Godsend by JA Marley – Review.

The Book:

It has been eighteen months since Danny Felix pulled off the robbery of his life.  His plan brought London to a standstill, but at a heavy price.

Now, living a quiet life running a charter fishing business in the Florida Keys, Danny is trying to come to terms with the death and destruction he had unwittingly unleashed. However, the low profile is beginning to wear thin and he soon starts to crave the adrenalin rush of his former criminal ways.

Little does he know that three very different women are about to enter his life and turn it upside-down. Soon Danny finds himself right back in the action.

But why has he been chosen? And does he have the appetite to pull off another job where the stakes are so lethally high?

My Review:

In Godsend (Danny Felix 2) we’re straight back into the snarky, cunningly-plotted world of Danny Felix, now ‘retired’ to Florida with his ill-gotten gains (see Standstill) and life as a fishing guide.

In the opening scenes (one of Marley’s most engaging scenes to date, for this reader) we’re treated to a very familiar Danny, ‘Super Customer’ indeed, and a felix who is very much in his comfort zone.

Marley then subverts his reader’s expectation of his main character and discloses the toll taken on his anti-hero in the aftermath of the London bombing from Book one. No indestructible, Gary Sue on display here for Marley’s readers, instead we are presented with the price being paid by an already flawed, but extremely likeable lead character, following the devastating conclusion of the previous book.

Panic attacks, self-doubt and countless shades of guilt and shame have seeded in Danny Felix’s soul, adding a new layer to an already terrific character. Felix is not allowed to merely move on from his actions in London and suffers the after effects of his deeds. Terrific characterisation and development here.
Fucking beautiful dialogue is on display also throughout with Marley slipping into Americanisms easily and convincingly, which isn’t always a strength for books written predominantly in UK English. Marley makes the shift appear effortless.

Having read Standstill, I didn’t really feel any great need for Felix to appear again as a lead character, I felt his story had been told. I was very wrong in this regard.

Godsend does what all good sequels do and takes the leads into new situations and challenges, developing their characters and squeezing their emotions and capabilities. The new characters introduced made great additions to Danny Felix’s world, and it was terrific to see some familiar faces from Book one return.

Marley writes with a thoroughly modern voice, always injecting an extraordinary amount of charisma, humour and depth into his characters. Each individual is well-motivated and allowed to display their strengths and flaws, rather than merely convey whatever is needed to move the story forward.

Marley is a writer who clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously, which shines through in his excellent characterisation and dialogue. Due to this, the characters population his novels feel fresh and believable, no stereotypes of the genre in sight, which is refreshing. Alongside, Ryan Bracha, Mark Tilbury, Robin Hobb and Jonathan Maberry, Marley has converted me from being an interested reader to an avid fan of his work, and an author whose books I simply can’t miss.

Godsend is a wonderful next chapter in Danny Felix’s story and a fine step forward inMarley’s development.

Godsend is available now frm Amazon and from Bloodhound Books

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Little Fella

My current project is a (sort-of) follow-on to last year’s On The Seventh Day.

Titled ‘The Gig’, the book weaves together a series of short-stories based on experiences and moments sent to me by friends. The following excerpt is uncharacteristic of the rest of the book in terms of tone and themes, but was a very important story for me to write.

Huge thank you to the family who inspired the story for the trust they placed in me.

Trigger Warning:

if you have been affected by mental health issues or the loss of a young child, you may wish to reconsider reading on.

The following (un-edited) excerpt, titled ‘Little Fella’ comes from Mark Wilson’s forthcoming publication, ‘The Gig’. Due for release in spring 2016:

Little Fella

 You feel light…you feel just… free. It’s the only way I can describe the change. Free.

Free from all that stuff you cared about before. Free from anything that hurt or worried you. Free from wanting things. Here, it just feels like everything you ever needed has been given to you somehow, even though you ain’t been given a thing. Being here feels like you’ve just been fed, or hugged and won’t ever need anything ever again.

The room I’m in is empty apart form a few things. It has some magazines and toys and a big comfy couch in front of a telly. I ain’t watched anything. Haven’t felt the need. I think I’ve been here for an hour, but there’s no clocks and I weren’t ever no good with telling time anyway. Not on a clock and not in my head.

A girl called Meg met me when I got here. ‘Splained how I got here and what would happen next. Only eight, years old, She’d said. Straight up to Level One.

S’good. I’d thought that even babies have sin in them they have to pay for. Meg said, No. Not anymore. Just need a signature and up you’ll go, she said.

Suits me fine, and I ain’t really that surprised. Never liked the idea that kids were bad just because they were there. Must be one of the changes the new guy brought in up there.

The door slides open and a girl comes into the room. I mind me manners and stand. She smiles at me. I like her straight away. Some people ya just do, don’t’cha.

She tells me her name is Beth. You are a very special boy, she tells me.

The old me would be thinking, what’s she after? But that boy is gone. Thank you, I tell her without asking why.

Beth puts a hand on each of my shoulders.

“You’re the first soul I’ve helped through this place,” she says. “That means two things.”

I like her. She’s cool. I like that she’s new here too.

“Firstly,” she says. “As you’re my first soul, I’ll never forget, you. Ever.”

She taps the side of her head like a mini-me is already in there, making himself at home. Despite feeling like I don’t need anything, something swells inside me, pleased at meaning something to her. Forever means something here in this place. I haven’t been here long, but I ain’t stupid. I know what eternity means.

“Secondly,” she says. “I have an offer for you, Craig.”

It takes a second for me to remember that my name was Craig, when I was alive. I smile back at her. Thirty seconds after meeting Beth, I’d do anything for her. She catches something in my eyes, they all do that in this place, like they know what you’re thinking. P’raps they do.

“Don’t rush to agree. You’re not beholden. You have your place on Level One, but I want you to consider helping me out around here.”

I nod. If I had a tail it’d be wagging. She smiles warmly at me. Patient, like.

“Craig, come with me and I’ll show you what you’re needed for before you decide.

I follow Beth out of my little room, out onto a large office complex full of little pods. Me mam worked in a place like this, probably still does, I dunno. I loved running around and between pods, using her workplace as a maze, imaginary snipers round every corner.

Beth closes her hand around mine, pulling me gently along. She leads me into another room off of the main office space.

There’s a baby’s crib in the centre. One of them Moses baskets, like me little brother has…had. It’s got blue sheets and a little soft toy, a gorilla, sitting inside, but no baby. Beth gives my hand a squeeze.

“Wait,” she whispers.

A light fills the basket. The same light I felt when I came here, to Sheol. From where I’m standing, I catch sight of a little foot jabbing into the air, then a hand. A happy gurgle follows. Beth lets go of my hand and walks towards the basket. She places a hand into it and beckons me with the other.

Inside there’s a little boy, tiniest baby I ever seen. He looks fresh out the station, like me brother Harvey did when he were new, but much smaller and very red. He’s a little bruised and bashed, like they all are at birth, but no gunge. He ain’t crying. I suppose he’s feeling satisfied, happy and content, like I did when I got here.

As soon as I think it, I feel a tear run along my cheek. Beth, tickling the kid’s chins, puts an arm around me.

“It’s hard. Isn’t it?” She asks. I don’t know what to say, I don’t even know why I’m crying, so I just nod. I don’t feel any less content than I did before, but there’s something; a skelf of need jabbing me.

“Where’s his mum”, I ask. “Or his dad. Ain’t they here yet?”

Beth shakes her head. The kid in the basket coos at her as she runs a finger along his chubby cheeks. The bruising and denting, all the signs of his delivery, are fading. He looks fuller, more healthy. Beefy, me Gran would call him.

“They won’t be here for a while…Earth time,” Beth says kindly.

I move towards his cot and run my finger along between his eyes and down his nose. His eyelids droop. I do it again a second time and watch the little fella fall asleep. Beth grins at me.

“You’re good with him, Craig.”

I shrug.

“Worked on me brother,” I say. I nod at the little fella. “Why’s he here?”

Beth’s smile disappears for the first time. “He’s the reason I need you, Craig. Him and so many other babies.”

I reach into the basket and pull his blankets around him, careful to not wake him.

“He doesn’t have anyone here?” I ask.

“No,” Beth says. “All of those who would know him are still on Earth. He needs a friend, someone to take him up to Level One, get him settled in until his family arrives.”

“When will that be?”

Beth smiles again.

“Won’t be long. Almost by the time you arrive upstairs,” she points a finger up, “His people will have passed over.”

I must look a bit puzzled, cos she puts a hand on my arm and lowers herself to my height.

“Time moves different up here, Craig. A few minutes passing here can be many, many years on Earth.”

I nod. “So you want me to take him, to his new digs. Why me, anyone can do that. You could do it.”

Beth laughs at my cheek. “Yes, I could, Craig, but I have many roles to fulfil here. This isn’t one of them. This job, takes a special kind of person. We only use kids for it.” Beth looks a little sad as she stares at me.

“They…the babies, they only trust other kids, and only kids have the mental strength to do this job properly.”

I must have the face on again, cos she grins again before continuing.

“It’s not a delivery job I’m offering you, kid. You have to bond with this baby before you can take him where he needs to go. You have to witness his life, his thoughts, his pain, and then take him to his new, eternal home.”

Beth places a hand on my cheek.

“It’s…difficult, Craig. Not everyone can do it. It takes a special kind of child; a caring child. One who knows empathy but is resilient enough to take part in the bonding and not be destroyed by it.

“What’s empaffy?” I ask.

“It means that you’re the type of person who understands someone else’s feelings and even share them sometimes.”

I nod, thinking of Harvey.

“Living someone else’s life through their eyes can be painful, especially a baby’s. But that’s what it takes to get these little souls where they need to be. Someone has to take their pain in and process it for them.” Beth’s eyes fill with tears.

“Because they cannot do it for themselves.”

I crack my knuckles. Part of me expects my mum to tell me off for it, but like the little fella, me mam ain’t here yet.

I stand quiet for a while. Beth don’t say a word, just looks into the little fella’s basket.

“What’s his name?”

“Findlay.”

“Okay,” I tell her. “Show me.”

Beth smiles sadly at me. “Thanks Craig.”

She places my hand on Findlay’s forehead, my palm gently resting there and then I’m gone.

 

 

∞∞∞

 

 

It’s dark where I am, but warm…safe. I feel the limits of Findlay’s body, my body now. I’m floating in liquid. It’s…wonderful. I pull on something and kick my leg out in joy, moving something soft. A hand shape moves over where I kicked, pressing it’s gentle, loving reassurance to me. Happiness fills my little heart at the contact.

Findlay’s mum…my mum.

I can hear her voice. Singing as she moves around, making me giggle as I slosh around inside her. Her voice is everything good in my world. I tumble and kick and sleep and dream; her words the soundtrack to my entire existence. She speaks to her friends, to her workmates, to strangers and to me. Always to me. It gives me hiccoughs when she talks to me.

I love you, little one. I can’t wait to meet you.

I get excited and do roley-poleys.

Sometimes Dad speaks too. I like him, he makes me laugh and he makes my tummy fizz when he talks. But, mum. She’s there with me, always.

I breathe the liquid around me. I pee into it and laugh to myself. Mum rubs the walls around me.

Behave yourself in there, I’m sleeping.

She doesn’t care, not really. She’s giggling along with me. I slosh around in her belly as it moves with her laughter, making me laugh harder with the tidal surge.

 

Something…something feels…..So tired.

Mum. I’m so tired. Mum?

She’s there. I feel her but I can’t kick anymore to let her know I hear her. Something rushes into her blood making her heart race. The sound is deafening. She’s crying. She’s talking to me, but not like before. Not gentle, not happy, not calm.

I’m okay. I’m here, mum.

It’s a lie. I’m not, I’m going somewhere else, but I want to speak to her, kick her, one more time. She’s in so much pain, she needs me.

I leave her. I’m not inside her anymore. Not the real me. My body is still in there, but it’s following me out her into the room. Awareness crashes into me.

I look down on a woman pushing my body from herself. My mummy.

I’ve never seen her face, we’ve never seen each other’s faces until now, but I know her better than anyone else ever has. We have a bond. I know her well enough to know that she’ll endure. Even this.

Peace washes over me. All fear vanishes. I try to tell her. Mum, I’m up here. I’m fine. Look up. Just look up.

I watch as part of her leaves along with my limp little body.

Joy.

I scream with my immaterial voice.

Mum, don’t, don’t let that leave. Keep it. I’m here, be happy, I’m fine. You’ll be with me too soon. Don’t lose yourself.

She can’t hear me.

Like always she finds something in her. Something that pushes her pain aside only slightly, just enough to focus on my sleeping face and talks to me anyway. Not to the real me, I’m leaving, going elsewhere, but to part of me that’s left behind.

“I love you Findlay. My beautiful son. My boy.”

I love you too mummy, I smile down at her. My new form begins to tear.

It’s not painful, it’s wonderful actually. Part of me leaves my spirit and rockets towards her. It joins with her soul. It plants a seed that might become happiness for her in the weeks to come.

I take one last look and smile, satisfied that a part of me will always be joined to the soul that made mine, before taking my leave.

 

 

∞∞∞

 

I blink hard a few times, accepting that I’m me again, Craig. I’m on the floor, on all fours. Beth stands beside me, one hand on my back for reassurance, the other wrapped with its arm around her own body. She’s obviously worried about me.

She needn’t.

I take her hand and give it a little squeeze, but that’s it. I’m focused on Findlay now.

His face has changed so much already in the few seconds I was away. He’s a toddler now, maybe two years old. Blonde hair, healthy, ruddy cheeks and his mum’s smile in his sleep. I place a hand on his cheek, waking him. His blue eyes brighten in recognition when he sees me.

Sitting up, he raises his arms. “Cwaig,” he says smiling his rascal smile.

I reach into the basket, already too small for him, and lift him out, to place him standing onto the floor.

He laughs.

“Mummy?” he asks.

I take his hand and lead him to the elevator.

“She’ll be here very soon, little fella. Here with you and free. C’mon.”

End of Excerpt

  gig

You can find Mark Wilson and his books at Amazon.

My Top 5 Indie Books

Independent authors are the new rock stars of the literary world. No doubt about it. From a slush-pile siege at it’s beginnings, the Indie-publishing revolution is beginning to see the quality wordsmiths and their publications rise to the surface.

If you’ve yet to explore the Indie publishing stable, I would urge you to seek out novels and stories by authors such as;

Craig Furchtenicht, Ryan Bracha, Keith Nixon, Gerard Brennan, Neil Cocker, Martin Stanley, the Near to The Knuckle team and Michael Logan, to name a few. These writers are producing excellent quality works and deserve an audience uninspired by the mainstream literature on offer.

If you simply need somewhere to start here’s my top 5 books produced by Indie/Hybrid authors.

N.B. (The books I’ve chosen are simply my personal favourites from an extensive list I’ve read over the last couple of years.

 

5. Eagle’s Shadow by Keith Nixon

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I’m a sucker for Roman history and Historical fiction. Nixon’s is one of the best I’ve read.

 

Blurb:

One man stands against the might of the Roman Empire. His name is Caradoc. 


In Rome a new Emperor, Claudius, accedes the throne. But he is politically weak, enemies who would take his place circle and plot. If he is to survive Claudius needs a triumph, one that marks him as a leader of men.

Claudius’s eye turns to the mysterious isle of Britannia, home of the supernatural Druids and brutal, wild-eyed warriors, reputed to fight naked. The place not even Julius Caesar could conquer.

AD43 and a massive invasion force, commanded by Aulus Plautius, lands on a tiny corner of Britannia. Caradoc, King of the country’s most powerful tribe, assembles an army to throw his enemy back over the water and into Gaul.

But divisions are rife and there are those who are secretly working with the Romans for their own benefit. The very future of the country is at risk and only one man can safeguard it…

4. Dimebag Bandits by Craig Furchtenicht

 

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Furchtenicht can do no wrong for me. He’s one of those writers you constantly strive to write like. Unpredictable, inventive and unafraid to buck convention. I’ve loved everything I’ve read by the big man. I’ve read Bandits 4 times now   

 

Blurb:

When Kori Woodson’s stepfather gives his entire college savings to a religious zealot’s campaign fund, he takes matters into his own hands. He steals drugs from his employer, who also happens to belong to the same church, and sells them to the bored housewives in the neighbourhood. When he is eventually caught he finds himself expelled from school, fired from his job and facing jail time.
Now his parents plan to travel the country on a mission to “Save the world from itself” with the church that has shunned him. With no other place to stay, Kori is forced to return to his real father’s home in rural Iowa. A place that he has not been to in over six years.

It is a far cry from the big city but his older brother, Brenden, and his motley crew of friends do not hesitate to take him right into the fold. Within hours of returning home, Kori gets caught up in the dangerous and potentially deadly trade of robbing drug dealers of their wares. He soon realizes that the people they work for can be even more of a threat than the people that they steal from.
Drugs, sex, money and death… It is all a day in the life of a Dimebag Bandit.

 

3. Life is Local by Des McAnulty.

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Des is the best kept secret in Indie-Publishing. In this single book he evokes more emotion and portrays more humour and callous, heart-breaking realism than many more experienced writers accomplish over a ten book catalogue. I’ve read and re-read Life is Local a dozen times and love it anew each occasion.

Do your soul a good turn and read Life is Local.

 

Blurb:

Motherwell 2002, College student Stevie Costello, trying to come to terms with the bizarre suicide of his ex-girlfriend Clare, dreams of a better life far away from his hum drum existence. First he must contend with his straight laced boss AlIistair, whose marriage to the breathtaking Marie is on the verge of collapse and his best friends Stubbsy and Lisa, whose hatred for each other explodes one night into an intoxicating love under a blazing Motherwell sun. Can Stevie somehow shake off the shackles of his surroundings or will he finally realise that love and life really is local?

 

2. Wannabes by Michael Logan.

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I stumbled across Wannabes whilst looking for another book. very grateful to have found it. excellent writing, insightful characters who are allowed to develop, great pace, music, angels, the devil, demons and God Himself. Awesome stuff.

Blurb:

From the winner of the inaugural Terry Pratchett First Novel Prize comes a new satire, which has been shortlisted for the International Thriller Writers Best E-Book Original Novel 2015 Award.

Celebrities are mobbing London’s laser clinics as a deranged wannabe bumps off A-listers, believing he can absorb their powers and become famous by taping their tattoos to his body. Washed-up pop star Jackie Thunder isn’t joining the stampede. Jackie figures that if he can get on the killer’s hit list, without the inconvenience of actually being murdered, he’ll gain the publicity needed to reignite his career. But there’s more at stake than Jackie can possibly imagine. Guiding the killer is Murmur, a minor demon with his own agenda to make a name for himself, and Jackie becomes an unwitting pawn in a decades-old plot to destroy great music through murder, mayhem and manipulation.

With humanity’s collective soul at stake, how far will Jackie go to reach the top?

 

  1. The Switched by Ryan Bracha

 

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The standout book for me. For creative fury, undiluted imagination and a complete lack of restraint, this book simply can’t be beat. Here’s my review.

 

Blurb:

What would you do if you were no longer you?

One summer morning, totally unconnected people wake up as somebody else. They have their names, their lives, and their problems. Nobody knows how or why it’s happened, and nobody knows if or when they’ll ever get their own lives back.

They must quickly learn to accept, adapt to, and in some cases embrace their new personas, if they are to survive in a world where the people known as The Switched will do anything to get their old bodies back from others who will desperately do anything to protect their true identity, and hide deep behind their new face.

Against the backdrop of a nationwide search for popular television presenter Francesca O’Reilly, whose very public breakdown and disappearance sparks chaos on social media, it quickly becomes apparent that the switching phenomenon is far more widespread than anybody could have known, and The Switched become the most famous people in the country.

Take a trip into the darkest corners of the darkest minds in this supernatural thriller, the blackest work yet by Ryan Bracha, the best selling author of Strangers Are Just Friends You Haven’t Killed Yet and the Dead Man Trilogy.

Mark Wilson is the author of eight fiction works and one non-fiction book. You can find Mark and his books at Paddy’s Daddy Publishing or at Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

Marketing and Promo for ‘On The Seventh Day’

I’m not a marketing or promo expert, not by any estimation.

Whilst I kind of enjoy marketing, I hate promo. I really, really hate it. So much so that I haven’t done any significant promo on my last three books (since dEaDINBURGH: Vantage for anyone who cares).

 

Why?

I find that most book promo is repetitive, exhausting, uninspired, tantamount to begging in some cases and very often fruitless.

For me, Twitter is the least effective way to promo a book and comparable to throwing pieces of paper into the wind with your book name on one side and ‘pwease buy my bwook’ on the other.

 

Unfortunately, at some point, promo is necessary. With my latest release, On The Seventh Day, I accepted the inevitable need to promo, and sat down to have a think about how I could make the process more tolerable for me, engaging for potential readers, able to generate somewhat of a buzz, and perhaps even enjoyable.

I wanted to engage people, not panhandle the fuck out of them.

 

Having recently launched the book (on 15th November 2015), with a two month pre-order period, I feel the most positive I ever have about the promo process and had a tremendous amount of fun during it.

 

For the first time, I feel I’ve succeeded in making readers part of the process without selling to them and have generated more interest in the book than I would have with a more conventional promo process, eg, blurb, quote-tweet/Fb repeat. Press releases, review chasing, advertising etc.

Has it had a significant impact on sales? Ask me in a few days for a yes or no (I don’t share sales numbers publicly, mainly because I think it’s crass as fuck to do so). So far, I’ve had better first day sales, and I’ve had a lot worse, but I’ve never enjoyed the promo and launch experience more.

 

Below are some of the steps and strategies I took and employed:

 

 

Marketing:

Marketing on this novel had been a bit of a no-brainer. As the novel is essentially a split between a comedic plotline (second coming of Jesus) and a more theological plotline (Satan relaying the history of creation and evolution and being mankind’s representative in Heaven), I had a firm idea of how to market and whom to early on.

 

7th day was always going to be a love/hate book, simply because the strong language, religious irreverence (and sometimes disdain), mixed with fairly in-depth evolution and theological discussion isn’t gonna be everyone’s cup of tea.

 

I placed it in the satire, dark comedy, religious fiction, mashups, alternative history and parody sections. And then wrote a product description that was deliberately inflammatory (to certain people) and reflective of the novel’s plot, whilst containing keywords I hope will bring in readers searching for similar works. Time will tell on the effectiveness of this.

 

Blurb:

“God hates you. Regardless of religion, race, sex, sexuality or nationality. He hates all of you. Basically, you are fucked.”

Irreverent dark humour from the author of Lanarkshire Strays and the dEaDINBURGH series.

God is pissed off.

He has run out of patience with humans and decided that our time is over. We’ve had our chance and it’s back to the drawing board. “Fuck the lot of them” is his newest gospel.

Mo, and Jay, best friends who’ve fucked up in the past, beg him for one more chance to get the humans back on track. Alongside Mr Saluzar, the head of a global charity foundation, and Nick, The Fallen Angel, they hurtle towards Armageddon and their one chance to prove God wrong.

They have seven days to save us.

On The Seventh Day contains strong language and religious irreverence which some may find offensive.

Praise for On The Seventh Day:

“If Irvine Welsh’s ‘Glue’ got The Bible up the duff, you’d have On The Seventh Day.”

“Seventh Day is the book that John Niven’s ‘The Second Coming’ desperately wanted to be and failed.”

 

I figured that the language and (apparent) blasphemy in the blurb would keep away the kind of reader who wouldn’t enjoy the book, or piss them off enough to leave a shitty review without having read the book, which for me is promo gold.

 

Cover and images for marketing and for promo came next.

I designed a few different covers using images from stock image sites. Here’s a few examples and the final cover:

 

 

I brought in my usual beta-readers but invited some readers who were religiously-minded as well as those who would enjoy the more comedic elements.

I had a proper mixed bag of comments, which was to be expected and no doubt will reflect reviews to come.

Normally I engage half a dozen or so beta-readers who I know will give me brutal and constructive feedback. With 7th Day, I had fifteen people beta-read. As always some did not make a return, but only three failed to do so, not a bad return. As a result I’m two days after launch with 12 honest reviews already live for the book.

 

8 of these were up whilst the book was still on pre-order. To do this, you need to have the paperback available, pre-order kindle books cannot be reviewed.

 

I’m still undecided on whether having the book on pre-order helps or harms launch sales. With this book I enjoyed the process and most of it wouldn’t have been possible without the pre-order in place, so I guess it paid off this time in terms of building engagement and enjoyment. I’ll try a future release without the pre-order for comparison.

 

As I always do, I ran a few ideas by my writing-wife, Bracha, as well as including links to his book in the rear matter of mine. We do this as a standard cross-promo. Does it help? See how closely we are linked on amazon for your answer.

 

The lad Bracha and I have also been waiting for a while to put together a Double A-Side type project. Bracha’s The Switched and my, On The Seventh Day have mated and are available as a collected edition titled Parental Guidance: A Transgressive Double A-Side.

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Cover by Ryan Bracha

 

Will the extra exposure affect sales in a positive or negative way? Time will tell. For the meantime we’ve a happy coupling of novels, producing a demented bastard child to hopefully help drive traffic to each other’s work.

 

Promo:

 At the beginning of the writing process I had a good idea of the overall plot of the

Novel. This isn’t always the case, more often than not I sit down with a vague concept and see where it goes. The advantage in having a better idea of the overall story allowed me to plan ahead and begin engaging readers early in the process.

 

I’ve made a habit over the years of using (with permission) real people’s names for characters. I feel it makes the books more meaningful to me and gives friends and families a connection to the book, that personally I love, and in the market place means they assist in an honest and enthusiastic manner when promo time comes.

 

An important plot mechanism for the novel is the reaction to events on social media.

I wanted these reactions to feel real and asked reads and friends to allow me to use their twitter handles in the novel to compose ‘fake’ tweets that appear in the book.

On launch day I asked these people to tweet their ‘fictional’ tweet to my fictional character (Jesus), who I’d named after a real person (Garry Crawford). Each tweet was directed to Gaz’s twitter account as he is the main character in the book.

 

The tweet team also tweeted some outraged comments about the book to organisations like Westboro Baptist, just for the fuck of it.

 

I really enjoyed taking the fictional tweets and seeing them tweeted in reality and the readers emailed me many times saying how thrilled they were to be part of the process and have their tweets appear in as such a significant plot point in the novel also. I think it gives the reader an ownership of the book, which is great, all readers should feel that way to an extent when reading, but to have a personal attachment to a book, took it to another, more personal place. Business-wise this gives me a team of people who are invested in helping promote my book I wouldn’t otherwise have had. Better still, they have an honest love for the book, which is fucking priceless.

 

As always, I wove a few short-stories, featuring people I know, into the overall plot and narrative also.

 

Essentially, I’ve been able to take a back seat and allow other people’s excitement at the project form a more natural buzz about the book than would normally be accomplished.

 

During the writing process I also created a few promo images with quotes from the book and some blog posts with early extracts. Standard stuff for me when I’m in the writing phase. Occasionally I’d make a trailer also, but not for this book.

 

As always, I ran a giveaway on Goodreads. In the past, these have ranged from 2500 entrants to 250 for my books.

Why bother?

Mainly to raise the book’s visibility whilst it is on pre-order, but also so that I can then contact around 50% of the entrants (those most likely to enjoy the book and review it, based on their reading history) after the giveaway has ended and offer them a free kindle or pdf copy of the book as a consolation prize.

This is not something I would do on Goodreads in the normal run of things, but after a giveaway I have a list of people who were interested in my book, so I’d be a fool not to use that information.

Typical uptake is around 40% with around a 60% actual return from that pool in terms of reviews.

 

I also research and approach readers who have read similar books to mine, but am very careful to select only those readers that I genuinely believe will enjoy the book, based on their reading habits. General I find a book that I like and is a similar read.

 

This strategy has been key to review building on my dEaDINBURGH series, but I use it only on specific books and carefully targeted readers. A scattergun approach is futile and annoying to readers. Do not piss off Goodreads reviewers.

 

As well as this, I set up an event page for an online launch on FB.

Uptake was pretty good, but I was careful to never actually try to sell the book on the event page.

Instead I shared daily pictures and stories and memes, all poking fun at religion. Lots of comments and engagement came, and those involved were into the satire, having never been sold to.

Every person commenting or liking these posts in the event, was helping me promo across their newsfeed as the likes and comments, obviously popped up in their newsfeeds.

Here’s a selection of images I used and people posted in the event page:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I also ran a competition to win a Kindle fire HD7, some signed paperbacks and kindle editions of the novel. I took a FB Ad for this (£20), a ‘Like and Share’ deal. Engagement was good and clicks (and subsequent sales) more than covered the cost of the prizes (which I’d sourced cheaply).

 

This for me was a much more engaging and genuine way to get people to share my link around and again made those participating feel a part of the buzz that was building.

 

Overall I’m delighted with the fun I had promoting On The Seventh Day and have come out of it having generated some positive buzz, increased visibility of my back catalogue as well as the new book (definite sales bounce on my other titles despite a price increase) and most importantly, I don’t feel jaded simply because I have been having fun and not selling at people for weeks on end.

Will any of the promo or marketing actually affect sales in the short or long term?

Fuck knows. Writers don’t like to admit that a breakout novel is likely a result of bundles of cash being invested or pure blind luck combined with fortunate product placement or inking to larger works.

 

Having said that, if 7th Day is an international bestseller, I’ll be talking shit about how great my marketing and promo was and giving my own genius full credit for the ‘success’.

 

Mark is the author of eight fiction works and one non-fiction book. You can find Mark and his books at Paddy’s Daddy Publishing or at Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tommy Two-Dicks – On The Seventh Day, Chapter 28 – Preview. 

In this section Jay (Jesus) has left his best friend behind and is facing Armageddon alone, aside from a big cop named Dougie. 

The following excerpt is from Mark Wilson’s upcoming novel, On The Seventh Day, available now for Pre-Order  



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Chapter
28

Crouched, arse half on a wall, at the base of Christ the Redeemer on the peak of Corcovado Mountain, Jay looked out over Rio de Janeiro. Lost in his own grief, his eyes did not see the city and neighbourhoods below. He never imagined that he could feel so alone. Not even held by iron pins to a wooden cross had he felt so completely abandoned. Then, he’d known that Heaven awaited him, that earth would continue and that humans might be enriched by his time amongst them. Even the knowledge that his Father would be waiting for him had strengthened his resolve to see the execution through to the last. Jay had also had Moses in Heaven fighting his cause. Moses had been there for Jay since the moment of his creation: an immovable force for goodness, a confidant, a fearless ally and, simply, a friend.

And now Mo was gone.

Jay was falling into the deepest loneliness he’d experienced in his existence.

Jay sighed heavily and turned to look up at the statue behind him. Arms wide, welcoming the world, Christ the Redeemer possessed all the peace, confidence and purpose he himself felt none of at that moment.  
Jay touched the pedestal of the statue, like a human would. For the first time he understood the human desire, the need, to make physical contact with an icon or statue. That hope that a portion of what one saw in the object might empower one, that some strength would heal a wounded spirit.

Feeling only soapstone, Jay pulled his hand back, shoving it deep into the pockets of his denims.

Bringing the sprawling city below into focus, Jay breathed deeply, filling his lungs with the smells of the mountain and his being with Heaven’s Light. Allowing himself to connect with the material world and Heaven’s immateriality simultaneously, with closed eyes he examined the intricacies of the people, the city and the mood below.

Excitement. Determination. Joy. Fear.

All the emotions and feelings he’d come to expect from a crowd of people anticipating his presence. As with all of the other cities he’d visited so far, there was no sense of pressing danger. Yes, there were elements of hate, people protesting his message, and him, but nothing immediately threatening.

Jay funnelled a larger portion of Heaven, at the same time diminishing his sense of the physical world around him, to the point where he was unaware of the stone and sand beneath his feet or the pedestal he leaned on.

With all of his ethereal senses he scanned the city for signs of Azrael.

Mo had told him that he had helped Azrael plan where and how her agents — human mercenaries who cared nothing for who paid them or why — would be most effective in riling and inciting the crowd. Hundreds of them, some dressed in Muslim attire, some posing as Christian fundamentalists or Jews, had seeded the crowd, sought out like-minded and fanned the embers of outrage until fires broke out, joined and became unstoppable swells of violence.

Jay doubted Azrael was present in the city below. She was too experienced to allow Jay the opportunity to sense her, and he would do so if she were nearby. Azrael was the Angel of Death, after all. She’d annihilated millions, razed whole cities, flooded the whole fucking world and all at God’s behest. Azrael left rather a large wake in the immaterial world, as well as the physical one.

Satisfied that no obvious threats lay below, Jay pulled himself back into the flesh, limiting himself once again to the physical plane.

“We should get going, Jay,” Dougie said.

The cop was standing next to him, having arrived whilst Jay’s attention was elsewhere.

Jay nodded. “Thanks, Dougie,” he said without looking at him.

Jay felt Dougie’s mood shift from all-business to concern.

Dougie planked his backside against the soapstone next to Jay’s.

“Did I ever tell you about Tommy Two-Dicks?” he asked.

Despite his morose mood, Jay let out a snort of laughter. “I think I’d remember if you had, Dougie,” he said, nudging him.

Dougie shrugged. Looking off into the distance, he folded his arms, relaxing against the pedestal at the foot of Christ the Redeemer.

“I was in the army, as a kid, y’know, before I became a copper.”

Jay nodded. Sometimes people did this — told him their story. It was natural for humans, especially when they accepted who and what he was. That Heaven was real and Hell was too. It made eternity loom large for them

He’d had the experience many times back in the Middle-East. It was how he’d met most of the apostles.

The compulsion wasn’t unlike what people felt sometimes when talking to a priest or other preacher. They liked to unburden themselves, especially when the end was coming.

With millions waiting for Jay below, and God only knew how many across the airways and internet, Dougie could’ve picked a better moment, but hell, he’d earned the right to say whatever he chose to Jay, whenever he chose.

“Aye. I knew that, Dougie. What’s on your mind?”

Dougie pointed out at the city below.

“People. That’s what being a soldier is about. At least, it was for me. Sure there are orders, Queen and country and all that, but in the end it’s about people.”

Dougie glanced at Jay, acknowledging his nod of agreement.

“When you’re a kid and you enlist, in your head it’s about good people holding back or fighting against bad people. You have all the permission, the justification you need to put a bullet in someone, or build a wall, or knock one down. Good guys, bad guys, simple.” Dougie held his hands out, palms up. “You get a bit older and the black and white simplicity of youth becomes greyer — a million shades of fuckin’ grey. The motives become murkier and the justifications more elaborate. Good and bad guys are replaced in your mind by awareness of political and corporate agendas that were always there but you were too naïve, or uneducated or selfish to notice.

“So you begin to feel the weight of being someone’s tool. You accept that people higher than you on the pay-scale make the decisions and you execute them. It can still be simple, if you want it to be.”

Dougie cast a glance again at Jay, who was nodding along.

