Do You NaNo?

If you’re participating in the madness that is NaNoWriMo, you may find this little 60pp guide handy. Today only it’s free, so pick it up by clicking the picture — and good luck!

Happy Drag Noir Halloween!

Whoohoo! It should be live now! Just click the picture and get all the DRAG NOIR goodness for yourself. You may also want Fox Spirit’s other release today, WICKED WOMEN.

DRAG NOIR: this is where glamour meets grit, where everyone’s wearing a disguise (whether they know it or not) and knowing the players takes a lot more than simply reading the score cards. Maybe everyone’s got something to hide, but they’ve got something to reveal, too. Scratch the surface and explore what secrets lie beneath — it’s bound to cost someone…a lot. Introduction by Dana Gravesen and Bryan Asbury , The Meaning of Skin – Richard Godwin , Wheel Man – Tess Makovesky , No. 21: Gabriella Merlo – Ben Solomon , Geezer Dyke – Becky Thacker , Lucky in Cards – Jack Bates , Trespassing – Michael S. Chong , Chianti – Selene MacLeod , The Changeling – Tracy Fahey , Straight Baby – Redfern Jon Barrett , Kiki Le Shade – Chloe Yates , Protect Her – Walter Conley , King Bitch – James Bennett , A Bit of a Pickle – Paul D. Brazill , Stainless Steel – Amelia Mangan , The Itch of the Iron, The Pull of the Moon – Carol Borden

And because I’m usually better about celebrating Halloween, here’s a prezzie for you: all three HARD-BOILED WITCH stories are free today only! Get them all and catch up on your reading before number four comes out. Just click the pictures.


Review: Furia by The Fates

Buy from Finders Keepers Records


The Fates


Originally scheduled for release on Halloween 1985 this privately pressed all female post-punk/broken-folk collective concept LP was resurrected from the ashes of the original line-up of The Fall and Velvet Underground singer Nico’s Blue Orchids backing band at the command of pioneering Manchester female punk icon Una Baines before disappearing into the annals of UK punk purgatory.

Comprising all the DIY traits and snarling attitudes of Manchester’s smartarsed punk retaliation, with haunting mechanical folk, pastoral drones and a back story that unites sleeve artist Linder Sterling (Ludus), Spider King, Martin Hannett, Tony Baines, Martin Bramah and John Cooper Clarke with the 16th Century Pendle Witches, this virtually unknown LP is a vital missing piece in Manchester’s self-help anti-pop industry.  Lost in the ether, lauded by collectors and likened by Mark E. Smith to the Third Ear Band this unclassifiable arty-fact renders tags like Pagan punk utterly redundant.


I had heard of this LP but until I discovered Baines online I didn’t know it was getting a new release. What a pleasure! As the Quietus covers in their far-ranging review-cum-history, the death of Baines’ mother had a huge impact on the recording, including the song ‘Brigit of Ireland’ which cements the link to the mythic that runs throughout the album. The Fates manage to draw on the two major figures from the past — both Mark E. Smith and Nico cast heavy shadows — without ever feeling derivative. You can hear echoes of the Velvets in ‘Ceaseless Efforts’ and elements of the Fall’s earlu Casio-fueled repetitions in many of the tracks, but the voice of the new band, while at times tentative, is strikingly definitive. Like the invocation of a ritual, Furia develops organically from pop to more outré experimentalism. The influence of Graves’ White Goddess is strong in the musical evocation of a lost pagan past (liner notes of the original LP apparently also made more of a link to the Pendle Witches). The track actually called ‘Ritual’ receives its power from “our will so strong it shapes the nature of things” and the persistence of this ‘lost’ recording suggests that power itself.

Pagans will definitely enjoy the album, but it works as chill music too, sort of experimental folk. What’s truly amazing is how contemporary it sounds. Yet also ripe for some interesting remixes, too — I can almost hear them in my head already. Incredible grace and power here. Check it out. Click the image below to listen/buy:


ITW Round Table: Romance in Thrillers?


I’m part of the roundtable over at the International Thriller Writers’ Big Thrill this week with Bernard Maestas, David M. Salkin, Alex Shaw, L.R. Nicolello, Eric Red, Mauro Azzano, Colin Campbell, and Alan L. Moss. Join us!


Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys by Viv Albertine

Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys
Viv Albertine


Viv Albertine is a pioneer. As lead guitarist and songwriter for the seminal band The Slits, she influenced a future generation of artists including Kurt Cobain and Carrie Brownstein. She formed a band with Sid Vicious and was there the night he met Nancy Spungeon. She tempted Johnny Thunders…toured America with the Clash…dated Mick Jones…and inspired the classic Clash anthem “Train in Vain.” But Albertine was no mere muse. In Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys., Albertine delivers a unique and unfiltered look at a traditionally male-dominated scene.

Her story is so much more than a music memoir. Albertine’s narrative is nothing less than a fierce correspondence from a life on the fringes of culture. The author recalls rebelling from conformity and patriarchal society ever since her days as an adolescent girl in the same London suburb of Muswell Hill where the Kinks formed. With brash honesty—and an unforgiving memory—Albertine writes of immersing herself into punk culture among the likes of the Sex Pistols and the Buzzcocks. Of her devastation when the Slits broke up and her reinvention as a director and screenwriter. Or abortion, marriage, motherhood, and surviving cancer. Navigating infidelity and negotiating divorce. And launching her recent comeback as a solo artist with her debut album, The Vermilion Border.


I kept thinking I’d already written this review because the book has so completely seeped into my consciousness. This is a warts and all memoir that tests you at the start to see if you’re strong enough to make the journey, throwing the messy chaos of her early life at the reader with both hands. I doubt the teen Albertine and I would ever have bonded as friends — she’s just too much of a girly girl for me, I never dealt well with the ‘boy crazy’ types — but I so admire this woman, I cannot tell you how much. She had a lot more chutzpah pursuing the things I only dreamed of like swanning her way into the music scene and picking up a guitar and keeping at it. Her life is tough from the get go but she persists through it all. She was there at so many of the pivotal moments in punk and beyond. Our culture does not idolize women except for beauty (which she has plenty of but never mind) or she would be mentioned in the same breath as Mick and Joe and Johnny and Sid, but they Slits don’t even get more than a grudging mention as one of the ‘girl bands’ of the era. The obsessiveness any art requires (the title comes from her mother’s lament about the young Viv’s preoccupations) is scorned in women as ‘narcissistic’ which seems to be what all women who create are disparaged as being. How dare they spend time on themselves?!

Like the Raincoats the Slits stretched so far beyond the simple punk chords so fast that in part their identity didn’t really sit with that particular genre. An amazing bunch from the singular Ari Up and fabulous Palmolive on drums with a vengeance. They moved onto more experimental stuff, changed, changed innovated added the amazing Neneh Cherry for a time and like most bands, broke up, moved on and found new things. Albertine pursues everything with the same zeal, throwing herself headlong into filmmaking, pottery, marriage, and a desperate fight to give birth, which is almost immediately followed by an agonizing battle against cancer.

And one day she wakes up to find herself a ghost of what she was, living in the country, which had once been an escape and had become an exile. And she resurrects her love of music and starts to battle back to it one pub gig at a time. She’s still a work in progress (thankfully!) at times frustratingly abject (there were times I just shouted at her through the pages, “What are you thinking, woman?!”), at times so amazingly strong that you have to cheer. It’s a remarkable journey that will leave you feeling exhausted but thrilled, just like a great gig.

I don’t know if this qualifies as a FFB as it’s not been released in the US I guess (?), but you can check out other overlooked treasures at Patti’s blog. Click the picture above to buy the book.

The Slits

Albertine live at Rough Trade

Daniella Dooling at Esther Massry Gallery



Esther Massry Gallery – October 10 – December 7

Daniella Dooling’s mixed media installation is a transgression of borders: sculpture/archive/ adolescence/adulthood/sobriety/hallucinogenic drugs/gender/sexuality. Societal inscriptions of normalcy are reconstructed and reclaimed through a process of sifting through memorabilia, family history, natural phenomena, and cultural artifacts. The artist serves on the faculty at Bard College and lives in the Hudson Valley. Visit:

The provocative title turns out to have a funny source: according to the tales Dooling’s grandfather would tell a remittance man lived on the road where the Diamond Bar Inn was built in Jackson, Montana. His name was Dick and he swore at everything “bloody” this, “bloody” that, so of course the nickname. One spring he didn’t come down from the mountain. Eventually a bunch of ranchers went up to see what had become of him. A bear had feasted upon him. So they buried him and lacking any knowledge of his name, Bloody Dick he was interred.

