Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Shadow of the Eagle

Shadow of the Eagle is the first book in my seven-part Western / SF adventure The Legend of Boot Hill.

The urge to write this story came when the phrase 'The Statue at the Edge of Time' became stuck in my mind. I concluded that the only way to remove it was to write a story with that title, except I had no idea what the story was.

So I started writing to see what happened. I wrote about a massive statue standing on the top of a mountain and like Atlas it was holding something aloft, but nothing much happened after that and so I gave up.

Later I decided the statue wasn't all that interesting, but maybe the thing it was holding aloft might be. So I wrote about something just dangling there in the sky and about the people who were fascinated by the object and wanted to reach it. A story began to take shape about a land that has a giant golden object dangling in the sky that may be heaven or may be hell, and so the object becomes a seemingly unattainable place that some worship, some fear, and some want to reach and explore.

Some people tried to build flying machines and others tried to build a massive mound beneath the object, while others tried to stop them. I felt the tale had potential, but finding out how a culture might behave if it can see heaven but can never reach it was all a bit philosophical for me and I ran out of steam.

I decided I needed to start again with only one viewpoint character, Gideon Pierce, and not deal with a massive cast in a fantasy land of my own creation as that would force me to keep the tale tight and real. I tried several current day locations until what perhaps ought to have been the obvious thought right from the start hit me of using a western locale.

Within moments, after several years of getting nowhere, the tale surged ahead. I wrote the first three chapters. Then I wrote a lengthy explanation of why the heck the golden thing was hanging there in the sky, to be revealed later but which at least let me know what was happening, and then the final chapter so I knew where I'd end up. I figured I'd need three books to complete the story and so I worked out the endings to books 1 and 2. Then I started writing, and the tale instantly veered away from the plan when the hero passed out and had a dream...

In the end the science-fiction element underpins the tale, but it's minor. It has as much science-fiction in it as, say, Life on Mars, and revolves around the simple idea of what happens if a UFO appears in the sky above an Old West frontier town. By the time I reached the end of the first book I'd barely got a quarter of the way into the planned tale and I realized that I might need more than 3 books to complete Gideon's tale, and so the Legend of Boot Hill began.

The book is now available from all good amazon stores.

When a mysterious apparition appears briefly over the frontier town of Empire City, the lives of everyone who sees it are changed forever.
Bounty hunter Gideon Pierce had been on the trail of Warner Gray, who had been waging a one-man war against the railroad, but the golden object in the sky distracts him. Warner kills again and worse, afterwards Gideon remembers the incident differently to everyone else leading to him being blamed for Warner’s latest crime.
With the apparition giving Gideon strange visions of another world, he follows Warner to Eagle Heights, an abandoned gold mine with a terrible past and an uncertain future. With mysterious gunmen who lurk in the shadows on his tail, Gideon will need all his gun skills to clear his name and to uncover the truth.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Devine's Mission to be published as a Black Horse Western

I'm delighted to report that Crowood have agreed to publish my western Devine's Mission. This novel appeared earlier this year as a Kindle title, and it'll continue to be available on amazon.

It's the third novel featuring Marshal Jake T. Devine and it'll be my 35th Black Horse Western. I assume it'll appear some time in 2017.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Take the Money and Run

The latest Fergal O'Brien novel is now available on Kindle.


This book is the first Fergal O'Brien adventure since 2014's The Ballad of Dayton Hyde. As with the previous books in the series, this tale includes several elements that don't often get featured in westerns: in this case, a Walter Mitty type bartender, a spiritualist who can talk to the dead, and match fixing in cricket.
The last element let me carry out a long-time desire to write a western featuring a cricket match, as cricket is the only sport I've ever followed. I've tried to do it several times before, but each time the plot idea was nothing more than some cowboys decide to play cricket. As there was no logical reason why they should do that, the story always fizzled out quickly.
In this case though I didn't set out to include a cricket match. The working title was Bunty the Bounty Hunter and involved a bartender who dreams about having an exciting life and who gets it into her head that Fergal is an outlaw who needs bringing to justice. Meanwhile Fergal is trying to rebuild his fortunes after losing everything in the previous book and sees an opportunity when he discovers the town of Paradise is staging a horse racing competition.
I completed the first draft, but I didn't like the horse racing scenes as all the dashing around soon became tiresome. I decided I needed a different contest and so for a while I toyed with lacrosse, which is something that the townsfolk might have played, but then finally I realized that this was my chance to use cricket.
When completed, I struggled with a title as I did so want to publish a book called Bunty the Bounty Hunter, but mindful that such a title was probably too silly even for a Fergal O'Brien novel I tried to find a cricket pun that Brian Johnson might have enjoyed. I finally settled on Take the Money and Run, a title which sums up Fergal's whole philosophy of life...
The book is now available from amazon.
Fergal O’Brien and Randolph McDougal have suffered bad times before, but when they walk into Paradise they are at their worst. Footsore and hungry, they don’t have a cent to their names, but when Fergal hears about a contest between the old and new parts of town, he sees an opportunity to rebuild their fortunes. The only trouble is, the contest is a cricket match and Fergal has no idea what cricket is.
Worse is to follow when Fergal and Randolph are victims of mistaken identity leading to Sheriff Merryweather suspecting they are outlaws. Then the fearsome gunslinger Tex Porter sets out to raid Paradise’s bank, which claims to be unbreakable.
If Fergal is going to complete his plan to make a lot of money quickly and then leave town, he’ll have to find a way to appease Sheriff Merryweather, defeat Tex Porter and, hardest of all, learn the laws of cricket.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016


Endsville is the first of my Harlan Finchley novels that I've now rebranded as an I.J. Parnham novel. In this case it's a western with a twist.

