As ‘Daydreams and Devils’ continues to do well on Amazon, picking up great reviews and pulling ‘The Search for Ethan’ along in its slipstream, I’ve been busy working on a few new things.
Firstly I’ve been writing the next novel, which is going to be a very different book to the previous two. Why? No reason. No logical one anyway. Logically I’d build on the momentum of the first two, write something with good snappy dialogue, realistic, interesting characters, humour and a fast paced plot to hang it off, hopefully with some soul. It just so happens that the next idea to interest me has a lot less of some of those things. Using a Lou Reed analogy, if ‘The Search for Ethan’ and ‘Daydreams and Devils’ are ‘Transformer One and Two, the new one is ‘Berlin’, and I’m mindful of how that went down at the time (career suicide was one reviewers comment). So I know I’m taking a risk but…Fuck it. I’ve never been too bothered about genre or style anyway. One of the good things about being independent is you don’t have publishers / editors / agents perched on your shoulder, shitting their expectations all over your work. You have, as the Clash once sang, ‘Complete control’.
I strongly believe you should write what you feel, at that moment, otherwise there’s no pleasure during the writing or pride when it’s done. For some that’ll be writing the best horror, fantasy, crime, YA or whatever novel they can, and that’s great. I tend to be a little less focused, more random and diffuse. It was the same during my musical adventures. I wanted to write different styles of song, play all the instruments, sing them, (however badly), engineer, produce …A bit like the Denis Waterman character in Little Britain now that I think of it. I also trained in a variety of martial arts over the years… I just like trying different things.
Anyway, I have no doubt I’ll return to the earlier style as its one I enjoy and it’s probably the most natural for me. I also think the first two are really good books. it’s just that for this one I have something else in mind.
So what’s it about? In a nutshell, it’s about an ordinary man named Jack Laurence, which will probably be the name of the book. It begins as a diary, through which he documents his life, a life of the simple pleasures and problems we all have…until it’s not. I don’t want to give too much away. It’s a tale of loss, madness, revenge and…Well, I’m still working that out. As I’ve said on earlier posts, I don’t work with a detailed plan, only a basic idea to start with then I see where it goes. It’s not going to be a ‘Deathwish’ vigilante rehash. It’s a lot more introverted, starting out as I mentioned, as a diary before the format and narrative person (first / third) changes as he loses touch with reality. Maybe the genre will jump around too, though what the genre is…Fuck knows. We’ll see. At the moment it feels like I’m halfway through the first draught, but I’ve stopped to edit what I have and also to get into Jacks head. If I can get it right it’ll be good. If not, maybe the next book will be about a wizard named Barry Trotter. It’s very dark. The next one will be lighter, if only for my own sanity. For that I’ve been thinking about something based on a road trip, maybe just to give myself an excuse to fire up a Ford Mustang and go on one. “Just nipping out to do some ‘research’ Honey. See you in a few weeks.” Good luck with that one Robert…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
In addition to the new novel, I’ve also been writing some short stories. The first was recently published on the McStorytellers website, which concentrates on stories with a Scottish connection. Normally I back off from accents. For this one it seemed right and I went for it. It’s called ‘Honour amongst Thieves,’ inspired by jam sessions with my mates at ‘One eye dog’ rehearsal studios in Motherwell. Don’t worry John, the Hammonds safe. It’s all fictional (sort of), but this is how I normally speak, though I usually tone it down for foreigners, both south of the border and beyond. Unless I’m drunk, in which case you’re fucked. Hopefully it’ll give you a laugh. There are lots of other good stories on the site too. Have a look around.
If you missed it, just click here: ‘Honour amongst Thieves’
A second short story, called ‘Pass the Parcel’, is for a forthcoming anthology being put together by Aidan Thorn and Craig Furchtenicht, in support of Craig’s wife Henri. I’ve never physically met Henri, but such is the power of social media, geography is no longer an obstacle to friendship. She’s battling multiple myeloma, a rare form of cancer, and doing so with a potent mixture of courage, humour and rage. The number of writers who’ve signed up says it all. Kick its ass H! All proceeds go to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. It will rock and should be out early next year. I’ll keep you posted.
NEXT TIME: Maybe something about tractor juggling, or the healing power of tantric yodelling…But probably not.
BURRYMEN WAR – BRENDAN GISBY
Having read and enjoyed ‘The bookies runner’ this is my second book by Brendan Gisby and a very different affair it is. Told in a similar flashback style, which works superbly well, this is a far darker story, telling the tale of a South Queensferry tradition which one year goes tragically wrong. But that is really just the vehicle. The journey / story is Central Scotland’s shameful battle with bigotry. The Billy’s and the Tim’s. Here, the catholic side find themselves once more shut out from the ‘Burryman’ ceremony and hatch a plot to sabotage the official proceedings by staging their own alternative ‘Fenian’ Burryman. As so often happens in real life, banter, albeit with a bitter edge, mixed with alcohol leads inevitably to violence.
Most of the book takes place in the local pub, so there’s humour here; such is the nature of pubs after all. But mainly there’s a weariness and regret from the main character as he looks back without nostalgia at the futility of his past and whether anything has really changed.
This is a fine book, skilfully written, tackling a dark subject in a thought provoking yet entertaining way.
WHEN THE MUSICS OVER – AIDAN THORN
Having read and enjoyed Thorns Urban Decay shorts collection I was looking forward to this, his first novella. It’s an excellent story centring on retired hitman, Wynn MacDonald, called back by his old bosses to track down and kill the murderer of one of said boss’s son. It moves along at a good pace, but the well-developed characters (Wynn in particular) make you savour, rather than gulp the pages down. As the aging heavy hunts down his victim, he finds himself torn as what he discovers along the way makes him question not only his mission but also his life’s work.
It a story filled with sub plots and depth, with equal parts menace and melancholy, beautifully written to a satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended.