Author: Haarlson

Why you should read this while on your plane to Spain

AfterGoya_Horitzontal_800x600My novel, After Goya picked up an excellent review over on Amazon.

Titled Read this on your flight to Spain, here is the review in full:

As a literary thriller, the plot doesn’t disappoint. A simple tale of baddies trying to steal a couple of paintings adds layer upon layer of intrigue as Cotelo follows the trail of subtle clues and curious characters, while simultaneously negotiating the murky waters of Spanish back room politics. The literary and artistic pretensions of the novel are laid on with a light touch, adding depth and richness to a good old rip-roaring tale of detective work.

Cotelo himself is a thinking person’s Columbo, dishevelled and disrespectful, with a keen nose for human nature. But he also has political and literary sensibilities, a dark back story, and a dash of sex appeal thrown in for good measure.

For many English readers, this novel will introduce them to an unfamiliar Spain. The traumas and divisions of the civil war still lie just beneath the surface even today. This dark tale of simple greed and complicated historical and political motivations places the reader firmly in that divided society.

As a page-turning thriller with the added richness of literary, artistic and historical settings, this was a very satisfying read.

You can check out this review, and others, HERE.


Cover of pulp boxing stories magazine

Are you ready to rumble?

I’ve updated the writing competitions calendar — which you can find via the dropdown menu under
CLUELESS, INK on the navigation bar above.

You’ll see that I’ve included deadlines for 13 competitions in February, including the biggie — the  £15,000 BBC Short Story Prize.

I’ve also included the Margery Allingham mystery fiction award , administered by the UK Crime Writers’ Association, which has its deadline coming up in March.

Best of luck and happy comping!

FREE Kindle story for Christmas


If you enjoy a good read over the Yuletide holiday then you may want to download my short story, The Modelling Man.

It’s FREE from December 23rd through to December 27th.

It’s a quirky, very English, Christmas story which I think you’ll enjoy. No snow, no sleighbells, no Santa, but it does have two wise men, cold turkey sandwiches, football and TV.

If  travelling on public transport over the holidays you could download it onto your phone, tablet, Kindle or other reading device; it will help pass the time, perhaps raise a smile, put you in a mood to enjoy festivities, and equip you with something to talk about at all those get-togethers you’re sure to attend.

You’ll find it on Amazon UK HERE. It is available at all Amazon’s stores. 6,200 words of original fiction for FREE.

Wishing you a very cool Yule and all the very best for the New Year.



IBooks for Mac

Kindle version on left with iBooks version on right.

Kindle version on left with iBooks version on right.


I don’t have a Kindle, I don’t have an iPad and, until a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t have an iPhone.

During the same week Apple launched Mavericks, the new operating program, I bought an iPhone 5. At last, thanks to the introduction of a new version of the iBooks app, I could at last read my novel After Goya on my Mac and on an iPhone.

Yay! At last I could see what iBook buyers could see.

Or am I really seeing what iBooks readers can see?

I downloaded my copy from Smashwords — as the author I can get a free copy — and opened it.

The formatting seemed ok, and then I noticed that the glyphs — those little graphical devices used to denote breaks in the text — which appear as they should in the Kindle version — had been replaced with asterisks. It looked like an earlier version. (SEE the photo above.)

Apologies if you have purchased After Goya from the iBook store and the glyphs are missing. I will endeavour to find out if and how this can be corrected. If, and when these are corrected I’ll let you know — you will then be able to download an updated version at no extra cost. I sincerely hope the missing glyphs haven’t spoiled your reading pleasure.

As you may know Apple’s quality controls for inclusion in the iBooks store are very exacting. Esther at Ebookation took a lot of time and trouble to get everything precisely right, so I was a little disappointed to see the glyphs had disappeared, and that the spacing between breaks and chapter ends is a little tighter than the Kindle version.

I understand from a few helpful Kindle readers’ comments that there are a couple of glitches in the text (a few missing tildes and one or two repeated lines of text) and, if possible, I will also correct these at some point in the future.

In the meantime I’m enjoying exploring the iBook store on my Mac.




In January I published a short story, Making Dance with Fruit, as a Kindle.

It is available at all Amazon Kindle stores.

As you know the story  was  first published in Barcelona, INK Number 5 and subsequently re-issued in the anthology, The Best of Barcelona, INK.

It’s a quirky story about time and space, and draws on my experiences of working with choreographers and dance companies.

If you’ve ever wondered how and why contemporary dance is created then this brief tale may offer you some small insight.

“It is given we all want more space in our lives. But when we have space we don’t know what to do with it, except fill it with rubbish. Why are we all so frightened of space? Space offers possibility, but for many, space equals emptiness.”

Here are links to the story in Amazon UK, Amazon USA, Amazon Canada and Amazon Spain.

