Category Archives: Cutthroats and Curses


I know, it’s a crap word, but I couldn’t think of a clever one. If you do, let me know and I’ll edit this and credit you. They say you should always find a unique title for your book, but given the vast sweep of history and all its words, that’s not always possible. I set out to find out what other books share a title with mine.

Warren Peace by Michael WombatFirst up, there’s a 64-page version of Tolstoy’s War & Peace presented using photographs of rabbits dressed in clothing. It’s called ‘Rabbit Warren Peace’ and it looks BRILLIANT. Also, famed science-fiction writer Bob Shaw has written a couple of comedies about a cardboard-like, sitcom-like hero, Warren Peace, called ‘Who Goes Here’ and ‘Dimensions’.

Warren Peace Title-twins: 2

Fog by Michael WombatI expected to find that “there’s loads of books called Fog”, as a visitor told me at Indie Litfest last year but, although a legion of books have the word within a longer title, only James Herbert’s ‘The Fog’ comes close to the singular, and as I pointed out to my surly visitor, his doesn’t have a cool running man in the letter ‘O’.

Fog Title-twins: 1

Moth Girl versus The Bats by Michael WombatIn my innocence I imagined that ‘Moth Girl’ (even without her bats) would be unique, but no! Here comes ‘Moth Girls’ by Anne Cassidy, so called because girls are drawn to a particular house like moths (that’s light, Anne, not houses), rather than because, like my heroine Thea, they look like a moth when dressed in a weird cloak and flying goggles.

Moth Girl Title-twins: 1

Blood on the Ground by Michael WombatThis one surprised me. Who’d have thought there’d be other ‘Blood on the Ground’s? There are, though. There’s Paul Usiskin’s torrid tale of murder, dangerous love, and techno-porn (I know!) across the Israel-Palestine divide. Not a lot of laughs in that one, I’ll warrant. I’d prefer Lenora Rain Good’s ‘Blood on the Ground: Elegies for Waiilatpu’, 22 poems about the 1847 Waiilatpu massacre. Sod it, I’m buying that one.

Blood on the Ground Title-twins: 2

Happily, my other titles – Cubic Scats, Soul of the Universe, Cutthroats and Curses, Human 76 and the imminent The Museum of White Walls – appear to have no title twins at all. Which I choose to interpret as a 5-4 win for me, so ner.


Crow’s Map: an excerpt from Cutthroats & Curses

Cutthroats and Curses

Here’s a quick excerpt for you from one of my stories in the thrilling pirate anthology, Cutthroats & Curses, which you can buy for your Kindle RIGHT NOW! (US readers click here).

“Oh, then that’s fine,” the Captain said, cheering up. “Right, let’s have a look at this map you got for me.”

Crow pushed aside his bowl of rum and rolled out on the rickety table a crackly old parchment. He and the Captain bent over it, peering intently in the dim, pungent glow cast by the sputtering gull-lamps that were the only source of light in The Dirty Doxy tavern.

The Isle of the Drowned?” the Captain read, “Why do you always want to take us to some doom-laden place or other? When are we going to go on a day trip to The Valley of Happy Unicorns, eh?”

Crow said nothing. He knew better than to bring up again the matter of the unicorn with the wonky horn. That was a sure way to get the Captain tediously wittering on for hours about old adventures.

“And what, you scab, are these numbers?” the Captain continued.

“Cap’n, it really is beyond time you learned how to navigate – you know, what with being a ship’s captain and all. Those numbers show the location of the island. Latitude and longitude.”

“Latitude and longitude be buggered. I can’t do everything, can I? That’s why I pay you to steer the ship. I’m far too busy scheming and planning to get involved in every little detail. I’m the brains of this outfit, Crow.”

Crow took out his glass eye, gave it a polish and opened his mouth to speak.

“Don’t even think of saying what’s in your head,” the Captain interrupted, removing his tricorn hat ready to wallop Crow should the first mate utter one wrong word.

“I love my Captain,” said Crow. Mollified, the Captain put his hat back over his greasy hair.

“Hmm,” growled the Captain, peering once more at the map. “There aren’t many landmarks on this, are there? What’s this say here?”

“Ah now, that’s where we’d land. Sudden Death Cove.”

The Captain gave Crow a look and took off his hat once more.

“No, no! Listen,” Crow explained hastily, “The skinny bloke reckoned that this map would lead us to treasure. Buried here, where there’s a big ‘X’, near this pool that feeds down into the bay.”

“What does the ‘X’ stand for? Oh hell, it’s not ‘xylophones’, is it? Not much call for xylophones along the Skull Coast. No wait, it’s ‘xenopus’, isn’t it? You want me to load the Little Mavis with xenopusses.”

“No, no, no, the—” Crow began, then paused. “What the flaming hell is a xenopus?”

“African clawed frog. Produces eggs in response to the urine of a pregnant woman. Used for pregnancy testing.”

“Oh,” said Crow, pausing for a moment to consider the odd mind of his captain. “No, it does not indicate the location of a xenopus. The ‘X’ doesn’t stand for anything. It just marks the spot where the treasure is buried.”

“Then why didn’t they put a ‘T’, for ‘treasure’? That would make much more sense.”

“I don’t know why they didn’t put a ‘T’,” sighed Crow, “It doesn’t matter why they didn’t put a ‘T’. What matters is that the skinny feller said that here,” Crow’s grimy fingernail indicated a scratchy ‘X’ in the centre of the map, “is a treasure more valuable than gold coin.”

“Don’t give me that malarkey. What on earth could be more valuable than gold?”

“I don’t know. Lots of things.” Crow struggled to think of an example. The Captain was a big one for examples.

“Maybe…” Crow said, off the top of his head, “Right, how about a hat that made you invisible, so you could go wherever you liked without being seen –– merchant shops, inns, anywhere – think of the potential for profit in that.”

The Captain’s eyes drifted upwards to gaze at the dark smoky roof as he considered this, and a smile appeared in the middle of his bushy dreadlocked beard.


“The point is,” Crow continued, “I don’t know what we’ll find, but the skinny bloke was not lying, I’ll warrant that. And the map cost us nothing. So what have we got to lose?”

“With such a hat I could go into ladies’ boudoirs unseen,” said the Captain, huskily, “Or bathrooms.”

“Cap’n, concentrate! What is your command? Do we follow the map?”

“Aye, Crow, we follow the map!” The Captain’s eyes gleamed. “Alert the crew. We sail on the dawn tide.”

Crow stood and bellowed loudly above the cacophonous babble in the crowded tavern.


Every person in The Dirty Doxy, save Big Tam who owned it and Dolly the Wench, let out a huge cheer, both man and woman alike, for every customer in the tavern this night served aboard the good ship Little Mavis.

“Crew alerted, Captain,” said Crow.

Anthology off the port bow! Cutthroats & Curses

Ahoy, swashbucklers, you need tarry no longer, for Cutthroats & Curses: an Anthology of Pirates is out now and just itching to shiver your timbers.

8 the full monty

What’s that I see on the cover? A dragon? And look! A web-fingered denizen of the oceans! A cool-as-fuck female pirate! And treasure, and tropical islands, and hey – could that book be a map wherein X marks the spot? Be excited, you swabs, for the stories collected herein play fast and loose with their uniting theme of piracy, and will take you on a voyage to places beyond your salty imagination.

Featuring ten of the finest indie writers around –Lisa Shambrook, Boyd Miles, Marissa Ames, Bryan Taylor, Beth Avery, Matt Jameson, Eric Martell, Michael Walker, Stephen Coltrane, and Alex Brightsmith and me, this treasure will delight everyone.

Buy it now for your Kindle at Amazon UK, Amazon USA, Amazon Canada, Amazon Japan… oh you get the drift.

The cover was created by the wonderfully talented Kit Cooper, who also drew the cover for Soul of the Universe. You can buy beautiful Kit Cooper items here.

skull and crossbones

And, before you landlubbers leave, check out The Anthology Club‘s excellent debut release ‘Soul of the Universe’ :

5 SotU72logo websized‘This collection was absolutely breathtaking, and has introduced me to some new genres I wasn’t overly familiar with, and showed the extraordinary range of writing styles that all bring their own meaning to a story.’


‘Soul of the Universe is a collection of stunning short stories that can leave you smiling, crying or just in a state of wonder.’

Cutthroats and Curses

Scrivener is coming into its own during the editing process of the forthcoming Anthology Club compilation Cutthroats and Curses – oh yes, that’s what the Pirate anthology is called now – Cutthroats and Curses: an anthology of Pirate Tales. The title is all down to you lot, of course, overwhelmingly preferring it over the other candidates in the recent poll. It’s a good title, too, all rousing and all-iterative.

Have a butcher’s at the screenshot below (clicky clicky if you want to see it up close) and you’ll see that we have eleven rattling good yarns of sea battles, maps, and hidden treasure, as well some whoa-making surprises that would no longer be surprises if I told you about them. Established authors like Marissa Ames, Lisa Shambrook and Alex Brightsmith are joined by newcomers such as Boyd Miles and Stephen Coltrane. Oh, and me, trying to be funny again. It’s all very exciting.

That’s not the final order of stories, by the way; I’m still shuffling them about, balancing light against dark, action against calm, Beth against Eric. Scrivener makes handling such a wriggling sack of writers a dream with its corkboard, colour coding and inbuilt writer’s tools. I’m right enjoying myself, which is as it should be. You’ll right enjoy this an’all when it comes out.


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