Goodbye Bellshill and The Shugs

In this Chapter from Bobby’s Boy, my main character, Tommy Kinsella, is taking a wee walk around the town, before leaving on tour with Rage Against the Machine. The scene is set around 1992.

The following excerpt is from Chapter 9 of Bobby’s Boy by Mark Wilson. Copyright Paddy’s Daddy Publishing and Mark Wilson 2012.

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Tom walked from Community Road, around past the corner shop with its pavement decorated with smashed Buckfast bottles in front of drawn steel shutters, to catch the number 14 bus to the Main Street. He walked along from Bellshill Cross, past The Crown bar, smiling to himself at memories that came to mind as he went. As he walked, Tom remembered finding a huge carrier bag full of unopened spirits and wines in the car park behind the Corrie bogs. He’d been fourteen at the time, had grabbed the bag, and sprinted through the alley to the Main Street, practically skipping with glee at his find.  Unfortunately, a police van had been passing just as he shot onto the street and they soon had him at the side of the road, pouring a litre bottle of vodka, a half-bottle of Bell’s whisky, a bottle of wine, and six cans of the purple tin (Tennent’s Super) slowly down the drain. He’d been furious at the time, but later consoled himself with the bottle of kiwi and lime Mad Dog 20/20 he’d secreted into his coat.

Tom continued along the Main Street, passing where Herbie Frog’s and subsequently Valenti’s used to sit. Both had been nightclubs which catered to the fanny-dancing, crotch-grinding, Benzini jean-wearing and terminally hormonal Bellshill teen scene. Between Herbie Frog’s and the YMCA disco further along the road, you didn’t have to work too hard for a lumber in the fourteen to sixteen demographic.

Across the road was The Royal Bank of Scotland and First in Town, a hardware store, just next door. Tom’d had a drunken encounter with Linda McGovern behind that bank one night after Herbie Frog’s came out. She’d led him around to the rear of the building, pinned him to the wall, and proceeded to search his teeth for leftover dinner with her probing tongue that tasted of cigarettes. Linda had paused only briefly in her molestation to ask, “Whit turns ye oan?”

In reply, Tommy had distracted her, jumped over the wall towards First in Town’s yard, and had run like fuck, never once looking back. Despite badly tearing a ligament in his foot upon landing, he considered it a lucky escape in hindsight. Linda had been furious, roaring after him, “Ya fuckin’ poofy-prick!”

She had even turned up at his school looking for some kind of sexually frustrated reckoning a few days later. Tom took no pride in his actions at the time, hiding in the bin shed for an hour while she stalked the school growing more furious and more determined to find him with every moment that he eluded her. He’d heard later that Pez had calmed her down, sweet talking her into a date later that night. In Tom’s mind Pez’s lion-taming brought to mind an interview he’d seen with a dog-handler on the regional news where the seasoned dog-whisperer had explained that to calm an aggressive bitch, you simply had to slide a finger into her anus. It worked a treat for dogs in his charge apparently. As good a wingman as Pez was, Tom doubted he’d go to those lengths to aid the escape of his cowering friend. The memory made Tom laugh out loud as he continued on his walk around town.

Tom had actually worked in First in Town at weekends for around three years, making close friends with the Pakistani family who owned the hardware shop. They liked Tom as he worked hard, asked endless questions about their homeland and devoured the home-made curries on such a scale that it made them wonder where he put all that food. The matriarch of the family, Betty, seemed to enjoy the challenge of trying to fatten the skinny white kid. He’d eaten so much curry and worked so many shifts for the family that customers who came in began charmingly referring to Tom as the “White Paki”. Tom loved Bellshill, but some folk would always have their prejudices, especially those folks that didn’t even realise that they had them, and genuinely would be mystified at any offence caused by their comments. In recent years, the store had been in decline, following a scandal involving the patriarch.

Tom also passed Bellshill Academy, a place of mixed memories for him. Some made him laugh, others wince, and none more so than remembering  Diller, who made everyone’s life a misery, pupil and teacher alike. In a school full to the rafters of vicious bastards, Diller took the prize for most evil of the lot. Tom suspected that someone must have fucked him right over within days of being born, maybe stole a sook of his mother’s tit or something, and Diller had decided to spend the remaining years he had on the planet in a state of part fury, part cold calculated malice, exacting revenge on the human species.

Tom made his way out of town and visited his dad’s grave in Birkenshaw a few miles up the road. He’d also been to see Mum, baby Jayne and Mel where they lay in their graves in Hamilton.

He was having a final look around Bellshill cross, when he spotted two familiar old faces sitting on the bench outside the church. The men were Eck Forsyth and Wullie McInally. They’d been in that spot, on that same bench, seemingly endlessly and certainly for as long as anyone in town could remember. Frequently they argued about religion.

Eck would habitually scour the immediate area searching for cigarette butts. He’d later strip the tobacco from the fag-ends in a baccy tin and use it for roll ups. “Nae point in buying fags,” he would say. “If there are cunts daft enough tae leave good tobacco lying about, then I’ll fucking have it.”

He was one of the first eco-warriors to exist in Lanarkshire. Although Eck didn’t know it, recycling was his life. Not for any lofty, planet-hugging agenda, but just because he was a tight old bastard. He reputedly lived in a lovely old house filled with fine furnishings, but sat daily on this bench asking for and getting fags from strangers and recycling their butt ends.

