Change of blog provider

Hi,

A note to tell you that we have moved over to http://piccadillyp.blogspot.co.uk/

If you were following us on this site, we’d welcome you over on the new one.

BEst

Mike

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Free Kindle Sampler

May 2013 marks our first anniversary into the foray of digitial publishing and we want to make sure you know about it. We are publishing 6 new series titles:

HART THE REGULATOR 1: CHEROKEE OUTLET by John B. Harvey
THE REAPER 1: COMES THE REAPER by B. J. Holmes
CHESTER FORTUNE 1: DEAD SET by Terry Harknett
RIO CONCHO 1: SHOWDOWN IN ABILENE by Alfred Wallon
THE SANTA FE TRAIL 1: THE MEDICINE OF PAWNEE ROCK by Kent Conwell
and
SUNDANCE 1: OVERKILL by John Benteen

Each excerpt is accompanied by an essay containing fascinating insights into our authors and how they came to create their series. And as if that wasn’t enough, there are also introductions and afterwords by PP co-founders MIKE STOTTER and BEN BRIDGES!

Here is the pdf version of the book which we hope you enjoy: Piccadilly Publishing Free Sampler – Various

We  hope you enjoy and persuade you to buy the full titles when publishing.

Adios amigos.

Mike

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John Benteen (Ben Haas) Signs Up!

Artist Ed Martin

FARGO by John Benteen

We are DELIGHTED to announce that as of today Piccadilly Publishing has acquired the rights to publish all the western novels of the great novelist Ben Haas, in ebook! Benjamin Leopold Haas (1926-1977) was a serious novelist who wrote westerns and action-adventure books ‘on the side’. Under the name ‘John Benteen’ he created three MAJOR western series — FARGO (the adventures of a freelance fighting man patterned after the Lee Marvin character in THE PROFESSIONALS), SUNDANCE (a Cheyenne half-breed who takes on various do-or-die missions in order to raise funds to fight the corrupt Indian Ring in Washington) and JOHN CUTLER (a tracker on the trail of the rogue grizzly that killed his wife). Under the name ‘Thorne Douglas’ he penned the five-book RANCHO BRAVO saga. And as if that wasn’t enough, he also wrote a number of quite exceptional stand-alone westerns under the names ‘Richard Meade’ and ‘Ben Elliott’. Over the coming months and years we will be releasing ALL of these books at regular intervals, in their correct sequence. The FARGO series will boast all-new cover art by Edward Martin and SUNDANCE will have covers painted by fan favourite Tony Masero. We kick off the schedule with the first SUNDANCE, OVERKILL, in May (to help celebrate our first year anniversary) and follow up with FARGO in June.

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PP signs up a new artist

The all-important look of Piccadilly Publishing books is also being crafted by our Scottish artist-in-residence, Edward Martin. Ed worked for the Post Office until he was made redundant in a reorganisation. There followed twenty years as a manager with Scottish Borders Council, from which Ed eventually took early retirement. Married to Shelagh, and the father of two sons, Paul and John, Ed is, amazingly, a self-taught artist. “I picked up an old set of my wife’s oil paints when I was made redundant,” Ed remembers, “just for something to do to fill my time, and have been painting ever since. I love Western movies and books, and mourn the passing of the days when you could walk into a bookshop and pick and choose through dozens of Western titles, especially the old Gold Medal, Bantam and Corgi paperbacks.” Ed made his PP debut with the cover for Death Rides a Palomino, the fourth book in our ongoing Piccadilly Publishing Presents series. Since then he has also taken over the cover duties for a number of important (but right now still-secret) new series, which will be appearing throughout 2013 and beyond.

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December 2012 Titles

Xmas 2012 Title

This December we are releasing no less that a Magnificent SEVEN titles to our catalog.

Along with additions to established series we are very proud to introduce Matt Chisholm’s Storm family saga with STAMPEDE; Peter Brandvold joins us with his Lou Prophet series. Two non-Western series compliment these with Neil Hunter’s SCORPION, the first in a trilogy and a cracking thriller from Keith Hetherington.

These are avaliable in Kindle from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk; Smashwords Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo, the Diesel eBook Store, Baker & Taylor’s Blio and Axis360 (libraries!) and more. So your are spoilt for choice.

Enjoy and keep supporting our authors.

Mike

 

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PP over at The Tainted Archive

Our good friend Gary Dobbs over at The Tainted Archive, has launched his latest ‘Wild West Monday’ with an article on Piccadilly Publishing. You can check it out by clicking right HERE.

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Our November Titles

PP Nov Titles

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SUDDEN STRIKES BACK in Top 10

On Sunday 21st October it was great to see that SUDDEN STRIKES BACK by Frederick H Christian, hit the coveted #1 spot on Amazon.co.uk Top 100 Western titles for Kindle. Today (23rd) it remained at the #4 spot.

