Sneak Preview – Nae’body’s Hero

The following is a preview from the upcoming novel “Nae’body’s Hero”. Copyright Mark Wilson 2012:

Cover Image for Nae’body’s Hero

Book Description:

Rob Hamilton hails from Lanarkshire and from a messed up family. As a result, he has an unshakable sense of right and wrong and is low on self esteem. Rob also has some very special gifts. If he can stop hiding from them and get his life together he may just be the greatest hero the world will never know. 

Arif Ali is a British medical student. Disillusioned with life in Britain he is now living and studying in Faisalabad, Pakistan.  He and Rob will form an unlikely friendship that will change the course of history.

Annie is an American agent with an undisclosed agency. She could be the worst enemy the friends have or their greatest ally.

…………………

Prologue

The first time it happened I was seven years old. Obviously I knew it had to have been a dream but it really didn’t seem that way at the time. I’d woken in the middle of the night face pressed to a hard, cold surface instead of comfortably against my pillow. At first I assumed that I had fallen out of bed again and landed on my bedroom floor but the contact on my cheek was hard; too hard to be the blue carpet which covered my bedroom floor in those days.

As I slowly came to it dawned on me that the surface was pointed too. There were loads of wee dry, plaster-like prickles pressing into my face, into my whole body actually. It was artex, which made no sense at all. Only the ceiling was artexed. I opened my eyes to see white artex as the realisation hit me that I was pressed to the ceiling.

Realising where I was seemed to break the magic and I clattered heavily onto the blue of my bedroom carpet, grateful for its thickness.

“Robert. You’ve fallen out of bed again. Get back to sleep.” Dad roared from the next room.

I did so and quickly. I didn’t want to anger dad again. I’d been in enough trouble this week. I wasn’t really sure what we’d done but mum and dad had been really annoyed with my twin sister Claire and I repeatedly this last week or two and both seemed tense over something. It was very unlike either of them to be so easily annoyed and tetchy with us.

“Sorry dad.”

“Right Robert. Shush. Sleep.”

Dad was the only one who ever called me Robert and he had many different ways of saying, shouting, laughing or barking my name depending upon how much trouble I was in. When I was a wee boy my dad taught me a rhyme about my name that I’ve never forgot, mostly because it reminds me of him and makes me smile. He’d told me that it was about a boy called William but he thought that it fitted my name better. I could recite it back to him by the age of three, the two of us laughing together as I did so.

Father calls me Robert

Sister calls me Rob

Mother calls me Robbie

 and the fellas call me Bob.

Dad has always called me Robert and I love that mum actually does call me Robbie (she pronounces it Rabbie) but nobody has ever called me Bob. Everyone else, including Claire, calls me Rob (or Rab).

Finally I did sleep once more, drifting off to the thought that it would’ve been really cool if that dream had been real and I really could fly up to the ceiling. That’d be crazy though. No-one can fly.

Chapter One

 1983

Rob

 

Waking from a long deep sleep, with all the usual dreams sleep brought with it, Rob sat up in bed. Leaning back against the old headboard he rubbed his eyes and took in the room. Something seemed……off. Dressed in matching Y-fronts and vest (Spiderman) Rob stepped out of bed and pulled on some jogging bottoms. He took in his rooms’ contents, mentally noting various objects’ positions. Everything seemed fine, nothing out of place. Claire hadn’t been in overnight to cuddle up with him (a twins’ habit they had yet to break which had increased in regularity recently), all his things seemed to be where they belonged, but something just wasn’t how it should be. The house was just too quiet.

Checking his bedside clock Rob noted that it was eight am. Friday morning, mum and dad are normally getting ready for work and pulling us out of bed by now. Surely they haven’t slept in?

The previous night Rob’s parents had both seemed in good spirits. The whole family had watched a film together, chatting their way through most of it with nobody really all that interested in what was happening on the screen. Both mum and dad had tucked them into bed with lots of kisses, cuddles and “I love you-s” exchanged. It’d been great having them back to their old selves after so long of being so tense at home. I’d better go see where they are.

