Thursday, 17 May 2018

Rose Gold Interview with David Barker

book cover of Rose Gold

David Barker returns with the sequel to his hit novel, Blue Gold, featuring the returning characters of Sim Atkins. This is Rose Gold, I had the pleasure of being to ask Mr. Barker some questions for the #blogtour of Rose Gold.

You have come to writing later in your life, how did this come about?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, even while I was working as an economist. It’s a challenge to convey complex information in a fashion that is succinct, easy to understand and interesting. I had thought about a change in career towards financial journalism but more recently decided that I wanted to stretch myself and try my hand at creative writing.

What was the gestation of Blue Gold and Sim Atkins?

In my previous role I did a lot of research into commodity markets, and one recurring theme was the notion that fresh water would become a precious resource over the next 20 years. I realised that a world war for water would be a great setting for a novel and suddenly I knew what the opening and closing scenes would be for a story.

How long did the first book take to complete, how many drafts?

From that very first idea to the published book hitting shelves, it was about seven years. Talking to other authors I have come to realise this is not uncommon for first novels, especially because most of us write our debuts while working full time. And I think it was the ninth draft that went to print. The biggest changes happened between drafts one and two, which occurred after I had attended the Faber Academy novel-writing course.

What is your normal working day like, do you have a daily word target?

There are certain times of the year when I am just trying to think of new ideas for sticking points in the current project or for completely new future projects. At other times, I am focusing on the promotional side of things. But when I am in first-draft mode, then yes, I try to aim for 2000 words a day. I often get that done by lunchtime (I’m an early riser), so will tend to spend the afternoon reading novels. As Stephen King says, an author should split their time evenly between reading and writing.

What did you like to read growing up, there is a lot of Fleming in your work?

Funnily enough, I did not read a lot of his novels. I loved Douglas Adams, both his Hitch Hiker books and the Dirk Gently series. I read quite a bit of fantasy: Stephen Donaldson and, of course, Tolkien. And I enjoyed Frederick Forsyth’s global thrillers.

What do you read now?

An eclectic mix. I appear on a monthly Radio Berkshire show called Radio Reads, and we review a new book that can be chosen from any genre. I attend a local book club that focuses on Sci-Fi and Fantasy, so that’s my second book of the month. I normally find time for a third book each month, and that varies a lot. I get invited to quite a few book launches so often pick-up the latest best-seller then, or I’ll try to read something from one of my fellow Urbane authors.

Can you talk about the relationship with Urbane Publications?

They are a fantastic independent publisher with big ambitions. They are very supportive, without being proscriptive about what or how you should tackle your latest project. And one thing that really helps their books stand out is the beautiful design detail (in the physical book). For example, in my latest book Rose Gold, there is a double-page spread at the start of each of the three parts, showing a black background and a moon at a different stage of its cycle. In my first novel, Blue Gold, there were faint water droplets in the background of every page.

You have one more book in the trilogy to write, can you give anything away?

It’s called White Gold, and it should be out in May 2019. Something happens to Sim in Rose Gold that becomes the main driving force of his story arc in the final book (no spoiler alerts). But I also wanted to give more time and space to his old partner, Freda Brightwell, who was a big hit with female readers from book one, so you’ll see a lot more of her. And of course, the baddies are bigger and badder than ever!

What will you write after the trilogy is complete?

I’m not entirely sure yet. I have a couple of ideas that are rattling around inside my brain, but both are completely different to the Gaia trilogy.

Any advice for would be scribes?

Keep going – it’s a long slog to complete a novel, and even once it’s finished it’s a tough road to publication. Don’t be put off by the knock-backs or stumbling points. And don’t forget to write with passion – if you try merely to emulate some book trend that’s currently successful, chances are your own voice will disappear along with the fire inside your belly.
Rose Gold is out from Urbane Publications now on all formats

Friday, 11 May 2018

Batman Ninja - DVD Review

Out on DVD from Monday 14th May, a new story featuring Gotham City's greatest hero, Batman Ninja

Incorporating the influence of Anime animation, Batman in the attempts to ward off an evil experiment, gets transported to feudal Japan where the Joker and the rest of the criminal masterminds have taken over various states of Japan as their feudal lords in the hope to make Japan one criminal world with Penguin, Poison Ivy, Two-Face all joining the party.

Batman is not entirely on his own, he has Catwoman as his ally - the plan to bring structure and normality to Japan before getting themselves and everyone back to the modern day world.