It goes to show that there is a readership out there for the older stories, and we are planning to build on this success. And a big thank you to those buying our books.

You can buy Sudden Strikes Back via this direct link:

Also any of our list by clicking here

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Angus Wells on Characters

Angus Wells

A youthful looking Angus Wells and an even more younger Dave Whitehead.

or how the books get filled with all those oddballs

EXACTLY whore a characters comes from is pretty much anyone’s guess, and the sources will change with the technique and temperament of the individual authors. Personally, I don’t keep files, preferring to rely on the resources of’ my imagination and memory — a proud boast that means I don’t have to bother making notes.
Chiefly, they do come straight out from the fantasy land inside my skull, springing up in accordance with the demands of setting and general style of the book I’m writing at the time. For instance, the characters in a BREED tend to be more grotesque than those in a PEACEMAKER, simply because the basic approach of the BREED series is more flamboyant. It was planned that way from the start, when — forno particular reason — I decided a half-breed Apache hero was a good one. Nolan, Christie and all the rest followed on: I wanted to start on a revenge theme, and they just came into my mind (and took over). PEACEMAKER, on the other hand, was (as well as being a joint venture with John Harvey), conceived on entirely different lines.

We started out with the deliberate intention of producing a gentler Western, and hit on the development of a town as a central them by a mixture of design, accident, and watching CENTENNIAL on TV. In sequence, McLain was somewhat gentler than other of our central characters, and that decided the development of the peripheral folk. We dreamed up Alice and Shawn because someone had to run the saloon, and we both fancied the idea of using a woman as a strong character. The others followed on. The various inhabitants of Garrison came with the narrative development of the town; Janey Page came in because we wanted some kind of feminine interest for McLain, though we’ve always planned to offset that with another lady of, perhaps, more direct intent.
It tends to be a question of balancing personal tastes with narrative direction. Loner heroes allow for broader characters; indeed, the very fact that they are loners — and so wandering from town to town without establishing firm roots anywhere — tends to embellish the secondary characters of the story. PEACEMAKER allows for a gradual development of several running characters, whereas a BREED or a HAWK needs characters who establish themselves instantly — and in consequence they tend to be more grotesque, or at least more dramatic.
Something like GRINGOS is a different kettle of fish altogether, or a different plate of tamales. John and I got the idea of doing a Mexican Revolution series first (all right, sales show it wasn’t a very good one, but it was interesting) and that led — inevitably as we’re both avid movie fans — to thoughts of THE WILD BUNCH. We decided a team would be more plausible and so set out to create one. Cade Onslow was made deliberately older than usual and put into the Army because we wanted someone with leadership abilities and military knowledge. Jonas Strong came in because we thought a giant black guy would be a nice idea. Then to offset the altruism of Onslow and Strong, we wanted two weaker characters. It was John’s idea to have a scar-faced drug addict and I think it was mine to bring in Yates McCloud. It’s always easier to dream them up with a co-author as you can bounce ideas off one another. They don’t always work, but the bouncing is fun. Hiram Bender came in because our editor at the time wanted a political element and we got to discussing CIA-type operations. Pancho Villa, of course, is straight research. And that was how GRINGOS got its characters. It allsounds easy on paper. But they really don’t come as readily as it may sound. There are times you sit around pounding your brain for an idea that won’t come; and others when a character just springs naturally to mind.
The big difference, I suppose, is in the nature of the characters themselves. Not as in the books, but as in the need of the idea. Obviously only then central character has to be strong enough ‘to retain interest, which often as not leads to him having some kind of gimmick. Breed is half Apache; Hawk has a crippled hand; Jubal, is a doctor; and so on. If you’ve got any running characters (Marshal Nolan in GUNSLINGER, for example) they also need some personally identifying element. Villains require strong characterisation, which is one reason for the crazed Rebel colonels and the sadistic Mexicans.
And they need to come from somewhere.
Mostly, the leading characters ore all predictably fictitious. They are tailored to meet the requirements of the book, and only once in a while are based on real people.
The fillers are much easier There’s a kind of group imagination which Icreated a stock of minor characters. Barkeeps and desk clerks are almost uniformly smug and rather greasy; bankers are either fat or very thin and usually prove nefarious table hands are unctuous, usually grizzled, and usually greedy hotel owners are Laurence.
Friends get inserted as a compliment and a joke. So long as potted descriptions helps to carry the narrative along it doesn’t really matter how many people know you’re describing a friend. Any more than the musicians whose name we all use: that’s a little homage, too. If you can do it without that particular character seeming out of place why not? Just as there’s no reason why cinematic characters shouldn’t swap over I was three quarters through my very first Jubal before I realised the rancher I was describing was Charles Bickford, though mostly it’s far more conscious than that. In BLOOD DEBT, for example, I decided right from the start that Breed’s path was going to intertwine with that of Ethan Allen, out of the all-time great THE SERCHERS. That was my tribute to John Ford and John Wayne, and I had a lot of fun doing it
So, they come from movies; from books read and admired; from records; from friends; from the repertory company of the group mind. But mostly they come from the imagination. Out of whatever mental processes (weird mind?) they are that make us writers. Imagination is such a big word: in this case it encompasses the whole process bf conception through development to definition on paper. But it’s the only word that describes the indefinable process that lets us do that. Half the time I don’t know where they come from — they’re just lurking around here someplace.
And I’m grateful they are.

