You may have noticed that I've not updated this blog for a while. This is not for want of trying. Whatever I upload seems to disappear into the ether. With that in mind, if you're interested in updates from me, then you're probably best trying my Paintthistownred blog, which is updated at least three times a week NO PROBLEMS...
'Jellyfish' by AJ Kirby in Litro Magazine issue 119, 'Ghosts'
November 2, 2012
My story, 'Jellyfish' has been published in Litro 119, the 'Ghosts' issue. You can read it online here, or you can subscribe to the print issue, or pick up from any London venue listed here.
Litro describes itself as "a pocket sized lit mag with a big world view and previous contributors include Irvine Welsh, Yiyun Li, Glyn Maxwell, Benjamin Zephaniah and Andrew Crumey
Here's an extract: "Seabirds haunt an area where the contents of a bucket have been tossed. I see fish-heads. Entrails. Farther along, I almost step on a dead jellyfish. Its skin is transparent. Ghostly. Reminds me of the clear plastic bags they issue at security in the airport. I can see all the wiring inside it; looks like telephone cord. Like it has a circuit board inside it.
I used to think people were like that. That I could see right through into the heart of them. That I understood them. Thought that was what made me a good social worker. All it took was one misreading and everything fell apart."
About Litro (from the Litro website) Mission Statement
We are a little lit mag with a big worldview. Our mission: to discover new...
"A must-read novella for Halloween": 'Sharkways' Reviewed...
October 24, 2012
I'm delighted to be able to say that my novella, Sharkways, continues to garner excellent reviews, most recently on the Anna Stephens the Writer site here. This particular review is one of the most insightful reviews I've ever had, with some great critical analysis of plot, structure and character, as well as some brilliant and visceral descriptions of how exactly the book made her feel... And I can't thank Anna enough for it, especially for her headline quote: 'A must-read novella for Halloween.'
And you can get your hands on a copy in paperback, or Kindle version here.
There are many review highlights, and I've picked out just a few here, but remember to visit Anna's website too, which is a great read, describing itself as "A record of the quest to become a published novelist - with a dusting of randomness for good measure."
Sharkways Review Highlights
"Kirby has written horror before, horror that has made me uneasy and twitchy. He's never before made me nearly bite my own tongue off in broad daylight on a crowded bus. Sharkways did. Sharkways made me want to pull my legs up onto the chair in case insects crawled out from...
Book of the Month: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
October 23, 2012
My review of Will Schwalbe's The End of Your Life Book Club has been published today on the New York Journal of Books website. You can read the review by following this link.
And here's a taster: ". . . it's hard not to love this book."
If you were asked to describe your stereotypical book club, you'd likely think along the same lines as I. You'd picture a newish suburban house with a fresh-cut lawn. A couple of nice cars, one of them an SUV, in the driveway. A few more SUVs parked up at the curb, most of which would have some kind of jokey bumper sticker hanging off the back. They might say something like "I'd rather be reading" or "Proud parent of an honors student at X Middle School."
Inside, there might be a cat curled up in a basket in the hallway. There might be vague noises of teenagers present somewhere in the house, though mostly the place will be quiet.
Then you might step through into a living room, the epitome of cozy. Big fluffy sofas laden with cushions. A plethora of occasional tables buckling under the weight of doilies and chintz. A...
"Kirby ratchets the tension up to ten and delivers a gratifying finale": Horror Novel Reviews on 'Sharkways'
October 22, 2012
Sharkways, AJ Kirby's new (September 2012) novel, has been given the Horror Novel Reviews treatment this week, when reviewer Matt Molgaard got his hands on the book. You can read the full review here.
And here's some highlights:
"the second half is genuinely engrossing."
"Kirby is a crafty, well refined writer (...) He's a quality author, no doubt..."
"The ascent from the midway point is fantastic, and fuses some great, tangible imagery with some haunting psychological terror. (...) Kirby ratchets the tension up to ten and delivers a gratifying finale..."
"A fantastic finish"
The book's available across the net, from the usual places, including Amazon, and, as the reviewer states, is "staggeringly inexpensive". So why not give it a try...
Bill Minto is a world-weary property developer. His marriage is on the rocks. His health is failing. His cut-cornered projects constantly threaten to come back and haunt him. So when a mysterious caller offers him the job of a lifetime - all he must do is excavate the hidden tunnels under a country house-he jumps at the chance. But it soon becomes clear Bill is not alone in the tunnels. A past he'd long believed hidden...
My short story 'Jellyfish' has been picked up for publication in Litro Magazine's October special ghost-themed issue. For those of you who don't know, Litro describes itself as a "little short stories magazine", but it has a "big worldview" and a pretty decent monthly circulation of over 100,000 readers, and they've also published some very famous names over the years (including Irvine Welsh and Benjamin Zephaniah).
My story's not your typical ghost story. There's not a rainy, windswept night in northern England in sight. (The lead character is a social worker on holiday in the Gambia). But there are plenty suspicious things that go bump in the night and a few things which should send a chill running up and down your spine.
About Litro (Courtesy of the Litro website) Litro is a little short stories magazine with a big worldview. We are pocket-sized so you can bring us anywhere-on the underground, alongside your morning coffee at your local cafe-to be enjoyed between your daily routines.
Since 2006, we have been publishing monthly themed issues of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, and though based in London, we aim to celebrate new, emerging and established writers from all over the world. Previous...
Two... That's Right Two... New Books of the Month for Yers...
September 14, 2012
That's right, I've got a Twofer for you for September's Book of the Month. Two great new books, both alike in dignity, both from straight outta leftfield and both come highly recommended. I've reviewed both for the New York Journal of Books, and before writing this I really couldn't decide which one was the best. And I even thought about letting them settle it Harry Hill style - FIIIIIIIIGGGGGHHHT - but then decided to plat my ass firmly on the fence and vote for both of them. So here you go. Get your reading gear around these two gladiatorial contenders.
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
". . . a heavenly book, a stellar achievement by a debut novelist . . . gleams with vitality, . . . sparkles with wit."
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller is a heavenly book, a stellar achievement by a debut novelist that manages to combine sparkling prose with truly memorable, shining, characters. It contains constellations of grand images and ideas, gleams with vitality, and sparkles with wit. And for a story of this ilk, it is also-a rarity-radiant with hope.
They think it's all over. It is now! AJ Kirby shortlisted in the final six* for the Guardian's Not the Booker Prize
August 13, 2012
This past week, I've felt like some unholy cross between a charity case and an IT helpdesk. I've refreshed my computer screen more times than is healthy, and, at one point on Thursday, my web-mail account stopped sending emails as it suspected me of being a spambot. I've begged, borrowed, stolen. I've pleaded. I've called in favours.
And all in aid of one thing. The Guardian's Not the Booker prize. Which is a book award which does exactly what it says on the tin. It is not the Booker prize. It accepts nominations of books which are a little out there. Genre stuff. Stuff from independent presses. Stuff from so far out in leftfield that it might as well be in a different ballpark.
Since Paint this town Red was nominated, and then longlisted on Friday 3rd August, I've been canvassing desperately for votes, casting my net far and wide. It's been a bunfight. I've had numerous emails from the publishers of other books on the list asking me to vote for them. I've had hour-long phone conversations with my readers which have largely consisted of me saying 'can you tell me what's on your screen now?' and them...
"I'll never forget the first thing he said to me, the way he curled all his thorny knowledge into that one barbed comment stopped me in my tracks."
Welcome to The Art of Ventriloquism: a baker's dozen of short, sharp, shocking crime fictions from the bloodied pen of the author AJ Kirby. The rap-sheet of crimes contained within this volume are varied: from white collar to red-collared, grizzly murder. The style ranges from the hard-boiled to the comic, and all the stops between.
The crimes in The Art of Ventriloquism take place in restaurants, opera houses, space stations, prisons, old folks' homes, on farms, in the back of limousines, and on the salesroom floor. They're modern morality stories, and here Kirby has become a ventriloquist, channeling the voices of the dispossessed, the victims, those who live on the margins of society... Darkly amusing and ironic - reminiscent of Roald Dahl - these tales will amuse and delight in equal measure.
The book was released today, and is available from all good online purchasing outlets, including Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. Also, check out the book's website here: http://crimefictions.webs.com/ for further information.
Hark the Clarion Call: AJ Kirby's Short Story, 'The Waiting Room Test', to be published by Fiction Brigade
August 6, 2012
AJ Kirby's short story, 'The Waiting Room Test', has been accepted for publication by NY State based publishers Fiction Brigade, as part of their science fiction themed collection, scheduled for publication in September 2012. The story, which was inspired by the mathematician/ computer scientist Alan Turing, and, more specifically by his famous Turing Test, which is basically a test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour, offers a sci-fi twist on contemporary and historical science.
This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of the year of Turing's birth and there are a number of events occurring throughout Britain.