Rob creaked out onto the landing, walking slowly and deliberately just in case he’d been daft and gotten mixed up; maybe it was Saturday. There wasn’t a sound coming from anywhere in the little semi-detached family home. Continuing across the landing he slowly cracked open Claire’s bedroom door. Seeing his sister still asleep he resisted the urge to go wake her up by jumping on her just in case her screams woke their parents and quietly closed her door over. Rob made his way downstairs to the kitchen with some quiet time in mind before the usual burst of activity started.

On autopilot Rob loaded eight slices of bread into the massive family toaster, prepared four cups for hot drinks for everyone. Coffee with milk and two for both mum and dad, tea with one and milk for Claire and black coffee for himself. Wandering through to the downstairs hall, Rob picked up the Daily record which had been lying on the mat. Confirming from the front of the paper that it was indeed Friday and from his wee calculator- watch that it was now 8:15 he decided that he’d better rouse everyone before they lay in so long that they’d be late for work and school. The only sounds in the house were of his own footsteps bending the old stairs as he ascended causing them to creak and groan.

“Mum. Dad. It’s time to get up.” Tom knocked softly on his parents’ bedroom door. He waited a beat and knocked a bit harder.

“Time to get up”, he sing-songed cheerily.

Again nothing came back in reply. He pushed the door open to his parents’ room and to what would be a new beginning. They were both gone.

Rob Hamilton was just like any ten year old boy in Bellshill in the  80s. Football, Kim Wylde and Star Wars occupied his mind. A relentless ball of energy was how most of his friends would describe him. Playing football, rugby, hockey and attending scouts took up most of his time. That and hanging around down Strathclyde park with his friends. On the surface he seemed a happy and contented kid with not a care in the world, in many ways he was, but Rob Hamilton rarely felt that he fit in with the company he kept. Not with his friends (not since Tom left the town) and not in his own home.

He’d lived in the small town most of his life but was slowly becoming a more detached soul. Rob rarely felt part of what was happening around him and struggled to understand the people in his life. He just felt so different to them. He went through the motions. Joining teams, socialising, school and seemed to be thriving but in truth the only people he’d felt that he really had a place with, who he felt accepted and understood him were his best friend Tom and his sister Claire.

Tom Kinsella had been Rob’s best friend since they attended nursery together. The boys had been as close as brothers, at times even closer than Rob had been to his own twin. Spending long hours days and weeks roaming woodland, building dens and fires, and playing football had developed their friendship. All these things had brought them so close and of course the talking. They were always talking.

They spoke of their families, of where Tom’s dad would be taking him on some adventure always asking Rob along. Rob could confide in Tom, telling of his own parents’ increasingly detached behaviour these past few years. They told each other about their dreams for the future, about how Tom would be a musician, or a writer, or a fireman; maybe all three. Rob just wanted to see the world he didn’t care what job he did to pay for it. A part of Rob just wanted to find somewhere where he felt at home and Tom was the only person who not only understood his desire to roam, but seemed to share it. Both agreed that they would leave their hometown as soon as they were able and made a pact to do so together; to always be best friends. When Tom Kinsella’s father Bobby died and his best friend moved away, Rob was completely lost without him and turned to his sister more often.

Despite being his twin Claire was quite different to Rob. More outgoing, less introspective and much less inclined to be quite as moody as Rob had found himself becoming in the last two years. Claire was one of those people for whom life’s surprises were just another chance to try something new. Claire never flapped, stressed or worried she just went with life, happily taking what came her way and making new friends easily. She and Tom were very alike. The three of them were close and had always been.

They spent most of their time as a threesome chatting, swimming at Bellshill baths, walking down and around Strathclyde Park, sometimes going on the fairground rides or climbing the trees in the woods, but mostly they just talked and laughed. They had a secret place that they’d visit daily either alone or together. They did most of their talking there in a den made of old tree branches they’d made months before and filled with three old tyres for seating. It was in a small bit of woodland behind the butcher’s shop and they’d named it “BHQ” (B for butcher).