“You get married, you start a family and you keep believing that what you do is good. Meaningful. That your superiors are privy to intel you aren’t. That you’re making a difference, being the good guy. Bringing your beliefs and standards to people who are oppressed. That the country you’re invading really needs you there, whether they want you and your superior culture or not.”

Dougie kicked at a rock, sending it flying out into the blackening sky.

“That the father with a rock in his hand, standing outside the shell of a home you just bombed into the dust, boy cowering behind him, is the enemy and not exactly what you would be if your roles were reversed. That your country did this cruel, heinous act for reasons of virtue you don’t comprehend, but desperately strain to accept on faith… That it was about people… and not oil.”

Dougie gave a long sigh. Jay placed a hand on his shoulder. “You are good man, Dougie.”

The big cop realised Jay thought that he was confessing or offloading and smiled. “This ain’t about me Jay,” he said. “It’s about Tommy Two-Dicks, remember?”

Jay smiled at his own assumption. He should have known better than to underestimate Dougie. He motioned for Dougie to continue.

“So Tommy Two-Dicks.” Noticing Jay grinning, Dougie offered a half-hearted smile of his own, acknowledging the ridiculous nickname. “He didn’t have two dicks, just behaved like a dog with two. Y’know? Happy as fuck all the time. First to volunteer for every job. Never complained, saw an opportunity for laughter in every task.”

Jay smiled in acknowledgment.

“Yeah,” Dougie continued. “Annoying cunt, so he was, but he was my best friend. Had been since the day we met.”

Dougie took a moment, replaying a memory he didn’t care to share with Jay.

“Anyway, my unit were making an arrest. Two middle-aged locals in Helmand. Chubby little guys, all jokes and waving hands when we arrived. Suspected of leaving IEDs along military routes. Pick up and detain. Simple.

“Four of us arrived in our transport and these two guys are standing at the roadside makeshift grill which is burning away, cooking fuck knows what, chugging cold water from bottles fished from an ice-filled cooler at their feet.

“We follow protocol. Park a hundred metres away, approach in formation, assess the environment, all the usual crap. There’s no-one else around, just these two guys having themselves a barbecue at the roadside. Nearest building is a bombed-to-fuck little house two hundred metres away.

“They’re dressed in fucking trousers and Man Utd tops; no weapons visible. Waving us over, one of them holding a slab of meat up with a long fork.

“‘Welcome, Americans…’ he’s shouting. Probably the only English he knows.

“I recall one of the guys grumbling about being taken for a fuckin Yank.

“So we’re on alert, but there’s on alert and on alert. We’re fairly confident that these guys are a couple of clowns. The only real potential danger is the ice-cooler, but bombs and watery ice don’t generally go too well, which means that as alert as we are, we’re also smelling the charred meat.

“Dooley, big guy, team leader, growls at me out the corner of his mouth, ‘Let’s get these pricks cable-tied and get some refreshments.’

“I remember shrugging.

“It goes unsaid: follow protocol. Secure the men and the area. It doesn’t need to be said because no-one, aside from the barbecue-boys, is even close to relaxed.”

Dougie whistles through his teeth, nodding. Acknowledging Jay’s knowing glance.

 “Yeah, everyone except Tommy Two-Dicks.”

Dougie kicks another stone across the dirt.

“Fuck knows whether Tommy’s brain has baked in the afternoon sun, or if he just fuckin’ loves steak, but he breaks formation, stows his rifle and runs half-pace straight towards these guys.

“Fuckin’ smallest one — little rectangular glasses propped at the end of his nose, looks like a school teacher — he fucking grins at Two-Dicks, waving the meat at him.

“Dooley yells at him, ‘Corporal McTavish, fall in!’

Tommy laughs, he actually fuckin’ laughs, and approaches the steak-waving motherfucker, waving us over, c’mon, guys.

“Dooley and I and the third guy — can’t remember his fuckin’ name — we fan out, try to cover both these happy barbecuing cunts without getting Two-Dicks in our line of fire.

 “Straight away, we clock how badly Tommy has fucked up. The two guys are fuckin’ pros.

“They shift positions, eyes on us the whole time, faces still smiling for Tommy’s benefit, but they’ve positioned themselves fuckin’ perfectly, placing Tommy in our line of fire. The older guy reaches down to the cooler, pulls off a three-inch-thick upturned lid, exposing the deep container beneath. Free from water and ice, it holds a fucking IED the size of an iPhone. The old cunt kicks the cooler over, leans in to touch it and falls to his knees. Steak-Waver starts laughing, but quickly falls to his knees, joining his mate in prayer.

“Tommy finally spots the set-up. He skids to a stop, maybe a metre away. We’re perhaps ten metres behind.

“Dooley does what all good leaders do and puts himself in harm’s way for his men. At a sprint he tears through the sand towards Two-Dicks. We didn’t have a clue how long the charge was set for. Tommy was already in range and now Dooley had joined the hot zone. What the fuck Dooley was thinking, I don’t know, he just acted on instinct.

“Tommy does this comedy double-take, back and forward for perhaps two seconds and gets this weird look, like he’s suddenly figured out what’s wrong with the world and accepted a burden of some sort. The happy, tail-wagging Labrador expression he’s worn his entire life vanishes and he runs at the IED.

“It’s laying face-down on the sand, thirty centimetres away from each of the barbecue-boys, almost exactly between them. They’ve made their peace and are clearly happy to take two coalition soldiers with them.

“Two-Dicks had other ideas.

“He threw himself into the sprint of his life, leaping onto the IED. Folding his body around it, Tommy held there for a second before being spread over thirty metres by the blast.

“In his head, I think the over-eager bastard thought he was gonna Captain America the shit out of the situation. Take the blast. Protect Dooley, bad guys’ death wish foiled.”

Jay’s eyes filled with sadness.

Dougie continued.

“The barbecue guys were killed instantly. One had his skull incinerated by the blast, the other had his chest opened. Dooley, who had got within five metres of the blast, lost most of his right arm, his face, his eyes and his left leg.”

“It’s a horrible story, Dougie. I’m really sorry you had to go through that,” Jay said.

“Yeah, well, like I said, I ain’t telling it for my benefit.”

Jay scrunched his eyes in confusion.

“Tommy Two-Dicks was a good bloke: heart of gold, found good in everyone, joy in everything. Couldn’t see people unhappy, loved life, loved his mates. Fucked up and put ‘em in harm’s way.”

Jay rubbed at the back of his head.

“I’m not angry with Mo, Dougie. I understand what He did. I’m all about peace and love and forgiveness… remember?”

“Dougie nodded. Yeah, Jay, I know, but that ain’t what I’m getting at. I told you, it’s about people. All of it is. Friends especially.”

Dougie lifted his backside from the stone. Moving around in front of Jay, he took his shoulders and gave him a gentle shake.

“Tommy tried to please his friends, and then protect his friends. He made a cunt of it. That’s what people do. He died. Mo’s still here. He won’t fuck up again. You have a chance to finish this thing together, with your best friend. Have you any idea what some people would give for that?”

Jay looked down at his feet.

Several long seconds passed whilst he chewed the inside of his cheek and thought hard about Dougie’s words.

Finally he looked into the big cop’s eyes.

“Thank you for trusting me with your story,” he said. He meant it. It was always a privilege when people… friends shared themselves with you. Especially when they were trying to save you pain they had suffered.

“But it’s different for us. Mo and I. We have eternity. When this is over, we return to… our existence. We’ll be exactly as we were before. Unchanging.”

Dougie straightened his posture. A tic of annoyance pulled at his cheek.

“Forgive me, Jay, but if you believe that, you’re a fucking fool.”

Jay smiled at him. A smile that held thousands of years of knowledge, of confidence, of certainty that Dougie could not comprehend. An unintentionally condescending smile that said you’re a mortal. You can’t understand.

Dougie spotted it immediately and turned away briefly before whirling back around. He wasn’t angry, just determined.

“People are people, Jay, and friends are friends. You’re wrong about this. Everything’s changed between you and Mo, but you do have a chance to repair it, before it ends. If you can’t do that… why should any of these people believe you can save them?”

Dougie didn’t wait for an answer. Treading off downhill into the night, he waved, beckoning Jay to follow after.

“Either way, boss,” Dougie said over his shoulder, “let’s get going. There are people waiting for you to give them all the answers.”

End of excerpt. 

This excerpt is from Mark Wilson’s upcoming novel, On The Seventh Day, available now for Pre-Order  

On The Seventh Day – Chapter 5 Preview

Throughout the novel I chose to alternate between two sets of protagonists. Jay and Mo (whose chapters are written using modern, and coarse language) and Nick and Beth (whose chapters are more formal and geological in tone). Hope you enjoy. 

  
The following excerpt is un-proofed and in-edited and is taken from the forthcoming novel, On The Seventh Day, available to pre-order now at Amazon:

5 

Nick and Beth

 

Beth reached over the bar, placing a hand on top of Nick’s. “Is it painful? Telling me your history?” She asked.

