Thursday, 22 January 2015

Rush Jobs Blog Tour: Nick Bryan on Hobson & Choi's Influences

I'm a fan of Nick Bryan's The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf, first in the Hobson & Choi series, and am really looking forward to sequel Rush Jobs, which is high on my TBR pile. I always enjoy talking to Nick at #drinkYA events, so when the brilliant Faye Rogers was able to get me a guest post from him on his blog tour for Rush Jobs, I was really pleased. (And any blog post which starts off by talking about Jennings, one of my all-time favourite series, is BRILLIANT!)

After Nick's fab post, read further to see an extract from book one, details of the other tour posts, AND a fabulous Rafflecopter tour-wide giveaway where you can win signed copies!


My Influences – Stories That Made Hobson & Choi Happen


More than anything else I've written in my life, the Hobson & Choi series is probably the sum of everything I've ingested over my reading existence - all the long, soapy book series, ridiculous OTT satires, dark dramas, never-ending comic books. But what are the specific ones that instilled those urges in me? If you wanted to write a knock-off of H&C, which books should you read to prepare yourself?

1) Jennings series by Anthony Buckeridge


One of the first book series I ever truly loved, the naughty-kid tales of boarding school free spirit Jennings and his tightly-wound glasses-wearing sidekick Darbishire kept me amused all through my pre-tween years. Whether sneaking out of school, hiding illicit parcels or sneaking out of school to hide an illicit parcel, there was nothing these two scallywags wouldn't do.

All my young friends seemed to prefer the Just William series, but they were far too mainstream. Jennings was a true tale of a mismatched duo fighting a corrupt system. And thus it began.

2) Redwall by Brian Jacques


Jennings was good for a while, but I eventually found myself yearning for books with more action, scale, drama and small woodland creatures. After being given the first as a present from my aunt, I fell hard for the Redwall series – the tale of an abbey populated entirely by talking mice, with other chatty forest beasts nearby. This soon expanded into a whole world adventure, each book sweeping into new territory. The tone was grim fantastical adventure, the cast and scale were vast - at one point, they accompanied a badger to the sacred mountain of Salamandastron. I loved it.

Also flirted with the Animals of Farthing Wood (not like that), but they were always either too mundane or too depressing. Redwall was where it was at, and I was really sad to hear Brian Jacques passed away in 2011. He completed a stunning 22 Redwall books, of which I read about half.

3) Quantum & Woody by Priest/Bright (and other comics)


Edging in teenhood, I discovered mainstream American comics. I read the Beano before that, which influenced my sense of humour a bit (PUNS!), but ongoing comic books really scratched my itch for big imagery and long-running serialised stories based on entrenched mythology.

I started on Spider-Man, and he'll always be my main superhero. Still, the comic I always come back to, sealing my love of grim-yet-childish humour, dysfunctional duos and out-of-sequence storytelling, was Christopher Priest and Mark Bright's superhero comedy-drama Quantum & Woody.

I'm not saying this is the best or my favourite comic ever, but as an early influence, especially on Hobson & Choi, it's hard to overstate. The series recently relaunched with new creators, but more importantly: the original Priest/Bright run is available on Comixology and in hardback! For a longer dissection of Q&W as an influence, I did a blog post on my own site a while ago.

Other comics that burrowed into my mind over the years: Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis/various artists, Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis/Darick Robertson, Black Panther by Christopher Priest/various, Chew by John Layman/Rob Guillory and both Preacher and Hellblazer by Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon.

4) Discworld by Terry Pratchett (and other Brit-genre-comedy)


I could pretend this wasn't an influence, but why? In terms of mocking the real world via exaggeration, intelligent use of genre conventions and flat-out funny writing at all times, Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is the gold standard. Like most British genre-liking teenagers, I read a lot of this in my teens, and although I've dropped away from it as an adult, it definitely went into the mix.

Also in a similar vein: The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams and the J.W. Wells & Co books by Tom Holt, re-imagining fantasy tropes as part of a huge bureaucracy.

5) American Gods by Gaiman (and other broad-world fantasy)


Nearly everyone seems to have read this, and I'm no different. Probably one of my first expeditions into “adult” urban fantasy, spurred (predictably) by Gaiman's comic-book fame, this book was huge for me simply for its full-throated engagement with the real world and how it connected its rambling exploration of dark underside back to an actual story.

Although American Gods was first, there are plenty of other books I've enjoyed and learnt from in the world-stretching sometimes-urban fantasy vein, including: The Gone-Away World by Nick Hawkaway, the Curse Workers series by Holly Black, The Glass Republic by Tom Pollock, The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie, Feed by Mira Grant and, of course, A Song Of Ice And Fire by George R.R. Martin.

