Friday, 28 November 2008

Foreign translation list continues to grow

As followers of this blog will already be aware, Hodder and Stoughton own the rights to publish my first five books in all UK territories, while for USA rights, William Morrow and Company hold that distinction for the first three. I've also mentioned that Verlagsgruppe (Random House) will be translating my first book into German, Longanesi will be translating the book in Italian, and RIO Publishing will be translating the book into Romanian.
It has just come to my attention that Era Media - whose list of authors include Agatha Christie, Adele parks, Jeffrey Deaver and Catherine Alltiott - have just acquired the rights to publish Dead Men's Dust in Bulgaria.
The list of foreign translations continues to grow and it is beginning to look like I'm going to have to build some new shelves were I can display all the different editions of my books. What a great feeling.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Dead Men's Dust in Publishers Weekly

This is what Publishers Weekly said about the US edition of Dead Men's Dust, due for release next April in the USA:

Dead Men's Dust by Matt Hilton(Morrow, Apr.)

Plot: Joe Hunter is an ex-military officer and, in his own words, “the weapon sent in when the planning is done and all that's left is the ass kicking.” In this first of a series, Hunter sets out across Southern California after his wayward brother, who has become entangled in a cat-and-mouse game with a serial killer.

Author's inspiration: “I think of Joe Hunter as a guy with a strong moral code and the necessary skills to help people in difficult situations. I've given him a specific set of skills, but want him to be different from other heroes—a kind of vigilante rather than a PI or a detective. Then I put him in a lean, mean cinematic thriller because I just love them.”

Clues to success: Executive editor David Highfill says, “Everyone loves a charismatic hero in an action thriller (think Lee Child's Jack Reacher), and we have an excellent new guy on the block in Joe Hunter. But then Matt adds fuel to the fire with one of the smartest, most sarcastic and frightening bad guys I've read in ages. Their confrontation is memorable—and downright irresistible.”

Body count: 14.

Hollywood pitch: Jack Reacher meets Thomas Harris.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Video bar

I've just added the video bar to my blog. The first is the trailer developed by Hodder and Stoughton to publicise the launch of Dead Men's Dust and to introduce Joe Hunter. The second is a montage film I made based upon characters from the book. Vid three is a rockabilly track recorded by Caldonia (now Johnny Scott and the Shakers) from a tune I co-wrote named Streets Of Fear.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

BBC Radio Cumbria

I'm appearing on the 1pm slot on Wednesday 26th November 2008 on BBC Radio Cumbria to talk about how my life has changed since leaving the police force to pursue a full-time writing career. Anyone who wishes to listen in can do so online.

BBC Look North

I'm currently putting together a short news piece for the regional BBC programme Look North, which should air on TV sometime in the next few days. I haven't a definite date yet, but will update as soon as I know something. Look North is the news service that takes in the north of England (Tyneside and Cumbria areas).

Friday, 14 November 2008

My influences: AKA whose books do you read?

When filling in all the publicity questionnaires and answering queery letters and emails, one of the questions asked of me most often is who has influenced my writing the most. I could try to seem very worldly and name all the great names of classic fiction, but with the exception of The Lost World by Conan Doyle, and the occaisional dip into Sherlock Holmes, also by Conan Doyle, I have to admit to never having read any of the greats. I'm ashamed to say I haven't read any of the classic PI novels either, so can't join in when people start talking about Hammet, Spillane, Parker etc.
I began reading the pulp stories of R.E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft, and also loved Poe, so you'd ppretty much expect me to have gone the route of the horror writer. I do love horror, but more than that I love the suspense and thriller elements of those authors' tales.
Next, I moved onto the 1970's western stories. Edge and Jubal Caid etc, that owed more to Peckinpah and the Spaghetti Westerns than they did to the classic western story. Again, I was drawn by the action and thrills.
This put me on to Don Pendleton et al, who were writing about anti-heroes like The Destroyer and the Exterminator and such like. Yup, the action did it for me.
Then I started to pick up some of the greats of modern PI/crime/supense/thriller writing.
David Morrell's books, Brotherhood of the Rose, Fraternity of the Stone, The League of Night and Fog, and Covenant of the Flame had a huge influence on me. So did The Fifth Profession. I've followed Morrell ever since.
Dean Koontz, though often referred to as a horror writer, has written some great supense thrillers and Intensity, Mr Murder, Dark River's of the Heart, The Good Guy and The Face are some of my favourites (but I've also read everything else he wrote that i could get my hands on).
Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch books and his Terry McCaleb books resonated with me and still do.
Lee Child's Jack Reacher is often seen as a modern incarnation of the type of books that Don Pendleton wrote, but I don't see it. Reacher is far too deep a thinker to be slotted into the action only type stories. I like Reacher because he's a thinker, not just because he's got a mean headbutt or cigarette punch.
Harlan Coben is one of my must reads. I came on to Harlan's books with Tell No One, and i haven't looked back.
Jack Kerley's books about Carson Ryder and his psychopathic brother, Jeremy, are some of the most enjoyable books I've ever picked up, and I owe a lot to Jack's books. It might not show in my writing, but it's there.
Michael Marshall and his Straw Men and associated books were excellent, and I'm gutted that there might not be any more. I found the entire conspiracy theory understory fascinating.
Robert Crais is a fabulous writer. Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are characters I absolutely love. I recently read The Watchman and thought, damn, I'm sure I was going to write that book. Maybe this points to how much Robert's writing has influenced me.
Last on my list (and there are so many others I could have added) is John Connolly's Charlie Parker books. Parker, Angel and Louise are fascinating. The underlying supernatural elements in the books hark back to my love of Howard and Lovecraft and Poe. Coupled with the dark and moody action in John's tales, these are my ideal read.