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Writing Westerns

Although Piccadilly Publishing does not actually publish those books by Terry Harkett/George G Gilman, without him there would be no Piccadilly Publishing.  Many years ago Mike and Dave were involved in the George G Gilman Appreciation Society, which segued into The Westerner. In November 1980 the first newsletter carried a piece by Terry on how to write Westerns. I think it’s worthwhile reprinting here ….

Terry Harknett

THE essence of my advice to would-be writers of any kind of category fiction, i.e., Westerns, romances, crime novels, or any sub-division of these, is related to the fact that I wrote successful Westerns before setting foot in the U.S. Contrary to what the textbooks (and probably other articles in this magazine) may say, my advice is to write about what you do not know! Sounds crazy?

Do you think I am putting you on while my tongue is lodged firmly in my cheek? Well, I can only speak with authority on my own experience. Which will not teach you how to write but which, I hope, will help you to achieve success with your writing by adopting this fresh approach.

Initially, a couple of clichés about writing, which, like most clichés on any subject, contain more than a mere grain of truth:

1) There’s only one way to be a writer — apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair and write.

2) Writing is ninety-eight percent perspiration and two percent inspiration.

If I paraphrase the second one, I think it puts in a nutshell the “secret” of my own experience: Successful writing is two percent inspiration, forty-nine percent perspiration and forty-nine percent luck.

Because, you see, I am a frustrated mystery writer who has achieved success in a field for which I had no particular penchant. For fifteen long years, I wrote mystery novels that were published twice yearly — and sank without trace at the same tale. This taught me how to sweat as I wrote five pages a night every night after completing a full day’s work on one or another fringe of journalism.

Then luck took a hand, when I got a job on a book trade journal. There, one of my chores was to write a weekly review of new paperback titles for the retail trade, and this inevitably brought me into contact with people in paperback publishing.

One such person heard of my evening fiction-writing activities and gave me my big chance: he commissioned me, for little more than pocket money, to write a book of a movie, i.e., a paperback original based upon a screenplay.

The movie happened to be a Western. I had not seen it and I had never read a Western novel. But I had seen my fair share of oaters on the big screen and on TV — enough, anyway, to know what the western landscape looked like.

Thus was William Terry (the name I used on the book, so it would not clash with the names I had used for my mysteries) born. And after this first Western was well received, commissions for four more books from movies followed. (I guess you could say I was type cast!)

Then the publisher concerned was struck by one of those examples of the “two percent inspiration” that all publishers and authors wish they could come up with more often.

This all happened at the time when the screen Western (under the influence of Italian movie makers) had hung up its guitars in the crazy bunkhouse and come out with blazing guns onto the dusty streets and wind-blown high plains. Clint Eastwood did not wear a white hat, and when he shot a man, the blood flowed — and showed. The movie West was suddenly tough, but nobody was writing books like that.

So Terry Harknett/William Terry was asked to write a couple and test the market. But for these he was called George G. Gilman. And thus my protagonist, Edge, came into being, destined to appear in from four to six books per year (current number of titles available, twenty-nine) and to chalk up world sales of more than ten million copies in the five or so years since his inception.

Creating an original character

Why this success? And why have not Adam Steele, Jubal Cade, and Apache (three more Western series I created) achieved the same best-selling status?

Because Edge was an original. He had to be, since, as I’ve said, I had never read a Western in my life before I wrote those first two Edge titles. The sole influence I had were movie and TV series — preconceptions from another medium, unlike all those unsuccessful mysteries I had written previously (and which I continued to write for a time after Edge succeeded). They had been very strongly influenced by my ceaseless reading of the books of Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Mickey Spillane, and all the other American hard-boiled school of crime writers I tried to emulate. Then, in writing my first Western, I was also reading Westerns, albeit my own. And when I wrote other Western series, I was subconsciously influenced by myself. Certainly, I had the good fortune to be in the right place at the right time and to know the right people. That was part of having had that forty-nine percent of luck.

After that, I knuckled down and perspired my forty-nine percent working in a field that initially had no great appeal for me, and put aside what I wanted to write in order to supply what the public wanted to read — or, in the first instance, what a publisher thought the public wanted to read.