Tom, Rob and Claire had found the location for BHQ after following a horrific smell around the back of the shop and discovering a sheep’s head. The two boys had poked at it with sticks for a few minutes examining its face, lolling tongue, milky eyes and rancid, maggot-filled mouth. The thing had started to become putrid. Smelling strangely sweet it had attracted the boys in their morbid curiosity. Claire kept her distance, hugging herself in revulsion, but giving Rob and Tom time to satisfy their interest.

“Let’s go you two, that things’ boggin’.” The boys laughed but quickly moved to join her and walk home together. The next time they visited the sheep was gone but they discovered the location for BHQ and began its construction.

These days, with Tom gone, Claire never came near it she was too busy with her friends, only Rob sought a little solace in their den. The days the three of them spent wasting hours happily together felt like years ago to Rob now and as though they’d happened to another Rob Hamilton.

Rob was happy his sister was so engaged with the world and full of life. He assumed that this meant that she had escaped what he knew he’d inherited from his grandfather and he could feel becoming worse each night, with every surreal dream of events and incidents that couldn’t have happened but his apparently damaged wee brain was trying to convince him had.

The vast reserves of energy he possessed were a result of his not wanting to waste a minute of the time he had in life. He wanted to see as many places, meet as many people and engage in as broad a range of activities as he could before his mental capacity degraded as quickly and completely as he’d been told that his Granda’s had. As these episodes had started to happen in the daytime as well now, when he was wide awake, he knew that his mental health had taken a turn for the worse.

By the time Rob knew his granda the old man was in a residential hospital having long since lost all capacity for reason. As a younger man he’d apparently been huge “built like a brick shit house” his own dad had told Rob. Working as a steelworker, like so many local men, his Granda, at six foot nine inches, not an ounce of fat on him and a tea-total-ler, stuck out like a sore thumb in Lanarkshire the land of the ubiquitous five foot five male. Rob, even at only ten, had taken a stretch in height this past year and was already towering over most of his year group in school. He’d have been happy to have inherited only his build from the old man.

Granda Hamilton had suffered a series of mental breakdowns from his fifties onwards, hallucinating and fantasising events that Rob’s father had told him couldn’t possibly have occurred. Granda had deteriorated to the point where he couldn’t tell what was real from what wasn’t in five short years and been confined to a hospital for his own safety by Rob’s dad. The phrase bi-polar had been used in Rob’s house when discussing his granda.

With his granda always in his mind Rob had vowed to ignore the growing detachment he was feeling and follow his best friends and sisters’ example, throwing himself into as many friendships and experiences as he could regardless of how out of place he may feel.

After finding his parents’ room empty Rob searched the house. He searched every room, every cupboard, drawer, pantry, bathroom and the garden and its shed outside. Rob even clambered up into the small attic. Initially he was looking for his parents but when he decided that they weren’t there to be found he began looking for a note. He didn’t find his parents or a note explaining their absence.

All of their drawers and cupboards still contained all of their belongings. Jewellery and toiletries, shoes and coats, dad’s asthma inhaler, all of it was where it should be. The house was exactly as it had been the night before when they’d all went to bed enjoying the afterglow of a much needed family evening full of affection. Even the car was still outside. The only thing that was missing from the house was them.

They must have had an emergency or something. With no close relatives in the area (apart from their granda) Rob could think of no one to call. Figuring that all would be fine later in the day he woke Claire, explained that their parents had got up and gone out early to work and that they had to get ready and go to school.  When the school day was over and the twins returned home the house still lay empty. It stayed that way for the next day and the day after that.

On Sunday evening Rob called the police. He and Claire left their little house on Liberty Road for the last time that evening. Claire holding a female police officer’s hand, crying for her mum and dad; Rob trailing behind, face of stone, completely certain (as only a child can be) that they had left because of him; because they knew like everyone else did that he wasn’t “right”.  That he didn’t belong.

Chapter Two

Arif

Azam Ali hurried through the busy, familiar streets of Battersea, SW London, gently pushing past and apologising to other commuters in his thick London accent as he did so. Normally, on any other day Azam would happily wander along, content to be carried along with the flow of traffic, usually on the journey between his little newsagents and home, a little ground floor, two bedroom rental. Today however was a not a normal day for Azam.

