativity in a world ruled by fad and fortune, and those sucked dry by the bureaucratic bouncers standing in front of your audience. I have nothing but the utmost respect for anyone who can become a success in such an industry. That Augustines can do it, having had to overcome all they have, is remarkable. Whether a music fan or not, for any creative, anyone who has battled to bring their dreams to life, their story is something that will resonate and inspire.

For those who may want to get involved in what promises to be a very exciting film, there is currently a Kickstarter campaign with lots of great, exclusive perks over at RISEFILM.COM – watch the trailer, feel the love and come and join the community!

Darkshines Seven parts 1 & 2 now available!

Darkshines SevenDarkshines Seven Part 2












My next story ‘Darkshines Seven’ will be released on the Kindle in installments, the first two parts ‘Beyond Bleeker Hill’ and ‘Savage Little Angels’ are now available to download. As the first subtitle suggests it is a story that links heavily with Bleeker Hill (and also to Stone Bleeding) and can be read as a follow up. However it is intended to be the start of a stand alone story in its own right and although prior knowledge of the stories would be good, it isn’t essential. As with those two novels ‘Darkshines Seven’ is its own beast existing in the same fictitious world. It’s also a different style of book, just as the other two are, focusing more on the dystopian angle and dipping its pages into that bloated pool of YA literature.

Part 3 is coming along well and hopefully it will also be ready for download soon.

As always I’d love to hear your thoughts, either via social media, the comments section here or, preferably, in a review. You can download the stories at Amazon UK or Amazon US


The Party still loves you…


Announcing new book – Darkshines Seven

Darkshines Seven

So my next story is to be called ‘Darkshines Seven’ and will be published in installments (at the moment two, but there is a chance there will be more) Part 1 ‘Beyond Bleeker Hill’ will be published on the Kindle very soon. Although the story can be read as a follow up to ‘Bleeker Hill’ it is very much a story in its own right. Certainly there is more there for those who have read ‘Bleeker Hill’ (and ‘Stone Bleeding’ too for that matter) but I hopefully haven’t made enjoying or understanding the story dependent on it. I would assume, anyway, that if you are the sort of reader that needs everything laid out and coloured in for them, then I’m not really your sort of author in the first place.

Although each part will be released individually on the Kindle first, there will also be a paperback issue that will combine the whole story.

More publication news soon, in the meantime have a look at the really rather cool design by Stew Taylor.

The Party Loves You…

Ginger Nuts of Horror names ‘Bleeker Hill’ a novel of the year + interview

Bleeker Hill

It can be a really difficult process getting reviews for your books when you are an indie writer. At least that’s what I have found. Maybe it’s because my first two books didn’t really have easily identifiable genres, but even with Bleeker Hill, a novel that does, it has been hit and miss. I’ve been dangled around with the promise of reviews a fair few times and I guess that’s just part of the deal, but I also have to say that with all three books I have encountered some really great reviewers and review sites. Jim McLeod at Ginger Nuts of Horror is one of those. It’s hard not to love Jim’s obvious passion for horror. Ginger Nuts is a great site for the horror fan. Fun, personal, and covering all manner of horror sub-genres, with interviews, reviews, articles and so much more, it oozes love for its subject.

I was so pleased Jim agreed to take a punt on Bleeker Hill and absolutely honoured that he liked it enough to name it one of his horror novels of the year! (Some pretty decent company there too) I also did an interview for Ginger Nuts of Horror which you can read here (I tried to keep the ranting to a minimum)

Huge thanks to Jim, and anyone else that has taken the time to review any of my books. Reviews are essential – good, bad or indifferent. Sometimes the hardest part of doing this job is the silence, so hearing from readers and knowing that they liked your work enough to write a review, send an email, or a tweet is just about as wonderful as this job gets.


Christmas book offer – signed Bleeker Hill paperbacks + extras


Now, Bleeker Hill may not be the obvious choice for a festive read, but it does feature a lot of snow, some men with beards and a lot of miserable adults, so that is a tenuous enough link in my book. So how about a little Christmas extra if you are considering buying literature for your loved ones? I’m offering a paperback edition of Bleeker Hill – signed or personalised if you wish – and to go with it I have a limited number of Bleeker Hill bookmarks and double sided A5 posters. £7.99 with free postage to Europe (outside of Europe please add £5)

If you want a copy you can pay by Paypal with payment to – russellmardell AT hotmail DOT com – please state in the message box what payment is for and if you would like it signed.

The Party Loves You

Writing is an art – what is your art worth?

A visit to a local art gallery this week got me thinking again about the worth placed on the art of writing. We don’t have a lot of art galleries down my way and it was a breath of fresh air. There was also some truly excellent pieces on display. The cheapest bit of artwork I saw was around £400. The most expensive was about £14,000. I had a chat with the guy running the gallery and invariably I pitched Bleeker Hill to him after he asked me what I did for a living. It was only really after I spoke to him that it occurred to me how utterly ridiculous the situation was – there was a curator talking to me about £14,000 artwork and there was me, pushing my 77p artwork. Now, I’m not being naive enough to suggest there should, or could ever be, financial comparisons between the two. But in that extreme there shows up another huge gulf that has nothing to do with money.