The pieces in this collection vary greatly, but most of them operate as amber catching moments of the past. I was fortunate to hear the artist talk where she explained a number of things from her background — why David Bowie (though I’m not sure that needed any explanation), the history of the ranch and her family’s moves from Montana to California to D.C. with side trips to South America and some excerpts of her at times harrowing experiences including her institutionalization for anorexia and acid flashbacks.

Her treatment also included a stay at her grandparent’s natural health center. Her grandmother was D. M. Dooling, the co-founder of Parabola Magazine. Family played a large role in her life (no surprise) and Dooling reveals a great deal of very frank and troubled times in her life — a survivor much against the odds in many ways.

It may sound very personal and singular, but as Dooling remarked in her talk, the effect is opening up the commonality of those traumas. The students she’d spent the week with all wanted to share their own lives and experiences. I had a vision of all my old diaries similarly captured in a vitrine: what pages would I choose to open up to public scrutiny? How do you choose? Take a wander around this fascinating collection and see what it sparks in you.

And come away with an appreciation of Abe and the Genie lift.

The Reboot of Dorian Gray

“Basil has painted the most amusing picture of me,” Dorian said as he threw himself onto a settee opposite Lord Henry ‘Harry’ Wotton, who lounged on an Empire chair with oversized wings. “You really must see it. Quite captures my ethereal beauty for the ages.”

“ I have seen it,” Harry replied with an intolerable air of insouciant smugness. “He posted it on Facebook an hour ago. Fourteen likes. My. I must say I expected more.”

“What?” Dorian grabbed his iPhone and checked. “Twenty now. Well, I’m sure it’s due to the change in metrics. Probably lots of people hiding Basil from their timeline what with his tedious happy horse pictures.”

“When he posts a laughing equine,” Lord Wotton drawled with a peculiar smile, “his stats on the website boom for a week after. It’s quite remarkable.”

“Tedious kitsch!” Dorian could not tear his eyes away from the screen. “Oh god, no!”

Harry sat up. His meme sense was tingling. “What is it, dear boy?”

Dorian’s hand curled into a fist. “Sybil,” he hissed through clenched teeth.

Lord Wotton’s lupine smile widened. “Oh dear, has she posted another snap from your night out?”

“Bloody woman!”

Harry set down his e-cigarette holder and took up his iPad, opening the buttery leather case to reveal the gleaming instrument within. “Oh, that is choice. How much did you swallow that night, Dorian? Half a butt?”

“She’s just mad because I shared the selfie I took with her brother at that opium den. I had no idea he was the same Vane family, let alone—”

Lord Wotton brought up his monocle to gaze at the young man in mock shock. “You didn’t sleep with him, too? Oh, you must change your Tinder profile again, dear boy.”

“Oh god, no!” Dorian stared at his phone with a mixture of loathing and horror on his face.

Harry pressed the refresh button rather too excitedly then roared with laughter. “Oh darling, it doesn’t do you justice. Amazing what you can do with Photoshop.”

“That horrible man!” Dorian’s hands shook. He thrust the phone down and got up to pace the room, muttering darkly. “He can’t get away with it. I will make him pay.”

“Oh, look. Alan Campbell has posted the picture to Twitter. Hashtag #oldDorian.” Lord Wotton shook with laughter. “You’re getting a mash-up with that toothless old man everyone was sharing last week. Oh and the grumpy cat. Remember him? Or was it her? I forget. These things pass so quickly.” He did his best to smile reassuringly at the young man, but he had dropped back onto the settee in a posture of abject despair, one arm over his eyes as if he could not bear to see how the meme evolved.

“It is too terrible to contemplate. A hashtag!”

“You know what Oscar said,” Harry tutted. ““There is only one thing in the world worse than being memed about, and that is not being memed about.”

Dorian sat up and glared at him. “He did not!”

Lord Wotton grinned. “Yes, he did. I went in and edited Wikipedia.”

Dorian sank back with a sob.