Singing the Slush Pile Blues – with apologies to the late, great Robert Johnson.
My Life as a Bench – ‘A strange, beautiful, sad book … you won’t have read anything like it before’ A Bookish Musician
Last week the Guardian reported that novelist Joanna Trollope considers JK Rowling’s use of Twitter to be a threat to literature. Trollope was chatting at a London literary party at the time and it was probably the posh equivalent of pub talk, but what are the real threats to literature?
Perhaps writing a novel is as simple as this:
An attempt to distil 25+ years of effort and experience into a simple diagram.
This Friday I will be reading from my upcoming novel, My Life as a Bench, at Novel London.
Novel London is the brainchild of writer Safeena Chaudhry. Having been to many short story and poetry events she noticed a lack of new novels from new novelists being read on the literary scene and decided to launch a regular event where writers read out their opening chapter.
This Friday, October 7th, Novel London will be celebrating fiction from London and beyond at independent bookshop Travelling Through Bookshop & Cafe in Waterloo. There will also be readings from Ben Starling and Helena Halme, and author Stephen Marriott will be the compere. The event is free and you can register for tickets here.
This is a photo of the house I rented with five other students in Nottingham. It was rundown and in a rough area, not that we cared at the time as it was more important to be near the college and city centre.
My room was at the top. It provided a fascinating window on our street that happened to be in the red-light area of the city.
Watching from that window provided the inspiration for my novel I Came to Find a Girl.
This extract forms the end of the first chapter (after a woman’s body has been found nearby).
Back in my room at the top, I looked out the window to see if there were any girls out on the corner at the crossroads. The wall where they liked to sit was empty but I sketched it anyway – the waiting-for-a-trick wall with its bricks falling from one end.
I reapplied my eyeliner and pinned up my hair, gathered my uniform together, and raced down the two flights of shag-pile carpeted stairs. “Seeya,” I shouted out in the greying light of the hallway, and slammed the front door behind me, pressing my fingers against it to check.
Two women with bare legs were sitting on the wall opposite. It’s too cold to dress like that, I thought. What are they doing there? Have they not seen the news? I wondered if Mum and Dad had. Probably not, this was local stuff. They didn’t even know I was living in the red-light area.
As I turned onto the main road, I saw the police cordon further up the hill by The Vine, our local pub. Nottingham and particularly our scrappy corner of the city suddenly seemed more dangerous, and yet nothing had changed. The threat of a madman roaming the streets had always been there. It’s probably safer than normal – police everywhere, I thought. But still, to make the twenty-minute trek across town to Saviour’s Bar and Restaurant, I slipped my keys between my fingers. The sharpest, jagged-edged Yale was between my index and middle finger, and gripped discreetly by my side. Everyone needs keys.
Stickers (or more likely pretend stickers) are all the rage on book covers. Those little bright circles used to contain important additional information, such as a shortlisting for a literary prize, but now it can be almost anything including frequent claims that the latest release is the new Gone Girl or for fans of The Girl on the Train or Stieg Larsson.
Anyway, I can hardly complain since I have joined in with my own circular cry for attention, but why stop at one? Perhaps I could coat my entire book cover in circles filled with the best and most exciting quotes?