Tuesday, 23 December 2008


Many writers who are fortunate enough to have their debut book published frequently struggle when it comes to writing book 2, but with me things have been a little different. Book 2 flew from my fingers to the keyboard and I found that I wrote the first draft of book 2 (Working title Judgement and Wrath) with little problem. I was in the ZONE. Book 3 was my moment of EEK! where I experienced those little strirrings of unease, but I pushed on and got by the worries and delivered the first draft (after copious edits and changes I may add). On the advice of my agent and editor the book was re-written with a different ending - which to be honest meant scrapping the beginning of book 4 that I'd already started -but it did make the book much better. On further advice I have been asked to make some further changes, so I'm now on my third major re-write of book 3. Some people might balk at this, but I'm taking it on the chin and getting on with making the book the best it can be.
I'm not writing this as a big-headed way of showing how hard working or dedicated I am (or that my first two attempts were poor books), what I'm trying to show is the importance of taking the good advice that comes to you from people in the know. My editor, Sue Fletcher, at Hodder and Stoughton, is fabulously knowledgeable (she also edits one of my favourite - if not favourite -writers in John Connolly), so I am in good hands. A number of friends I've made through my endeavours at this blog and elsewhere have often asked the question about editing etc, and I've waxed lyrical about the subject in the past, but I still think that it is extremely pertinent to mention it again.
So, it's third time lucky. With Sue's words of wisdom echoing in my ears, I'm pushing on with delivering a book I hope you will all enjoy, and one that I hope keeps you coming back for more. If this doesn't work, watch for a further entry titled 4x4x4. I'll keep going until i get things right.
Keep on keeping on
And Merry Christmas to one and all.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Endorsement of Dead Men's Dust by Richard Hammond

I am indebted to TV star (Top Gear) and best-selling non-fiction author Richard Hammond who read my book, Dead Men's Dust, and kindly said this:

"Taut, thrilling, tense and sometimes scary - it's hard to talk about DeadMen's Dust without sounding like a caricature. But it delivers all those things. And clearly was written with passion and backed up by real experience of some of the darker sides of life. Loved it."

Monday, 15 December 2008

Shoot 'em up - Point Shooting the Joe Hunter way

I visited my editor in London this week and one of the lovely surprises (apart from the delicious meal that Sue treated both my wife and I to) was a copy of the shoot 'em up game developed by Hodder and Stoughton to coincide with the launch of my first book, Dead Men's Dust. The game is a shooting gallery type, where you have to rely on speed and accuracy and a quick reload to defeat the knifemen coming out of the long grass. This is based on the fact that Joe Hunter is an adept of a quickdraw and shoot style coined 'point shooting', and gives the reader the opportunity to try their skills to take out the bad guys. Pretty soon the game will be made available at various locations on the Web, and also at my webiste at http://www.matthiltonbooks.com/
Further levels with different bad guys will be added with each subsequent book.
Why not stop by and see if you can beat my personal record of 14 hits (but I'm getting better) and see if you could go into battle shoulder to shoulder with Joe.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

The days to publication grow less

It's amazing to think that in less than 5 months I will finally see my book out there for sale on bookstands. It's now more than ten months since I fist heard the amazing news that I was going to be a published author. At the time 15 months seemed like a long, looooooooong time away, but already I'm two thirds of the way along. It's an amazing feeling. Can't wait.

keep on keeping on


Sunday, 7 December 2008

Lesson learned

It's good advice to listen to your peers. I took on the advice of some good friends I've made (thanks Col and Amit for the feedback) and have revisited my Christmas tale The HOLLY and The I.V. and sanitized it a little. Like I said, I wrote the story as an exercise, to get the creative juices flowing and to try entering the head of a different character. But LESS IS MORE especially when we talk about swearing. I've re-posted the story below - it's still in the voice of a bad man so it's still a bit dodgy in places just not as dodgy as previously, and I hope it doesn't shock too many sensibilities this time. Remember to read it in a pantomime wise guy voice for full effect.

The moral of this story - you can and do learn all the time.

Thanks guys

A short story for you all - Splitting Heirs

Good day to you all. I've been writing again, and thought I'd share this short story with you and invite your comments. It's a short - short. It's a crime story. Enjoy!


