Tony Black

Aug 292014
I might have missed a Friday, or two, of round-ups but I think the 'irregular' bit covers me for that. So, without further blather, here's the, er, blather ...

The Last Tiger, shortlisted  for Not the Booker.
That newspaper of note, The Guardian still has The Last Tiger shortlisted for its Not the Booker prize at the moment and the latest step in the judging process is a very level-headed review from Sam Jordison. There's four more shortlisted books to be reviewed - all the very best of luck to the authors and their publishers - and readers can enter the debate via the comments box for the reviews during that time.

The Last Tiger continues to rack up the reviews - breaking the 20 five-star reviews mark on Amazon recently - and landing some very nice plaudits from the folks at

"Poetically written, The Last Tiger is likely to make you very sad and melancholic but sometimes those books are the best kind there is. Black speaks about important things and through the tale of the final throes of this wild but wonderful species, he actually talks about humanity itself and the need to accept the very things we don't really understand." 

In the coming weeks I'll be talking about The Last Tiger - and other things - to students at Edinburgh Uni and I'll be doing a Hunting the Last Tiger event in Elgin.
Meanwhile Artefacts of the Dead, my new Ayr-set crime novel has been featured in the Cumnock Chronicle, where the origins of DI Bob Valentine get an airing for the first time. The book also picks up some very nice reviews at Undiscovered Scotland and Crime Review.

The Undiscovered Scotland reviewer pointed out I wasn't making too many friends at the Ayrshire Tourist board, and is probably right. But I liked this bit best: 

"Artefacts of the Dead is Tony Black's latest venture into Tartan Noir and deeply noir it is too… The result is a thoroughly enjoyable read that keeps you guessing right to the end."

Crime Review called Artefacts a "superbly told tale" and added that it: "treads the fine line between dramatic license and realism with a sure-footedness close to perfection with often unrelenting violence finessed by surprising emotion and compassion."

Hard Truths is out now in paperback.
In other news my compilation of crime writer interviews - Hard Truths - has now made its way into paperback.

This series was something of a labour of love, spanning about five years' worth of interviews with the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin and Andrew Vachss. The interviews cover a host of topics from the writing process to more personal anecdotes and featured in a number of newspapers, magazines and on my own, now defunct website, Pulp Pusher.

You can catch an edited version of my interview with the legendary Godfather of Tartan Noir, William McIlvanney on YouTube now. 


Tasmanian tiger extinction doco

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Aug 222014
There's a lot of footage on YouTube about the Tasmanian tiger and its 'extinction' but most of it is pretty dire stuff. This is a detailed and well put-together account of the animal's demise and although it runs on a bit is worth the watch if you're keen to broaden your understanding of what went on down in Tassie.

Aug 172014
Very interesting article from the Fortean Times, published some time in the 90s, which was sent to me by J.T. Lindroos (who is also an excellent cover designer, just saying!). There's a curious discussion on the Queensland tiger, that sounds more big cat than thylacine, and an interesting guess at the current numbers of around 1,000; note the writer using the pseudonym Tigerman guesses at around 200, or less, extant thylacines now in Tasmania.

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Tasmanian tiger in New Guinea

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Aug 142014
The thylacine once roamed throughout Australia, and on New Guinea, the large island to the north of the continent. It's thought the tiger became extinct on mainland Australia about 2,000 years ago and possibly earlier on New Guinea. A number of theories account for this, including loss of habitat to incoming dingoes, who were far less choosy eaters, and hunting by indigenous peoples. What's far harder to explain away is continued sightings of thylacines on New Guinea. This short video gives a fascinating account of such sightings in West Papua Province (previously known as Irian Jaya). Locals say the thylacine, which they call dobsenga, lives in the region's high country.

The ever-so irregular Friday round-up

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Aug 082014
It's Friday, so time to round up some of the last week (-ish or so) of stuff that's been happening. Or not, as the case may be.

Shockeroonie, as Frank McAvennie might say, THE LAST TIGER has made it onto the shortlist for The Guardian's Not the Booker Prize. Voting closed last Sunday and the results show it was about as tight as a tight run thing, so thanks a million to all of you who voted, and double thanks to my excellent publishers Cargo for nominating.

The next round sees The Guardian reviewing all of the shortlisted titles before another vote and eventual decision by a judging panel. All the best of luck to those on the shortlist, I can't wait to delve into some of those books so props (see how street I am?) to The Guardian for bringing them to my attention.

THE LAST TIGER - currently 99p - has also been steadily picking up some nice reviews over at Amazon and some equally nice coverage in the press, with The Herald (almost) making my trip Down Under their splash today. There's also a great interview at The Inverness Courier, where I talk to journo of note Calum MacLeod. And, if you grab a copy of this month's Writing Magazine you'll find another interview with me in there.

Meanwhile back at the crime fiction ranch, ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD, the novel Ayr-writer Michael Malone still believes is called Architects of the Dead (too much Grand Designs, Mick!) got a great reception at Weegie Words in Glasgow this week, where I read the section about a banker getting impaled on a wooden spike.

