He was lying in the hospital bed with a plastic clip on his little finger from which a wire connected him to a heart monitor. His leathered skin was pulled tight over his cheekbones and jaw. Under his eyes were turbid shadows textured like bruised deflated bollocks. Every now and then his tongue would appear out of his mouth, twitching like a tired old cock in a gentle spasm on those dry and frigid lips. Near dead, he was haunted by the memory of what was once pronounced between his legs, solid and jerking like some plastered drunkard at a dance. Above him on the television screen a national talent show blazed, sculpted kids in tight clothes, gyrating to songs of unrequited love. He didn’t want it switched off, just the channel changed, but he hadn’t the strength to reach up to do it himself. Not that they had what he wanted to watch. Not like in a hotel room.
January 20th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink
At the trading desks it was a tempest of panicked activity, a maelstrom of despairing voices crying havoc, tossing imaginary life preservers to the howling shrieks of landlines and mobiles, beeping coloured graphs like faulty heart monitors, lines of credit just too short to save creditors, the banking horizon a swirl of economic brimstone and financial fire, phones bleating maydays, reams of paper exploding over head, suited men and their tottering secretaries battening down the hatches, tossing some clients to certain death and others to rack and ruin.
Will was alone, his ear to the door, the pain beyond it near splitting the wood. He heard the doctor issue orders and pushed himself away from the door as the Nurse, whose face and hands were covered in blood, dashed out of the bedroom to call for hot water. The sight of the blood made him shudder. Through the door he could see his wife lying pale and exhausted on the bed. The doctor was by her side talking, though she was barely able to listen. The whites of her eyes showed, her face contorted and then her whole body buckled in agony. Her scream wrenched the nurse back.
August 29th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink
Zed follows C to the park. When C sits on a bench, in front of a manmade lake, Zed perches three benches down. Each day Zed changes the way he looks, being careful not put on clothes that would seem out of place, overly ostentatious or headline grabbing. Today he is wearing jogging trousers, and a plain white t-shirt with a sports logo over his heart. He only half watches C who sits quietly eating a home made sandwich of white bread, cheese, tomato and lettuce. Zed observes that the cheese is cheddar. Watching C Zed wonders whether C has prepared the food himself or had his wife done so. Zed suspects that it was the wife, though he has no evidence upon which to base his suspicions. Each morning of that week C has left his house at seven in the morning. Never has his wife come to the door to wave him off or suddenly call him back to remind him that he has forgotten his lunch or to kiss him or to mention that she loves him. There is no display of romance, no love note included with is repast.
September 30th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
reading my story Turn The Porn On which has just been published in MIR8.
I have never been able to explain why I write. It is something that I have always done. I’m not sure if I write because I love it, because often the process is torture, not just for me but for those around me. I don’t remember choosing to write. I just wrote, not very well I might add. It was also not an easy thing for me to do, but I always approached it with a sense of discipline – actually I’m lying, I have no discipline. When I sit down to work I tend to spend a lot of time not doing anything. I call it hanging around waiting for the Big Bang. I do a lot of hanging around. The worst time is when I’ve gone to bed on a real high thinking about the next days work and where the story is going. I have amazing conversations with my characters and we drink a lot of wine. We discuss the narrative from all angles, the symbolism, the existential agenda, the resonance of meaning within the action – you name it, we talk about it. But the next morning nothing happens. All those great ideas vanished into the magic hat of my vanity. And then the doubt kicks in. Sometimes the doubt is so bad I leave stories alone for weeks on end. If I look at them – I hate them. I am inconsolable about my wretched lack of talent, overcome with self loathing. And then somehow I start again. And something amazing happens. I might trash what I wrote before – but this is liberating – OK, liberating when one has the benefit of hindsight. It took me five or six years to write Heaven Sent, nearly all the work I wrote in the first four years ended on a pyre. That wasn’t fun, all those false starts and blind alleys, though sometimes it was satisfying to edit great swathes of work in the same way that pulling a scab can feel great.
May 22nd, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
I am appearing on the GZone Radio show on Tuesday 24th 9am EST. Do not fear if you miss it as you will be able to download the podcast – well forever. You got it a digital copy will be available in perpetuity! Ah the joys of technology, what did humanity do without it? You will be able to find this and all the past shows here. Do check it out.
May 13th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
It was the Royal Free Hospital. Down in the bowels, past the AIDS test room. My wife and I walked past a couple awaiting results. They were chatting quite pleasantly. I don’t suppose there is anything else to do there. It was a small cut out square in the corridor. There were no windows just a lot of yellow ill air.
Before I go on, we were walking towards the abortion room. It’s tucked away in a place without light. I kid you not.
May 6th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
This is a piece that I wrote for The Write To Make A Living and is republished here with Stacey’s kind permission.
May 3rd, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
I wrote this originally as a guest post for the blog vvb32 reads. When you get a mo you should out Velvet’s blog, its really great. But for now, I shall hand you over to Daisy Byatt.
DAIZEE: Orright Mistur Writers, I got you’s owt ere ta tawk a bit abowt dis ere book you’s az written, an I ziz in.
XAVIER: That’s right Daizee.
DAIZEE: Ets nice ere ain’t et, looken owt over dat sea. You’s don’t mind climben up dis tower, et woz a bit of a wey up?
XAVIER: I don’t mind at all Daizee.
DAIZEE: Dat moon, Mistur Writers, etz like a jewel in some tart’s ear, an dem stars ez like flicked up gizzum.
XAVIER: Well I guess that’s one way of describing it.
DAIZEE: I’m fucken wiv ya Mistur Writers. So whir’s dis book come from den?
XAVIER: I began it about six years ago.
DAIZEE: Woz I en et bak den?
XAVIER: Yes. You and Carlo. I began it with Carlo and you appeared pretty quickly. When you appeared I knew what the book was going to be about.
DAIZEE: Ev you’s new wot et woz abowt, why de fuck did et take you’s so long ta write et?
XAVIER: To begin with I wrote pages of prose without dialogue. I tried to change the tone of the prose to fit either your voice or that of Carlo’s. I was floundering really, wanting to describe what was in your head and his, whilst also trying to create a story. I kept getting stuck. And I had other things that needed to be written. I wrote a couple of plays, directed a couple of plays and wrote and directed two movies. There was two or three years when I didn’t touch the book. It was always there though, on the back of mind. There was a couple of times when I wanted to give up entirely.
DAIZEE: Why didn’t you’s?
XAVIER: You wouldn’t let me. You were always there. Everyday of that six years you spoke to me.
DAIZEE: I knowz et.
XAVIER: You needed your story to be told and I wanted to tell it. I wanted to tell the world that you’re not a lost cause that whatever happens you are someone worth fighting for. That so often kids like you are thrown on the scrap heap. My mother once worked in this secure unit and she told me this story of a girl who’s dad sold her to sailors from out the back of his van when she was just three years old.
DAIZEE: Dat be I.
XAVIER: Yes, that be you. Well the model for you. I don’t know what happened to that girl, but I’ve always worried about her.
DAIZEE: So who’s Carlo den?
XAVIER: Carlo is the kid that I never was. I never had the guts that he has, to do what he does, for you. Like him I had a very religious background and like him I fought against it. I still do. I might be an atheist but I still battle with many of the questions that Carlo battles with. I can’t get over the way the world is.
DAIZEE: How fucked up et ez?
XAVIER: The way people are.
DAIZEE: I knows et.
XAVIER: Yeah, you do.
DAIZEE: So why’s you got I to tawk like you’s as – I mean like dis funnee spellin an dat.
XAVIER: It’s your accent Daizee. You’re from Bristol and Bristolian is like another language and I really wanted to capture that. I didn’t always write you like this, but I always heard you like this. I love the way it looks on the page, too. It makes you stand out. I know it is hard for the reader to read, certainly at first, I suspect that it makes the reader judge you too – like the other characters in the book. It makes your journey with the reader all the more real and in turn all the more powerful. And I hope transformative.
DAIZEE: Carlo doesn’t see me like that.
XAVIER: Carlo loves you.
DAIZEE: Yah tis troo.
XAVIER: Yes, Daizee, it is true.
DAIZEE: Dat moon.
XAVIER: What about it?
DAIZEE: Et ain’t wot I sed et woz.
DAIZEE: Etz like your eye wotchen over I, when I’s wiv Carlo.
XAVIER: Is it?
DAIZEE: Yah, tis troo.
May 1st, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
Other news includes a story of mine has been selected for this years MIR8 collection. It will be coming out in September. I’m very pleased to have once again been selected and that my work will appear alongside that of some extraordinary up and coming talent.
Got to run as I am taking the kids for a picnic, by a brook, where I have promised them there is a troll.
April 27th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
I’ve been interviewed by Roxelana, for her blog, about e-pubbing and my work. Check it out here. I always find it strange reading back what I have said, in fact I always quickly scan the interview, almost through half shut eyes, hardly recognising the person that I was, uncertain of my own voice. In this case I got my wife to read it over just to make sure that I hadn’t said anything that might get me into trouble. It’s funny, with the other interviews that I have done for Heaven Sent, I was sent the questions and was able to take my time and consider the answers. For this one I spoke to Anna over Skype. It was a really lovely conversation. We chatted for a good hour or so. I came away thinking, that went really well. But as soon as the link came through I thought cripes, what did I say? Please God, don’t let me have ranted – I am prone to the odd rant, particularly after a few glasses of wine – not that I had any that night – no no no – sober as judge. After the interview I went for a long bike ride into the countryside surrounding where I live. It was late dusk and everywhere there was blossom. Anyway, I think I have done OK. Phew. Many many thanks to Roxelana.
April 21st, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
The very esteemed and lovely Stacey Donaldson invited me to write a post for her excellent book blog, about going Indian Jones and putting my novel out all on mi tod. Check it out here.
April 21st, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
Fantastic! Another humdinger review on GoodReads. I am doing a guest post on Stacy’s site, The Write To Make A Living, which should be up later today, will keep you posted.
Heaven Sent is like Romeo and Juliet turned inside out. Two kids from two different worlds fall in love. Carlo is from a prudish Catholic family, while Daizee is a prostitute who has seen and experienced more than most adults. The sheltered Carlo finds himself thrust into the world that his parents desperately tried to shield from him – all for love.
This book is not for the light hearted, as the subject matter is very dark. If you enjoy complex characters and you like pondering societal norms, morals, and ethics, this is the book for you. I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed the story. My eyes teared up at the end.
The author did a fantastic job showing the contrasts of these characters, even down to Daizee’s accent. Brilliant!