Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Answering Sensible Questions, Plus: I Do Some Maths

Bit of an odd thing this.
Well, no, not very odd. Quite understandable really. Perhaps what I mean is this:
Bit of a frustrating thing this.

Here, on my blog, I can say, pretty much what ever it is I want to say. I don't always, because of course some statements are definitely better off being left in my head. But I could if I wanted to.

See, here, I'm quite happy saying things about 9987. I don't, not often, I am fairly comfortable doing it. For example:

It is mint it is mint it is mint it is mint.

See? Very easy to do.

Meet me face to face however and it's another thing entirely.
Slowly word has crept around friends and family, family friends and friend's families, friend's of friend's and people I work with, or have once worked with, or went to school with. Etc. This, I tell myself, Can Only Be A Good Thing. People are interested. People tell me they are already preordering (I was, briefly, in the top 40,000 list on Amazon..)

But, increasingly, people have started asking me questions. Have started being interested and wanting to talk to me about it.

This is muchos bizarre. Tres weird. Geet unsettling, how.

They say lovely things like: Congratulations, I heard you're getting published. You must be proper chuffed, how.

I nod and smile.

Then they ask quite sensible questions, things like: So, what's it about then?

And I'm stumped. And I blush. And I try not to make eye contact and mutter stupid things. Sometimes I say:

Lesbian Nurses.

Then they, too, avoid eye contact.

Sometimes I say:

Loneliness. Lust and Unrequited Love

And they say 'Aawww' and I see the pity in their eyes.

Sometimes I say:


Sometimes I say:


But never do I say this all at once. And never with any explanation. And always with the suffix - Sorry, I'm parked on a double yellow, I'll catch you later.

Face to face, I'm fairly crap. Ask about someone else's book. Ask me about SAT's revision or GCSE coursework. Ask me about football. Ask me why my flies are undone or why I'm wearing a dressing gown in the middle of the street. Ask my why I'm cradling a Disco Kettle and pointing out the sights to it. Anything else I can do.

This is a bit of a problem...

So I've done some Maths. By choice. On my own. And I've shown the workings out.

I have 172 Days until 9987 is released.

I have 172 Days until I really, really have to be able to talk about my book without feeling like a tosser.

I have 172 Days until I really need to be out of my corner and into a spotlight, even if only briefly.

I have 172 Days.


Before my Great Big Assault On The Spotlight though, I would very much like to promote someone else.

Caroline Smailes' Novella 'Disraeli Avenue' is now available for Pre-Order. It'll be out in time for Christmas, it's proceeds are going to a very, very good cause, ad if you loved In Search Of Adam as much as I did it will, I'm sure, be worth every penny. For more info stop by Caroline's blog.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Distractions, Distractions and A Complete Lack of Willpower

Where is all the coffee gone? It is what powers my brain.

You've drank it.


Hello, sir. Just the coffee? Is there anything else?


Are you sure? We have some lovely Watercolour flavoured chewing gum.

No. Yes. No.

(A patient pause from smug tilljockey)

Ok then, fine. I'll take the red flavour.



You sure? Not even a tenner?


(A patient pause from smug tilljockey)

Ok, yes,

Hello sir, you look like a man with a tenner. Would you like a pint of Sweaty Whisker Real Ale?

No. I'm busy. Not got my words done. Just needed coffee.

Are you sure? You can really taste the reclaimed farm runoff? Only two quid.


(A patient pause from the all knowing barmonkey)

Ok. Just one though.

Good afernoon young man, you look like a man with eight quid in your pocket. Care for a copy of Radiator Decorator's Monthly?

No. Words. Busy.

Are you sure? It comes with a free Tom Jones In Profile Stencil. Only four ninetynine.


(A patient pause from the unnervingly round magazinepimper)


Well hello there, you look like the sort of bloke to have exactly three pounds and a penny in your pocket. Would you care for this delightful ceramic bust of two dogs going at it nasty, which I was about to sell on ebay?