Films have also influenced me.
They are many and varied, and I have a cinematic eye when I'm writing and often see the scenes in my head as I'm writing them. You are as likely to come across a scene influenced by It's A Wonderful Life as you are Death Wish or The Shogun Assassin.

I also have many influences from life that I draw on, and I come from a family who have an oral storytelling history, so I've probably been influenced by that as well.

All in all, my influences are very varied. They're about good versus evil, with many shades of grey in between. I am the sum of all my yesteryears. I write, therefore I...uh, write.


Thursday, 13 November 2008

TV appearance

I'm in the process of arranging to shoot a short film for BBC LOOK NORTH to appear on the regional programme airing across the north of England. This will probably appear in a week or so's time but I will update you all when I know for sure.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Others with a writers blog who'd like to link

I'm currently setting up this blog and would like to add other blogs of note onto my blog roll. If anyone wants added, please leave me a comment and I'll see what I can do. As this is a blog about writing and crime/thrillers in general I'd prefer to keep it that way (but I'm not averse to horror, fantasy etc), but please no gratuitous sex, nudity, politics or abnormality or gratuitous violence, this isn't the place for any of that.

Maundering, maudlin and murder

Writers are murderers - albeit only on the page I'm quick to add.
Someone very famous (whose name I'm ashamed to add resides in that hole in my brain brought on by a dodgy beefburger) said that we should 'kill our darlings'. Stephen King - in his excellent book ON WRITING - said something very similar. Neither writing allumni were referring to going out on a bludgeoning spree to clear our homes of distraction. They were referring to the process of editing our work, and culling all those wonderful little snippets and descriptive passages that do nothing to move our story on but severely distract from the action and slow everything to a standstill. I'm guilty of over-writing (see this blog for proof!). When I first sent off my book, Dead Men's Dust, to my agent I was told, cut every last sentence from every paragraph. I quickly understood that he was correct. Just about every final sentence said pretty much what had gone before and was superfluous, or it was my attempt at a clever aside. I originally thought my clever little twists on words or attempts at cynical humour were great - my darlings - but realised they were actually dire when taken for what they were. Someone said I was trying to write like Robert Crais and Harlan Coben (which I took as a great compliment) but that I couldn't (which I took as a cold wet rag slapped across my rosy cheeks). It made me reappraise what I'd written and see the truth in those words. I'm not Crais or Coben and should have my own distinct voice. By cutting all the baggage, making my writing lean (as in skinny, not lob-sided - oops, there's one of those unfunny asides again!) I wrote a much better, much faster book. I've held on to this advice in my subsequent books, so now deliver a manuscript largely devoid of what I'd have once written.
Before delivering my MSS to my agent, I do a severe cull. before it goes to my editors there is another cull. Then when it comes back from the editor there is yet another cull (on this occasion literally as two further people had to be put to death).
But, by murdering my darlings, I think I've ended up with some fast action-packed thrillers. I'm not looking to win any prizes for literary excellence, just deliver books that will be thrilling and what a reader wants to read. They don't want to read about my darlings, so off to the headsman for them.
If you are a writer reading this and you are seeking publication, take a second look at your work. See if there's anything there that is simply you enjoying the process of writing and wallowing in just how clever you sound (like I used to) and then cut it. Re-read what you have written. I guarantee that the second version will read so much better.
Good luck.
Keep on keeping on
In the meantime...back to my writing:

It was a dark and stormy night...

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

DMD publication date moved




This means there are 2 weeks less to wait.

Monday, 10 November 2008


I've just added the story ONE-EIGHTY (see below) to my website at
and if you want to reada couple other shorts they're all on the free stuff page.
Happy reading

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Short story for you all - don't say I don't give you nothing

Howdy folks. I'm feeling generous today, so here is a short story featuring Joe Hunter that's unavailable anywhere else (except for my website in a few days time).


