Ian Moore at Comedy Book Festival

Now THIS looks like my kind of festival:

Johnny Vegas, Viv Groskop and Al Murray are among the big names taking part in the first Chortle Comedy Book Festival from November 22 to 29 in venues around Ealing. But most exciting of all: Ian Moore - comedian, writer, chutney-maker and mod. See Ian's show on 28 November:

Ian's book A LA MOD, or 'My So-Called Tranquil Family Life in Rural France', was published by Summersdale this May (I was lucky to work with him on it in the early stages) and not only has over 50 5-star reviews on Amazon, but has been called 'a brilliant read' by my idol Sarah Millican. Fans will be pleased to hear he's working on a follow-up.

Meanwhile, catch him on Radio 5Live this Saturday morning (2 November) doing their panel show 'Fighting Talk'.


Before & After - Gordon Leenders

I'm delighted to announce I'm working with Gordon Leenders, who has just completed a novel entitled Before & After. Gord's a Canadian author living near the shores of Lake Erie, and is a two-time winner of Best Fiction Book at the Hamilton Literary Awards. 

In addition to being an acclaimed author, he has worked for the past fifteen years as a Rehabilitation Therapist for people with acquired brain injuries, experience he's drawn on for this new book - a work of fiction that explores the consequences of a tragic car accident at Niagara Falls.

Here's a quick Q&A with the author.

1. What inspired you to write this book?
Simply put― the many, many families I’ve worked with over the past fifteen years. Sharing in their hopes and heartaches, their resilence and regret, their daily struggle to put the pieces of their shattered lives back together provided much of the inspiration for writing Before & After. 

2. How long did it take you to write?
I pecked away at it for a couple of years, writing in the typical ‘ebb-and-flow-mode’ that comes with having a full-time job and being the parent of two young, energetic boys.

3. Would you say this is a departure from your previous books?
Before & After is definitely a departure. It’s more ambitious, emotionally layered and deeply felt than previous work. Blending an intense family drama with a mystery is also something new. 

4. What are you reading right now?

I’m currently splitting time between Alice Munro (Selected Stories) and Giles Blunt (Forty Words for Sorrow) with Brad Smith’s latest (Shoot the Dog) on deck. 

5. What's your definition of success as a writer?

In no particular order: Writing a really good sentence. Transforming an idea into a novel. Having someone I’ve never met tell me they really like my book. 

Great answers. I hope we'll be seeing the book in print before long. 
Find out more about Gordon's work on his website:

The Rich-Mike Hitchhike

We told him about how the Situbondo police force granted us our ‘golden ticket’ through Java and how Suwarno, the generous lorry driver with the booming voice, allowed us to sleep on the back of his lorry with the mango dealers, as he drove us all the way to Jakarta, where I was pummelled to within an inch of my life by a demon masseuse.

Two British lads, working in Australia, decide to take the easy way back home for Christmas - hitchhiking. Halfway around the world. 20,000 km, 20 countries, 100 days. 

We described the anarchy on the slave ship to Singapore, and the evil harpy that cast a spell on us. We told him about how we nearly killed ourselves trying to get out of the urban labyrinth of Kuala Lumpur and about how the antidrug squad tempted us with narcotics as they delivered us to Thailand, where we were greeted by Wantona, the banana eating stoner, Sakorn, the humble owner of Bali house and Winrey, the chatty Indian, who welcomed us to Sadao’s luminous jellyfish forest.

We told him about how Alexei the Giant secured us entry into the bitter cold of Kazakhstan, where I broke up a fight between two wrestlers and then, with the expert stealth of a ninja, avoided the avaricious clutches of a toilet toll troll. We told him about how Alexander, the Russian, and Makhtar, the Kazakh, from the Almaty Soho club, backed by a chorus of beautiful angels, had helped us to escape the crazed terrorist attacks in Taraz, and about how, once we got to Taraz, when the grenade dust had settled, we had to survive a horde of ravenous, flesh eating prostitutes and then sleep in a musky cubbyhole, in the bowels of a brothel, infested with all manner of insects and rodents. We told him about how we had to deal with the intimidating police force of Aqtobe and about how a deceased fascist dictator, reincarnated in cat form, nearly stopped us from fleeing Kazakhstan.

Rich says:

I want people to laugh out loud when they read it. I want the person next to the reader to ask, “What’s so funny, mate?”
“This bit about when Rich and Mike are in Kazakhstan and Rich confuses the outhouse with the puppy shed.”
“Let’s have a read?”
“No chance! Buy it yourself, you cheapskate...”

280 Steps and One-Eyed Jacks

Ever since around the year 2000, I've been lucky enough to read every new Brad Smith novel in manuscript form. I was just leaving my job as a literary agent at Westwood Creative Artists in Toronto when I met Brad so I couldn't represent him, but I've loved every one of his books, which deserve to be better known.

Well, finally, now that I'm doing some rights work again, I've started representing Brad. And I'm thrilled that we are inking our first deal - in fact for his very first book, ONE-EYED JACKS.

The book, about a washed-up boxer, poker games and a quest to buy back a farm, was originally published by Doubleday Canada in hardcover, and Penguin Canada in paperback. Now, a clever new publisher called 280 Steps, specialising in crime fiction e-books, is getting ready to relaunch it as part of their initial offering, which has a rather special line-up. I look forward to seeing the book out there again.