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|Upcoming book! So far, 77 people want to buy a copy of Odds and Sods when it is published. My break-even goal is 100. If you are interested, tell me now at firstname.lastname@example.org
It's called Odds and Sods because it's about anything and everything, including luck (both good
and bad) in wartime, bad sex novels, both world wars, JFK conspiracies,
test pilots, doodlebugs, gunplay in fiction, freak books, nuclear
deterrence, flying under bridges, dangerous humour, poetry, plagiarism,
and much more. Price about £10 plus postage.
|Latest Book from Derek Robinson
‘Great book. Loved every line of it. Never Mind The Facts
fits right in with Invasion 1940 and Just Testing.’ John Kush
‘I enjoyed everything. You continue to debunk myths, and you do it in your
inimitable style: humorous and narrative rather than just facts.'
Never Mind the Facts offers ten
firecrackers that explode popular myths,
ranging from rugby football to Lawrence
of Arabia, from Sweden to Singapore, and from Guernica to Dunkirk - in only 80 pages.
Self-published. £5-50 postpaid in UK. (More abroad)
What readers say about Never Mind The Facts:
'I enjoyed the
read, you have managed to tell the myths in a relaxed, easy-to-read
way, while livening up the stories with some of your well-known dark
humour, (the reason you are my favourite author). Anyone who has
enjoyed your writing style should enjoy this, too.' Alex, New Zealand.
of these myths are so attractive - the little boats at Dunkirk - or
such a good story - William Webb Ellis just picking up the ball - that
we want to believe them..,. This enjoyable read is a bunch of them, all
in one place.'
Steve Paradis, Michigan
Order using: email@example.com, stating your postal address. Pay by PayPal.
Readers Write #69 April
There has been talk of
reviving the Blitz Spirit, but not many remember the Blitz itself. In
comparison with other modern disasters (including the present virus), it was a
lot more lethal. In the five years of WW2, a total of about 60,500 were killed
by bombing, by V1s and V2s, and by long-range shelling across the
Channel. 86,000 were seriously injured. Britain was a dangerous place.
The chances of anyone being killed in an air attack on Britain
- anywhere in Britain - were just under 1 in 800.
Those living in cities (including me) faced shorter odds. In London there
was a 1-in-200 chance of being killed; the chance of being seriously injured
was 1 in 160. The big difference, of course, is that Covid-19 is an
invisible threat - yet it’s worth remembering that nobody in
Britain could see the German V2 rocket. It travelled in the stratosphere and it
arrived at a speed of 3,500 feet per second. Its victims never knew what
hit them. The V2 was beyond sight and sound, until it exploded. Hitler
hoped that these offensives would bring Britain to its knees, and he
failed. Today we face a very different offensive, but we survived before
and we’ll survive again.
Black humour is the
natural reaction to a threat, and the virus has generated a few already. The
first was a video clip of what looked like a dodgy drug dealer on a street
corner, until the customer hands over a wad of currency in exchange
for... a toilet roll. (This form of panic buying reflects the public’s
obsession with hygiene.) We have been there before. In the 1950s, the
great fear was of nuclear destruction, accentuated by the Cuban Missile
Crisis. Tom Lehrer had a big hit with his cheerful ditty, ‘We’ll All Go
Together When We Go’. It didn’t amuse General Curtis LeMay, Chief of the
US Air Force. He was convinced that the best thing was to A-bomb Soviet Russia
while (he thought) America has a head start.
All jokes -
especially black ones - are capable of angering someone. My
favourite cartoon, from an old New Yorker, showed two old ladies
looking at a tombstone. One says to the other, “I told him it wouldn’t kill him
to try and be nice once in a while, but I was wrong.” It has a place on the
wall of my workroom, but it might not work for everyone. One of my top ten
jokes carries the risk of offending anyone self-isolating. It’s about a man who
goes hiking in the mountains. He meets nobody. After three days, he sees
a hut on top of a mountain. He reaches it and knocks on the door, which
is opened by a naked man wearing a bowler hat. The walker asks: “Why are you
naked?” The man says, “Nobody comes here.” The walker asks: “Then
why the bowler hat?” The man says, “You never know. Somebody
(I think that’s one of
Spike Milligan’s stories. He scored top marks for me with his proposed epitaph.
