Thursday, 23 February 2012

Thanks for visiting. 

To buy a print or digital edition of After Goya please go HERE 
To keep up to date with the author of After Goya please go HERE 

This blog now serves only as an archive - wherein you can read beta reader comments, early Amazon reviews and various posts by the author. New posts will appear only occasionally. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


After Goya, now has a 5-star review over at Amazon US.

"A Gripping Read.

After Goya is engaging from page one and takes you on a thrilling journey throughout Spain and across time. Its a wonderful mix of Art History, Spanish Civil War politics, International espionage and conspiracy theory. Haarlson Phillipps is a great writer who skillfully pulls you into the intrigue and twists and turns the plot keeping you riveted. A great read! "


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Food & Drink: 2 - Salmorejo

When taking lunch in Córdoba, Jordi Cotelo, the main character of After Goya, opts for salmorejo as a first course.

Salmorejo is a simple, though fabulous, dish from Córdoba - with its origins in Moorish Spain - perfect for  summer afternoons.

Many people describe it as like gazpacho - cold tomato soup - only thicker. Unfair description I think, as it has a flavour quite its own. It's more like a tomato flavoured hummus, or tomato baba ghanoush.

I've become quite adept at making salmorejo. Try my recipe, I'll think you'll like it. No cooking involved.
If organised it takes about twenty minutes, and then one hour minimum cooling time in the fridge.
Good dish for vegetarians - just omit ham garnish when serving.

What you'll need:
  • A good, sharp knife.
  • A chopping board.
  • A deep bowl.
  • A couple of small bowls. 
  • A small pan for boiling eggs.
  • A spoon. 
  • A spatula.
  • A conical sieve.  
  • A blender.
  • A fridge

    Ingredients (for 4):
    • 500g of good quality fresh plum tomatoes (or pear tomatoes as they're known in Spain) NOT tinned.
    • A stale French or Spanish stick of bread (preferably NOT a baguette, and certainly NOT stale sliced white).
    • 2 cloves of garlic.
    • A red (or green - but NOT yellow) capiscum (or bell) pepper.
    • 2 free-range eggs.
    • A few slices of, or packet of ready-diced, serrano ham.
    • 2 dessert spoons of good quality vinegar (preferably apple, or sherry, but NOT balsamico).
    • 2 dessert spoons of good quality olive oil (preferably extra virgin, and preferably from Córdoba province - the Carbonell brand is often the most easy to find in UK and US stores).
    • Boiling water to peel tomatoes.

    Put the kettle on for boiling water. Hard boil the eggs.

    I prefer to peel the tomatoes - others don't bother. It's not really very difficult (especially if they are good quality tomatoes). Take the knife and put a small cross at the crown of each tomato and place in the bowl. Pour on boiling water, making sure to cover the tomatoes, and let rest while you break up the bread and put through the blender to make fine breadcrumbs. Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl and set aside. Chop the pepper, remove the seeds and white pithy bits, and chop the garlic.

    After eggs have boiled place in cold water to cool. Return to tomatoes and drain hot water and pour on cold water and drain again. Then take each tomato and nip skin at the crown between thumb and forefinger and gently remove skin. Easy isn't it? Discard skin. Chop each tomato in half and place in blender, add chopped garlic and pepper into the blender. Give the mixture a good blast.

    Now, I prefer to strain the tomato seeds - others don't. To strain, pour the tomato pulp from the blender through the conical sieve into the bowl the tomatoes were in. Run the spoon around the sieve to extract as much good juice as you can. Discard seeds.

    Put the breadcrumbs into the blender and pour on the tomato, pepper and garlic juice, add the oil and vinegar (though others insist, I don't think you'll need salt - add if you prefer.). Pulse the blender a few times to mix the breadcrumbs and juice then give it a good blast.

    Pour mixture, which should be of porridge-like consistency, back into the bowl. If too runny add more breadcrumbs. If too clumpy add more fruit. Put bowl in the fridge for a minimum of one hour.

    Peel the hard boiled eggs. Gently separate the whites and yolks and finely chop the white. If using slices of ham, instead of ready-diced, dice the ham.

    To serve, put a few ladles of the mixture into serving bowls and sprinkle a good measure of egg white, and a heaped teaspoon of diced ham onto the mixture.

