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.

Cartoon-Business-Man-1214572

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.

20140305-143929.jpg

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

headBoy-final-cover

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 – A Preview

I sat down to write a chapter for my work in progress, ‘Somebody’s Hero’ and this wee tale came out instead. It feels quite similar in tone to my debut novel, Bobby’s Boy available here so I think I might carry on with it and see where it goes.

It’s called ‘Head Boy’.

Prologue

Davie Diller

What a fucking week, and here I sit in a community centre hall waiting for the guy who runs this anger management course to arrive. Collin Bottomley, there’s a name that has ‘target’ ingrained in it, is late as usual. I can absolutely guarantee you that his tardiness isn’t due to his being in the bathroom combing his hair or adjusting his clothing with loving pride. Collin is a loser’s loser. Dressed baldy-head to athlete-infected toe in Matalan’s finest polyester, Collin emanates beige through his every pore. From his Crocs and socks combo (beige) to his wee pocket protector that valiantly holds his pens and protects his short-sleeved shirt pocket from any wayward ink; every fibre of this guy screams out ‘I’m a forty year old man who shares a bath with my mother and still wets the bed’. Even his haircut looks like a tea-towel over the shoulders, pudding bowl on the head, mother’s cut. I imagine the kids in his street making his life a misery, throwing toilet paper at his house and chasing him along the street calling some imaginative nickname. Little kids are good at those.

Head Boy

Head Boy

The community centre is permeated with the stench of old people, babies, incontinence, Dettol, shite and death. I spot the leftovers of a poorly cleaned shite-stain on the wall by the door and peer closer to make out the faded message, written in excrement, long ago cleaned (poorly) but still visible. ‘Wullie shat here’. I sit wondering if ‘Wullie’ delivered his writing material fresh into his hand before leaving his touching prose, or if he brought his shite, wrapped neatly in some newspaper, ready for his next artistic project. I’m finding it difficult enough to believe that I have to attend this meaningless course, without having to read ‘Wullie’s’ philosophical musings whilst I wait for my counsellor. I mean, anger management for fuck-sake, what the fuck do I need with anger management? I’m the coolest fucking guy I know.

This Collin’s late again. Every fucking day he keeps me waiting here for up to an hour, like I’ve got nothing else to be doing but wait on this plastic-covered social incompetent deciding which coloured pen he’ll be using to note down my deficiencies and/or progress before coming to meet me. Part of me knows of course that it’s part of the process, a test to see if I can be patient. I can, on the outside. Inside I’m raging; I could’ve put another hour in on Call of Duty in the time I’ve spent here sitting staring at the formerly cheery, faded purple, woodchip walls adorned with quite literally the shittest graffiti man could produce.
When he does get here, this Collin, I’ll nod, look thoughtful and agree that I really should think things through before I act, that I should consider others’ feelings. I’ll tell him that I’ve been really upset since the incident and have thought of nothing other than how to control my temper. I’ll say all the things he wants to hear, tick all his ‘the offender has seen that there are consequences to his action’ boxes, and get the fuck back to school before this wee dick decides that he wants to be my boyfriend. Imagine my mates saw me sitting here wi’ this wee poof spewing phrases like ‘ thanks, Collin, that’s a big help’ or ‘Yes, Collin, I see how that technique would be a huge help to me’, through a haze of red hatred. Not that Collin would spot the venom in me; he’s lapping up my act of penitence. This guy lives to be needed, to be useful, to ‘fix’ people. What a fuckin’ loser.

Guys like Collin are all the same. They take comfort in the belief that people like me have a damaged background; that we don’t know any better or don’t understand society’s rules. We do, we just don’t give a shit. Collin and his type believe that with education or therapy we can be ‘rehabilitated’; that we can be fixed. We can’t, or more accurately, we won’t. Here’s the truth. People like me just enjoy being bad bastards. It’s quite simply great fun for us and we love how incomprehensible our actions seem to you. To us, you, the normal folk, are the walking dead and a source of endless amusement, to be manipulated, used and discarded by me and mine as the whim takes us.