“I want to go to Heaven,” he said. “But if Geoffrey Archer’s there, I want to
go to Lewisham.”)
A third story is the
shortest. It’s about an amateur bank robber who buys a toy pistol, goes up to a
bank teller, and says: “Okay, you stickers - this is a
fuck-up.” I suppose a banker who had just been robbed might not
A writer’s life has a
few advantages - you work when you like, eat what you like, wear
what you like - but one of its demands is resilience,
even determination. A writer has to plug away or he gets nowhere.
Long ago, David Lassman was director of the Jane Austen Festival in Bath. He
wrote the opening chapters and plot synopses of Austen’s novels, changing only
the titles and the characters’ names, and he sent them to 18 British publishers
and agents. He was ‘staggered’ when they all rejected them. He
deplored ‘major publishers who can’t recognise great literature’. Lassman
should have looked at Jane Austen’s track record. She needed all the
resilience she could summon up.
Austen wrote Pride
and Prejudice, sent it to a publisher and it was, she said, ‘declined by
return of post’. So she wrote Northanger Abbey, sent it to
a different publisher who bought it for £10 and never published it. She plugged
away and wrote Sense and Sensibility. This time it got into
print - but Jane had to pay for the printing and the advertising.
She paid. And she had resilience. Eventually her books sold; but it took
a large amount of bloody-mindedness to get her talent
A word about the
comma. Some want it abolished, others scatter it like confetti. Yet
the comma can make a difference. Properly placed, it can reverse the meaning of
a sentence. Take this, for example:
Truck drivers said police were driving like maniacs
With two commas, it
means the opposite:
Truck drivers, said police, were driving like maniacs.
Punctuation is like
knitting patterns. They both have rules. Otherwise you end up not
with a scarf but one odd sock.
Previous Readers Write
1919. The Great War is over but a civil war is raging in Russia.
Bolshevik Reds are fighting White Russians, and a volunteer
R.A.F. squadron, flying clapped-out Sopwith Camels and DH9 bombers,
arrives to duff up the Reds. But the 'splendid little war' they
are promised turns out to be big and brutal, a world of armoured trains,
anarchist guerillas, unreliable allies and pitiless enemies.
There is comedy, but it is the bleakest kind. A Splendid Little War shows war as it is: grim, funny, moving - but never splendid.Reviews of A Splendid Little War
someone at a party asks what I do, I say I write Ripping Yarns.
It's a quick answer but a very incomplete one. I'm best known for my
novels about the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force in the two
World Wars and some might say the books are highly readable adventure
stories. Nothing wrong with that, but there's more than combat in
the high blue yonder - there's also memorable
characters, there's unexpected twists and turns of warfare, and
there's aircrew humour. Especially the humour. I did
my National Service in the Royal Air Force. I was never airborne;
I was in a Ground Control Interception Unit, deep underground in a
concrete bunker. But I learned a lot about the special humour of
flying people, and it emerges naturally and unavoidably in my
novels. Humour is one of the essential colours in the spectrum of life.
You don't make a story more serious by removing the humour; you just
make it less true.
longer I do this job, the luckier I know I am. For a start, I'm
English and the English language is global. That's pure luck of birth.
I might have been born in Hungary. There are good Hungarian
writers, but it's a lot easier for me to find readers throughout
the English-speaking world. And I was lucky to have literate
parents. When I grew up there were always books and magazines
about the house, unlike some other kids' homes. There was a good public
library at the end of the street. And there was the 1944
Education Act which created State Scholarships for bright lads and
helped me get into Cambridge.
where I learned to write boringly. I was writing to impress, not to
inform. Twelve years in advertising agencies (London and New York)
kicked the crap out of my style. Every word had to work hard. I wrote
ad copy and commercials for everything from Esso petrol to The Wall Street Journal.