Are you sure. It has nipples on?


(A patient pause from the ebaybotherer)

Ok then. But I want it in a bag.


No. Too busy. Words.



(A patient pause from the Disco Kettle.)

Ok fine.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008


I went to Roz and Stephen's book launch yesterday.

It was Mint.

I mean, obviously I expecting something good - Roz is already part Mint, like my self, but it was, overall, proper mint, how. So there.

Great little basement theatre setting with bar and barman I got to confuse and then befriend, we even swapped rum drinking advice.

But no, just, great - Becky Owens was a perfect choice, simple piano driven songs, really emotive and she did really well getting a gang of (reasonably) sober adults to make trumpeting noises. Great stuff.

Oh yeah, and there books and things. Plus another really good idea - having actors read perform sections of the two books. I liked that. Cos there is no way I'd be able to read my stuff out. I had to be dragged from the darkest corner I could find to talk to people... Honest.

Anyway, it got me thinking - What do I want for my launch?

I've already decided on lunch - that was Greggs... Hmmm Greggs. But now I'm thinking - Launch.

What to do what to do?

Tonto say I can have a go thinking up ideas, and they assure me we have plenty of time. But even so... I'm impatient...


I've set up a 'Bloglite' type thing and have put a link somewhere over on the right there.

I want some ideas. I want some suggestions. I want someone to volunteer to do things for me because impatience does not necessarily translate into energy. And I'm a very, very poor planner.

So, when you have a minute dive over and do something helpful :)

And once again, Roz, Stephen: Mint. Just, you know, Mint.


I met my Most Sage and Wise Mentor yesterday.

I was terrified - what if she didn't like me? What if this, finally, was the end of the mint. I was hiding and shaking a little little.

She was, is, lovely. I'm so pleased to stay part of the mint, so pleased to make a new friend.

Caroline you are proper lovely, how x

Sunday, 17 August 2008

A Winter Offensive


I'm not having this. I'm fed up.

All you people, yes you, with your 'Oh, where did the summer go?' and your 'Not til long til Christmas.' It's not on.

It's no wonder the sun is so shy, so eager to hide, so lacking in confidence when the slightest bit of cloud have you searching through your decorations box looking for tinsel. Can't you see what you're doing?

I have three weeks left of my summer holiday (yes, I know, but I work hard, occasionally. In fact I vividly remember a Tuesday in April when I turned up to teach all my lessons, and marked stuff, and planned stuff. So there. But anyway.) and I'm not giving up on summer until I'm back on coffee making duty in September.

It doesn't matter that DK has been feeding me Lemsips for the last few days because I have a bit of a cold. In fact, no, scratch that. I Am A Man - Thus I have Exploding Head Death. Not a cold at all, it is in fact a serious and life threatening condition.

Nor does it matter that my insistance in walking home from Pubjob has resulted in me getting soaking wet and cold every night this week.

In fact, I'm even chosing to ignore the fact that I went into Matalan for a decent shirt yesterday and found that all the summer clothes are now gone, and large, bulky coats and jumpers have sprouted from the squeaky lino flooring.

None of this matters. I accept the fact that Winter is the natural state up on my frozen hilltop. That's not going to stop me fighting for the summer though. I will wear shorts dammit. I will saunter about in t-shirts. I will eat picnics, even if it's from the front seat of my car because the parks are all now swamp.


Oh good, Lemsip time.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

A Recommendation # 2

I was going to have a go at the 'Classics' list that Caroline tried on her blog a week or so ago, but then decided that, you know, being an English teacher I would be frowned upon and shunned - forever cast out of the stafroom and denied biscuits - when people realise how few of the list I'd read. I think I only managed about half of them. So instead I'm going to suggest a writer who should definitley have been included:

Haruki Murakami.

He is proper mint, how.

