Read Raw Blog

Read Raw Blog


Welcome to the BlogPosted by Read Raw Ltd Sun, December 21, 2014 19:00:57
Ian writes: "My children's novel"Santa Claus is Missing" has had a couple of reviews.

One five star review on Amazon:

Santa's sleigh crashes in flames, he lands in a small Scottish town and loses his memory. He is rescued by two young children who don't recognise him, and he has some hilarious adventures involving some thieves, some naughty children, and some quite naughty adults including department store Santas.

Meanwhile the reindeer are trapped in the grounds of a mad taxidermist and his terrifying dogs.

This was great fun. A quick and easy read for 8-12 year-olds, and excellent for parents to read to younger children. Maybe a little dark here and there for sensitive under-fives.


And one on the BFS website:

SANTA CLAUS IS MISSING by Ian Hunter, Ebook, £2.63

Reviewed by Matthew Johns

As the festive season approaches, it’s always nice to unwind with some mulled wine, a minced pie and a seasonal story. Ian Hunter’s ‘Santa Claus is Missing’ is the perfect accompaniment to festive treats, and is suitable for most ages.

On his way back from collecting a letter, Santa gets hit by a fireball coming out of a factory chimney and wakes up in a field with no memory of who he is, or even what Christmas is.

David and Anne Buchanan’s school is closed as the water pipes are frozen, so decide to go to the park for a spot of sledging. There they find a strange man with burnt clothes and no memory, so decide to try to help him. Meanwhile, some of Santa’s intrepid reindeer find themselves trapped inside a scary forest being pursued by some deadly dogs and their sadistic owner, having lost their ability to fly.

Hunter’s writing is engaging, and easy to read. Wittily written, this short story consists of just 76 pages, and is entertaining for young and old from start to finish. With only seven days until Christmas, will Santa regain his memory and rescue his reindeer? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

“Why can’t our job here on earth be simply to inspire each other?” wrote Graham Joyce

Welcome to the BlogPosted by Read Raw Ltd Fri, October 24, 2014 19:28:35

Just like Trent Reznor wrote, and then Johnny Cash owned with his version of the “Nine Inch Nails” song “Hurt”, “everyone I know goes away in the end.”

And it’s started to happen already for just like memories of the World Fantasy Convention of 2013 are twinged with sadness because Joel Lane won the World Fantasy Award for best collection with “Where Furnaces Burn” and died a few weeks later; memories of this year’s Fantasycon are also twinged with sadness with the passing of Graham Joyce, who was going to be the convention’s master of ceremonies, sadly, he couldn’t attend and died after a long battle with lymphatic cancer the day after the convention finished.

This week, Graham would have been sixty.

I remember the first time I saw him at Fantasycon at a panel consisting of first-time novelists after his novel “Dreamside” was published, apart from Graham, one of the other panellists was the science fiction writer, Stephen Baxter, but for the life of me I can’t remember who the others were. Fast forward to over twenty years later and the last time I saw him at the award ceremony for the World Fantasy Awards where the audience as one got to their feet when he appeared, and roared their approval. We knew he was very ill, and we didn’t know he was going to be there, but there he was right before our eyes, cause for joy. Afterwards he stood waiting for the inevitable photos to be taken as he had won another British Fantasy Award for best novel for “Some Kind of Fairy Tale” and I said to him “there’s a lot of love in the room and a lot of it is for you” and he smiled and nodded.

If you have never heard of him, or even read any of his work, then in the words of Stephen King “you’ve missed a treat”. King also wrote on hearing that Graham had died, he wrote"Very sad to hear that Graham Joyce, a truly great novelist, has passed away. Too soon. Far too soon."

