Phenomenal UK talent from the worlds of comics and children’s fiction sign on for the return of a football icon. 

Rebellion Publishing is proud to reveal its latest set of signings:  the creative team for the highly anticipated 2018 reboot of Roy of the Rovers. 

Internationally acclaimed comics writer Rob Williams (Amazing Spider-Man, Adventures of Superman) and artist Ben Willsher (2000 AD, Doctor Who Magazine) are the team behind the brand-new Roy of the Rovers graphic novels, beginning with Roy of the Rovers: Kick-Off, to be released 6 September 2018.  Best-selling children’s author Tom Palmer (Football Academy, Foul Play) takes the lead on Roy of the Rovers: Scouted, Rebellion’s first foray into middle grade fiction, to be released 4 October 2018.

Also on the Roy of the Rovers team sheet is graphic novel editor Keith Richardson, and Rob Power, who will be editing the middle grade fiction alongside his role as Roy of the Rovers Brand Manager.  

•  Rebellion to launch a brand new, rebooted Roy of the Rovers in 2018.

•  Leading British comic talent Rob Williams and Ben Willsher are the creative team behind new Roy of the Rovers graphic novels.

•  Best-selling British children’s author Tom Palmer to write Roy of the Rovers middle grade fiction. 

•  Publishing plan includes three 56 page hardback graphic novels per football season, launching in September 2018, January 2019 and April 2019.

•  Middle grade illustrated fiction titles to be released alongside the graphic novels, launching in October 2018 and following on in February 2019 and May 2019. 

For more information please contact Roy of the Rovers brand manager 

Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley OBE commented: “Roy of the Rovers is an enormously exciting project for us, and we’ve been working hard to ensure that we respect the legacy of this iconic British character. We’ve assembled an incredibly strong team to bring Roy Race back for the 21st century, and I look forward to following Roy’s journey through the always exciting world of modern football.”  

Rebellion Head of Publishing Ben Smith commented: “We’re delighted to have such a high calibre of creative talent on board for our reboot of Roy of the Rovers. Rob, Ben and Tom’s stories are bursting with all the excitement, drama and football fervour of the classic Roy of the Rovers comics, while giving us a thoroughly modern take on the character.  We can’t wait for a new generation of fans to read them.” 

Rob Williams commented: “I read and loved Roy of the Rovers as a boy – I even had the old Gola Melchester Rovers kit – and I have very fond memories of the Roy annuals arriving on Christmas Day with wonderful David Sque art on their covers. Roy’s a British football icon. Even now, a ‘rocket’-like goal is a Roy of the Rovers moment. So I’m delighted to be part of the passionate team bringing Roy’s adventures to a new era of football fan.” 

Tom Palmer commented: “Millions of girls and boys dream about being their favourite football player and being scouted and playing for their favourite team. I had that dream. Sadly it didn’t come true for me. But, being scouted and succeeding in my trial to write Roy of the Rovers fiction is a dream that has come true. There is no other fictional footballer I would rather be and write. And I intend to write these books with the same passion and commitment Roy shows when he pulls on the red and yellow of Melchester Rovers.” 

Ben Willsher commented: “Roy of the Rovers was a big part of my childhood. The annuals stacked up in my bookshelf, and the comics burst out of my cupboards. Growing up I dreamed of helping Roy score goals and lead Melchester to the top…. I finally get to do that- result!”



Rob Williams is a writer, mainly of comic books. He is currently writing Suicide Squad for DC Comics, where his previous credits include Martian Manhunter, Batman 66, Sensation Comics, Adventures of Superman, Legends of The Dark Knight, and Madame X. He has also written Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor for Titan Comics, and Amazing Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America and The Falcon, and Revolutionary War for Marvel. His Rebellion credits include Judge Dredd, The Ten-Seconders, and The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael for 2000 AD. Rob supports Arsenal. In 5-a-side he is, sadly, more Nigel Winterburn than Thierry Henry.
For more information, visit




