Author: Rob Parker
The second part of our Ben Bracken news comes with the announcement that my great publishers Endeavour Media have given the go-ahead for another Ben Bracken thriller, due Summer 2019. I’m absolutely delighted by this news, and elated to be bringing more Ben Bracken to readers.
THE PENNY BLACK will see Ben Bracken in exile, only for his new home to fall victim to a siege only he can prevent. It’s another action-packed instalment set in the quiet river systems of the Norfolk Broads, a setting more used to the booming of bitterns than gunfire.
But… we aren’t stopping there. Far from it, because we’ve got another surprise in store.
Bracken will be back again at Christmas 2019, with another series instalment in TILL MORNING IS NIGH. That’s right, two Ben Bracken novels are coming in 2019.
TILL MORNING IS NIGH sees Bracken return to Manchester with a poisoned chalice, faced with resolving a high-profile kidnapping under the twinkling fairy lights of the holiday season.
I’ve had a blast putting these together, and can’t wait to unleash them on readers this year. Speaking of my readers, thanks so much to all of you – for reading and reviewing, for supporting and sharing the news and updates, thank you all so much. Eternally grateful – and huge thanks as always to Endeavour Media, the entire team there, and my agent Linda Langton.
Cheers all, and, as Samuel L Jackson famously said in JURASSIC PARK, ‘hold onto your butts’.
Behind the scenes, the cogs have been whirring for some time on what’s coming next in my writing career, and after a great deal of discussion, I can happily report the answer to this will be: A LOT.
The news and plans will be dripped through as things are confirmed, but myself and my super publishers Endeavour Media are going to release the first bit of news this week, then the next the week after.
So this week, I’m thrilled to be able to confirm that Ben Bracken is coming back, and not only that, but he’s coming back with a whole new look – not just for future books, but for the whole series. So that means A Wanted Man and Morte Point are going to look a little different on shelves…
Boom, goes the dynamite. I’m absolutely delighted with this dynamic and exciting look for the series, and these covers are in place right away in the marketplace. You can check them out in the wild here and here! This will be reflected in paperbacks from the next print run.
For those paying attention, you’ll notice something else too is different… my name. That’s right, after some deliberation, I’ll now be writing as Rob Parker, as opposed to Robert.
I feel like now is a good time to change, and a good time to make a step forward – plus the giant literary career of a certain Robert B Parker will always be there, and I can now sidestep that a touch! This change is pretty small, but took some persuading of me – but then I realised that everyone I’ve met in the industry knows me as Rob anyway! This makes things much simpler.
Huge thanks to my agent Linda Langton, and everyone at Endeavour Media, especially Rufus Cuthbert and James Faktor. Thanks for the support, hope you dig the new look, and tune in same time next week on 15th March for the next instalment of Bracken news – which is a biggie…
A lot of the best things in life start with something simple – in this case, it was my phone ringing.
It was an offer to come and work with young readers and writers in one of my local schools – an opportunity I immediately jumped on. When I was younger, I was very keen on exploring teaching – so much so, that when the time came to organise some work experience when I was fifteen, I called my local school to get some hands-on experience.
Life has a way of sometimes not giving you what you want, and while a career didn’t work out, I still harboured that hope one day I’d get a chance – hence my excitement at the aforementioned offer.
Since these early meetings and conversations, I was thrilled to be offered a role as Writer in Residence, at Beamont Collegiate Academy in Warrington – a role I cherish. Reading and writing meant everything to me as a kid, so to be able to share that with the young readers of today – and writers of tomorrow – means even more.
Last Friday I was given a day with some of the brightest, most promising students I’ve come across. Bursting with ideas and enthusiasm, excited to learn, buzzing with the simple fun of creation – it was a complete blast. We got to share ideas, brainstorm stories, whip up characters on the spot. It was a constant reminder of everything I love about not just writing, but stories in general.
It also gave me the chance to meet two of the most promising young writers I’ve ever come across. They’ll remain nameless here, but if they aren’t published within the next ten years, I’ll be amazed. At the ages of fourteen and fifteen, these young women wrote with such an ease, a confidence, an Elvis-like swagger. ‘Blown away’ is an expression that doesn’t do how I felt justice. Their work is light years ahead of what I was writing at their age – heck, even at my current age.
We chatted over coffee for a couple of hours, and I learned all about their processes and inspirations. One of them actually, on designing characters, draws them first. No words, just, direct from imagination, creates them visually with a pencil. I couldn’t get over it. Conversely, the other creates characters with an easy methodical approach, ending up with a multi-layered creation because she’s gone through every layer personally. I’m sure I learned more during our meeting than they did!
But when the dust settles on my excitement over all their work, and I take stock and perspective, I can see exactly why this has happened. The environment at Beamont (or BCA Warrington, as it is otherwise known), is one of collaboration, free-thinking, encouragement and care. These students have been given the confidence, freedom and backing to express themselves by a staff-room that is full of pride and belief in their charges – and I add that about not just the amazing English department, which is beyond a joy to work with, but the entire teaching faculty and staff behind the scenes. The atmosphere there is nothing short of joyous and buzzing.
Through working with BCA Warrington, I’ve been able to visit a number of schools in the region, and some in tougher areas than others. The same thing is apparent – excellent teachers, creating excellent students. I’ve got a full slate during March of school visits all over the region (never mind World Book Day, I’ve got World Book Month!), and I’m excited – but above all else I feel so lucky.
Keep reading, and keep writing. That’s the key to it all, I’m sure of it – and as long as I have this opportunity, I’ll keep on spreading that message.
Last week, I was in the throes of reading an advance copy of Flowers Over The Inferno by Ilaria Tuti (thanks to Netgalley and Orion!), and I knew I was onto something. It was gradually carving out that corner which exists in every reader, where pure, enthralled enjoyment is stored. It’s only now that I’ve finished it, that I’m able to look back stunned, satisfied and delighted, and not only will it easily be one of my favourite books of the year, I think it’ll come to sit comfortably amongst my favourite books of all time.
So surprising and constantly developing in ways I didn’t expect, it’s a tale delivered with a most skilled and composed touch. There is no easy way out, no cheating, in a story that, like all great works, challenges and pushes the reader to ask difficult questions of themselves while exploring a variety of themes so core and key to the very nature of the human condition, thus rendering the book relatable to us all. And it isn’t just the fact that Tuti explores these themes, moreover it’s the juggle, balance and journey through these themes that deliver us to the most satisfying of conclusions.
Descriptively, we are in heaven with Traveni and its surroundings, while the characters that inhabit the village are fully realised and drawn in absorbing detail – granting the reader complete immersion in the world Tuti has created. When I look back at all the books that have truly meant something to me, a strong sense of place is prevalent in all, and here is no exception. I could feel the cold, sense the isolation, and taste the fear.
Now looking back, I realised that I was constantly slowing myself down so I could savour it, and there is so much more that I want to say, but I know I’d give away too much. The joy in this book is in its delivery and thoughtfulness, not to mention being truly thrilling.
I have a little shelf at home for my favourite books ever, and there just might be a new title sitting alongside Benchley’s Jaws, Golding’s The Spire and Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 – in fact, I’d put money on it.
I’d been a fan of Alan McDermott’s work for some time, having got hooked on the high-octane, pure thrills of his excellent Tom Gray series – so when I was afforded the opportunity of an early read of his new book, Run and Hide, I leapt at the chance.
This is the first book of an all new series featuring Eva Driscoll, an ex-operative for the US government, who plummets headlong into the shady conspiratorial world at the top of the American power structures. Simply, her brother is dead, and she wants to know why – and avenge him.
She is a marvellous creation – a leather-clad, highly-trained, woman-of-mass-destruction with guts, grit and smarts. The plot that she uncovers, and the circumstances under which her brother’s death was arranged, I found both enthralling and highly topical, with the nature and responsibility of power one of the key issues explored.
The book moves along breathlessly, yanking the reader with a firm grip, as forces circle on Eva and her cohorts. I got the firm sense that McDermott is not just creating a world for his characters to maraud through, but expanding on the wider literary world he has created, with the welcome return of certain characters from his other works.
As we progress to the kind of conclusion most blockbuster movies wouldn’t have the chutzpah to even attempt, I found myself asking broader questions of myself and my own feelings on the question of taking orders and executing them without asking for an explanation – and what the effects of your instructed actions can have in the long term. I thought of the power distant hands carry, keeping clean while the dirty work is done at a comfortable distance, and what the costs of this are. In the modern political climate, it was without doubt a thought-provoking read.
In summary, Run and Hide, is full-throttle, topically-prescient entertainment of the highest order. Driscoll is a new creation that will have you rooting for her without question or pause, and will earn a great number of fans, old and new – and I’m personally delighted to see that the follow up, Seek and Destroy, is coming November 14th… because after that ending, I need to find out what happens and sharpish.
Run and Hide is published by Thomas and Mercer and is available here:
‘Crook’s Hollow’, released 22nd March. Not long now folks…