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tongue sticking out

I got another lovely review for Old, Fat Punks – which is nice, but it came with some problems. As an independent writer with no self confidence, reviews are brilliant both for one’s self esteem (even, often, when they’re negative) and for garnering additional sales. When a couple – both writers and lovely people – both reviewed my book on the US Amazon site, it triggered some sort of automated script that deleted both reviews.

I tried appealing, they tried appealing, but all any of us seemed to get were more automated emails that didn’t seem to stem from a human being. We got nowhere.

You can read more about these shenanigans HERE.

For my part, I understand the need to avoid fake or malicious reviews, but these seems a bit odd. Couples often use the same products, read the same books and are enthusiastic about the same things. Even outside of couples, groups of friends often share housing for years at a time and, similarly, share similar interests. Not only is this creepily intrusive with your data, but it’s counterproductive for Amazon, sellers and consumers.

The really important part is, of course, the actual review…

I loved the book. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, thanks to Desborough’s clever wit. The setup is ingenious and hilarious: a group of middle-aged punk rocker friends meet in a pub that’s relevance is waning as surely as their own. After they go several rounds comparing sources of unhappiness and lamenting how futile it is to change the world for the better, they manage to hatch a plan that is as brilliant as it is doomed to fail. Or succeed? Does it even matter? The book is a must-read for anyone who craves another perspective on contemporary politics.

For me, this was a 5-star book, in that it was a thoroughly entertaining read, stayed true to its promise, and had zero flaws. It sucked me in and kept me riveted to the end, and I came to care about the characters and their issues, which are real and wholly felt. It resonated with me, and I think it would resonate with other readers.

But you should check out Lisa’s work as well. Clearly she’s a fine writer with excellent taste!

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The following is a five star review for Old, Fat Punks – posted on Amazin. You should totally buy a copy, review it and recommend it to your friends.

***

This is an outstanding novel. It is also a very dangerous novel. Old, Fat, Punks is nostalgic tribute to a bygone era. A pre-Margaret Thatcher, pre-Ronald Reagan era in which young people still thought they could change the world for the better – an idealistic era, a romantic era. This novel is also about the cold hard truth that that era has passed and it is a blistering critique of the world we live in today.

This novel is also about the cold hard truth that that era has passed and it is a blistering critique of the world we live in today.

Derek, Trol (one “l” because two is too much work) and Tim are ageing, drunk, unsuccessful former punks from the late 1970s. Each one is facing a grinding, humiliating future in which their choices are poverty on the British dole or throwing out what little self-esteem they have left. One drunken night they agree to under take one last great act of defiance. But not to make a difference but rather to show the world that we now live in a system that even the most extreme political act cannot change (told you it was a dangerous novel). Over the course of the novel we see them put together their plan of action while confronting some of their own demons from the past. We also flash back on their days running with their mates in Britain’s punk scene and come to better understand who these characters are and what drives them.

Each one is facing a grinding, humiliating future in which their choices are poverty on the British dole or throwing out what little self-esteem they have left. One drunken night they agree to under take one last great act of defiance.

The book is well written with complex and interesting characters (even the secondary characters are well rounded and believable). Derek, Trol and Tim are as distinct and complex as you can possibly imagine and make a magnificent spring board for the author to comment on everything from being gay and a racial minority to the state of public schools, the nature of unrequited love, political activism, obesity and the music industry. It is a stinging critique of our modern era and some of a particular political bent will not appreciate our hero’s views of the world (if you are in the 1%, I’m guessing you won’t enjoy this). But if you dreamed of making a difference (or bless you if you are young and think you can make a difference) then this novel seers the heart. It is not hopeless. The novel is romantic and so is the author. Both believe that at the core of all of us is the desire to make the world better – if we can just believe that it can be done (and believe in each other) and open our eyes to the truth of the world around us.

The novel is romantic and so is the author. Both believe that at the core of all of us is the desire to make the world better – if we can just believe that it can be done…

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Derek, Tim and ‘Trol’ are three ageing rebels, hitting their fifties. Disillusioned by the way the world has turned out and the frustration of their teenage dreams of a better life or a revolution.

All they have left are stories of past glory and pints of cheap beer at one of the last punk-pubs in London.

Watching a riot unfurl on television, to no point and no effect, their frustration boils over and they decide to do something futile and stupid, a grand, nihilistic gesture of futility.

Comedy, social and political satire, and frustration all meet in this story of a ‘revolutionary caper’

 

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Alright, no, it isn’t, but I’ve been writing tabletop role-playing games professionally since 2000 and full time since Jan 1st 2004. They say a change is as good as a rest and that seems to be true. Writing stories is different, invigorating and in many ways, I find, less complicated than writing a game. It flows so much easier despite all my misgivings about my talent and my ability to write in long form (I much prefer short stories).

Still, in a little bit less than a week of writing my fiction full-on I’ve written about 1/6th of my first full length novel ‘Old Fat Punks’. It’s a big departure for me from what I normally do. It’s long form, dialogue heavy, my first proper novel and it’s neither genre fic, nor erotica which are the two fields in which I’m already published.

That’s the other thing I find, I just like writing. The genre etc doesn’t matter so much to me, I just like to write. Is that odd? Might be counter-productive given how writers tend to get pigeon-holed and how people like to see an author as one thing or the other.

If I could only get more people to buy my short stories I might feel a bit more confident about the novel, but at least writing it is coming along OK.

Not sure what to do on this blog at the moment though, maybe I could talk about the book a bit as I write it. The characters, the motivations, what the story is about. That might drum up a little interest.

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