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Image Problem

willis-surrogates“Your problem,” he said, picking pieces of the young man’s teeth from his knuckles, “Is that you think image matters.”

He crouched down and rolled him over, stroking bloodied fingers over matted hair as the poor boy whimpered and dribbled blood, spit and dentine.

“Image doesn’t matter. Image can be misleading. Image lies. What matters is action. What matters – in the end – is what’s true. You acted on the basis of image, and look what happened to you.”

He stood again, knees popping and arched his back, twisting slightly to work out the kinks.

“I looked like an easy mark, didn’t I? Older man, by himself, doesn’t look at that fit, gold watch, soft shoes. Very much out of place around here. Right?”

The boy wasn’t really listening, just sobbing as the adrenaline numbness wore off.

“Except I did live around here, before I bettered myself. You don’t have to be that buff to do damage to a person, you just have to have the will to do so. You can’t trust image boy, you just can’t. Never act on image alone.”

The lad put his hands to his mouth and stared at them, shaking, seeing his own bright blood staining them crimson.

080509_surrogates“I mean, who can you trust? Image can be crafted, reality can’t in the same way. Image is all smoke and mirrors, advertising, done to sell you something. Who can you trust? Not the news, not any more. They’re not there to relay truth but to ‘sell’ a story, serve their audience, push up a narrative. Can you trust me? Well, I’m not what I looked like, am I son? Anyone who cares about image lying to you.”

He swung his boot into the kids sight, and the great ‘oof’ of air that came out as he was winded sent more broken fragments of teeth flying.

“Here endeth the lesson.”

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A compilation of my existing pulp stories in one volume, with the added bonus of an extra story ‘One Man McCann’ – a war story of British pluck and heroism against the evils of Nazi wonder weapons, all on the eve of D-Day!

Other stories include:

Cichol’s Children: Genealogy can take one to strange places indeed as is about to be discovered. A ‘mythos’ tale in homage to HP Lovecraft.
Stain: As with hard boiled eggs, hard boiled detectives can go off as well. Stane is a washed up detective who no longer cares, the perfect patsy for a case that nobody wants.
Shanks: An English gentleman walks the dusty trails of the old west, but do not mistake a gentleman for a sissy and don’t think grit is enough to deal with an Englishman when his dander’s up.
The Black Rat: The 1970s, a time a plaid, three day weeks, power outages and only three television channels. Dark times that call for a dark vigilante who sets his sights on police corruption and violence.
The Dastard: Howard’s Conan started out as a thief, The Dastard starts as one and remains as one. A viciously selfish antihero, cast out of paradise and making do in the barbaric world far from his home. One big score might buy him the luxury he seeks.
Wild: The jungles of Africa, the Amazon and Australia still hold mysteries to be discovered, amongst them a strange woman, white as snow, deadly as a panther and a holder of ancient African secrets.
Rink Rash: After the world comes to an end, a sport remains. Rollerbrawl.
Mimsy Burogrove: Expand your consciousness and solve mysteries with the world’s only psychedelic detective.
Doc Osmium: Two-fisted man of science, Doc Osmium teaches physics with pugilism.
Tessa Coyle: In a future world, a fever dream from the 1940s, the Science Police act as a board of ethical oversight – with extreme prejudice.
Ace Slamm: The world of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, but through a distorted lens. After interplanetary war Ace tries to find a way to drink himself to death in peace, but the old war keeps coming back to haunt him.You can get the ebook at:




You can also snag a PoD hardcopy HERE.



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Stain is your stereotypical washed-up cop. He’s good for nothing, surfing a life of indolence and drunkenness on past glories until he can get to retirement. Then, weirdly, he gets given a serious and important case and may have to reassess his life and career.

Stain is one of a series of ‘neopulp’ short stories I have written, updating the pulp tropes of the 20s-40s with a more modern sensibility, though not necessarily a more modern setting.

You can buy Stain HERE.

It is also bundled with my other short stories HERE

It will be available on other vendors (Lulu, Kindle etc, soon).

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A jolly Wild West tale, just in time for ‘Good Riddance Day’.

An Englishman abroad in the Wild West will find himself hard-pressed to remain a gentleman. Still, there’s a steel in such men that formed an Empire and the cattlemen of the new frontier should know better than to tangle with an Englishman when his dander’s up.




And coming soon(ish) to Amazon and other eBook stores for your devices.

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One of my sexy stories is featured in this anthology.

A phone app, a chance encounter and a ‘kiss chase’ through the streets.

You can get it


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This is a long-winded and overwrought appeal for you to back Red Phone Box. There’s not long left and we’re SO close to the stretch goal.

London seems like a stuck up, grand old lady. She has her grand old buildings and Victorian lanes, the stuffy clubs and the seats of government an justice. Get a few gins down her though and she turns into what our American cousins call a ‘cougar’.

She’s a magical place, without the need for metaphor and stories. She changes people, literally. A cab driver who learns ‘the knowledge’ makes permanent changes to the physical structure of his brain, the same sort of thing that happens with habitual meditation. This is probably why you can’t change a cabby’s mind about anything else.

Fire and bombs, boom and bust, redevelopment, gentrification and the usurpation of purpose by the street make her a patchwork quilt of styles and times and the people reflect that. Past an future, near and far brought together by immigrants and punks, historians and cockneys, new media wankers tickling their MacBooks and old crime geezers sinking pints and comparing scars.

The Underground is another dimension, time and space distorted by the tunnels in the dark. Swarming with clans of tube-mice and echoing with the tunes of buskers, both well heeled and down at heel. The colour-coded map is a sigil, a mystic mark that despite bearing little or no resemblance to the tracks above ground will get you where you need to go.

A day there gives you stories for a lifetime.

The black monk, dressed in white, reading about UFOs.

The mad old bastard shouting warnings of a ‘Jerry’ bombing that hasn’t happened in sixty years.

The stinking tramp who gives you hugs, words of wisdom and headlice all at once.

The cab driver who, before he gives you directions, drops a lit cigarette, kicks it into the air and catches it in his mouth.

The singing street sweeper at 3:30am whom nobody tells to shut the fuck up.

London’s magic is in bringing things together. Ideas, people, cuisines, cultures, words,  architecture, rich and poor, right and left, near and far, old and new.

No wonder that a simple, iconic Red Phone Box from old London Town could bring so many different people and ideas together – and make it work.

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The next in my line of neo-pulp stories.

Wild explores the theme of the jungle hero, but from a different perspective than you might be used to.

The jungle still holds secrets. Some of them are dangerous, even deadly. Some of them defy our modern understanding. Some of them, like the pale, ghostly girl who runs through the trees, can save your life.




Coming to Amazon and other outlets within the next 24 hours or so. Search for my name or the title.

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