Author Spotlight no.54 – AJ Kirby

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the fifty-fourth, is of horror, crime, thriller novelist (and other genres) Andrew ‘AJ’ Kirby.

AJ Kirby is the award-winning author of five novels (Paint this town Red, 2012; Perfect World, 2011; Bully, 2009; The Magpie Trap, 2008; When Elephants Walk through the Gorbals, 2007), two novellas (The Black Book, 2011; and Call of the Sea, 2010), one novelette (Bed Peace, 2011) and over forty published short stories. He is also a sportswriter for the Professional Footballers’ Association and a reviewer for The Short Review and The New York Journal of Books.

And now from the author himself:

When Mister Hyde Rears His Ugly Head: The Editing Process by AJ Kirby

I’ve recently finished editing and proofing (for about the fifth time) the manuscript which will magically transform, like a caterpillar into a butterfly (or some such) into my fourth published novel Paint this town Red. And last night I realised I’ve become a stickler, a right old Lynn Truss-er, the kind of person driven so mad by a spelling mistake or punctuation error that I feel duty bound to correct it in red ink (or blood) IN MASSIVE LETTERS.

And I realise this admission sets me up for the biggest of falls. Anyone reading this will doubtless already be scanning the text of this spotlight, eagle-eyes peeled for a missed comma or a ‘there’ for a ‘their’, ready to get in touch to point out the error of my ways, but that’s just something I’ll have to accept*. Because right now I am very much Mister Hyde. My cold, logical left brain has taken over, at least for a while, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Back to last night. To set the scene, my girlfriend Heidi and I were slouched on the sofa watching the local news on TV. We’d suffered through alarming features on the worrying increase of unemployed people in the Yorkshire region, sad news on the weather, and on local sports teams, and at last we were about to be served up the sugar for the pill, the And Finally… piece. Cut to the two presenters, Mr. Smarmy and Ms. Fake-Smile. Smarmy said something nasty about Fake-Smile’s hair, for some reason. Fake-Smile’s professional mask almost slipped out of place, but somehow, she ignored him, and read from the auto-queue.

‘And now on to a delightful story about a two sisters from the Humberside region. Identical twins, they’ve been inseparable since birth, and they’ve now reached their milestone sixtieth birthdays…’

An image flashed up on screen. Two old ladies who shared a hair-cut, dress sense, and that slightly lost look in their eyes. Underneath them, in bold newsy-text, this was written: INSEPERABLE.

Mister Hyde chose that moment to come out to play. He growled. ‘That’s not how you spell inseparable.’ Somewhere inside me, the kindly Doctor Jekyll murmured. ‘Are you sure? It doesn’t look right, yes, but maybe you’ve just been looking at a screen too long today. Maybe your mind’s scrambled.’

Hyde was sure. ‘How can they make a spelling mistake like that? Do they not have checkers? Proof-readers? What if children see that and just believe it’s the right way of spelling that word?’

Heidi sighed. She couldn’t hear the delightful way the Humberside twins were finishing each other’s sentences nor find out why they owned identical wardrobes. ‘Does it matter?’ she said.

And Hyde took that to mean are you sure it’s spelled wrong? Hyde grabbed for the remote, jammed his thumb on the rewind button. (Yes, we have all the mod-cons, even Sky Plus.) Skipped back into the story about a cold weather front sweeping down through Todmorden. Growled. Fast-forwarded. Saw the grinning faces of Mr. Smarmy and Ms. Fake-Smile again. Pressed play. And then the image appeared again. The image and the misspelled word. ‘There!’ Hyde yelled, victoriously. ‘I told you.’

Heidi still looked doubtful though. So Hyde booted up the old laptop, ignored a few killer emails which had deadlines attached, and headed for Google. Found an online dictionary. Found proof that he was right. Showed it to damsel in distress on the sofa. She nodded, sighed again, and fast-forwarded the TV so we were back live again.

And Hyde realised there was such a thing as taking editing too far, and promptly pressed ‘send’, releasing Paint this town Red to the publisher for the last time. Then he settled back and, with the assistance of Jekyll – whose more flowery prose was helpful in epistolary terms – penned a letter to the local news team informing them of their mistake.

*If any readers can spot the deliberate mistake in this spotlight, they can feel free to email me at with full details, as well as name and address. I will select one winner at random to receive a copy of the novel Paint this town Red as soon as it is published.

Thank you, Andy, that’s very generous of you! I’m a red penner every step of the way – it feels powerful, somehow. 🙂 You can find more about Andy and his writing via his…

Author website –

Goodreads Author Page –

Amazon Author Page –

New York Journal of Books –

Facebook Novel Home Page –


The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with murder mystery author Merlin Fraser – the two hundred and sixty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords (Amazon to follow).

5 thoughts on “Author Spotlight no.54 – AJ Kirby

  1. Yvonne Hertzberger says:

    My chuckle for the day. I have the same, albeit less extreme, response to poor spelling and editing in the public media. I mean, didn’t they attend school? Who were their teachers, anyway? Fire the lot of them. English is going to the dogs. Am I the only one who cares any more?. Really!!


  2. andrewkirby92 says:

    Thanks for the comments guys. That’s three of us who care! Let’s make a stand! Or is my over-use of excalamtion marks already a writing faux pas? Still, you have to wonder at the general dumbing down in the media these days. English – the dogs = they’re already very good friends.


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