I’m not sure just exactly when the novel was deemed so utterly worthless to people on a financial level. Was it just the ebook explosion and the subsequent flooding of the market? Maybe. It still amazes me how many book reviews I read that base a negative rating on the price of the ebook rather than the actual content. This is invariably towards well established authors as it is only the writers that have a large readership that really dare charge something obscene for an ebook like, say £5. A fiver for a complete novel by my favourite author? I’m not paying that! So where does that leave the rest of us? Yep, offering out a year of work on your ‘art’ for 99p. Or free. All in the hope that you may get away with charging something exorbitant like a fiver for, maybe, your tenth novel, once you have a lot of readers, a large publisher, and a heck of a lot of marketing behind you. Of course when you get to that level you can afford to swallow up a few dickheads slagging off your book because they had to break into a note for it. The rest of us have to decide if being read for peanuts is preferable to offering your art for something nearer its worth but not being read at all.  Of course, there is no real option there. I take my hat off to the indies that manage to bang out books left, right and centre, maintain quality and also find something approaching a sustainable career from it. Far too many people think it is a quick route to fame and fortune. It really isn’t. It’s a damn hard slog, it’s dispiriting, frustrating, slow and badly paid for the most part. Also, if that is the reason you are doing it in the first place, you aren’t a writer. Go on reality TV instead if you want that. Chances are, if you do well you will get a book deal from it anyway.

And there is another issue. A publishing industry that has bought into the celebrity culture that has been infesting society for years now. It may be true that the mass influx of cheap garbage that has flooded the book market since the indie revolution is helping to devalue the actual worth of the novel, but I would argue that so to is the constant line of celebrity penned books. I don’t mean autobiographies here, but the famous people who agents and publishers go cap in hand to, asking if they want a fat chunk of change and a three book publishing deal because, you know, they’ve been on telly. Writing is a strange beast. There can’t be many jobs where you can be utterly untrained or untried, or even, quite possibly not very good, and yet still find yourself being offered a deal to work in the industry. I think of the footballers, TV presenters and even politicians, that have been handed book deals and a nice fat advance and then I debate about my chances of playing professional football, being offered a gig fronting  a TV show or getting a job in politics. None is likely. I am untried in those areas and unless I put the work in, unless I proved I could do the job, I wouldn’t get in the door. And quite right too. So why must my industry be treated like the default, fallback career for famous people looking for a new direction or something to do now they aren’t on TV so much anymore?

A publishing deal, a lit agent, these are things that pretty much every writer (as in someone who has chosen it as their career) strives for, craves and works towards (there are some indies that neither want nor need either, and all power to them, but they are very much the exception rather than the rule) and to secure either or both should be something that is earned and worked for. We all read the books and websites that advise on how to get an agent or a publishing deal. We all read the tips and tricks and spend months tweaking and fiddling with those magic first ten pages, knowing that that is probably all an agent is going to read of your book. We get rejected, if we are lucky we get feedback, then we go away and rework, resubmit, reevaluate, write another book and keep on kicking at the door, because that is what experts and agents and wise heads and publishers all tell you to do. Fine. It shouldn’t be easy to get a publishing deal or a lit agent. But let’s have a level playing field, please. I want my industry to be discerning, picky, and a champion of the best. But it should be hard for everyone. Wouldn’t it be harder for a non-plumber to get a job as a plumber? Now, when I am looking for the right agent, not only do I look to see who they represent so I can see whether my work would be a decent fit with their list, I also look to see if they represent any celebrities, and if they do, I don’t approach them as I know they won’t fit with me.

Every industry wants to make money and clearly there is sufficient readers out there for this sort of sham as to make it worthwhile, so maybe the blame is on us, the book buying public and not the agents and publishers? Maybe. Maybe we as readers are devaluing the industry. Maybe we wouldn’t read books at all unless the author was famous? Sure.

A good novel is a wondrous thing. To true book lovers a paperback or hardback that they have fallen in love with is every bit as precious a piece of art as something you would hang on a wall. There are still plenty of people that take pride in what is on their bookshelves, still plenty that shout and rave and extoll the magic of a story they found and just had to tell the world about. But are there any people left willing to pay even a nominal price for it? I don’t know. I remember a couple of people who after I handed them over copies of my first book, fondled it lovingly, caressed it and even hugged it to them (not for what was in it I should add, merely because it was a book) and I know there are people out there that value books above any other sort of art or entertainment. Yet still, here we are, the publishing industry following the music industry, the novel becoming the new CD, downloads, free or illegal, overtaking even a modestly priced album. Musicians make their money from touring, or from merchandise. But what of the indie author? The author needs advances to make a living from writing. The writer needs publishers and therefore they usually need lit agents. That application for the next series of Big Brother is starting to look appealing.

An open letter to every publisher in the world by Craig Stone

Reading the wonderful blog of the writer Craig Stone, I found this post which rang true and made me laugh. If you are an unrepresented or un(trad)published writer, it may mean something to you too.

Check out Craig’s site http://thoughtscratchings.com/

An open letter to every publisher in the world.


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