Sunday, November 27, 2011


The tail-end of October into the middle of November saw me moving away from the current project of completing ‘The Devil and The River’ (due for publication some time in 2013), as I undertook two entirely different writing projects, both of which are still under wraps, the first very definitely a literary project which will be released in the spring of 2012, the second a tentative venture into an entirely different genre and arena. The first is a certain, the second is an unknown, and – at least to some degree – these activities have reminded me that it is always necessary to look forward, to keep reviewing what you are doing, and, if needs be, to reinvent yourself.
Perhaps the music side of things was not enough, after all!
Nevertheless, mentioning that as I am, The Whiskey Poets project is still very much at the forefront of my attention, and we are in fact playing a gig at a private party today. The CD saw the release of four tracks, three originals and one cover, and we have since completed the writing of a further five or six new tracks. We are aiming to have a live set ready for gigging in the New Year, but I am extraordinarily busy, as are both Chris (bass) and Simon (drums). With full-time jobs, families, and all else that is required of you as a human being, it is not the easiest thing in the world to routinely find the time to do what we need to do.
Anyway, all that aside, we will be on the road soon, and we are looking forward to it immensely. We have invested in a 5500 watt PA system, so we can pretty much deafen anyone from a hundred yards.
If any of you want one of the CDs, they can be obtained through the website (
Since we last spoke, ‘Bad Signs’ has been released (October 27th), and it appears to have been well-received. Unfortunately, Amazon is pretty much the only public forum where any kind of wider public response can be posted, and the vast majority of people who buy and read books don’t post reviews on Amazon. Hence, the reviews you wind up with – though very positive in the main – are not wholly representative of the overall opinion. Nevertheless, those that are posted are very much appreciated. Of course, it is impossible to please everyone all the time, and it never ceases to amaze me when I get a critical or negative review which begins, ‘I have read all of this author’s books, and though I liked the earlier ones, I didn’t like this one, and this is why…’, and yet they have never posted a single word about the books they did like! Is that the seemingly natural human tendency we have to point out only those things that we find fault with, and never acknowledge those things that we consider good? I don’t understand it! It’s like spending time with a friend, and the only things you ever say are those designed to draw attention to aspects of their personality or character that you dislike. Methinks such a friendship would not survive long!
Anyway, authors are not in the business of soliciting reviews, and this is merely a comment on the oddity of things, of which there seems to be no shortage in life!
I was reading Emerson the other day, always a good way to spend your time, and I came across two quotes, quotes I have read before, but they seemed particularly inspiring and relevant today.

“Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for.”

“The crowning fortune of a man is to be born to some pursuit which finds him employment and happiness, whether it be to make baskets, or broadswords, or canals, or statues, or songs.”

Emerson was an exceptional writer, and an extraordinarily perceptive man, and the above two quotes seem to say a great deal about where we aren’t in this society at this time.
My brother reported to me the details of an article he’d recently read in one of the newspapers. Apparently a survey was undertaken of a great number of schoolchildren, ages ranging – I seem to recall – from eight to fifteen. When asked, ‘What do you want to be when you’re an adult?’, over seventy percent of them replied, ‘A celebrity’. When asked what it was they intended to be celebrated for, they didn’t understand the question.
I have been watching the recent Murdoch inquiry events, the phone-hacking ‘scandals’ et al, and it seems to me that Murdoch is a primary contributor to this current phenomenon where one is a ‘celebrity’ if a) one has money but produces nothing of any real value, or b) one shouts loudly enough that one is a celebrity without actually producing anything of any real value, or c) goes on a television program that is titillating, contentious, scandalous, gossip-driven, or just plain idiotic, and tells everyone that one is a celebrity, again without producing anything of any real value. I was in the supermarket yesterday, somewhere I go routinely, and I still cannot fathom the interest that justifies the continued publication of so-called ‘human interest’ and ‘chat’ magazines. The headlines blow my mind! ‘Slept with my boyfriend while his fiancée rotted in the garage’. ‘Shock horror – Cheryl Cole changes her shampoo’. ‘Chantelle is terrified she’ll get fat!’. ‘Katie dumped by new BFF’. ‘Danii says no to Simon for ever!’. And I’m thinking, ‘Who is this for? Who cares? Who, really, gives a single, solitary, meaningless crap about this banal and pointless drivel? Really?’
But these magazines keep being published so people must be buying them, and I’m wondering if those readers will ever read a quote by Emerson, or anyone else for that matter, that gives them some sort of real inspiration, a desire to create something that only they are capable of creating, something unique that leaves a mark on the world around them, and somehow improves it for the better.
Methinks, perhaps not.
Anyway, all that aside, I am not going to start ranting again. I have ranted so many times, and I know – for the main part – that it falls on deaf ears, and those whose ears are not deaf, well they pretty much have the same attitude as I about the shameful state we seem to have descended into as a culture.
When we are closing libraries, graduating a third or fourth generation of teenagers from school who not only don’t want to read, but can’t, when we are witness to half a dozen ‘I Hate Reading’ groups on facebook, between them possessing a membership that’s getting on for a million people, when we see professionally-printed notices and signs in the public domain that are littered with grammatical and spelling errors (Bussinessess Open As Usual; Newspapers & Ciggerettes; If You Look Under 21, We Will Need Proof Your Over 18 – all real examples within a mile of where I live!), then I think we are long past the point of being in trouble.
However, I will shut up. I get very vocal about this, and then I realise I am taking ever more firm and certain steps towards the status of Grumpy Old Man’, a status I am not resisting, not by any means, but it’s not very rock ‘n’ roll…or maybe it is. Elvis was a voracious reader, specializing in books concerning religion, philosophy and spirituality, and I know for a fact that Keith Richards is rarely without a book.
Personally I think books are cool and sexy. I think girls who read books are cool and sexy. I think that a lot of girls think that boys who read books are cool and sexy.
Why aren’t books cool and sexy any more? They are, and they should be, and that’s all there is to it.
End of story, so to speak.

Okay, on to other things…

We are all done and dusted on the copy-edit for ‘A Dark and Broken Heart’, due for release in May, 2012.
The blurb is as follows:

It should have been so easy for Vincent Madigan. Take four hundred thousand dollars away from some thieves, and who could they go to for help? No-one at all. For Madigan is charming, effective, and knows how to look after himself. The only problem is that he's up to his neck in debts to Sandia - the drug kingpin of Harlem, known as the 'Watermelon Man' on account of the terrible act of vengeance he inflicted against someone who betrayed him. This one heist will free Madigan from Sandia's control, and will finally give him the chance he needs to get his life back on track. But when Madigan is forced to kill his co-conspirators, he finds that not only is the stolen money marked, but an innocent child has been wounded in the crossfire. Now both Sandia and the collected might of the NYPD are looking for him. And beyond even this, the one person assigned to identify and hunt down Madigan is the very last person in the world he could have expected. Employing every deception and ruse he can think of, Madigan is engaged in a battle of wits that will test him to the very limit of his ability. Can he evade justice for what he has done, or will his own conscience become the very thing that unravels every one of his meticulous plans? Will this final lie be his salvation, or his undoing?

It is, once again, a very different book from the last one. It is set in New York in the present, and spans just a few days in the life of Vincent Madigan. There is no backstory to this one, as such. It is just a linear narrative, or, as a friend of mine so perceptively and accurately says, ‘Like one of those books where there’s a bunch of people and shit just happens…’, which – as far as I can see – is perhaps the most excellent way of describing any book! So yes, it is a book where there’s a bunch of people and shit just happens.
But, as I alluded to earlier, there are a couple of other things in the pipeline that will be around before May, so watch this space.

So, there we have it. A brief update. A brief rant.

I am sad to note that Tony Blair is still alive and well. Someone commented to me recently that he seems to be getting ever more orange in colour. I think he made a deal with the Devil, and has to spend one day a week in Hell in preparation for his eternity. Maybe Blair is learning the ropes, as the Devil has finally decided he’s had enough and has selected Blair as the most eminent candidate for his replacement. Headhunted, so to speak. With Hussein and bin Laden gone, Ghaddafi also, it seems that most of Tony’s closest chums have gone to prepare his reception in the bowels of Hell. Best place for him.

