Category Archives: Writing

#FRIDAY FLASH: Thicker Than Blood

TODAY

‘The thing is, Bren,’ says Craig Hornby, kissing his bloody knuckles, ‘you’ve just got to face facts sometime. You might be a nicer bloke than your Tony. Well, in fact, you are nicer. Much nicer. But your kid is more likeable. It’s just one of those things. And that’s why he always ends up getting what he wants. Getting his own way. If he fell in the sea, he’d come out with a pocket full of fish. That’s him, eh? Teflon Tony.’

Craig walks over to the window and closes the blinds. The room turns black. Specks of dust float in a shard of sunlight that slices through a broken slat and spotlights a pool of blood at Bren Murdoch’s feet. Bren’s head pounds. Blood trickles down his nose and is soaked up by the socks stuffed in his mouth .He twists but the fishing wire cuts further into his wrists and ankles.

‘And that’s also why you’re here now instead of him.’

Craig’s heavy feet echo off the concrete floor as he walks over to the corner of the room and switches on the strip lighting.

Bren clamps his eyes shut.

‘That’s why you’re the one who has to take the consequences of the shit-storm your kid brother brewed up.’

The dining chair wobbles as Craig sits. He’s sweating like a pig. Dark semi-circles under his arms. He knocks back a can of Red Bull and kisses his bruised knuckles again.

‘It’s just one of those things. Something I have to do. I have to, I have no choice , really. Have to make an example of someone. You understand, don’t you?’

Bren understands all right. He understands that in less than a week his life has turned from shinola to shit. And he knows who to blame.

YESTERDAY

‘It’s bollocks. I can’t believe you operate like this,’ said Bren.

He looked pissed off as he dragged the wads of paper from the bread bin and spread them over the shop counter. ‘It’s all in here?’

Tony Murdoch smirked and sipped a can of Carling. ‘Aye.’

‘You keep all your paperwork, all your receipts, invoices, tax bills in a bread bin and you expect me to do your accounts for you?’

‘You’re the accountant,’ said Tony. ‘I’m the … entrepreneur.’

He leaned against a stack of ‘80s 12-inch singles that were marked down to 10p. Star-shaped, day-glow signs hung everywhere in the cluttered shop. It was always cluttered these days. Not with customers, though. The second-hand record business wasn’t what it used to be. Anyway, Tony made more money from organising coach trips to stadium rock gigs. And then there was the other little business with Craig. The import/export business.

‘Well, I’m not your accountant, am I? Thank fuck. What happened to that bloke you used to use? Stewie Shorthands?’ said Bren.

He got up from the counter and walked to the fridge in the corner of the room.

‘He went AWOL, didn’t he? Supposed to have drowned out near Seal Sands. He’s been missing without a trace for a couple of days now,’ said Tony.

Bren opened a can of Carling. As he clicked the ring pull, it frothed up, soaking his expensive suit.

‘Shit, are you still buying beer from News N Booze? The stuff that’s past its sell-by-date?’ he said.

‘It’s half price, man. Yer, canna wack it.’

Tony, the great business man, thought Bren. He’d always wondered how the shop, Tony’s Tunes, had kept in business for so long.

‘Listen Bren,’ said Tony. ‘I’ve got a little proposition for you.’

‘Oh, yes?’ said Bren. ‘And what might that be?’

‘Well,’ said Tony, handing his brother a small bar towel. ‘I’m in need of a little bit of creative accountancy.’

THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY

‘He’s worm meat,’ said Veronica Fleece.

‘Are you sure?’ said Tony, switching off the Tupac CD.

‘Well, I’m no Doctor House,’ said Veronica. ‘But look.’

Tony was trying not to gag as he looked down at Shorthands’ naked, flabby body, spread-eagled across the hotel bed. He had to agree with Veronica. The accountant had croaked. ‘What are we gonna do?’ said Veronica, pulling on a kimono.

‘We can’t exactly call an ambulance, can we? Not with all the happy-talc he’s got in him,’ said Tony. ‘Shit. Shit. Shit.’.

‘I told the daft, fat twat to take it easy with that stuff,’ said Veronica. ‘Eyes bigger than his gut.’

She collapsed onto the squeaky leather sofa.

Veronica and Tony both glanced at Shorthands’ stomach and burst out laughing.

‘Getting rid of him won’t be too hard. I’ll phone my dad. He’ll sneak him up to Jed Bramble’s pig farm,’ said Veronica, wiping the white powder from her nose.

Shit, thought Tony. He needed someone to prepare a set of accounts for him to give Craig, so that he didn’t know that Tony had been skimming off the top of the delivery payments. There was no other way, he realised. He’d have to contact Bren.

TODAY

‘I’ve mellowed, Bren. I really have,’ says Craig. ‘I’m a granddad now. I play golf. I go to car-boot sales. I recycle. But if there’s one thing guaranteed to get my goat, to wind me fucking up, it’s someone pissing down my back and trying to tell me it’s raining.’

Craig stands and stretches, yawns. ‘And that’s pretty much what you and your brother did. Eh?’

He walks over to a cupboard in the corner of the room. Unlocks it.

‘But, it’s not so much that. Everyone has their fingers in the till here and there. It’s standard practice. But getting found out. Getting caught so the whole world knows you’ve been taking the piss. Well…’

He pulls a golf bag from the cupboard. It clatters over, spilling clubs over the floor.

‘Fuck,’ says Craig. ‘Give us hand, eh?’

‘Maybe a nine iron,’ says Tony Murdoch, putting out a cigarette and walking over. ‘That should do the trick.’

(c) Paul D. Brazill

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Stone Me, What A Life! – Tony Hancock

hancock460.jpgThey say that all small boys are influenced by their big brother’s music collection, and while that may well be true of me, I was also influenced by my family’s taste in other forms of entertainment.  Luckily I grew up in a time when television and radio weren’t as youth focused as they are now and I could enjoy the same shows as my parents and siblings, such as Will Hay, Ealing Comedies and Tony Hancock. During the miners’ strikes in the ‘70s there were power cuts. Which meant no telly. Reading comics by candle light and listening to an old transistor radio. Radio 2, usually, since my parents were of that age group. The Navy Lark, Round The Horne and, of course, Hancock.

Tony Hancock – the easiest comedian for charades – and I share the same birthday, May 12th. Whether or not we share the same death day remains to be seen, of course, and let’s just hope we can put that little fact-finding mission on hold for a while, eh?

One of the UK’s major television and radio stars throughout the 1950s and early ‘60s, British actor and comedian Tony Hancock killed himself on 25 June 1968. He overdosed on booze and pills and left a suicide note that said:

‘Things just seemed to go too wrong too many times’

Indeed, Hancock’s eponymous character on radio, on television, and in film, regularly tried his hand at countless activities and endeavours that invariably failed.

One episode – The Bedsitter – teeters dangerously on the precipice of bleak existentialism. The Bedsitter is a one-room set, one-man-show, where Hancock endlessly flips through a Bertrand Russell tome trying to find meaning in life, but fails, of course.

Tony Hancock - The RebelIn the most famous episode of his television show The Blood Donor,  ‘the lad himself’  proudly donates a pint of his particularly rare blood only to end the episode by cutting himself so badly on a breadknife that he needs a transfusion of his own blood. The recording of the television version of The Blood Donor proved to be problematic as Hancock had recently been involved in a car accident and suffered from concussion so that he had to read his lines from autocue.

After the American failure of his film debut The Rebel, Hancock broke with his long time writing team of Galton and Simpson, who were responsible for most of the great writing in Hancock’s shows, as well as ditching his long-term agent, the splendidly named Beryl Vertue. This pretty much led to his career decline.

Disappointment was always breathing at the back of Hancock’s neck, it seemed.

Hancock, and other character actors, are regularly in my mind when I’m creating characters. Quigley, the hit man in my yarn The Bucket List, was partly inspired by the image of Tony Hancock stalking the streets with a gun.

Hancock could be said to be the perfect noir comedian, in fact. I’ve said before that crime fiction is about bringing order to chaos and noir is about bringing chaos to order, and Tony Hancock’s comedy is pure noir. A natural loser. When I started writing I wanted to write small, odd stories about small, odd people – like Hancock.

Like his fictional incarnation, Hancock was prone to introspection, a concoction of egotism and self-doubt which he bared when he was interviewed in the BBCs Face To Face programme in the early 1960s.

Spike Milligan said of Hancock that he was a ‘Very difficult man to get on with. He used to drink excessively. You felt sorry for him. He ended up on his own. I thought, he’s got rid of everybody else, he’s going to get rid of himself and he did.’

As Tony Hancock said: ‘Stone me, what a life!’

(This first appeared at Tom Leins’ blog as part of his Under The Influence series)

Guest Blog: Conflict by Chris Rhatigan

Rhatigan-photo-200x300One Thing Every Reader Wants to See

A manuscript arrives in the All Due Respect inbox. It sits there for some time.

Might be a day, might be a week, might be an hour.

At some point, usually in the morning with a thermos of coffee, I open the manuscript.

There’s one thing I’m looking for from the first sentence.

I’m looking for conflict.

You may have heard this a hundred times, but there’s a reason for that: It’s easy to forget about conflict. You might focus on any number of other things—the details of setting or how to make your protagonist more likable.

But I can tell you that editors are always looking for conflict. So are literary agents, publishers, and just average readers.

You may have a 300-page manuscript with a dynamite ending, but if you don’t establish conflict in the first 20 pages, your manuscript is unlikely to make the cut.

Open any book on the shelves of your local bookstore and you’re likely to see conflict in the first paragraph, if not the first sentence. Take this opening sentence from Lee Child’s The Hard Way:

“Jack Reacher ordered espresso, double, no peel, no cube, no china, and before it arrived at his table he saw a man’s life change forever.”

The reader knows from the first moment what this book will be about. The implied question—who is this man whose life has changed forever and how will Reacher become involved?—pushes the reader forward.

adrThe conflict in the first few pages need not be the core of your novel’s plot. For example, one of the first novels our press published was Uncle Dust by Rob Pierce. The novel begins with Dust, a bank robber, discovering he is missing two hundred dollars. Dust goes on a mission to find the money, roughly interrogating his girlfriend and her kid.

The protagonist wants something and other characters are in his way. It doesn’t matter that it’s a small amount; he will not stand losing the money. This is a small conflict setting up a larger conflict that also tells the reader a bit about Dust’s character.

It’s possible an editor or agent will continue reading past page 20 if you have an engaging voice or a fascinating character.

It’s much more likely they will continue reading because you’ve established conflict.

Chris Rhatigan is a freelance editor and co-publisher of All Due Respect Books.

A Letter From Colin Wilson

Wikipedia says:

Colin Henry Wilson (26 June 1931 – 5 December 2013) was an English writer, philosopher and novelist. He also wrote widely ontrue crime, mysticism and the paranormal.[2] Wilson called his philosophy “new existentialism” or “phenomenological existentialism”,[3] and maintained his life work was “that of a philosopher, and (his) purpose to create a new and optimistic existentialism”.

And back in the ’80s and ’90s, I read a lot of Colin Wilson‘s books, mostly his novels and mostly via Hartlepool Public Library.  He even wrote a crime book- The Killer- that was partly set in Hartlepool. There was a lot that I liked about him and his books.

Along the way, I discovered he’d written a book called The Book Of Booze. And for some reason, I wrote to him about it. And for some reason, he replied.

I didn’t have the letter for years and thought I’d lost it on my travels but it recently turned up in a pile of old photos.

So, here it is!20151013_132737

20151013_132705

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CLIP: A Case Of Noir by Paul D. Brazill

one of those days in England.‘ The bookshop was jam-packed and stuffy. The wine and conversation were overflowing in equal measure. Keith Jarrett’s ‘Standards’ played numbly in the background as a veritable cornucopia of crime fiction writers of various levels of success held court in different parts of the room, shuffling nervously behind tables cluttered with copies of their latest pot-boiler. Their faces frozen into rictus grins.

‘Bullets in the Bookshop’ was an annual event. An international meeting of writers and crime fiction groupies organised by Blackstones’s Bookshop in Cambridge, an archetypically quaint English bookshop on an archetypically quaint cobble-stoned English street, not far from King’s College. The non-writers were in the majority, of course. Most of them were spinsterly types of both sexes enthusing over Nordic Noir— whatever that was. Then there were also a few academics slumming it — one particularly dandruff speckled gent with the complexion of a blackcurrant crumble was talking loudly and authoritatively about crime fiction as a social novel and receiving a number of approving nods. And, of course, a few wannabee crime writers were there, too, trying to look mean and moody — all leather jackets, stubble and gently sneering. I even recognised a couple of the faces from the Quais Du Polar crime fiction festival in Lyon that I’d attended in the Spring.

a case of blackNot that I was a connoisseur of crime fiction. I rarely read fiction at all, in fact. I’d attended the Quais Du Polar in order to meet up with Lena K, the torch singer turned bestselling crime writer who was also my partner in several unlawful activities. And I also had an ulterior and particularly criminal motive for being in Blackstone’s. A meeting with the man who was holding court at that moment.

Julian Stroud stood behind the largest table in the room and clearly thought a lot of himself. He was tall, handsome man in his mid-fifties and painfully well dressed. A pair of half-moon spectacles hung around his neck and he had the look of someone who had just smelt one of his own farts and found it surprisingly rank.

‘Why kill time when you can kill other people,’ said Stroud, the shadow of a smirk creeping and crawling across his too-tanned face. ‘Although, only on paper, of course, eh?’’

Read the rest of A CASE OF NOIR by buying here or elsewhere.a case of burke

‘In snow smothered Warsaw, Luke Case, a boozy English hack with a dark secret, starts a dangerous affair with a gangster’s wife. Case escapes to the sweltering Spanish heat where he meets a colourful cast of characters, including a mysterious torch singer and a former East End villain with a criminal business proposition. In stormy Toulouse, he encounters a blast from the past that is positively seismic which forces him to return to England and confront his past. A Case Of Noir is a strong shot of blackly comic international noir from Paul D. Brazill.

New Fiction From Ryan Bracha Down Brit Grit Alley

1 1 1 1  a a a a a brit grit sidebarRyan Bracha has some great and gritty short fiction down Out Of The Gutter Online’s Brit Grit Alley

Here’s a taste:

Work’s Murder  By Ryan Bracha 

“Come on in, Barry mate,” he says as I stick my head, all turtle like, round his door. Mate. Fuck’s sake. This can only mean bad news. Donald’s usually a grade A top class cunt of a cunt, and in all the time I’ve known him he only plays the nice guy before he’s about slide his metaphorical cock right into your arse. I grimace at my own choice of analogy as I drop my pre-shafting backside onto the chair opposite him, trepidation dancing across my mug like Michael fucking Flatley. 

Read the rest here. 

Music & Writing : Frank Duffy’s Music Of The Night.

1 1 1 1 a a a a duffyOver at THE HORRIFICALLY HORRIFYING HORROR BLOG, no less than FRANK DUFFY has assembled together a group of writers to talk about music and how it influences their writing.

I’m over there along with Simon Kurt Unsworth, Ian Ayris, Stephen Bacon, Lisa Tuttle, Sam Millar, Mike Evers, Christopher Fowler, Dennis Etchison, Howard Lynskey, K A Laity, and many more.