A Joe Hunter Story
Matt Hilton

‘I’ve heard that you know more than a hundred ways of killing a man with your bare hands, Hunter.’

‘I only need one at a time.’

‘True. But then again, you’d need your hands to do that.’

Some days you wake up feeling shitty and you know that things are just going to get worse. When your dreams are disturbed by the cold sensation of a gun shoved under your jaw by a bad man you can be forgiven for expecting the worst day of your life. For me, it was kind of run of the mill. My days are often filled with guns and bad men.

Malcolm Peck goes by the shortened name of Mal. He doesn’t ever confess his full name; he delights in telling people his name is short for malice.

Mal Peck is a bad man. He’s a white-supremacist. A racist. The name Malice fits him like a glove.
His cousin Jason was a bad man, too. That was until I put a 9mm Parabellum in his skull. After that he was just dead.

Mal Peck showed me his machete. He used its rounded tip to measure the distance between my bound wrists and my thumbs.

‘I’m going to take your hands away from you,’ he said. ‘So you can’t go shooting anyone else. I promised Jason that.’

‘Like Jason’s going to care,’ I said. ‘He was a baby killer, Mal. Even you have to admit he got what he deserved.’

‘He was my blood. You think I care about some snot-nosed nigger outa the projects?’

Jacked on methamphetamine, Jason and his skinhead crew had been driving round the streets of Tampa in a souped up Chevrolet Impala taking pot shots at passersby. They weren’t indiscrete shots: they were all aimed at black kids. Jason had killed a seven year old boy as he walked home from Ben & Jerry’s with his eleven year old brother. Seven years old; it meant nothing to Jason Peck. The only thing that mattered was the colour of the boy’s skin.

The law couldn’t prove that Jason had fired the killing shot and he’d walked away. Maybe if he’d shown a little remorse then he’d have lived, but it was the way he’d laughed in the face of little George’s mother that had sealed his fate.

‘Do you know he begged for mercy before I shot him?’ I asked.

He didn’t rise to the bait, but my words had stung him. Mal rolled his bald head on his shoulders. Vertebra cracked like it was an prophesy.

‘I also promised Jason that I’d take off your head and bury it next to him,’ Mal said. Then he walked around the chair he’d tied me into, laying the cold edge of the machete against my throat. “Do you think one chop would do it?’

‘Someone as weak as you,’ I said, ’it’ll probably take a dozen attempts. Maybe you should ask one of your crew to do it for you.’

He laughed. ‘No, I think I can manage.’

‘Not usually your style, Mal,’ I reminded him.

‘I’ve killed men before,’ he told me.

‘But you prefer to watch others do it,’ I said. ‘When Jason was down on his knees begging for his life, he told me that you made him shoot the kid.’

‘I didn’t make him do nothin’.’

‘You gave him the gun. You were driving the car. It was your idea to go hunting. A seven year old child died because of you, Mal.’

‘That wasn’t any child,’ Mal spat bitterly. ‘He was a goddamn drain on our good country. He needed putting down. I only wish that Jason had killed the other brother, too. Just like I told him to.’

Mal seemed to like the weight of the machete in his hands. He stood in front of me bouncing it on his palm. It made him feel like a big man. But he was nothing in my eyes.

‘The next president of your good country is a black man, Mal,’ I said to him. ‘Time’s are changing. People are beginning to see sense. There’s no place in a good country for an animal like you.’

‘He’ll be dead within a year,’ Mal said. ‘People will see sense and shoot him dead, too.’

‘People just like you,’ I said. I shook my head at him. ‘But not you, Mal. You aren’t going to be around much longer.’

He lifted the machete.

‘I’ll be around longer than you,’ he said. But then he wasn’t so sure when he felt the barrel of a shotgun on the back of his skull.

‘Drop the knife, asshole,’ said my friend, Rink.

Mal rolled his eyes and muttered something under his breath. He dropped the machete and it clattered on the boards next to his feet. Rink allowed the Mossberg to dip, and then he caught Mal’s neck between his large fingers. He shoved Mal across the room, spun him around and slammed him up against a wall.

‘Move, punk, and I’ll make sure you hurt before you die,’ Rink told him.

Rink’s a big man like his Scottish father. He has the eyes of his Japanese mother. He is American through and through, a patriot, but he is still the type that Mal will instantly hate. He is also the type that Mal will instantly fear. He didn’t move.

Rink’s KA-BAR made short work of the ropes holding me in the chair.

