Category Archives: Five and a Half Tons

The Struggles of a Serial Novelist

Once, I fondly believed that writing a series of books would mean that I would write one book, publish it, then forget all about it so that I could settle down to write the second.

Strangely enough, it hasn’t worked out like that at all.

The first Springer book, Five and a Half Tons, is published and in the bookshops. It’s received some wonderful reviews, and has also been nominated for the CWA John Creasey Dagger for Best First Novel. It’s in the lap of the gods whether or not it gets shortlisted, and even if it doesn’t there may be interviews to deal with, promotional events to get involved with, so on and so forth…

The second book, A Fistful of Seaweed, has been delivered to my publisher and editing will start soon—I need to wait my turn until he’s finished with some of the other highly talented authors that are currently published by Holland House Books. At the moment, the schedule is to publish some time in the second half of 2014.

The third book (it has a working title that may change before publication, so I won’t share it here) was, I thought, finished too—all but crossing a few ‘tees’ and dotting a few ‘eyes’. I did need to make a few small changes, however—based on the fact that I decided (rather late in the day) to set the novel in January 1963, which was one of the worst winters in the UK for decades. However, those few small changes avalanched (pun intended) into much bigger changes and at the moment I am re-writing the ending. Completely re-writing the ending, in the sense that I have deleted more than ten thousand words from the original manuscript and I am starting over with a completely blank page. The identity of the perpetrator won’t change (although that is not completely guaranteed) but how he is unmasked is still a mystery to me, let alone Springer. As I write this I have left Springer trudging around in ankle-deep snow, looking for a piece of wire from which to fashion an improvised lock-pick. When I’ve finished writing this I really ought to go back and give him a hand.

The fourth book in the series already exists too, largely as a collection of scenes and episodes that loosely hang together around the themes of shady dealings in the world of Indian restaurants and secretive, high stakes poker games. At some point all this needs to be put together to form something like a coherent story (or what passes for coherent in Springer’s world). It also needs a solution to the mystery, because although I have a crime and several suspects, just at the moment I have even less idea than Springer who the actual villain is.

To cap it all, last night I was lying awake thinking about the opening of a new Springer story, one which (if all goes to plan) should be the fifth book in the sequence. I could tell you all about it, but too many spoilers in one blog post is not good for the digestion. Let’s just say this one is Springer’s answer to the classic locked room mystery.

Nor will I mention the fact that I have two other novels at the Work in Progress stage, too. Neither of them are anything to do with Springer, but I do tinker with them from time to time and one of them is definitely threatening to dominate my attention, if I allowed it to do so.

So how many different novels am I having to deal with now? Er… Hang on a minute: I seem to have run out of fingers…


Filed under A Fistful of Seaweed, Fiction, Five and a Half Tons, Springer

Being Published

Being a published novelist has bought some new experiences for me.

When I was an unpublished writer, I lived in a bubble, writing (mostly) for my own pleasure and satisfaction. That’s not to say that I didn’t have that dream in the back of my mind that one day I would be published and my books would be reviewed in the national press – it was just less important than the writing itself. For most of the time, I did not share my writing with anyone, not even friends or family. It was a hobby, of sorts, simply a way to satisfy the creative side of my personality. To improve my skills, I joined a writers’ group, and occasionally attended creative writing courses. When I became internet-savvy, I even posted sample chapters on a writers’ website for evaluation by the other members of the site. I did receive some feedback – although the feedback from those sources was generally a particular ‘writerly’ sort of feedback: technical advice about sentence construction and character development and plot devices. The writers giving their opinion frequently said that they liked my stories, but that was within the context of a writer giving a professional judgement on a piece of work, not a reader who read the book purely for pleasure.

Now that I am published, my book is available for the reading public to buy and read. People who are complete strangers to me, people who I have never met (nor am ever likely to meet) have picked up or downloaded my book and read it simply because they wanted to be entertained. None of them are under any obligation to provide me with feedback, if they don’t want to. For all I know, some of them may have absolutely hated it – although if they did, I will probably never find out. But I know that some readers have definitely enjoyed my book because they have been kind enough to post reviews on the internet saying so.

Now, I am not the sort of person who likes to blow his own trumpet, but I have to say that all the reviews for Five and a Half Tons posted so far are very positive. A few have had reservations, naturally, but I expected that. There are reviews on both and There are also reviews on Marlene Lee’s blog, Reader’s Favorite and Our Book Reviews Online. Gerry, the reviewer at Our Book Reviews Online, has even picked Five and A Half Tons as one of his books of the year! Big thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to write and post a review.

If anyone who has read Five and a Half Tons would like to write a review of their own, on Amazon or Goodreads, I would love to read what you thought of it.


Filed under Book Reviews, Five and a Half Tons, Springer

Progress Report

Here I am, at the end of my first week as a published author, and (so far) my life doesn’t seem terribly different from when I wasn’t a published author. However, several interesting things have happened to me that are most definitely new and exciting experiences!

  • Five and a Half Tons (briefly) reached the dizzy heights of being placed at around 14,000 on Amazon’s Kindle download chart. (All right, so that might not sound brilliant, but it is out of around 400,000 different titles, remember.)
  • I’ve had my very first review! Huge thanks to Marlene Lee for that. (Though I’d be very grateful for more. Anyone feel up to the job of writing a review and posting it on Amazon or Goodreads?)
  • I have joined the Crime Writer’s Association, so I can now consider myself a real, bona fide Crime Writer.

The next thing on the agenda, though, is to get my head down and finish writing Springer’s second adventure, A Fistful of Seaweed. There will be a few surprises…

The Kindle version of Five and a Half Tons is available here for UK readers and here for US readers.


Filed under A Fistful of Seaweed, Fiction, Five and a Half Tons, Publishing, Springer


Today’s the day that my novel Five and a Half Tons enters the big wide world of published books.

To upload to your Kindle click here for the UK and click here for USA.


Filed under Five and a Half Tons, Springer

Five and a Half Tons: the Blurb

The year is 1962 and Westerby-on-Sea is slumbering through its drab off-season. Life is quiet for J.F. Springer, Private Detective – and, although he dreams of emulating Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, and Sexton Blake, that is pretty much how he likes it.

 Springer finally gets the chance to be a real detective. when he is called in to find a missing woman. At first it seems pretty straightforward, and he has high hopes of solving the case and getting paid in double-quick time. But for Springer, life is never so simple. Soon he is embroiled in an affair that involves housebreaking, missing diamonds, threats to his life, an apparent suicide, and a pigeon-fancier who thinks Springer has amorous designs on his daughter. When the police take an interest, first it’s to arrest Springer, then  use him as bait in a trap. Then there’s Jim Tarbet, the local wideboy, seemingly determined to make Springer repay a trifling debt…

Like a famous predecessor, Springer tries to be taller, but all around there are too many goons and not enough brains.

Not so much film noir as seaside gris.

Five and a Half Tons is published by Grey Cells Press TOMORROW! Available online via all the usual outlets, or direct from the publishers.


Filed under Five and a Half Tons, Springer