The True and Untold Story of the Outlaw Tam Barker

I’ve been umming and ahhing over this post for a while, now. I’m not very good with self-promotion; it doesn’t sit right with me but, I guess, sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns.

I’ve got a new book out: The True and Untold Story of the Outlaw Tam Barker. You can get it here. It looks like this:

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There we go: that’s that bit done.

Part of the reason I’m a bit reticent to promote this one is that it’s had something of a difficult birth.

It isn’t the story or the characters; they sorted themselves out, quite cheerfully. What it is is that the book’s racked up some opposition, in The Industry. The main reason seems to be some of the issues it touches on, stuff like censorship, library closures and lying to the masses. It was made pretty clear to me that some people in power don’t like that sort of thing being told to teens.

So, I’ve done it anyway.

Tam is a character that shot her way out of my head in a cloud of gunsmoke and onto the page about a year ago – but I wasn’t quite sure who or what she was at the time.  As I started out writing Tam, there was an awful lot in the media about library cuts, the lack of championing mainstream children’s literature, the government was starting to make noises about what young adults ought and ought not be reading and there was even talk of banning books from prisons. Now, I’m not – or wasn’t – much of a political animal, but I don’t like being lied to, I don’t like being told what to do without good reason and don’t like being dumbed-down to.

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So, like any rational human being, I read loads of Judge Dredd comics, watched a load of westerns, soaked-up some sci-fi and listened to lots of angry music from my less-grey days. The thing that got under my skin was a constant central voice; a figure, uncompromising and with an unwavering moral compass: The Man with No Name from, the Spaghetti Westerns.

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And then I wondered what it would be like if it was a Girl with No Name; a female Clint Eastwood, raining bullets (or laser-beams) and judgement on all that she found wrong with the world.

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Tam Barker was born. Tam Barker: the Last Librarian.

 

You won’t find her demurely telling people to shush; you’ll find her cocking her Smartgun, while trying to hunt down a book banned by the Powers and, along the way, trying to find out who she is.

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That’s about the size of it. Weirdly, this story has started to feel like the book in the book, if you see what I mean: ‘the book they tried to ban’. It might not be quite as dramatic as all that but I’ve found it interesting, frustrating, disappointing and weirdly empowering to have written some words that have caused such a strong reaction.

Pens and swords and all that.

So, the True and Untold Story of the Outlaw Tam Barker is now a real thing.

I won’t be doing much more in the way of spreading the word; I’m hoping that the book will speak for itself and that the word will spread itself.

Final, pithy quote from the book, to end on:

“It’s a truth,” Jangles shrugged. “And a truth’s got to come out.”