Popes and Lightning bolts, Pancakes, Buried Sardines, Footballs, Hearts, Martyrs, Meteors, Babel-like towers and Fire on the Streets of the City


The Burial of the Sardine by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes


February 2013

Interesting series of events this past week: Carnaval; the Pope’s resignation; a bolt of lightning striking the Vatican within a few hours of the Pontiff’s announcement; the celebration of Santa Eulalia (Barcelona’s other patron saint); Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday); Ash Wednesday — the beginning of Lent (la Queresma), the burying of sardines and Real Madrid vs. Man. Utd.; Valentine’s Day on Thursday; the meteor strike near Cheylabinsk, in the Russian Urals on Friday; FC Granada vs. Barça on Saturday; and on Sunday: human tower building (castellers) and the first correfoc (fire-run) events of the year.

What a week — what a week to be alive.

Spring is on the way.

Disfrutalo! Enjoy it!


The cover of Barcelona, INK Number 11featuring the shop window of the Negra i Criminal bookshop in Barceloneta

The cover of Barcelona, INK Number 11 featuring the shop window of the Negra i Criminal bookshop in Barceloneta


The 11th issue of Barcelona, INK — the city’s only literary magazine in English — is now out and about in bookshops across the city.

Price (paper): 6€ and worth every cent.

This special edition, timed to coincide with the very popular BCNegra, Barcelona’s international crime writing festival, features stories, poems and essays inspired by a crime theme — including work by distinguished crime novelist, David C. Hall, and the always very readable Michael Eaude, Matthew Tree and Jeff King, and very entertaining contributions from  a range of  Catalan, Spanish and German writers. It also features a contribution from myself—The TV Dinner.

It’s also available as a digital edition at Amazon SpainAmazon U.K., Amazon U.S.

Should you want to order a print edition via your local bookshop you may want to note this: ISSN 2013-4401.

That’s all. As you were.


Weird Tales November, 1937: The Living Buddhess


Since starting the process of cleaning up and updating and moving links from the old Clueless, ink Blogger blog to the Clueless ink pages here I realised that there is no easy way for you to know when new links have been added or changed.

There are still many, many more links to be posted into pages here.

So, to save you the bother of repeatedly checking the pages for any changes I will make a note of the date of the most recent update at the top of the page below the title in bold and post a note in the blog. And I’ve created a new Updates category — which you’ll see in the top right of this post. And, if you wanted you could click on the category and all the posts mentioning updates will appear.

For example, today I’ve added a new link to the Indie Authors & Publishers page. If you look at the page you’ll see today’s date and you’ll see I’ve added a link to the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Hope that helps you in your search for reliable information.

That’s all.

As you were.


A reader in Barcelona


I suppose it had to happen one day — encountering a reader in the wild.

I always imagined it would happen on a train, a plane, or a metro, bus or tram in a European city I’ve never previously visited.

But, here we are — in Barcelona, on the pavement outside a bar a few hundred metres from our apartment, and someone is reading my novel.

How did it get here? Was it one of the copies I released into the wild in a fit of enthusiasm for book crossing?

There are no bookshops in Barcelona (yet) which sell the paperback. Though it is available online through and Casa del Libro.

Naturally intrigued I introduced myself and asked the Reader a few questions.

I learned that the Reader was a malagueño (a native of Málaga) and had been given the book by an English friend.

“I like to read in English”, he said. “And this book, my friend told me, begins in Málaga, my home city, and has a malagueño hero.”

A reader from Málaga! Incredible!

“And, when I read the first line — November 19th — I knew I needed to read it.”

“Why?” I asked.

“My birthday is November 20th — the same date as Franco’s, José Antonio Primo de Rivera’s and Durruti’s deaths.”

I couldn’t resist and asked how he was finding it.

“I’ll tell you if you please sign it for me.”

I asked his name and dutifully inscribed the book.

“It’s a challenge,” he said. “But that’s why I read English — as a challenge. It is complicated. The descriptions of Málaga are exact; the river, the police station and the rail station are all where they should be. And Benalmádena — I know it well. And Córdoba—my friend tells me there are scenes in Córdoba. I know Córdoba—I’m looking forward to reading about Córdoba. And, there is mystery and there is history. I enjoy history and mystery.”

So, there we have it—no effusive, glowing endorsement but an informed interest in and an enthusiasm for the subject matter.

And, had he been reading the Kindle, or epub, version I’d never have known.


Old Books by Mannequin at


Do you recall my little rant about UK short story publishing and distribution in which I suggested Costa Coffee (sponsors of the Costa Book awards) could get more involved with short stories? No? Here it is.

Well, someone must have read it because the Costa Book Awards now (as of July 16th, 2012) includes a category for short stories AND — unlike the other awards categories which can only be submitted by publishers and agents — writers can submit their own work.

The prize is £3,500 for a short story of up to 4000 words. Online entry is FREE. The deadline for submissions is 4pm on Friday, September 7th.

You can read about it HERE and click through to the online entry form.

What are you waiting for?

Oh, yes, sorry, forgot to mention — for some obscure reason all entrants have to have been officially resident in the UK or Ireland for at least six months of every year since November 2009. Though ‘UK or Irish nationality is not essential’.


Best of luck.