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Brit Grit Alley

Brit Grit Alley features interviews, news and updates on what's happening down British crime fiction's booze and blood soaked alleyways.

By Paul D. Brazill 

A Brit Grit Alley guest column:

Paladins by Aidan Thorn

Life has been good to me, I can write that today as I sit here healthy. Eleven years ago I didn’t feel so lucky, it was maybe a week before Christmas 2004 when I found a lump on my right bollock (I can say bollock, it’s fine, I’m a gritty crime writer – ask anyone). I went to the doctor and within days I was at the hospital, by New Years Eve 2004 I was back at home one bollock lighter and a cancer patient. Whilst all that was going on for me, a Tsunami had hit Thailand. It barely registered with me – in fact it’s fair to say that at the time I couldn’t give even half a fuck. Looking back I feel terrible to think I was that self-involved. All those lives lost and destroyed and all I gave a shit about was what was happening to me – not cool.

I just didn’t get it, why me? I was in the gym every night and when I wasn’t I was running, I ate healthy and I didn’t take the piss with my drinking. I have to admit I went pretty dark for a while - again I’m not proud. The thing is I actually was one of the lucky ones, they caught it early and apart from the mild inconvenience of regular blood tests, scans, X-Rays and hospital appointments I didn’t really suffer at all. Well, unless you count not being able to shit for about two weeks because it was too painful!

So, why am I telling you all this (and when I say all I mean the three or four people that bothered to click through from a Facebook or Twitter link I’ve posted)… Well, as I said earlier I’m a writer and through that I’ve had the privilege of meeting some incredible people, mostly through social media. I’ve been lucky to have been published by great people like Darren Sant and Craig Douglas at Near to the Knuckle, Ron Earl Phillips and the teams at Shotgun Honey and The Big Adios, David Barber on his ‘Thrills’ sites, Tom Pitts and Joe Clifford at Out of the Gutter, Gary Duncan at Spelk, Wednesday Lee Friday at the Horror Within… I’ve been in books published by the Near to the Knuckle boys, Andy Rivers at Byker Books, Paul D. Brazill and Andrew Scorah… And all the time these guys have been publishing me I’ve been meeting great people that they’ve also published… There’s a great and supportive community of writers that work together and help each other out. One of the people I met through this network is a wonderful lady called Henrietta Furchetnicht, herself not a writer, but her husband Craig is – and a bloody good one at that. For a while they shared a Facebook account and so we became friends, and I’m so glad we did. See Henri is battling Multiple Myeloma a nasty fuck of a cancer that no one deserves, but definitely not a gem like Henri. And yet, Henri faces this bastard with bravery, wit, intelligence, and verve and a great many of us writer types have observed from afar as she’s gone through her treatment. Yes, there have been struggles and we’ve seen them and many have willed her on, but what I’ve seen most is a woman who loves life and is determined to live it. She makes me look back at the 25 year old me that got pissy because he lost a bollock and feel ashamed. If I could go back and speak to that guy I’d hold Henrietta Furchtenicht’s Facebook timeline in front of him and I’d say “Look you moppy little shite, that’s how you deal with this shit!”

I’ve been so inspired by Henri’s story (I’m not calling it a journey, this ain’t the fucking X Factor!) that I just felt I wanted to do something. And what better thing to do than to get a bunch of great writers together, writers I love and friends of Henri’s and Craig’s, and put out a charity anthology in support of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. So I approached a few writers and I couldn’t believe the response. The initial plan was to have around 10 substantial short stories in the book. I approached around 20 writers, expecting a bunch of knock backs and then I was going to approach another 10 or 20… I couldn’t believe it when within hours of the first batch of emails, nearly everyone had said yes. So, please if you’re a writer and you weren’t asked to contribute, it’s really not because I didn’t want you, it’s just because I was overwhelmed before I’d even taken a serious look at it. And the reason for the great response – well every one of them wanted to do something for Henri, as soon as I’d said it was for her, they were in.

So, Paladins was born a fitting name that means a warrior that is fully devoted to kindness and ridding the universe of evil. Mark Wilson came up with the name, and he also designed the stunning artwork that you can see here. Craig Douglas has also been a huge supporter, by offering his excellent formatting services for the book. And then we come to our authors, every one of them a star, top talent and generous of spirit. You might not think it to read their work, but these guys have big caring hearts and deserve your attention, so thank you, Christopher Davis, Gareth Spark, Craig Furchtenicht, David Jaggers, Bill Baber, Ryan Bracha, Jason Beech, Graham Wynd, Cal Marcius, Darren Sant, Linda Angle, Matt Mattila, Gabriel Valjan, Keith Nixon, Robert Cowan.

The stories in this collection all feature someone in need or someone helping someone else. Every story is told with passion, there’s a lot of bad language and horrible situations but fuck it, that’s life and these tales deal with the darker moments of it – and they’re great.

There'll be more carryings on down Brit Grit Alley very soon, sorta kinda thing, like.

Paul D. Brazill is the author of The Last Laugh, Guns Of Brixton, Cold London Blues, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in England and lives in Poland. He is an International Thriller Writers Inc member whose writing has been translated into Italian, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. He has edited a few anthologies, including the best-selling True Brit Grit – with Luca Veste. His blog is here.