Collin and his type take comfort in the belief that we have demons lurking, guys like me. Not true; I had a wonderful childhood. No deep-seeded angst hidden under my ‘fuck you’ attitude. No hidden pain forged in the furnace of some creepy uncle’s or some priest’s unwanted sexual attentions. No divorced parents, or violent incidents or sibling rivalry, or any of that shite. Nope, no-one tampered with me or beat me or called me useless or put unrealistic pressures on me to succeed on me, or ignored me, or over-indulged me; I was disciplined fairly and consistently by two parents who loved me and each other unconditionally. An ideal childhood really.
My mum’s a teacher and whilst I love my old Mammy, I can’t stand teachers. What a bunch of self-important wankers the teaching profession is riddled with. These people spend so much of their time talking down to those in their charge that a thin-lipped scowl and accusatory stare over reading glasses perched at the end of their alcoholic noses are as standard on most teachers faces as the ubiquitous mug of coffee in their hands and nicotine stains on their trembling, fingers. It’s impossible for someone like me to take a teacher seriously. Most of these people are straight out of school, into University, back into school again; and they stand there with a straight face giving the young team advice on how to succeed in life. They aint ever lived one, a real, full life that is, but it doesn’t stop them from telling other folk what they should be doing with theirs. Honestly, it’s like a nun giving Sex-Ed to a hooker. Imagine my despair that I’ve had to spend the best years of my life, so far, in a school surrounded by the torn-faced arseholes.

Dad’s the only thing worse than a teacher. A fucking copper. Good guy though my old man…for a copper.

It’s true that I had a very ordinary, and if being honest, boring early childhood. Happily for me and my monochrome wee world, I discovered by the age of around 9 that I find great enjoyment in fucking with and fucking over people at every opportunity. Vandalism, kidnap and shaving of small family pets, urinating in letter boxes, all innocent enough fun for a lad and a great way to learn the trade. These days, as an experienced torturer of the general populace, I have a vast array of strategies at my disposal, each designed to bring a little misery into my chosen victim’s day and a wee smile to my lips. Everyone’s fair game for my attentions. Pensioners, kids, teachers, polis’; all have provided me with my fun over the years. I’m usually pretty careful to maintain a sweet exterior though. I’m a fly bastard y’see. Never get caught. That bastard Bowie, though, he got under my skin. I let my temper get the better of me there. That was stupid, but I can’t beat myself up too much, ‘cos he had it coming and by Christ it was fun.

The bottom line is that I don’t want to change and no great tragedy has made me this way. I choose to do the things I do because it makes gives me a thrill to watch daft cunts squirm.
Thinking back, I maybe shouldn’t have hit Bowie with a chair, but he really had been asking for it for months, always on my fucking back ‘Have you finished this assignment yet, Diller? You have to take responsibility for your work, David. You’re not dressed very smartly, are you David?’ The guy’s voice went through me. He sounded like a cross between David Beckham and auld Jack Duckworth. Over the course of that one week I stupidly gave the fucker every excuse he needed to get me sent here with Collin. And here sits said Matalan-boy telling me how to live, when the prick’s still living with his mum.

Aye it’s been a hell of a week.

End of Excerpt

Mark Wilson’s Novels are available here.

Meet the Cast

I’m in the final 20 percent or so home stretch of my second novel Nae’body’s Hero and thought I’d give you a wee look at the characters. I love when they do this at the start of Star Wars novels, they call it their “Dramatis Personae”.

If it’s good enough for Lucas/Walt, It’s good enough for me:

Nae’body’s Hero

Dramtis Personae

Rob Hamilton, Gifted Scotsman and hero.

Arif Ali, English-Pakistani and double agent.

Kim Baker, Lead agent in CTA and badass.

Frank and Mary McCallum, Rob’s foster-parents.

Cara Hamilton, Rob’s twin sister and school teacher.

Mike O’Donnell, Homeland Security.

Mr Bendini, Mike’s boss.

Jack Foley, CTA agent.

Azam and Mimi Ali, Arif’s parents.

Latif Ali, Arif’s cousin.

Zulifkar Raheem, Handsome terrorist. Member of a fledgling Al Qaeda.

Frank McCallum Jr, Government worker.

Special guests:

Tom Kinsella, Rob’s childhood best friend.

Paddy Carroll, Infant

Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda leader and architect of 911 attack.

 

Nae’body’s Hero, coming early 2013.

You can read my debut novel Bobby’s Boy here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354646802&sr=1-1

Working cover for Nae'body's Hero

Working cover for Nae’body’s Hero

 

Sneak Preview – Nae’body’s Hero- Meet Frank

Having just passed Chapter 38 on my upcoming novel I thought I’d preview a little more of the book. In the following excerpt we meet Frank McCallum, My main character Rob’s foster-father and all round great-guy. That’s wi I called him after the real Frank.

Here’s a preview from Chapter 4:

The following is copyrighted to Mark Wilson 2012

Two hours was plenty of time to complete the tasks he’d done this morning. They might take Mr McCallum all day, but he was a fit and healthy sixty five years old to Rob’s even more sprightly fourteen years. Besides, Rob had sprouted and filled out in the few years he’d worked the farm, standing well over six feet of broad and lean muscle. It was just another characteristic that set him apart and isolated him from his peers at the local school.

Physical tasks around the farm were so easy for him that it was laughable and helped him feel good about himself as he saw it as a small way to repay the love that the McCallums had shown him.

Rob had come to live with the McCallums, Frank and Mary, just over three years ago after being circulated through a couple of care homes and one foster family. The small, self-sustaining farm was near the city of Durham and felt like another world when compared to his memories of Bellshill. This was a good thing so far as Rob was concerned. He’d much rather never to set foot in his hometown again if he had any say in the matter. Frank and Mary had officially retired in their mid-fifties but as an ex-marine and a former teacher, Frank and his wife found it difficult to accept the slow pace of retiral and had bought the farm to keep them busy. They’d also been fostering kids on shirt-term placements for a few years before taking in Rob on a more or less indefinite basis. Mr and Mrs McCallum were wonderful and Rob was very grateful to have been found by such a patient, open and loving couple.

Cara had also been fortunate to be placed with a fairly wealthy family in Edinburgh. The Graham’s were lovely people and Cara loved living with them. The only problem was that the twins almost never had the opportunity to see each other. Weekly phone calls (always on a Thursday at seven o’clock), was the best that they could manage at present. The few hundred miles of A1 that separated them may as well have been a million miles, but Rob knew that time would pass and bring independence, a driving license a job and money. Cara and he would be together again soon enough and in the meantime they had both landed on their feet with the families they’d been accepted into.

Rob sighed as he watched the sun come up and thought again about whether or not he should talk to Mr McCallum about his fantasies. If anyone could help him it’d be Frank but it was too big a worry. What if the McCallums decided he was a loony and asked him to leave? No….he’d figure it out alone. Rob heard the cockerel crow which meant the Mr McCallum would be awake shortly. “Beat you again Lester” He laughed to himself and started the short work back to the farmhouse.

“So, you’ve been doing my work again have you, lad?” Mr McCallum asked in his thick Geordie accent, trying to sound angry.

Rob loved the local accent as it sounded like a more musical version of his own to his ears. “Aye, sorry Mr McCallum, you’ll just have to find something else to do with the day.”

Frank lowered his little rectangular reading glassed and shot Rob a disapproving look. “I’m perfectly capable you know, son. Ah’ don’t need you doing everything for me.”

“Ok Mister McCallum” Rob told him. “I’ll make sure you’ve plenty left to do tomorrow morning.”

“Aye, right, son” Frank didn’t believe a word…Don’t you sleep?…..And call me Frank for Christ sake.”

Rob smiled at the older man’s fake outrage, stuffed the last of his third bacon roll into his mouth, picked up his bag and headed for the door.

