Monday, 16 November 2015
I haven't posted anything for a while, so I thought I'd better put that right. I have a new novel coming out on Tuesday the 24th, Sad's Place. It should have been out in the summer, but I was unhappy with the ending - it needed something else, but at the time, I was too close to it and couldn't think of what that 'something else' might be. So I put it away, thinking, in the meantime, that I would write a short story, perhaps the 2nd part of Africar. But I wasn't sure I wanted to do a 2nd part to Africar ( still don't ), even though I know how it goes. So I started another short story, or what was supposed to be a short story, but it ended up being 72,000 words long. Not exactly a short story then. Another novel. Furthermore, I could publish it now, if I wanted to, but I'll wait until the early part of next year. It was easy to write, too, a little too easy, and I began to wonder about that. I came to the conclusion that I hadn't given a shit while I'd been writing it. I'd written it so that I could give Sad's Place, and myself, a little breathing space, and that was all. But what came out of it was something, I realised, that I'd written purely for myself, with no concern for what others might think. To date, no one else has read it, so soon, I will ask my wifely one if maybe she would like to read it, and if she does, and if she then tells me it's the biggest piece of crap I've ever written, then I'll laugh, honestly, I will, and I will say, "Oh well, easy come, easy go."
But the things is, it isn't a piece of crap...not to me it isn't, anyhow. Also, it has sent me off in another direction with my work, to places that perhaps I had always wanted to go but stayed away from, but not anymore. Now I will go to those places. Always. I have started a new phase, and I couldn't be happier.
And Sad's Place? Well, I finally came up with the ending I wanted, and I love it. It's sad, yes, as the book's title suggests, but sad is the way it should be...
1966. For the past five years, Ewan Redstone has bullied and neglected his youngest son, Tommy. There seems to be no way out for Tommy, or for Cale, Tommy's older brother. Then one day Cale finds his father trapped under a pile of wood. He will die under there if Cale doesn't get help. But never mind help. In a moment of dark clarity, Cale ends his father's life, and at last he and Tommy are free. Then Cale makes a shocking discovery. He finds his mother’s dead body buried in an old stable at the back of their house. It seems she didn’t leave home after all, that Cale's father must have killed her. Now Cale must keep this secret from Tommy. But with their father dead, secrets become hard to keep from a boy who wants his mother back…and who will do anything to find her. And now Cale understands why the girl in the orange dress removed the I and the E from the stable door, so that instead of the letters spelling Sadie's Place, they spell Sad's Place. Yes, Cale understands, all right. Sad's Place. It all begins to make a perfect, terrible sense.
So now it looks like I'll have two novels that will be released fairly close together: Sad's Place on 24th November and The Reason I'm Still Here around March/April 2016...
A strange message appears on Wes Churchill's old TV. He is told to tape the message and then broadcast it to the rest of the world. The trouble is, Wes had a nervous breakdown five years ago and he is uncertain if the message is genuine, or if maybe he has had another breakdown. While he decides what to do, Wes looks back at his past, to a time when he smashed up his wife's car, to how his eldest daughter saved him from taking his own life, to how he came across a little dog in the woods. Seen through Wes's eyes, The Reason I'm Still Here is a story of how people, once lost, can be found again, and how love can come back into your life in the most unusual of ways. And murder. How that can come back, too.
Well, that's it from me. Take care.
Saturday, 21 February 2015
The Writer's Field
Once upon a time there was a man, and he was given a field, and it was in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by trees, which made it private at least, and it was his secret. The man scooped up a handful of soil and found it to be dry, stony, and full of weeds, but the field was his, it was all his, and he vowed to find a use for it for all of his life.
Day and night he ploughed the field, with no plan or vision, and when he looked back, tired and aching, his hands sore, he found the rows to be uneven and broken. But he sowed his seeds, anyhow, for his passion had no end; he would produce a crop, no matter what. And when the sowing was done, he left the field alone for a while, until it was time to return to see how his crop had faired.
Tears ran down his face. His crop had not faired well. It was a mess that he could not make head nor tail of. He cursed. He kicked the ground and walked away. He decided that the field was not for him. It could sit there, on its own, and rot.
He would not be coming back.