    Try a spoonful. Yum. Think of Andalucia. Think of Cotelo negotiating a rapprochement with his assistant. Acknowledge hearty thanks from happy family and friends.

    Monday, 30 May 2011

    Four Star Review on Amazon UK

    Received a first review on Amazon UK. Four stars no less. 

    "... original in its theme, coherent in its writing, with good descriptions of place and character and delivers appealingly cinematic action scenes."

    You can read the full, and fairly lengthy review HERE.
    I'm very pleased, and feeling a little humbled, that the reader took the time and trouble to post a review. 

    If you're still dithering about whether to splash out £2.06/€2,32 or $2.99 on the Kindle version go check out the review. 

    Or, if you don't have a Kindle, go to Barnes & Noble and buy the Nook version HERE

    Or, if you have an i-Pad, (yes, I mean you, Sumner) go to the Apple Store HERE, download the FREE i-book app and go to the i-bookstore.

    Or, visit the Diesel store HERE.

    Or, you could venture over to Smashwords HERE.

    And, if you don't have any of these gadgets you'll have to wait for the print version priced at £7.99 in the UK.

    Friday, 20 May 2011


    After Goya is now in the Smashwords Premium Catalog.

    Big deal. 

    Yes, it is a big deal.

    Smashwords is a distributor of ebooks. They have distribution agreements with ... well, just about everyone who's anyone in ebook retail - Apple i-Tunes, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Kobo, Sony,  etc, etc, etc. 

    Inclusion in the catalog means Goya is accessible to readers in Australia and New Zealand as well as the States and Europe and the U.K. (via Kindle).

    So, it is a big deal.

    The ebook as formatted by ebookation and distributed by Smashwords:

    ISBN: 978-1-4581-2596-5

    Monday, 25 April 2011

    Well, here it is - the revised cover for After Goya - now available as a Kindle ebook.

    Yes, that's right, the Kindle edition went live on Sant Jordi (Saint George's Day).

    If you want to buy it in Euroland for only €2,32 inc. tax, go HERE (the Amazon Germany site).

    If you'd like to buy it in Poundland for only £2.06 inc. VAT then go HERE (the Amazon UK site).

    And, if you'd like to purchase this "intelligent literary thriller" for only $2.99 in U.S. currency then go HERE (the Amazon U.S. Kindle store ).

    I had hoped to be able to offer you a FREE copy of the ebook, by way of celebrating Sant Jordi, in all popular ebook reader formats (e.g. Nook, EPub, Sony reader, Kobo etc), via Smashwords, however, such was not possible.

    The print version is on schedule to be available in the U.K. during the first week of June, priced at 7.99.  I'll let you know as soon as I know.

    Within four hours of going live in the States I'd sold a copy. The reader downloaded it to their i-Pad via the kindle app. The reader, from Durham in North Carolina very kindly sent me a message:
    "I stayed up too late reading last night, really enjoyed it so far and got quickly sucked into the plot, well done! As for format issues on the kindle, none encountered so far. I am reading it on an iPad with the Kindle app."

    Not owning a Kindle, nor an iPad, I cannot download a copy myself so I was relieved, and pleased, to learn that there appear (so far) to be no formatting issues.

    So, there you go, what are you waiting for? Head over to your preferred Amazon store and sample a few pages before you buy.

    Wednesday, 20 April 2011


    After Goya's core premise is built around the re-emergence of two miniature paintings by Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes
    74 years after having been presumed destroyed or looted following an air-raid on Madrid during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

    You may scoff, or be unconvinced, at the conceit.

    However, the air-raid, on November 19th, 1936, really did happen (SEE Antony Beevor's The Battle for Spain page 203), and did cause extensive damage to the Duke of Alba's Palacio de Liria, and artworks were destroyed, damaged and went missing.

    In 2008 three drawings by Goya re-emerged after 130 years of being presumed lost.
    In 2010 the three drawings on paper fetched a total of £4,010,150 at auction in London.
    Go HERE to read the background on how the three drawings, last seen in a Paris exhibition in 1877, re-appeared in 2008.