Mary who’d been sitting laughing began clearing plates, but Rob about-turned and took them from her along with all the others on the table. Smiling at Rob she told him, “Thanks, son. Have a good day at school.”

“Aye, try to actually talk to some kids today, eh?” Frank added with a grin.

Rob slung his backpack over one shoulder and headed out the door, “Aye, ok I’ll do that. Love you both, bye.”

“Love you too, son.” Both McCallums chimed.

Mary headed to the sink to begin cleaning the dishes, squeezing Frank’s shoulder as she passed. “Great laddie that one. When do you think he’ll tell wae’ what’s bothering him?”

Franks grunted in agreement as he finished the last of his coffee. “He’ll tell us when he needs to Mary. He knows we’re here for him.”

Mary watched Rob’s back disappear down the driveway from the window. “Hmmm. Suppose so. He’s deep thinker that boy.”

Frank pulling his boots on replied “He’s grand Mary, don’t worry about him.”

School was the usual exercise in patience for Rob it had always been. Even at his old school in Bellshill, surrounded by people he’d known his whole life and with his best friend at his side, Rob was the eternal outsider in his heart. Here in this Durham Secondary school full of kids he couldn’t begin to relate to, he’d retreated into himself more than ever. He’d become mister grey in the school’s corridors, unnoticed by most despite his huge stature. He was quite happy to drift through the days taking what he could from the day’s lessons and keeping to himself on the fringes of the various peer groups.

When he’d first arrived at the school, the kids had been friendly enough, inviting him along to sit with them or join them at rugby or football, but you can only turn down invitations so many times before they’d stop asking. His status as a foster kid, his size and his accent were all enough to set him apart, to make him different in an age group where being different, standing out, was the last thing you wanted; add those to his tendency to isolate himself and it didn’t add up to many friends. This suited Rob fine, he was content to be mister grey, mister unnoticed by the other kids. These days they left the big, weird kid foster-kid alone to sit on the stairs and read his books.

On this particular day Rob was quite happy to be at school instead of on the farm as the McCallum’s grown-up son, Frank Jnr was visiting. Over the years Rob had learned to stay out of Young Frank’s way and always made a point of being busy when he knew the man would visit.

Young Frank was in his late thirties and a government worker of some sort. Rob wasn’t really sure what he did for a living but guessed it was nothing good, probably a tax or debt collector. Whilst his parents were the warmest and most generous people Rob had known in his short life, young Frank was surly, rude, bad tempered and mean to his parents and to Rob.

He made a habit of making snide remarks to Rob whenever they were alone and flat-out ignoring the boy when the elder McCallums were present.  It was an odd feeling seeing the obvious malice and anger on a younger version of Mr McCallum’s face which itself was always so peaceful and kind. Young Frank always dressed in the same brown tweed three-piece suit and chewed vicious-smelling eucalyptus sweets continuously. The sickly-sweet smell lingered in the farmhouse along with a very obvious downturn in the mood of the house’s occupants long after young Frank’s visits ended.

On Frank’s most recent visit to the farm he’d had a massive argument with his parents in the living room. Rob listened from the staircase in the dark hallway outside. He did not like the man one bit but was most hurt by the disdain he showed the elderly McCallums. He was positively cruel to them and they were too nice to be treated by that by anyone, let alone their own son.

Needing a drink of water, Rob had crept through the darkness of the hallway towards the kitchen, but timed his trip badly as young Frank came crashing through the living room door just as Rob approached. Frank shoved him violently out of his way, Rob jumping most of the way in fright at Frank’s sudden appearance. Frank, who had continued barrelling towards the front door, stopped suddenly as something occurred to him then turned and walked menacingly towards Rob.

Reaching the boy he said quietly to him. “You’re the one whose parents left in the middle of the night.”

It wasn’t a question and Rob didn’t give a reply, he just looked at his own feet.

“Yeah, you’re that one. Smart people your parents. Obviously saw what a waste of space you are. Just a stray really, aren’t you?”

Rob’s eye’s misted but he wouldn’t give Frank what he wanted. To make him cry. Instead he just lifted his head to glare at the older man.

Young Frank nodded towards the living room. “Those two old duffers will see through you too eventually you know. Nobody needs a kid like you hanging around. Bad luck, that’s what your type always brings.”

Young Frank turned and walked towards the front door again, tossing one final remark over his shoulder as he left. “I expect you’ll be gone by my next visit.”

Rob went to bed that night mind racing. He knew that Frank was using his insecurities against him, that he’d just set out to upset him. It didn’t matter though, how many times he told himself that, the little voice inside him, the part that hated himself whispered to Rob that every word was true. The McCallums would ask him to go soon.

Rob had asked Mr McCallum after the encounter what he’d done to annoy young Frank. “It’s not you he’s angry at, son, It’s me. I wasn’t always a terrific father to Frank.”

Rob didn’t push for more. He could see that Mr McCallum was upset, so he decided to stay out of young Frank’s way whenever he was on the farm and give him one less target.

In a hurry to spend some time fishing with Mr McCallum, Rob took a shortcut home to the farm, after school had ended for the day, through Neville’s farm and Moses’ field. As he made his way to the edge of the bull’s enclosure he saw Frank’s tractor parked in his own field. Frank had a tool bag and was fixing the old water pump that supplied the cattle’s trough near the edge of the field nearest his own farmhouse. Lifting his head Mr McCallum noticed Rob heading his way and gave him a wave before turning back to the pump. Rob waved back and then stopped dead. The gate leading to the McCallum’s field was open. Broken off the weak hinges he’d spotted earlier it now lay in the mud covered in footprints. Moses.

Still walking towards the gate Rob scanned the McCallum’s field. He spotted Moses, still looking pretty steamed, behind a little knoll off to Mr McCallum’s rear and to his left. Rob wasn’t particularly worried at first. Frank would hear the bull coming from a good distance and get himself to safety. It was as he thought this that Rob noticed two things.

The tractor’s engine, right beside Mr McCallum, was still noisily idling away, drowning the noise of Moses hoofs. Worse, Moses had decided that Frank was a good outlet for his pent up frustrations and was hurtling towards the old man in a charge at high speed and Frank was oblivious.

Nae’body’s Hero is almost complete and wil be available by February 2013.

You can by my debut novel “Bobby’s Boy” on paperback or Kindle here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353085510&sr=8-1

Music and Stories

For me, music has been a constant soundtrack to my life. Key events, loved ones, hard times and great times all have a song or album as a soundtrack. Books and movies are no exception.

Little wonder that my own debut novel was so driven and influenced by the music pof the times it’s set in and passes through.

Here are the three songs I chose for each “Act” of the book and why:

In part one I quoted Huey Lewsi and the News “The power of love” :

“Make a bad one good.

Make a wrong one right.

The power of love will keep you home at night.”

Partly because I love the track but mostly because the era that part one of Bobby’s Boy is set in is encapsulated so well in the memories that this song envokes. All the good stuff and all the bad are brought to the fore of my mind’s eye in the openeing 5 seconds of this song. The quote also evokes the love I wanted Tommy to encounter and be changed by

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NMph943tsw

The second act of the book was introduced with the quote

 

“Oh I would never give up and go home,

 beaten and broken.

 No, I don’t know who I am anymore,

But I’ll keep on chasing those rainbows.”

 

from “The Only Enemy that Ever Mattered” by the wonderful Hopeless Heroic. At this stage of the book, tommy was departing on the trip of his life, but he was every bit as much running from his past as he ws barrrelling towards his future.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eau7ojfX7_E

The last song I used was intended to show the wish to start all over again. Tommy’s been fantasising for so long, and he now lives in a world once more he wishes wasn’t real , but is. The video is a perfect fit also.

Coldplay – “The Scientist”

“Nobody said it was easy.

No-one ever said it would be this hard.

Oh, take me back to the start.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqWLpTKBFcU

Bobby’s Boy is on FREE PROMO until tomorrow

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1347132445&sr=8-2

 

 

I