Monday, 9 December 2013

Why Santa doesn't Shave Off His Beard - The PROOF!

To all my readers, friends and family I wish you all a very happy Christmas and prosperous new year. (Why Santa doesn't shave off his beard - The proof!)

My 2013 in review

My 2013 in review can be found over at Vic Watson's blog by following the link above.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Locked in, Books Out...(or true crime meets crime fiction)

Locked In, Books Out 

I was recently locked behind bars.

Really. I was imprisoned. Not a great scenario for someone who spent most of his adult life engaged in law enforcement, both as a private security contractor, and as a police constable. You’d think it would be my worst nightmare, and to be honest you’d be right, but for one thing which will become apparent.

My reason for being locked up was through a tip off from a fellow Hodder thriller author and friend, which ended with me behind locked gates in the ‘Big House’. Stephen Leather – of Spider Shepherd and Jack Nightingale fame – dropped the tip that I should be incarcerated and before I knew it, I was handing over my worldly belongings at the front gate and being ushered into jail.

Some of you might think that was bad form on my friend’s part, but here’s the rub: I was thankful to Stephen for mentioning my name in the right ear. No, this wasn’t some skeleton in my closet coming back to haunt me; no attempt at paying retribution for a life of hidden misdoings and dodgy dealings.  I had another reason for being there, and went willingly while listening to the finality of rattling keys in locks sealing my exit route. Though his tip-off was sending me to prison, Stephen hadn’t ‘ratted me out’; I had a ‘get out of jail free’ card.

See, here’s what went down.

Stephen Leather was asked if he would visit and speak to inmates at said prison, but was unable to being as he was out of the country. He then recommended me to prison staff, and off I went in his place. Was I nervous? Yes. Having been in a profession that could be seen as anathema to some of these guys, I had to wonder what kind of reception I’d receive. I’d spent the best part of twenty-three years sending criminals to just such places, and did have a niggle in the back of my mind that I just might be throwing myself to the lions.

But there has always been a credo that I held to during my law enforcement career: Don’t be judgemental.

I’ve always been willing to take people as I found them, and to treat them in a manner I’d expect to be treated myself.

The truth is, there are some bad guys in prison. But there are also some good guys who have made bad choices also in prison. I’m not making excuses for them. They did wrong, they should pay the price. But that’s not to say that they should be locked up, the key thrown away, or that they should be treated as subhuman. Some people end up incarcerated through poor decisions, through peer pressure, through desperation, and I always have thought that the saying “there but for the grace of God go I” is never truer. I grew up on a sinkhole council estate, was surrounded by deprivation, and criminality. But that’s only half of the truth. On the same estate there were good, law abiding people, but they were still looked on by outsiders as that lot from …….. (insert the name of your own local rough housing estate here) and some of those otherwise decent people were trawled along with the others. I watched good people fall into criminality, because it was the done thing, and you didn’t belong if you weren’t in line with the others. Some of them fell into crime through peer pressure, as I said, others through fear, others through addictions. Those guys deserve a second chance in my opinion. So I put away my police head, reminded myself not to be judgemental, and went to talk with the inmates with an open mind.

And I have to report, it was one of my favourite ever talks I’ve conducted as a professional writer.

I won’t and can’t go into specifics, but I met with a group of around twenty young men in the prison’s library.  At first I felt a little intimidated as I faced them, and it took a minute or two to break the ice and to get them to communicate with me, but once we’d both engaged the other, there was no stopping us. I was greatly surprised to find that a number of the men had read, and were huge fans, of my Joe Hunter thriller series. In fact, they were knowledgeable and enquiring, and were telling me things I’d forgotten about from some of the earlier books in the series. There was lots of humour, and, yes, lots of respect shown – on both sides.

Outside of prison, some people complain about the holiday camp treatment prisoners enjoy. Well the truth is that for a good part of every day prisoners are actually confined to their locked cells with little to entertain their minds. Caged animals usually do one of two things, they fall into depression or they grow aggressive. Thankfully caged humans have another option. Many prisoners turn to books to fill their time, and like no better than the kind of escapist fiction my Joe Hunter books offer. Some of the men I met, who’d never read a book in their lives, were now voracious in their appetite for books. I was chuffed to hear that my writing was helping these men to concentrate on something other than four bare walls; dwelling on what had placed them there; and perhaps giving them a useful skill for when they were finally released back into the community.