Tom Palmer is the author of 40 books for children about sport and history. His books include the Football Academy and Foul Play series, published by Puffin, as well as Over the Line, a fictional account of the World War One Footballers’ Battalion. Tom is a regular speaker in schools and works closely with organisations like the National Literacy Trust and the British Council to promote reading for pleasure.
His website is




Ben Willsher is a British comics illustrator, whose credits include Judge Dredd, Durham Red, Strontium Dog, Tharg’s Future Shocks and Sinister Dexter for 2000 AD, alongside extensive cover work for both 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine. Ben has also illustrated several stories for various Doctor Who annuals, and his work has been regularly featured in the Doctor Who Magazine.
For more information, visit






Rebellion is an internationally renowned video games developer/publisher and leading publisher of comics and fiction, based in Oxford, UK. Founded in 1992 by Chris and Jason Kingsley, Rebellion’s titles include the bestselling Sniper Elite series, the wildly popular Nazi Zombie Trilogy, and PlayStation VR title Battlezone. The company is home to legendary UK comic 2000 AD and is the proud custodian of Judge Dredd, and recently acquired an extensive archive of Fleetway comics from Egmont UK, in a deal that included titles such as Roy of the Rovers, Misty, Charley’s War and many, many more. The publishing division is also home to award-winning science fiction imprints Solaris and Abaddon, and is proud to publish some of the finest talents in genre fiction.


Roy of the Rovers is the stuff of legend. Charting the career of charismatic Melchester Rovers striker Roy Race, Roy of the Rovers first appeared as a strip in Tiger in 1954, proving an instant smash with football-mad boys. Graduating to its own comic in 1976, Roy of the Rovers was where a generation of British football fans went for drama and glory, and ran for over 800 issues. Extolling the virtues of fair play, teamwork and great goals, Roy of the Rovers is the definitive football comic, and is set to return in 2018.



Reading of ‘Rain’ at Flash Fiction Armagh (blog post with media file)

On Thursday 22nd March I was invited, along with a selection of other Irish authors, to read at the inaugural Flash Fiction Armagh event held in the Mulberry Bistro in Armagh City.  The venue was beautiful, situated opposite on of the city’s two picturesque cathedrals – hey, why have one cathedral when you can have two, right! 🙂 – and there was a very lively and appreciative and receptive crowd in attendance.

The event was very ably organised by Byddi Lee, who coordinates a writer’s group in Armagh City, and herself grew up in Armagh and moved to Belfast to study at Queen’s University. She has since lived in South Africa, Canada, California and Paris before returning to live in her hometown, Armagh relatively recently. She has published flash fiction, short stories and, in 2014, her novel, March to November. She is currently working on a trilogy that starts in Armagh in the near future, where the elderly have suddenly begun to get younger with devastating consequences. Byddi also blogs about life, both at home and abroad called, “We didn’t come here for the grass.

The line-up for the first Flash Fiction Armagh event was selected after their work was submitted for consideration and can be seen below:

Jay Faulker, ‘Rain’
Catherine Carson, ‘Spectrum’
Réaltán Ní Leannáin, ‘Dílis’
Damien Mallon, ‘Reading The Trees’
Pamela Brown, ‘Mansfield House’
Réamonn Ó Ciaráin, ‘The Boy Corps of Eamhain Mhacha’
Trish Bennett, ‘Power of a Peeler’
Karen Mooney, ‘A Fond Farewell’
Seán Ó Farraigh, ‘Neamhchiontach go dtí go gcruthaítear a mhalairt’
Christopher Moore, ‘The Dark Hedges’
Malachi Kelly, ‘Scoring in the Seventies’

It was a really, really strong mix of genres and styles including darker fiction, mythology, poetic literature, etc; while I suppose us writers shouldn’t have our favourites – maybe it’s like choosing between our children – for me (even though it was extremely hard as their wasn’t a single weak story in the whole night) I had two stand-out pieces: Karen Mooney’s’ A Fond Farewell’ was a very personal story about the passing of her father but it was told in such a way that it was about the loss of everyone’s loved ones but it never got saccharine or even maudlin, it was celebratory as well as loving.  Catherine Carson’s ‘Spectrum’, for me, though was the stand-out story of the night; it told the tale of a moment in time – probably no more than minutes, at most – in the day in the life of a mother and her growing up too fast/too soon/too hard son with autism, but it also told the tale within a tale of that same son when he was still a small child when he looked at her, and really saw her, and how quickly that moment passed. It was a tale of love and struggles, and constant tiredness and never giving up. I adored it. I adored Catherine’s writing. I cannot wait to read more of her work!