So pop over and listen to the MUSIC OF THE NIGHT

Guest Blog: Doug Gelsleichter – On Love, And All Its Lastings

dougBio: Doug Gelsleichter. I’m 30, seen some crazy shit and enjoy writing about it. Hopefully you enjoy reading it. You can find it all – fiction and real fiction – at goodpulp.com. Enoy~

On love, and all its lastings.

by doug gelsleichter

            I have loved three women – passionately and enthusiastically.

A Virgo, a Cancer, and a Scorpio.

I am a Gemini.

Gemini’s are warned not to seek relationships with Scorpios, Cancers, or Virgos.

Take it for what it’s worth.

So with that being said – and by that I mean having loved three women – then I think I can say, without estimation and with the utmost confidence – I know what I’m talking about.

When you tell me a story about love – be it comedy or tragedy – I’ll understand. I’ve seen it all and if love is a battlefield than I am a veteran of foreign wars.

And to make it clear – I don’t mean, in any way, sex. Sex and love are not mutually exclusive as many a slut or co-dependent could tell you.

I mean love – the act of knowing and understanding someone completely – accepting what they are, and living with them as a sum that is more effective than it’s parts. It’s two people pulling the cart to market – together.

I don’t think many understand what love is.

Once, when asked what I thought about love I responded: You cannot love someone until you hate them first.

I’m not sure if that’s correct but it certainly brings up questions.

Like everyone else, I’ve wanted to be loved – have a partner to share life with. When I was younger – my formative high school years – I wanted nothing more than to be in love – a hopeless romantic. And when I love someone I love someone. It’s one of the few things I believe you shouldn’t do half assed.

Yet, I have come to know – having won and lost – that whomever said it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all is a brilliant asshole.

So here is the short list.

The only ones that matter – at least so far – at almost thirty.

My first love, first girl friend, first time, first apartment, first child, first custody battle, first child support hearing. Met her at fifteen and dated for seven months, through most of sophomore year – then again at eighteen for six years. Seeing as that’s longer than some people stay married these days, some would also say first wife.

My second first love – my only great love. I met her summer of  ’99 – an odd, retroactive metaphor. We worked together in a restaurant and had six of the best months of my life with. Third girl I had ever slept with and first girl I ever made love to. The only woman I’ve ever felt passion for.

I know many girls – she is one of the few women.

I not only respect her, but consider her a best friend – and although ‘us’ will never again exist I feel lucky enough to know her.

The third first love is controversial.

We never dated – although the tension between us was palpable. We shared more than one good kiss and got along very well. We were both very much an individual and respected that about one another.

She went on to date a friend of mine I thought was a douche bag, then went to college. I had a kid and sunk into the miasma of middle America.

I’m proud of her actually – she did everything she said she wanted to do.

She is accomplished.

Regardless – I loved her – as the little girl who’s mom watched us during recess to the beautiful vixen who came to my bedroom window during puberty, and interrupted Hellraiser 3.

There is no one else. The rest are people I’ve either dated or fucked.

So I suppose this is an anecdote – maybe a cautionary tale wrapped in an essay. Either way it’s what happened – the influences on my opinions and the source of my frame of mind. All three I met during these initial years before someone shits in your soul and you’re forever jaded. The period of life when youth fuels passion and sex is great. The years which shape a young man’s life – when there’s still possibility.

And that’s what they did – those first three loves – they changed me – each one. All three in distinctly different ways.

They have all earned my respect – one out of love, one out of soul, and one out of combat.

They have left a mark on me – a mark of self reflection – having forced me to look inward and ask myself questions I otherwise wouldn’t have.

They have effected change in me and helped to shape the man I am today – and with all but one, continues to shape to this day.

And with that being said I’d like to present my case – the feelings and beliefs born of thirteen years experience. I can’t say I was right, any more than I can say I was wrong. I’ve been both white knight and scum bag, and all I can do now is offer the truth – as plainly as I can put it.

Consider this my love’s suicide declaration.

I will start with mother to my child.

I met her mother when we were fifteen – and, as stated prior, experienced many firsts with her.

She pioneered.

She was also the first to break my heart.

We broke up just before junior year and it was devastating to me in it’s suddenness and frightening in it’s callousness. Then again, I suppose that’s just white trash.

We began seeing each other again at eighteen – summer after high school. Then I flirted with college and broke up with her because I was in college and wasn’t passing up the pussy and don’t believe in cheating. I came home that summer and we reconciled over her having no place to live. I never went back to college, but that’s hardly her fault. After my stint of higher learning we got our first apartment – lost it four months later and bounced around because her mother had kicked her out top of the year and she had no family base to support her. Again, I’m stating facts – at the time, despite prejudices, I loved her deeply – and still love, much more shallow, today. So I promised her I wouldn’t walk away as everyone else had. Her mother had told her to get out, packed her bags for her and refused to discuss it further because the step father – a trailer park pervert who is a cartoon of a man – gave the ultimatum. Your daughter or me. Then – after discarding her daughter she later divorces him little over a year later and made no effort to say ‘hey, I fucked up’

Plain and simple I felt sorry for her – I loved her and didn’t want her to feel that pain. There was a girl I genuinely loved, and who was my best friend at the time being betrayed by her own mother.

I wanted to help her because I loved her and I understood the pain of a parent who can’t be bothered. So that’s what I did – helped her. For four and a half years, through the birth of my only child I wasn’t sure was mine initially. For four years I tried to make a hoe into a housewife – working two jobs from age nineteen to twenty-four and at one point working ninety-five hours a week, seven days, at two full time jobs for an entire calendar year. Granted she helped out with our daughter at home, but when the call came she wasn’t available.

The complaint was – you’re never home.

When I was home we didn’t have enough money.

Whether I did and didn’t.

The relationship rotted from resentment and imbalance and led to me talking to my daughter four times in three-hundred and sixty-five days and getting a handful of pictures after eight months of hope.

The result was a six month court case after I drove with my dad, to Kentucky, to pick my daughter up.

I won custody.

She pays me seventy-five dollars a week in child support.

The judge read the decision in a forty-five minute long prepared speech, discussing fourteen points – delivering his judicial opinion of who was better suited in each.

I won 13 – 1.

And all that love – all that intensity we had – all that strewed feeling brewed into the biggest rivalry since black and white.

She hates me now – I believe that. But not in the traditional sense of hate – I believe she hates me because she can no longer love me. I could be wrong, but doubt I am. She has managed to express her hatred and ability to ‘not care’ during our numerous court  appearances since the judgement – six in 2010 to be exact. Yeah, that’s every two months.

I have proven her accusations false each time and have acted with respect toward her feelings with as unique as the situation is. She lives eighteen hundred miles away and only sees her daughter two and a half months a year, and married a guy she met on eharmony.

I suppose she feels the only way to win is persistence – trouble is she’s being a persistent pain in the ass and it’s obvious. It’s also daunting.

So to wrap it up – cause the details of this one will drown you – all I can say about my daughter’s mother is this –

I am better than her – yet she can always get the better of me.

She is my Lex Luthor.

My second first love, and I believe soulmate – is my Kryptonite.

This woman could kill me – wouldn’t matter. She’s second only to my mother and daughter as goddesses I know.

If she is in need of light – a torch I will bare.

We met, romanced, and fell in love in something akin to a Shakespearian dark comedy – the ongoing tragedy of not being able to ever be together, yet having taken parallel paths. Our daughters are nine months a part and to this day I’m accused by my daughter’s mother that it’s my child.

Truth of the matter is we’ve fought the same wars – and we’re both survivors. All I can say is my time with her is the greatest of my life – something I will cherish and continue to draw inspiration from.

She’s married now – and happy.

We still talk and her husband knows about it. I visited and hung out with both of them.

He’s a guy I went to high school with and is someone I respected even then. He’s exactly what she not only needs, but deserves.

He’s a man.

An honest, hard working man – being a Marine also helps.

I am happy she has found love – even if it isn’t with me.

I still love her and always will – but I respect him, her, and the sanctity of a solid relationship.

Let’s just say she stopped starring in my fantasies when I spent a few relaxed evenings with the two of them. They’re in love and compliment each other very well.

Who am I to disrupt that.

My third first love – I haven’t spoken to her in several years – actually more like a decade.

I told her I loved her – in my mom’s car, driving back into town on the old highway. She said she loved me too, but who knows – maybe she was being kind to hurry the uncomfort along. But that’s as far as it went.

Probably doesn’t help that I dated and broke up with two of her best – Power Puffesque – friends.

Circumstances withstanding I did love her and I believe she had feelings for me. May not have been love, but let’s just say she would have fucked me and not regretted it.

I wanted to know everything about her – but never got the chance to read much of the book.

However, I can still – to this day – claim it as a lost opportunity. It likely wouldn’t have gone far because she’s better than me and I have much less to offer than she does. I only regret not getting to make love to her – if it could have been that. She was that sensual and sexy – erotic even.

A half Mexican, half white work of art.

Any a man lucky to have her admiration –

Now these were the game changers, but there is one more.

This next statement is as true as I can make it.

I have missed being with few.

If I meet someone and we’re enamored – something happens – and I make a great fling.

But when it comes to women I want, my track record is impressive. Still, I have fallen short three times – all to much disappointment.

Two of them were just cunts who enjoyed knowing you genuinely like them and want them – but only ever let you dry hump a home run. It’s no more different then men subjugating women.

However, one of these – the subject of mythology and lore – is the one I’ve never touched, been with and barely talked to – the one who has eluded me.

My golden fleece.

The one who showed me girls weren’t all yucky. The one I was first attracted to – the very first arousal. From fourth grade until freshman year a running joke was how I liked her and she wanted nothing to do with me because I was gross, yucky, stupid loser, not cool, whatever.

I worshipped this girl and she became my first muse. A well I drink from to this day. I would ride past her apartment building on my bike until she threw rocks at me. She is the reason I’m heterosexual.

She is the most beautiful women I have ever seen – granted I haven’t seen her in about five years, but last time I did my opinion held strong. She is the yardstick in which I measure beauty – my ideal.

Although ideal – idealizing isn’t.

Yet with the exception of twice being in her presence at separate middle school parties and a few awkward jokes and even more so smiles, I don’t know her.

The only conversation we’ve ever had earned me the threat of assault from her long time boy friend – the son of a science teacher.

What all this did was turn her into a myth – a sexual Sasquatch of sorts.

To this day, I have been in her presence less than an hour – yet I am still captivated by her.

She’s has become a painting – a beautiful face I can always look at, but never know.

And what I wouldn’t give to fuck her. Just once – no bullshit or stings attached – just simple make each other cum, intense sex. All I need is one night to fuck the shit out of her – the way she likes it – however that may be.

I’d be up for that challenge – any day.

In encompassment – with all that has been said – I present the only women who has ever truly loved me.

April Day – and yes that’s her name not a play on words – used ironically or not, because yes, she was born in April.

The first could never give up control enough to ever love anyone.

The second is afraid to love me.

The third doesn’t know me.

And the idol – by nature – could never love me – otherwise she’s no longer an idol.

But April is my guardian angel.

Since seventh grade math class she has accepted me wholeheartedly and hasn’t left my side. She has loved and supported me through thick and thin – smile and grin.

My cheerleader and champion.

She’s also a lesbian.

I think that speaks volumes.

I don’t know what else to say other than – good luck.

Short, Sharp Interview: Ilaria Meliconi of Hersilia Press

PDB: What is Hersilia Press ?

It’s a small company trying to bring Italian crime fiction to a wider, English-speaking audience. Unlike some big companies, we focus on quality and don’t necessarily go for the big names, but for the books we like. Having said that, some of our authors like Giorgio Scerbanenco have been bestsellers for a while, while others, like Maurizio de Giovanni, have now become so!

PDB: Who are the criminal masterminds behind Hersilia Press?

It’s mainly me, Ilaria Meliconi, and my other half, Alberto Giannetto. After degrees in astronomy and history of science, my work background is in publishing so I look after the editorial side while Alberto does the technbetrayalical side of things – website, epub and so on.

PDB: Which authors are involved in Hersilia Press

A number of very different authors: from Giorgio Scerbanenco, considered one of the founding fathers of Italian crime fiction and writing in the 1960s, to Maurizio de Giovanni, now a bestseller author sold all over of Europe and the US.

PDB: Which books have been published so far?

There’s Inspector Cataldo’s Criminal Summer, set in the Emilia Romagna region (where I’m from) in a small holiday village on the Apennines, Blood Sisters set in a foggy and wintry Bergamo in the north of Italy, I Will Have Vengeance set in an atmospheric 1930s Naples, In a Heartbeat, more on the hardboiled style and set in Milan in the eighties, A Private Venus and Betrayal both set in 1960s Milan.

PDB: Where can we find out more about Hersilia Press?

On the website.

PDB: Is there anything else you think we should know about Hersilia Press?

Have a look at the catalogue on www.hersilia-press.co.uk/catalogue and whatever your taste you’ll find something that you like. Regardless of what language a book was originally written in, if the translation is good (and ours are good!) a good book is a good book – they’ll take you to a different place and time, in different styles of writing and plotting, and that’s what books are for!

Trivial And Profound: An Interview With Carole Morin

Carole Morin ‘has beaten Stanley Kubrick in a dessert eating contest, drunk mojitos with Fidel Castro at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, and been mistaken for Graham Greene’s Eurasian daughter in Hanoi.’

She has been described as “Sylvia Plath with a sense of humour”. 

Her latest book is the ‘noirish’ Spying On Strange Men.

The journalist Maureen Cleave talks of meeting one of your students from UEA who described your course on Autobiography as Fiction as life changing. What was the idea behind the course you devised and taught as Literary Fellow?

I’m more interested in which student Maureen was talking to on the train. Was it Psycho 1 or Psycho 2? They both hated me at first but I won Psycho 1 over with my sociopath charm. I liked to write things on the blackboard which were never explained.

Lies are easy to believe in but the truth sounds false.

I threw someone out for mentioning Hemingway. The Dean said to me, ‘You can’t do that.’ And I replied, ‘But I have done it!’ Now that I’m older and more idealistic I can see that my younger self was a bit hardcore.

The night before my first seminar my husband Don Watson asked, ‘Aren’t you nervous.’ No. ‘You don’t seem to have prepared anything?’

He was right. I hadn’t. I’d been writer-in-residence in Wormwood Scrubs in a room full of murderers and a boiling kettle. Most of them had killed women ‘on impulse’. My biggest worry about a group of students was that they might smell.

I started by telling them to write 500 words about losing their virginity. One boy said, ‘I think I’m still a virgin.’ So I said lie, make it up.

The truth when it’s overdressed sounds like a lie.’ Spying on Strange Men

I wanted to leave my students with the tools to convert their lives into fiction. But of course some people just aren’t good at writing. They have a book ‘in them’ and it should stay there with their liver and kidneys. I love Mozart but I don’t think I have a Mass in C Minor ‘in me’.

How much does your autobiography influence your fiction?
‘The short answer is that it’s all ‘real’. It came out of my head. Even the things invented and imagined.’ Spying on Strange Men

People ask if my characters are ‘me’. Of course they are! I’m Maria Money and Vivien Lash. I’m also Carole Morin. We’re not interchangeable. But who else would they be?

I don’t explain my books. I like to leave some blank space for the reader’s response. I’m not sitting on their shoulder as they read. But I am in the bookshop with a hammer forcing them to buy.

Writing isn’t about real life. It’s about reinvention, imagination, entertainment, and structure.

‘God isn’t in the details, He’s in the structure.Spying on Strange Men

Writing is hard work. Even when you start with the raw ingredients – a mad family, a sense of humour, talent…it’s hard work. But you do get to sit around in silk pyjamas all day.

When did you start writing Spying on Strange Men?

I started writing the story that became Spying on Strange Men in London. It was called Party Fears Three an homage to Billy Mackenzie who had recently died. Party Fears Two is my favourite pop song. I made it Three because I like to change things and the book’s a love triangle.

I was devastated by his death which is odd because I didn’t know him. My husband did. Mackenzie’s death affected me in a way that Ian Curtis’ didn’t. Curtis seemed born to die. Mackenzie should have outgrown his gloom and become an eccentric old man. I think our work is similar. It’s the duality of glamour and spirituality in his voice that attracts me. His toughness and fragility; darkness and laughter. He could be a character from one of my books. I always meant to send him a copy of Dead Glamorous.

I rewrote Party Fears Three a few times. It was called Creepy Neighbour for a bit. It developed from a story to something longer. Longer for me means more than a 100 pages. I have a short attention span and don’t like to bore readers with unnecessary details. Why take 50 pages to set a scene when it can be done in a few lines? So. The book was ready to go to the printers. And then Dangerous (Carole Morin’s husband Don Watson) came home and said, ‘We’re going to Beijing for 6 months’. Like James Lash, he does a lot of travelling for work.

So I decided to take thhttp://carolemorin.co.uk/buy-a-copy/e manuscript with me. To read it one last time before sending it off. And then I got pneumonia, which gave me time to think. And then I wrote the Spying on Strange Men about a woman who loves her husband but wants to kill him. It’s kind of Double Indemnity without the insurance policy. She’s insuring her heart against him. And her boyfriend is really rich so they don’t need the money to escape.

You have traveled a lot. How much do you find that a setting affects the writing that you do there?
I tend not to write about places until after I’ve left them. A bit like using old boyfriends as characters when you don’t love them anymore. Sometimes I reinvent the settings until only Dangerous can guess where it is. Setting is important to my work. It affects the mood and atmosphere, and could almost be a character. With people and places I tend to love or hate them.

Your character, Vivien Lash has been writing on Twitter for some time now. Does she have a life of her own?
She has her own column Shallow not Stupid. And now she’s writing Travels with My Spy.

Vivvy copies me, which I’ll take as a compliment because I wouldn’t like to get into a punch up with her. But even though she thinks she’s copying me, she sounds like her self.

‘Vivien Lash is a girl with a future but not a past.Spying on Strange Men

Is there really a James Lash?
Is there really a God?

‘James is so secretive he has secrets even from himself.Spying on Strange Men

Your permanent address is in Soho. Do you prefer living in the heart of a big city?
Yes I feel nervous anywhere I can hear owls hooting but know I’m home when my creepy neighbour howls at the moon. I grew up in one of Grandfather Money’s buildings in the centre of Glasgow with a view of the gasworks and cinema. He had the decency or bad taste to live in one of his own slums. I didn’t know it was a slum until later when I’d escaped.

I loved all the characters, Pearl the Swinger and the Man with the Painted Heed. I thought it was normal that my Aunt Fat Jean lived next door. And my Aunt Vagina was downstairs. And my retarded cousin Junky Jenny was in the basement, where you keep them. It was all ice-cream without the jelly and the occasional flying stiletto when my mum was having one of her mad turns – hence her name Maddie.

My husband Don Watson loves hearing stories about me growing up and he told me to write it down. I was so familiar with the material I couldn’t see the story. But I always do what he tells me (and steal all his ideas) so I did and the result was Dead Glamorous – my most popular book. So far.

I thought that I’d written a lot about my childhood but actually there’s only one childhood scene in Dead Glamorous, a flashback. The screenplay is different. Maria Money is 16 in that. Now I’m working on Liberace’s Love Child which is about Maria Money before she escaped and reinvented herself as Maria Money. First she was the child assassin Mung-Bean.

‘When I was 7 my mother hired me to murder my father. I’d always wanted to be an assassin and I had to get the job done by my 8th birthday.

Spying on Strange Men is a classic love triangle. Did you read Wuthering Heights as a child and if so what effect did it have on you?
I’d call Spying on Strange Men a twisted love triangle but I read Wuthering Heights when I was seven. I stole a copy from the library. We weren’t allowed books in the house because they’re ‘dirty and dusty’. My mum had a shelf of fake leather books which my dad used to hide whisky behind. I used to die of embarrassment every time a visitor tried to pick up a book and realized it was fake.

The library was forbidden so it became exotic and sexy in my imagination. I was dying to get in there and read a book!

My cousin was a drug dealer so drugs were never exotic to me. Just a bunch of fat greasy haired losers in a room smoking, then later injecting heroin and mysteriously staying fat for ages. Eventually they died.

It was dark when I went to the library, eyes peeled for paedophiles. I had to crawl under the shelves to the Adult section. The children’s area was full of picture books wee shites had crayoned on.

I sat under a big plant reading Wuthering Heights. I’d already seen it on tv. Olivier was never really my idea of Heathcliff. I erased him from my head and superimposed a Catholic pyromaniac I was secretly in love with. Catholics were forbidden. So I was always sneaking into Mass, lighting candles and saying more Hail Mary’s than anyone really needs to. And this boy had burned down the school. He appears in my next book Liberace’s Love Child.

When I wrote Lampshades, my first novel, I thought I was copying Wuthering Heights. No one else noticed.

What about Graham Greene’s End of the Affair?
I used to talk to Graham Greene on the telephone when he lived in France and I worked at Granta Magazine which was my first (and last) office job.

I would call and say, ‘Would you like to write something for us Mr Greene?’
because the boss was too chicken to phone famous writers in case they weren’t nice to him.

Mr Greene, who actually preferred to be called Mr Graham (something about a fat uncle) would decline to write anything for us. He always thanked me for calling with elaborate politeness then declined my increasingly generous offers of wonga for words.

He asked me if I was ‘as beautiful as my voice’. Or maybe that was Kapucinski. He was always more of a flirt. ‘Africa, you must go to Africa, you will fall in love with Africa.’ I can still hear him whispering that into my ear. And I did go to Africa and had all my dresses stolen before the Aga Khan’s party but that’s another story.

So, I read The End of the Affair when I was in Hanoi and mistaken for ‘Graham Greene’s Eurasian daughter’. I never confirmed or denied this story because it came with a free room in the Hotel Metropole which at that time was the only 5 star in Hanoi. The one where Jane Fonda hid under the swimming pool/bomb shelter while the Viet Cong did their thing. Or was it Ho Chi Minh? Politics puts me to sleep.

I later became obsessed with Neil Jordan’s movie The End of the Affair. I was secretly in love with Ralph Fiennes at the time. I’ve gone off him now of course. But I watched it ten times on a flight from Hong Kong. The lady next to me found this disturbing and made several attempts to explain that I was allowed to change channels and watch another movie. But Cantonese just isn’t my dialect. I can say, ‘May your child be born without a butt-hole’ in Mandarin and order watermelon juice which is good because I’m addicted to it. Problem with Chinese is that the tones are easy to get wrong. You can think you’re asking your driver to stop over there and really you’re saying you need to shit urgently.

At the debut reading from Spying on Strange Men at the Bookworm in Beijing you played the music of Glasvegas. What is it you like about them?
I use a very short piece of music to signify that the performance is about to start. I intended to use Party Fears Two but didn’t have that on my ipod. I saw a poster for a Glasvegas show in Beijing and that reminded me I like their duality. Glasgow Vegas. And I like singers who use their native accent. And it’s both upbeat and heartbreaking which suits the tone of my work.

Obviously some Scottish artists appeal to you but you resist attempts to describe you as a Scottish writer.
I have a strong Scottish identity. I have an accent though I’ve lived most of my life in London. I’m glad I grew up in Glasgow with the gloom and glamour and plastic jobbies. But I wouldn’t want to be labelled a Woman Writer even though I’m definitely not a man. And I think Scottish Writer has some unfortunate associations.

Last century when I was commissioned to write my first novel, Scottish writers were being bullied by a purple nosed publisher to write in dialect. Well my voice is authentically Scottish. I’m an educated Scottish person who escaped. My voice is as valid as a whiny cunt who lives in a council flat and doesn’t quite speak English. That doesn’t mean I have to sound like Evelyn Waugh either.

I’d like to be called a Good Writer. To quote a review on Amazon, “Carole Morin is a Fucking Genius. Fact.’ Fucking Genius will do. And I’m a Soho snob – call me a Soho writer if you want to.

Your husband Don Watson in a profile in the Herald has compared your writing to Jane Bowles, the wife of novelist Paul Bowles. How do you feel about the comparison?

I love Two Serious Ladies. It has the best last line in fiction. ‘Certainly I am nearer to becoming a saint…But is it possible that a part of me hidden from my sight is piling sin upon sin as fast as Mrs Copperfield? This latter possibility Miss Goering thought to be of considerable interest but of no great importance.’

But I don’t think my writing is like Jane Bowles’. I think he means I’m original. And if you’re original you don’t write like someone else. I’m always being told I look like people too and usually I don’t.

When my first book came out a ‘friend’/other writer said to me, ‘I could write like you if I felt like it.’ And I replied, ‘I could never write like you.’

But it’s a huge compliment to be compared to Jane Bowles. I like everything she’s written even her whiny letters.

I’ve also been compared to Sylvia Plath, Nabokov, Francoise Sagan, Anthony Burgess, Salinger and Alan Bennett! Some critics are just so sucky.

My favourite quote is ‘Sylvia Plath with a sense of humour.’ I like duality, possibly why I have an evil twin. If I ever kill myself, I’ll use laughing gas. But I’ve missed the deadline for dying young.

Bits And Bobs.

noir

… well I gave a short  REVIEW OF 2012 over at VIC WATSON’S blog … at CHRIS RHATIGAN’S DEATH BY KILLING,  I chose five of my favourite short stories of 2012 … and AJ HAYES included my flash story, RETURN OF THE TINGLER – which was at SHOTGUN HONEY- in his FIVE YOU CAN’T MISS.

TA!