It very quickly became apparent to me that some of these men were highly intelligent, and eloquent, and they weren’t your stereotypical idea of a convict. They were largely good people who’d made a bad decision in life, and possibly what they needed was steering down a different path than the one they’d trod before. Now, I wouldn’t begin to patronize anyone, especially in their current predicament, but what I hope to be was an inspiration to them. I came from a similar background, had a similar upbringing, but what I did was syphon my energies into creativeness rather than criminality.  I’d be misguided in thinking that I changed all of those men’s futures for the good, but it’s my hope that at least one of them will be inspired by my visit and turn their intelligence and eloquence to a different track.  Maybe one day I’ll receive an email from one of them saying how they’d just got their first book published, or that they’d achieved some other endeavour they could never have imagined before, and if it happens I’ll be a very happy man.

At the end of the visit, I was able to walk out of prison, collect my belongings and return to the comfort of my home. Those men couldn’t. They had to return to their cells. But I’m glad to report that they did so clutching books checked out from the library, some of them mine.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Blood and Ashes for next to nothing...

In the run up to the launch of Dead Men's Harvest in the USA (29th October 2013) my US publisher - William Morrow and Company - are offering the eBook edition of Blood and Ashes at the low, low price of only $.99 until the end of October.

You can grab a copy for Kindle here:

Also available via Barnes and Nobel, Apple etc...

Monday, 9 September 2013

#6 in the Kindle best seller charts - Dead Men's Dust

I mentioned a week or so ago that my UK publisher, Hodder and Stoughton, had decided to put out the ebook of Dead Men's Dust at the special low price of 99p (on and i thought great stuff. I should get a few extra readers from this.

What I didn't expect was for the book to soar up the charts to the number 6 best seller position, and number 3 in the best selling thriller books, just behind stellar author Lee Child's latest Jack Reacher novel Never Go Back. Briefly it even knocked Gillian Flynn and Peter Robinson out of contention for the top spot, and nipped at the heels of JK Rowling.

Was I stunned? You betcha!

Now this isn't about the money. I won't see anything from any of those sales. But what it means to me is the exposure that the best-selling chart position will bring, and surely this will mean that more and more people will become aware of the Joe Hunter books as a result. I'm over the moon. I'd love to see Hunter get more recognition, and hope this is just the little boost he needed.

If you are a Joe Hunter reader/fan (and if not why would you be here?) please help him continue his onward march. If you know someone who hasn't tried a Hunter book yet, maybe they don't want to commit to a full priced book, then tell them this is a great opportunity while the price has been slashed. If every one told even one friend, then that's double the exposure.

I thank you friends for the continued support. Without you, I wouldn't be in this happy position now. And neither would Joe Hunter.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Dead Men's Dust 99p - It's a Steal!

GREAT NEWS! The first Joe Hunter thriller - Dead Men's Dust - is now available in eBook from Amazon at the amazing price of 99p. This low price will last until the end of September only, so don't dilly-dally.

If you haven't got your copy yet, grab one now while it's so cheap. Please tell your friends who might not give an untried series a go at the usual higher price. Help put Joe Hunter in the hearts and minds of readers.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Tales From The Fluffy Navel Raises It's Bemused Head.

Uh, is it that long since I updated my blog?

I guess it is.

So what's to report?

Nothing major, except to say that Joe Hunter is still striding solidly on, as am I.

I've a couple of events upcoming in the next few months, where I hope to see/meet some of you along the way.

I'll be at Bouchercon in Albany this September, and am also attending the inaugural Iceland Noir event in Reykjavik in November. I've always been fascinated with iceland as a country, and am looking forward to visiting, and have of course booked to go on a northern lights tour. With luck atmospheric conditions will be just right and I'll get to see a spectacle of nature.

In the UK, Joe Hunter 8 - Rules of Honour - has recently been published in paperback format and I've been doing the rounds of publicity on that one. In the USA, book 5 - Blood and Ashes - is doing well I believe. The next book, Dead Men's Harvest, which sees the return of a foe from Hunter's past is due a late October release, and I look forward to hearing how readers enjoy the book.

For British readers eagerly awaiting the next Hunter novel, book 9 - The Lawless Kind - will be released in hardback and ebook at the end of January 2014. Sounds a long way off, but, hey, it's September tomorrow already. Where do the days, weeks and months go to? I've had my head down and fingers tapping and hit the 80K mark on my latest work in progress. When I'm absorbed in my writing I often don't notice the passage of time, but still. This year is flying past.

Right, I'm off back to the WIP, another planned 20K words to get on with. So, if you don't hear from me soon, that's the reason.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Joe Hunter is Hot Property These Days

For Joe Hunter fans, I've a few things to bring to your notice:

First up is that an original unpublished Joe Hunter story - HOT PROPERTY - is included in the summer edition (issue 40) of The Strand magazine, alongside an interview with Len Deighton, and brand new fiction from Michael Palmer, John Floyd, Jonathan Rabb, and an unpublished Joseph Heller (Catch 22) story.

This Joe Hunter story was specially written on request of the magazine and comes with an original diagram by (and copyrighted to) Michael Caroll. In it Joe Hunter pays a visit to the home of a porn movie director to take away his star project. As is the norm for Hunter, things heat up rapidly.

copyright Michael Caroll 'Hot Property' from issue 40 The Strand magazine

You can find out more about The Strand magazine, and even order a copy right here:

Issue 40 The Strand Magazine

For those of you waiting for the UK paperback edition of Joe Hunter 8 - RULES OF HONOUR - it goes on general sale tomorrow, 1st August 2013
Rules of Honour - Joe Hunter 8

In the USA, Blood and Ashes (Joe Hunter 5) is now available in paperback with a terrific new pulpy look. On sale where all good books are sold. I'be been doing a number of radio interviews and blog interviews, so listen/watch out for me popping up soon. The next Joe Hunter book to hit the USA will be as soon as October 30th this year. Dead Men's Harvest also has a smashing pulpy feel to the cover art.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Name Change and New Look Cover...

Some time back I wrote and published a young adult fantasy ebook called 'Deliver us from Evil' under the pen name of J A Norton. Well, I've since redesigned the book, updating it and adding a new cover, and hopefully making it a more superior product.

The ebook is now available via Kindle under the new title 'Mark Darrow and the Stealer of Souls' by Matt Hilton.

It is written in the tradition of Percy Jackson, Harry Potter and the Darren Shan books, and is aimed at older children, young adults, or indeed adults who retain the spirit of magic and adventure.

Here's the link to Amazon UK:

Here's the link to Amazon USA:

Remember don't buy it if you already have the previous edition called Deliver Us From Evil.

Product description:

In the tradition of Percy Jackson, Harry Potter and Darren Shan...

There is something strange going on in Larchwood, but for Mark Darrow, Shax and Amy, things are about to get stranger, and more frightening.

Skathalos the Ravager has designs on the Earth, intending taking it as his own domain, and bringing it to ruin the way he has the hidden realm he holds under his evil rule. When Shax is snatched by Skathalos it's down to Mark and Amy, and a collie dog called Rip - who is not all he seems to be - to enter the forbidding realm to save their friend and an entire race of beings from evil.

Action, adventure, and terror await the trio along a path fraught with danger and terrible creatures: Scatters, Harpies, Rock Slugs, and an army of walking creatures of dust and clay. But they are nothing compared to the monstrous Firbolg giants, The Wall of Souls, or the terrifying might of Skathalos - a demon too ferocious to remain in Hell. But face them Mark and Amy must, if they are to save Shax, the Tuatha people, and maybe even the entire Earth from the impending End of All Days.

Suggested reading age 11+

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Pulp Up This Volume - Blood and Ashes now out in the USA

Blood and Ashes - Joe Hunter 5 - is now on general release in paperback in the USA, published by William Morrow and Co (Harper Collins). I really love the pulpy new cover - what do you think?

How does one man stay alive with a dozen assassins targeting him?
Ex-soldier Joe Hunter once employed his killer instincts for Don Griffiths. Together, they brought down extremist groups and domestic terrorists before they could implement their destructive plans against the country. It was a job that nearly cost Hunter his life—and his humanity. So he severed all ties with Griffiths.
But when Griffiths' daughter is murdered and the rest of his family is targeted by supporters of Carswell Hicks, an enemy from his past and long believed to be dead, Hunter knows he can't stand by and let innocent people get hurt. Agreeing to help Griffiths protect his family, Hunter sets out on a suicide mission—for a dozen merciless killers are bent on avenging a dead man . . .

Monday, 24 June 2013

Recap for aspiring authors.

I'm often get asked by aspiring authors for advice on getting published. This is a piece that I wrote some time back, but it's still pertinent advice if anyone is still looking for a head's up...

There's a process for most fiction authors and it generally runs the same course. Some people are lucky in that they get a contract on an idea and a few chapters, but it's not usually the norm. It's best to get your full book written before you even start to look for an agent or publisher, as being 'untested' they will want to check that you have the stamina to write a full novel and can carry your idea through to the end. A book these days usually runs anywhere from 80,000 to 130,000 words, and you maybe want to get the book to those kinds of proportions before you begin seeking representation or publishing.
There's no right or wrong way to write. Some meticulously plan and plot the book out before writing it, others, like me, write from the seat of the pants. I just have an idea and go with it and see where I'm going to end up. BTW, my books tend to run at about 90,000 words (for comparison).
When your book is ready to start sending out, my advice is to seek representation from an agent. Now this is the difficult bit. Agents act as middle men and clearing houses for publishers these days, and to be taken on by an agent is a massive step, almost as difficult as getting a contracted deal from a publisher. Very few publishers accept submissions directly, and use the agent to send them only the best. When your book is written, go back over it with a fine tooth-comb and edit it and sort out any typos or inconsistencies. Get someone else that you trust to also read it, but also someone who will tell you the truth if you have any weaknesses or hanging plot lines (your family and best friends tend to tell you only good things which doesn't really help).
When that is done and you've made it the best you can, start checking out agents who might be interested in your style of book. The bible for this is the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook which lists all the reputable agencies and contact details. Also check on the internet and look at authors you admire and find out who their agent is. It is always better to have a name to send your book to rather than just sending it to the agency itself, as it shows you've taken time to do your research.
When you have an idea of who might be interested check their submission guidelines (often they're on their websites or in the fore mentioned WAA yearbook). The industry standard tends to be that you must mail them an intro pack. This comes with an introductory letter, in which you briefly describe your book, and any plans you have for follow ups (they're looking for writers who have more than one book in them) as well as the approximate word count, followed by a brief bio of yourself. Say for example that  you're an ex soldier. Mention that in your intro letter as it is your USP (unique selling point) particularly if your book involves soldiers/military etc as it shows you have the know how. Also mention other writers you think your book may be targeted towards to attract some of their readers. e.g. "I believe my book is in a similar style to that of Lee Child and Matt Hilton etc" as it then helps them think of their target audience and marketing strategies very early on. Also you will need to include a short synopsis of your book - usually a one side A4 sheet - with all the salient points and characters from your book included. Lastly you send the first 3 chapters or approximately 30,000 words of the beginning of your book. Again there's a standard in that it must be on A4 paper, double spaced with a clear margin, and on only one side of the paper (black ink). This is to allow editing and notes as early on as this. If you don't stick to that format they'll probably just bin your submission without looking at it. It's always a good idea to include your contact details in your intro letter, but also put them on the first page of your book incase the letter and book get separated. Also include a SAE for return of your pack if they don't want it (courtesy is everything).
Usually you can expect to wait a few weeks before you hear anything. Don't be disheartened if you are rejected, just move on to the next agent on your list. Rejection is par for the course, but who knows, you might strike it lucky early on. If there's any feedback take it on board. If an agent requests to see your full book you've achieved a massive first step. Be prepared to work hard. They'll probably ask for changes - but they're the experts and know what the publishers want so go with it. If you become precious about your book they might find you awkward to work with and not take you on. There's usually a test period of a month or two before they will agree to represent you and in this time they can still turn you down.

A few pointers:
Avoid anyone who asks you for money. Some agents do charge a reading fee, but most don't. They make their money (commission at about 10 -15 percent) when they sell your book. Anyone raving about your book who then asks for money are cowboys. Sadly there's a lot of them out there. Don't be caught out by flashy websites and graphics, and big promises. If in doubt, Google them and see what others are saying about them. Usually frauds are exposed this way, and yet still some aspiring/desperate authors end up handing over piles of money to them with no book deal at the end of it.
Avoid vanity publishers. These are the companies who rave about your book (without an agent) and say they'll print it for a fee - usually £thousands - and all you get is a few poorly printed books with no marketing or anything. You often see them advertising in the backs of newspapers or popping up on the website with such claims as 'We want your book' or 'We'll print Your book' and such like. Criminals, that's what they are.
Ebooks or print on demand is a new way of publishing yourself, but it's always best to go the traditional route first.
I think that's all for now. Good luck and I look forward to seeing your book on the stands.
Matt Hilton

Friday, 17 May 2013

What's Occurring?

There is little to report from Hiltonia at this time, other than that I'm working on a standalone novel and it's too early to spread any news about it: it's still at that stage where it might be ditched, so the least said the better right now.

But, there are a couple things worthy of mention coming up if you are a reader of my books.

In June The Strand magazine will be publishing a never-before-seen never-before-published Joe Hunter short story called 'Hot Property'. The magazine will be available throughout the USA and also via download. More news on this as the time nears.

I'm currently reading through submissions for ACTION: Pulse Pounding tales Volume 2, with a view to having the ebook ready some time in June, and I'll update on its progress nearer the time. If you'd like to keep up to speed on this project though you can follow this link to APPT's Facebook page for up to the minute news as it happens

'Blood And Ashes' - Joe Hunter 5 is due for a mid-June release in the USA. On the back of it I will be doing a radio relay week commencing 25th June, so listen out for me if I hit any of your local stations.