Wullie had his own “thing”. He was a committed insulter of the teenaged community of Bellshill, brandishing his index and middle fingers at them horizontally and shouting “Smell yer maw” at any and all passing teenagers. To be fair, Wullie was rumoured to be a former ladies man or “hoor-maister” many decades ago. If his reputation was deserved, there’s a fair chance in a town as small as Bellshill that he had indeed shagged their mothers, or even grandmothers. Or perhaps both.

Both men wore bunnets and smelled strongly of Tennent’s Super, the outdoors and ever so slightly of pish. Both had a purple tin in hand, and a rolled up paper in their coat pockets. Both were hilarious when you got them talking. Eck and Wullie were engaged in one of their usual arguments about religion as Tom approached. One man took the Protestant stance, the other the Catholic one. Tom, coming from what was referred to in Lanarkshire as a “mixed family”, had never given a damn about the religious opinions or divides.

Unfortunately, he was in a minority in his disinterest. These issues were all too important in many homes locally, fuelled by allegiance to the two Glasgow football teams. Both clubs seemed only too happy to work together and exploit the religious prejudices of the community. They supplied an outlet for the tension and hatred while keeping up a pretence of trying to stamp out the bigots, filling their coffers in the process. Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Glasgow had a long and divided history of religious bigotry, imported from Northern Ireland. Tom had never quite understood the history behind the Protestants’ and Catholics’ mutual distrust and hatred of each other, mainly because he didn’t care enough about what seemed to him to be petty rivalry, and an excuse to spit hatred at people on a Saturday, then go to work all pals again on a Monday.

Personally, he’d never seen any difference in the people of either affiliation, except that one group wore green and the other blue. One group also seemed to take comfort from departed loved ones, or God watching over them and emoting pride at times of triumph, whilst the other lot seemed to only sense disapproval or judgement when they had a wee secret fumble or something.  One group had a touch of The Armada about them, in their dark hair and skin and general good looks. Tom suspected that if the supporters woke up one day and both football clubs were gone, they’d simply paint snails in opposing colours and race them to find an outlet for their ‘beliefs’.

As Tom passed close to the bench, Eck through habit said “Gies a fag”, and Wullie went “Smell yer’…” but stopped as he saw Tom.

“Aw, it’s Bobby’s Boy.”

Both men knew him through some uncle, cousin or other, or perhaps had known his dad directly, and simply asked how he was and wished him a good day.

“I’m away to work abroad for a wee while,” he told them.

“Aye, well don’t forget you’re from Bellshill son, and Bellshill will aye be yer home,” Wullie barked at him.

“Aye, ok, thanks. Take care of yourselves, in the cold,” Tom replied.

“Aye we’re used to it son,” said Eck, followed immediately by “Right ya orange bastard, where were we?” to Wullie.

Tom walked slowly back home to Community Road, taking only a detour past the family’s old house in Harvey Way. The modest, white pebble-dashed little house had been a happy home to his departed family. It now housed a new family, which was nice, and reminded Tom to call his sister before he left for San Francisco later that day.

As he reached the other end of town and approached Liberty Road, Tom had a peek in the windows of Rob Hamilton’s old place. Nobody had lived there since the family had all but disappeared one night a few years back while Tom was still living in Blackwood. When Tom had first moved back to Bellshill to live with Alec, he’d looked forward to reforming his friendship with Rob. The boys had been best friends their whole lives, and Tom had been lost without him when he’d been uprooted to Blackwood with his mum and Mel. When Tom discovered that Rob’s family had moved on mysteriously, it came as a massive disappointment to him. No one in the area had figured out for sure what had happened to make the Hamiltons depart so suddenly, but rumours of child abandonment and subsequent social service involvement persisted.

Tom left Liberty Road and took the customary shortcut over the bing. The bing was an old coal mine deposit, basically a grass-covered hill/cross country run circuit/alcoholics stomping ground. It also served as a short cut to Lawmuir Primary School, as there was a gap in the fence at the rear of the school facing the bing. Crossing over the bing made a handy cut-through from Liberty Road to Community Road too, if you didn’t mind some verbal abuse and a potential shoe theft perpetrated by the resident zombie-like glue-sniffers.

Tom had heard recent rumours about a former classmate of his named Craig Queen. The rumours concerned an apparent unhealthy interest in dogs’ arseholes, which he’d allegedly been disturbed violating in a quiet area at the top of the bing. It wouldn’t surprise Tom if the rumour was true. Craig had always been a shifty bastard who got a weird, creepy look in his eyes when the girls trooped into the sports hall during PE class. Tom had smacked him once for cornering a terrified first year in school and pishing on said first year after knocking him to the ground, apparently for getting in his way. It seemed a reasonable leap of logic to Tom that if he was pishing on first years at school four years ago, he might well have diversified or graduated to shagging canines. Tom was across the bing sharp and down the other side, with the mental image of Queen’s face twisted with pleasure, accompanied by a puzzled howl.

As he turned into Community Road at last, Tom passed the Shugs’ house. Turning the corner stealthily as always, he tried to blend into a bush hoping to go unnoticed by the house’s occupants. He’d executed this manoeuvre many times, and had little difficulty slipping past. The Shugs were a family of socially deprived and under-educated delinquents, who suffered with a variety of disorders and conditions. So said social services. Everyone else knew and feared those fucking animals for what they were: psychotic, sadistic and violent beasts.

The Shugs were masters of physical and mental torture, stalking their victims ruthlessly and relentlessly through the streets of Bellshill. Tales of the Shugs’ exploits always reminded Tom of The Terminator, embodied by the line from the movie: “It can’t be bargained with. It doesn’t feel pity or remorse, or fear.”

That summed an individual Shug up perfectly. Collectively, they were a horrifying prospect that brought the nightmarish terror of the stalking, many-headed beast into stark ball-aching reality for many a generation of Bellshillians.

The whole family was male. Each man was well over six foot tall, heavily muscled, especially the back, chest, arms and neck. They were, to a man, widely regarded to be ultra-violent, and highly predatory. The Shugs seemed to possess the olfactory ability to raise a nose to the breeze, sniff out a weak animal and hunt it. All were named simply Shug. Their true names were never uttered or even known by most, though Tom suspected that the Shug moniker had been adopted intentionally to avoid police questions and confuse witness testimony. If a brave witness gave the name of the man he saw punch, maim or rob an individual, all he had to offer was “Shug”. It was futile for the police to try to determine which particular Shug and besides, they weren’t any keener than the civilian populace to visit the Shug homestead.

There were six of them that Tom knew about. There was Old Shug the dad. There were two Shugs in their thirties, Mad Shug and Shug wi’ the Dug. What it took to be called mad in that family was something truly exceptional, and Shug wi’ the Dug, well he had a dog. It was a huge baby-eating bastard of a beast that appeared to have been gestated by a wolf that’d been violated by a grizzly bear. Bundy, the dug, named for Ted Bundy, a hero of The Shugs, was only slightly less terrifying than its master. Both men, happily, spent most of their existence behind bars.

Young Shug was in his early twenties, and indulged himself in burglary, arson and cruelty to the elderly. He was the Shug with means, thanks to his chosen profession. He was what’s known in Bellshill as “a thieving cunt”. Young Shug was more often than not accompanied by Shug. Just Shug. No other description was required. Shug was a monster of a man-child, at eighteen tender years of age towering over and outweighing his massive older siblings. Shug was by far the most frightening of the clan in his calm, measured silence. He was rumoured to have blown his top completely once in HMV in Argyle Street. He was, by all accounts, observed during his rampage biting, stabbing and kicking the staff, as well as tearing down racks of CDs, screaming “Stick yer student discount up yer fuckin’ arse.”

Tom had never seen him do anything, except slide that chilling reptilian stare slowly over everyone he encountered, surveying and assessing every weakness, storing them away in that amygdala-driven pea-sized brain, for future attentions.

The last Shug was Big Shug. This Shug wasn’t the biggest; he was dwarfed by Shug, just like all his brethren. No, size wasn’t his virtue. This Shug inspired high hopes in the others of his kind. He was the future, a new model. Shug 2.0 if you like. He was the youngest, at only fifteen years, but this Shug was different from all the rest. He had all the brutality and predatory senses. He’d learned all the skills of his older siblings, but this Shug had something truly dangerous with which to augment his physicality. He had intelligence. This was one truly arse-clenchingly terrifying thing, this pinnacle of Shug evolution.

 

As Tom walked further down Community Road towards his place, he heard the Neanderthal roar of a Shug who’d clearly spotted some unfortunate wee bastard passing his house. “Haw wee baws. Get fuckin’ in here and gie me a fuckin’ fag.”

Poor wee cunt, thought Tom. He’d been there in that guy’s shoes many times in the past.

 

End of Excerpt

You can purchase Bobby’s Boy along with Mark’s other books at Amazon UK

dEaDINBURGH – On Location and Chapter 12 Preview

Having spent a day shooting locations from the book with Paul McGuigan of PMCG Photography, it felt like a good time for another update.

At this point in the book, Alys and Joey have reunited after a three year absence. Alys has convinced Joey to enter a no man’s land in the South of the dead city, beyond the inner fences in search of a cure and a madman.

Lyrics from Unified Zombie Republic used with  permission of Gavin Bain
of Hopeless Heroic and Silibil-N-Brains

The following excerpt is from dEaDINBURGH by Mark Wilson and is copyright of Mark Wilson and Paddy’s Daddy Publishing:

Chapter 12

 

A sudden push against the bus sent it wobbling to one side. Alys and Joey both snatched their weapons up and stood to look through the misted windows.

“Didn’t you have a check around before you arrived?” she snapped at Joey more out of shock than genuine anger.

“Of course I did.” He said calmly.

Both turned their eyes back to the winnow, Alys stepping forward to rub some of the condensation away with the sleeve of her coat. She gasped as she looked out onto Canonmills. Joey pressed his cheek against hers to get a better look through the gap she’d made and let out a little sound of his own.

The bus was surrounded by Zoms. Every panel, front, sides and rear was being pushed upon by a herd of them, three deep in parts. Each of them was completely fixed on the bus, lips drawn back from snapping teeth.

“Where the hell did they come from?” Joey asked. “You ever see that many in one place?”

Alys shook her head.

“You?”

Not like that.” He replied. “They’re all pretty fresh.

By fresh he meant fast, vicious, dangerous, and of course, hungry.

There was little chance of them pushing the bus over; they simply didn’t have the strength or coordination for that, unless they got lucky. The greatest risk to them was that the hands that had begun to slap against the windows would eventually break the glass. Neither of them was particularly worried about a zom climbing through a broken window, the panels were too high for that, but the broken window would definitely mean exposure to the bitter winter wind howling louder than the Zoms groans outside.

“Upstairs.” Alys told him, leading the way to the top deck.

From the top they gained a better view of what they faced. Alys guessed maybe sixty Zoms, all fresh, had surrounded the bus. She rubbed her temples, thinking, what the hell brought so many of them here?

Canonmills was outside the inner fence, but only just; and generally was fairly clear of the dead. Those she had encountered recently in the area had been older ones, slow and part-frozen with the winter frost.