‘You sons of bitches set me up...’ Mal’s face was as white as the sheets his forebears wore when they were murdering innocent people. Only the swastika tattoo on his forehead held any colour.
I looked across at Mal as I worked some blood back into my fingers. ‘You don’t think an asshole like you could’ve really walked into my house and taken me prisoner? I let you do it, Mal. I wanted to hear your confession.’

‘For what? So you could hand me over to the cops?’ He laughed. ‘You think I’m gonna admit anything to them?’

Walking towards him, I said, ‘No. It was so I can kill you in good conscience.’

Mal had heard tales about me. Some people believe I have over a hundred ways of killing a man with my bare hands. It’s a bit of an exaggeration, but like I told Mal, I only need one way at a time.

I clasped one hand on his jaw, the other at the back of his skull, and I wrenched his head a full one-eighty.

That’ll do it every time.

Copyright reserved by Matt Hilton 2008

Thursday, 6 November 2008

MMA and the writer

There is a long tradition of warrior poets and in my own fanciful moments I like to think of myself as one. Some of the great samurai warriors and those knights gathered about the round table were as much about writing as they were about fighting. Throughout my life, my spare time has been spent equally between writing and learning various martial arts. Over the years I've been a boxer, a Shotokan karateka, a Kyokushinkai karateka, a Ju-Jitsuka and a Kempo student, and have attained 4th Dan in Ju-Jitsu and Kempo. About 12 years ago I was one of the first generation to embrace the new style of martial art that has since swept the world and is now the fastest growing combat sport bar none. When I fought in Knockdown Budo as it was known then, it was bare knuckle and little art, but the sport of MMA (mixed martial arts) is now all about skill and olympic level athletes. I am not violent, I was just at that stage in my life when I needed to challenge myself even more. Anyway, as I've likely mentioned before, this training in violent ways tends to open your mind and makes you a deeper thinker and I believe it has helped my writing no end. My books contain quite a lot of hand-to-hand combat, and I'd like to think that the experiences I've picked up over the years lend them a lot of realism.
Besides training, I have also been a teacher for many years and have turned out a few blackbelts in their own right. One of my most recent blackblets is called Stuart Hall and he has taken over the running of my classes after my workload became too much. Stuart has gone on to prove himself as a very good martial artist and has built the classes up to a very succesful venture. Stuart organises MMA cage fights, the next being on Saturday 15th November 2008 at the Hilltop Hotel, Hilltop heights, Carlisle. Anyone from Cumbria (or anywhere else for that matter) would do far worse than look up Stuart's classes. Who knows, I might even pop up there time-to-time because I still like to keep my hand in (usually somebody's face!) and re-instate my fantasy of the old warrior-poet who can still do the business as well as write a blog or three.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Another Cumbrian cop who writes

I've just been fortunate to touch base with another ex-cop from Cumbria who writes under the name of Paul Anthony. Paul is a writer and publisher and has a whole raft of thrillers and crime novels under his belt. Anyone with an interest should take a look at Paul's website at

Ruminations on Bonfires

It's bonfire night and it's got me thinking. There's something about UK culture where we make villains into heroes. Likely there are people out there who have forgotten that Guy Fawkes was in fact a terorrist who intended blowing up parliament, or that Robin Hood (if in fact he was real) was a robber and thug, and that the Kray twins were mobsters. There's obviously something in us that resonates with those who will stand up against what they see as injustice - rightly or wrongly - and we come to admire them or make them into something that they weren't in life.
I write about a guy who is periodically called a vigilante, a hitman, and other less-savoury words by those he goes up against. None of those traits should be admirable, but in this modern day, Joe Hunter is my hero. Strange you'd think, coming from an ex-cop, but there you are. It's probably because people like Fawkes, Hood, the Krays, and Joe Hunter lead such exciting lives that they make better stories than a totally law-abiding stay-at-home kind of guy.
Or maybe I'm totally off the mark.
I'm no psychologist.
I just like a damn good book with an exciting hero. And, as Joe will tell you, it's all down to perspective. To the bad guys he's the villain, but to the good people he is a saviour.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Crimefest 2009

I will be attending Crimefest 2009, which is taking place from 14-17th may 2009 at the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel, Bristol, UK.
Crimefest is a crime writing festival with panels, interviews, Gala dinner, reading groups, crime writing workshops and award presentations. There are also opportunities for aspiring writers to pitch their work to agents from three prestigious agencies where writers get a ten-minute slot to speak with an agent and to get them interested in their work. Writers attending the workshop can also have their work assessed and enter their work for the CWA Debut Dagger Award. the list of attending authors reads like a who's who of the genre, with guest authors Simon Brett, Hakan Nesser and Meg Gardiner (toastmistress) headlining.
I'm anticipating a great festival and look forward to meeting new friends and old. It happens only a week or so prior to publication of my first novel, and I'm looking forward to hearing people's questions.