Artefacts - not Architects! - has also picked up some fine reviews lately, with the Daily Mail praising its "taut, heart-wrenchingly honest protagonist and impressive literary style".

They went on - and I for one wasn't about to stop them: 

"It is among the best of the new Tartan Noir, a story told with real poignancy amid the ugliness and fear."

This week Artefacts also kicked off a serialisation in the Aberdeen-based Press & Journal newspaper which will run till the end of the year and saw its book trailer - and my beard - aired to the world:


And finally, my novella THE RINGER has sneaked into print on Amazon and has had quite a few takers in its first week or so. It's a lovely edition, it must be said, with an excellent cover design by the ever-talented Jim Divine. You can grab a copy in the UK for £4.99 and in the USA for the dollar equivalent. Meanwhile in the Czech Republic DI Rob Brennan has made his way into print with Murder Mile. At least, I think that's what it says on the cover ...
Oh, one last thing, if you fancy the chance to win £200 worth of books then you can now nominate your favourite crime writer for the CWA Dagger in the Library Award. Simply visit the sponsor's website and list your three favs. It's an award for a body of work, so the writer needs to have published at least three books ... I've published way more than that, ahem, just saying.

Not the Booker Prize: The Last Tiger

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Jul 292014
After clawing its way up the charts, The Last Tiger (see what I did there?) has now found itself onto the Guardian's Not the Booker Prize longlist.

This is a great result for all at Cargo Publishing, especially my publisher, Mark Buckland, who has done an outstanding job getting the book noticed.

Voting is causing a wee bit of confusion for some folk, but it's a simple enough affair, really.

Here's how to vote:

1) Go to the Guardian page for the Not the Booker Prize.

2) Scroll down to the comments section, and state your vote, with a few words about why you've made that choice. You can list a second choice too, in the same fashion.

3) If you're not already registered with the Guardian to leave comments, then, at the same point on the page - just before the comments section - go to this bit:

Open for comments. or create your Guardian account to join the discussion. 

You'll have to give your email address and a username, but that's it. I've been registered for years and never had any spam so no need to worry.


To all of you who have voted already, my huge thanks, it really means a great deal to see so many of you speaking up for The Last Tiger. Much appreciated, folks!

:: As part of Amazon's Summer Sale The Last Tiger is still only £0.99 right now.

Eerie final footage of The Last Tiger

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Jul 282014

:: For a limited time only, THE LAST TIGER, is available as part of Amazon's Summer Sale at the low price of £0.99.

"The Last Tiger presents the reader with a unique storyline that takes historical fiction to a new dimension."
                                 -Col Bailey, author of Shadow of the Thylacine

The irregular Friday round-up

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Jul 252014
The Ringer in paperback, out now, price: £4.99
Yes, it's Friday, and that means ... well, asking myself if I can be bothered to post the week's main book-related shenanigans.

Rejoice, people, because I can!

THE RINGER - featuring my most crazy anti-hero to date - has hit the proper book shelves. Yes, that's right. You can now buy a copy of THE RINGER in pristine paperback - and a very nice piece of paper it is too - for the meagre sum of £4.99 or the equivalent currency of your choice.

In the coming days/weeks HARD TRUTHS will be the next cab of the paper ranks; I'll keep you posted, and there's more to come.

Some other recent releases have been clocking up very nice reviews of late. THE LAST TIGER, especially, has been roaring up the charts. (Oh, dear). Gaining on the Brown stuff, and becoming my all-time best-seller thanks to an Amazon 99p Summer Sale promo.

My fav review so far for this title has to be from Liz Loves Books:

"What an absolutely amazing and fascinating tale this was – beautifully written, absolutely captivating and with an emotional resonance that will stick with me forever." -Liz Loves Books

ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD, my new Ayr-set crime novel has also been picking up some very nice reviews, with the Daily Record calling it:

"Dark. Relentless. Harrowing. Set in the shadows of evil, it's a gripping tome that's as chilling as the waves that lap Ayr's shore in the dead of night." -Daily Record

Then Shortlist took up the baton:

"A world full of emotion, mystery and suspense. Twisty crime fiction at its best." -Shortlist 

Last but not least, the Commonwealth Games kicked off in Scotland, so it seemed like the ideal time for me to kick off in The Ayrshire Post. 

I also had a dig at the state of one particular carpark in Ayr and praised our wonderful library and staff at Carnegie in Ayr. 

Libraries in the UK are still under tremendous pressure from the short-sighted Tory cuts that are being foisted on them in the name of austerity measures; here's hoping that Carnegie and many others can weather this storm.

Jul 242014
By Ryan Bracha

Twelve Mad Men is the story of a night guard’s first shift at St David’s asylum for the criminally insane. Throughout the shift he meets the staff and residents there, and before long it soon becomes apparent that there’s something very wrong in the water. It is made up of several stories written by some of the finest indie talent on offer, and woven into the narrative by me, Ryan Bracha.