Glancing along the aisle of the bus towards Joey who had his face pressed against the rear window, she gave him a sharp whistle. When he turned, she pointed up at the ceiling, eliciting a conspirational grin from him, followed by a quick nod of approval.

Stepping on Joey’s interlocked hands, she boosted herself up towards the skylight, pushed it open and climbed through, out onto the snow-covered roof, before dangling her arm through to help Joey up.

“I’m cool.” He told her. As Alys withdrew her arm, Joey’s hands grabbed the skylight and his feet suddenly shot through followed by the rest of him, head last. He landed lightly on his feet in a crouch.

“Show off.” She shook her head at him. “Let’s see what we’ve got.”

She said, heading towards the edge to lean over. Her sudden presence above brought a surge of hungry groans from below.

“You think you can shoot them off? Maybe just clear a section for us to break through?”

Joey had a quick peek over.

“Na. Too few arrows; too many Zoms. How about we go back to the lower deck and just start braining them through the windows after they’ve broken through?”

Alys scowled.

“Too risky; too easy to get grabbed or bitten whilst reaching out.”

Joey’s face suddenly broke into a wide grin. Hooking his bow over his back, he went through his ritual of checking his weapons, tightening his laces and pulling his hood up, before cocking an eyebrow at her and flashing an even wider grin.

“Back in a minute, Alys.” He laughed and leaped from the bus’ roof onto the nearby bus shelter, from where he did a tight sideways somersault, landing on the roof of a phone box several feet away. With a final cartwheel-tuck, he span off the phone box, landing catlike two feet behind the row of Zoms who still faced the bus.

Launching into a song, he took off up the hill towards a burnt put Esso petrol station, Sixty-odd dead shuffling behind him like a grotesque parade.

“Searching for answers and finding more reasons, not to believe in the bullshit they feed us….” Joey sand loudly and out of tune, laughing as he ran, tumbled and span his way up the hill, away from the bus.

He’s entirely too full of himself, that boy, Alys thought, supressing a smile.

Returning a few minutes later, Joey had doubled back around the Zoms who were still headed up towards Rodney Street. Joey was walking towards her, arms wide in a what you think gesture. Alys shook her head, “Nice singing, Joey.”

He laughed loudly. “You like that? Jock taught me it.”

Joey launched into another verse, ducking as she threw a right-hander at him.

“Shut up, idiot. You’ll have them back down here.” She nodded up at the herd of Zoms. Some of the rear ones had lurched around and were looking in their direction, teeth bared.

“Okay. Let’s go tell your mother that we’re running away to find a cure at The Royal Infirmary, which is by the way, surrounded by murdering madmen who worship a Zommed-out footballer. That’ll be fun.”

Alys cocked an eyebrow at him. Deadpan she said. “Okay.”

End of Excerpt

On location in dEaDINBURGH

You can find Mark and his books at Amazon, US; Amazon, UK and at Paddy’s Daddy Publishing.

You can follow Mark’s progress on dEaDINBURGH on twitter at dEaDINBURGHbook

Five free books from the PDP Catalogue

Grab yourself five FREE kindle books from Paddy’s Daddy Publishing’s catalogue. On promotion from 20th November 2013 until the 22nd November 2013. We hope you enjoy the novels and consider leaving reviews once you’ve completed them.

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Milk

Two years ago I undertook a challenge to raise funds for Mary’s Meals. In the next week or so I’ll be launching another challenge, in the meantime, here’s a recap of the 30 Day Milk Challenge:

Milk

 

The Idea

During the month of May, 2011; I decided to undertake a challenge. It was a bit Jesus-y this challenge, not in a water to wine kind of way (not sure how productive I’d be given that gift), but rather in a starving in the desert, self-denial kind of way. I set out to survive (and hopefully thrive) on a diet restricted to milk, water, and daily multi-vitamins for the duration of 30 days.

 

No food, no alcohol, no anything, but milk and water.

 

My challenge began on 1st May and ended successfully on the 30th, with only one or two hitches, defeats, and minor embarrassments along the way. During the 30 days I learned a great deal about the difference between what we, as people, need and what we just want. Often our wants are mistaken for needs. When you don’t eat for 30 days, it redefines for you the number of calories it takes to not only function, but thrive as well as redefining the difference between want and need.

 

The 30 Days

The first two days, were spent ignoring hunger pangs and licking salt from the back of my hand. I wasn’t doing tequila shots, my body desperately craved the salt. Those days were also spent trying and failing to consume 4-5 pints of full-fat milk a day. I found this far too filling and on day 3 had to switch to semi-skimmed milk. Much better. By the 5th day, and bearing in mind that I lived with a challenging 2 year-old, the first coffee of the day was to prove a necessity that I couldn’t do without, so I added it back in.

After that, believe it or not, the rest was easy. I never once felt hungry, I felt full all the time actually. I didn’t crave any food in fact I lost all interest in it. Life generally became a bit simpler without having to organise meals, just get a bottle of milk. All in all I felt like a bit of a cheat as I wasn’t constantly having to fight the urge to eat and apart from the occasional energy crash and sleep to recover, it was ridiculously easy…..Until day 23.

Day 23 was a really windy day and as a result all transport out of fife to Edinburgh was halted for a few hours in the evening. My stomach, in a crowded train station, finally let me know its displeasure. I’ll spare you the details here, but it was unpleasant in the extreme. After that, I had stomach cramps almost continuously until day 30. Sleep was elusive.