Sure for millions of others it was just Sunday; just another Sunday in the last days of March. Sundays were for relaxing, for reading the papers (in his case selling them) and having Sunday roast. Most places were closed on a Sunday. Maybe it was special for some people, an anniversary, visiting family or church  or whatever but really, what ever happened on a Sunday?

For Azam this Sunday was a very important day indeed and today he wasn’t walking the two blocks to his shop. Today he was taking public transport. Today, on a Sunday, the second generation of Ali to be born in England was on his way to meet his parents.

…………………………………….

Nae’body’s Hero will be published in December 2012.

In the meantime try Bobby’s Boy, Mark Wilson’s Debut novel where Rob makes a brief cameo. Available now as en Ebook or Paperback.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343918174&sr=8-1

Parallel-The Awakening by Paul A Rice Book Review

This is not a book that I’d normally pick up, being in the genre that it is, but the author seemed a good bloke on twitter so I gave it a bash.

Within 2 chapters, I hated the book. I was confused as to what was happening and felt no real interest in the subject matter, but as I said, I’m in unfamiliar country with this genre and  something kept me reading, (namely the fact that this guy can write)  and boy I’m glad that I did.

Paul Rice brings humour, action, heart, pace and honest to God excitement to the reader with this novel. Paul describes scenes with no nonsense, succinct sentences, giving exactly what you need to paint an image of the scene, setting or character in your mind, and not a lick more.

Paul makes the two main characters in this book, Mike and Ken (never thought I’d read a story with an awesome hero called Kenneth in it, don’t they usually collect stamps or something those Kenneth-types?), real and vulnerable and the confusion they share about their predicament helped push me onwards.
The most visible villain of the piece, Red, is one nasty good ol’ boy, who’d be just at home in the gator-filled swamps of wherever, picking his teeth with the rib of an unidentified animal while gloating about what deep shit you were in. Loved this character. the fight scene with Red and Ken was fantastic and reminded me of the great sort of description you’d find in a Try Denning light sabre duel scene.
My only real beef with this book is that I wanted to know more about the characters, as not much of a backstory was supplied. Having said that, doing so may have affected the perfect pace of the book adversely. I’ll look forward, hopefully to meeting these guys again in later books and finding out a bit more about them.
The ending of the book (which I won’t spoil) was perfect, and as anyone who has read my own book will know is right up my street. Paul executes what could be a let down of an ending masterfully, and the tone is just perfect.
In lesser hands a book of this type in this genre would have lost me very quickly, not so with Paul Rice’s wonderfully book.  Sneaks up and grabs you by the gentleman regions.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005FL2I9K/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

 

Dust and Decay by Jonathan Maberry – Review

Engaging, human, exciting, character-driven, beautifully written. Fine work sir.

The author exposes the fragility of human decency and the simplicity and ease with which people may sink to the depths of evil wonderfully.

Throughout these books Mr Maberry develops his characters in a wonderfully human and believable way, despite the unreal setting and extraordinary trials they face. The obvious villains he presents us with in Charlie pinke-eye’s brood are just the rotten face of the “ordinary” men and women of Benny and Tom’s fenced community, the truest perpetuators of misery in the tale. The analogies in this book between modern developed nations and third world countries are obvious to me, and very enjoyable.

Benny Imura is a potentially unforgettable hero in the making, to rival even his supernaturally cool brother Tom. Benny’s development has been funny, touching, hard to read, and wonderful to see.

I simply cannot wait to meet these characters again, who already feel like old friends, in the third book. When I grow up, Iwantto write like Jonathan Maberry .
Just read it. You won’t regret it, but first pick up Rot & Ruin, the 1st book where you’ll meet Benny and Tom Imura, the lost girl and all the rest.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005H2HOCS/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

Free Chapter from my Debut Novel: Bobby’s Boy

The following excerpt is from Chapter 16 of “Bobby’s Boy” by Mark Wilson  Copyright: Mark Wilson 2012: Tom Kinsella, my main character, has returned home to Scotland and Bellshill for a visit after being on tour with an American rock band. He has his new best friend Donny, an American who needs a break from his bandmate Davey, in tow. you can find a link to the book on Amazon at the top of the page and after the excerpt below.

