All posts by Dougie Brimson

Best known for penning the multi-award winning film, Green Street, I have fifteen book on my backlist as well as a further two films. Details of my work and extremely varied life can be found within this very blog!

General Galtieri – my part in his Falklands downfall.

Falklands, Britain, Thatcher, ArgentinaI am a Falklands Veteran. Yes, that’s right, 39 years ago I was one of those brave souls who headed south to drive the invading Argentinean scum from our land.

However, I have a confession to make. You see I wasn’t one of the amazing Para’s  who yomped across the Islands carrying a weight akin to a medium sized child on  their backs, nor was I one of the sailors who spent their war bobbing up and down  on waves which, from the films I’ve seen, gave them a ride like a non-stop trip on  the Big One at Blackpool.

No, my war was easy. More importantly, it was fun.

You see as a member of her majesties Royal Air Force, my war was spent on the relative luxury of Wideawake Airfield on Ascension Island which, for those that don’t know, is a pile of volcanic rock in the middle of the Atlantic. Being close to the Equator, it’s also quite warm. Well, very warm.

Now I won’t go into what my actual job was (I’d have to hunt you all down and kill you) but after a very exciting flight down, most of which was spent in the cockpit of a VC10 talking UFO’s with the crew –well at least those who were awake-  it involved a lot of sitting around and waiting. Now this sounds fun and to be honest, as someone who does pretty much that for a living now, it generally is. But when you’re at war and both chaos and uncertainty are all around you, you do kind of get caught up in things and so in an effort to do my bit, I ended up working with the American Fire Crews who, it’s fair to say, pretty much ran the Island. As a result, I would be tasked with all kinds of odd things from dragging extremely stubborn donkeys from the runway with a Landrover through to Ascension Island Falklands War, Harrier, Royal Air Forcesorting through the endless pallets of gifts which had been sent down to the Task Force from the fabulous people back home. Gifts which included everything from beer and fags to hard core porn!

And when I wasn’t doing that, I spent my time doing everything from swimming with what I later learned to be sea-water Piranhas (yes, really) and trying to break into the NASA station in the middle of the Island through to being spied on by the SAS. And that really is a tale!

I was also prone to playing practical jokes on people. Jokes which included placing a huge land crab in my bosses sleeping bag which he only found when he climbed into it after a 24 hour shift and scaring the shit out of the intelligence officers by hiding in their porta-loo in the middle of the night and screaming ‘BOO!’ when they pulled the door open. Trust me, the impact that can have when you’ve been told to expect an Argentinean Special Forces attack is quite dramatic!

Of course, things changed dramatically when rumours of the Vulcan raids began to break -and I cannot even begin to describe what it was like to be involved with those- and once our fabulous soldiers had actually landed and the fight to reclaim the Islands began, even those of us thousands of miles away felt like we really were at war. Which of course, we were.

And then the losses began, and when the injured started to drift back I started to actually understand the realities of war for those who had been on the front line. That really was an experience I will never forget nor is it one I would ever want to repeat. Humbling doesn’t come close.

A Vulcan. Given the lack of Victor tankers in this picture, I suspect they might have been 'orf somewhere!
A Vulcan. Given the lack of Victor tankers in this picture, I suspect they might have been ‘orf somewhere!

Victories were of course, celebrated in time-honoured style but oddly, the actual surrender came as something of an anti-climax. But whilst I remember exactly where I was when I heard it, nothing much changed for me, at least not initially. My job, such as it was, continued whilst supplies still had to sorted, planes still took off and landed and donkeys still had to moved!

When troops started making their way back it actually became even busier and in fact one of my most emotional periods of the entire war came when a Hercules full of Harrier lads landed en route back home. Amongst them were lads I knew personally having worked with them on 4 Squadron in Germany only months previous.

Then out of the blue came the news that I was to go home. In fact, I was the first RAF serviceman on Ascension Island to be told that their job had been stood down which is something I’m quite proud of. Within days, I was geared up to head back to the UK, thankfully, on the very plane that the new (and first) Station Warrant Officer arrived on and those of you with experience of the RAF will know what that means!

My arrival back at RAF Brize Norton was unintentionally hilarious as I flew back with a group of those special men from Hereford who had no intention of hanging around for the elaborate ceremony that had been organised to welcome back the other soldiers on the plane (Cue potentially very violent stand-off!). This being followed by a three-hour wait for a car to take me back to Abingdon and a row with the orderly Sergeant who refused to take my rifle off me. Hence my having to sleep with it in my bed.

And that was that. Not for me the civic receptions nor the big parades but I cherish my South Atlantic campaign medal and am as proud of that as I am of anything I have ever done before or since.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. War may be hell for some but for many it’s also where they feel more alive than you can possibly imagine. Even those of us who played only a minor part.

argentina, falklands war, thatcher, royal airforce, nimrod, vulcan, harrierTo all those who lost loved ones or who have endured untold suffering since 1982, please do not think for one second that I am trying to belittle what you have gone and are going though. Nothing could be further from the truth as I am, and continue to be, in awe of you all.

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordAll of my books, including the comedy Wings of a Sparrow  are available in ebook and paperback format from either Amazon or iTunes.

The audio version of In The Know is also now available to download and joins the ebook, paperback and movie to make the clean sweep of all platforms! Not too shabby if I say so myself.

With my latest venture, Red Bus Movies, now up and running, work continues apace on a variety of movie projects including a brand new comedy I’ve written with my We Still Kill The Old Way co-writer, Gary Lawrence about a group of very special old ladies. More on this very soon.

 armed forces, hooligan, british film, top dog, green street, self publishing, manchester united, liverpool, sex, maggie thatcher, veteran, UKIP, tory Argentina

green street, falklands, top dog, martin kemp, leo gregory, author, writing, screenwriting, script, hooliganism, violence, football, soccer, war, Ukraine, Russia, Crimea, sex, porn, perversion

Why the battle over taking the knee is no longer simply about race.