Days 28 -30 also proved to be a challenge. The toughest days by far. I was hungry, very hungry. Food smells were torture, I dreamed about food all night, I day-dreamed about food all day, I would happily have bitten passing dogs, but there was no way I was giving up this close to completion. The hunger reminded me of my childhood and motivated me to finish. Also I thought about all the kind donations I’d received and didn’t want to let anyone down.

 

The Motivation

I’m not a religious man, despite the Jesus references earlier. I’m not the raise money for charity or Chugger type either. Never been the guy who takes time out of his day, week, or month to help others. So what’s changed? Nothing. I was introduced to a charity called, “Mary’s Meals, who feed and educate one child for a year for every £9.00, donated.

 

So what? I’ve walked past hundreds of people in my daily life who have been raising funds for worthy causes, so why did this one motivate me to effectively punish myself for a month?

The answer is simple: I live a privileged life. I think that most people in Britain, certainly most of those whom I interact with on a daily basis, have no real concept of how fortunate we are to live in Britain, and certainly have no idea (generally speaking) of what it means to go without.

 

Going Without

My family and I never go without a meal and actually have much more than we need. My son’s never known hunger (thankfully); he’s never gone to bed after a day of being hungry and woken up the same way. Neither has my wife, the majority people in this country haven’t, but I have.

I was brought up in a fairly impoverished environment, with most of my family, being mentally ill and/or alcoholics. My siblings and I, in our childhood, spent many days, frequently wondering where our next meal was coming from, and struggling to survive abuse and neglect from the adults in our lives. School was very much NOT a priority for us in those days except as a place to escape to for a few hours, see our friends and to receive a school dinner. I ate at my best friend’s house almost every day at one stage.

 

The memory of those days came back to me vividly upon learning of Mary’s Meals goals, probably because I associate meals with school, and set me on course for this challenge. Mary’s Meals encourages education by feeding children at schools all over the world.

I recalled memories of my mum trying to feed 3 people on a budget of £23.00 a fortnight and sharing a tin of soup between a family for a meal. Memories of items such as soap, shampoo, juices, fruit, and vegetables; classified by the Social Security as “luxuries”. Memories too of every item of clothing I ever owned, having belonged to at least one other person before me. Finally, memories of homeless-shelters and living with a stranger who we were taught to call dad. My family was far from unique in the area we lived in.

 

I have been fortunate and have worked extremely hard to educate and remove myself from this cycle of poverty, drugs, depression and cyclic failure. Due to this, it strikes a deep chord in me to see a charity like this doing the same for so many children across the world.

All anyone needs is the opportunity to make a better life for themselves. Being fed and educated is the very least a child should reasonably expect from life.

People who escape deprived upbringings and create a better life for themselves inevitably feel guilt about what they have and that’s the brick wall I had hit. This was my solution.

 

I will not be doing it again, and I do still like milk.

Through the money kindly donated to my challenge, Mary’s Meals will feed and educate around 60 children for a whole year. I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who donated this money. Thank you.

Mark Wilson

31/5/11

http://www.marysmeals.org.uk/

 

 

Last Season’s Children: the debut novel that never was

The following excerpt comes from a book I started writing in 2009 and as yet haven’t been able to continue with. It was the first writing project I took on and would have been my debut novel if I hadn’t gotten distracted by four other books I had to write, and in all honesty, if I hadn’t been too scared and lacking in the technical skills to write it.

Last Season’s Children is Semi-Autobiographical but is a mostly fictional examination of how divorce and any subsequent marriages (for the kids or the parents) affects children. It’s a subject that has defined almost every aspect of my upbringing and early adult life.

Using the theme of seasons to represent the characters, in Last Season’s Children we follow siblings, Gus and July, every two years throughout their lives. The language used by the characters in each time period reflects their respective ages, education, situation, and mental state.

I will write the rest of this novel, but not yet: I hope you enjoy.

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Last Season’s Children 

2000

                                    August is 3 years old.

                                    July is 5 years old.

 

August:

I’m in bed and it’s past my bed-time. I should be sleeping by now but I can hear the angry sounds coming up from downstairs again. Can’t sleep.

My room has Star Wars wall-paper and I’ve studied every inch of it. Obi-Wan has a blue Lightsaber and is fighting Dart Maul. I picked it ‘cos I love the film and I like counting the droids when I’m lying in bed. My big sister July took me to see it at the Vue Cinema in Hamilton. We go there on the number fourteen bus every Saturday. July’s friends come too and she never goes without me. July always shares her crisps with me.

July says that Mum and Dad are just talking loudly, but I know that they don’t like each other anymore. They still like me, though.

 

July is here, with me. She always is if I can’t sleep. She’s helping me play the flag game. July helps me sort out colours from downstairs into the flags of different countries. She knows lots of flags and I do too. It’s how we put away the angry colours coming up from Mum and Dad’s talking. We play this game a lot. July sees colours too. All sounds make colours for us. Some colours are really nice, like music we like or nice peoples’ voices. Others are a bit scary but July always knows how to make the colours quiet.

 

It’s Saturday tomorrow and we are going to the cinema again and then to our Gran’s. I love my Gran’s house, it’s fun. She has a budgie called Jackie who says bad words and she always makes sugary tablet for us. Gran always makes us laugh, she’s the funniest person we know.  She lives with my Granda, my Auntie Betty and my Uncle Robert. Uncle Robert has no teeth and eats sweets called Odd-Fellows all the time. Aunty Betty is very quiet. Me and July go to our Gran’s house almost every day.