Three million pounds plus. That was what James Caruthers left behind when he died. James wasn’t known to have that kind of money behind him. He lived in a council bungalow with three cats and his neighbours barely knew him. In fact, most of them steered clear of the old man who spent most days in a great coat and wool cap, whatever the weather. No one knew what he got up to inside his decrepit home because of the newspaper taped over the windows. Daily a care assistant would turn up, make sure that he was still breathing and shove a ready meal in the microwave oven, then they’d be out of there wrinkling their noses at the stench clinging to their clothing. Other than that, James’s only other contact with humanity was when the milkman delivered his single pint of gold top. James would peer out over the chain on his door and give a gruff thank you, before slamming and locking the door again.
One morning the milkman raised his concern to the police when the old man didn’t come to the door. The cops turned up, broke in, and found James lying in the corner of his kitchen. There was half a sandwich on a saucer next to the blazing gas fire in the living room. The other half – missing a single bite - was in the kitchen sink, as well as a wad of masticated bread and corned beef. It was concluded that the old man had choked on the sandwich, made it to the sink where he’d hacked it up, but his overtaxed heart had then given out. No suspicious circumstances. Case closed. No investigation.
When James was buried, no one turned out for his service.
When someone dies without leaving a will, and no one turns up to claim their inheritance, the government can claim the money. Still, they have an obligation to publish the fact that money has been left, to give an heir the opportunity to come forward. When big money is at stake – three million two hundred thousand and thirty three pounds in this case – there are specialist firms out there willing to jump at the chance to find the rightful heir. For a hefty commission, of course.
That’s where I come in.
It’s a race. Other firms will have their best investigators on the case. Public records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, all will be checked to discern the rightful heir, then these companies will fight tooth and nail to get to the lucky recipient first – bearing the good news and the offer to represent their new client.
I was the first to make it to Robert Wilson’s front door, but I knew the others wouldn’t be far behind me. If I wanted my pay day, I had to make sure that Robert Wilson did not deal with anyone from the other firms.
Wilson was a man in his late fifties. He didn’t even know he was the first child born of a union between James Caruthers and his now deceased mother, Ingrid. He looked at me suspiciously as I handed him my card and explained why I had turned up at his door on a cold, winter’s evening. As soon as I mentioned the money though, he invited me in to his living room. It looked like he’d inherited more than money from his late father: his house was a stinking hole that he shared only with cats.
That was good, really. No wife, no kids, no extended family to contest this turn of events.
I accepted the offer of tea – even though I’d never touch his filthy cup to my lips – and followed him into his kitchen. As he’d turned to fill the kettle, I took his head in both my hands and slammed it down on the corner of the work top. I aimed so that his temple struck the pointed corner and was gratified to see the deep indentation in his skull as he collapsed dead at my feet. Careful to remove my card from his pocket, I put it back into my wallet. Then I spilled some of the water from the kettle onto the floor, then manipulated Wilson’s foot so that it made a dirty skid mark in the spillage.
Wilson wouldn’t be inheriting anything any longer.
The entire estate belonging James Caruthers, plus anything that Robert Wilson had tucked away, would now be going to James’ second born son.
Of course, I’d have to pay out a little of my good luck in commission to the investigator who found out who I was.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The Punisher: War Zone


Hi all,
as you might have guessed, I'm a bit of a fan of Marvel's The Punisher. Opening in the US this weekend is the latest offering following Frank Castle's war against the mob Punisher: War Zone . aAbove is a link to a short trailer for the movie. Looks cool.

Friday, 5 December 2008

BBC Radio Cumbria last week

Forgot to give you all an update. Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of appearing on a BBC radio interview at the Carlisle studios. I was interviewed by Kevin Fernihough, and was on air for the best part of an hour. True to form I only got a very small portion of what I wanted to say over, but it was a great experience nonetheless. As I am a little narcisistic, I drove home quickly to hear how the interview had went only to find that my good lady wife had been tuned into the competition channel and had missed the entire interview. Non-deterred, I brought up BBC Radio Cumbria's website where you can listen again to the shows, only to find that the particular programme I appeared on hadn't been downloaded (Kevin is a new return to the show and his programme hasn't been added to the site). Ergo, I don't know how I came across. Ach, never mind.
keep on keeping on

Writing exercise -see story in last blog

Howdy all,
just thought I'd clear up a possible misconception pointed out to me by a great guy and follower of my blog. I wrote the short story in a flurry of activity (after seeing no flurry of snow that I was waiting for) as a little writing exercise. Usually I write from a first person perspective, where my character Joe Hunter tells the tale as he sees it, interspersed with chapters from a third person perspective where we see other aspects of the story where Joe is not present. Joe has a certain perspective himself, and has often pondered on how others see him. To him he's a good guy doing what he feels is right, but to his enemies he's the bad guy. I thought it would be fun getting into the mind of a thoroughly nasty individual and telling a tale from his eyes. I chose the nameless lead in The Holly and the I.V as a downright thug and bully, of little intelligence, who thinks he is a great guy because he is so bad. Therefore I wrote in the kind of language that I believed a man of such integrity (or lack of) would speak. I'm not a fan of swearing (unless necessary). You can write a great thriller or crime novel without the use of four letter words, and I have tried to do this with my books, only adding swearing at points where it was necessary to the moment. This story is excessive - hence the warning at the beginning - but it served my purpose for looking at Joe through someone else's eyes and sensibilities.
By the way, anyone looking for publication should keep anything gratuitous out of their writing (in my opinion) as - like my friend pointed out - it could turn off a lot of commisioning editors.
In the meantime, if you read the story, read it for fun as intended.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The Holly and the I.V. - A Christmas morality tale

