A Wanted Man – published!

It’s with great delight that I can share the news that A Wanted Man, my debut novel, has been published by Endeavour Press. You can grab it here!

A Wanted Man is, simply put, the story of a soldier who was discarded, but still has more to give. I kept asking myself what it would feel like to give everything for your country, only to come back to find everything was different – including yourself. What would happen if you only have training for things that are of no use at all in regular civilian life? What do you do when you’ve grown up while fighting wars abroad, only for the fighting to end and you’re not needed anymore? When I posed these questions to myself, the character of Ben Bracken began to form in my answers.

When I was 17, I wrote a screenplay that was about a criminal gang in Manchester, UK, near where I still live today. It was profoundly formulaic, and followed similar tropes seen in countless movies over the years. I loved a good crime yarn, and wanted to write one – that was my simple motivation. But as I got older, I mulled over this screenplay time and time again, realising that something was missing. It was only when my own friends and acquaintances started to come back from Afghanistan, and I spoke with them about their experiences, did the penny drop. Their collective states, each varied, inspired me hugely, both in terms of my admiration for them, and creatively as well.

And then I thought about dropping an ex-soldier into that old crime screenplay I’d written. The possibilities suddenly seemed endless, and I was away. The creative process organically seemed to turn the project into a novel, as I started from fresh. Before long I was flying and in 8 weeks, I’d written the first draft.

That was late 2013, and since then I have grown immeasurably, both personally and in terms of my writing, and it’s with immense pride that A Wanted Man finds readers today. I really hope you enjoy it. I had a blast writing it, and there’s plenty more to come from Ben Bracken, mark my words.

Bracken, Blackstoke, and what I can say about the current state of play…

Hey all, I realised I have been giving a lot of updates on what I’ve been reading, and only the casual reference to what I have been writing. Well, let me explain…

Firstly, thanks to each and every one of you who has read a Ben Bracken book this past year, and has offered support and good wishes. You’ve been amazing, and I’m very grateful, and a bit blown away by it (and by a bit, I mean a lot).

Apex came out in July 2014, and with that saw interest in the property outside of the usual self-publishing channels. The rest of that summer was spent in plenty of back and forth negotiation, the result of which, as yet, I still can’t talk about, nor am I able to say yet who such negotiations were with. I don’t want to jeopardise current and future conversations, so I’ve had to keep my mouth firmly shut. 

Needless to say, it has been a heck of a ride, extremely rewarding and exciting. I’m hoping in the future there will be some clarity as to what I’ve been up to, and what the future will hold, but for now… Watch this space.

The third Bracken adventure, The Penny Black, was finished just before Christmas, and I would just love to unleash it. I’m sure most people would say it about their latest work, but I’m convinced that it is easily my best so far. Writing it was just a massive joy, and I can’t wait for it to see the light of day. It has been sent to the parties I’ve been in conversation with, and… again that’s as much as I can say. But, the early reader feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and I’m thrilled. 

It is a dark thriller set on the banks of the river Bure, deep in the Norfolk Broads. A small community is under siege from outside forces and sinister entities within its midst, and Ben Bracken finds himself in the thick of it.

I viewed The Penny Black as the possible ending to a trilogy of Bracken novels. The door is open to future adventures, but I can easily call it there. That let me add some real gravity to the story, a real all-or-nothing feel, which I think makes it the strongest so far. 

So, while stuff is going on in the background regarding Bracken’s future, I am challenging myself to write something completely different in tone and scope, and that is Blackstoke. I had an idea a while back, which I left on the back burner for the right time, and now we’ve got there. Also, I think now I may have grown up just enough to have a decent stab at it. I want to look at family chemistry, communities in minute conflict, and I’m just not sure i could have done it justice before. The minutia that upset us, when it has no real right to. And then, as I’ve set up this world, I’m going to throw I big nasty spanner in there. 

It’s taking me a lot longer to write this, as for me personally, this is a much bigger challenge, and I want to create a sensitive, nuanced portrait of different people in uncomfortable circumstances. I’m going to have to keep playing at this until I get it just right. I’m about an eighth of the way in, so it’ll probably take me another couple of months.

So that’s where we are. Sorry for any vagueness, but circumstances dictate. As soon as I can explain, I will. Rest assured, your support is mega and means the world. Thank you all!

Review – Robert Parker’s Apex

Totally delighted by this review of Apex by Self-Publisher’s Showcase! Thank you very much!

Apex is a stunning adventure thrill-ride from front to back cover. The action and tension is relentless and Parker has created a vigilante that you really want to support even though his methods are somewhat shady. This is a proper novel in that the main protagonist has to use believable means to attain his objective. Mud and moss for camouflage, hunting rabbit on the moor for sustenance, hand to hand combat and a quick mind all play a huge part in a story that would normally be heavy on technology’s use at the hand of lesser authors. Apex is the second Ben Bracken novel, and I found this out after reading Apex so you don’t need to have read the first novel first, although I will be now. The ending is a massive shock, a twist I didn’t see coming and ends abruptly leaving me wanting the next book now. Hurry up Mr Parker I am waiting.

Review – Robert Parker’s Apex

Been running around in circles with plot problems the last couple of days, so borrowed my little one’s colouring stuff, got to work with a big piece of paper and some colouring pens and BOOM we have a breakthrough! Censored of course – I didn’t go mad and ruin it with the black marker like the guy on The Fast Show (‘Black! Like the raven’s eye!’)