Why Would Anyone Settle For Being An Indie-Author?

Why Would Anyone Settle For Being An Indie-Author?

The first question I’m asked when people discover that I’m an Indie- Author is whether I’ve approached or considered approaching agents or publishers.

‘Your books are good, Mark. You should submit to publishers.’

It doesn’t seem to occur to some that being independent is a choice, not a necessity. I never considered the traditional publishing route, although I have had offers from several Independent publishing houses and one large agency over the years which I chose not to accept for a variety of reasons.

I was very lucky to benefit early in my writing career from the advice of several authors who’ve spent some years in the publishing industry. In particular, I had a long chat with Gavin Bain, a friend of mine who has had long-term experience in the music and literary business. We chatted about agents, contracts, advances, small publishers versus large ones and I spent months doing my own research on the business. With a push from Gavin I followed my gut instinct to go Indie. I’ve never regretted this.

So…Self- Publishing or Traditional?

Asked by every writer to spurt ink.

When I started writing my debut novel, I stood firmly in the self-publish camp. As I progressed with the book, I wanted to be thorough, so I researched the industry more and more. Royalties, advances, agents, services performed by the publishing house and or the agent, big or small publisher? Did I want to write for and market to a specific genre? How could I set about building a readership?

There was and is a lot to learn. I did weeks of research, seeking out those agents and publishers (mostly independent) who I thought would like me and my book, and whom I thought I’d like to work with. After ten completed projects, that list remains unused at present.

More and more, as I immersed myself in the snaking and shaded corridors of the literary industry, the same nagging questions came back to me.

Is it worth giving away control of my work for the miniscule chance at the potential exposure a big publisher might bring?

It seemed to me that if these guys deigned to take you, they’d in all probability change your work endlessly, until it fit their formulaic idea of what a commercial novel should be, which is fine for some writers, but not for me. It seemed that most of the promo and marketing would be done by me rather than them anyway, so why should I give them such a huge chunk of my potential earnings (ha!) and, more importantly, complete control over the words that I had spent so many hours writing? What was more important? Potential earnings or creative control?

Advances: For many authors, it seems that an advance, especially a huge one, is the holy-grail. I don’t understand this mentality at all. Sure an advance is a nice pat on the back, and an indication that your book is commercial enough (or at least can be made to be, in the payer’s opinion) to perhaps recoup the investment. It also seems like a good way of allowing the author the privilege and means to write full-time. For me, it’s a scary prospect.

An advance simply means that you’re in debt to the issuer until your sales repay the money. If the sales take years to do so? Well, you’re in hock to them for years, and quite probably on a deadline for at least one more book. No thanks. Add this to the fact that a large portion of publishers give their newly-published books only a very short time to hit serious sales before shifting their enthusiasm and attention elsewhere, it added to my unease.

Agents: Whilst there are of course many good quality agents, who work hard for their clients, let’s remember two key things about them.

Firstly, they do try to get the best deal for their authors, but that may mean something different to them than it does to the author, in terms of cash, advances or the prestige of a particular publishing house over creative control or effective care from the publisher. Your agent represents a business; the more money (debt) they get for you, the more money they themselves make, and that is their primary objective.

Secondly, agents will take around 15% of your money, which is already a very small percentage (somewhere between 7 -15% for traditionally published writers) when considering the fact that you worked so hard on your book and will continue to work your arse off promoting the book, publisher or no publisher (unless of course you’re very high on the publishers’ radar). Whilst the services of agents can be very valuable, if you take the traditional publisher out of the picture, there’s really no place for an agent until you’re selling enough books on your own to gather interest from publishers and have deals to negotiate.

Smaller publishing houses offer a more personal service and are generally more engaged with and passionate about the work they’ve chosen to represent. They are also significantly more pro-active in reacting to the market and in developing their authors than their traditional counterparts. Whilst working with small publishers can be rewarding, particularly if think you haven’t the skills or contacts to produce a decent standard of book for yourself, in my view there’s not always a need to hand your work over to a small publisher, unless they can add value that you cannot on your own. Indie publishers like Bloodhound Books have made great strides in the market and appear to put their authors first.

If you choose to go it alone, given the time and will you can learn do it yourself with the right assistance and a commitment to pay professionals for the services you can’t do for yourself, i.e., editing and proofing.
Many of the industry professionals I hire do the exact same work but at higher rates to small publishers. Good freelancers are easy to come by and needn’t be expensive.

This is where the effective Indie-Author exists. In the centre of a web of professionals; editors, proof-readers, formatters and cover designers (if needed), hired by the author to polish his/her work and free the author up to do what he/she does best…Write.

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Are the potential benefits and rewards of being a writer great enough for me to expect to earn a living from writing?

For me the decision to go Indie was a no-brainer. However, a small part of me, the one that’s low on self-esteem, told me that I needed the recognition from an agent or publisher that my book was “good”.

I ignored that needy version of myself and ploughed on, buoyed by the research I’d done into the standard of eBooks out there. As far as I could see, my first book was as good as many self-published eBooks, and better than most (there’s the tiny little bit of ego/confidence I do possess asserting itself).

In hindsight, my first work was of a good standard but just good. I was judging the quality of my work against other independents, when I should have been planning ahead in my development and thinking bigger in terms of the standard I wanted to reach and surpass.

As a writer, I’ve developed a massive amount and learned many more writing devices and techniques during the process of writing nine more books. This kind of development time, I wouldn’t be allowed with such a public analysis and feedback in traditional publishing. Like the music industry, the days when a publisher will take a punt on a new talent and invest in developing them are long gone for the most part. “Bring us the next copy of a copy of ‘a girl who kicked a hornet in the nuts on a train’.”

As things stand; using several industry professionals who are competitively priced, and more importantly better at editing etc than me, I’ve published my stories across a range of genre, exactly as I intend them to be.

The financial rewards?

Here’s the thing few writers will tell you, mostly because you don’t want to hear it. You will most likely not make money as a writer.

You will devote thousands of hours of your time to writing the very best books you can. Time to develop your skills and broaden your writing palette. Hours and hours to learn what you can about marketing and promoting your book effectively. Building an audience. Writing some more.

None of this will guarantee you readers or an income. If you make more than £500 a month from writing novels, you deserve a pat on the back. I regularly outsell much higher profile authors who are tied to restrictive contracts and huge advances. How the hell they pay their creditors back, I have no idea. Living from one advance to the next doesn’t appeal to me.

The truth is, that for all the professionalism you will have to employ; all of the dedication and sacrifice of your time to write and to present your writing as well as it can be, writing will be nothing more than a very time-consuming hobby that you love. If you build a small readership who enjoy your books and earn enough for a little holiday once a year, give yourself well-deserved handshake. Focus instead on being proud of a back catalogue of books you poured yourself into writing.

So, why ‘settle’ for being an Indie- Author?

That’s the key, you’re not settling, you’re making a determined and smart choice to control your own literary destiny and produce your work the way you desire. No changing characters ages or sex or motivations to appeal to this demographic or that genre. No committees making a product of your labour. No debt to a corporate master which for most writers you haven’t a hope of recouping form advances.

The beauty?

If you’re one of the lucky writers who have a breakthrough hit of a book, your work is entirely in your own hands. You can make that deal when the big boys/girls come calling, but you can make it on your own terms. Use their distribution. Use their contacts to get a TV deal or international translations or Movie deals. Use them. Not the other way round.

As an independent, you can still choose to publish with an indie-publisher, or a larger one if that’s your bag, but have the choice to work with people who truly feel passionate about and can add value to your novel, rather than jumping at the first publisher or agent who shows an interest at all cost.

Do not settle for being an Indie-Author.

Fucking aspire to be an Indie-Author.

Mark is the proudly-independent author of nine works of fiction and one non-fiction

You can find Mark Wilson and his books at Amazon.

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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:

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preview of dEaDINBURGH (Din Eidyn Corpus Book 2)

 

The following excerpt is taken from the upcoming second volume of the Din Eidyn Corpus.

*****MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD******

IFYOU HAVE NOT READ dEaDINBURGH: BOOK 1 DO NOT READ ON.

 

 

Din Eidyn Corpus Book 2 Will follow Alys and Joey directly after the events of book one, but will also show awider look at the outside world, beyond the dead city’s fences. As well as continuing Fraser Donnelly’s story, we’ll also see Michelle MacLeod (Joey’s mother) before she entered the dead city and discover how she came to be in amongst the dead.

Most of the information about the outside world will be relayed through a new character’s story arc. This is what follows:

 

dEaDINBURGH: Book 2 excerpt:

 

Edinburgh, Scotland

 2051


 

Voiding the light breaking through the gap in his curtains, Jack squinted at his Holo-Screen, blinking the fog from his eyes. Seven a.m.

He’d been playing the dEaDINBURGH: Lair of The Ringed video game since midnight. Since the feed had been cut from the live show. He flicked his finger across the air in front of him, causing the UKBC screen to pop up. The countdown until the feed re-connected sat at 00:15. Just fifteen more minutes until they had the show back onscreen in full High-Def Holo-Image. Jack saved his progress and kicked at the desk in front of him, sending his ergonomic chair scooting backwards through the pile of empty energy drink cans and takeaway boxes littered across the carpet of his living room.

Scratching at his crotch with his right hand, he lifted his left arm and sniffed at his arm-pit, screwing his face up at the sourness. Should have time for a shower if I get a move on. Jack stood with a groan in protest at the crack of his knees. It’d been a while since he’d had quite so long a session on the game. Scooping a handful of Cheesey-Puffs off of the desk and into his mouth he headed to the apartment’s little shower cube.

 

As he sang from the shower, the dEaDINBURGH theme began blasting from the surround sound speakers, eliciting a whoop of delight from him as he barrelled from the bathroom, not bothering to dry himself, body wobbling back into his still-warm chair.

Leaning forward he made a little gesture, enlarging the screen and scanned the info-bar along the bottom of the page to catch any updates. There were too many to read so Jack flicked at finger at the Holo-Screen, bringing up a highlights reel on a smaller screen within the main one. Whilst the main screen flickered into life, he flicked his eyes from the main image to the highlights feed, gleaning everything he could about what had happened to his favourite Survivors during the feed-loss.

Suzy-Wheels, Danny McGhee and Jennifer Shephard, his main characters, all were more or less where they’d been when the feed had cut twelve hours earlier. Jack flicked at the screen a few more times, bringing up images of one of the less popular and least-covered Survivors he’d been following.

Joey MacLeod’s face filled the frame. Jack liked this kid. He’d begun to get a little more airtime recently, mostly because he’d been in a few scraps with The Ringed of late. Jack remembered him from the episodes where he’d left The Brotherhood a few years back, with the old Padre.

Padre Jock had been a favourite of Jack’s as a kid. As a Zom-Hunter and one of the most colourful characters on the show, he’d had a huge chunk of airtime over the years and had consistently been in the top-ten Survivors chart for over twenty years. When he’d been killed by Bracha, Jack had shed a few tears for the old man who seemed as intricately tied to the show as its theme tune to a generation who’d grown up watching him. Three years later, Jack still felt grief whenever he looked at one of the many images of Jock on mugs, posters, T-shirts and other merchandise around his home. Jack had a massive poster of Jock over his bed, a scene from the show, showing a young Jock, blades flashing, Silencing five Zombies. It bore the legend: Running rings around The Ringed. One of Jack’s online friends had a tattoo in the shape of the characteristic Ring o’ Roses rash of The Ringed.

Many of Jock’s fans had now latched onto the eighteen year old the old preacher had trained out of the need for a connection to the familiarity of the Padre. Aside from that, they’d grown to know and love Joey during his time with Padre Jock.

The screen showed Joey and Alys, both shot from behind, in a large open field. Joey had his bow over his back and was following along behind Jennifer’s daughter. They looked tired and were both covered in a grey dust. Jack watched as the cameras zoomed out, revealing a mass of Zoms spilling out into the field from a cycle path and a little clearing in a woodland. From the trail in the long grass, it was obvious that the teens had come from the Zom-infested area.

It was a beautiful shot, so much so that it moved Jack to click the little thumbs-up icon at the corner of the screen. He was only the hundredth to do so. It made him feel a part of something special, that he was amongst the first to see the beauty in the photography.

Wondering how the teens had survived the massive congregation of Zoms and why the infected weren’t pursuing them, he whirled the highlights footage over to the main screen and began searching through it, hoping that he hadn’t missed something special. He looked at the view counter at the edge of the highlights screen.

One View. A single viewer besides him.

Jack felt a thrill surge through him and clicked the thumbs-up icon, making himself the second person to have done so. As the images moved he watched amazed as Joey and Alys moved like crowd-surfers along a mass of the dead. They seemed completely calm, so at ease. Jack he’d never seen anything like it. Nobody had.

As the scene progressed, it was suddenly cut with footage from earlier in the day. They had battled hundreds of the dead in that same clearing, Joey in a tree firing arrows and Alys a demon with her twin Sai. It was astounding and contrasted so sharply with the serenity of the previous footage that Jack felt a prickle all over his skin.

He watched Joey and Alys’ Survivor ratings rocket from the around 10,000 straight to position two and one, respectively. Realisation suddenly made him jerk in his seat. He motioned at the screen and watched as his viewer rating appeared. Last night he’d been in the upper ten-million region. A respectable position for someone in Kent. The total viewing figures worldwide for dEaDINBURGH were at around four billion.

Due to his early support for Joey, and lifelong support of Jock, he’d voted and thumbed-up Jock hundreds of times, maybe thousands in his lifetime, Jack’s Viewer Rating would receive a boost. Factor in his support of Alys by proxy of being a Jennifer Shephard supporter and combined with this morning’s early acknowledgement of both the live-feed and the highlights package, and Jack’s viewer rating should be at an all-time high, perhaps top one million.

Jack blinked in disbelief as he looked at the numbers. His rating had been propelled to top 500, worldwide. Number 1 in Europe.

His Holo-Screen suddenly lit up with emails, messages and invitations regarding  interviews, expert analysis, insights. He was being lined up for a series of appearances across some of the biggest shows on the network and a clutch of major blogs and newsfeeds.

Messages of congratulations from his network-family scrolled across his screen. In one minute he’d gone from being another nobody, an above-average fan who spent a little too much time watching the most-watched Holo-programme on the planet, one of those guys who haunted the thousands of fan-sites and pages looking for insights and extra-footage, to the hottest viewer-consultant in Europe.

He’d always known that he was someone special. Always felt that he was destined for something better than his current station in life. Something that made him worthy of the name he carried. This was it. Finally.

Jack Thatcher glanced down quickly at his mostly-naked, wet body, edges of the towel barely meeting around and under his belly. He gave a curt, decisive nod, to himself. Time to get sorted. The first thing I’ll do is get that liposuction and a skin removal. And my teeth. Get my teeth fixed.

With the kudos and the money that’d be coming his way, it was time to get himself together.

Rising from his seat, he stopped for a second, lifted his right thigh a little and expelled a cloud of gas before heading to his wardrobe. Drying off, he sniffed at then  pulled on a pair of reasonably clean sweatpants, figuring that he’d aim the Holo-Camera from the waist up. Best to be comfortable.

Jack then pulled on an old dEaDINBURGH T-shirt his dad had given him on his thirtieth birthday, with an image of Jock in full Plague-Doctor outfit on the front. It felt a little tight, but familiar.

Striding back through to take his seat, he flicked open the Comm for his first interview with an American news network, allowing himself to enjoy a moment of satisfaction at finding his rightful place.

He smiled warmly and connected his call.

 

END OF EXCERPT

SILHOUETTE-cover

dEaDINBURGH (Din Eidyn Corpus) Book: 1 (and Mark’s Lanarkshire Strays collection) are available now as a paperback and on kindle at Amazon, US and Amazon, UK.

Reader’s Wives, Henry the Hoover and Misconstrued Love for Darkie the Dug.

I had a lot of fun writing my debut novel Bobby’s Boy. Several novels later, looking back at this debut makes me want to go back and re-write some sections with the new skills I’ve learned in the course of writing my other books. so far, I’ve resisted the urge, preferring to leave this very basic, heartfelt and raw book the way it is. It reflects my hometown of Bellshill best in its current form. Over the years I’ve been told several times by friends that I should read this chapter out at book events. So far I haven’t found the balls.

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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Alec was in the passenger seat in the front of James’ light blue Austin Maxi, a car older than Tom was by some years. Alec had his head turned around to talk to Tom, asking him questions about the tour. Tom was currently in the vast rear, seatbelt-less chair, trying in vain to identify the interesting array of human-smelling aromas wafting up from the back seat. He’d heard that in a Maxi, the back seat could be folded backwards while the front seats could be reclined, forming a vast bed of sorts. He shuddered to think of the unholy creation that could have been conceived or the fluid that had potentially been spilled on the tan and taupe seats by James and whatever poor woman he’d duped into letting him fumble with her.

As he rolled down the window, supplying himself with a blast of much needed fresh Scottish air, he replied to Alec, “Aye, there’ll be all sorts Uncle Alec.”

James snorted. “Fuckin’ right there will, keep yer fuckin’ hawn oan yer fuckin’ wallet wee man. There’ll be fuckin’ darkies and poofs everywhere fae whit I’ve heard.”

Tom rolled his eyes, and exchanged glances with Alec, punctuated with a shake of the head to convey that they agreed. James was indeed a wanker. Neither said so though, which was unusual in Uncle Alec’s case, but both knew what a moody fucker that James was and were unwilling to risk getting turfed out his car and miss the flight while he sped off in a huff. It might be a piece of shit, smelling quite possibly of spunk, quite probably of shite, and absolutely certainly of pish, but it was the only transport that they had. Dried and crusted bodily fluids and all.

James had completely misunderstood the conversation that Alec and Tom had been conducting about meeting the huge variety of people he would encounter on the trip. He had interpreted their musings and excitement for Tom’s adventures as worries about which big darkie, or poofy-bastard, Chinky, Paki or tranny he’d be accosted by, having his arse virginity, money and/or clothes liberated from him.

James couldn’t help his attitude. He hadn’t really moved on from the gullible wee laddie he’d always been on account of his limited ambition and intelligence. Christ, he’d never left a ten mile radius of Bellshill, and never would.  “Don’t see the point, everything ah need right here.”

Which was fair enough; there’s something to be said for being easily pleased and content with your lot in life. There was no real harm in the boy, so long as he wasn’t allowed to operate heavy machinery, or left in charge of animals. As daft as James was though, he wasn’t a patch on his younger brother, Sean.

“Aye, the best feeling you’ll remember from this trip is the blessed relief of having ten inches of some big darkie’s dick pulled oot yer arse, after he’s used you to wank in.” Alec and Tom ignored him and continued their animated conversations, with the odd, “Aye, right enough Jim,” thrown in to keep the mutated cunt happy and driving in the correct direction.

Young Sean had become a legend several years back when, as a fifteen year old, he had allowed his hormone-driven animal urges to supersede what little common sense he possessed. The story Tom had heard suggested that on a long walk home from a local football match, Sean had made a lucky double discovery. The first was a scuddy mag. Unusually for such a find, its pages were intact, almost in mint condition, with only the centre-fold stuck together by a stubborn mortar of someone’s gene-juice. It was only a week past its publication too.

Such a lucky soul would handle it gently like it was the Dead Sea Scrolls. Take it home and secrete it away in a custom designed album, filled to overflowing with scraps of vag and tit scavenged over the years from parks, lay-bys and ditches. The more creative types would fashion a Franken-slag creation from pieces of various women, matching skin-tone, shading, tit and bush to create their wanking masterpiece. Lovingly he’d christen her with a jet of sperm, the end product of a record-breaking ten second wank in tribute to his goddess.

The second prize presented itself as opportunity and means. When Sean arrived home, porn mag tucked in his jacket, he’d discovered that the house was completely empty save for the family’s jet black mongrel, Darkie. This was a golden wanking opportunity for any lucky teenage boy who unexpectedly finds himself with free porn in his hands. His pecker soon found its way to those same hands.

At some stage during the masturbation session, some internal demon turned Sean’s gaze away from the lovely, buxom Mary in the ‘Readers’ Wives’ section of his Escort magazine. Sean liked those big mumsy-housewife types; they reminded him of that matron from the Carry On films. Rather than staying the course with big Mary, Sean’s eyes were drawn towards the Henry Hoover propped in the corner of the room. Sean’s brain, like any other teenage boy’s, flashed with the possibility of a potential hole to fill. Normally sense prevails in these moments and the masturbator turns his attention back to the matter at hand. Not so for Sean.

He shuffled over, pants and trousers at his ankles, plugged in Henry, removed the brush attachment, and dragged Henry’s grinning face and hose over to Mary, who was still waiting for his load. As Sean inserted himself into Henry’s plastic, makeshift vagina, he sighed as the tight tube’s suction caught his member.

Ooya, I’ve been missing out here! Right Mary hen, let’s have ye.

This thought flashed for about a second, then was replaced with a darker, more urgent one. When Sean began the return stroke, moving out of the sucking tube, a valve mechanism designed to prevent hairballs and such from escaping slipped into place. No panic. He switched off the hoover, removing the suction, and gave a gentle tug. Unfortunately, his manoeuvre served to further fix the valve, locking it around his blood-filled penis, trapping both the blood and his now painful appendage.

Sean had reputedly searched the house for lubricants, trying a surprisingly wide variety of soaps and detergents, crèmes and ketchups, fabric softeners and lotions, pureed fruit and dairy products. No joy. After visiting every room, trailing the limp and now entirely unappealing Henry in his wake, Sean was ready to give up and call for help from someone when, upon spotting the dozing Darkie mid-yawn, a thought occurred to him.

Tom heard the rest of the story from James, who relayed the tale with gusto and tears of laughter a few days afterwards. The whole family had arrived home together by a happy coincidence that meant that two cars had arrived simultaneously.

Tom’s Aunty Sheena had been pleased to see that James, his brother Peter and two sisters had timed their arrival in James’ Maxi perfectly to help her into the house with her many bags of shopping from the boot of her VW Polo. As the laughing family entered their cosy living room, it was obvious that a fire was blazing. With the coal-fuelled blaze spreading its welcoming warmth throughout the large room they rubbed the cold from their hands as they entered. That fire was the only happy thing that they saw.

The family crashed into the living room, in the usual tornado of activity that always accompanies large families, and were welcomed with an entirely unexpected vista. Sean, lost in deep, pained concentration, was lying on his back in the centre of the room, pants and trousers around his ankles, tugging at the end of Henry’s tube. From his demeanour he was in obvious pain. However, the transfixed family mistook his twisted expression for one of ecstasy. An easy mistake to make under the circumstances as, in his desperation to free his bulging bell-end, Sean had smeared a handful of Darkie’s food around the circumference of the hose and was shouting at the dog, “Lick it ya cunt, don’t fuckin’ bite,” all the while holding the back of the puzzled canine’s head, as they entered the room.

Everyone was stunned for about three seconds, at which time Aunty Sheena had sprung into action, wielding an unopened bottle of Kia-Ora (orange and mango) from her bag. She attacked her perverted son, striking him in time with the words,

“Ya… filthy… durty… wee… bastard, ma… poor… wee… dug.”

It had apparently taken all four of the siblings to drag her off Sean who, during a tear-filled explanation, had impressed upon them his innocence of bestiality.

“I might try tae shag the hoover but ah widnae shag Darkie. He’s only got three legs.”

As they cut the end of the tube from Henry and from Sean respectively, Aunty Sheena scowled at the curled up boy. “You’ll be fuckin’ paying for that.”

Eventually his brother had taken him over to Monklands Hospital to get the (rather expensive as it turned out) tube removed.

James had selected a wee inadequate towel to cover Sean’s crotch for the journey. It was just small enough to let the hoover component stick out. As they left the living room, Darkie happily finished his meal from the floor under the gaze of Mary. Surveying the scene from her page, her eyes seemed to say, “I’ve seen it aw noo,” while casually opening her labia with her right hand.

 

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

dEaDINBURGH: Padre Jock’s Journal

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Rather than slow down the pace of the novel with backstory I chose to launch straight in to my main characters’ (Joey MacLeod and Alys Shephard) lives and insert little passages from Joey’s mentor’s Journal throughout the narrative. This is a sample giving details on how the city became quarantined. Hope you enjoy.

 

All text copyright of Mark Wilson and Paddy’s Daddy Publishing 2013

<strong>Padre Jock’s Journal</strong>

In 1645 the bubonic plague (or the Black Death) raged through the populace. Millions had died worldwide and the city’s residents were beginning to feel the effects of the disease. In a desperate attempt to isolate the infected and to save the remaining residents, the council leaders forced the sick into the underground streets of Mary King’s Close and sealed them in. Beneath the cobbles of old Edinburgh the infected, begged to be released, suffered and were eventually forgotten, dying inside the crypts below.

The plague mutated underground for hundreds of years and some survivors became something other than human. Undead, shuffling through the dark crypts racked by a 400 year hunger.

On New Year’s Day 2015, the city leaders opened the Close, with the intention of erecting a memorial to the ancient plague victims and using the Close for tourism. The Close’ residents poured out from their tomb and spread the new plague through the city. Edinburgh was full of partygoers and New Year celebrants. The plague spread quickly.

Within a day, many of Edinburgh’s residents were infected. Within a week, the UK government, recruiting the armed forces had erected a huge and extensive fence around the circumference of the city bypass, quarantining the city. Edinburgh was declared an official no-man’s land; a dead zone, its residents left for dead and to the dead.

 

I had a chance to leave, before they sealed us in, but stayed to help the survivors. I never thought for a second that they, the world outside, would leave us here and forget about us. For that first decade of isolation, I always believed that sometime, they’d find a cure, that they would release us. I should have remembered my history.

 

<strong>End of Excerpt. </strong>

 

You can find Mark and his books at <a href=”http://www.paddysdaddypublishing.com/mark-wilson.html”>Paddy’s Daddy Publishing</a> or follow Mark’s progress on the dEaDINBURGH series on twitter @dEaDINBURGHbook <br /><br /><a href=”https://markwilsonbooks.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/20131214-115700.jpg”><img src=”https://markwilsonbooks.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/20131214-115700.jpg&#8221; alt=”20131214-115700.jpg” /></a>

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

Head Boy – Chapter 5 Preview

The following excerpt is from Mark Wilson’s Novella, head Boy. Due for release by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing on June 17th 2013:

All text copyright to Mark Wilson 2013

 

In this chapter, the main character’s friend and policeman father have a conversation.

Chapter 5

DCI Douglas Diller

 

Stevie, coffee in each hand and a bag of McMuffins under his arm, shouldered his way through the blue wooden doors into Bellshill police station straight into the path of a young, uniformed PC headed the other way.

“Fur fuck sake son!” Stevie hollered at the young copper as coffee scalded his hand, “that’s a coffee ye owe me.”

The PC showed a flash of anger before his training took over. “Sir, might I suggest a less aggressive tone when you’re addressing a police officer?”

Stevie cocked an eyebrow in amusement and annoyance. Mostly in annoyance. “Never mind yer pish, wee man. Get yer arse down tae McDs and get a large cappuccino for the gaffer.”

The PCs wee puffed-out chest deflated a little.

“Gaffer?”

“Aye,” Stevie nodded his head, indicating that he should turn around. “That coffee you just assaulted me with was destined for the hand of DCI Douglas Diller.”

Stevie gave the kid a moment to turn and acknowledge the appearance of his commanding officer.

“I’d go, PC Whitelaw, before ex-Detective Sergeant Miller sticks a boot up your lazy hole.”

PC Whitelaw nodded and made for the car keys behind the desk.

“Never mind, Bawbag,” Stevie conceded, “I’ll have half a cup. Dougie, here,” he offered the full cup to his former colleague, “you have mine.” Addressing Whitelaw once more Stevie growled, “Beat it, dick.”

Whitelaw looked very much like he wanted to retort, but kept his mouth shut and did as instructed.

“Still not any more fond of probationers, Stevie?” Dougie accepted the full cappuccino.

“I’m not overly fond of any of you pricks these days, Dougie. Where’d you find these wee fannies?” Stevie nodded at the door that Whitelaw had departed through. “He’s no’ a polis. Can you imagine a laddie like that in the force when we came through? Pffft.” He blew a whistle of disapproval through his teeth.

“It’s a different world, Stevie,” Douglas laughed. “PC Whitelaw has a degree in business and in fannying about with computers. That’s the future of the force right there. He’ll have my job in about ten years.”

Stevie grimaced, scanning Dougie’s face for a sign of humour. “Get tae fuck, Dougie. Yer joking?” he asked hopefully.

“’Fraid not, Stevie.” Douglas took a sip of his coffee and sat himself down behind the desk.

“Jeezus. One more reason to hate you pricks in blue I suppose.” Stevie wasn’t really joking, but Dougie laughed anyway to side-step any tension.

“How’s tricks then, Stevie?” Douglas asked as he inspected the contents of a sausage and egg McMuffin before deciding not to bother and chucking it back in the grease-marked bag.

“Aye, fine. Look, Dougie, I’m a night worker these days. It doesn’t suit me to be up and about before the lunchtime menu at McDonalds, so why don’t you just tell me what it is you’re wanting?”

Dougie leaned back in his seat, his smile fading. “It’s David. My David. I’m a wee bit worried about the company he’s keeping.”

Stevie filled his mouth with a gulp of coffee to avoid replying. He motioned for Dougie to continue “He’s always out, even on a school night. I know that he’s not a wean anymore, but he’s never in. I heard that he’s been hanging about up at Angel’s. You see him much?”

Stevie took a bite of his muffin and chewed over his reply along with the grease-slick ‘meat’. He hated lying to Dougie. Of all people, loyalty and history meant that he deserved better from Stevie, but Stevie didn’t subscribe to those ideals or live in Dougie’s world anymore. Neither did Davie, if he ever did. As he thought it, the wrap and the money from Dougie’s son felt heavier in his coat pocket.

“Look, Dougie. Davie’s in a few times a week, but he’s hanging about wi’ a good crowd. Folk wi’ money, they’re not scumbags. Actually, they’re the professional types. He’s no’ a big drinker and he doesn’t cause any bother. He’s just enjoying himself.” And making a fuckin’ fortune for himself and Big Hondo.

Dougie looked a little relieved for a second before his face hardened again.

“What is it Dougie, spit it out.”

Stevie was getting impatient. It was all right for Douglas sitting behind his cosy desk, and leaving for a nice comfortable house at dinner time. Stevie had a shift from six pm until three am, standing freezing his bollocks off outside and he was missing out on sleep.

“We had a young guy in here a couple of weeks back,” Dougie said. “Picked him up with a couple of grams of coke. Hondo’s coke, just cut a wee bit. Personal use, he said. He got a caution and sent home. On the way out the door, the desk sergeant overheard him worrying about repercussions and mentioning somebody called ‘Diller’.”

“So what?” interrupted Stevie. “It’s just some wee druggie worrying about the DCI Diller.”

Dougie shook his head. “Naw, Stevie. I’d never met the guy. I had no part in his arrest or processing. Do you think he was talking about Davie?”

“Don’t be daft. Davie doesn’t hang about wi’ folk like that. Look, Dougie, you’ve nothing to worry about with Davie Diller.” True. “That boy of yours is a grafter.” True. “Davie’s far too clever to get into trouble wi’ folk like this wee guy.” True. “As for Hondo, what the fuck would a smart guy like Davie be doing anywhere near someone like that?” Lie.

Dougie looked a little less worried than he had before. “Davie’s always had a wee element of danger about him, y’know?”

“Away tae fuck, Dougie. Just cos yer son likes a bit of risk doesn’t mean he’s out doing drugs and fuckin’ about wi’ folk like Hondo. The wee guy was just worrying that the station DCI would get involved. Davie’s got nothing to do with this. You know that.”

Dougie smiled warmly at Stevie. “Aye, you’re right enough. Even if he was the type, he works too hard to have time for that shite. Thanks, Stevie.”

“Nae bother DCI. Right, if you’re all done being a mother-hen, I’m off.”

Without waiting on a reply, Stevie headed for the door. As he approached the exit, PC Whitelaw re-entered with one of the station dogs dragging along behind. Catching scent of the coke wrapped tightly in Stevie’s inside jacket pocket, the wee spaniel went ape-shit, barking, yelping and pointing the metaphorical finger at Stevie.

“Seems that Muffin likes you, Ex-Detective Sergeant Miller,” PC Whitelaw scowled at Stevie.

“That dug’s as big a fuckin’ poof as you are, son.” Stevie barged past him and out the door.

Whitelaw started after Stevie. “I think you’d better come back here, sir.”

“Fuck off, goon,” Stevie replied without turning back.

Douglas walked around to the front door and pulled PC Whitelaw by the arm. “That dog needs more training, Whitelaw. His heid’s up his arse.”

Following the DCI back inside, PC Whitelaw looked unconvinced.

 

After a hundred yards or so, Stevie fished his iPhone from his pocket and scanned for Davie’s number. It was early, so he’d probably be on his way towards the school. As the ring tone started, he heard a phone ringing behind him and turned to see Davie ten feet away.

“Could’ve just shouted on me, Stevie,” Diller laughed.

“Aye, listen.” Stevie brushed off the humour. “Dougie’s been asking questions about your ‘night job’. Nothing serious but I’d make a point of meeting up with yer dad and laying on the charm.”

Diller’s eyes narrowed as he thought through the possibilities. “That boy Kenzo got picked up the other week. Did he open his mouth?”

Fuck, this boy is lethally quick thought Stevie. “Na, nothing deliberate, Davie, the desk-jockey that booked him overheard the name Diller mentioned when Kenzo was being released.”

Diller’s face was the coldest of steel. “Right. Thanks, Stevie. See you later, it’s time for school.

Stevie raked in the McDonalds bag for the last McMuffin, eyeing Davie’s back as he headed towards Bellshill Academy. Aye, Dougie, your boy’s far too clever to get himself in the shit he thought bitterly.

End of Excerpt

Mark’s other novels can be found now on Amazon

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Standing on The Shoulders…. Telling other’s stories; A preview

Whenever I write a new book, I ask a friend if I can borrow a story of theirs, something that happened to them that I then dramatize a wee bit and adapt to move my story forward.

I’m constantly surprised by how willing people are to let you hear their most personal lows and highs and basically, fuck about with them for entertainment.

For my debut novel, Bobby’s Boy, I used an experience of my own; sitting on a doorstep, neglected, day upon day. I also adapted an upsetting episode form a friend’s life. My friend had been tied to a chair and whipped, to ‘whip the gay out of him’. I dramatized this and made it worse than reality (as if reality in this case wasn’t bad enough) and thanked him over and over for trusting me with something, he hadn’t shared with his own family.

For Naebody’s Hero, I had my main character, Rob wake up to an empty house. Parents gone. this happened to a friend of mine and like Rob, he used it to become a truly good person.

headBoy-final-cover

My new book, Head Boy is no exception. Why make it up, when you can steal your friends stories and embellish them? One of the loveliest, funniest (and most gorgeous) people I know had relayed this particular story to me a year or so ago, mostly because we share some history and too many common incidences of being let down by parents. You know who you are. Thanks for trusting me.

In this scene from Head Boy, Stacey is patching up an injured Davie Diller. Diller hs been tortured. The pair are occasional lovers.

The following excerpt is copyright to Mark Wilson 2013

Chapter 11

 Michael Jackson and Bubbles

 

Hunched over, hands deep inside the sleeves of his coat for protection, Diller slipped through the school gates and made his way around to the rear of the building. Kicking the door to save him using his hands to knock, Diller sighed with relief as Stacey opened the rear door for him. He didn’t know Cardinal Newman High School very well, but Stacey’s instructions had been clear.

“Davie, what’s happened to you?” Stacey had spotted the burst nose and bruising that had already formed on his face.

Diller slipped his hands through his jacket sleeves, and held them up for her to see.

“Oh God, Davie. Get in here.”

Stacey led him to the school’s little first-aid room and clattered around in cupboards and drawers for a minute or so collecting liquids, cotton and bandages.

“Sit here” she told him. Pushing his hands into a metal bowl filed with disinfectant, she waited for him to wince but saw no reaction.

“You’re not going to tell me what happened are you?”

Diller shook his head. “I can’t, Stace.” He wiggled his fingers in the bowl silently for a second or two, enjoying the clarity of the sting.

Stacey reached out and touched his cheek in the one place that looked like it wouldn’t hurt. Come on. Let’s get this cleaned up.”

Carefully disinfecting each of his nail-less fingertips, the cuts on his nose and cheek, Stacey then began applying ointment and bandages to each of his fingers. Davie stood up. “Just plasters on the finger-tips please, Stacey. I need to use my hands.”

“You need to keep these clean, Davie. I’m using bandages. Band-Aids are no good.”

Diller held her hand lightly. “Please, Stacey, just the plasters.”

Looking miffed, Stacey did as he asked despite her annoyance. Retrieving a big box marked ‘Multi-coloured Band-Aids.’, she proceeded to place a different coloured plaster on each of his damaged fingertips. “Blue, pink, yellow and purple. There ye’ go, tough-guy. MJ lives.”

Diller did a short Moonwalk in reply, making her laugh.

“Seriously, Davie, you should go to the hospital.”

Ignoring her remark, Diller put his arms around her and pulled her in close. “Thank you.”

Shrugging him off, Stacey told him “Don’t be getting all lovey with me, son. Friends with benefits, that’s what we agreed.” She was grinning.

“Aye, and some benefits they are.” Diller laughed.

“You had better be going home, Davie?”

An icy-seriousness slid over Diller’s face. Na. I’ve got people to meet at Angel’s.”

Stacey shook her head. “Go on then. Off ye’ go.”

Diller turned to leave but halted as Stacey took a firm grasp of his forearm.

“Hang on a minute, Davie.”

Diller sat back down, nodding his head in a gesture that conveyed, go on then. Stacey sighed and sat next to him, taking him by the arms again, avoiding his hands.

Staring out the little window in her office, she looked sad for a moment before talking.

“Do you remember ma Mum, Davie?”

He did, she’d been a big MILF in her younger years, in all honesty Davie would probably still fire into her, just for the novelty; she was still a good looking woman.

“Aye.” He said.

“Well, you’ll remember the state she used to get into, with the drink….and the drugs?” Stacey looked into his eyes, her own eyes, quivering and misting a little as she dredged up rusted memories that were perhaps better left lying to rot.

“Aye.” Diller said softly. “I remember.”

Stacey shifted her damp eyes back to the widow, giving Diller her profile.

“One Christmas, Mum bought me this bike; my first bike. I was probably five years old. It was beautiful.” She smiled at the memory for a second and then turned stone-faced.

“I played with it all day long on Christmas day, this beautiful pink bike, with tassels on the handles and clean, white pedals. I loved it. Mum made me stay in the house with it, we had a long hallway, so I didn’t mind…not really.” She smiled sadly at the thought of herself happily coasting up and down her Mum’s flat’s hallway.

“I went to bed happier than I could ever remember being. I felt surrounded by love that night; that was a rare feeling for me then, in those days. I thought that only someone who really, really loved you could put such thought into finding such a perfect present for you; that’s what I fell asleep thinking. How loved I was.” Stacey smiled again, a sadder smile this time.

“When I woke up the next morning, the pedals were off of my bike. I asked my Mum why and she told me that the bike, my bike, was faulty and that she’d send it back to the catalogue the next day for a better one, one that wasn’t broken. It would be back in a few days; she promised. I watched her take my beautiful bike away and planked myself on the window sill, remember those big windows in the flat?”

Diller nodded.

“Well, I sat there every day at eleven o’clock, when the post came, waiting for my new bike to come. I sat there every day, Davie. Day after day, she’d tell me, I’m sure that it’ll be here tomorrow, hen. Just wait and see. After six months I finally figured out, that she’d sent it back and gotten a refund; for money for drink.”

Stacey turned back to look into Diller’s eyes. Hers were no longer moist, they were steel.

“I got that bike for one day and spent dozens of days afterwards deluded, waiting desperately for it to come back. Who does that to their children, Davie?”

“I know, Stace. It’s shite.” Diller put a hand over hers, the one that still rested on his arm. He didn’t like this kind of closeness with anyone, it reminded him of holding Paul’s hand. No don’t go there.

Stacey shrugged him off and took his face in both of her hands. “That’s what you’re like, Davie. You give a little of yourself and you take it away before anyone can love it too much. You’re a fucking Indian-Giver with your affection.” Stacey laughed at this, then turned serious again.

“You need to sort yerself out, Davie.”

Diller looked away from her piercing eyes. “I thought you were happy with just a wee shag now and again, Stacey.”

She burst out laughing. “I don’t want to marry you ya’ arsehole; I just want you to let me be your friend.”

She reached out to his face again and rested her palm against his cheek. “You need to let somebody love you, Davie….. As a friend.”

Diller stood up from the table they’d been sitting on and pulled his zips up tight, closing his coat.

“Wouldn’t know how. I’ll see ye’ later, hen.”

“Go on then.” Stacey nodded at the door and watched him leave.

 

Head Boy will be published by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing, late July, 2013

Head Boy Preview – Chapters 1 and 2

The following excerpt is from my upcoming 3rd novel, Head Boy and contains strong language.

Monday
Chapter 1
School

Strutting along Bellshill main street Davie Diller kicked a discarded Coke can under the wheels of a buggy causing one of the rear tyres to suffer a slash as it crushed the can underneath. It was unintended but Diller took satisfaction from the sound of the tyre bursting anyway. The young mum, fag in hand, black leggings-cum-tights straining to contain her blubbery legs, continued on without noticing the puncture.

As he neared Bellshill Academy, Diller took a hard drag on what remained of his cigarette and tossed it with a flick at the heels of a pensioner who faced away from him. Diller didn’t need the hassle being seen smoking near the school grounds brought from teachers today, he had enough on his plate. Dressed in denims, shirt and tie and wearing a new pair of Adidas Superstar 2 trainers, Diller shoved his way through the double doors of the formerly boys only entrance. He fully expected a few snide comments about his appearance from some of the staff, but his attitude unsurprisingly was fuck’em. Diller figured that the teachers would love to have the balls to turn up in school in decent attire instead of their ubiquitous, black shoes, troos, and ever so rebellious, patterned shirt and tie combo.
“Haw, Wee-man” Diller grabbed tightly on the arm of a third year he’d spotted hanging about at the door. “You better have something for me.”
Terror filling his eyes, the pupil stared nervously up at Diller. “Aye, I mean, yes. It’s here…”
“Right. Good.” Diller cut him off by snatching the small envelope the kid was offering out of his hand. Pushing the boy aside and pocketing the envelope, he painted a cheery smile on his face as Mr Oliphant passed. “Morning Mr Oliphant. Diller sing-songed at the passing Maths teacher.
Fumbling around in his briefcase, Oliphant, dressed in a tragic turquoise Asda shirt, tie and trouser combo didn’t manage to look up but grunted a distracted “Morning.”
Diller shook his head, wondering, not for the first time how a dozy old bastard like Olly managed to remember how to breathe in and out all day, never mind explain complex equations to his pupils. At least he had a nice way with him old Olly, unlike the majority of the arsehole teaching staff. Smiling to himself, Diller continued upstairs towards the English department and his first class.
“Morning Mr Diller.” Never far from the English department, Mr Bowie loomed at the end of the corridor. He had a gift for making a friendly morning greeting sound like an accusation. He made Mr Diller sound like arsehole.
Davie had been in Bowie’s class in fifth-year. It’d been one hell of a year. Bowie was never off his back, a total head-case. The simplest mistake, misspelling or breathing too loud some days, was enough to tip the man over the edge and into a rant about responsibility, carelessness etc. Obviously, this meant that Bowie was by far the best teacher in school to rip the pish out of, but Davie had learned to be circumspect in his efforts, no use giving him fuel for the fire of his outrage. Besides, in a school with seventy-odd teachers, Bowie was the only one who had seen past Davie’s outer-persona. He stared right through the intelligence, manners and faux-charm, straight into the devious and dangerous little shite who lived beneath the veneer of a dedicated pupil. Imagine Bowie’s joy when in Sixth year, as reward for all of his ‘consistently excellent contributions to the school’, Diller was made Head Boy.
Bowie seemed to have been a teacher at Bellshill academy forever. Having taught a lot of the kids in Diller’s Class parents, he was still here, having not evolved to the changing times one iota. How the hell can a teacher from the late seventies hope to understand what goes on in the mind of kids in the year 2013. With iPads, Kindle, internet, hell indoor toilets, it must be like the future to a guy like Bowie. Dressed in a brown suit, beige shirt, brown tie and tan-coloured shoes Bowie sported the only two things that marked him out even further as a man displaced from his own time. A great big, bushy, grey moustache and a Beatles-style bright ginger toupee. The fact that Bowie was onto him from first glance, combined with his appearance and the old man’s attempts to control him, quite simply made Bowie an irresistible target to Diller.

As Diller wasn’t late today, for once, that meant that he was probably overdue with an assignment. Without stopping, Diller pushed his way into the classroom and disappeared through the door, pretending he hadn’t heard. Prick.
First one here Diller noted as he entered the ancient-looking and smelling classroom. The wood panelled walls bore the carvings of generations of Bellshill Academy pupils ‘BYT’, Linda gies gobbles’ and other such displays of wit adorned the panels. The painted sections above the wood had faded from bright white, to dark brown over the decades. The polystyrene ceiling tiles, dotted with precariously hanging pencils and spit-formed balls of paper towel fragments added no ambience.
Taking his customary chair at the rear of the room, Diller stretched his legs, lifting them up and onto his desk and pulled his phone out to check on his Facebook page as he waited for the classroom to fill up. There’s wee Stacey sent me a message. She’s a wee dirty, that yin. Probably after her hole. Jabbing on the envelope icon to open the message, Diller confirmed his suspicions as to the contents of Stacey’s message. ‘U up 4 it the night, Davie?’ and quickly closed it again without replying, preferring to keep his options open. Tonight was a long way off, anything could happen between now and then. It was a school night, sure but Angels in Uddingston had a three hour happy hour tonight and it was calling his name.
Stacey, twenty-one year old receptionist at Cardinal Newman High, across the other end of town, had been a fuck-buddy of his for around six-months. She was sound as fuck. Always around when he took the notion; never needy for a wee cuddle or a kind word afterwards. They had to keep their liaisons quiet at any rate, due to the age difference. Diller suspected that Stacey was as bad as he was when it came to her attitude towards sexual partners, seeing them as little more than sex-aids. That was fine by him. A wicked grin crossed Diller’s face as he enjoyed a quick mental flashback to their last encounter together at her modest flat on Glebe street. Christ! That was a good night. Enjoying the afterglow of the memory, he re-opened the message and replied ;-). Sometimes words got you into trouble so a non-committal winking emoticon would keep those gates open without promising anything.
Just as Diller moved to thumb the off button, a significantly less welcome message vibrated through. Moving his finger to open it Diller’s heart sank at the name that appeared. ‘Big Hondo’.

Big Hondo was actually James Crosbie of Babylon Road. Sixty-eight years old with the muscle mass of a man half his age, Big Hondo stood well over six feet in height. A former steelworker, In the 90s Hondo had used his substantial redundancy money to set himself up at the forefront of the only thriving business Thatcher had left in the area, the drug business. Hondo also had the foresight and intelligence to attend university using the re-training wage kindly offered to the redundant men of Ravenscraig by Mrs T, graduating with a 2:1 in Business management.
Hondo attacked his new venture with the same commitment he had his degree at Uni, with the single-minded, fastidiousness that only mature students bring he implemented his detailed business plan; making a vast number of contacts abroad, establishing a supply chain, examining the logistics of his new enterprise, building a network of mules and street-corner/club dealers, armed with bags of…whatever. Hondo quite literally carved himself a huge slice of the drug trade pie in North and South Lanarkshire. In the process he employed violence more often than he employed new dealers.
Most folk in the area believe he gained the nickname ‘Hondo’ due to his love of all things Western-related. Permanently dressed in double-denim, cowboy boots, belt and Stetson, Hondo wasn’t difficult to spot in The Orb, a local pub, of an evening. The truth was that Hondo acquired his nickname from his enthusiastic use of the Bowie-knife, a cowboy’s favourite blade, as his favoured deal-maker and deal-breaker. Taking all of five years, Hondo had slashed, stabbed, throttled, drowned, bought, shagged, bribed, murdered and dealt his way to a position of power that had ultimately made him untouchable in Lanarkshire. Rumour had it that he had a fair few cops on his payroll, which Diller’s Dad said was rubbish. Drug-dealer propaganda he’d called it. Whatever the truth was, when it came to scoring some top-notch Charlie, Hondo was the man in Lanarkshire and the man was not to be fucked with.
Working with Big Hondo, was Wee Hondo, or Lionel, his son. Wee Hondo was if anything, even bigger than his Dad, but had none of the old man’s fierce intelligence, the only ferocity he displayed was with his fists. Growing up with Hondo as his father, immersed in the old man’s business, had made the boy as hard as rock. He didn’t need to be clever, the old boy took care of that, Wee Hondo was best utilised in the more physical side of the business. He was good at it and enjoyed it’s challenges immensely. Over the years, Wee Hondo had developed a reputation as a skilled remover of body parts. He could remove pretty much anything from a person whilst avoiding his victim bleeding out; so they said. A true chip off the old, blade-wielding, gonad-smashing block that was Big Hondo. It was true that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, but in Hondo’s case it had fallen with a pair of size fourteen, steel toe-capped boots, a pre-disposition towards torture and an evil grin. Big Hondo’s Dad, a wheelchair-bound ninety year old who smoked all day, dispensed larger deals to more trusted clients who visited their home and never left the house; completed the trio.

The Crosbies weren’t the small former-mining town’s only drug-dealers but the three men who made up their ranks controlled a continuous flow of the highest quality cocaine in a twenty mile radius and oversaw the activities of the others. Generously, the Crosbies also offered ‘tic’, an arrangement where the purchaser could obtain the drug of their choice gratis for an arranged period, usually a week or two. After that it was pay up or lose body parts courtesy of Wee Hondo. Diller was normally the type who preferred the former payment plan, but had been short of funds and taking the piss recently taking him dangerously close to paying the latter price.

Looking back to his phone, Diller sat staring at the unopened icon for a few minutes. Shit. Whatever Hondo wanted wouldn’t be good news; that Diller was certain of. He thumbed the message and felt a shiver pass through his muscles as he read the words ‘Hundred Grand by Friday or UR dead.’

Chapter 2

On a School Night

“Give me those fags.” Diller had scraggy-looking fourth year boy with a squint in his eye, whose name he didn’t know pressed against the wall with the palm of his hand on the lads’ chest, in the alcove under the assembly hall.
“Ye’ cannae’ dae’ that.” The wee guy squealed.
Diller poked an index finger into ‘Skelly-eye’s’ shoulder. “Hurry up ya wee fanny.’ His voice was calm and quiet. Skelly-eye looked around at his friends for a bit of back-up, but they’d picked a spot each on the ground and were avoiding Diller’s challenging, scanning stare. One of them got a moment of courage and told Skelly-eye, “Just give him them Jordan.”
Diller pushed his nose closer to Jordan’s. Letting some gas rise up his throat, he belched loudly in the kid’s face, noticing the after-burn of the cold curry he’d had for breakfast. Jordan wretched a little at the smell and reached into his jacket pocket for his ten-deck of Lambert and Butler.
“Here.” Jordan slapped the pack into Diller’s waiting hand.
“Smoking’s bad for ye’ Jordan” Diller put a mocking tone into name, “I’m doing ye’ a favour here, son. Right,” he leaned in close to whisper into Jordan’s ear, “get tae’ fuck, dick.”
As the little group of fourth years ran off, Diller rounded the corner and entered the bin shed, flicking one of Jordan’s cigarettes into his mouth as he walked out of view. Grimacing at the first harsh lungful, he examined the silver box Jordan had given him. Cheap, shitey fags, I’ll have to pick a better class of loser for my next pack. Lunchtime lasted fifty minutes and Diller normally spent that time smoking in the bin shed, chatting up some of the sixth year lassies he hadn’t ridden yet or occasionally doing some work in the library to keep up appearances. Today, he smoked eight of the ten cigarettes Jordan had ‘gifted’ him in a twenty minute blast, mind racing with possibilities, consequences and possible outcomes. This thing with Hondo was a worry, no doubt about it.
A long-term client of Hondo’s, Diller had made a small business of buying manageable quantities of coke over the last two years or so. He had a small number of guys dealing for him, after a wee tamper with the quality of the product, of course; and with Hondo’s blessing. The problem was that over the last six months or so, Diller had taken on an absolute mountain of coke, all on ‘tic’ with a far too care-free attitude.
He hadn’t snorted hundred grand’s worth of Hondo’s Charlie on his own, he found that coke made him a bit too careless and made his ego grow out of control; on the contrary he’d been very generous with it. The coke had been meted out to barmen, bouncers, and potential sexual-partners; to low-level dealers whose own inferior product paled in comparison and any number of thugs out over the six months. Diller was building his own wee network of ‘friends’ and filling an account full of favours owed from a range of useful types around Lanarkshire. You never knew when an alibi, some muscle, entry to a club or some sex would be needed and Diller liked to keep a myriad of opportunities and options on call. School, with its ever-changing clientele and flow of people was an ideal recruiting base and networking opportunity for those who kept their eyes open. Never dealing though, not in school.
It was an expensive endeavour, this networking and favour gathering and one that Hondo had been happy to fund, in the short-term, owing to Diller’s connections to the constabulary through his dad and the impressive sales he’d clocked up over a short time. It looked like Hondo had just decided that Diller had been giving away too much or not selling enough, either that or he’d decided that Diller was gaining too large a network and wanted him shut down. There was also the possibility that Hondo simply wanted a return on his investment. A hundred grand, though? Surely Hondo’s been a bit heavy on the interest there, I couldn’t have done in that much coke in six months, could I?
Lighting cigarette number nine, Diller noted that it was the ‘lucky fag’ from the packet, the one that everyone always turns filter side down when a fresh pack is opened. Smiling in acknowledgment at the absurdity of the ubiquitous smoker’s habit, he sparked it up. As he smoked his way down to the shite at the end of the cigarette, almost to the filter, an evil smile spread across his face and a plan tickled the cold recesses of his brain. It’d be tricky, but it just might work.
Flicking the butt into the pile he’d made, Diller straightened his shirt and headed up to the assembly hall just as the bell rang, signalling that lunchtime was over. As part of his ‘Special Duties’ he regularly delivered a short motivational or informative speech at some of the junior kids’ assemblies. It was fourth year today and a talk on health and wellbeing. Diller would be advising the junior pupils on the evils of drugs, alcohol and smoking. To be fair, he wasn’t exactly short of experience on the subjects. He’d have to remember to ‘thank’ Jordan for his lucky fag if he saw him in assembly.

Leaving the school grounds within ten minutes of the final bell ringing, Diller turned off of Main Street, passed Riley’s pool hall, which was in the process of closing for good, and along Thorn Road towards the railway bridge. Having grabbed a Superdry hoodie from his school locker, Diller pulled he hood up over his head. His old man still worked in the police station. He rode a desk these days, but still had a finger in every pie. Diller needed to slip past unnoticed, he could do without a conversation with the old man at the moment; he had places to be.
Continuing along towards the little tunnel under the bridge, he slipped through and took the short walk to ‘The Sandy’ a shitehole of a park where all the local Neds gathered. One Ned in particular interested him, Tommy McTavish, aka Tawttie.
Tawttie appeared with a small crew of his ‘team’, a bunch of local losers who Diller had known for years. Each of them had been a pupil at Bellshill Academy.
Noticing Diller lurking on the periphery of the park, Tawttie, left his four comrades and shuffled over in Diller’s direction. Dressed in typical NED attire; tracksuit, trousers tucked into socks, scabby-looking, ingrained mud on white clothes offset by sparkling white trainers, Burberry cap and a brace of sovereign rings, Tawttie and his crew looked like every other wee fanny in Lanarkshire. Their clothes were practically a uniform and the trademark ‘dug’, normally Rottweiler or Pit-bull, was a given.

Not being the academic type, Tawttie had left Bellshill Academy in fourth year and been quickly recruited by Diller. Amongst other things, he couriered items and substances, but essentially did Diller’s dirty work for him, allowing Diller to maintain his facade. The pair had first spoken business after a particularly vicious playground fight that Tawttie had won quickly and clinically with a boot to the balls and a stamp on the prone head of his opponent. Diller had watched with interest as Tawttie had dismantled the other boy, moving aside only as Bowie pushed past him to break up the fight, admonishing Diller with a hard stare for standing watching the display. Within a week of the incident, Tawttie was permanently expelled from school and working for Diller.
Guy’s like Tawttie were far from rare in Lanarkshire and easily made use of; a few free bags of Charlie here, a few quid there, some opportunities to make some easy money and build a bit of a street-rep; They weren’t interested in getting a job; all they wanted was some money and some drugs in their pocket and their hole occasionally.
Fear was another excellent tool to make these guys comply and one which Diller was expertly skilled in wielding. Physically, any one of these guys could easily overcome Diller, but he’d been patient in his younger days, Overheard conversations between his dad and a variety of colleagues; greasing the right palms with drugs and money, the threat of Hondo in his corner; these things had served to place Diller into a position where these street-mugs respected and feared him. As the son of a teacher and a copper, convention would dictate that he’d be the last type of boy to involve himself in this world. His desires, connections, insight, skills and inherent badness had meant he was a natural.
By far the most difficult part to date had been keeping up his mask of normality in school and at home, but he’d turned it into a game in his mind, considering the roles he played as his secret identity; like Batman, but a bastard-Batman. Every so often though, violence was required by circumstances and demanded by his true self, the pressure of hiding his inner-bastard built up and needed to be released.
He’d learned to pick his moment over the years and selected people that no-one would miss; those who would serve as a warning to others. Junkies, dealers, people who owed dealers money, nobodies. He always cleaned up after himself, burning every fibre of clothing he may have worn in the act. Each victim attributed, on the grape-vine, to young Hondo.
Of course, with Tawttie, there was the added incentive that the guy had seen the monster hidden under the mask, when he’d walked into a dark close on Lawmuir Road in the early hours to find Diller crouched over a forty-year old man, knife in his eye socket, eye on the ground. No stranger to cutting a man himself, Tawttie had nodded, turned around silently and left Diller to his work, but he’d never looked him straight in the eye again and never argued when issued a task.
“Eh, awright, eh… Diller.” Tawttie’s voice was nasal and he used exaggeratedly long and faux cheery notes, again, part of the NED persona. He was nervous, he always was around Diller. This showed that he was smarter than he looked.
Diller ignored Tawttie’s eloquent greeting and threw a fifty-gram bag of Charlie in his direction. The coke, Hondo’s finest was cut generously with glucose from the school’s Science stores and cost Tawttie one hundred pounds per gram. Diller had ‘paid’ Hondo eighty pounds for it. The effective downgrading of the Charlie made it go a whole lot further and usually went unnoticed by the kind of mutant who opted to purchase their drugs from the likes of Tawttie. His clientele would still be thrilled at the quality despite the glucose; it would most likely be a nice change from their nose-powder being cut with bathroom products. In all likelihood when Tawttie’s coke made its way down the supply chain a few levels, from the odd banker and lawyer, to Hipsters to bored housewives, to deadbeats; it’d probably still be destined to mingle with a variety of household powders until the junky at the bottom of the pile and the peak of some junk withdrawal was snorting about one percent coke, ninety-nine percent fuck-knows what.
“Money.” Diller barked at Tawttie who hurriedly fished a scabby-looking brown bag stuffed with what Diller expected would be even scabbier-looking notes of all denominations from one of his pockets and placed it in Diller’s hand.
At that, Diller left without another word and headed to five more similarly engaging appointments with several variations on Tawttie around town. The money was stacking up, for sure, but a hundred grand in a week just didn’t seem possible. Diller suspected that was the whole point. Hondo liked to make an example of someone from time to time. It was becoming apparent that Diller’s moment had arrived. Hondo had abandoned his corner and become his opponent. Fuck it. Had to happen eventually; bring it on, Hondo.

Head Boy will be published by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing in July 2013

 

Mark Wilson’s Other Novels are available now on Amazon

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