Lastly I'll be at this years CRIMEFEST at Bristol 29th May 'til June 1st and hope to see some of you there.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Busy week ahead...

I've been a bit quiet on here of late, so please accept my apologies. I just thought it pertinent that I let you into a few dates for your diaries if you want to come out and see me/support you local library or literary event.

I'll be at the following places over the next week or so:

Two events on Wednesday 24th April in Burnley:

I'm at the Library, Lowerhouse Lane, Rosegrove, Burnley, Lancashire BB12 6HU from 3pm – 4.30pm

Then with Neil White at Burnley Central Library Grimshaw Street, Burnley, Lancashire BB11 2BD from 7 – 9 pm

Then I'm at CSI Gateshead on Thursday 25th April with Pauline Rowson and Mari Hannah at:
Gateshead Central Library, Prince Consort Rd, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear NE8 4LN

And then on Sunday 28th April at 4.30 I'm again with Mari Hannah at the Hexham Book Festival 2013 at: Queen’s Hall, Beaumont Street, Hexham, Northumberland, NE46 3LS

Hope to see some of you at one or the other of the events.


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Your Life in Your hands...

I'm all for supporting aspiring or new writers and to help keep them motivated as they aim for that long-wished for publication deal. It seems that during a recent guest blog I did over at Pulp Pusher that I might have taken the wind out of a few sails as I shared a few of the horror stories some mid-list authors face when it comes to getting their books on the shelves. So I thought I'd just make a brief addendum right here:

I'm not as despondent about it all as perhaps the blog post sounded. I happened to host a rather long and heated debate on my Facebook page after some of my readers were complaining they couldn't get hold of the latest Joe Hunter book and what I found out about it's distribution wasn't too great. I was obviously disappointed at the time, but I'm OK now, and as enthusiastic and optimistic about my career as ever. 

Based upon the somewhat controversial topic raised on Facebook, and the mixed emotions and opinions batted back and forward, Tony asked me if I'd write a guest piece at Pulp Pusher, and maybe I pitched it a little too one-sided in hindsight. Maybe not too surprisingly it kind of divided opinions - even though I did say I was playing devil's advocate, and my intention was to champion all authors, and not necessarily have a go at the bookshop chains. Maybe using my own examples came across as if I was whining, but it's too late to change that now. But, yeah, I guess I still stand by the fact that through current ordering protocols we're being shafted and that current practices could kill some writers' careers before they get started. But I could as easily tell as many good news stories as bad, and - for me - it's still the best job in the world.

Opportunities still exist for authors, whatever route you choose to follow. As someone mentions, it's not books readers seek, but stories, and we're all story tellers. It might just be that the form in which people gather those stories to themselves might be different than this 'old timer' has grown accustomed to. I'm still a fence sitter when it comes to what's the right and wrong direction to take (self-pub versus traditional publishing) - and again am not going to get into any argument one way or the other, because I simply do not know what the answer is. 

As it happens, I'm traditionally published, and more than thankful for that. My traditional publishers also put the books out in ebook format, so I'm probably doubly represented and therefore doubly grateful. If readers can't find my books on the shelves, they can still find them online. Use that as inspiration if you will - if I can do it, then so can you. Don't let my momentary knee-wobble put you off writing and following your dream. I'm over it. Keep on keeping on, as a wiser  man than me once said.

Monday, 25 February 2013

The Current Joe Hunter Stuff Available in the UK

No Going Back - Joe Hunter 7 - is currently available in Paperback and ebook editions
Dead Fall is now available in ebook formats
Red Stripes is available for pre-order in ebook formats (published 14th march 2013)
Rules of Honour - Joe Hunter 8 - is now available in hardback and ebook editions

Sunday, 24 February 2013

I Guest Blog over at Pulp Pusher

I've guest blogged over at Tony Black's excellent blogsite 'Pulp Pusher' talking about the struggles a mid-list author must endure to gain shelf space in bookshops these days. Take a trip over to Tony's place for the full low down.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

New Dates For Your Diary

Here are some new dates for your diary for where you can come along and meet me (as if that's something on everyone's bucket list!!!)

Waterstones, Scotch Street, Carlisle 10 am onwards on Saturday 23rd February 2013 (launch of Joe Hunter 8 - Rules of Honour)

CSI Gateshead. Gateshead Central Library 7pm Thursday 25th April 2013

Hexham Bookfest. Queens Hall, Hexham, Northumberland. 4.30 Sunday 28th April 2013.

Hope to see some of you along at one of these events.