This story is a good example of what happens to writers who don't plan their stories in advance, for better or worse. This tale started as a traditional western. A bandit gang raids a train and everything goes according to plan until their leader is wounded. They flee with a marshal in pursuit and are forced to hole up in Endsville, a small town filled with mean-eyed and tight-lipped folk who don't take kindly to strangers.

At this point I was reasonably sure where the tale would go with shoot-outs, chases and showdowns, but then to my surprise the plot took an unexpected twist, and all because one character laughed at an inappropriate time. Then everything took a turn towards the horrific and the story became The Wild Bunch meets Texas Chain-saw Massacre...

The book is now available from all good amazon stores.

When Bodie McCloud’s outlaw gang steal the railroad payroll, at first their raid goes off without a hitch, but then their carefully laid plans start to crumble.

Bodie is wounded. Then the fresh horses that were supposed to aid their quick escape are no longer where they left them. Worse is it to follow when the gang suspect that a traitor is in their midst.
With no choice, they hole up in the dead-end town of Endsville where the inevitable recriminations threaten to tear the gang apart. But, just as everyone is thinking that their situation is as bad as it can get, they face their greatest threat – the horror that lurks in Endsville.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Harlan Finchley must die!

It's been a long time coming, but I've finally decided to bump off that pesky critter Harlan Finchley.

Harlan hasn't been much of a secret as I use the same publisher name for all my self-publishing ventures, but for the record I have written stories using pen-names other than I. J. Parnham. So as not to confuse my fan-base (stop laughing, please) I thought it best to publish my stories that weren't traditional westerns under another name. I chose Harlan Finchley, the hopeful and probably hopeless writer who appeared in The Treasure of Saint Woody.

Not surprisingly, with no promotion and no marketing effort on my part, the stories then devoted themselves to trying to answer that old philosophical question of whether trees that fall in forests without anyone hearing them actually make a sound, or in this case whether if a book is published and nobody notices did it actually get published.

Whatever the answer, the stories settled down to having sales ranks in the millions. One book even reached a rank of over three million and it was trying hard to be the worst selling book on amazon until I went one better with a book that sold nothing for a year until it finally sold a copy, only for it to get returned the next day.

I decided on that day that I either accepted the books were rubbish and gave up, or I accepted the books were rubbish and admitted I wrote them. I decided on the latter and so my Kindle I. J. Parnham bibliography has now expanded with several offbeat westerns, science-fiction and fantasy titles. Over the next few weeks I'll say a few words about each of them on here.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Massacre at Bluff Point now available on Kindle

Massacre at Bluff Point is available on Kindle. It was my 15th Black Horse Western, and the third and final book featuring Ethan Craig.

Republishing my books on Kindle has brought up many surprises, and this was another one as I'd forgotten that I'd written three Ethan Craig books. At the time I now recall I'd intended to write more stories, but along the way Ethan just passed from my thoughts.
The intention was that he was an ordinary bloke with no special gun skills or ingenuity, but who somehow survives and wins through. The other intention was that each book would be very different. So Bad Day in Dirtwood was a gritty homesteaders defending their patch tale, while Six-shooter Bride was a light-hearted romance. This book was the wrongly accused man clears his name tale.
I guess, now that I think about it, that it was the variety and lack of a common theme that stopped me from continuing his adventures.
The book is now available from all good amazon stores.
Ethan Craig picked the wrong day to start working for Sam Pringle’s outfit. Within hours of joining up, Ansel Stark’s bandit gang bushwhacked the outfit at Bluff Point and Ethan saw all his new colleagues gunned down in cold blood.
He vowed to get his revenge, but before Ethan could get his manhunt underway his bad luck continued when for the second time he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and Sheriff Henry Fisher arrested him. His presumed crime was being a member of the very gang he’d sworn to track down!
With nobody believing his innocence and a ruthless bandit to catch, can Ethan ever hope to succeed?

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Back in the Black Horse saddle again

I'm pleased to report that The Crowood Press have agreed to publish my western Marshal of the Barren Plains.

I actually wrote this book last year. I'd finished it, printed it off, and stuck it in an envelope ready to post to Robert Hale. Then I logged on to Royal Mail to print off a stamp only for the site to clog up and refuse to print, so I amused myself for a few minutes while I waited for it to clear. And it was then that I read the news that Hale had just announced they were closing.

Anyhow, I waited a while before trying the new publisher of the Black Horse series and I was delighted to find they are just as approachable and just as quick to report back as Hale was. So I remain hopeful that the series is in good hands and should keep going for a while longer, or at least until Dodgy Dave burns down the last library and stomps on the ashes.

This book returns to one of my favourite locales of the Barren Plains and this time, after getting several mentions in previous books, it finally has scenes set at the Bleak Point silver mine at the heart of the Barren Plains.

It'll be my 34th Black Horse Western and I guess it'll be out some time in 2017. Here's my draft blurb:

When Marshal Rattigan Fletcher failed to stop Jasper Minx raiding the town bank, the angry townsfolk forced him to leave Ash Valley in disgrace. Rattigan went west in pursuit of Jasper, and in the inhospitable Barren Plains he got a chance to put right his mistake.
Rattigan is hired to find out why men from the Bleak Point silver mine have been disappearing in mysterious circumstances. As Jasper now works at the mine, Rattigan doesn't have to look far for a culprit, but Jasper claims he's not responsible. With the miners siding with Jasper, Rattigan will need to rediscover his tarnished instincts as a lawman if he is ever to solve the mystery and bring his Nemesis to justice.