One of my sons, Mackenzie, was with me – and persuaded me to let him stay out waaaaaay after his bedtime – and when asked what his favourite part of the night was, or his favourite story was, he just looked at me, wide-eyed, and said three words: “All of it!” Fair to say he enjoyed himself …though you’d think that there’d have been at least some nepotism in there and he might have said ‘Rain’, ey?! 🙂

For me it was only one of a double handful (certainly less than 10) times I’ve done a public reading – more if you include times I’ve spoken about medical matters I suppose but I don’t count them  as, unfortunately, they may be science but their definitely not fiction 🙂 – and only the second that I’ve been filmed.  I normally don’t even like photos let alone videos but, this time, I just rolled with it (a very dear friend of mine, whose advice I constantly listen to and always ‘try’ to follow …even if I don’t always manage to ‘do’ it … called Mercedes is amazing in front of the microphone and screen and when I interviewed her on the radio I recall she said just ‘be yourself’, and is always just that, she just rolls with things, no matter how hectic – and our lives are ALWYAS hectic 🙂 ) so I’m taking her advice, again, and posting the video of me, my actual face, my actual voice, reading my actual words.

So one more random weird thing: at the reading I read my piece, ‘Rain’, which is about a fireman who is in the middle of a search and rescue operation for two boys lost in a flood; it’s not the happiest of pieces, and told in first person, from the perspective of the dejected, tired, and very cold fireman who is losing hope very fast. I was told, afterwards, that people enjoyed the story and I read well but – and I’m SO glad I didn’t know this in advance! – there was an actual fireman in the audience and he told me he loved it and I’d really captured the feelings and atmosphere well but … someone that could have been the protagonist was there, listening to me talk about him.  Yeah, no pressure!!!~

Anyway, here is my reading:



2018 British Martial Arts Awards Nomination

I’ve just found out that I’ve been nominated for a 2018 British Martial Arts Award!

To say that I am amazed and humbled doesn’t quite begin to explain how I’m feeling but it’s an exceptionally special honour as I approach the 30th anniversary of starting my journey in martial arts this coming April.

Big thanks to Anthony Sean Pillage, Sarah and everyone at Warrior’s Assemble for this, as well as the rest of my instructor team at Imperial Dragon Kung Fu who – literally – are world class: Richard Dawson, Lyndon Irwin, Steve Quinn, Jonny Graham and, of course, to all the students throughout the years  because without them I wouldn’t be much of an Instructor now would I? 🙂

First archery competition achieved.

So this happened! 🙂

First competition, first-time at that range, first-time using the new 26lb bow (yes I decided to use it all day, and yes I’m already paying for it, and tomorrow will be worse), and got my first medal for gent’s barebow Bristol 🙂

For the stats curious: total shots were 144 and I made 126 or 87.5% on target (missed most at the start finding the range and my way with the bow – not meant as an excuse though!); hit gold 24 times (3 were 10xs but as the scoring was imperial they only counted as 9s …made my heart soar though! :D) so 19% of my shots were gold); best round was a 999975 with nice grouping, so I’m told. My favourite shot was my last one …it was one of the 10xs, can’t ask for a better end to the day 🙂

The thing for me is that I proved to myself that I CAN do this; maybe not as well as proper archers yet but I lasted the whole day, shot the whole 144 competition (though I couldn’t pull my own arrows out of the boss about 3/4s of the way through but a lovely chap called Des in the Bristol with me very kindly helped out for the last hour or so). The walking to score & fetch arrows is definitely the hardest part, harder than hitting 50 yards consistently (though I think my ‘comfort zone’ is going to be 30 or 40 yards at the moment) and half way through I was the last one back to the shooting line, slower then the archers coming from double the distance …will have to ponder how best to handle this.