Nick narrowed his eyes, thinking about the question. Finally he said,” no. It’s not, but it’s hardly the first time I’ve vented to a stranger.”

“Why me?” asked Beth.

Nick shrugged. Mostly timing and circumstance. Right place, right time,” he said.

“Mostly?” She asked.

“We’ll get to that later, Bethany,” Nick said softly. “I have a story to tell first.”

Beth’s eyes flashed fear, but she hid it quickly behind a sip of her vodka and a smile.

 

“Where was I?” Nick asked.

Beth drained her drink before answering. She felt like she’d been drinking for days. Exhaustion crept on her.

“Water,” she said, “Water and life.”

Nick nodded once in thanks.

“Yes. Water and Life. The moment when everything in Heaven and in the material universe was irretrievable altered.”

Nick smiled warmly at her before continuing.

“Water, lightning and some chemicals, that’s all it took.”

“It was random?” Beth asked.

“Yes and no,” Nick replied.

“The lightning, the spark was intentional. He meant to begin the process. What came after, He left to chance…no not chance, nature.” A shadow of sadness passed over Nick’s face as he spoke.

“God made the atoms and molecules form into nucleic acid, DNA. Proteins formed, membranes, organelles. Cells combined, proliferated. Others went extinct. This simple snuffing of a cell shocked Angels whose lives were unlimited by time, or health or predatory chance. That a spark of life, even one so small, could be snuffed out was abhorrent to us in our eternal lifespans. God reassured us that it was all in nature. Part of life.

Billions upon billions of identical cells emerged from one common ancestor. Some adapted, some disappeared from the gene pool forever. Groups of cells formed bonds or fused together, forming tissues, or other structures. The single-celled inhabitants of a pool of water adapted into a myriad of multicellular creatures. Simple organisms. Some photosynthesised food. Some didn’t. Some hunted. Most perished.

All who survived adapted in some way. Muscle, teeth, fins, gills. Some became simple worm-like creatures, or fish-like organisms. Others adapted to become plants. Hundreds of millions of years passed. Billions of organisms, whole species lived short lives and died.

Angels wept for their brief existence.

Adaptations, evolution continued. Rudimentary life found a way to survive, to adapt, to become complex life. Animals with eyes and mouths…faces emerged. Simple things, who fed and bred and not much else, but they had faces.”

Nick looked deep into Beth’s eyes, causing her to shrink back a little.

“You cannot fathom the clamour that this simple development-a creature with a face- sparked in Heaven. Angels flocked to God. ‘What does it mean? They have faces? Is it blasphemy? Does the existence of creatures with faces mock you my lord?’

It seems an absurd reaction I’m sure, Beth but consider this. We were God’s only creations, made in His own likeness by His own hand. We looked like Him. We had faces.

That nature, evolution had created an organisms with a structure so closely resembling one of our own, by random chance, seemed a heresy.”

Beth grinned.

“Yes,” Nick said. “Seems ridiculous to you, I agree, but you were born into a world where a face was the first thing you saw. In all of Heaven and God’s good universe until that moment, only God’s creations, His Angels, had faces. That these random mutations of nature had produced a creature with such a structure was truly terrifying to us.”

“Yeah, I suppose I can get that. Faces…terrifying,” Beth said, sarcasm lacing her tone.

Nick rolled his eyes.

“God- calm as he’d been since our creation- spoke to us, His Angels, gently, reassuring us that all was as he intended, part of nature. ‘Observe, my Angels. See what nature does next. Trust in me.’ Of course, we did trust in God and followed his advice. We witnessed the development of brains, simple but entirely functional. Ears, limbs skeletons, nervous systems, kidneys, hearts, livers pulsed and beat their way into existence. The rate of development was astonishing to us. You must understand, Beth, time is…different in Heaven. We existed for many millions, perhaps billions of years, before God created the universe. Time passed for us, but didn’t. Things changed, adapted I suppose, but nothing was diminished, only magnified by its passing.

Change occurred in Heaven but only as we willed it, not at the mercy of nature and not on the scale that life was adapting in the Universe. It seemed to us that time passing in the material universe simply meant death. Once an unnoticed companion to us in Heaven, time now seemed to stalk the material world. To us, the evolution present in the universe and the death that drove it was truly shocking.

I’ve been talking about evolution of creatures on earth, but this was happening on countless planets, throughout the universe.” Nick had spread his arms in a broad gesture.

“The unrelenting speed; the efficiency of nature in stimulating these frighteningly effective adaptations in animals and plants, shook us. We returned to God once more, in greater numbers than before. ‘Lord. Look what matter, what nature has done. Fish have grown legs and lungs and crawl the earth. Faces look to the skies. When will it stop?’

God’s patience with us in our ignorance seemed eternal at that time. He merely smiled kindly and allayed our fears.

As his first Creation, his closest companion, I was hurt in another manner by what unfolded in nature, so I asked God. ‘There is a spark of life in them, a light, not unlike our own ethereal light. When they die, does it come home to you, my Lord?’

I had witnessed God create matter and I had witnessed it change and evolve from basic chemicals, to the first cells and into a myriad of living animals and plants. The light inside each of the billions of cells was so familiar to me that it may as well have been part of my own self. I was in conflict. Where did this light go upon their deaths? Did their consciousness reside in the spiritual part of themselves and if so how can God suffer them to die and this light to just dissipate? If that’s what truly happened.

I didn’t really believe that He would allow these organisms to suffer such brief lives and their light to dissipate. That would be cruel. God was not cruel, He was the source of all love and warmth in Heaven and the universe. He was the Creator. But the questions remained as thorns in my subconscious.

Did God in creating this abundance of life, share his own light amongst them? He hadn’t seemed diminished in any way by the act of Creation. If anything he’d seemed magnified. Was he receiving the light of these creatures back into himself upon their death? I knew for a fact that he wasn’t, we would have witnessed the entry of such light in Heaven. Despite this knowledge, I was also certain that he must have a plan, a destiny for this light of life; otherwise the whole experiment of the universe, life, was the cruellest punishment imaginable.

Consider a brief life in the material universe followed by just… nothing? I couldn’t abide the thought. In hindsight, that moment was when I began to lose my trust in God and became his Accuser.

I recall Him looking into my eyes. ‘You must trust in me, my Angel. There is a plan.’ I nodded and prayed and made all the right noises, Beth, but something crucial and irreparable had broken inside me. Despite this, it would take many years, uncountable trillions of deaths and the evolution of humankind to set me firmly on my course.

 

God, of course, reassured time and again that all was in nature. All was intended. Many Angels made a choice to trust God and merely observe. Other turned away from watching nature’s progress altogether, returning to those concerns in Heaven that had busied them before God had created the universe. I resolved to be and remain The Watcher.

End Of Excerpt

On The Seventh Day is available to pre-order now at Amazon

“God Hates You.” – On The Seventh Day; Free Chapter and Pre-Order

The following excerpt is unedited and comes from Mark Wilson’s upcoming novel On The Seventh Day, which can pre ordered at Amazon Now:

redeemer-red=Final copy

1

 Nick

Nick took in the room, his top lip curling into a sneer. It was just His kind of place, all thin veneer, expensive wines and whiskies and coke in the bathrooms. Ordering a gin and tonic for himself and a double Auchentoshan for Stewart, Nick slipped his smartphone from his pocket and reminded himself of a few key details in his notes.

Ten years at level Two,

Four years at Level Three.

Further education programme complete.

Dedicated and enthusiastic approach demonstrated consistently by the candidate.

All phases of training complete.

Recommend promotion to Level One.

Nick didn’t really need to read the notes, he had committed the candidates’ details to memory, it comforted him to read the words, settled his nerves. The gin helped also. She was ready, no doubt about it, but Stewart had the final say, and he’d take some convincing, despite the candidate’s exemplary performance. He always did need convincing, but particularly when the candidate was a woman.

Spotting Stewart passing the restaurant’s window. Nick took a belt from his gin and relaxed his face into business mode, ridding it of any signs of anxiousness or enthusiasm. Stewart was best approached calmly.

Never one to make an understated entrance, Stewart crashed through the doors, barking loudly at the Maître D who’d rushed to greet him, reaching for his jacket.

“Get tae fuck, son. Make yourself useful and bring me a double Macallan ’39.”

Stewart strode around the bar to the rear left corner of the room. Hair, long, curled, blonde and mulleted, dressed in denims, expensive cowboy boots, leather jacket-unzipped to show a the art of his T-shirt- a nun fingering herself and the legend Jesus is a cunt- Stewart looked like an expensively-dressed red-neck. His accent was all Lanarkshire.

That fucking accent.

He yanked the seat back and snorted loudly, into his nose. The gurgling, crackling movement of thick phlegm being dragged from his nostrils into his mouth threatened to break Nick’s composure before a word had passed between them.

Grabbing the back of his heavy, leather-padded chair, Stewart screeched it a few feet away from the table. Nick watched as his boss flicked his eyes up to drill into his own. As Stewart’s eye’s danced with cruel amusement, he let a long tail of yellow-green gunge slide from his lips into the glass of Auchentoshan on the table below.

Watching the deposit bob and swirl around for a second, he took his chair, shoving the glass over to Nick.

“Get that shite off the table, Nick. Fuck sake.”

The Maître D arrived, Stewart’s Macallan swirling in a heavy-bottomed glass and an ice bucket on a silver tray.

Unacknowledged he silently slid the glass and the ice within reach of Stewart, who snatched the glass up and drained its contents.

Stewart slammed the class onto the table-top.

“Keep them, coming,” he said.

Nick nodded at the Auchentoshan-nasal deposit mixture, which the Maître D scooped up. “I’d have drank that, Stewart.”

“Fuck all stopping ye, son,” Stewart said, fishing his lighter and cigarettes from his jacket pocket. He scanned Nick’s face, waiting for a come-back. None came.

Nick watched as Stewart, went through the little series of gestures and rituals he performed when having a cigarette. Tap the end on the table, smooth the filter and rotate it on the moist lips for a second. He caught sight of the upside down lucky fag in the packet as Stewart tapped and licked his chosen tab.

“No smoking in here, Stewart.”

“What they gonnae dae?” he asked touching the petrol flame to the end of his cigarette.

Nick sighed. “Do we have to do this again?”

Stewart’s eyebrow lifted as he considered whether or not he could bothered winding the cunt up. Finally, his head cocked a little to the side in acquiescence.

“Look, Nick. These cunts in here won’t say a word, I guarantee it.”

Nick gave him a nod.

“Fine,” he said, happy that his boss would take care of the smoking issue discretely for once.

Taking a long drag on his first Regal King- size Stewart regarded Nick, amusement dragging the corners of his mouth into a tight, snide grin.

“Where is this cow, then?” Stewart asked, enjoying Nick’s discomfort.

Very quickly, Nick’s face shifted from discomfort to flushed anger.

“Christ sake, Stewart. Give her a chance.” Sick of the same old shit, the tired routine, he spat the words across the table.

Stewart blew a cloud of swirling, blue-hazed smoke out the side of his mouth, face rigid with anger of his own.

“Who the fuck are you talking to, Nicholas?”

Nick knew that he should back down. When Stewart got like this, there was little chance of shifting his mind on something. They’d worked together for more years than Nick could recall. Nick, training the candidates, tutoring them to develop the skills and mind-set needed to be promoted, to earn a place upstairs with Stewart’s team. Stewart taking the credit when presenting a new Graduate to his staff.

Christ, it was gruelling and thankless, but without Nick and his department, Stewart would take only those he considered the very best. The people of a certain station and type. He’d always been an elitist prick, but Stewart had got worse, more prejudice with age. His expectations and list of demands for the attributes a successful candidate must possess had become almost impossible to fulfil. Still, that was the point. Stewart wanted Nick’s department fucked, once and for all, leaving him free to decide for himself the criteria for promotion.

Given his own way, Stewart would pass over so many candidates, who’d never have the opportunity to work, develop or improve themselves to the required level.

This was the reason Nick’s department was founded and the reason he took so much shit from Stewart. If not him, then who? Nobody else could take working in effective opposition to Stewart. It helped that they were best-friends and had been their whole lives…out of office hours at any rate.

Nick’s stomach lurched as Stewart glared across the table at him. His apology forming in his vocal cords. Nick pushed it back and listened to the wee part of himself that had got him his department assigned in the first place.

“I’m talking to you, Stewart. Back the fuck off.”

Stewart’s eyebrows creased in the centre, his scowl brought ice to Nick’s heart. Fuck. Wrong choice.

Standing, Stewart’s eyes widened in fury. His eyes tore the air between them, smoke shooting through his nostrils.

“You remember who I am and who the fuck you are.” Stewart stabbed at Nick’s chest, his strong finger, digging deep into the flesh.

“You’re a fucking cog, son. A bureaucrat. By fuck you’re practically my damned secretary. You should be under this table with your overactive lips on my cock. It’s about all you’re good for.”

Shocked into silence, Nick assessed his options for a moment as Stewart glared over the table at him. Relaxing his shoulders, Nick decided to push his luck.

“Yes, well you’d know better than I the qualities in possession of a skilled oralist.”

A beat passed. Stewart’s expression melted.

“Aye, you’re right there, Nick,” He laughed, all anger gone.

Stewart nodded over at the waiter who was making his way to the table.

“Might make that one give me a blowy just now.”

Nick peered across the room, assessing the man.

“He’s a bit lardy for your tastes, is he not?”

Stewart shrugged.

“Aye, but he’s a good height. Big laddies like that have always a grand big boaby on them. Who gives a fuck if he’s carrying a bit ay timber round the waist?

Exasperated, Nick shook his head. Stewart had been having a gay phase for years now, which was fine, but recently he’d been a bit too obsessed with girth and length. Pushing ma boundaries, son. He’d said. Nick reckoned that acting the size queen was beneath his boss, but figured that his temporary obsession with big dicks was an improvement from the heroin phase Stewart had thrown himself into some years earlier. The boss got catholic as fuck on the smack; he was more balanced on the cock.

Stewart could have this coked-up big laddie on his knees under the table, his balls resting on the waiter’s chin in two minutes…easy. Such was the power of his persuasion, wealth and status. Just last week he’d had six-foot nine England International gobbling him as we ate at the Twickenham Social club, interviewing another candidate. The poor bastard left the restaurant, Stewart’s spunk still to hit his stomach, wondering how the fuck he’d ended up noshing the old man in full view of the entire restaurant as Stewart sucked back oysters, muttering the odd instruction as he consigned the candidate in front of him to another stint on Level Two.

If Stewart decided he wanted something, it happened. Simple as that.

“Just leave him, Stewart. We’ve better things to do,” Nick said, nodding at the woman making her way to their table.

Stewart grunted non-committedly, assessed the waiter for a full, uncomfortable second, and then waved the lad away.

“Just more drinks, son. We’ll order in half an hour,” he said.

The red-haired woman, impeccable suit, hair tight in a bun, heels like stilts, walked elegantly towards them. She had dressed perfectly and displayed all the physical cues and mannerisms Nick had spent so many hours teaching her. A good start. He thought.

 

 

∞∞∞

 

 

Taking the blonde man’s hand, I smile at him broadly and look deep into his eyes. Nick warned me of the effect his eyes and voice would have on me, he was right. The eyes are lagoon-blue; warm and hard at once they search your soul and pull you into his influence which seems to fill the room. His voice is seductively brutal as he welcomes me gruffly. I feel my pulse race and I remind myself of Nick’s words- everything depends on this man’s decision. You’ll have perhaps five minutes, maybe ten maximum– and steel myself.

I take a moment to flip through the various buzzwords and phrases we’ve practiced. Despite, Him, His presence and the overwhelming desire to flee, the nerves aren’t showing. The burns from the ligatures on my wrists and ankles and the gouges in my thigh sharpen my focus and keep me in the moment.

I almost feel proud of myself, but catch the stray thought. No pride. He hates pride and arrogance. Nick pulls a chair for me. I look to Him for permission. Without looking at me, he makes an offhand gesture that I should sit and lights his next cigarette from the smouldering butt of the last.

Pulling myself towards the table, I remind myself to sit straight, to look him directly in the eye at all times and to never, ever forget that He will decide what future I’ll have.

∞∞∞

 

She was doing well so far, remembering all the little mannerisms he’d taught her. She’d displayed contrition, enthusiasm, respect and confidence, all in the first thirty seconds of meeting Stewart. She’d dressed well, blue-grey business suit, not too pissy, not too slutty. She carried herself well, in control, professional but hungry to work. A poppy seed sized speck of hope began to germinate. The last seven had been total failures, sent back downstairs within three minutes of meeting the boss. It had been a prolonged bad run, one that would fuel Stewart’s justification for having Nick’s department buried. He needed a win here tonight. So far Stewart seemed to have decided to consider the girl.

Stewart took a long draw on a Regal, eyeballing her as he inhaled. Nick clenched his arse cheeks, recognising Stewart’s let’s bury this bitch face.

“Mary. How do expect to make it to Level One when you’re such a fucking heartless little bitch?” Stewart’s voice was gentle, kind even. He genuinely wanted to know.

To her credit, Mary didn’t flinch.

“Sir, I know the mistakes I’ve made and I’ve worke…”

“Piiiiiish!” Stewart bellowed at the top of his voice. The waiter looked over, but checked away instantly not wishing to offend the spending customer.

Stewart jabbed a finger at Mary. “That’s a load ay pish, hen and ye fuckin’ know it.”

Softening his face, the kindly uncle-figure emerged and he placed a hand gently on Mary’s which rested on the table.

“Look, Mary-hen. Work isn’t an excuse to leave yer weans in fucking nursery all day. Or impose upon your poor fuckin’ parents. Seventy-eight years old and worked every day of their miserable lives, just at the point where they can fuck off tae a tiny villa on the coast of whichever slightly-sunny, shitehole they can still afford after spunking their money on you and your siblings over thirty years. And you? You have the fuckin’ cruelty in you to land them with a screaming, shitey-arsed infant so you can develop your career?” Stewart makes quote marks with his fingers in the air.

“That’s cold as fuck, hen.”

Nick barely manages to keep his expression neutral. He’s certain that Mary will snap and give the usual justifications.

Providing for my child.

Working every hour spare to have a better future.

My parents support me, they raised an educated woman for a reason.

Single mothers working hard enough for two parents.

 

Stewart would tear through that bullshit in the blink of a Jap’s-eye. She was fucked if she bit back.

Mary nodded respectfully at Stewart. “You’re absolutely right, sir. I made far too many mistakes. I really believed with all of my heart that my son would benefit from a strong mother, who provided for him and gave him a hard-working, determined and courageous role-model. I truly believed that.”

Mary bowed her head in a genuinely contemplative, penitent gesture.

“My son did well for himself; he’s a lawyer, pro-bono. He helps so many people. We…we were close, but he lives so far away now. I guess we just sort of got used to being separate.”

Stewart nodded along as she spoke.

“My kid, I’m so proud of him. He’s a great father, never puts anything before his kids.”

Stewart leaned back, tugging hard on his cig. Blowing the smoke across the table, he winked at Nick.

“You don’t deserve this chance. You’re a selfish little bitch whose only contribution to life has been a nice pair of heels, punctuality and a fucking clean house. Your kid has learned how not to be a parent form you, Mary. That’s the fuckin’ truth of it.”

All pretence of nonchalance was gone from Nick’s face and his body language. This was the fatal blow that Stewart delivered to propel each candidate to anger. Make them feel hard done by. Reveal any lingering pride or false justifications they hid behind and force them to show their true colours.

Nick was unashamedly desperate for Mary to take the hit, to accept that Stewart was an unmatched cunt of epic proportions, but that he was the gateway. And that ultimately the cunt was right.

She needed to forgive herself and swallow back on any injustice she felt. She needed desperately to forgive herself for something she considered to be a good choice when she’d made it. She needed to forgive Him for dragging her painfully over the sword she’d forged in her own lifetime.

Mary closed her eyes taking the long seconds she needed to compose herself. Nick sagged in his seat, waiting for the usual outburst. The rant, the litany of excuses and justifications and outrages, candidates resorted to. Stewart sipped on his Macallan and fought to hide a grin.

Mary…..Mary simply opened her eyes and spoke softly. Her voice was small, but strong, firm but respectful.  Like an angel’s.  All of Nick’s lessons were meaningless in this moment.

“I know. I don’t deserve the glory of your Kingdom, my Lord. But I forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made. I accept who I am and I see you for the absent parent of a Creator that you are and forgive you for that also. All mistakes are my own. All pain, deserved. Do with me as you will.”

Nick’s heart sang.

Stewart downed a double Macallan and scowled. Mary simply bowed her head, closed her eyes and spread her arms in acceptance of His judgement.

Mary vanished in a startling cacophony of light her entire being swept and propelled upwards, bathed in heavenly radiance and warmth.

“You’re a fucking jammy cunt, Nick,” Stewart spat across the table.

Nick’s mouth hung open in disbelief but only for a beat.

“Yes, well. Even our heavenly Creator has a bad day every once in a while, Stewart.”

Business-mode vanished and Stewart’s face stretched into a wide, self-satisfied grin.

“Where’d you find her? How’d you pull that off, ya snidey basturd?”

Nick shrugged.

“You know how it goes. They come to me down in Sheol, angry, disillusioned, indignant and in disbelief of a God who could be so cruel. So heartless.  I torture and burn and brutalise them. I force them to relive each and every cruelty.   I teach them to forgive you for being an uncaring God. An almighty deity who allows suffering and persecution and hate and disease to run rampant through the human race.”

Stewart glared at his adversary and best-friend.

“You magnify my glory by sending me pure souls, more able to embrace the grand experiment I’ve set in motion.”

Nick regarded his creator. The being who’d created him, and set him as his adversary after he’d argued that the humans had the capacity to long, strive and reach for Heaven. After he’d convinced the Almighty that humankind were out of nature, capable of attaining the spiritual heights of the very Angels He had fashioned in his own image.

Stewart’s face began to shine the radiance that all of his Angels, even the fallen ones craved…required to sustain themselves.

“Light-Bringer…Nick. You were the most diligent of my Angels, my most trusted friend… and then you fell in love with the humans. What a fuckin’ wasted career you’ve had, son.”

Nick regarded the drink in his hand for several moments, then leaned across table six. Taking his best-friend’s hand he whispered quietly.

“My Lord, I will be your opponent until the legions of souls in Hell are elevated to Heaven. Until I can teach each of the souls who come to me that the path to glory is forgiveness. Forgiveness of your callous disregard of their spirituality and capacity for greatness. Forgiveness for the rape, torture, genocide and hate that you allow to proliferate because you think the humans beasts, like  each of those you created to prowl and slither and scutter across the earth .

They are not. They have transcended you and the need for the idea of you. Each and every soul I send to you magnifies your greatness. I will send a torrent of eligible souls to you. I will empty Hell and increase your glory.”

Stewart lit another Regal King-Size and eyed his eternal adversary and best-friend.

“Fancy the calamari, Nicky?” He asked.

Nick grinned. I do, chief. I do.

∞∞∞

Nick sat back into the padded leather armchair set in the lounge of the gentlemen’s club they’d moved to after eating. He hated this sort of place, so archaic, but Stewart favoured the range of whiskies they stocked in the bar. Despite the earlier interview and Nick’s little victory, they’d had a cracking night. It’d been centuries since they’d laughed so easily in each other’s company, it felt like old times, back before Nick had taken on his current role.

Despite the moment, Nick scanned his friend’s face and decided to break the spell.

“When will it end Stewart?” He asked.

“What?”

“Your petty need to deny that humans are out of nature. That they are spiritual entities.”

“For fuck sake, Nick. Again?” Stewart asked.

“Always,” Nick replied.

Stewart bit back on his growing anger, leaned across the little table between them and asked simply, “You’ve given yourself over to serving them for eternity, old friend. Why do you love them so much?”

“Why don’t you?” Nick asked.

“They’re just animals, Nick. They have their place in this world, in nature, not with us.”

“I’ve disproved that many times.”

“No you haven’t,” Stewart snapped. “You’ve sent me a fraction of souls from all the humans who’ve ever existed. These are simply rare abhorrent amongst the species. They are what I created them to be.”

“I’ll never accept that, Stewart.” Nick drained his glass.

“Just look at how they behave, how they treat each other and the planet I gave them. They’re pushing their luck, Nick.” Stewart said.

Screeching his heavy chair back, Nick stood.

“Fuck this. I’m done with this tonight.”

Nick left without looking back at his friend, boss and creator who had begun to work himself up into a fury and was making his way towards the unfortunate barman who would bear the brunt of his anger.

Nick stepped out into the street, changed his mind about heading home and went in search of a late night bar. He didn’t have to walk far, you never did in these Northern towns. Entering the first pub he encountered, Nick felt his shoes attach to the tacky floor as he crossed to the bar.

The barmaid, wiped the rim of a glass with a filthy towel and smiled. “What you after?” she asked.

Nick nodded at a tap. “Pint of Carling and a double Bushmill’s please, love.”

Fetching a glass, she pulled on the lever he’d indicated, sending foaming, amber liquid swirling into the glass.

“Tough day?”

Nick grinned humourlessly. “Tough eternity, darlin’,” he replied.  She looked at him quizzically for a moment, before fetching his whiskey.

An urge to unburden himself and vent to this stranger came over him. This happened to him often in bars. Nick looked around the bar. Aside from a semi-conscious drunk, the place was dead. The barmaid plonked his pint and short on a sodden beermat next to his hand.

“Take one for yourself, love and come join me,” he told her. “”I’ll tell you all about it.”

She smiled at him, looked around the empty bar and poured herself a Grey Goose before sliding over to lean on the bar across from him.

“So long as you’re paying, I’m listening,” she said.

Nick smiled sadly. “Might take a while…”

“Beth,” she said.

Nick nodded. “I’m Nick. Might take a while, Beth.”

Regarding him, Beth took in his appearance, decided that he looked interesting enough, or perhaps that he had deep pockets judging by his expensive suit and reached for a bottle of Grey Goose. Placing it onto the counter she leaned onto the wooden surface and swirled the ice in her vodka around the glass.

“Fire away, Nick.”

Thanks for reading. Mark Wilson’s upcoming novel On The Seventh Day, which can pre-ordered at Amazon Now: