Lest We Forget


As a dim-witted young soldier, the approach of ANZAC Day (April 25th) meant pretty much two things: a day off regular work, and a marathon drinking session–the latter starting around 4am and ending a couple of days later when I’d wake with an epic hangover, sometimes with a fat lip or black eye, wondering who the hell I’d mistakenly taken-on this time. Or worse still, waking up next to a warthog. You know who I mean; the love-child of Oprah Winfrey and Frankenstein’s monster–that nightmare situation where you contemplate chewing your arm off instead of sliding it out from beneath her, so as not to awaken the beast…

‘Cos after all, I’m a real oil painting.


All joking aside, I knew what ANZAC Day meant. What it really was about. Is about. We all did…



In short, it was originally a day to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War 1, but has since been expanded to broadly commemorate those ANZACs who ‘served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations’ as well as ‘the contribution and suffering of all those who have served’.

As dim-witted as I was (and with my mind drifting to all the wonderful booze I was soon about to consume), when I stood to attention in uniform, my mates either side, watching the dawn break, jumping when the big guns fired, listening to the Last Post, the tears would always come. Along with the realization that what was happening, what we were part of, what we were there to commemorate, was something bigger than us all. Something none of us–military or not–should ever be allowed to forget.

‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We will remember them.

We will remember them.



Luccia Gray author spotlight challenge

Luccia Gray is the author of the Eyre Hall Trilogy–a sequel to both Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel Jane Eyre, and Jean Rhys’s 1966 novel Wide Sargasso Sea. She is also an English teacher, a multi award-winning blogger, and when she finds the time, a constant reader. Over the month of April, Luccia has been posting ‘Author Spotlights’ on her blog ‘Rereading Jane Eyre’ and has been kind enough to include me in the list. Sweet… Click on the links below and check it out. And while you’re there, take the time to look around, learn more about Luccia and her work…

Rereading Jane Eyre

April Author Spotlight 2015

Letter ‘M’ is for Matt Cairns author of Cold Blooded


Why do I recommend Cold Blooded?

I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to follow the absorbing plot of this exciting, action-packed, surprising, and thrilling read. I was impressed by the plausible, supernatural element, which is associated with scientific experiments related to genetic engineering in a paramilitary organization. I loved the idyllic setting, in a small rural and remote location in New Zealand, in the middle of a severe thunderstorm, which adds to the tension and atmosphere.

All the characters are well-developed so that I cared about what happened to the ‘good’ ones and felt terrified of the ‘evil’ ones. There are some violent scenes, but not more than are necessary to push the plot forward. I liked the way I was challenged to consider that violence could be the only option when ‘good’ and…

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The Secret Vindaloo — A novel by Keith St Clair Butler


Keith St Clair Butler (Bay Road Media 2014, Trade Paperback)


The following is a review, written by Hubert O’Hearn, of Keith St Clair Butler’s brilliant novel The Secret Vindaloo


Mr. Ghosh was a Hindu, but sometimes as he sat in the Catholic Church attached to the school whilst supervising students, he gazed at the figure of Christ crucified on the cross and had the sneaking suspicion that Jesus was Indian. The hanging figure wore a loincloth that looked like a dhoti, and he legend above the cross partly read “NRI.” Nonresident Indian. Now, as Mr. Ghosh analyzed what the Modern School language examination, Bengali 1A was asking these Anglo-Indian students to do in the next few hours, he had a vision of himself unemployed, hanging on a cross. He wiped his brow again.
In keeping with the above excerpt’s themes of religion and language, allow me to start with a confession. It has really only been within the last ten years or so that I have been exposed to the robust humour and intriguing storytelling of the Indian sub-continent. The delights I have found have led me to curse my past confinement to works from North America and Europe. There is so much more to be found out there. Rather like cuisine, I must say.
Keith St Clair Butler, currently a teacher and author in New Zealand, was born in India and has translated his experience into the best comic novel I have read this year. Butler presents the life of his main character, the Anglo-Indian food critic and detainee Puttla Marks, from 1948 to the present in a series of vignettes worthy of Scheherazade. You see, Puttla has lost his temper in an Indian restaurant in Melbourne, Australia. This in turn leads to his arrest and subsequent questioning by the Immigration Inspector Claude Anttick. While Anttick administers a test of Marks’ knowledge of Australia, each question gives rise to a memory which is told to the increasingly spell-bound interrogator.
The stories are brilliant, wonderful, intriguing and funny. Behind them is the context of the collision between Indian and Anglo cultures. Each seeks to adapt to the other in a seductive way. Yes, sometimes quite literally seductive as in a marvelous scene wherein a female Australian Embassy official is presented with little jars of Indian cooking oils which are wrapped in illustrations from the Kama Sutra. Naked bribery, indeed and don’t try and tell me that outrageous pun didn’t occur to Butler.
The cover of The Secret Vindaloo also contains a motto: ‘Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are.’ I suppose that is true, although having just finished my tea before writing this review, I don’t think I resemble either a pork roast or a potato wedge. (thinks) The succotash however is a possibility. All such nonsense aside, Butler’s novel is dotted with tastes and spices of India. The food of England pales in comparison, as in the following comment by a more than slightly drunk character named Denzil:
‘Don hurry me, don. Okay, okay? Tell you in a mo.’ Denzil swayed. ‘Some of them wanted only dosas and vadais and pepper water. Bloody Southies never change, eh?’ He made a dismissive wave with his hands that unsteadied him further. ‘The Pomeroys wansh roast ‘n’ Yorkshire pud. Bleddy stuck-up lot.’
Comedy is a tricky genre to write, as there are very few comic voices that appeal to virtually everyone. Butler, I dare say is one of those rare few. The only cautionary note is that, The Secret Vindaloo will leave you hungry for more.
Be seeing you.

Late Bloomer (or, How I came to be a writer)



‘Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.’ Stephen King


In interviews you often hear authors say how they’ve always wanted to be a writer, or that they’ve written all their lives, starting from the time they could pick up a pencil or crayon or felt tip pen. I wasn’t one of those. I came to writing later in life. Well, novels anyway.

That worried me at first. The whole starting late thing. Until I read about others who had started even later than I had, after a lifetime of doing other things. Lee Child wrote his first novel at 40, after being fired from his job in television. He seems to be doing okay…

I did enjoy writing stuff occasionally as a kid–letters to Grandma and Grandpa, short stories for English class, that sort of thing–but it wasn’t something I did all the time or with any notion that I would be doing it forever or that I would one day make a living from it. Hell, I was a kid; I didn’t know what making a living meant. What I did do constantly, voraciously, passionately, and any other ly  word I can come up with (they’re called adverbs–I hope–and like adjectives, they’re apparently totally, utterly, and unquestionably evil), from as far back as I can remember, was read. A lot. Have I made that part clear? Good. Let’s move on.

As a child I don’t recall ever really thinking about what I would someday become. Except, of course, when I followed the film- and TV-induced thought patterns of most boys my age. When I watched cop shows, I wanted to be a cop. When I watched fishing shows, I wanted to be a fisherman. When I watched Happy Days, I wanted to be The Fonz. Everyone wanted to be The Fonz.

I did eventually become a cop, and a fisherman (briefly), soldier, fireman, cleaner (janitor, for you Americans), cook, and a few more I can’t fully remember. I even drove a high end corporate style taxi for eighteen months (not one of my better decisions in life). Speaking of which…

…this one time (at band camp–kidding) I was short-listed to carry Emily Deschanel (main chick off Bones) around for a week to radio stations and TV studios etc while she promoted her show. Unfortunately for me, my girlfriend at the time worked in the cab company’s head office, and she put the kibosh on it. For me, anyway.


So yeah, it’s safe to say I spent the first couple of decades of my working life doing things I perhaps wasn’t entirely happy with or suited for. I’ve heard it referred to as ‘late development’ or ‘late blooming’. Hippies might call it ‘finding yourself’. My parents’ generation probably call it ‘pissing about with your life ‘ or ‘sort your shit out you simpleminded idiot’. I think it’s just life playing itself out.

So in 2003 or 2004 (I can’t believe I just started this, and the last paragraph, with So. What’s up with that? Everywhere you look people are doing it. Next I’ll be typing Like…whateverrr…). So in 2003 or 2004,  aged 30 or 31, with no idea at all of how to do it, I decided to write a novel. Reason? To make lots of money and hopefully prevent the crap relationship I was in at the time from ending. Brilliant plan right? The short outcome? I wrote a few pages of incoherrant garbage (which I now know is called ‘the first draft’ and is okay to be incoherrant garbage), my relationship ended, I left my job (cop), and trashed the whole ‘writing thing’ as the latest embarrassing farce in a lifetime of embarrassing farces.

Fast forward a couple of years to around 2006, where I found myself in a shiny new job (cab driver), and in desperate need of an extra curricular hobby. My first thought was to learn a musical instrument. Guitar probably. Cheap to buy, easy to carry, great for pulling chicks. I could definitely see myself sitting at a beachside campfire with the perfect crimson sunset, surrounded by babes in bikini tops and Daisy Duke shorts, watching me dreamily while I strum out tunes from The Eagles. But oddly (and kind of annoyingly, as I liked the whole beach scene idea), the ‘writing thing’ kept popping itself up in my head…photo-bombing my guitar fantasy selfies. Okay, I thought, why not have another crack? Who knows, I might just sell the occasional short story…make fifty bucks here and there…upgrade my wine selection from four dollar bottles to six dollar bottles. Only this time I’d learn how to do it right; increase my chances of making that extra cash and buying that upscale wine. So I went online and looked around for a correspondence course in creative writing. There were many on offer, but one stood out from the rest. I liked the look of it for two reasons.

One. The office was situated in the same city I was living in, which meant I could drive there and pick up the material right away, instead of waiting for it to arrive in the mail. When I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go.

Two: The website made it perfectly clear that the feedback they gave would be honest, however dream-killing that was. Call them the ‘Simon Cowell’ of online correspondence. If in the first few assignments they could see that you didn’t really have the goods, they would encourage you to learn something else. Origami perhaps. Or the flute. As hard as it is, I prefer to be told the truth, even at the expense of my feelings. It’s the quickest and most effective way (in my opinion) to learn about yourself and get better at what you do. So I drove to the address on the website and picked up the course and took it home and got started.

I completed the first few assignments and sent them in, wondering what to try next if (when) they came back and told me I was shit.

They came back. And I discovered a couple of things.

First. It turned out I wasn’t shit. Apparently I had some talent. Who’d ‘ve thought.

Second. I realised then and there what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Irrational, scary, exciting, but there it was.

Just like that.



Why I Write

I’ve been tagged in a ‘Blog Hop’.

Title: Why I Write

KD Forsman, a fellow ‘tweep’, kindly invited me to participate. She is also a reviewer, reader, writer, pro-blogger, and aptly named book cheerleader. She offers marketing and book promotion, as well as a FREE book tweet service. KD is currently working on a yet-to-be-named novel, which she describes as: a contemporary drama/romance centered on a fraud case, with a twist of Munchhausen’s.


Check out KD Forsman here.

Okay, so how does a Blog Hop work?

*         Well, it’s like a game of tag, but on Twitter.

*         Once you’re tagged, you need to write a post on your blog about why you write. (Feel free to use the same kind of format as I have in this post.)

*          Make sure you link back to the person who tagged you.

*          Nominate and tag three (or more) people via Twitter to be next in the ‘hop’. (Make sure you contact them so they know.)


So, on with the blog…

Why do I write?

Reason One: I write to make a living. In other words, for money.

I know, I know, that’s not the way it works. We’re supposed to write because our souls yearn to be released or expressed or whatever. Because if we don’t, the darkness will trap us in ourselves and consume us. Something like that anyway.

That does sound cool, I’ll admit. Romantic even. In fact, I’d very much like for my soul to be released and expressed—right after I pay the rent, buy the groceries, and fix the brakes on my pushbike. And by pushbike, I mean car. I just said that to sound more bohemian.

But seriously, I did say Reason One, meaning there are more. Which brings me to reason number two…

Reason Number Two: I write because I can.

In other words, I don’t suck at it.

I’m no William Shakespeare, but then I’m not sure I’d want to be. I’d have to wear tights and pointy shoes and those frilly neck things, and to be honest, I don’t have the calves for tights. Enough said about that one.

Reason Three: I write to entertain.

I love books. I love movies. I love music. I love how they make me feel—not only during, but before and after as well: the anticipation of what’s coming; the experience when it happens; the mixed emotions when it’s over. And best of all, if the artist has got it right, the hunger for more. In short, to entertain.

After all, isn’t that the point?

Reason Four: I write for the feeling of achievement.

At the end of a day’s writing (especially the days when it flows), I feel good. Relaxed.

Finishing a chapter feels good. Starting a chapter feels good. Completing each draft is incredible, particularly the first and last.

When I’m mowing the lawns or washing the car (I mean pushbike) and a solution suddenly appears, solving a character or storyline problem, and the hair stands up on my neck…

I’m sure you get the picture.

I’ve had plenty of jobs, affording many occasions of achievement. But not like this. Never like this.

Okay, there are more reasons–including how writing reduces my stress, anxiety, guilt, remorse, and anywhere else my mind goes that it shouldn’t–but these four examples will do. Maybe yours are similar, maybe not.

What I will say is this: mine are in no particular order.

Are yours?

TAG! You’re it…

So here’s the point where I nominate other writers for the ‘hop’, so they too can answer the question: Why do I write?  I nominate as follows: 

D.R. Johnson, author of The Architect’s Essence: Salvation and Ruin    

Lia Scott Price, horror/vampire author and film producer

C.Miller author of The Reave Series (YA, Fantasy)

Keith St Clair Butler, author of The Secret Vindaloo

Angela Snyder, paranormal romance author

Courtney Shockey, romance suspense author

Enter, Tom Jade

Cold Blooded 2 (1)In 2010 I wrote my first novel, Cold Blooded, an action thriller/horror with elements of the supernatural. Some readers seem divided on whether those elements fall into the realms of fantasy or science fiction. I’m happy with either. I don’t worry too much about genre formula. I just write what feels, well, right, and hope that it comes out—you guessed it—right.

The process took it out of me. In a nervous breakdown sort of way. But that’s another story, for another time…

I set out to find a publisher, and/or, agent, with the options before me being simple and twofold. And by simple, I don’t mean easy.

One, land someone in my home country (New Zealand). Two, find someone overseas. At that time I failed to accomplish either, though I did receive some pretty good feedback, of which I was, and always will be, most grateful. I’ve kept hold of those letters and emails, which I still read every now and again whenever the demon appears. The demon of course being doubt.

I urge you to keep those emails and letters handy—the good ones, the encouraging ones—because the demon will appear, even after success. Trust me on that one. And I’m not just talking to writers here either. Encouragement is needed in all walks of life.

So around February of 2011 I began work on a second novel, a straight crime thriller called Harry’s End. I didn’t particularly want to write a book without that unreal or otherworld component, but I felt it would be my best chance of being published. A sort of foot-in-the-door thing. And then I got sick. In a life altering kind of way. But again, that’s another story, for another day.

In 2013, after reading an article on self-publishing, I released Cold Blooded through Amazon in eBook format. With self-promotion and marketing an essential part of the process, I delved into something that up until that point I had no interest in (or knowledge of) whatsoever: Social Media. (I still don’t own a cell phone.) I joined the ones I’d heard most about, Facebook and LinkedIn. Later came Twitter (and a couple of others I still don’t know how to use, let alone see the point of), and now my very own, shiny new Blog.

Feel free to follow the links, and if the urge so takes you, get yourself involved. Ask me anything, and not just about me or my writing (though you are more than welcome to do so). The weather. The economy (or the price of fish, at least). How the U.N., alongside the Middle East, should be tackling the number one menace we face in the world today: Justin Bieber.

Feel free, also, to comment on this and subsequent blogs. In future I’ll cover things such as my process of becoming an author; what I did right (and perhaps, more importantly, what I did wrong); the hows, the whys; my inspiration and motivation for giving up everything to write my first book.   

So in May or June of last year, through mostly good luck, I landed the finest publisher on the planet, Alison Brook of Bay Road Media, and Cold Blooded found its way into print.

Enter, Tom Jade.