"Haruki Murakami is quite possibly the most successful and influential cult author in the world today. His books are like Japanese food — a mix of the delicate, the deliberately bland and the curiously exotic. Dreams, memory and reality swap places, all leavened with dry humour. His translator, Professor Jay Rubin, says reading Murakami changes your brain. His world-view has inspired Sofia Coppola, the author David Mitchell and American bands such as the Flaming Lips. He is a recipient of the Franz Kafka prize, has honorary degrees from Princeton and Liège, and is tipped for the Nobel prize for literature."
For more info go here

I've read 'Catcher in the Rye.' and its ok - Don't hit me, stop throwing things at your screen. Come on, admit it. It's good, it's fine, there is nothing wrong with it, I'm not criticising it. Honest. It just didn't do much for me. I found Holden Caulfield - well - a bit of a dick. Sorry. I just couldn't connect to him. I tried. I read it twice, never again.

My Dad gave it to me, an old second hand copy, which I still have, because he said it was one of those books you have to read, at a particular age. And yeah, it was. I'm older now, wiser, more mature, more handsome, hairier, wearing my dressing gown and I'm glad I read it. But it made little lasting impression on me.

'Norweigan Wood' was different...

See, me, I like a bit of the surreal. Maybe thats why 'Catcher in the Rye' didn't really do it for me, maybe I was just too young to really understand it, I don't know.

Anyway, the reason I'm going on so about CitR is because I think Norwegian Wood is a very similar book. It's a coming of age, becoming an adult, sort of novel. I also found NW spoke to me in a way CitR didn't. I connected to it. Possibly because it contains nipples. Who knows.


"The novel is a nostalgic story of loss and sexuality. The story's protagonist and narrator is Toru Watanabe, who looks back on his days as a freshman university student living in Toyko.

Through Toru's reminiscences we see him develop relationships with two very different women — the beautiful yet emotionally troubled Naoko, and the outgoing, lively Midori.

The novel is set in Tokyo during the late 1960s, a time when Japanese students, like those of many other nations, were protesting against the established order. While it serves as the backdrop against which the events of the novel unfold, Murakami (through the eyes of Toru and Midori) portrays the student movement as largely weak-willed and hypocritical." - I stole this from here

To be honest the storyline wasn't incredible, it was enough. The troubled Naoko created enough tension, and enough heartache, to keep the story moving, to keep Toru's character believable.

It is the quality of the prose which wins me over - a lot of credit must go to his translater Professor Jay Rubin.

Murakami writes of very simple, very mudane acts. His work is peppered with descriptions of the everyday, of preparing meals, of household chores - but he manages, always, to suggest something magical, something very important just out of our reach. It is a skill I wish very much that I possessed.

More impressive, and more poignant I think, from my perspective, is the sense of isolation he creates, the characters, the places - huge bustling cities like Tokyo full of noise, excitment, danger, mystery - and yet despite this, or perhaps because of this anonymity, his characters so often feel alone. Feel disconnected. Like Holden Caulfield. Yet this sense of the magical, this sense of a higher, or at least greater, power, this suggestion of fate makes the character's situations seem more - meaningful - I suppose I mean. They seem to have a purpose, even though they don't know it themselves.

Anyway, I'm rambling.

Try 'Norwegian Wood' and please note, it has a kick ass sound track to it, then try this one.

Kafka on the Shore - It's little weird. In fact it's a lot weird, very surreal, but so worth it.

"Comprising two distinct but interrelated plots, the narrative runs back and forth between the two, taking up each plotline in alternating chapters.
The odd chapters tell the 15 year old Kafka's story as he runs away from his father's house to escape an Oedipal curse and to embark upon a quest to find his mother and sister. After a series of adventures, he finds shelter in a quiet, private library in Takamatsu, run by the distant and aloof Miss Saeki and the androgynous Oshima. There he spends his days reading the unabridged Richard Francis Burton translation of A Thousand and One Nights and the collected works of Natsume Sōseki until the police begin inquiring after him in connection with a brutal murder.
The even chapters tell Nakata's story. Due to his uncanny abilities, he has found part-time work in his old age as a finder of lost cats (a clear reference to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle). The case of one particular lost cat puts him on a path that ultimately takes him far away from his home, ending up on the road for the first time in his life. He befriends a truck-driver named Hoshino. Hoshino takes him on as a passenger in his truck and soon becomes very attached to the old man.
Nakata and Kafka are on a collision course throughout the novel, but their convergence takes place as much on a metaphysical plane as it does in reality and, in fact, that can be said of the novel itself. Due to the Oedipal theme running through much of the novel, Kafka on the Shore has been called a modern Greek tragedy"

Yeah, I know. A bit odd. But go with it. Murakami is not universally loved in Japan. Younger readers see him as a great cult author but many critics find his style to 'Western' he has often been accused of betraying tradtional Japanese Literary traditions.

Here though, we see a mix. The same blend of humour, popular culture. The same surrealism, but with a stronger link to Japanese religious traditions. And yes, more nipples.

I don't want to go on and on for much longer - you can read blurbs, I don't want to retell the story to you, I don't even want to offer you a huge personal reflection on his work. The beauty of these works I've made as clear as I can.

They bring magic to my daily life, they make me feel important, they stop me feeling alone. They have nipples and always, always good music.

Please Enjoy

Monday, 11 August 2008

T Shirts, The Future Of Shameless Self Promotion

Here's me.
Or at least part of me.
And here is my T-shirt.
I know full well that it is (slightly) pathetic and desperate to put your name on a T-shirt, but I don't care. I bought two of these, one for me, one for The Brother. My plan was for the two of us to wear them to work. (He works at the pub with me. In fact he is my boss, which he loves as he's the younger one and doesn't often get Power.)

But he said we weren't allowed.

We had to wear our Official Wetherspoons Dulliforms. So I was upset and a little relieved because wearing it in public was actually becoming more and more worrying. Besides wearing a t-shirt with my name on the back felt a little, well, crude I suppose. A bit up myself. I mean, I am a bit up my self, I was tempted to comment on the fact that the photo doesn't show off my wonderful bum, but again - that would be very arrogant of me wouldn't it? The point is is that I don't want everyone to know how arrogant I am. I have a bit of shy thing going on. For no particular reason.



Slightly relieved that I couldn't wear it to work I put my dressing gown and tried to write. But The Brother had other plans.

So we went to work early.

In our T shirts.

And pulled poses, like the one above - which is not at all a girlie pose, Caroline, it is,in fact, a super hero pose and one which Disco Kettle taught me. Although I will admit that he does it better than me - for an hour. Much to The Brother's delight I pulled my poses going redder and redder and redder.

But women did come up and stroke me. Which, of course, made me go a very deep scarlet colour.

So now you know, and, as a bonus, you can go and practice your own super hero poses. Which are in no way girlie.

Friday, 8 August 2008

A Skin For 9987

Too excited for preamble, so, without further ado...
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Is mint, no?
Not only that but it turns out I'm available for preorder from Amazon. Really. Wow. I have never, ever, been ths excited. Not even when I met Geoff off Byker Grove.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

A Very Long Drumroll

Hehe... I know something you don't know...

This morning the lovely people at Tonto Books sent me the cover for 9987.

It is fairly mint, I'm proper chuffed, how.

So, I'm going to keep it to myself today and, you know, just stare at it and stroke it and stuff.

But tomorrow, tomorrow I dress my baby


Wednesday, 6 August 2008

DK Goes Mental

(doors slam, feet pound the corridors)
(a phone drops to the floor: hello? hello? can you hear me? hello?)
(a panicked foot crushes the phone: hello? he-)
(distant sirens, children wail)
(A frantic knocking, a muffled cry: help me, I can't get out.)
(Please, I'm locked in. Isn't anyone there?)
(Oh God, please, please, is anyone there?)
(A woman screams, the banging on the door is desperate, a body slamming against unyielding wood)
(A woman is screaming: Oh God, this is it, tell my mother I - )
(A single beating heart, pounding in your ears.)
(A woman faints.)

