Chuck Loyola’s Blood Libel is a brooding, dark, angry, noir-ish political thriller from 1990 that’s spookily relevant to today’s news headlines.
But the story of how this book came to be re-published is almost as mysterious as the novel itself.
The book was out of print for 25 years until New Street Author Andy Conway set out to track down the writer who still remains something of an enigma.
In 1990, Chuck Loyola was the pen name of a black journalist who wrote a gritty exposé of inner-city political corruption at the height of the Thatcher years, an inner-city noir which set up idealistic black journalist Howie Earls against an array of foes in the shape of crooked local councillors, violent political gangsters, satanic child abusers, and a one-eyed killer called the Cyclops.
The journalist who called himself ‘Chuck Loyola’ published a few hundred copies of Blood Libel in a self-publishing venture that was twenty years ahead of its time. But the book died a quiet death in community and radical bookstores around the country, and the author’s dreams of sequels and a TV series were quashed.
He’s still working in an industry where investigative journalism has all but died, and crusading figures like Howie Earls, the main character of Blood Libel, are a romantic memory.
But when Andy Conway made attempts to track down Chuck Loyola and blogged about the book back in 2010, he eventually received a mysterious message giving him Chuck Loyola’s email address.
“As it turned out,” writes Andy, “he was living within a half mile of my house. But he wasn’t on Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn. He was someone who resolutely clung to anonymity; someone who preferred living in the shadows.”
When they met, Chuck talked about the sequels he’d planned and never published, and Andy told him all about the self-publishing revolution that had happened in the last five years and how easy it would be to now release them.
“I could tell Chuck thought it was too late for that, but the self-publishing revolution means that it’s never too late for any writer. And I felt strongly that Blood Libel was relevant, in the way that Ripper Street or Peaky Blinders is relevant: it’s a period drama that tells us much more about the modern day than we like to think. Just look at the headlines today: inner-city riots, religious extremists involved in ‘Trojan horse’ power grabs, corrupt politicians and allegations of child abuse rings… It’s all there in Blood Libel!”
Chuck Loyola, still working as a journalist, is keeping his identity a secret, but has agreed to let Andy Conway’s Wallbank press re-publish his long lost classic.
And if there’s enough interest in the book, those sequels might be hot on its heels.
Blood Libel is out now in Kindle and paperback.
Read the whole story of how Andy Conway tracked down Chuck Loyola: