Fox Hunting: Hunt barbarism into history









Like most normal people (and figures suggest over 80% of us are normal on this matter) I am disgusted by the practice of fox hunting. The very notion of it, not least the ‘enjoyment’ derived by those that do it, is something that feels beyond illogical to me. The ban that came in in 2004 – not perfect by any means, but a big step in the right direction – is now under threat, as many of us expected, by this government.

A free vote was promised on the repeal of the ban, but now, with many new Conservative MP’s coming out in favour of the ban, it seems far from clear cut that the PM would get the result he wanted. So instead he has found another way, an amendment that would pretty much make the ban worthless. A devious, underhand case of backdoor politics, rushed through on the back of the budget in the hope that enough people are too distracted to care.

I haven’t heard great arguments from the pro hunt lobby in the government as to why they would like it repealed (or ‘amended’ call it what you want – this government plays fast and loose with definitions) supposedly they might use the argument that it is ‘sport’ that was always the usual line. Sport? I don’t think so. In sport both sides know the rules and are willingly participating. Sport is something that brings classes, and ambitions together. Sport is aspirational. Do you think there are many kids at school dreaming of becoming a hunter when they grow up? The other argument that people wheel out is that of tradition. I remember hearing Portillo using that line a few weeks ago, just after decrying any abuse of animals. He said we should be wary of losing our traditions. Like the Spanish and bull fighting, that was his example. Bullshit. Tradition it may be, but then so to were workhouses, slavery, and denying women the vote etc etc… there are many things in our history that should shame us, but the thing is, the hope is that in a civilized country you grow, mature, become better informed and educated, and act with principles and morals, a knowledge of right and wrong, and in the UK that supposed good old sense of fair play. For some reason fox hunting remains an issue to be debated. It is quite embarrassing that we are even still talking about it. It should have been consigned to the history books with the rest of our shame.

With the sport and tradition argument not doing its job, we now hear the ‘pest control’ theory (I’m not sure Rentokil have plans to dress up and bring a load of their mates round to chase a rat into exhaustion and then watch it ripped apart, just yet) Of course, the pest control theory was somewhat blown out of the water recently with the expose at the Middleton Hunt. People hunt simply for the thrill of the kill. It is that simple, and that abhorrent.

I’ve always felt it was unhelpful to make this a class issue, it invariably ends up becoming toffs vs plebs, or townies vs country folk. Both sides demonising the other and claiming they have no understanding of how they live and what they do. None of that stereotyping is really necessary, and yet here we are, a Conservative government in power, who despite many of a new generation of their MP’s being vehemently against any repeal, despite a very slim mandate to serve, over 80% of the electorate being against it, are determined, by whatever means, to restore this hideous, barbaric, archaic practice. One nation Conservatives? I don’t think so. This is an old school ideology that panders to a class and upbringing that is alien to the vast majority of us. At what point does a government in charge of a country facing as many challenges as the UK is at the moment, stop and say “Do you know what? The vast majority of people don’t want this. There isn’t really any room in our advanced society for something like this. Let’s just leave it be and move on to something else.”

Whatever the result of the vote, those against this practice must keep fighting for what they know is right. Email your MP (they are there to serve us, it is their job to listen!) and keep up the pressure as long as people keep making this a fight we have to have.


Bleeker Hill & Darkshines Seven ebook re-release

Bleeker HillDarkshines Seven Part 3: Storm Tail











Very pleased that both Bleeker Hill and Darkshines Seven are to be re-released as eBooks through Matador. This means that rather than being available just for the Kindle and solely on Amazon as they both are now, they will be available on all other devices and other distributors too. The one downside to this however is that it means, due to both originally being exclusive to Amazon, all reviews attached to the eBook versions will be removed. Which is essentially all of them (another sign that people are buying eBooks and not paperbacks – but let’s not have that argument) So it would be a great help if those who have already posted reviews would re-post them when the new listing is live. I shall no doubt make grovelling pleas on social media as well when they are live. Impossible to overstate how important reviews are to authors.

The other difference will be that Darkshines Seven will be released as one story rather than a trilogy. It will also be marketed as a direct sequel to Bleeker Hill. Because it really is. Editing the three stories into one volume it became clear that so much in Darkshines – small nuances, in-jokes, and events – stems from knowledge of Bleeker Hill, and whilst having previously read Bleeker Hill shouldn’t be necessary to enjoy Darkshines Seven, it just felt right to go down this route with it. I also didn’t want to look like I was duping any new readers. Also, doing it this way it leaves the door open to make Bleeker Hill a trilogy…

Both new eBooks should be live next month.



Big Vultures and Cold Callers

Well, despite my decision to lay off the novels for a while, I seem to have written a new one. Not quite sure how that happened. I didn’t mean to. I suppose it comes back to that old writer adage of ‘write the book you need to write’ at least that seems the only logical explanation. Despite it being an idea I have had roughed out for years, I didn’t intend to write it yet but the damn thing demanded it. I have already tested out some of the novel with the short play ‘Cold Calling’ that I had performed on the Salisbury Fringe. It was always a story I loved, had characters that I wanted to write for, and ideas I wanted to explore, but I never really had a home for it. The positive response to the play made me revisit the previous draft and work on it again.

Tyler Coombes & Kerry Stockwell in 'Cold Calling'

Tyler Coombes & Kerry Stockwell in ‘Cold Calling’









For anyone that has seen the play and also read my previous novels, you will know that it is a pretty big departure for my writing; a romantic comedy, albeit one laced with biting cynicism. I’m incredibly proud of the novel, and hope that the rocky road to publication doesn’t knock the joy from it. More updates on the novel when I have them.

Augustines performing at The Roundhouse December 2014. Incredible gig!

Augustines performing at The Roundhouse December 2014. Incredible gig!








In other news, the boys at Big Vulture are hard at work compiling together hours of concert footage and interviews for ‘Rise: The Story of Augustines’ the documentary film I am involved with. From talking to Todd, the director, I think the end result is going to be something quite incredible, certainly not your usual music documentary – Augustines aren’t your usual sort of band anyway – and having seen a little bit of footage, I have to say I was slightly in awe of it. Really can’t wait to see the end result and watch the film unleashed on the world. For more film updates you can follow Big Vulture here

Darkshines Seven trilogy now complete

Darkshines Seven Part 3: Storm Tail











The final part of my Darkshines Seven series ‘Storm Tail’ has now been published, and all three novellas are available exclusively on the Kindle. A big thanks to all those of you that have already read them and left reviews, it’s been great to hear that so many have taken to Mia and Blarney (especially Blarney, it seems, which I’m very pleased about!) Writing Urban Fantasy has been a fun departure from my usual genres, and I hope that sometime there will be more stories for Mia and her cohorts. In the meantime, if you haven’t yet taken the trip beyond Bleeker Hill, to City 17, Darkshines asylum and Storm Tail cove, I hope you do. So do The Party, and you wouldn’t want to disappoint them…

Filming begins – Rise: The Story of Augustines

Rise: The Story of Augustines, filming at the Berlin wall








Filming has now begun on ‘Rise: The Story of Augustines’ the wonderful documentary film being made by Big Vulture on which I’m an associate producer. Speaking to the director and listening to their plans, I think this is going to be an incredible film, and I’m delighted to be involved with these very talented people. Filming is underway across Europe during the last leg of the band’s tour, and then will continue in America from January.

The film will be released next year.


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…



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