He wrote nineteen novels for adults and young adults and one short story collection, and PS Publishing launched a 25 year retrospective of his best short stories at Fantasycon called “25 Years in the Word Mines” with artwork by his daughter, Ella. He was nominated for the British Fantasy Award ten times and won the best novel award an amazing seven times, likewise he was nominated four times for a World Fantasy Award and won with his novel “The Facts of Life”. He also won an O. Henry Award for “An Ordinary Soldier of the Queen,” which was published in The Paris Review in 2009. He was a football fan and a player and like Vladimir Nabokov before him, he was also a goalie, playing for England Writers, otherwise known to him as "a bunch of chronically unskilled middle-aged no-hopers". His exploits with them inspired a book, “Simple Goalkeeping Made Spectacular”, which was a runner-up in the William Hill sports book of the year. It’s a pity he didn’t win, I can envisage the quiz question now about the award-winning fantasy writer who won a sports writing award.

Every book, he wrote was different – dark fantasy, supernatural war memoir, magic realism, coming of age drama, fairy story, ghost story – all written in a wonderful naturalistic style. I’d recommend “Dreamside”, “The Tooth Fairy”, the wonderful “Indigo” (no spoilers here, but read it and see if you “get it”), “The Facts of Life”, “The Limits of Enchantment”, two young adult books – “TWOC”, and “Do The Creepy Thing” (and the creepiness is right up there with the best shuddering works of Ramsey Campbell and Charlie Grant”), “Memoirs of a Master Forger”, “The Silent Land” and “Some Kind of Fairy Tale”.

Maybe, like he said, his lean writing style came from his working class upbringing in a family of coal miners. Despite failing his 11-plus he graduated with a degree in education was training and development officer for the National Association for many years, but he yearned to write and took a year out to produce “Dreamside” in 1991, and the rest as they say is history when he combined a career in writing with getting a master’s in Modern English and American literature and submitted two of novels for consideration to gain his PhD, something which was commented on in “Private Eye” believe it or not. He famously took on Jeanette Winterson over her criticism of the 2011 Man Booker Prize shortlist and this year managed to gather almost 150000 signatures for a petition to sack Michael Give as Education Secretary for “wrecking havoc on the morale and practise of school learning.”

The members of the British Fantasy got to know and love him over the years and he loved us back, especially after a period of turmoil when he stepped into the breach and became our temporary Chair Person because he knew how important the society was. I remember attending an E.G.M. he had called when he hammered through much-needed changes We were “a family” as he often said, although he did hate the Fantasycon raffles for some reason, maybe because they took forever and he didn’t want another “Blue Thunder” hat!

My words can't do justice to what a great writer Graham was, but his words certainly do, here:


Welcome to the BlogPosted by Read Raw Ltd Mon, December 03, 2012 12:57:49

Ian has started writing a strange/spooky/eerie offering about what lies behind the little doors of a different kind of advent calendar, at:

The Return of the Mad Tickler

Welcome to the BlogPosted by Read Raw Ltd Tue, October 23, 2012 23:37:16

Almost twenty years in the making, and inspired by his son, Alexander, Ian is serialising his children's novel "The Mad Tickler" over at Wattpad, and you can find the first chapter here:

Mo's a Mill Girl

Welcome to the BlogPosted by Read Raw Sat, June 23, 2012 15:31:55

During the Weaving Musical Threads Festival this year, I was one of the Mill Girl Poets, along with Tracy Patrick, Gwen McKerrall, Kathryn Daly, Ann Scriven. We wrote and performed poetry before a full house at Paisley’s Thread Mill and our aim was to honour the girls who once worked in Paisley’s mills. The mills are gone now. Ferguslie Mill, a building once honoured for its very fine architecture was sadly left to rot and then it was demolished. Anchor Mill was converted into a block of flats. The thread mills functioned for over a hundred years, and acquired world-wide fame.

We only hoped that our poetry could emulate some of the incredible history of many of the ex-Mill Girls. It was a very humbling experience. The girls we met were great fun and many of their stories were hard won memories. I have put one of my poems, A Streak of Gallus, up on the Rolling Poetry page, which only gives a small idea of the Mill Girls’ sense of fun.

Goodbye to Ray Bradbury

Welcome to the BlogPosted by Read Raw Ltd Thu, June 07, 2012 16:33:11

"It was a pleasure to burn."

I was sad to hear that the great American writer Ray Bradbury died recently aged 91. He was born in 1920, the same year as my father and Scotland's great "makar" Edwin Morgan. Now Bradbury and Morgan are both gone, and Bradbury was a great "makar" in every sense of the word himself, bringing the sensibilities of country life in America to the science fiction stage. I first discovered him in short story collections I read at school and his stories were better than anything else between the covers of the books that were handed out. Strange stories like "The Foghorn" or "The Pedestrian" which were disquietening, and had chilling, sad endings, or no real endings at all, it seemed. Back in those days we had "Library" periods where you got to sit in the library and pick a book off the shelf and read it. I picked "The Illustrated Man" and "The Halloween Tree", and "S is for Space" and "R is for Rocket".

Stephen King's love letter to the horror genre "Danse Macabre" includes recommended reading, and Bradbury is, of course, among them, particularly the short story colections "The Small Assassin" and "The October Country" both of which bring together the best of Bradbury's creepy fiction. For a reader of horror, they are indispensable, and stories like "The Jar" and "The Scythe" have to be read, and savoured, and reread. In a chapter devoted to landmark horror novels (like Ramsey Campbell's "The Doll Who Ate His Mother, James Herbert's "The Fog", Anne River Siddons' "The House Next Door" and Peter Straub's "Ghost Story" among others), King dissects "Something Wicked This Way Comes", another essential Bradbury read, and one of my favourite sections is the "hot gorilla paw" conversation in the library. Read that book, if you can, and watch the movie - not a bad effort, and hunt out "The Martian Chronicles" then the TV series or "Fahrenheit 451" and the film. Not many writers can truly be described as a master of science fiction, fantasy and horror genres, probably only Fritz Leiber comes to mind, but Bradbury was a polymath, someone who could write anything, from poems to operas, and screenplays. He wrote the screenplay for John Huston's version of "Moby Dick" and what a hoot that experience must have been and he turned it into a novel years later. He also wrote the screenplay for a animated version of his own "The Halloween Tree", which I inflicted on my children, and they loved it, and only a few years ago, all of the Hunters went to see a stage version of "Something Wicked" which was a jolting, creepy experience.

Tributes have been made, including one from President Obama, praising his story telling skills. For those lucky enough to read him at a certain age, he lit the touchpaper of our imaginations. Tonight I'm heading off to the Download music festival and had wondered what book to take with me. Now I know it will be a Bradbury one, plucked off the bookshelf to be read and returned, even more battered than before.


Spring is sprung

Welcome to the BlogPosted by Read Raw Wed, March 28, 2012 12:23:50
The start of spring and the Blog comes back to life. The gap was not due to Winter hibernation. Wullie has been busy writing, performing, singing(in shower and in public) and being classic car nurse, Ian writing, performing and workshops, Mo writing, performing and doing her Mlitt studies, George writing, performing, setting up a couple of websites(actually this is a lie for Wullie did the work on these), and some success on the writing front as he won the Scottish Writers’ Centre 2012 Open Poetry Competition. All four were involved in events for the Weaving Musical Threads arts weekend in Renfrewshire. We will be involved in the 2012 Renfrewshire Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. This is in October so there is a bit of time to go but the initial planning will include some open mic so hopefully we will get to meet some of you then if not before. As the saying goes …watch this space.

Poet Laureate and Published

Welcome to the BlogPosted by Read Raw Fri, December 23, 2011 22:40:01

The Scotia Bar Poet Laureate competition has came and went. Wullie, Ian and GW made it through the heats and into the final. Ian is now somewhat richer having come second. John Savage was the man on the night and is now the Scotia Bar Poet Laureate

Mo, despite being up to her neck with her MLit course is progressing with her novel.

Sebastian Symes and the Case of the Hungarian Foot by GW has been published as an ebook by Mx Publishing is available now on Kindle UK -

Wishing everyone a very happy Chrismas and all the best for 2012.

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