Whilst lusciously drawn in such detail, the film is also a satirical comment on the influence of western civilisation on eastern worlds with the Joker ploughing the land for coal bringing forward the industrial revolution by a few hundred years.  Ironically though the influence goes full circle with anime becoming an avenue for new storylines and narratives for the Caped Crusader.

Featuring good voice work led by Roger Craig Smith as Bruce Wayne and Tony Hale as The Joker, the film is a stunning piece of animation full of set pieces aplenty and colourful aplomb.

This new adventure away from Gotham is ripe for fans old and new; providing a good gateway for American comic book fans to find a route to enjoy the rich tradition of Anime movies.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is pleased to make available a brand new featurette for the incredible upcoming animation, BATMAN NINJA, out now on Digital and available on Blu-ray™ Steelbook, Blu-ray™ and DVD May 14.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Rose Gold - David Barker

book cover of Rose Gold

David Barker returns with the sequel to his hit novel, Blue Gold, featuring the returning characters of Sim Atkins.

The events of the world are still changing, following on from the adventures featuring OFWAT, Sim is thrown a curve ball from the off, learning a life-changing fact and then being asked to go to the moon.

The moon is the next landscape to be mined for the minerals that could help the forever changed Earth, perhaps as an outpost for new territories. Sim undergoes an intense changing regime and within 8 days is on the moon space station.  Yet this requirement to go to the moon, is a means to change the environment of the main character who must endure in a different milieu from previously.

Barker writes with a real lightness but swiftness; he is able to render an environment and atmosphere quickly utilising character dialogue to progress character development.  This is reminiscent of the writing of Matthew Reilly - whilst Reilly worked on a wider more outlandish scale with huge set pieces and explosions; Barker utilises the environment to his advantage. By having a base on the moon, you have people out of their comfort zone from the outset creating an underlying wave of tension and conflict as the diverse multi-ethnic world population of the base have to co-exist.

Image result for rose gold david barker
Author of Rose Gold - David Barker

However, the yarn is gripping and moves a breakneck speed, for me it did not reach the same heights as Blue Gold did. Yet, the book is certainly one of the better action-adventure novels this reviewer has read - Barker cleverly takes his influences of Ian Fleming, Tom Clancy, Dan Brown et al to make a winning favourite in Sim Atkins - the type of guy who usually sits behind a desk but elevates and surprises himself with how well he can become something better than he thought he was. 

That everyman quality shines through Barker's brilliant depiction of Sim as with the diverse cauldron of characters that pop up throughout the book from the erstwhile Lin to the detailed Piet as well as android Henry the AI who provides the key to the running of the whole base; and Barker does not waste pages with exposition and needless character thoughts, he uses dialogue as a means to shape story and extend plot with efficiency.

Barker is quite prescient in terms of future technology he grants his characters an item called tab rolls on their wrists, a sort of Apple watch which details your journey, time, sleep patterns but linked to a main body such as Henry who can monitor and advise on your behaviour, but has sinister reaches akin to Big Brother watching you. Having just been on a trip to Walt Disney World, they gave us magic bands a sort of GPS locator come money band where you can pay for items at leisure.

Barker leaves things up in the air - in terms of Sim quite literally - in readiness for the next part of the trilogy White Gold (out May 2019), where the heroine of Blue Gold Freda who we last see escaping a prison in Russia, is now front and centre at the beginning - thanks to an exclusive extract written at the book's conclusion.

Again, this is a brilliant thrilling novel from Urbane Publications who specialise in believing in under-appreciated authors whose work deservedly gets much needed exposure; Rose Gold is a thrilling addition to the Atkins trilogy, one more to go and this reader cannot hardly wait.

I will be featuring in the #RoseGold blog tour on 18th May

Rose Gold is out from Urbane Publications on Thursday 10th May

Thursday, 3 May 2018

In praise of...Klopp's Borussia Dortmund

A full piece appears at Row Z online here

Image result for borussia dortmund

With Jurgen Klopp on the verge of taking Liverpool to the Champions League final for the first time under his stewardship, after the 5-2 victory on Tuesday night at Anfield versus Roma, it is only fitting that we look back at the last attacking juggernaut he took to the promised land.  This piece will look back fondly at the 2012/13 Champions League season when the competition became distinctly German.

In honour of the 150th Anniversary of the Football Association, UEFA gave the honour of hosting the showpiece final at Wembley only two years after Barcelona had defeated Manchester United in 2011.  The irony was not lost on anyone that the anniversary and the birth of football in England was rewarded with an event featuring two German powerhouses at the home of football.

Whilst, Bayern Munich were entering this game with the hope of completing a treble in Jupp Heynckes last game in charge before stepping aside for the incoming Pep Guardiola, the hope of many a neutral was that Borussia Dortmund would finally garner the trophy their style of play deserved.  A mixture of bombast and beauty, Dortmund were the coming together of Klopp's beliefs - high pressing, stylish counter-attacking, breathless football.

Image result for jurgen klopp bvb

Having won the Bundesliga title in 2012, the need to have a deep Champions League run was required to cement the legacy of Klopp's work and deny the Munich machine the last laugh.  The season itself was oddly though one of transition and movement; many key players were making important decisions about their future.  Mario Gotze would leave for Bayern Munich at the end of the season and the heads of other luminaries, Robert Lewandowski and Matt Hummels were believed to be turning.

This should not discount what Klopp achieved though, creating a roster that was the equal of Bayern Munich's all-star team.  From the aforementioned trio you can add Ilkay Gundogan, Marco Reus and Jakub Blaszczykowski as well as the steady Roman Weidendfeller being the last line of defence.

How best to explain Dortmund and their particular enduring appeal?  Think of it like a tennis aficionado; there are people who are either fans of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal.  Whilst Federer is the archetypal doyen of balletic grace and finesse on the court, you would rely on Federer to save a match point and get the job done - you do not win twenty grand slams by being na├»ve; in contrast Nadal is the bombastic, the power, the explosion who came out of nowhere to attempt to usurp the natural order.

Munich is Federer, the machine who has grown more charming in an extended career but the envy of all before him due to the professional structure of their game; Dortmund is Nadal, the little guy who is far stronger than it appears and garners a universal acclaim of adoration and respect.

Dortmund's run in the Champions League was a welcome relief to the poor defence of their Bundesliga title, which resulted them in meekly surrendering their crown to Bayern by 25 points, only claiming second place ahead of Bayer Leverkusen by one point.

Perhaps an early decision was made by Klopp and his staff to go all in on the Champions League, and they were helped by having a good draw in the group stage; being drawn with Real Madrid - a side that always saves itself for the knockout phase; Ajax - a side living on past glories and no match for many a European superpower; and Manchester City - who were still finding their feet in European competition.

Manchester City were always an attractive side in the English Premier League, yet they could not translate that form to the European format - a problem they still have. Real Madrid scored a late equaliser in the return group game to save a point.  Dortmund were top easily, but could have won all six games.

In the first round of the knockout phase, they were drawn against Shaktar Donetsk, following a 2-2 draw in the Ukraine an easy 3-0 second leg triumph made light work of the Ukrainians prompting a quarter-final versus Malaga.

On paper, an easy tie and yet the Spanish islanders were 2-1 going into injury time only for Dortmund to score two late goals to steal victory from the jaws of defeat; goals from Marco Reus and Felipe Santana kept the unlikely dream alive for BVB.

The semi-final drew them with Real Madrid and the third and fourth games against each other; in the first leg in Dortmund all of Europe bore witness to the epitome of Klopp's attacking philosophy and one of the greatest performances in Europe's elite competiton.

In a season where he scored 10 goals in the competition, Robert Lewandowski scored four goals against a vaunted Real Madrid side led by Sergio Ramos.  The game was finely poised at 1-1 at half time with goals by the Polish striker and Cristiano Ronaldo, however the Pole scored a further three goals in the space of 16 second half minutes giving a 4-1 advantage going back to the Bernabeu.

The second leg was evidence of another part of Klopp's philosophy, his sides can defend when they need to, they are prepared to do the dirty work if need be something Barcelona and Real Madrid can be criticised for. This shows the loyalty players have towards Klopp and the belief he can instil in his troops to do what needs to be done.

Real Madrid won the second leg 2-0 but only scored the two goals after 83 minutes showing how resolute the defence was built around the superior leadership of Hummels and solidity of Weidenfeller.

And so to the final at Wembley Stadium, the first all-German final of the European Cup.  In a tense but highly entertaining and enjoyable spectacle, BVB started out the far more fluid side and yet could not convert their chances into goals with Manuel Neuer making some sharp saves.

Come the second half, Bayern grew more into the game and this growth led to a Mario Mandzukic goal on the hour, which was cancelled out shortly after when Gundogan converted a penalty following a silly foul by Javi Martinez on Reus.  As

As the game got more and more stretched with both sides searching for a winner to avoid the energy sapping extra half hour.  Bayern Munich were starting to pick off holes in the defence leading to a Thomas Muller chance being cleared off the line by Neven Subotic which also prevented a tap-in for Arjen Robben; and yet the big bad wolf blew and blew and ultimately got the winner in the 89th minute as Robben ghosted through the box evading tackles and a weak toe poke of a shot left Weidenfeller flat footed as the ball rolled agonisingly into an unguarded net.  For all the ingenuity and intelligence on display during the game, for it to be decided in such an anti-climatic manner was a shame.

It was also a shame that Jurgen Klopp and his troops came away without anything to celebrate; whilst Jupp Heynckes celebrated a treble in his last season before Guardiola came in, Klopp had to face a summer of transition as players moved on.

While they are celebrated and lauded, there are eerie similarities with the side Klopp is in charge of now.  Liverpool are having people salivate over their attacking play this season spearheaded by an amazing individual season by Mo Salah who has scored 41 goals.  It feels that Liverpool have to win the Champions League this year so historians, statisticians and fans can look back at the season and say look what we won with that firepower behind us - instead Salah's season will become a footnote in history and merely that.

And much like Klopp faced then, he faces the possibility of losing one of his best players as Salah may well be sold to PSG or Real Madrid should he back up this domestic campaign with a good showing for Egypt in the World Cup.

Klopp hopefully has learnt that for all your attacking intent, you need to defend as much as score goals, let's hope his chance at history is not thwarted again.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

New Music 2nd May 2018

Following on from last week where I got to bear witness to the excellent album launch by Night Flowers, this week has led me to some other brand new releases of videos. And rather than post them all individually, here is a round-up of the best of them.


The alter ego of Samuel Bedford, Cagework, shares a live session of debut single Simmer, in a video shot by Matt Martin.

Cagework plays solo on a near-raucous track which shows off his raw talent and relatable content.

Live shows coming across London and 23rd May at Rough Trade East


Staying in South London but with a different musical bent, a new video for Tyrell by Kirx. Taken from new EP 'Feels', the new single is a throwback to early 1990s British RnB or nu-soul, an intelligent soulful record.  The video is a mature one also taking the record's content seriously.

KEVIN KRAUTER 'Keep Falling In Love'

Crossing the Atlantic, the new single from Krauter shows of his evocative ambient soundscape which comes from a huge range of influences.  His debut album Toss Up is out from Bayonet Records on 13th July.

Thank you for reading, please share with other music lovers out there.

Trailer Talk: Teen Titans Go! To The Movies

Out from Warner Bros. UK the new trailer for TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES coming to UK cinemas from August 3rd.

Image result for teen titans go movie poster

When the Teen Titans go to the big screen, they go big!  “Teen Titans GO! to the Movies” finds our egocentric, wildly satirical Super Heroes in their first feature film extravaganza—a fresh, gleefully clever, kid-appropriately crass and tongue-in-cheek play on the superhero genre, complete with musical numbers.
Full of knowing tongue in cheek references that the adults will get whilst the kids are transfixed by the colour and action, with voice talent including Will Arnett (Lego Batman), this is a self-referential funny film for all the family this summer.

The film is being directed by Aaron Horvath and Peter Rida Michail, from a screenplay by Michael Jelenic and Horvath, based on characters from DC.  Michail, Will Arnett and Peggy Regan are producing, with Sam Register, Jelenic, and Horvath serving as executive producers.  Apart from Arnett, all are “Teen Titans GO!” series contributors.

My thanks to ThinkJam for the trailer preview

Batman Ninja

Released from Warner Bros. Entertainment on Digital now, available on Blu-Ray Steelbook, Blu-ray and DVD on May 14

The visually stunning Batman Ninja is the creative result of a trio of anime's finest - director Jumpei Mizuasaki, writer Kazuki Nakashima and character designer Takashi Okazaki - who produced the original film in Japan. The script was then reinterpreted and re-written for English language distribution.

The film transports Batman's worst enemies to feudal Japan along with the Dark Knight himself. The villains take over the forms of feudal lords that rule divided land, with the Joker taking the lead; along with Bane and Poison Ivy. Batman with his allies - including Catwoman - must restore order to the land and return to Gotham City.

Below is a featurette about the history of anime and enthusing the DC universe into the animation featuring the screenwriter Leo Chu.

Voice talent in the film include Roger Craig Smith (Batman: Arkham Origins) and Tony Hale (Veep) voice Batman and the Joker respectively.  Other support comes from Grey Griffin and Tara Strong.

The trailer and featurette promises a feast for the senses and a thrill ride as Batman Ninja gives the best of both worlds in a new synergy of entertainment.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is pleased to make available a brand new featurette for the incredible upcoming animation, BATMAN NINJA, out now on Digital and available on Blu-ray™ Steelbook, Blu-ray™ and DVD May 14.

My thanks to ThinkJam for the link.