|| Publisher blog | Exfoliations || Twitter ||  Facebook || The Finger  Issue 1 | Issue 2 ||

About Books Poems Plays Journals Book Trade

web site counter



My brief stint as a commissioning editor saw two issues of The Finger, a journal of politics, literature and culture. My last novel, Who’s Afraid of the Booker Prize?, won the 2015 Quagga Prize for Literary Fiction. My latest novel, Across the Rebel Network, was longlisted for the Guardian 2015 Not the Booker Prize. Poems published or forthcoming in Battersea Review, Fulcrum, Literary Matters, The Brown Boat, The Criterion, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Liberal, Horizon Review and Epicentre Magazine. Fiction has appeared in Valparaiso Fiction Review and The Four Quarters Magazine.  

Recent books

CHP books

Read my interview at The Leaving Year blog, here, where the discussion is Nabokov, dark matter, the heroes and villains of literary life, poetic craft and evolution, and some of the ideas behind a few of the books listed here.


All my books are published by CentreHouse Press, a small independent specialising in fiction, memoirs, plays, children’s books and travel writing. Print and ebooks published by CentreHouse Press can be ordered online at all the usual retail outlets. Follow the link here for more information.

The Finger

The Finger, a journal of the arts, literature and culture, enjoyed a brief starburst in the closing quarter of 2005, running to two issues. Published by CentreHouse Press, and edited by Peter Cowlam, it featured the work of writers Val Hennessy, Allen Saddler, Mari Garcia, Jack Degree, Richard Hillesley, Bob Mann, Brian Poilly, Robert Vint, Jo Larsen, and Sam Richards.

'The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ, / Moves on...'

Issue 1, October 2005; Issue 2, November 2005. Collector’s items!

Who's Afraid of the Booker Prize?



New King Palmers. Set in the late 1990s, in the months up to and after the death of Princess Diana, New King Palmers is narrated by its principal character Humfrey Joel, a close friend of Earl Eliot d’Oc. The earl’s ancestry is bound up with the Habsburgs and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. D’Oc is a member of the British Privy Council and a close friend of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. In the months preceding Diana’s death, he commissions a young theatre professional to develop a play. The play’s theme is constitutional issues surrounding Prince Charles, with the heir’s interests served by UK withdrawal from the EU, before it becomes a federal superstate. The commissioned play is called New King Palmers, and d’Oc maintains rigorous editorial control over it. When d’Oc’s death shortly follows Diana’s, Joel is named as d’Oc’s literary executor, with the task of bringing the play to the English stage. Supposedly written into the text is an encoded message from the British Privy Council on behalf of the House of Windsor, addressed to the stewards of the EU. When news of this leaks out no one in the British literary and theatrical worlds believes it. In fact most come to see Earl d’Oc as an invented character behind which Joel shields himself, when his own motives are themselves sinister. So sinister, an MI5 spook is put on the case.

Laurel, a sequence of poems whose terrain is love, loss and lovers’ rivalries.

‘His poems have an epic feel…painting vivid pictures with the fewest words possible. This new collection gathers together threads of irony, self-deprecating nostalgia, and linguistic playfulness in one powerful skein of sharp, imagistic one-liners.’ Jane Holland, author of Disreputable

‘His spare poems brilliantly unfold an inner landscape on a complex journey of the heart that feels both personal and universal.’ Rachel Blum, author of The Doctor of Flowers

‘I am reminded of T. E. Hulme’s imagist poems I discovered as a teenager through Herbert Read’s The True Voice of Feeling. Laurel is a distillation of mood, atmosphere, feeling, expressed in a direct and surprising way, with the infinite – sky, sea, moon, sun – brought close to us and homely.’ Garry O’Connor, author of The Vagabond Lover

Across the Rebel Network. Anno centres a federated Europe in an uncertain, and not-too-distant digital future, when politics, the media and mass communications have fused into one amorphous whole. He works for the Bureau of Data Protection (BDP), a federal government department responsible for monitoring the full range of material, in all media, posted into cyberspace. The BDP is forced to do this when rebel states are seceding, small satellites once of the federation but now at a remove from it, economically and socially. A handful of organised outsiders threatens to undermine the central state through a concerted propa-ganda war, using the federation’s own digital infrastructure. It is this climate of mutual suspicion that to Anno makes inevitable decades of digital guerrilla warfare. While his department takes steps to prevent this, he doesn’t reckon on the intervention of his old college sparring partner, Craig Diamond, who is now a powerful media mogul. The two engage in combat conducted through cyberspace, in a rare concoction of literary sci-fi.

Who’s Afraid of the Booker Prize? Winner of the 2015 Quagga Prize for Literary Fiction. For Alistair Wye, assistant to ‘top’ novelist Marshall Zob, Zob makes just two mistakes. First, he plans a commemorative book celebrating the life and work of his dead mentor, John Andrew Glaze, whose theory of ‘literary time’ is of dubious philosophical pedigree. Second, Zob turns the whole literary world on its head through the size of advance he instructs his agent to negotiate for his latest, and most mediocre novel to date. Secretly Wye keeps a diary of Zob’s professional and private life. Comic, resolute, Wye stalks through its every page, scattering his pearls with an imperious hand. An unsuspecting Zob ensures perfect conditions for the chronicler of his downfall.

Marisa. The plot’s central time frame is the 1970s, when Bruce takes over a financial consultancy firm founded by his father, and Marisa inherits property. Love, lust and money are the things that drive them both, until their relationship meets its first challenge. Bruce retreats further into the world of commerce, while Marisa’s frequent departures have social and political ramifications.

Twenty-five years on from their affair, a chance entry in one of Bruce’s business listings shows that Marisa is now boss of the Rae Agency – a media PR concern. Bruce, as he recollects their tumultuous relationship, is torn between his harmonious family life, and renewing contact with Marisa. Finally, when he does decide on a course of action, he has to face the truth of not having grasped the cultural separation their two different views of the world have wrought over the last quarter century.

Marisa Image copyright © Katie Cowlam

My books reviewed


Who’s Afraid of the Booker Prize?



Online Bookplugs


For all the latest CHP news, events, readings etc., Caxton’s Muse, the CHP blog, is regularly updated. Also recommended, Exfoliations, a general arts reviews blog.

Blog novel

Mark the progress of my blog novel as I add to it bit by bit, Hoe Valley Times. Latest chapter at the top.