Always I knew I wanted to move on, to be a fulltime writer
- but I had nothing to say. Nothing worth reading, anyway.
(I was a late developer.) I wrote two bad and unpublishable novels and
finally got it right with a story called Goshawk Squadron.
Might have won the Booker Prize if Saul Bellow, one of the judges, had
had his way. Not important. "The most readable novel of the year," Nina
Bawden said of Goshawk in the Daily Telegraph.
"I laughed aloud several times, and was in the end reduced to tears."
That's worth more than any prize. The first novel bought me enough time
to write the second, and so it goes. Lucky me..
SALESMORE GOOD NEWSAll
four of the Luis Cabrillo novels (following the career of
probably the best WW2 double agent and later con-man) are now
available as eBooks from Amazon/Kindle. Here are the covers:
Click on a cover to go to the Amazon sales page.The R.F.C. trilogy and the R.A.F. Quartet are also available as e-books.
'Operation Bamboozle' is a fastmoving black comedy about
what happens when a high-stakes con artist takes on the Mob in Los
Angeles. The result is a heady brew of disorganised crime, hot
dollars, triple virgins and dead bodies in the begonias.
Luis Cabrillo is the con artist, Julie Conroy is his
squeeze, and here's the opening sentence:
For a man who had been hauled out of Lake Michigan in 1949, headless,
his legs and arms broken, and stabbed in the heart with a red ballpoint
pen, Frankie Blanco was in pretty good shape in 1953. |
Click to see the News of the World Review
RED RAG BLUES
He's a heel, bless him.
Luis Cabrillo rides again in this "dashing tale of Nazis and Mafiosi", as The Observer called it.
fact, Nazis and Mafiosi play second fiddle to the real dynamo in this
story. It's 1953, and Senator Joe McCarthy's witchhunt for Reds
under beds is scaring America witless.Alas, in 2017 a wildfire reduced DUX to ashes. 20,000 fir trees burned to the ground. Sic transit, as the locals say.
Cue Luis Cabrillo, ex-double
agent, now con artist supreme. Dollars flow, hotly pursued by bullets.
Luis doesn't know it, but FBI, MI5, KGB and CIA have him
firmly in their sights. Not to mention Stevie, the only
three-times married virgin in New York City. This is a rich, fast
and very black comedy.
Press (an imprint of Quercus Books) owns the book rights to all my RFC
and RAF novels. Sam Goldwyn Jr owns the screen rights
to Goshawk Squadron. In 1988, LWT made a six-part television series ofPiece of Cake and they own the rights to that production. I own the screen rights to any remake of Piece of Cake.
I own the screen rights to all my other novels. Quercus Books owns the
e-book rights to all my fiction backlist, available through
Amazon/Kindle. Derek Robinson
welcome comments and views about my books, though as a working writer I
can't guarantee to have sufficient time to answer everyone.
Click here to send me an email
Main publications Click any group heading to see details.
Availability of the books.
my fiction is available as e-books. Maclehose Press publish (in
print) all eight of my flying novels, available from any good book
seller (who may have to order a copy). Or you could try the
websites listed below, often useful for tracking down both new and used
The two Bristle books, and A Darker Side of Bristol
are published by Countryside Books
Other websites you may find of interest:
Major books and original publication dates:
|1971 Goshawk Squadron |
1973 Rotten with Honour
1977 Kramer's War
1979 The Eldorado Network
1983 Piece of Cake
1987 War Story
1991 Artillery of Lies
1993 A Good Clean Fight
1999 Hornet's Sting
2019 Never Mind the Facts
|2002 Damned Good Show |
2002 Kentucky Blues
2005 Invasion 1940
2005 Red Rag Blues
2008 Hullo Russia, Goodbye England
2009 Operation Bamboozle
2013 A Splendid Little War
2014 Why 1914?
2017 Holy $moke