There were dreams, though. Dreams of people, and places, and events that would either damn those people or bless them. They all seemed so real to the man, and they would not leave him alone. They begged him to return to the field to plough it once again, to sow his seeds. He ignored them. But every night they came back, and each night their voices became louder, until he could stand it no longer.
He went back to the field. 'You'll not beat me,' he told it. 'I will have my own way with you.'
This time, before starting, he planned how best to plough the field, although he understood that even then it could all go wrong. But he thought it would still give him a better chance than no plan at all. Then finally he began to plough, and when he looked back, he saw that the rows were neater, straighter, than they had been before. So now he sowed his seeds, and the sowing took a while, but every night he returned, never skipping his duty, until it was done. Then he went home.
There were days of rain, many days of rain, but still there were days of sun, too, and on those days, he believed the field might actually yield a crop that would in many ways be better than the one before.
It was. When he walked through the gate, he saw a crop that in places shone with gold, and the gold was hope, and hope was what the man needed. Still, half the crop was useless and could not be saved.
'What good is half a crop?' he said. 'It only ruins the half that shines with gold.'
He walked away and closed the gate. But this time there was hope, all right, and he told himself that one day he would return and try again.
Other matters stole his time, though. He made a woman his wife. He sowed seeds of another kind, and those seeds brought forth a crop of children, and he loved them in their heaven, and he loved them in their hell, for they were his, and he understood that he could be heaven and hell also. He thanked God for his job, because his job put bread on the table and kept the wolves away from the door, although sometimes he wished those wolves would come in the night, snap him up, and drag him away. The years past. Many years. He became ill, and it was a terrible illness, a blackness in his mind, and it drove away his joy. Drove away the people, the places, the events, too.
Then one day he decided to go for a walk. He thought about the field. Wondered if it was still his. He came upon it, and yes, he found that it was. It looked strange, though, and full of folly. He went back home and went to bed. Out of nowhere, he dreamed of those people again, those places, those events. And those people, just like before, begged him to return to the field, to plough, to sow.
He got out of bed and found himself standing in the field. 'I told you that day, many years ago, that you wouldn't beat me,' he said. 'That I would have my own way with you. And I will.'
He planned, he ploughed, he sowed. Just as before, he left the field and went home, to let the rain and the sun do its work. When he returned, he saw that the crop, all the crop this time, shone with gold. He walked through it. He picked out the weeds, the stones, and shooed away the birds that cast the odd shadow here and there. Then he went to the market and invited the traders to see his crop.
But most declined. They had enough of that crop, they said. More than enough. Still, a handful of traders accepted the invite and came to see. They walked through the crop, all the time casting their gaze over it, even stopping to smell it and to take a taste. They told the man that the crop was indeed a good one, even a beautiful one, in places. They told him he could plough a neat furrow, and sow a wholesome seed, but all the same, they doubted the crop would sell. That it would just sit in their barns and wither away.
'Why would that be?' the man asked.
'We don't rightly know,' the traders said. 'A crop can be lush and flavoursome, and with it, a fine loaf could be made. But still no one will buy it. In our time, we have seen crops that hurt the eyes and leave a bitter taste, and yet they have been put between two stones, and ground, and made into loaves, and those loaves have sold so fast, that we have run out of stock. It is a strange thing, so it is. Even to us. But don't let that stop you. What would happen if you didn't plough and sow?'
'I would wither like those crops that no one wants to buy,' the man said. 'The blackness would return and I would be ill.'
'So you would,' the traders said. 'So now you know what to do. You plough, you sow, you let the rain fall and the sun shine, and the crop will be gold, and it will be your gold. You should be proud of that. You should be proud of that alone. Take your gold, hold it against your heart, and it will keep the blackness away.'
'But I will starve,' the man said.
'Better to starve in the belly than in the mind,' the traders said, and with that, they turned and went back to the market. And so the man was left standing alone. In the field. But it was his field.
And he smiled.
Yes, it was his field, and the crop was gold, and the gold kept the blackness away.
And the field was private at least, and it was his secret.
Saturday, 31 January 2015
Hello everyone. Hope you are all doing fine, and that 2015 will be good to you.