ALL FEEDBACK APPRECIATED AND WELCOMED

16

Back Home

The tour recommenced and proceeded at a pace that the people involved had expected, but found themselves unprepared for nonetheless. Daily life consisted of pack-up, travel, un-pack, play, pack-up, travel, and repeat. Continuing across the States until the end of January, they then flew to London which would be the starting point of the European Leg, taking them through February and so many countries that they all began to lose track of where they were in a haze of performance, drink, drugs, sex and more travel.

By the time the tour had come to Glasgow, playing King Tut’s at the end of February, Tom had filled dozens of notebooks with material from the tour. He could leave the job that very day and have more than enough with which to write several books. Most of which, in recent weeks, documented the dire downward spiral of Donny and Davey’s working and personal relationship.

The former friends had all but divorced each other, save for the forty five minutes they spent on stage together nightly. Davey constantly complained about Donny when he wasn’t there and verbally attacked him whenever they were in a room together. The jealousy and paranoia emanating from Davey could be felt by everyone, and as he was forcing factions between everyone on the tour.

Frequently Davey could be found in dark corners of the tour bus or venue, whispering bile about Donny into the ears of another of Donny’s, soon to become, former friends. The problem was that it was working. Donny started to cut more and more of a solitary figure backstage and on the tour-bus.

Whatever Davey was saying, it hadn’t reached Tom’s ears so far, but he had overheard Jody shouting at Davey the previous night. “Go fuck yourself man, who gives a flying fuck about that? You’re shooting yourself in the damn foot boy. Donny’s the talent in your fuckin band and you’re forcing him to dump you guys. Wise up you fucking child.”

Obviously Jody had cracked in response to Davey’s attempts at spreading his poison further. Jody did have a point. What exactly did Davey think it would achieve alienating his friend like this? It’d end the tour lifestyle he loved so much for sure.

The guys couldn’t stand to be in the same room together at all anymore by the time the tour reached Glasgow’s King Tut’s. Donny asked if he could have a bit of a timeout at Tom’s home.

“No problem man”, Tom had told him. “But you’ll have to put up with my uncle Alec bending your ear and talking shite about music to you non-stop.” Donny looked at him with wet eyes full of gratitude. “That sounds great Tom. Thanks bro.”

Tom arrived at Alec’s house the day before the King Tut’s gig with Donny in tow. Anal Seepage weren’t joining RATM on stage for the next few shows, so they had three days to themselves before they’d have to catch a flight to San Diego for the next leg of the North American tour.

“What do you think Davey and Mikey are doing?”

“Probably the usual, coke, whiskey and sluts, but who gives a fuck what they’re doing”, Donny sighed.

Tom reckoned that Bellshill must have been a total culture shock to his American friend. They’d taken a taxi from Glasgow city centre, passing through some wild parts of Lanarkshire. Donny’s face had remained impassive, head down, eyes on the carpet of the taxi.

When they reached Bellshill and Community Road, Tom fished his key out of his bag to open the door. Before he put the key in the lock the door swung open, revealing Alec. “Hullo boys, in ye’ come”, Alec roared at them, giving his nephew a punch on the shoulder as he passed. “You’re putting the beef on Tommy, look at the fucking size of ye. Right, in and get the kettle on. Cup ay tea…….half a cup, son.”

Alec turned his attention to Donny, who was still standing in the doorway. “Fuckin hell son, cheer up”, Alec roared before delivering a slap to his shoulder that nearly knocked him back out the door.

Donny relaxed instantly in response to Alec’s easy friendliness, and despite the apparent gruffness of his friend’s Uncle, smiled broadly at him. “Yessir.”

Alec turned to Tom, “Sir? Jist like on the telly. Should’ve fucking had you calling me sir all these years baw-jaws.”

Tom rolled his eyes, “Right ye are Alec, ye’ve more chance of me calling ye Jesus.”

