BARRY GRAHAM, Scottish author, journalist, Zen monk in U.S. Books include THE BOOK OF MAN (an American Library Association best book of the year), THE WRONG THING (finalist for SPINETINGLER MAGAZINE best novel of the year), WHEN IT ALL COMES DOWN TO DUST (a MYSTERY PEOPLE best book of the year) and KILL YOUR SELF: LIFE AFTER EGO, an Amazon Kindle bestseller in the Zen category.

Books written, books to write

I’m gratified by the response so far to One for My Baby. It’s a radical departure for me in various ways - the first book of mine with no reference to childhood, and with no backstory at all, and certainly the most stripped-down book I’ve written. My ambition was to get as close to having a blank page as it’s possible to get while still having a story.

It’s the fourth book in what I call my Phoenix Noir sequence (the others are How Do You Like Your Blue-Eyed Boy?, The Wrong Thing and When It All Comes Down to Dust, and I think it’ll be the last book I set in Phoenix for a while, though I intend to write a sequel to When It All Comes Down to Dust at some point. I’ve written about Phoenix since shortly after arriving there in 1995, and I’ve now said as much as I have to say about life there for the time being. 

My next book, which I’ve already started, is a cyberpunk story with no specific setting. I also want to write a book of stories set in Scotland, a place I stopped writing about after The Book of Man, and only started writing about again with a story I wrote in 2012, "Big Davey Joins the Majority." Writing that story unearthed something long-buried (and, I had thought, dead), and I realized that I have more stories to tell set in that small, cold country whose accent I still speak with.

And I want to write a Western. And a Zen police procedural series.


James Johnson, a.k.a. J.J. Johnson, Jameson Johnson and Jimmy Carroll Johnson, is not an ex-cop or ex-rescue swimmer - but he’s still an ex-armed robber


"J.J.Johnson’s" OK Cupid photo - does the T-shirt mean another new name is imminent?


The fascinating thing about convicted armed robber Jimmy Carroll Johnson, later known as Jameson Johnson and, most recently, J.J. Johnson, is his mix of intelligence and stupidity - or perhaps insanity.

If you had gone to a new city to reinvent yourself and leave a criminal past behind, would you constantly call attention to yourself by becoming a public figure and telling absurd, Walter Mitty-esque stories about yourself that cast you as a hybrid of James Bond and the hero of Die Hard? Johnson can’t seem to stop himself.

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In Phoenix, Public Transport Will Only Work If We Have Shade

Image: dustinphillips via flickr CC license

Here in Phoenix, the predicted high temperature today is 115 degrees. On Sunday morning at The Sitting Frog Zen Center, we discovered that all the candles had melted in the heat.
The light rail (We built it, you bastards, as Jon Talton is fond of saying) which opened at the end of 2008, has been a success, and has proved the potential of an efficient public transport system - something that, however addicted you are to your car, is becoming increasingly necessary. But weather like this means that only the youngest and hardiest can get by without a car, unless their home and their destination are adjacent to a light rail stop. For public transport to be viable year-round, we need to spend as much on creating shade as on buying trains and buses.