A lot of people have asked me for my opinion on the issue of taking the knee and as anyone who follows me on social media will be aware, I’ve certainly been vocal on the subject for the the last few months. However, it’s all but impossible to debate on twitter for reasons I will expand on in a moment and besides, you only have a limited amount of characters and time. So for the record, here’s my opinion on the current situation.

If you agree, please feel free to copy and post the link to it on your own social media pages and/or leave a comment at the end. If you disagree, then that’s fine with me. We do after all live in a free country. Something a certain section of society seem to have forgotten.

So…

Whilst footballers taking the knee prior to kick off’s obviously started with good if misguided intentions, what has unfolded over the last few months has turned it into something very different.

To be clear, 99.9% of football fans have actively supported Kick It Out since its inception and the same applies to pretty much every anti-discrimination campaign that has used football as a vehicle. Generally, football fans are a supportive bunch be it related to race, disability or sexuality and it takes an awful lot to get us fired up. Indeed, in my book Rebellion I documented some of the more well known times when football fans actually stood up to be counted in the face of adversity or injustice.

We are seeing one such time unfolding right now. For whilst Sky, the BBC and many of the Premier League clubs are portraying it as a universally supported movement, this is most definitely not the case. There is actually a growing number of supporters, myself included, who are fiercely opposed to players continuing to take a knee. The reason however, is not because we are in any way opposed to the anti-racism or anti-discrimination message, far from it. It’s because we believe that it is a political gesture which has a symbolic association with an idealism that is totally unacceptable to us and as such, like the Black Power salute, is actually banned from being displayed inside football grounds under both FA and FIFA rules.  And if you continue to harbour the misguided belief that it is none of this is political, just click here where you will find confirmation on Kick It Out’s very own website.

However, the longer this has gone on, it has become increasingly apparent that this is no longer just about being anti-discrimination. It’s actually developed into something much bigger. For fuelled by social media and aided by the fact that stadia are empty of supporters, taking the knee has gone beyond the issue of racism and has become the latest battleground in a series of confrontations between the left and the right.

If you doubt that, you need look no further than the profiles of the keyboard warriors ranting on twitter or reporting people to their clubs trying to get them banned (and I’ve actually had that happen to me more than once over the last two weeks). They’re mostly young with zero life experience, usually students (with zero life experience) and always fuelled by the kind of 6th form left-wing politics that grown ups tend to leave behind when they’ve actually had to make their own way in the world. Some of them don’t even seem to follow football at all, they’re just jumping on the latest leftwaffe cause. In essence, they are the Corbynista in football shirts.

With this one however, there is one very significant difference from the battles we’ve seen previously.

You see despite all the social media screaming, the protests, the crazy polls and the Corbyn frenzy, the rabid left lost the EU referendum and were decimated at the last election because when push came to shove, the silent majority (middle England if you like) stood up just as they always do and slapped them down with a home truth or two.

With the knee, there is no referendum or election looming and therefore no opportunity for the right-wing and more sensible among us to apply the traditional reality check. As a consequence, with Brexit now done and Labour in disarray, this could well be the fanatical lefts last chance to win any kind of moral or faux political success for quite some time. Football is after all, traditionally working class and has a history of right wing political involvement so it’s always been a natural target for their angst. Something we saw with their maniacal opposition to the FLA/DFLA which was immediately tagged as a far-right group when it was anything but.

Hence, despite all the evidence to the contrary from fans opposed to taking the knee -including many black and Asian supporters- they will continue to throw the racist card at anyone who expresses opposition to taking the knee for as long as they possibly can. The aim being to drive division into the game and create the kind of racial hostility that they’ve continued to claim is rife on the ‘terraces’ when the truth is that it hasn’t actually existed to any degree since the 80’s. This division will inevitably lead to confrontation of some kind with the end result being that we’ll see those opposed to taking the knee being even further oppressed by the game if not banned altogether purely on the basis of their fictitious racism. Eventually, the left wing will be left free to claim that ‘they’ rid the game of racists and football, ever terrified of the racism accusation, will let them.

The problem is though, that just like they always do, they’ve succumbed to their undying thirst for power and instead of using basic common sense, they’re blowing it. Again. And the reason is because people opposed to the knee are starting to get organised and fight back. The clamour for the anti-knee argument to be properly heard and discussed is growing. Fast.

Currently, the pro-knee activists and those riding the anti-racist gravy train still have the option to keep control, take a step back and say ‘OK, we’ve made our point we need to stop it now’. This would immediately shut the problem down and allow them to save a degree of face whilst still being able to claim a moral victory of sorts. Instead, never a group to learn lessons from the past, they’re continuing to follow their traditional path and have started to dig in with even more ludicrous attacks and a blanket refusal to even understand, let alone accept, that you can be anti-racism and anti-knee.

But by doing so, they are backing themselves into a corner and it’s one from which there is no escape route. This can’t continue forever and eventually the game (ironically the very manifestation of capitalism) is going to have to back down. It might be due to the FA or FIFA actually growing a pair and enforcing its own rules, it might be due to demands from Sky or sponsors but it’s more likely going to be because the football industry will realise that by allowing it to continue, it’s possibly backed the wrong horse. And as the anti-knee lobby start to get really organised and fight back not from behind a keyboard, but by taking more direct action, the game is looking at a PR nightmare that it cannot afford to be on the losing side of.

That’s almost certainly one of the key reasons why clubs have been desperately pumping out statements claiming that players are not actually showing support for Black Lives Matter but that’s not fooling anyone except the gullible. Indeed, if that were the case, why not follow Millwall’s highly successful example and simply stand together as a gesture? Everyone would support that. Everyone.