6) A Serpent Uncoiled by Simon Spurrier (and other strange crimes)


A Serpent Uncoiled is a trippy, singular crime novel, focusing on the inner turmoil of lead character Dan Shaper, combined with a confident, intriguing vision of London. Spurrier combines that with a off-kilter, reality-bending, drug-induced haze of style that really makes it memorable.

I read this around the same time as London Falling by Paul Cornell (police and witches!) and The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (murder and time travel!), also both odd, genre-flipping takes on the crime novel.

I was also reading the Dexter books by Jeff Lindsay, which have a self-aware, wry tone that stood out, even better for that is the Miriam Black series by Chuck Wendig. Sarah Pinborough's Mayhem also has a uniquely hazy-Victorian style. Going in a slightly different direction (and much younger age category), Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens isn't as dark as the above books, but definitely has a unique take – plus it's just plain charming.


So, if you just read all of these, you'll probably be ready to write your own Hobson & Choi book. At the very least, consider it a list of recommendations. Should keep you busy a while. Lasted me about thirty years, after all.



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Hobson & Choi Series by Nick Bryan

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The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf (Hobson & Choi #1)


"If we get 400 followers, John Hobson will solve that nasty wolf-murder case for free! Fight the thing himself if he has to! #HobsonVsWolf!"

Angelina Choi was only trying to drum up some Twitter followers and make a good impression on her first day interning at John Hobson's one-man detective agency.

But the campaign went viral and now they have a murder to solve, no money coming in, and an unwilling Hobson faced with battling some enormous beast.

With both follower and body counts rising, can they crack the case without offending everyone or being eaten by a huge dog?

The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf is the first case starring Hobson & Choi, a bickering, mismatched detective duo for 21st century London. This book collects the debut storyline of the hit darkly comic crime web serial, extensively rewritten and improved for this definitive edition.


Goodreads. Amazon.




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Rush Jobs (Hobson & Choi #2)


“Sometimes #crime feels like the Matrix. Or the #patriarchy or #porn. It's everywhere, even in people you trusted, and there's so MUCH of it.”

Angelina Choi returns for her second and final week of work experience at John Hobson’s detective agency, ready for anything after their first successful murder solve.

After all that online buzz, they’re in phenomenal demand. Can Hobson & Choi solve a kidnapping, play chicken with corporate crime, beat back gentrification, save a dog from drug dealers and head off violent backlash from their last case?

Or will grim revelations about Hobson’s past leave them floundering in the chaos?

Rush Jobs collects the second major storyline in the Hobson & Choi saga, #1 on Jukepop Serials and #2 in Dark Comedy on Amazon, adding brand new chapters and scenes to the case.


Goodreads. Amazon




About the Author



me-squared

Nick Bryan is a London-based writer of genre fiction, usually with some blackly comic twist. As well as the detective saga Hobson & Choi, he is also working on a novel about the real implications of deals with the devil and has stories in several anthologies.

More details on his other work and news on future Hobson & Choi releases can be found on his blog at NickBryan.com or on Twitter as @NickMB. Both are updated with perfect and reasonable regularity.

Subscribe to his mailing list using the form in the sidebar of NickBryan.com to get news first and an all-new free Hobson & Choi short story immediately!

When not reading or writing books, Nick Bryan enjoys racquet sports, comics and a nice white beer.


Website. Twitter. Mailing List.




Tour Schedule



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Monday 19th January
Rain On A Summer’s Afternoon

Tuesday 20th January
Claire Rousseau

Wednesday 21st January
Music, Books and Tea

Thursday 22nd January
Ya Yeah Yeah

Friday 23rd January
A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

Saturday 24th January
Tales of Yesterday

Sunday 25th January
K-Books

Monday 26th January
Nimbus Space

Tuesday 27th January
The Online Novel

Wednesday 28th January
Nyx Book Reviews

Thursday 29th January
Winged Reviews

Friday 30th January
Kirstyes

Saturday 31st January
The Book Moo

Sunday 1st February
Bookish Outsider

Monday 2nd February
Pewter Wolf




Excerpt




The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf

Not only was there no name stencilled on the window of Hobson’s office door, it didn’t even have a window. Angelina was disappointed — what kind of crappy detective doesn’t have an office name stencil window?

Instead, it was a solid beige fire door. The only thing marking it out from the beige corridor was the change in texture from beige plaster to beige wood. Same old London office in a boring building. Clearly all her effort to dress interesting had been silly. The black floaty layers and purple tights looked ridiculous against all the nothingness.

Too late to change though, she was already five minutes late. She knocked on the hollow, cheap-sounding door, with the firmness of an adult, rather than a nervous sixteen-year-old. Or so she hoped.

“Yeah, come in,” said the hoarse yell from inside.

Angelina pushed the door open. Considering how long she’d spent staring at the tedious thing, it floated away easily.

