Now 0.007% swearier!

When little brown envelopes land on my doormat I usually regard them with suspicion. LBEs usually come from some greedyarsewit arm of the government wanting to help themselves to the contents of my pockets, leaving behind nothing but lint and a strange smell. But this time it was from HarperCollins: hurrah! Containing not one, but two bits of mail sent via my publishers.

One was a lovely postcard from Brian Rust, telling me how much he'd enjoyed DYING LIGHT (available from all good bookstores), even if it did make people look at him funny on the train as he laughed inappropriately.

The other was from a Mrs J Usher of Australia and goes like this:

Dear Sirs,

I have recently attempted to read your publication 'Dying Light' by Stuart MacBride*. I'm sure it's a good story**, however, I abandoned it one third of the way through***. The constant stream of obscenities and offensive bodily references**** made the police appear the lowest of the low, and greatly detracted from the story.

I will not read this author again and neither will many others*****. Some bad language is found in most books today******, but this was excessive and totally unnecessary.

Yours faithfully,


She actually included her email address, just in case anyone from the publishers wanted to get back to her and apologise in person for the bad language.

But to be fair, she did buy a book about prostitutes getting battered to death. One might reasonably expect there to be a minimum of bad language involved. After all, there are standards that need to be maintained. Look, I'm maintaining one now: can you see me? Mmm, standardy... On the other hand, she should have known what she was getting into from the start, it does say on the back cover -- "Warning: contains graphic violence, scenes of an adult nature, and sexual swearwords!" -- OK, it doesn't, I just made that up. But it'd be cool if it did.

So, in the interests of avoiding doing any actual work, I decided to go take a look. And maybe do some sort of groovy graph thing.

Swearing is neither big nor clever!

As you can see, there were 5 farts in Cold Granite, 4 in Dying Light, but only two in Broken Skin! I'm getting better! Only trouble is the naughty 'F' word -- nearly 200 instances, that's 0.162%! Or one word in every 621! The HORROR!!!

Actually, the second only trouble is the word that can only be politely referred to as 'Ladies Front Bottom' my use of which has gone up by 100% to a staggering 2 instances in the new book! Hang thy head in shame, bearded nasty man! Oh once more the HORROR!!!

Actually, when I did my book launch chat thing at the United Nations earlier this year, the Manageress of Aberdeen's Ottakar's told my dad I was "the sweariest author they'd ever had, except for Irvine Welsh." That went down well. And given the fact last time I was down at her shop they taught me the term, 'Fuck Weasel', I think that's a bit unfair. Mind you, 3D line graphs don't lie, do they?

Anyone want to share their book's rude word count with the class? That way I can do more graphs!*******

* Oh-ho don't like the look of that 'attempted' in there... this does not bode well on the ego-stroking front.
** Hurrah! Maybe I was wrong, maybe the old ego's in for a bit of a foot massage after all!
*** Nope, I was right the first time.
**** One too many fart jokes eh? That's what I get for pandering to the low-browed, like She Who Must Giggle Uncontrollably At A Well-Formed Reference To Bottom-Burping.
***** Quite right too!
****** That's why the world is going to ratshit in a handbasket! Oh damn, I said "shit"... I meant, 'Ratpoop'. Yes, that's much better.
******* Methinks I need to go back to work sooooon!