Donny watched the exchange, and the hugs between the two men, one he called his friend and the other he’d only just met. He felt instantly at home. Donny closed the door in response to Alec’s “Yer letting the fuckin heat out.” Donny gave a silent thank you for this respite, and for the first time in months, felt safe and wanted.

Tom and Donny made fine use of their short time off from tour, visiting Tom’s friends, places he loved (mostly music venues and cinemas) and relaxing in local bars. Donny stuck out like a sore thumb in Bellshill with his height, accent and, now once again, cheery, disposition. To be fair, Tom felt that he himself was just as mis-matched at times in Bellshill, but was relieved to be home for a few days.

Familiar faces came and went from their table in the lounge of Franklyn’s Bar where the boys had virtually camped out for the remainder of their first day in town after touring round Lanarkshire and Glasgow. Alec had spread the word that Tom was in town, and a steady stream of old friends had appeared throughout the day to hear his stories and share their own. It was great to hear how everyone was doing, and did Tom’s spirit good to catch up with these people he hadn’t realised that he’d missed so much.

Bellshill seemed smaller than ever to him now, but it still refreshed his tired soul and regenerated him in the same way that it had all those years ago when he returned here from Blackwood to live with Alec. Tom hadn’t appreciated quite how tired he’d been until he found himself relaxing in the company of people who’d known him his whole life, and he them. His people, who asked nothing of him, but to just be himself.

Donny coped well with the accent and the dialogue, joining conversations easily and making the pub roar with laughter when repeating Scots phrases like “Haw, fanny-baws” or “Ye want yer hole?” at the request of some of the guys. He spat these words out in a kind of half-American/Jamaican/Irish bastard-ism of the intended phrase that was irresistibly funny, and the requests kept on coming for an hour or more. Tom watched his friends with pride. The locals, so welcoming to a foreigner just as he’d expected of them and Donny, engaging with everyone happily and more relaxed than Tom had seen him in months. This visit had been a good idea and had lifted the spirits of both him and Donny.

Over the next couple of days Tom found, despite invitations to go here or there with him and Cathy that Donny seemed content to give them their space and spend a bit of time with Alec, who had taken to Donny with gusto, and vice versa. The two men talked incessantly about music, movies and pop-culture and appeared to have known each other for years. Once again, Tom was proud of how readily his Uncle had accepted a new face in his life, as he had done also with Cathy.

Alec genuinely enjoyed the company of someone new who had something to say for himself. The older man was clearly invigorated by the chance to converse with someone who appreciated the same things as he did, but viewed them from a different era and perspective.

Tom returned home late on their last evening in Scotland, dropped into his chair with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, sighing as he relaxed into the familiarity of the chair, room and conversation. He quickly caught up with the ongoing discussion on great movie villains between Alec and Donny, both men a bit drunk by now.

Donny reckoned that Robert Mitchum’s Max Cady in the original Cape Fear was the most fearsome. Donny described Mitchum skillfully terrifying the life out of the audience in his stalking, ‘rapey-but charming’ demeanor.

Alec told him to get fucked. “Robert Mitchum was a scary big cunt right enough Donny, but your man Anthony Hopkins pishes all over him. Understated, creepy, highly intelligent, truly chilling auld monster, so Hannibal Lecter was son.”

Tom laughed at the look on Donny’s face. He reckoned that Donny caught about seventy percent of what Alec had said, which wasn’t bad where Alec was concerned.

“You’re both wrong”, Tom told them.

“Is that right smart-arse? Let’s hear it then, golden-baws. What half-arsed, shitey comic-book pish made you shit your frilly knickers? Fucking daft Vader, I suppose?”

Donny continued to wipe his tears of laughter away, while Tom leaned back into his chair and took a long slow drag on his Marlborough, enjoying making Alec wait.

“Na, Vader’s a prick, here’s the guy I’d fear.” He leaned into his uncle, waiting again until Alec leaned to him too. Tom lowered his voice, before continuing.