Despite myself the promise of snow got me in a Christmassy mood and I wrote this little morality tale:

before you read it, please take note:


Take the story in the tongue in cheek manner it's intended

Read it in a wise guy voice, it sounds best that way.


The Holly and the I.V.

(A Christmas morality tale featuring Joe Hunter).

I’m a bad ass mutha, and don’t let anyone tell ya otherwise.

You doubt me an’ I’ll kick your ass all the way to New Year’s Eve.

So don’t be doubtin’ me, man, an’ we’ll get along just fine. You start thinkin’ you can take a liberty with my good nature an’ I’ll do yer. Got it? Good.

See, the way it is, it’s Christmas, and even a bad ass mutha like me ain’t all bad at this time of year. The season’s good will can even affect a bastard like me. I can laugh with the best of ‘em. Last Christmas I nearly laughed my dick off when that punk, Jakey Cenato, got his balls crushed in a vice when her old man caught him with Sherry Bischoff. Jakey was givin’ Sherry a good ol’ seein’ to in back of the garage where they worked. Office romance, my ass! Jakey was just hot for the little whore and Sherry had just gone way over the top on the eggnog. Johnny Bischoff got two of his boys to hold Jakey down while he twisted the screw tight. Jakey won’t be filling any stockings on Christmas Eve ever again, I’ll tell ya. What a freakin’ wheeze.

Anyways, I’m whatchacall digressin’.

I’m tryin’ to point out that, see, when it’s Christmas, I’m not as bad as I normally am. So, I was just not on top of my game. Doesn’t make me any less a man than normal, just, like, not as up for it as usual.

I was in Blake’s Bar. My usual hang out. Most of the usual guys were there. We were drinkin’ for ol’ times sake and stuff. Thinkin’ about goin’ home and trimming the tree and all that crap. Some asshole had even put a Bing Crosby track on the juke box. Christmas in freakin’ Kilarney or some other goddamn Mick shit. I supposed it was a good match for the Irish whiskey I was putting in my guts, so I didn’t complain. I was havin’ a good time. I was as happy as a bad ass mutha could be on Christmas Eve.

Jakes nuts roastin’ on an open fire, Bischoff nipping at his balls...yeah, we even struck up a Yuletide carol. I was feelin’ warm an’ fuzzy when I finally stumbled outa Blake’s an’ hit the road. It was blowin’ a blizzard. Didn’t dent my good mood, though, just made me want to get home quicker. The bitch I’d hooked up with, Brenda, was waitin’ for me, an’ there was a certain part of me that was in need of hottin’ up.

Most of my pay check was in the cash register behind Blake’s bar. There wasn’t enough in my pocket to get me all the way back home. Them goddamn cabbies are on a good thing, way they bump up the price of a fare at Christmas they need their heads bustin’. Uncharitable pricks!

But that’s what got me thinkin’. Good will to all men an’ all that crap. All I hadda do was ask somebody an’ they’d hand me over their change. An’ if they weren’t feelin’ up for the season, I’d just hafta remind them. Problem was, there weren’t too many people out in the weather, ‘ceptin’ one guy who’d been sittin’ in a corner of Blake’s half the night. Once over I almost went over to him and asked him what the hell he was lookin’ at, but Billy and Clem had told me to leave it. Some sorta bad ass this guy was supposed t’be. Joe fuckin’ Hunter, Bill said in a whisper, the mutha who did the dirty work for that dick over at Rington Investigations. Well, I owed Jared Rington big time. That slant-eyed gook stuck a shotgun in my neck an’ led me back to my bail bondsmen an’ got me a six-month stretch in the big house. It even got as far as me gettin’ up, but my buddy Clem grabbed holda me. He knows karate, Clem warned. Like I gave a fuck! He starts all that Bruce Lee jumpin’ about bullshit, I says, an’ I’ll show him what a kick in the balls feels like. Plus, in my coat I had ten inches of lead pipe.

Maybe this Hunter asshole knew to get the hell outa my face. He got up an’ walked outa there before I could show him who he was messin’ with. Bastard doesn’t know how lucky he was. I downed another coupla drinks before I heard Brenda’s hot little ass callin’ me home.