    And, just last week, (no, I'm not making this up) a painting by Goya (and a painting by El Greco) was discovered in a house in Alicante, 14 years after disappearing during transit from the United States to Spain after an exhibition in New York. The UK Independent covered the story HERE and, for more detail, go  HERE.

    I find it uncanny how not only was the Goya re-discovered at this time, while review copies of After Goya are being distributed to magazines and blogs, but how there is a Barcelona connection. Yes, the re-discovered Goya once belonged to Catalan businessman, Julio Muñoz Ramonet, who owned properties on Carrer Muntaner and Carrer Avenir. Muñoz Ramonet's surviving family are currently involved in litigation with Barcelona City Council over ownership. Go HERE to read the background.

    This story of re-discovery, happening as it does, combined with the spooky coincidence of After Goya being published on Goya's birthday, would be mannah for an adept and able book publicist. But, other than tell you about it, I'm  really not sure how best to exploit these coincidences.

    I didn't know of either instance of re-discovery during the writing of After Goya. I first came across mention of the Alicante Goya on William Newton's fascinating blog - go HERE and scroll down.

    Saturday, 2 April 2011


    The novelist, critic and editor, Ford Madox Ford once famously said, “Open a book to page ninety-nine, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you.”

    Well, at the risk of public humiliation, but in the spirit of transparency and sharing, here is Page 99 of After Goya:

         ‘Asking you to interview the bank manager in Madrid was not a little errand.’ Cotelo tapped the table with an emphatic finger. ‘And the reports? Well, that’s just bullshit isn’t it? Didn’t think you’d be interested in the paperwork. Thought you wanted action. Thought you wanted to be out there, on the streets, tracking our man. And, as for belittling your suggestions, well, we’re here aren’t we? You said they were heading for Córdoba and here we are – in Córdoba.’
         He looked at Cotelo, trying to read his expression. He couldn’t tell whether he was being sincere or not. He hesitated, wavering on the edge of feeling chastened. He allowed him the benefit of his doubt and continued eating his soup.
         ‘For what it’s worth, I think you’re doing a good job.’ Cotelo wiped his chin with a napkin. ‘These surveillance jobs are never easy. They’re frustrating. You just want to get in there and get your man, or woman. S’only natural. We all want to do what we’re paid to do – catch crooks and lock ’em up. But, well, when there’s a bigger catch, and it means taking time, watching, waiting, laying a trap, then ...’ Cotelo shrugged, pushed his empty dish aside and poured himself a glass of red wine.
         ‘So, what do you think he’s up to?’ he asked.
         ‘As I’ve said before, that’s not our job. We watch, we observe, we allow our observations–’
         ‘Yes, I understand that, but you must be curious. You’re a detective!’
         ‘I have my ideas, of course, but–’
         ‘I don’t think the Boss would have sent you to just watch. Sooner or later he’s going to ask you to close in and close it down, whatever it is.’
         ‘Maybe. But maybe the Boss is just keeping me out of the way, sending me on a little errand.’
         ‘And, why would he do that?’
         ‘Stop me following up a case I’ve been working on.’
         The waiter arrived at the table with their second courses.
         ‘Which case?’

    So, what do you think?

    There are a couple of little niggly things in there that I'd change if writing it again. And, it's a bit dialogue heavy and light on speech tags, but ... I think it's fairly clear what's going on and who is talking to who. And, there's some intrigue:  "... close in and close it down, whatever it is." What is the it that is being referred to?
    And, why would Cotelo's boss prevent him from following up a case he's been working on?
    Well, you'll have to turn the page to find out. 

    What do you think? All comments gratefully received.

    Friday, 1 April 2011


    Incredible - but true! 
    The very same day I received news that my novel AFTER GOYA is now published was the anniversary of Goya's birth. 
    Goya was born on March 30th, 1746.
    Spooky or what?

    And, no, this is not an April Fools stunt.

    Wednesday, 30 March 2011

    Food & Drink: 1 - Soberano

    A good many readers enjoy the mentions of food and drink in After Goya.

    They say they add not only colour, but also a certain depth to the experience of reading an adventure set in modern-day Spain.

    Good, that's as it should be.