I became a commercial writer, writing for money and, as it turned out, for more pleasure than I ever got from writing those unsuccessful mysteries. For, I can assure you, sitting down at a typewriter with a virtually pre-sold project in mind is much more fun than working in limbo with a hope and a prayer for company.

Now to the mechanics of how I, as a commercial writer produce my books (a technique that is much the same as when I wrote those first two Edge titles).

I start out with an outline of the projected story — a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the plot, which may be as few as three or as many as eight pages long. (Nowadays I write eight such outlines each spring — four each for Edge and Steele, the two series I presently do. And the publisher gives me contracts for these eight books. Thus, my year’s writing and publishing program is scheduled.)

I then write the books at the rate of at least fifteen pages a day, or about 3,000 words, come hell or high water, five days a week. And in three weeks, I have a finished manuscript of from 225 to 260 pages.

At the end of each working day I read through the work I have done, and then at the end of the book I read the entire typescript. On books that go well, I need only to correct typing and spelling errors. On the books that go less easily. I may have to rewrite ten or a dozen pages before I’m finished.

How much research, and when?

What about research? This brings us back to my early point about writing of what one knows little.

When I wrote the first two Edge titles, my sole sources of reference were a map of present day United States and my recollections of movies I had seen. Since then, I have built upan extensive library of reference books covering every aspect of the Old West. But I use them sparingly, and only when I am actually engaged in writing an outline or a book.

Thus, should I need to set a scene in a mine, on a train, in an actual town or perhaps feature people who actually lived, then I will pull the necessary books from my shelves. Doing research on the hoof, as it were, keeps me from padding out my Westerns with unnecessary detail, which always strikes me in other books (not Westerns, because I still don’t read them) as a pretentious airing of knowledge and only tends to slow down the story.

On my desk when I am writing are a half dozen dictionaries, because my spelling is bad. Also, Roget’s Thesaurus, because, although the first word a writer thinks of is invariably the best one, there are times when no one can delve deeply enough into memory to come up with the right word first.

I did finally go to the United States, to the Southwest, where the majority of my books continue to be set. And what did I get from the trip that will be of use to me in writing future Westerns? A whole pile of source books to add to my reference library. Plus, I have to admit, a sense of the vastness of the area: first-hand knowledge that the big sky really is big.

Now it may be said that because of my facile methods of researching and writing, the quality of my work would be higher if I researched at great length and depth and took three months or three years to write the books I produce in three weeks.

That well may be so. But I subscribe to the school of thought that if one takes one’s produce to the marketplace and it sells, one would be foolish not to return as soon as possible with, more of the same brand.

Crass commercialism and not the view of an artist? Sure, because I am a commercial writer, a craftsman with no claim to being an artist. All I claim is that I am successful, because my products sell on a free market, and that I work as hard as I can to do the best I can within my known limits.

The “perspiration” percentage

Should you wish to tread this same path, I cannot teach you. All I can offer are the following rules which I have adhered to, with the proviso that they are no guarantee of success, for what they amount to is merely that forty-nine percent of perspiration. You will have to get your own inspiration and keep your fingers crossed that Lady Luck will smile on you.

1. If you are in an ivory tower about becoming a published, full-time writer, climb down out of it. Writing books is a public service job. And if you want people to pay good money for the service you are providing, you have to give them what they want, not what you think they should want.

2. Do not write in the field you enjoy reading, unless you can totally forget what you have read when you start to write. It is impossible for me to be this objective, and, I would guess, for most people.

3. Polishing is something you do with wax and a cloth. Writing is not an exact science, so forget about trying to write the perfect sentence, let alone the perfect novel. If what you first put down on the page makes sense and advances the story, your readers will not mind a half dozen split infinitives.

4. Research as you write. That way you don’t overload your story with too much irrelevant material just because you spent a great deal of time digging for it. It even helps if you are notmuch interested in your subject matter — then researching it will bore you.

5. Write each novel as if it were the first one in a series which simply means leaving it open ended. Then if the book takes off, you have a ready-made central character for the next one. (You might even send outlines for one or two more books in the series when you submit your first one.)

6. If you adopt rule five, make your series more of a serial, i.e., with your central character developing a little more in each book.

7. Pay no attention to people — whether your next-door neighbour or the most high-brow critic on the Sunday book section — who smile or even sneer at you for being a writer of Westerns. Just enjoy receiving your royalty checks. These will not inevitably be for large amounts, but they will certainly be regular. Western fans are loyal.

8. Never set a Western in the East. Never try to write an entire series set during the Civil War.

9, Write fast. That way the action comes fast.

10. Write. To repeat that first cliché I mentioned, apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair and write.

And, I wish each of you to be visited by that large percentage of very necessary luck.

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