The office behind was more interesting than the corridor, thankfully. Bright blue, two desks, a few filing cabinets. But no discarded whiskey bottles, nor a mattress round back where the detective slept.

“Good morning, Choi,” said a deep voice. The huge man behind the larger desk leapt up, revealing a pressed black suit and straight tie. Buttoned down to a fault, this guy could be a real veteran police detective, right up to the grey peppering his short dark hair.

And why was he calling her by surname?

“Good to meet you. I’m John Hobson, just Hobson is fine though.” And, when she didn’t immediately reply: “How are you? Good trip over?”

“Um, thanks, I’m fine, you too.” She forgot to punctuate any of that, blushing as soon as it finished.

“Good. Good. Well, welcome to our new work experience internship programme. I hope I’ll be able to show you something about the business in two weeks. As you can see, I’ve cleared a desk for you here.” He gestured at the smaller one in the room, with a wedge of papers recently shoved to one end.

“Looks nice,” she glanced down and nodded. “Lots of room.”

Another silence.

“So,” he was already standing up and hooking his jacket off the back of the chair, “I have to get moving for a lunch meeting, but I do have a job for you to get on with.”

Her ears pricked up, but expectations remained measured. She’d be filing all those papers away, wouldn’t she? Or running out to buy milk?

“I’ve noticed this social Twitter internet media thing seems to be taking off,” he said, gesturing widely at the computer on her desk, as if that explained everything, “could you create an account for me and get me some of those... followers?”

Angelina blinked. “I’m sorry?”

“Well, you know. I’ve just repainted my office, I want to be modern, and your lot seem to be familiar with this kind of thing.”

“My lot? What do you mean my lot?”

“No no no no no,” Hobson spun round, nearly whirling her across the room, “not Asians. Teenage girls.”

“Oh. Right.” Depressingly, she was relieved he’d even noticed she was Asian. “Well, sure. I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thanks, Choi.” He shrugged his massive coat on, composure back in place. “Just a couple of hundred should do. Cheers, running late, back in an hour.”

With that, he waved and dashed out the door. And then popped his head back round. “Oh, could you also go to the shops and get some coffee? Ain’t much left.”

Angelina nodded, and kept her sigh inside until he’d definitely gone. This office was the size of a rich person’s cupboard.

*****


Picking up the coffee took a few minutes. The hardest part was checking out his machine and working out what type to buy. Now she was an intern, Angelina knew she had to do these menial tasks, so swallowed her pride and went to Tesco.

Not long after, guzzling a pack of dirt-cheap cardboard crisps, she plonked herself down in front of her computer. She had a job to do, so resisted the urge to head straight for Facebook and complain about her negligent boss.

Instead she went on Twitter and got to work. She typed, she schmoozed, she strived, she read blog posts about Social Media Success, many of which made her angry. Finally, several tweets and retweets later, something clicked.

Shortly later, so did the door to their office, as Hobson returned. His lunch meeting ended at a reasonable time and left him completely sober; again, both reassuring and disappointing. When did she get to sniff corpses and snort whiskey, delve deep into the underworld?

Instead, she had a presentable, clean shaven, punctual detective without a visible drinking problem. Should’ve been more specific on the form.

“So Choi,” Hobson said, his jacket flopping back over the chair, “am I... trending yet?”

He pronounced trending like it was the name of an alien planet.

“Um, sort of,” she said.

“Sort of?”

“Well, you’ve got 353 followers...” Angelina broke off mid-stream as a rectangular email notification popped up. “Well, 354 now. But I had to say some stuff to get them.”

Hobson fiddled with his own computer, not paying much attention. “Yeah? What kind of stuff?”

“I tried just creating an account and following people, engaging with other detectives, but it wasn’t working much,” she could hear herself talking faster in response to his blank stares, “so I found an interesting murder case and said that if you got enough followers, you’d totally solve it for free.”

And it sounded like a better idea at the time, she added silently, rolling her chair away from Hobson as his face turned red and he stood up, tie flapping wild. It was hard not to be scared when a man bigger than the room he was sitting in started yelling at you.

“You did what?” At least he’d noticed her. “Do you have you any idea how shitty that is? What if the press find out? What if the victim’s family find out? How do you know I even can solve it? How am I meant to pay my rent?”

“I don’t know, I’m sorry, I wanted to get it right and I just...” Angelina inhaled deep and snorted by accident. “I may have said something else too.”

“Oh God.”

“Yeah. If we get up to 400 followers, you have to fight a wolf.”

The email indicator leapt up again. Only forty-five to go.





There is a tour-wide giveaway throughout the tour as well.

The Prizes
One Signed Paperback Set of the Hobson & Choi Series
Three E-Book Sets of the Hobson & Choi Series

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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