    The main character, Jordi Cotelo, drinks coñac, and, more specifically, Soberano. A few readers have asked, 'Why Soberano and not, say, Veterano, or Magno, or Terry, or Mascaró?'  All very popular brands of brandy in Spain.

    Well, setting aside popular associations of class (for example, Mascaró is considered a luxury brand when really it's not) there's a double-edged play on words going on, and an allusion to a missing fragment of the jigsaw that is modern-day Spain.

    In castellano Soberano means the equivalent of sovereign. In  Spanglish Soberano echoes sober (sobrio) plus año - year; implying age.
    This sober-older association with Cotelo's choice of drink infers he is older, more sober - he's no eager young naif.

    And the allusion to a missing part of the jigsaw?

    Well, much of After Goya is taken up with characters asking and placing who was where when?
    Passing reference is made to the 'Monarchists' - but it's not stated which monarchists.
    Passing reference is made to the 23rd of February, 1981 (23-F in Spanish history), when King Juan Carlos stayed up through the night, hustling between factions and broadcasting calls for calm, unity and, ultimately, the surrender of patsy Coronel Tejero's gang of Boschistas.

    The King (and, interestingly, the medium of radio), and the institution of constitutional monarchy, came out winners of the debacle. The monarch's subsequent approval ratings prompted the old Stalinist butcher, Santiago Carillo (then posing as a Euro-communist), to say, "God save the king. Today, we are all monarchists."

    Juan Carlos had proved to be a steadying, sober influence.

    He may not be mentioned by name in After Goya - but Juan Carlos is there in spirit.

    Monday, 29 March 2010


    "This started off at a cracking pace and I loved the surprise 70-year jump to the present. The characters were engaging and convincing … The subject matter is interesting too ... an eye-opener … a fine international thriller … a really enjoyable and satisfying read with all the important ingredients that make and season a good thriller. I thought this was excellent and a great read."

    Tuesday, 16 March 2010


    "Liked the pace of this piece and the themes and ideas. I think the pace is cracking ... All interesting stuff and a highly enjoyable read."

    Monday, 8 March 2010


    "I am extremely impressed ...
    an excellent and accomplished writer who has that wonderful capability of convincing the reader that the characters, locations and plot are all authentic."

    Tuesday, 23 February 2010

    Ian Rankin @BCNegra 2010

    Ian Rankin was in town a couple of weeks ago. He was here to receive the Pepe Carvalho prize. The prize, named after Manuel Vázquez Montalbán's detective, is awarded annually to a writer working in the crime genre in recognition of their career achievements. Established in 2005 previous winners include: Michael Connelly, P. D. James, Henning Mankell and Francisco González Ledesma.

    The Prize giving, held at the City Hall in Barcelona, coincides with a week long festival of crime writing - BCNegra. And so it was that Ian Rankin took part in a round-table discussion at a former chapel in the Raval.

    I went along with a friend, and fellow writer, to check it out.

    Well, I went along to check it out but I also had another agenda. I'm still in search of a well-known writer to scan my novel After Goya and provide a suitably glowing endorsement for the cover. Who better, I thought, than Mr Rankin? Well read, well liked and well regarded creator of one of the UK's most popular fictional characters, surely his imprimatur would strike the right chord with a lot of potential, discerning readers?

    I only have one heavily marked up and annotated proof copy at home so I printed off the first chapter and cover design and took them along. I could have ordered a clean version but I didn't want to weigh the man down. I thought if I could persuade him to take the first fifteen pages then, if he liked what he'd read, I would send him an ARC.

    I bottled it.

    Before the talk started I sat at a café terrace table immediately next to his, not intentionally, he just happened to be sitting at the next table to where my friend was sitting. He was with a group of four or five people. I wasn't nervous, or anything like, but I didn't want to crash his conversation. It didn't seem polite to interrupt his pre-stage quiet time. Maybe catch him afterwards I thought, congratulate him on the prize, and ask whether he was enjoying Barcelona. Not thinking, of course, there would be a very long line of readers all wanting him to sign copies of their books.

    What a plonker. (Me! Not him!)

    But, to be honest, I did feel a bit of a fraud. I've only read two of the man's books. And there I was, without a copy of his book to sign, contemplating asking him to read, and in a sense, sign, my book.