Similarly, it would explain why Sky have just thrown their hat in with Kick It Out in an effort to try and dilute the growing BLM backlash but again, it’s not fooling anyone. In fact the negative publicity surrounding fans being banned or ‘re-educated’ merely for expressing an opinion is actually making things worse. And that’s without the media backlash against players acting like complete twats during a pandemic because they think they’re untouchable.

The big fear of course, is what’s going to happen when fans are let back in en masse because that could turn very bad very quickly. Indeed the climbdown after the Millwall game was really telling. The game and Sky daren’t make another mistake like that because there are enough fans cancelling subscriptions as it is and I’m already hearing talk of organised boycotts of major sponsors not to mention more protests of the kind we’ve been seeing at Swansea.

Quite what’s going to happen over the next few weeks is anyone’s guess but the sad fact is that I will merely be an interested observer. For after five decades of following Watford Football Club, I have informed them that as a veteran, I will not accept their feeble attempt to rebrand a gesture that has a clear and direct association to an organisation that only a few months ago, was attacking my comrades and monuments to the fallen. As a consequence, whilst I will continue to support the anti-discrimination cause in all my work, Watford will receive neither my support nor my money for the foreseeable future.

They may or may not miss me, I neither know nor care, but staying away is the only course of action I, as an individual, can take. And ultimately, that’s what it boils down to. Those of us opposed to the knee each have the power to force a stop to this but we cannot rely on anyone to fight our corner because there is no one. Instead, we must each play our part be it by writing to our clubs, the FA, FIFA, Sky, etc and informing them that not only are we against the knee and why, but telling them what we are going to do in protest. Be it booing, turning our back, boycotting games, protesting outside stadia, handing back our season tickets, cancelling subscriptions or anything else. Arguing on twitter achieves nothing, collectively hitting them in the pocket is the single most positive thing we can do.

Join me.

@dougiebrimson

Dougie Brimson has written three award-winning feature films (Green Street, Top Dog and We Still Kill The Old Way) and is the author of 16 books including the best-selling Billy Evans gangland trilogy. His latest thriller, In The Know, was published by Caffeine Knights in May 2020.

His next novel will be his first military thriller and will be published in 2021.

All his previous books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

So your novel has been optioned. Now what?

 A cautionary tale.

Hollywood has come calling, or maybe Pinewood but who cares? Your novel, your baby, is heading for the screen.

What happens next is entirely down to one single thing; budget. The best case scenario will involve huge option payments, a steady stream of expensive lunches in exclusive Soho clubs and for the lucky few, business class flights to Hollywood. The more likely scenario will involve coffee’s in dingy Starbucks, lots of phone calls and a significantly smaller option fee. In some cases, there may well be no option fee at all. At least not one worth of the name.

I’ve had both those experiences, many times in fact. But whilst the latter may not be the experience of choice, it never detracts from the excitement and nor should it. This is the dream.

It is worth noting however, that it can all end in a heartbeat and  there will be nothing you can do about it. Honestly, if you think getting a book published is hard work, try making a movie. It’s like juggling fish in the dark.

However, assuming that things unfold as you hope they will, one of the first issues you’ll encounter is the adaption process and I thought it might be worth looking at this particular aspect. For as someone who’s trod that particular path, it’s one that not many authors tend to consider.

In many, if not most cases, the decision of who will adapt your novel will be taken out of your hands anyway. The producers will have a list of screenwriters in mind and whilst they may well ask you to meet with them, it will be as much out of courtesy as anything else.

In this case you only have one choice which is the infinitely more sensible one of taking the money (as much as you or your agent can get upfront) and settling back to enjoy the ride.

There will however, be times when the opportunity to write the adaptation will be handed to the author themselves. Tempting though it is to bite their hands off, I would urge anyone considering accepting such an offer to think very carefully before agreeing to take it on.

It should be fairly obvious that screenwriting is a very different discipline from writing for publication and it brings with it very different challenges. Many of these centre on the fact that film making is a collaborative rather than a solitary process and that ultimately what ends up on screen won’t be your vision for your story, it will be the directors.

What that means in real terms is that whilst the director will work with you to get the best from you that they possibly can, the harsh reality is that if you can’t deliver what they want they will replace you. In fact that will be written into your contract. Whilst it’s not happened to me -yet- I know others it has happened to and in every case it had a huge impact on both their pride and their confidence.

Even if you do deliver, it’s important to understand that as the first link in the creative chain, your role, whilst vital initially, will rapidly reach a point where it is all but dispensed with.

This can be tough to handle, very tough. Not least because if you’re not careful, watching others make changes to your work without any input from you can very quickly start to feel personal. When it’s your own adaptation of your own novel, those feelings can be magnified ten fold.

And those changes will come thick and fast. If you think that your first efforts will be anywhere near close to a shooting script, think again. The screenplay I adapted from my novel Top Dog, which we filmed in 2014, went through something like 11 rewrites. Each one the result of input from various involved parties with far more power than I. I even had to change the ending and if you know anything about me, you will know how important those are to me!

Indeed, the list of factors that might have an impact on your script would fill a lengthy volume. One of the strangest I encountered with Top Dog was the casting. For with the original book being a sequel, my central character was like an old mate. Yet when the actor Leo Gregory was cast in the role, as good as he is he could not have been more different from the image I’d had in my head for over 15 years. That was a huge and quite difficult mental adjustment to make. One made all the more difficult because the pressure to get into pre-production was already growing.

Eventually of course, you will deliver a script that everyone is happy with but then will come possibly the most difficult part for you as a writer. The part where you have to relinquish even the last shred of what little control you actually had.