Monday, 4 August 2008

A Cross-Genre, Trans-Format Fusion Of Creative Energies. And Disco Kettle Has A Bath.

Yes you heard right.
Cross-Genre, Trans-Format Fusion of Creative Energies.
Ironically I am discussing Creative Energies because, today, mine are horribly lacking. Maybe it was last nights bottle of wine. Maybe it was because I found myself watching Reality TV Shows at three o'clock this morning. Maybe it's due to my grief over missing nipples. I just don't know. But anyway, here we go.
Quite simply, I am talking about music.
Yes, I know. I know, stop it. Distracting surely. Silence is what is needed to write. Silence and coffee. And magic dressing gowns. I know, I know.
But I find silence quite intimidating. Even at work I'm the same.
(Class scribbles away in silence. Just the sound of pen to paper. A cough. A sigh.
Me: ... Ok kids, stop it. You're freaking me out. Say something or it's detentions all round. Especially for you. Yes, you.)
Here's how it works.
Depending on the chapter or scene different types of music are required. Generally speaking I find 'trip hop' as a good general backdrop. (I had to look up 'trip-hop'. It's an actual thing you know.) Rjd2 has worked well, as have Death In Vegas. Cos they're weird. They're all disjointed and mixed up and, bizarrely, stuff I hate in any other circumstances. I did try Jazz, for the weird disjointedness. But Jazz gives me nightmares. Yeah, I know.
For today my plan is this:

1. I have a scene in a park which involves hallucinations or the scary kind. This is a Death In Vegas scene. But, it's also outside so I will interspace DIV with The Coral, their first album, Obviously, because 'trip-folk' (and yeah, I made that one up, but it sort of fits) is good for any outdoor oddness.

2. I have a coffee shop scene filled with a yearning and aching and loads of unrequitedness. This is a Bush scene. Because no one does pain quite like Gavin Rossdale. Maybe because he's married to Gwen Stefani. I don't know.

3. I have a short scene in the main protagonist's flat. I think this will be the Pixies, because their lowfi lyrical madness will lend themselves nice his frame of mind.

Hmmm... That's a lot of work. Right well, I'd get past Part Two then.
Part Two: Disco Kettle Has A Bath.
Somehow DK has smeared himself in beans. I really don't understand how. I turn my back for one minute. So before jobs 1,2 and 3 can even be properly considered DK needs a bath.
I'm not having him delivering coffees splattered with greasy orange gunk.
Filthy filthy kettle.

Friday, 1 August 2008

And So I Have To Ask Myself: Where Have All The Nipples Gone?

I have just finished writing a Chapter of Novel 2 - FSLL. This is obviously a good thing. In fact the whole thing is going quite well, I have some bit and pieces I want to redo later and they are highlighted in yellow. I also have some adjustments I want to make to a character, these are highlighted in blue and come with a handy comment bubble.
But I worry.
I really do.
For you see, I have just finished writing a Chapter of Novel 2 - FSLL in which my main protagonist is in a strip club.
And not once have I mentioned Nipples. I fear I may be unwell.
9987 has nipples in.
So I have to ask myself: Where have all the nipples gone?
There is an easy fix to this. I could just go back and put some in. But somehow the tone of FSLL doesn't lend itself to nipples.
(I know, I was surprised too. What book wouldn't be better with nipples?
"Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?"
"Juliet, show us your tits!" )
I fear I may be growing up.
Disco Kettle doesn't see this as a problem. But he has different tastes, there is nothing gets his water bubbling like a supple flex of power cord, like a shiny plug pin. In fact I think he has a thing for the microwave, they regularly 'Bing' together...
But I digress.
Where have all the nipples gone? I can only assume someone is stealing my nipples.
So if it's you, you unscrupulous fiend, stop it. It's very upsetting. Nipple thief.