    His talk was good, he gives good chat. It wasn't so much a round-table discussion, more that he was being prompted by a trio of writers and readers. Interesting and witty, though, as my friend noted, his chat was very much more aimed at readers rather than writers. Nonetheless it was an entertaining and pleasant way to spend an hour or so in the Raval (Montalbán's childhood barrio).

    If you enjoy crime fiction, and if you ever get the chance, then do get yourself along to BCNegra. It really is a very good event, with a range of interesting discussions featuring some very interesting and talented writers from across the globe. Most events are simultaneously translated (and the translation is good) and all are free.

    And I'm still left with the problems of who, and how, to approach a well-known writer to give me a good quote for my cover. Any ideas?

    Monday, 22 February 2010


    "An exciting and intriguing thriller with such an involved plot!

    All the same, a cracking tale ... almost a Spanish Maigret ... a really good read ... all the makings of a page turner."

    Monday, 15 February 2010


    "This story has a fast-paced plot, well drawn characters, strong imagery and a good bit of tension to carry the reader along. The characters were believable and their motivations seemed genuine ... Overall, an intriguing and enjoyable read."

    Monday, 8 February 2010


    "I would buy this book. Personally, this novel is interesting to me because it takes place in cities and regions I know: the Costa del Sol, Madrid. I know about art, and the Spanish Civil War, and, having lived in Eastern Europe, understand the Russians. The story was much better than I expected . . . the plot was sophisticated. The dialogue is realistic. The characters are compelling. I want to read more ... I am really impressed . . . and I read a lot."

    Monday, 11 January 2010


    "This was a great read. Well drawn and observed characters and locations. The story has a strong sense of movement which carries the reader along without being encumbered by too much detail and expostion. Where needed the exposition is well handled ... You have a literate but easy style ... In parts the extract is very cinematic - some would see this as a problem but not this reader. There are some wonderful moments ... the extract left me wanting to know more."

    Monday, 21 December 2009


    "This is a great story ... a page turning thriller. The characters were well defined, well created and each was very disitinct. They were believable and immediately became very real in my head, which to me is a sign of creating a good strong character. I thought the storyline and pace were good, and didn't feel any lulls in the plot. It was intriguing and I felt compelled to read on. The style you write in I feel complements the genre you have chosen very well.
    ... I was very impressed at the level of knowledge displayed in the historical parts. If the writer is comfortable with a subject it always shows, as it did here. Altogether I thought these were very good and extremely well written chapters."

    Monday, 14 December 2009


    "I have to admit that this is not the sort of thing I usually read but nonetheless I found it engaging and very well described as well as written. The language and dialogue fitted the story perfectly and the characters and settings were believable and even tangible. It flowed very well too although the odd sentence did seem a bit abrupt and short; however, this did not detract from the story. If anything it made it better, particularly in the beginning where it gave the plot a snappy pace. It maintained a believable and constant pace throughout. I'll say it again, although not my favourite sort of literature, I found this thoroughly enjoyable."

    Monday, 7 December 2009


    "This is a taut and well-written story which has mystery, drama and authenticity. You have an eye for detail and great knowledge of the subject, background and settings.

    Overall this is a professional piece of work and I could see it as a good holiday read.

    Monday, 30 November 2009


    "This is my kind of story, I am extremely impressed. You are an excellent and accomplished writer who has that wonderful capability of convincing the reader that the characters, locations and plot are all authentic."

    Monday, 23 November 2009


    " ... like something Greg Isles or Peter James would write and I think this is a very captivating story with interesting characters ... it works very well. The settings are interesting and you seem to know a lot about Spain and Spanish customs/food etc.
    All in all an entertaining read."

    Monday, 16 November 2009


    "What a great story! It unfolds quite nicely whilst keeping twists to lead you off on another track. Your knowledge of Spain is obviously an important part of your theme, and it gives it the colour that adventure stories need. The start had me believing I was in the plane and having just completed a confrontation, then the switch in time of Chapter One brings things alive.
    The impatience of the surveillance team gives feeling to the frustration of the job. The mystery of the characters and their role in the search for the paintings is well held.
    This story held me throughout ... making a very good novel. The snippets of comedy serve us to recall the skills of Ian Fleming's style ... An excellent piece of work."