From that point on, you will have no input whatsoever save for the occasional short rewrite to suit a demand from the director or producer. You will certainly have no right to make any changes yourself or discuss anything relating to the script with the actors even if they ask you. In fact interfering with anything on a set can have huge and usually unpleasant consequences. A lesson I learned on my first feature, Green Street, which resulted in me being banned from the set altogether.

As a consequence, you’ll have to sit back and watch actors perform scenes and deliver lines in ways that are nothing like how you imagined them when you committed them to paper. For many writers, that can be toughest and most frustrating time of all. Indeed there are plenty of screenwriters, even well established ones, who will never venture anywhere near a film set for that very reason.

So is it worth adapting your own novel for the screen? Of course it is. As soul destroying as the film business can be it can also provide amazing and unique experiences. From playing football with Elijah Wood to watching highly choreographed fight scenes unfold before your very eyes, film sets can be glorious places. There will also be occasions where the actors will replicate your version of your script down to the very last vocal inflection. Trust me, those albeit rare moments will make any amount of pain and anguish worthwhile.

It can also do wonders for your ego, your status, your future and your bank balance and if you think seeing your book on the shelves in Waterstones is a thrill, wait until you see you name on a film poster on the underground.

Just make sure that if you do venture into the world of film, whatever path you take, make sure you take every step with your eyes propped wide open.

@dougiebrimson

Dougie Brimson has written three award-winning feature films (Green Street, Top Dog and We Still Kill The Old Way) and is the author of 16 books including the best-selling Billy Evans gangland trilogy. His latest thriller, In The Know, was published by Caffeine Knights in May 2020.

His next novel will be his first military thriller and will be published in Spring 2021.

All his previous books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

*A version of this article was first published in the Crime Writers Association magazine, Red Herrings.*

Five reasons why writing a novel is better than writing a screenplay.

author,screenwriter,ebook,self publishing,indie filmThe other day, someone pointed out that I am one of a very few writers who have enjoyed a degree of success with both books and screenplays. Not only that, but according to them I also hold the dubious honour of covering a range of genre which very few writers anywhere can match.

Whilst I’m not sure about any of that, it is fair to say that in a writing sense I have certainly been about a bit. Mostly, it has to be said, because I get bored easily.

However, whenever the subject of my work comes up it inevitably leads to one particular question and that is ‘which one do you enjoy working on the most?’

Whilst both have their merits, and leaving aside the simple truth that I’ll write anything for anyone who pays me, the answer is always the same. Because if I have a blank page and am left to my own devices, I will start writing a book. All day, every day. And for five very specific reasons.

It’s easier to write – That might shock a few people but the truth is that I can have far more creative fun constructing a 75,000 word novel than I can working on a 110 pages script. And if I’m having fun, I can promise you that the words will be pouring out of me as opposed to having to be dragged out. Something which not only makes it easy for me to write but which will almost certainly make for a better read once it’s finished. 

It’s easier to produce – Working with publishers can be hard work sometimes but if all else fails, I always have the option of self-publishing. It might not see the shelves of Waterstone’s or WH Smiths but let’s face it, it will certainly see Amazon and if it sells and is earning, who cares? Certainly not me.

With a film, the whole process is a nightmare which can fall apart at any moment. That’s if it gets anywhere at all which to be frank, it often doesn’t.

Control – With a book, I have no restrictions on subject matter, genre or even length. Being able to write what I want, when I want and just as importantly, say what I want, is not only liberating, it makes the whole thing both more interesting and enjoyable for me. If you need any more proof of that, have a look at my backlist and you’ll see a book about farting. Case rested. 

With a screenplay, once I hand it over I have no control over anything. At all.

The End Result – A book is mine. All mine. Praise or criticism are therefore personal and either enjoyed or dealt with as appropriate and I’m fine with that. A film however, is only mine if someone slags off the script even though by the time the camera’s roll, my input into the development process will have ended ages ago. 

The people – For an author, publishing is a relatively solitary game and as someone who prefers his own company, that’s exactly how I like it. For a screenwriter, the writing process is part solitude, part collaboration, part chaos. This would be great if it were an industry inhabited solely by nice hard-working honest people but sadly, it isn’t. Instead, amongst the many awesome individuals I’ve worked with are far too many arseholes who, if they aren’t simple crooks, are either bullshitters or incapable of making a decision. Or both.

So there you have it. Five reasons why I’d write a book over a movie any day of the week. And with that in mind, I’m happy if not delighted to announce that work is currently well underway on my 18th book which will be my first military based thriller. In the meantime, book number 17 has already hit the shelves. The third book on the Billy Evans trilogy, it’s entitled In The Know and is, if I say so myself, a cracker.

You can order it, as with all my books, my clicking on the following links. Amazon  iTunes

@dougiebrimson

Why ‘write what you know’ is the best advice you’ll ever hear.

football. soccer, writing, screenwriting, author, indie, film, screenplay, hooligansIn terms of advice handed to potential scribes, be they of the book or screenplay variety, ’write what you know’ is fairly standard fare.

Ironically, it’s a piece of guidance which is often ignored by those starting out on the rocky road of penmanship but the reality is that there are very sound reasons why it should be at number one in the newbies ‘take on board’ list.

Not only does it save both time and money on research, it side-steps potentially catastrophic flaws of the kind which will not only undermine the credibility of the book or film, but which will come to haunt you forever. And yes, that’s the voice of experience talking.

But more importantly, if you have extensive experience of something it stands to reason that your intimate knowledge will impact on pretty much everything you commit to paper. Be it in the language used, the authenticity of locations or even basic detail of the kind which will turn a good read into a great read. Thus, with all this stuff coming naturally, all of your time and effort can go into learning about plotting and character development which is, to be fair, where they should be going. At least initially.