Me and July are always doing things together; even when I just want to stay in my room July says” C’mon Gus, we’ve got a busy day!”

 

Our front door has just slammed. Dad has left again. I’m really sleepy….

 

————————————

July:

Daddy has just left. It sounded really bad downstairs this time, but at least Gus is sleeping now. I kiss him on the forhead, slide out of his bed and go downstairs. Sometimes I skite down the bannister, but I’m creeping this time in case Daddy’s still here. Mummy is crying again and turns away from me when I walk in. I stand beside her leg and tell her I came for a drink of milk. When Mummy turns round she has my milk and a smile but her eyes are very red. We hug and talk for a while and then I go back to my own bedroom. I love my bedroom. It’s next to Gus’s room and has lots of pictures of my whole family, my soft toys and my dolls-house.

Gus and I are going to Gran’s tomorrow. Gran always gives us a lot of cuddles, and tablet.  It’s always better to go there after there’s been a big fight at home. It’s even better if we can go to school the day after a big fight. School always makes me feel safe.

I’m going into primary 2 soon but would like it better if my class could stay with the same teacher. Mrs Cooke is nice and doesn’t mind if I’m a bit too tired to finish all my work in class. She knows I like to read and gives me books to take home. I always take good care of them and give them back after I have read them.

I brush my hair for a while and listen to make sure that Gus hasn’t woken up again. He’s been sleepwalking again and I like to get to him before he wakes up Daddy or Mummy. It sounds like he’s quiet for tonight, so I decide to read ‘til I’m sleepy again.

I’ve got a newspaper in my room, The Herald, and I read it for a little while before I go back to sleep. I have always liked watching and reading the news. The people use words I don’t hear very often and I like trying to use them.  I watched a report on the news yesterday about an earthquake, which is when your whole house shakes. For a few days there’s something the man on the news called ‘aftershocks’ too. Sometimes the people evacuate until it all settles down.

 

Sleepy now…

2002

 

                                    August is 5 years old.

                                    July is 7 years old.

 

August:

I’ve got chickenpox and I’m stuck in bed. I’m not allowed to go anywhere for another week, and I’m bored. I want to go to school ‘cos I miss playing with my friends at break, especially Jim Gallagher; he’s my best friend. We get into trouble together sometimes but always back each other up. One day an old man who lives round the back from Jim told us to come in for ice-cream. I said we weren’t going but Jim was desperate for ice-cream so we went in. The man smelled of pipe-smoke and cherry tobacco and he had a massive freezer in his living room, like the one in the corner shop. He told Jim that he wanted to show him something upstairs and ‘cos Jim was following him I said that I had a sore stomach and needed him to take me home so that Jim would leave with me too. I walked Jim home and then went home to my own house. My Dad went round to see the man to tell him not to ask us in again.

 

My teacher is nice at school. Mrs Cooke says that I’m as good a reader as July but I don’t like it. It’s boring and I prefer sports. I walk to school with Gillian Foster who lives 2 doors down from my house.  She always turns up at my door and says that she is my girlfriend but she’s not. I’m never having a girlfriend, all they do is make you argue with them. I like Gillian but she’s very loud and tries to kiss me all the time and she still uses stabilisers on her bike so she can’t keep up with me.

 

It’s Saturday and I should be at the Cinema in Hamilton to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I’ve been so excited to see the new Harry Potter film. Everyone wants to be Harry in my class, but I like Ron Weasley better, he makes me laugh. July helped me make a Ron costume and I wore it last month to a birthday party and cast some spells on some ‘Slytherins’ that were there too.

On the way back from the party I was running through an alley July and I use for a short-cut. I fell over and my hand landed on a broken Buckie bottle. The green glass went into my palm and came out the other side. It was really sore. July took the glass out and took me to her friends’ house whose mum is a nurse. She gave me butterfly stitches and put a bandage on. It’s almost all better now but a have a big scar on my palm that looks like a big letter ‘J’. When-ever I see it I remember July pulling out the glass.

July is home with me today ‘cos she won’t go to the cinema if I can’t go with her. She’s helping mum to clean out the taxi. Mum drives a black taxi and works for a man called Peter McKenna at Maxi’s Taxis. She sometimes works at night-time when we are sleeping. Gran comes to sleep at our house if mum is working nights. Me and July go to a lady called Grace’s house after school and have our dinner there until mum comes home. Grace has a big fat ginger cat called Tiger. July always cuddles it but I’ve kicked it two times now ‘cos he scratches me and I don’t like him. Grace lives next door to a man called Donny Smith. My dad said I’ve not to talk to him and if Donny talks to me I’m supposed to tell my dad.

My dad has gone to Blackpool for a few days ‘cos he is fed up with my mum. July misses him and has phoned him three times this week, but I’m not bothered. We hardly see him when he’s home anyway so it doesn’t make much difference that he’s away.

I want to see my Gran today. She says we can go there because they have all had chickenpox before, except Uncle Robert. Gran says he will just have to stay in his room until we leave. I hope Gran has made some soup and some tablet for us.

I can see Alexander Goode playing in his garden next door. He still has a bandage on his wrist from when we were fighting two weeks ago. Alexander Goode is eight years old and much bigger than I am. Every day since I started school he has hit me on the way home. I don’t like fighting and July said I hadn’t to hit him back, so he continued to hit me for 6 weeks.

One day when he hit me I fell and tore the knee out of my school trousers. Dad saw them when I got home and I had to tell him what Alexander had done to me. Dad asked me why I hadn’t hit him back. I told him I was scared. Dad asked me who I’m more scared of, him or Alexander Goode. He told me if I didn’t go next door and batter him, that he would hit me hard for being a poof. Dad took me into the garden and kicked the fence to break it. He gave me a post and sent me next door.

I was really scared to hit Alexander but my dad fights all the time and I didn’t want him to hit me like I’d seen him hit some men. Dad has the biggest scar I’ve ever seen. It goes from under his belly-button, across his body and up to his neck. He said it’s mum’s fault he got it ‘cos she was talking to a man she shouldn’t have been.

I went next door and did what I was told. Alexander doesn’t talk to me anymore and stays out of my way. I feel bad but kind of like that the bigger boys let me hang around with them now.

I wish these chickenpox would go away…

——————————————-

 July:

I’ve been really busy at school recently, and at the dancing. I have hardly seen Gus ‘cos he’s been in the house ill for ages now. I miss walking to school with him and wee Gillian.  Mum and dad have been working lots and hardly speak to each other when they are in the house together. I miss my Daddy; he’s away just now. Gus doesn’t seem to mind but before he got ill he’d hardly been around either. I think he’s been hanging around with that big boy Tommy Stuart and his gang. I hope they don’t encourage him do stupid things. They are always in trouble with the police. Gus was sleep-walking again last night. He was talking too; about the colours from that day but he didn’t remember it in the morning. He is listening to music all the time just now cos he’s at home. That always makes his head busy at night and he lies in his bed sorting the colours instead of sleeping. Our cousin Davie Connell gives Gus all of his albums to listen to ‘cos he knows how much Gus loves them. I’m going to ask Gran later if dad will come home soon ‘cos I’m worried that he won’t…

 

End of Excerpt

You can find Mark Wilson and his books on Amazon US; Amazon, UK and at Paddy’s Daddy Publishing

Somebody’s Hero – Writing process and Cast List

I began work on the follow-up to Naebody’s Hero a few weeks ago.

Having now completed the planning and research phase of the new book, Somebody’s Hero, I’m moving into the writing phase. This normally lasts around 90 days for me. 90 days of writing when everyone’s asleep, during spare moments on the train, in coffee shops, during my lunch break or in the early hours.

I’ve learned to be very productive in very little time (1000 words a day is my target. I never fall below this and frequently exceed it) and to write by instinct. There’s always time to rewrite later.

I’m not the sort of writer who plans out every chapter. I have a beginning, middle and end (sort of) in mind and I take the book a chapter at a time and see where the characters go. This is the only way that I can write and helps put an unpredictability into the story as I don’t know what’s going to happen until it does.

Plenty of writers have much more detailed plans for writing their novels, using percentages and mechanisms etc, but this is the most natural way for me to write.

Here’s to 90 days of torment and fun.

Here’s an early cast list from Somebody’s Hero:

Somebody’s Hero (SH)

Dramatis Personae:

Frank McCallum Jr – Born in 1952, joined the Marines at 18 and MI5 at 21. Currently on loan to SvetlaTorrossian-Vasquez, at the American National Security Unit (NSU). In SH Frank Jr is 49 years old.

Arif Ali – Former al-Qaeda recruit, current British Intelligence asset. Born in 1983; In SH Arif is 18 years old.

Svetla Torrossian-Vasquez
– Head of NSU, an American Intelligence agency which oversees all others. In SH, Svetla is 49 years old.

Robert Hamilton – Hero. Born in 1973. In SH Rob is 28.

Frank McCallum Sr – Retired Marine and British Intelligence legend. Born in 1930, joined Marines at 17 in 1947, joined MI5 at 20. In SH Frank is 71.

Mike O’Donnell
– Born 1962, Joined the CIA at 25, joined Homeland Security at 30. In SH Mike is 39 years old.

Kim Baker – Retired head of CTA. Born 1944; In SH Kim is 57 years old.

Jack Foley – Head of CTA, Kim’s Successor in the position. In SH, Foley is 50 years old.

Naebody’s Hero is on special offer at 77p in the UK and 99c in the US until the end of April 2013.

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A Scotsman, An English Muslim and an American Counter-terrorist Agent walk into a bar….

At first glance my cast list looks like the setup to a bad (and potentially racist joke), but that’s what happens when you set out to write a novel featuring a gifted Scotsman, a disillusioned Englishman, who becomes a prized asset of al-Qaeda and a revenge-obsessed mother who happens to be America’s most lethal terrorist-hunter.

The original idea for Naebody’s Hero came in the middle of the night as I lay happily in a wee farmhouse in a valley in the mountains of Barga, Italy. I got half-dreaming about a damaged wee foster kid, yet to be named, who had Superman’s powers. Not actually Superman, but real powers just like his, here in the real world in the possession of a very damaged but very likeable wee guy from a mining town in North Lanarkshire. What would a person with those abilities think? Easy, they’d think that they were insane.

I’d been caught out in the past, drifting off to sleep, thinking that I’d remember these type of ideas in the morning, so I got out of bed and typed down a rough outline of the book for an hour. I entertained all manner of ideas that night and typed them down, almost none of which appeared in the final book, then forgot about it for eighteen months.

During that time I wrote my debut novel, Bobby’s Boy and published a short story collection as Paddy’s Daddy. Writing these two projects gave me the skills and confidence to tackle a book like Naebody’s Hero.

The book evolved into a global thriller. My little Bellshill lad had to leave his hometown and become a part of a larger would. Pakistan, Afghanistan, France, America and many other nations became his stomping ground and home for a short time.

He also needed two other main characters to travel on parallel paths which would ultimately converge and diverge with and from each other. I gave him Arif Ali, my favourite character in the book. Sick of the stereotypical Jihadist-type of Muslim that we are presented with endlessly in print and on screen, I wanted to show another side to a Muslim character. With the pressure of his dual-nationality, his courage, basic human decency and humour, Arif is the ultimate hero of the novel but most readers will give Rob that role. I also gave him, Kim Baker. Kim’s a bad-as. Kim’s the female lead character I always wanted to see in a novel; disciplined, in charge, deadly, grief-stricken, kind, cruel and above all complex.

The three collide and carry along on their shoulders the very best book that I could write fort you…to date.

Naebody’s Hero is free on Kindle from Tuesday 29th January until Saturday 2nd February. Click on the links below to download your copy.

UK:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Naebodys-Hero-ebook/dp/B00B54EGPA/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1

US:
http://www.amazon.com/Naebodys-Hero-ebook/dp/B00B54EGPA/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2

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Haggis Cures Depression?

It’s felt like depression’s reared its ugly head once more this last couple Of weeks. Wanting to cry, knackered all the time and feeling like nothing’s being accomplished. Futility with no exit.

On this occasion, though it’s just the all consuming, in a bubble, exhaustion of having a newborn at home.

Add in work being particularly hard at the moment and publishing a book this week, and you have a perfect storm of fatigue that makes you nod off mid-conversation.

Being a new parent again is not unlike deepest depression but one big gummy smile lifts your heart more than a good dose of citalopram ever could.

Tonight a wee haggis, neeps and tatties dinner on Burn’s Night made me feel very happy, warm and happy with my lot in life.

Happy Burns Night.

you can buy my new novel Naebody’s Hero here

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The final blurb

The final product description for my upcoming second novel Naebody’s Hero, coming very soon:

Copyright Mark Wilson 2013

Abandoned by his parents as a child, Rob Hamilton has developed an unshakeable sense of right and wrong. He also has some very special gifts. If he can stop hiding from them and get his life together he may just be the greatest hero the world will never know.

Arif Ali is an English teenager from Battersea, London who is now living and studying in Pakistan. Arif is about to become a prized asset of Al-Qaeda. He and Rob will form an unlikely friendship that will alter one of the most notorious days in American history.

Kim is an American intelligence agent from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She heads up the agency’s anti-terrorist response, is an obsessive workaholic and is relentless in the pursuit of justice. Kim could be the worst enemy the friends have, or their greatest ally.

Set in Scotland, England, Pakistan, Afghanistan, France and the United States; Naebody’s Hero is a fast-paced global thriller spanning four decades, reaching its climax on one horrific day in September, 2001.

POWER DOESN’T ALWAYS CORRUPT

The exciting new novel from Mark Wilson, Author of Bobby’s Boy

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Sneak Preview – Nae’body’s Hero, Chapter 23

The following is a pre-edit excerpt from Mark Wilson’s second novel “Nae’body’s Hero”; due for publication in late February 2013. Copyright Mark Wilson 2013

Kim has tracked down someone she’s been looking for for two decades:

Chapter 23 

Kim

Kim, back in her spot on the roof took aim at the first of the three agents/bums huddled around their fire. It was kind of them to huddle so close together, it made her task so much simpler. She looked down the sights, took a breath and squeezed the trigger three times rapidly. The three darts found their marks and the men lay huddled once more on the ground this time, their disguise looking more convincing than ever. The darts should put them out for eight hours or so. It was seven and a half hours longer than she needed.

 Kim pulled her black baseball cap down low, slung the rifle strap over her chest and descended the fire escape. A final check of the perimeter and she was ready to move in. Drawing her pistol, Kim stepped inside the unlocked entrance to the firehouse. She followed procedure and entered the rooms one at a time, silently checking each one and working her way to the room on the second floor. Kim encountered no one. The guys outside seemed to be the entire guard detail. This wasn’t unusual but she had expected to find someone inside the building. Perhaps an interrogator. Reaching the door without incident Kim wiped the sweat from her eyes with the back of her gloved hand then slipped the same hand into her small satchel, producing a flexible-fibre camera. Slipping the camera under the door she viewed the inside of the room on the little monitor.

Clearly once the firehouse’s bunk room, it was now empty except for one bed and some medical monitors. Strapped to the bed was a person, restrained in a fashion which suggested a highly dangerous individual. His head was covered with a dirty white cotton bag. This guy’s being lined up for some serious questioning. Almost the instant Kim wondered why the person on the cot wasn’t moving she noticed the mask protruding under the bag and the line to a canister with a name she didn’t recognise. They’re keeping him sedated.

Content that the room was empty save for her target; Kim took a few seconds to compose herself and try to slow her thumping heart. It didn’t work. This is it. Kim entered the room slowly, carefully, confirming that it’s restrained and sedated occupant was the only person present. Kim raised her gun; aiming at the bag-covered head she approached the sleeping man. Finally.

Kim approached him, pressed the gun to his temple through the bag, cocked the gun and whispered to him like a lover. “Goodbye you sick son of a bitch”. Kim Baker said a silent prayer of thanks and began squeezing the trigger.

Book Cover

Follow Mark on twitter or on Facebook at:

@markwilsonbooks

or

http://www.facebook.com/markwilsonbooks

Mark Wilson’s Debut novel Bobby’s Boy is available now on kindle and as a paperback:

UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356892513&sr=8-1

US:

http://www.amazon.com/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1356892853&sr=1-1&keywords=bobby%27s+boy