Shoulda wondered what Hunter was doin’ standin’ there in the snow. But like I said, I was in a good mood, a bottle of malt down, an’ lookin’ forward to givin’ Brenda her Christmas treat.

Gimme fifty bucks an’ I’ll let my beef with Rington go, I told him. To show him I wasn’t beggin’ for charity I pulled out my lead sap.

Musta been the booze an’ my good mood.

Hunter kinda swarmed all over me.


He took a freakin’ liberty with my Christmas spirit.

If I’d been my normal bad ass self he wouldn’ta stood a chance.

But, hey, I’m still in a good mood.

Apparently when Bill and Clem found me I’d been makin’ some of them angels in the snow. Very seasonal, huh?

First time I’ve spent Christmas in hospital, but it ain’t all bad.

I’m warm and I’ve got these pretty nurses fussin’ all over me. Not that the bitches’ll give me the sponge bath I asked for. An’ it ain’t the same eatin’ Christmas puddin’ through a goddamn straw or pullin’ a cracker when you’ve got a I.V. drip in your wrist. But at least I did better outa this deal than Jakey did last year.

At least when I’m healed I can get back to bein’ my normal bad ass self.

It's a Killer Year

Well, so much for the snow - I didn't see one flake. Although the rest of the country seems to be suffering a white out my little corner remained snow free. All I got was a cold and very un-Christmas-like drizzle. But never mind: that means I can concentrate on what I should be doing: writing. I am currently pulling a few ideas together for Joe Hunter book 4 and working on a young adult novel, so lots to be getting on with.

Another thing I've been doing recently is a good deal of reading. One of the books I purchased a few days ago was 'Killer Year' edited by Lee Child. This is a book that has been produced by International Thriller Writers to showcase the up and coming crime/thriller writers of the future, and contains stories from the class of 2007. I am a member of ITW myself and am seriously thinking about joining the debut authors programme. ITW are doing a fantastic job of supporting and mentoring their members and this book is proof of that.

The Barnes and Noble website says this of Killer Year:

Killer Year is a group of 13 debut crime/mystery/suspense authors whose books will be published in 2007. The graduating class includes such rising stars as Robert Gregory Browne, Toni McGee Causey, Marcus Sakey, Derek Nikitas, Marc Lecard, JT Ellison, Brett Battles, Jason Pinter, Bill Cameron, Sean Chercover, Patry Francis, Gregg Olsen, and David White. Each of the short stories displaying their talents are introduced by their Killer Year mentors, some of which include bestselling authors Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen and Jeffrey Deaver, with additional stories by Ken Bruen, Allison Brennan and Duane Swierczynski. Bestselling authors Laura Lippman and MJ Rose contribute insightful essays. Inside you'll read about a small time crook in over his head, a story told backwards with a heroine not to be messed with, a tale of boys and the trouble they will get into over a girl, and many more stories of the highest caliber in murder, mayhem, and sheer entertainment. This amazing anthology, edited by the grandmaster Lee Child, is sure to garner lots of attention and keep readers coming back for more.

If you are thinking of Christmas presents to give or to recieve you couldn't go wrong with this book.

happy reading


Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Christmas looming

It has suddenly occurred to me just how close Christmas is looming. To be fair my mind has been on many other things and the pending celebrations have barely impinged on my mind as I've been so busy writing. I love Christmas. I love everything associated with it when we talk about giving presents and renewing friendships and hugging our loved ones and Bing crosby songs and Santa Claus. I don't like the commecialisation of the season - I don't think anyone does. Readers of this blog may have already noticed that one of my all time favourite movies is 'It's a Wonderful Life'. I can't help it, it's just such a great moral tale that I catch it whenever I can. As crazy as it sounds, but I was thinking about that movie whilst writing a scene in an upcoming Joe Hunter book. Don't worry, there are no angels seeking their wings, but there is snow. I don't think IAWL would be the same with gunfights and stuff, but the movie did influence me in a big way. I suppose at its root, the movie is a crime thriller (all those shady goings on at the bank and the theft of money etc), so maybe the movie resonates with me on more than one level. Plus I'm a big ol' sentimental romantic. I just love all that 'happy ending stuff' that goes with the movie. I'm probably wishing that the world was still the same as it was when the movie was made and that people would come together to help and to show their support - though I saw none of that when the Northern Rock debacle hit the news. On the flip side of my last comment, I was there when devastating floods hit my home city of Carlisle and people did rally together, so there are incidents that renew my faith in the human species.
Anyway, what's got me going on about all this?
The weather forecast promises deep snow for Cumbria tonight. Well, I'll be waiting at the window, watching for the first flurry and thinking about what a wonderful life we lead.
Nuff said the now