I, of course, have followed this nugget of wisdom religiously and continue to do so. I write about football, hooliganism and blokey things because I know about football, hooliganism and blokey things and whilst I’m fairly certain that my output won’t cause any ripples at either BAFTA or the Booker Prize, if people like what I’m doing enough to buy or watch it, that’ll more than do for me.

There is however, one other subject I have in depth knowledge and experience of and that’s the military. Indeed, I’m often asked why, having served eighteen years in the Royal Air Force, I’ve never written anything remotely connected to Her Majesties Armed Forces.

Well, I can finally announce that this glaring oversight has at long last been addressed for I currently have not one, but two military themed movies in development.

As is usual with these things, I can’t say too much about either project other than to tell you that both are very different in tone and subject matter and they are also way past the second draft script stage with one actually very close to receiving the famous green light. In fact, some of the feedback on this particular script has been without question, the best I’ve ever received so I’m obviously quite excited about it.

Anyway, if all goes to plan a deal to take it into pre-production will be concluded this week and then it’ll be all systems go. Literally!

Dougie Brimson has written three award-winning feature films (Green Street, Top Dog and We Still Kill The Old Way) and is the author of 16 books including the best-selling Billy Evans gangland trilogy. His latest thriller, In The Know, was published by Caffeine Knights in May 2020.

His next novel will be his first military thriller and will be published in Spring 2021.

All his previous books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

*A version of this article was first published in the Crime Writers Association magazine, Red Herrings.*

football, soccer, England, premier league, watford, manchester united, chelsea, hooligan, russia 2018, racism, racist, UKIP, top dog, we still kill the old way, independent film, self publishing, acting, author, screenwriter, screenwriting, gangster,  RAF, Army, Afghanistan, Iraq, krays

 

The business of writing: finding motivation.

write,writing,screenwriting,screenplay,author,hooligan,football,soccer,independent film,When asked about writing, author Neil Gaiman once famously said, “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”

He is of course, spot on, well, almost. You see for me the hardest part of the writing process isn’t the actual creativity element, it’s the physical one. Or to be more specific, the act of dragging myself to my desk and actually sitting down at my computer. This is a torture I have to endure on an almost daily basis.

I blame my father, and the military. You see despite his undoubted talent as both a musician and comedian, my dad was staggeringly lazy and this is one of the many bad habits I’ve inherited from him. It began whilst I was in the Royal Air Force when much of my time was spent employing the ‘minimum input, maximum output’ approach to service life and to be fair, I was bloody good at it. Just ask anyone who worked with me.

Inevitably, this lifestyle has also infected my career as a writer although even I know that it’s a luxury I can ill afford. If I don’t write it, it doesn’t get written and if it doesn’t get written, I don’t eat or get to go to *football/stock car racing/cinema/restaurants *delete as appropriate.

As a consequence, most mornings I have to force myself away from the sofa and the delights of whatever movie I recorded the day before and go through what is an increasingly defined ritual to begin my working day. I won’t go into it all as it’s starting to get a bit OCD like, but it is safe to say that both coffee and Solar Radio feature as prominent kick starters in my motivational process!

Occasionally however, I don’t have any trouble getting to my desk. Indeed, sometimes I can’t actually wait to get started and when I hit that point, I know I’m onto something solid. Thankfully, I am there right now. Not once, but twice.

The first project I’m excited about is my next book which will be my first military thriller. It’s actually based on a script I wrote a couple of years ago which is currently in the process of being financed and is a truly cracking story set around the RAF. And that’s all you’re getting for now.

The second project I’m working on is based on another screenplay I wrote a few years ago, this one for a potential TV series. Sadly, despite some initial interest it fell by the wayside as so many projects do. However, one of the things I loved about the script was the central character and so did a producer friend in the US. So when she was recently asked by a Hollywood studio to pitch a new movie project within the same genre as my comatose show, she immediately thought of my creation. One thing led to another and we’re now at the point where the green light is beginning to flicker.

It’s all very exciting and hopefully, I’ll be able to pass on the details soon.

Speaking of likeable characters, you may or may not have noticed that my favourite anti- hero has returned with a vengeance (literally) in the third book in the Billy Evans trilogy.

To say In The Know has been well received would be an understatement with 5* reviews across the board both on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s also sold out the first print run which is fantastic (new stock is on the way as I type) so can I thank everyone who’s read it so far and taken the trouble to post a review.

Oddly, given that it’s a trilogy and all three books have already been published, I’m already being asked when the next one is coming. I actually have a few ideas for Billy including a prequel, but like all things, it will be wholly dependent on how well this one does sales wise. Mind you, a film adaptation would certainly help and that may well be in the mix already.

Watch this space. And please, stay safe everyone.


football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watford
Just in case you didn’t know already, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes


author, screenwriting, writer, script, football, soccer, sport, independent, film, self publishing, hooligan, gangs

e9c2d86a77eb85e9b94deb9705acd122dee4689dcdf7201be330e1282aa23b0e

I’m a mid-list author and I earn my living by writing books that sell. What’s wrong with that?

money, writing, publishing, brimsonI have an admission to make: my name is Dougie Brimson and I am a professional writer. That isn’t an introduction to some kind of warped author or screenwriters anonymous group, it’s a statement of fact.

I mention it because the other day someone asked me what motivates me to write and having thought about it at length, the one thought that kept entering my head was ‘what a stupid bloody question!’ Let’s get this clear once and for all; I write for two reasons: 1. I’m a lazy bastard who likes sitting down all day and 2. I need to make money to facilitate item 1.

That seems fair enough to me but for some strange reason it doesn’t seem to sit well with the literati. For them, the very idea of a writer admitting to being motivated by income rather than some holier-than-thou desire to ‘create’ is almost akin to admitting a being a Brexiter and admiring Margret Thatcher. Mind you, both of those are true of me too.

I have never really understood this thinking. After all, writing anything  isn’t just bloody hard work it takes an awful lot of time as well of a degree of talent so if you’re going to do it, surely the aim must be to get the final work published or filmed? Yet that will only happen if someone thinks that there is potential to sell copies or put bums on seats and if either of these things happen, you make money. That’s how it works and that’s why they are  called the publishing business and the film business.

Yet for some reason, if you as a writer approach the process by looking at the market and giving it what it actually wants as opposed to what some commissioning editor or producer thinks it should have, you are regarded almost as a traitor to the art form. Believe me, I’ve met people who work in publishing, and film for that matter, who genuinely seem to consider being popular as something to be ashamed of (see my blog: Why are publishers so scared of lad-lit).

Well sod that. I might never win the Booker prize or receive invites to the Hay festival, I might not even be able to persuade independent bookshops to stock my work, but I know my market, I know what it wants and I’m happy to provide it with as much as I can and as often as I can. If the literary world doesn’t get that simple commercial reality then screw them.

The reason why this is so relevant is because as some people are already aware, In The Know, the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy has just been published and whilst I’m looking forward to seeing it on various bookshelves, I’m equally excited about knowing that it’s available to download as an ebook.

There are numerous reasons for this (most of which are quite tedious) but the two main ones have to do with speed and money.

It can take months, sometimes years, for a manuscript to make the journey from laptop to Waterstones and even longer for the meagre percentage of the cover price to reach the authors bank. With less and less independent bookshops stocking books like mine, that means either my publisher selling direct via their website or relying almost entirely on Amazon or online stores. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, far from it. Quite why I’m expected to show loyalty to indie book stores just because I’m an author genuinely escapes me when they do absolutely nothing for me at all.

However, with an ebook, especially a self-published eBook, it can be online, on sale and on Kindles within hours and any royalties in the bank within 3 months. More importantly, even though eBooks are significantly cheaper than paperbacks, that royalty is higher.

As a professional writer, that’s significant because at the end of the day, whilst I’ve sold plenty of books (around 1,000,000 at the last count) I’m not JK Rowling or Jeffrey Archer and I don’t get offered 6 figure advances. My income is generated primarily by sales. Equally, writing for the market I do, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll get my books reviewed in the mainstream media nor will I feature in the Sunday supplements spread across a comfy sofa so the chances of crossing over into the mainstream are minimal at best.

Don’t get me wrong, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I appreciate every single email, tweet, letter or comment I receive about my writing and when it comes to motivation, nothing works as effectively as praise from readers. But I also appreciate the income that my work generates if for no other reason than it buys me time, food and motorcycles. So anything I can do to increase that income and the speed with which it arrives, has to be a good thing.

The downside of course, is that by stepping away from the more traditional publishing route I’m actually taking work away from the very people who have for years been in control of my career.

I get no pleasure from that and with my paperbacks now being printed in Poland, I’ll certainly miss the thrill of watching my next book roll off the presses but at the end of the day, whilst my approach might not win me any friends in publishing, no editor would work for nothing and I’ll be buggered if I’m going to either.

violence, racism, racist, anal sex, oral sex, bum,On the subject of ebooks, it continues to astonish me that since it was first released as an ebook in November 2011, The Crew has almost continually held onto one of the top 2 slots on both its Amazon and iTunes chart and continues to receive 5* reviews as recently as yesterday.

Thank you to everyone who has brought copies and rest assured, as long as people keep buying them, I’ll keep writing them because to me, the reader is and always will be the most important person in the whole process. Which is kind of the point.

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fartDougie Brimson is the author of 16 books as well as the writer of a number of award winning movies including the cult classic, Green Street.

His books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

hooligan,hooliganism,writing,writer,author,screenwriting,greenstreet,sex

Everything you wanted to know about being an author (but were afraid to ask).

As I sit here pondering my navel during the madness of this lockdown and doing pretty much anything I can to avoid actually writing, I often stumble across things which not only make me laugh, but strike a chord. One of the most recent items to achieve this double whammy was an old blog I read entitled ‘Everything you wanted to know about being an author (but were afraid to ask).

The reason this caused such mirth in Brimson Towers was because this last week I’ve received not one, but two emails asking me about that very thing. Now in both cases, given that Matt Haig, the author of said original blog, is a far better and more accomplished writer than I will ever be and had pretty much said everything I would have said and more anyway, I simply passed on the link and wished the individual well.

However, as I mulled it over whilst standing in line at my local Co-Op yesterday (I needed Mozzarella, seriously) I decided that if I was going to accurately apply this excellent list to my own writing life and process, it would need a tweak or two.

So what follows is a bastardised version of the list in question. I have included the original in italics for reasons which will become obvious and hope that Mr Haig will accept my apology for brutalising his excellent efforts which, if you would like to read them, can be found here: 

1.     We live on toast. And cereal. And caffeine. And wine. But mainly toast.   Since I am banned from eating bread due to my lard arse frames dislike of wheat and rarely drink alcohol of any description, I only survive at all thanks to a daily plate of eggs and bacon, this being supplemented by a ready supply of Bourbons. On reflection, this could explain my aforementioned lard arsed frame.

2.     By the time our book comes out, it feels like a childhood memory. But more distant.   As a writer who is intent on spewing out books and screenplays on a scarily regular basis until such time as readers finally suss out that I am a talentless hack (a fact I am already well aware of), I am no longer hindered by the agonising time it takes publishers take to get books from emailed file to the shelves of Waterstones. Hence, when a book is released into the marketplace, or as I prefer to call it, Amazon, it is still scarily fresh in the memory.

3.     Our daily word-count was approximately three thousand words higher before the arrival of Facebook and Twitter.   Absolutely true. Indeed, there is a whole heap of irony to be found in the fact that whilst the world wide web provides the engine for what passes as my writing career, it also does all it can to slam it into reverse on an almost minute by minute basis. Proof of which can be found by looking at my Twitter and Facebook timelines.

4.     At parties someone will always say, ‘So have you written anything I’d have heard of?’ Or, ‘How are the books going?’ Both questions end in awkward silence.   Again, absolutely true although the reality is that I rarely get invited to parties. In fact for rarely, substitute never. I suspect people assume I will turn up, get pissed and wreck the place. This being as far from the truth as you could possibly get.

5.     If we were number two in the bestseller charts, the only book we would ever be thinking about is the one selling more.   Partially true. Well OK, mostly true. Although in some instances, I do look at who is languishing below me and mutter a smug ‘take that you fucker’ to myself.

6.     We never know if the book we are writing is the right one until we have written it. And even then we are not sure.   In my case, I know it’s the right one because I ask my readers in advance and they tell me what they want. That’s the joy of being an author who actually talks to the people who buys his books.

7.     It is harder to make friends after you become a writer than it was before. But way easier to make enemies.   True and very true.

8.     People think you are automatically a bit weird. (Or is that just me?)   No, it’s not just you. Although in my defence, I am actually a bit weird.

9.     We need editors ‘like a fat kid needs cake’ – to quote that sensitive literary soul, 50 Cent.   This is golden rule number 5 in Doug’s golden rule book of writing. It is so, so true.

10.    The best day is when we get to see our book cover. Unless we don’ t like the book cover in which case it is the worst day.   Being an independent author, my publishers involve me in developing covers from day one and often I have the final say so this isn’t the case for me. My best day is usually when I write ‘the end’ and the worst is when I realise that it usually isn’t.

11.    ‘Royalty statement’ is Latin for disappointment.   Thanks to the web, I see my sales figures on an almost daily basis. Sometimes they are orgasmic, other times I want to kill myself.

12.    We get stomach pains every time another writer wins something. (We have continual stomach pains).   Not only have I never won anything, I’ve never even been nominated. Come to that, I’ve never even been invited to anything where any author won anything. My stomach pains are entirely due to my Bourbon intake.

13.    We all want to be Hemingway, minus the suicide part.   I’m quite happy being me.

14.    We would probably all be writing poems, if people actually bought poems.   If I could earn a living writing football chants or perhaps greeting cards for lads, I’d be happy with that. Who wouldn’t?

15.    We spend a lot of our time going on five hour train journeys to events where eight people turn up (and only three of them buy the book).     The only events I get invited to involve either court or family and generally speaking, I tend to avoid both of them like the plague anyway.

16.    We chose not to choose life. We chose something else.   This is true. It’s called solitude.

17.    We are generally quite bad at dancing.   Untrue. I have the moves! Or at least I did before my back gave out.

18.    In most cases, the person we don’t like more than any other just happens to be another writer. But then, the person we admire most is one too.   This is true. Although in my case it is more to do with personality than the nature of their output.

19.    We may have our name on the front of a book but we always feel slightly outside the publishing industry, looking in. Like Keats at that metaphorical sweet-shop.   True. Despite my success I exist firmly on the outside of the publishing industry and always have. I fear that is unlikely to ever change.

20. If we were a neurotic wreck before we were published – and we were – we remain one afterwards. Our brain chemistry doesn’t fundamentally change.   This is absolutely true although my worst insecurities tend to be more about my other writing life. Screenplays are genuinely terror inducing.

21. If we get good reviews, we want good sales. If we get good sales, we want good reviews.   I want both. Is that too much to ask?

22. We are happy for five whole minutes after a book is sent off. Then we realise all the mistakes we made.   True. Although thanks to the magic that is the eBook, we can if need be, continually edit!

23. We start off wanting to be published. We get published. Then we want a nice review. We get a nice review. Then we want an award. We get an award. Then we want a film deal. We get a film deal. Then we want a film to be made. And so on. For ever. (We are never happy).   Well as previously discussed, I know I’ll never earn any kind of award although I have had a movie and plenty of film deals. Another West End premier would be nice though, I wasn’t actually invited to the first one… (long story)

24. If someone reads our work midway through the writing process we need them to faint in awe or it goes in the bin.   People are constantly reading my work at every stage from one-line idea to final manuscript. As a consequence, if they are happy, I am happy. If they’re not, I listen to what they say and change things until they are. They are legends!

25. We are a little bit lonely.   True. Thankfully, despite coming from a large family, I have always been a bit of a loner and my favourite company is er… me. That has stood me in good stead over the years.

26. Bad reviews are always taken personally. Always.   Totally and absolutely true.

27. Writing a novel is like a relationship. During the early stages every other possibility looks incredibly attractive. But commitment pays off.   True. And since manuscripts, like screenplays, are always females, there are occasions when you get to the end and are glad to see the back of her.

28. We rarely write in coffee shops.   True. Instead we watch and listen and use the fact that we are writers as an excuse for loitering. Or is that just me?

29. Writing is heaven. Re-writing is hell.   Oh god yes.

30. We are rubbish at other jobs. And DIY. And most other things too.   I was an engineer in a previous life so I can do pretty much anything. The biggest problem I have is getting myself motivated to actually do it whatever it is that needs doing.

31. We say the wrong things at parties.   I refer the honourable reader to the answer I gave some moments ago. I don’t get invited…

32. The definition of discomfort is the moment after your mother reads your semi-autobiographical novel.   Substitute ‘mother’ with ‘daughter’ and you’re about right.

33. There is no praise more treasured than that of an author you worship.   I wouldn’t know about this. It’s never happened.