Anyhoo – major fun was had, competition was accomplished and completed, medal was unexpectedly achieved, kudos on form was given by some VERY talented archers, invite to another competition in a couple of weeks received, burgeoning friendships made …and body broken 😀 Jaw, neck, left arm, and left arm are wrecked. Lower back and legs ache but bearable. Headache simmering. Breathing surprisingly ok! All worth it.

To sum up: archery – I CAN do this! 🙂

Short story: ‘Shave’ By Jay Faulkner

shaveA while back (six months, but who’s counting? Admittedly I kinda had a nasty dose of pneumonia and was in hospital so that is why I forgot to publicise/pimp the thing 🙂 ) I wrote a piece for the Indiana Voice Journal based on the theme of ‘Freedom’ and the following blurb: ‘This issue wells up from the heart of humanity. Poets and authors from many different countries, including the USA, give us a glimpse of their life, their hopes, their cries for justice, and their struggles for freedom. Topics are as diverse as racial stereotyping; intolerance for gender identity; immigration; elections; the horrors of rape, war, poverty, and genocide. But there is also an exuberant cry rising up from the many voices: one of gratitude, joy, compassion, and…humor.’
Now my piece may not be for everyone as it is dark in places, and has a character that may trigger some homophobic feelings, but, hopefully, there is the light there that I was aiming for (that the editor and publisher saw anyway) to make it worth reading, if you want to take the time to do so of course 🙂

#ArtVsArtist – a glimpse at my other art

Back in the day, before I started writing, I thought that I was going to pursue a career as an artist, preferably as a comic book artist (preferably with Marvel Comics …though I do have a lot of love for DC too). While I am, professionally speaking, an IT Manager for a Criminal Justice Sector organisation, specialising in Information Assurance by day, and attempting to be a writer by night (and parts of some days too) I’m actually, educationally speaking (at least according to my Degree) and artist.

So when I saw a new trend going around on Facebook and Twitter today, called #ArtVsArtist, where people were posting a picture of themselves surrounded by artwork that they had done. Now initially when I saw the sheer array of talent that was on show I decided that I would simply scroll through it all and enjoy what I was seeing rather than post anything myself but then, as time went on, I realised that just because I didn’t* produce artwork as much anymore didn’t mean that I couldn’t/shouldn’t be brave enough to show off some of the work that I had enjoyed making.

So here it is; here is me #ArtVsArtist


#FirstLineFriday: ‘Shave’

bloodfingerTime for First Line Friday folks!

On Friday, authors post the first one or first two lines of a potential work, a work-in-progress, or a published work on their blog, and title the post #FirstLineFriday (just like this). It’s a lot of fun, so feel free to join in!

You can share your link on my blog comments, or on Rami’s (the brains behind FLF), or on Joleene’s, or even or all three places if you want to go crazy 🙂

My #FirstLineFriday comes from something that I have actually just submitted to an anthology that is themed around the concept of ‘Freedom’; my short story is about a man who has spent most of his life in prison after an altercation with his best friend resulted in his death. While there is the obvious take on physical freedom I’ve also tried to touch upon the more ‘spiritual’ freedom that the main character finds in his journey towards redemption as his tries to forgive himself as he finally walks out of jail for the first time in years.

Anyway, here are the first two lines of ‘Shave‘:

The blood seeped into the crease in the folded paper, staining it red, before I felt the cut, and my eyes tried to make sense of the vibrant colour spreading across the letter as the pain hit me. It was just a paper cut but, despite the almost invisible nature of the fine wound, it hurt; it hurt a lot.

So, what do you think? Let me know in the comments below.  While you are at it why don’t you try #FirstLineFriday too? What’s your first line of your current work?

#FirstLineFriday ‘Twice Upon A Time’

brokenglassTrying something new here, inspired by Joleene and Rami.

On Friday, authors post the first one or first two lines of a potential work, a work-in-progress, or a published work  on their blog, and title the post #FirstLineFriday (just like this). It’s  a lot of fun, so feel free to join in!