So, on that cheery note, I bid you farewell for now.

I trust all is well with you and yours, and I hope we shall speak again soon.


Unknown said...

Keep on with the ranting, Roger! Does it make any difference, you ask? Remember the tale of the beached starfish?

With people like you getting the message out there we have to hope that we WILL return to an admiration of character rather than celebrity (I stole that from Gordon Brown).

R J Ellory said...

Sorry, the story of the beached starfish? Please share...

Unknown said...

The story told by someone called Loren Eisley goes like this ... One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.

Approaching the boy, he asked, What are you doing?

The youth replied, Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.

Son, the man said, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish?
You can’t make a difference!

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, I made a difference for that one.

R J Ellory said...

That's wonderful! Love it!

Debbie said...

Hi Roger
Greetings to you and yours...

Please don't take any notice of the negative reviews on Amazon...Bad Signs is a terrific novel that is certainly up there with your best to date!

I always find it strange that a lot of these mysterious negative reviewers quite often appear to have gone to the trouble of creating an account purely to write that one review...speaks volumes methinks!

Anyway stepping down of my soapbox now
Speak soon

R J Ellory said...

Always hard to ignore the critics, but thankfully they are in the minority. The ones that puzzle me are the ones who say, 'Loved everything else, but hated this...' and yet have never written a nice word about the ones they supposedly loved! Bizarre! Thanks for your encouragement and support, Debbie. And Happy Xmas to you and yours!

Michael Kennard said...

I think I might be able to answer your question. I have read all your books, starting with A Quiet Belief in Angels, then read all your earlier novels, Candlemoth being my favourite. Then I eagerly read all your works upto and including Bad Signs. Not once did I think to review your books,instead I used word of mouth to recommend them, that was until I read Saints of New York. In my opinion, and I stress my opinion it wasn't up to what I had expected. Then and only then did I feel compelled to write a bad review. I hold my hands up, I now realise that a bad review without praise for the novels that have gone before is not fairly balanced. My only defence, it was a gut reaction. As a writer myself, although to a lesser degree than you, I can appreciate how hurt you must feel when faced with bad reviews, although in your case I guess it's counter balanced by the rave reviews that you must receive daily. I will endeavour to review, time permitting yours and other writers from now on. Call it a lesson learned.

R J Ellory said...

Thanks, Michael! That's very much appreciated, and sorry it's taken so long to respond to your comment. The bottom line is that anyone who creates anything and puts it out there has to expect differing viewpoints, and without those differing viewpoints we'd all be the same. I am not so thick-skinned as Wilde ('I don't care what they say about me, just as long as they spell my name correctly...' sort of thing), but as time goes on I learn to be less focused on the negative responses and more on the positive. I think, in all honesty, that if everyone who ever read a book actually reviewed it, we might get a very different perspective on things. However, those public forum reviews, being pretty much the only direct feedback an author ever gets, can serve to influence one's viewpoint about what people think, whereas - in truth - those forums are not actually representative of the general attitude. Nevertheless, I am now trying to accept crticism and aim for higher standards!

Michael Kennard said...

Just finished A Dark and Broken Heart, have to say this is one of your finest books. A character as bad as Vince Madigan and you find yourself rooting for him, that takes some doing. I congratulate you. I just wish i was half as good a writer as you. Well done. When's the next one?

Mick Kennard

R J Ellory said...

Michael K! Wow, sorry not to have responded in so long. Huge thanks for your message, and so pleased to hear you enjoyed AD&BH. Next one is out in June 2013, called' The Devil and the River'. Good to hear from you, and hope all's well.

Wadi said...
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Wadi said...
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Wadi said...

Opinions and reviews! - Everyone has different likes and dislikes -- So far I haven't read a book of yours I have not enjoyed, if one I dislikes comes along it wont stop we reading your next books! I did have a problem getting into A quiet Belief in Angels, but at the 3rd try, like your other books, I couldn't put it down. A big thank you from me, I cant wait for the next. Cheers

Wadi said...
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