34. The best book we have ever written is the one we are about to write.   It better be!

35. The best ideas we have are the ones that arrive accidentally.   True. In fact the idea for my next book actually arrived thanks to an accident. I was in hospital with my wife who had broken her arm when the plot came to me!

36. There is no email in the world nicer to receive than the one from a reader who has been moved by your work.   Oh yes. Thankfully, I have had many of those over the years and each and every one is valued.

37. We know, in our heart of hearts, that we have the very best job in the world.   The truest of all truths.

So there you have it.

Finally,  I’m happy, if not delighted to announce that work is currently well underway on my 18th book which will be my first military based thriller. However, before that, in a little over three weeks in fact, book number 17 hits the shelves. The third book on the Billy Evans trilogy, it’s entitled In The Know and is, if I say so myself, a cracker.

 

You can pre-order it, as with all my books, my clicking on the following links. Amazon  iTunes

@dougiebrimson

5 ways to handle bad reviews.

author,writing,review,amazon,ebook,self publishingFor any writer, be it of book, script, article or blog, reviews are not just important, they are vital.

Like it or not, good reviews sell books. 

However, as much as we’d like every review to be a glowing endorsement of our creativity, the reality is that if someone buys a book they also purchase the absolute right not to enjoy it. And alongside that comes the option to hit the internet and slaughter both the work and the author if they feel disappointed or worse, cheated.

This is obviously great when it happens to a rival but when it happens to you, and it will, it hurts. Bad. After all, if you’ve put your heart and soul into writing a book, having the former ripped from your chest and publicly stamped on is not exactly a barrel of laughs.

review,author,selfpublishing,amazon,writing,ebook
Just one of many I’ve had over the years.

Yet the sad fact is that no matter how good a writer you are, bad reviews are an inevitability and dealing with them goes with the territory. 

So how do you do it?

  1. Accept them for what they are: an individual opinion. Yes, they’re tough to accept and trust me when I tell you that a bad review can eat away at you forever. However, if you’re happy to wallow in the affirmation of a 5* review, you’re got to learn to take the 1* criticism.
  2. Never respond. Whilst it’s always tempting to rip into a bad reviewer like a rabid dog, leaving aside the fact that it’s bad manners, it’s also inviting trouble. Trolls love a good author spat and if they get hold of you they can do more damage to both your book and your career than you can ever imagine. Don’t give them that opportunity.
  3. Develop a thick skin, and fast. The more books you produce, the more negative reviews you’re going to get. Conversely, you’re also going to get more positive reviews so keep re-reading those to balance things out.
  4. Be honest. Reviews aren’t just feedback, they’re market research. If you’re getting more bad than good, it might well be that there is actually some truth in what’s being said. Good reviews will always tell you what works, bad ones will often tell you the rest so utilise both as learning tools and use that information to help you make your next book better.
  5. Enjoy them. Even a bad review means that someone has read your book, YOUR book! Be proud of that and remember, not only does each and every review push your book up the amazon rankings, it also means income. Why do you think authors are so desperate for them? Even bad ones.

writing, hooligans, author, footballOn the subject of books, I’m delighted to announce that the third book in The Crew/Top Dog trilogy will be published by Caffeine Nights in May 2020.

I’m not going to give too much away about the plot other than to say that the central character gets involved in even more dubious activity than previously. And if you’ve read the first two books, you’ll know that bar is set pretty high!

I can also announce that I’m currently working on a project for Netflix, but that’s all you’re getting!

Exciting times.

@dougiebrimson

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information at dougiebrimson.com

self-publishing,author,writing,amazon,kindle,independent film,ebooks,

How to write (real) violence.

Green Street screenwritingI’m not usually one for taking part in online debates about writing, mostly because I’m not that clever and have an adversity to making myself look stupid.

There’s also the risk that people will discover that I’ve been winging it for over 25 years which wouldn’t do my publishers heart rate any good.

However, I recently became involved in a fascinating discussion with a group of writers on the use of gratuitous violence  or, to be more specific, the duty of the writer in the way they portray it.

I won’t go too deeply into the way the debate unfolded other than to say it veered from one extreme to the other and back again more than once. But whilst it was extremely interesting to learn how others perceive their creative responsibilities, little or nothing was said which made me change the way I think about mine. And mine, as I see them, are relatively simple. Indeed, they can be encapsulated in one single sentence. For when it comes to anything fictional, my job is to tell a decent story as honesty and realistically as I can.

This is underpinned by something I have said many times and that is my belief that the most important person in the writing process is the person at the end of the creative chain, the consumer. And when you write the kind of things I do for the kind of people I primarily write them for (lads), then my sole duty is to give them something that they can not only recognise but hopefully, put themselves into the centre of without any difficulty.

In the case of a subject like hooliganism, that means street fighting and anyone who has ever been involved in a row at football knows that it isn’t Queensbury Rules Boxing or Tae Kwon Do, it’s short periods of scruffy, disjointed mayhem. It’s still violence, but it’s real violence as opposed to the stylised fighting we see in too many films and computer games. For some it can be little short of a  terrifying experience, for others it will often border on hilarity.

That’s how I have to write it because that’s how it is. Anything else would be a betrayal and if I did that, I’d lose not only my self-respect but my readers (and viewers).

Quite rightly too.

thriller, screenwriting, film, writingThe next few months will hopefully see a couple of announcements on the movie front but in the meantime, I’m delighted to announce that In The Know, the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy, will be published in paperback and ebook format in May 2020.

I won’t say too much about the actual plot for obvious reasons but I actually think that this will prove to be the best of the three.

I can also announce that amongst other projects, I’ve started work on a new novel, Three Greens. This will be my first book with a military theme and is based on the script I wrote for the forthcoming movie (more news of that soon).

Exciting times!

My numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers, The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.