Lanarkshire-born wordsmith Mark Wilson probably hates me when I’m a bit tipsy. He probably hates me full stop. On Saturday nights, when the wife has gone to bed just around Match of the Day, or The Football League Show comes on, I get on the long bit of the corner sofa, with a beer in one hand, and my phone in the other. From this position, I scroll through Facebook contacts, find the bald bastard, and I hurl abuse (wrapped in the safe word of banter!) at his little bald head. In between this ‘banter’, we discuss books. We talk about other writers; who we admire, who’s doing something cool with their stuff, and who’s an absolute clown. It’s about these times that I come up with my best ideas. They start as throwaway comments about what it’d be cool to do, or what character I’d like to introduce into a book, or what I want to do to try to stand out from the crowd. Some of them are forgotten as quickly as they dribbled out of my brain, but others are left to fester upstairs. Whilst up there, they grow a fine layer of fuzzy mould, and begin to take on a life of their own. Twelve Mad Men was one of those ideas.

I wanted to write a set of rules that I would write a novel by, and I would beg a bunch of authors to get involved in the making of it. The set of rules eventually became what I have termed ‘The Rule of Twelve Manifesto 2014,’ which required twelve very loose guidelines to write a book by, for example it had to feature twelve different writers, all invited to participate by the lead writer. Or each story had to be so many words long. Or that the project would cost nothing but time, the writers between them must use the skills between them to make the project work, and for free. That kind of thing. I wanted it to be a literary equivalent of the Dogme 95 cinematic movement, led by Lars Von Trier.

So I began to ask around the writers whose work I’d discovered in my first eighteen months in the literary game. Gerard Brennan, whose work I adore. Keith Nixon and Mark Wilson, my original and best pals on the indie scene, they taught me at least 63% of what I know now. Paul Brazill, whose descriptive prose makes me sick with envy. The writer of my favourite book of 2013, Craig Furchtenicht. Lord of despair and darkness Allen Miles. Darren Sant because of his gritty urban collections. And Martin Stanley, the hard-boiled master. They all said yes, without hesitation. It blew my mind. From here I asked for suggestions, and Christ, I snagged the legendary Les Edgerton, the twisted fuck that is Richard Godwin, and the king of short, sharp fiction, Gareth Spark.

Once I’d got them, I told them what I wanted. The brief was pretty much simply this: I’m going to narrate the story from the point of view of a night guard on his first shift at St David’s asylum for the criminally insane.  Along this shift he’s going to meet fictional version of you. I want you to write me a story about your spiral into madness, and what acts led you to be incarcerated at St David’s. No more than six thousand words. I would improvise and react to the stories submitted, and this would shape how the book went. The stories came in and they blew me away. They were funny, dark, violent, sweary, intelligent, disgusting, witty and above all, brilliant. Everybody who’s read it so far has said something like ‘That Richard Godwin, he’s a damaged fuck, eh?’ and that’s what I wanted. I was sick of seeing the charts filled to the brim with rip-offs of the last big thing. I wanted to put a book out that had got some real balls, one that would make a reader admire the ambition that lay within, and I think I invited possibly the most perfect eleven to make it so. I wanted these guys to let loose. Take themselves out of their comfort zones, and simply go nuts, pun intended. They made me up my own game in response to the sheer brilliance of what they were sending me. They made me push harder to make the narrative of the book stand up alongside the stories included therein. They did me proud, each and every one of them.

For me, the highlight of the whole process was all of it. I’ve got to know some really cool fellas, and I’ve put out a work that I think they can all be proud of. The next project is already up in the mental attic gathering the mould it needs to come alive, and I’d be happy to have any one of them back for round two.

Ryan Bracha is the Yorkshire born best-selling author of several works of fiction, including Strangers are Just Friends you Haven’t Killed yet, Tomorrow’s Chip Paper, and Paul Carter is a Dead Man. His latest work, a novel of stories entitled Twelve Mad Men, is a ground breaking literary collaboration with some of the most talented Brit Grit and American talent currently working today. He lives in Barnsley with his wife, two cats, and their as-yet unborn, and unnamed, daughter.

:: Buy Twelve Mad Men on Amazon now.

Tiger trapper caught on film

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Jul 212014
Anyone who looks into the history of the Tasmanian tiger will tell you that the real experts were the old trappers. Turk Porteous - who features in this video - knew more about the nature of thylacines in the bush than any university professor, simply because he observed them at first hand. In his acclaimed book, Tiger Tales, Col Bailey talks about his experiences of dealing with the old bushmen and trappers of Tasmania, how they observed the tigers in their natural habitat, and comes to precisely the same conclusion. That there are no 'real experts' these days, because they have all died out, those bushmen with the experience to say they knew and understood the tigers.

:: For a limited time only, THE LAST TIGER, is available as part of Amazon's Summer Sale at the low price of £0.99.

"The Last Tiger presents the reader with a unique storyline that takes historical fiction to a new dimension."
                                 -Col Bailey, author of Shadow of the Thylacine