Just a thought, but it seems to me that if you are a virtually unknown writer, as I am, then probably you should just keep your thoughts to yourself, otherwise it might prompt some people to think, Who cares about what you've got to say, anyway? Conversely, there may be others who would quite like to know what virtually unknown writers like me are up to these days, so on that basis, I will say my piece, because I wouldn't want to come across as unwilling. Or without a mouth. Not that I have anything controversial to say. I don't. And being controversial for the sake of it is just a load of rubbish, anyway. We have enough trouble going on in the world, I think, without adding to it. That's partly one of the reasons why I write, and why I read. I love to turn away from the TV, the newspapers, the radio, and fall into worlds that either I have created, or other writers have created. In its basic form it's simply escapism, but also, due to what we as writers choose to write about, or what we as readers choose to read about, it is also a form of living our own reality, in spite of what goes on around us. That, of course, does not mean that I choose to ignore what is happening in the world ( as I'm sure you don't ). I am part of humanity. How can I ignore what's happening? But all the same, there are enough people turning the world over, and upside-down, and inside-out, and I don't want to be one of them. While I'm here, all I want is to be a decent-enough old git who loves his family and writes some stories along the way. And if there are but a few people who enjoy reading them, then I am happy with that. Because being able to write, be it badly or well, for better or worse, is a thing I love with all of my heart. Truly.
So, I have a new release, Bad Return, which should be out in the next couple of weeks. It's a story that has kept me productive during these long winter nights, along with working on the edits of my new novel, Sad's Place. I tend to work in a way that is rather all "over the show", in that I write the first few chapters of a story, and then leave it alone for a while, sometimes for years. Dawn's Chains is a story that's been around for a couple of years now, and there she is, still suspended on her chains, waiting for me to free her…or maybe not. Dawn's Chains was meant to be the 3rd novel about Women in Peril, to follow on from Marsha's Bag and As The Flies Crow, but the truth is, I can't imagine Dawn fitting in with the likes of Marsha Dunbar or Sonia Rowntree. Those two are somewhat similar: imaginative, but a bit scatty, self-doubting, and undervalued ( by some, anyway ), but Dawn? Nope. Dawn is another kettle of fish altogether. So, if I finish Dawn's Chains, then, for reasons which are mine alone, I would not make it another Women in Peril story. But there will be a 3rd. And there will be another Marsha Dunbar story, I'm sure.
Then there's a novel called Batten 20, which is about a road ( Batten 20, so no guesses there ) and the relationship between a father and son. I'm not sure about the title, but I love the story, and I'm sure that I will finish it, if only for the fact it has an opening line that is both horrific and rather lovely, I think. There's also a novel about World War 1, another about a guy in a wheelchair, and then there's a novel called Feathers, which I will write, one way or another, because the idea has been with me for over ten years, and I won't let it go. Can't let it go.
Also, there's Africar, which is a free short story ( currently available ) of around 15,000 words, which, I suspect, will slowly grow over time to become a bigger story. Suspect? Yes, that's sketchy, I know, but all the same, even though it's a short story with an end, the end also serves as a beginning. It depends on what I want to do with it, really. About all I can say is that there is a part two, and if I write it, it will be called Africar: Armour. But I don't want to call it part two, in case there's no part three, even though I have ideas for a part three, and so on. In fact, strange as it is, I even know the end for Africar, the "bigger story", but it's really about fitting it into my schedule. The hazy idea is that someday all of these Africar short stories will become a novel.
So...moving on to Bad Return. The outline is below:
Hawk Morgan owns a watch that his grandson, Joey, finds and falls in love with. Given the watch's disturbing history, Hawk feels compelled to tell Joey about how, many years ago, he accidentally killed a woman, and how Joey's grandmother came back from the dead. Only for a moment, but it was the strangest and most terrifying moment in Hawk's life. Around 20,000 words, Bad Return is a story of love, regret, and of one old man's battle with depression. And there's the watch, of course. A watch that can bring back the dead.
included with Bad Return is another story, an allegory, really, called The Writer's Field. It's about…yes, writers, would you believe? Well, that's it. Thank you for spending a moment with me. If you're a writer, then I hope you are writing some good stuff. If you're a reader, then I hope you are reading some good stuff. And if you are both, then, like me, you have the best of both worlds. Or the worst...
Take care of yourselves, and may your dog go with you. Your God, as well, if you have one.