You can share your link on my blog comments, or on Rami Ungar’s (the brains behind FLF), or on Joleene’s, or even or all three places if you want to go crazy 🙂

My #FirstLineFriday comes from something that I originally wrote as a piece for an anthology (which is shaping up to be a great one, by the way!) that came in at just shy of 8500 words; I wasn’t actually happy with it as I felt that I had to cut the story short to keep it within the allowed word limit of 9000 words and while rejections are never pleasant in some ways this story not making the final cut in the anthology came as a blessing, as I now have the chance to expand it and tell the tale that I actually wanted to originally. Judging by the outlining I have done so far I estimate that it will come in at somewhere around the 20,000 word mark when it is finally finished, so rather than a short story I will have a novella on my hands to wrangle into shape.

Anyway, here are the first two lines of ‘Twice Upon A Time‘, a post-apocalyptic tale of a father and daughter’s struggle to survive in a world that has, quite literally, been turned crazy:

He wasn’t sure what woke him first, the shattering noise as the window exploded inwards, shards of glass peppering his exposed face and arms with pinpricks of hot agony, or the sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach as gravity suddenly lurched, the world dropped, and he was thrown from his bed to land heavily against the wall of his bedroom; he realised, as he opened his eyes with a groan of agony, that it didn’t matter which it was. He was awake either way and, more than that, as he climbed gingerly to his feet, blood running down his muscled chest to pool at the waist band of his shorts, and took in the devastation of his room from the early morning light filtering through the broken window, he realized was lucky to be alive.

So, what do you think? Let me know in the comments below.  While you are at it why don’t you try #FirstLineFriday too? What’s your first line of your current work?

Contest: Grimdark Magazine Battle-Off

mindormetalSo, as a bit of fun, I’ve signed up to Grimdark Magazine’s ‘Battle Off’ which, in their own words, is:

“Grimdark Magazine presents a battle of battles.

From the very first time fantasy and sci-fi authors put pen to paper or fingertips to keys, we love writing a raging battle scene. They are fun, engaging, brutal, gory, whirlwind affairs and a fantastic way to really get into writing. They challenge, and often maim or kill, our characters and are the scenes of heroism and desperation, villainy and plain old bad luck. The best part is that whether an author is self or traditionally published, a good battle scene often brings out that extra level of passion that can really hook a reader.”

Basically there’s an excerpt of a battle scene from one of my fantasy stories (The Crimson Blade, originally published in the fantasy anthology, ‘By Mind or Metal’) and you can read it and vote on how much you liked it …or not, completely up to you.

If you do have time to have a quick read, and a quick vote, it would be appreciated …especially as I am entering the race late, a good few days after everyone else, so there’s a lot of catching up to do!

You can find my entry here:

Free Friday Fiction: The Hand You’re Dealt

hand“Excuse me, sirs, would you care to take your seats?” The calm voice interrupted the pair of men as they chatted and, as they turned to face the speaker, a waiter indicated with a nod of his head that they should follow him. Hands held they arrived at a table covered with green baize and the waiter indicated two vacant chairs – the other six being already filled. As the two men took their places one leaned towards the other and kissed him lightly.

“For luck,” Rick stared into the profile of his friend, noticing the intensity in his expression and lay a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “Hey, are you ok?”

“Not really, Rick,” Jon whispered, watching as the woman across the table from him started to shuffle a pack of cards, ignoring the glances towards them of some of the other players. “Maybe I should have told you before agreeing to this pro-am charity event, but I don’t really know how to play poker”

– – – – –

The pile of chips in the middle of the table was bigger than it had reached at any point previously that evening. Jon looked down at his cards for the fourth time in as many seconds and then glanced up at his one remaining opponent. The obese and sweating man, dressed in an ill-fighting blue suit, with thinning hair swept over his shining cranium, may or may not have stared back at him. The mirrored sunglasses simply showed Jon’s own face so it was hard to tell.

“Your bet, sir.”

Nodding his understanding at the female croupier Jon stared at the pile of chips again. Eight people had started the game, about ninety minutes earlier, and now there was just the two of them left. Rick had folded only the hand before, and Jon knew that only luck had got him to this point, or maybe that bad luck had got rid of the more experienced players ; luck, he was sure, which was about to run out. You could only win so many hands by other people having worse ones. The fact that the fat man – Charlie or Carl, Jon couldn’t remember which – had bet most of his remaining chips worried Jon. The fact that hadn’t even looked at his cards in the last five minutes, just sat there smiling, worried him more. What worried Jon the most, however, was the fact that all he had himself in his hand amounted to nothing more than a hope for a miracle tied together by a common suit.

The river – as Jon had learned the open cards on the table were called not that long ago through quick whispered hints from Rick – showed the Queen of Hearts, the Jack of Hearts, the Queen of Spades and the eight of Diamonds. The one time his opponents mask had slipped, when the smile had appeared, was when the second Queen landed on the table and Jon was sure that the fat man was holding something special in his hand. Glancing at his own cards, again, he stared at them as if they’d tell him what he should do next.

Ten of Hearts, six of Clubs, seven of Diamonds and the King of Hearts.

Even his rudimentary knowledge of poker led him to believe that he held what amounted to only a slim chance, especially with close to a million dollars at stake. Nearly two hundred and fifty thousand dollars of that money was his; while he knew that it would be donated to charity he also knew that Carl’s – or was it Charlie’s? – charity of choice was simply a front for a much more ‘organised’ business than it was for anything worthwhile.

So he knew that, if he lost, the money would be wasted.

As if reading his thoughts the fat man smiled for the first time and stared at him through the mirrored lenses.

“Two Queens in my hand, kid,” The fat man said, shrugging as if daring Jon to call his bluff, then snorted with laughter. “Seems pretty ironic, you know …considering.”

Staring at the fat man, Jon laid his cards face down in front of him again then suddenly pushed all of his chips into the center of the table. The croupier looked at Jon, then the chips, then the other player who, with another small smile, nodded his head and pushed all of his own chips into the middle. A buzz of anticipation played out in the faces and voices of the people who were still watching the game. With a small movement Rick stepped closer to Jon and rested his hand on his shoulder as the dealer dealt the final card.

The fat man – Charlie, Jon suddenly remembered – laughed as threw his cards across the table revealing the two of Spades, the three of Clubs, the Queen of Diamonds and the Queen of Clubs were revealed. He reached out and started to sweep the chips towards him, chubby fingers grasping.

“Four of a kind,” Rick whispered, “Four frikkin’ Queens!”

“I know,” Jon breathed softly, and then started to laugh. “Thank the Gods for that!”

Throwing his own cards face up, across the table they landed beside the last card that the croupier had dealt : the Ace of Hearts.

The fat man paused, glasses slipping down his nose, and stared – bug eyed – at the cards.

At the winning hand.

The chips slipped through his fingers as he rocked back in his seat; reaching out, Jon grabbed Rick by the hands and pulled him close, kissing him deeply.

“People are looking,” Rick said when he managed to get some air.

“Yeah,” Jon replied. “I know. Do you think they’ve never seen a Royal Flush before?”

– – – – –

As they walked, hand in hand, towards the car – knowing that close to one million dollars was being sent to UNICEF – Rick suddenly stopped, turning to face Jon with a quizzical look on his face.

“There is something I don’t get.”


“You said that you didn’t know how to play poker.”

“That’s right, I don’t.”

“But you out-played Charlie Parker. You beat the unbeatable.”


“… Jon?”


“Did you think that he was bluffing?”

“…erm, no, not really. I thought he might be telling the truth.”

“You didn’t know then, did you?!”

“About what?”

“About the cards – about his hand – about the odds of you getting that last card?”

“Nope. Not a clue.”

“All that money, though, what were you thinking?”

“Simple. After everything that we have been through, after every choice we have had to make and every piece of bigoted crap we’ve had to face I knew there were only two choices, two paths – victory or defeat – I did the only sensible thing.”

“What – you guessed; you gambled?”

“No. I won.”

– – – – –

If you must play, decide upon three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time. ~Chinese Proverb