“I’ve never seen a properly scary villain who ticked all the boxes for me, but if I made a movie, here’s what he’d be…..Completely fucking normal, wimp-ish even, with slicked down black hair in a side-parting, overly- large and sad-looking  oval eyes, wee, thin pencil moustache, and always dressed in golf clothes. He’d look a bit like an accountant from the fifties.”

“Get tae fuck”, interrupted Alec, “he’s supposed tae be a scary bastard. A terrifying predator, no your auld English teacher fae school. Mind that cunt wi’ the ears on him Tommy?”

Tom laughed hard, and then leaned back in to continue. “He’d be a quiet man Alec, but with means. He’d shy away from crowds, but find release in torturing small animals. This guy wouldn’t be swimming about, shirt off like that big fanny Mitchum, and he wouldn’t be a pensioner in a fucking dug’s muzzle, spouting half-arsed philosophical shite about rolling birds to some lassie daft enough to entertain his pish. This guy would be still as a lake, always calm, never ruffled or excited or displaying any emotion.”

Alec snorted out a derisory plume of smoke from his nostrils. “Sounds like a right boring bastard, that’ll pull in the crowds having a fucking mannequin for the bad guy. Oh look, he’s sitting there doing fuck-all.”

Tom ignored him and Donny’s laughing. Donny was having trouble sitting up.

“My guy’s the kind of sick freak who only feels his blood stir when people die on a massive scale. He’s the guy that’d be watching earthquakes or tsunamis killing millions on TV, masturbating with a boxing glove and a handful of thinly sliced deli-meat, screaming the mantra “take it you fucking slags” as his soundtrack to death.

Alec looked at his nephew, one eyebrow raised. “You’re no fuckin right in the heid, scared of a fuckin librarian”. He shook his head and changed the subject. “So, what time are you boys away tomorrow then?” He already knew, but Tom suspected it was a good excuse for him to get off to bed under the guise of “I’ll no keep you two up, then.”

Donny beat him to it, “We’re going down to Manchester on Tom’s bike first thing, and he’s leaving it at his friends’ house.”

Alec laughed loudly. “If you’re getting on the back of his bike son, you better make sure you’ve some clean fucking pants waiting for ye’ at the other end.”

Donny got up from the couch laughing, and made it to the door before turning his head back to the room. ”You guys are so lucky to have each other, I’m off to bed, see you in the morning. Thanks Alec.”

“What’s he thanking you for uncle Alec?” Tom asked as Donny’s footsteps retreated upstairs.

“Och, nothing really, I’ll tell you later son…..You gonny tell me what happened with Cathy tonight?”

Fucking Alec, he always knew.

“Aye, I’d like that, if that’s ok?”

“Fire away son.”

Tom explained that in the last few days he and Cathy had been a bit “off” with each other. They’d argued several times on the phone over the last few weeks and, rather than sorting it out in person, seeing each other had seemed to amplify the problem. Tom embarrassedly explained to Alec that he’d been having a hard time hearing about all the people in Cathy’s life. Guys in particular. He felt that she was moving further and further away from him and every time she spoke about coffee with this one, or study with that one, Tom would go into a silent sulk, followed by questions, then accusations.

He couldn’t seem to keep his mouth shut, or stop torturing himself with mental images of what he imagined her to be up to with God knows who, so far away from him. It’s not something he had ever suffered from before, jealousy, but it had him in it’s grip firmly now. Worse still, it had brought along its mates, mistrust and paranoia, to join the party. It didn’t matter how many times he told himself to shut the fuck up, told himself that she would never, had never, that she loved him. His mouth just had to ask, to accuse. He knew that his actions sooner or later would either make his fears a reality when Cathy got fed up and decided to do what she was being accused of, or those same baseless accusations would result in her kicking him into touch. He couldn’t lose her, but couldn’t stop himself from thinking those twisted things. His brain wouldn’t obey him, betraying him instead with an unwanted slideshow of his worst fears.

Alec listened impassively. No comments like, “ya stupid wee arsehole” or “for fuck’s sake, Tommy” escaped his lips. Rather, he stood up, held his nephew close for a few moments and gently told him “Tom, you need to find out what’s making you behave like this, deal with it and stop acting so possessively towards her. She’s not a girl you want tae lose. And Tom….. do it soon. Cathy won’t put up with your shite for long. And nor should she.”

Tom’s tear-filled eyes looked at his uncle. He asked him” How Alec? I’m desperate to, but I don’t know how.”

Alec sighed, “I don’t know either son.”

You can buy Bobby’s Boy on Amazon UK here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1335641028&sr=1-1

or in the US here:

http://www.amazon.com/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=lp_B007OIGYJW_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335641130&sr=1-1

Irvine Welsh and Snow Patrol F@cked It Up

I’m just so excited about the stage we have reached in terms of the music and literature industry in Britain right now. We’re about to hit a bubble where a massive explosion of new, exciting, meaningful and mind-blowingly energetic music and novels are about to emerge; clearing out the bland pish we are currently drowning in. Even the odd meaningful movie with a heart is sneaking through. Chronicle for example.

Don’t believe me? I’m a man in the know.

All my life, I’ve had a peculiar “affliction”. The technical name for it is synesthesia. Essentially it means that sounds in general, and music in particular, appear in my mind’s eye as colours. These are very specific and distinct to what each song or voice is conveying emotionally for me. As well as this, I love books and movies also. Imagine the soundtrack to a movie enhanced by flowing, swaying and splashing colours to accompany the music and words. Imagine the colour that flows from the words on a page when spoken aloud.

Now, how does this give me insight into the shifting landscape of our music and book industry? Well, for about 5 years now the British music industry in particular has been a very beige place to be in. The seemingly endless conveyer belt of X-Factor puppets and reformation of man-bands and Buble’s of the world have left the music scene dry, boring and colour-less. Where’s the excitement? Where are the songs and albums that you can identify with, laugh with, be outraged with, or that make you want to go f@cking nuts? Which particular artists are going to define the teen of today? The Script? The Wanted? JLS? Take-That? Nothing wrong with any of these acts, certainly there’s a lot worse around, but to my ears (and eyes) it’s music to chat to; music to have “ isn’t this civilised?” dinner parties to; but mostly, music to ignore.

Just look at Snow Patrol. This group actually produced some decent and innovative songs in their early days. Now? They’re slaves to their record company’s demands for formulaic coffee table soft rock ballads. They’ve gone from being a battered old VW van, full of charisma, tales to tell and character to becoming a 5 star safety rated Renault Megane. Don’t get me started on those bastards, Nickleback!

This Snow Patrol record is shite

The literary world is just as bad and just as beige. Irvine Welsh came along and redefined everything for me about how a book could be formatted and written, or a tale told. Trainspotting was a revelation; Glue was arguably his finest moment. Everything else? A copy of a copy. Each piece written to emulate what made his early work so vibrant, but never quite recapturing the hunger and passion of those works. Irv, please, don’t keep writing what you think the audience wants; rather give us your best, straight from your black heart. I miss Juice Terry, Begbie and the boys, but don’t trot them out like well-worn slippers for a tired re-enactment or two, put some good old-fashioned Welsh spunk in their stories or don’t bother yer arse.

I could list all day the formulaic strategy that writers have adopted and name and shame those c@nts, but why bother? You know how you are; Grisham, Cornwell, Patterson, Harris, Ludlum and your pals. The comparison between these “industries” is obvious to anyone who loves music, books and movies. The “big 6” have told us who and what we “want” to read for long enough.

Just as music is emerging (hopefully soon) from an age where the bean-counters and committees decide and dictate what we listen to, read or watch, so too is the literary world. Self-publishing without a doubt will bring its problems: poorly written, poorly edited or written to a formula John Locke-type “novels” etc. However with that comes the freedom of being able to publish the stories we want to tell when we want to tell them. To be able to write and distribute the very best words straight from our hearts to (hopefully) our audience. Fine times are ahead indeed.

Here’s the Brucie-Bonus though. Every so often when music or film or literature gets to its lowest point a monster of a group or completely new sound, or a new voice, director, writer or visionary comes along and inspires change of immense proportions. Guys like John Niven are starting to emerge and that suits me just fine Times of austerity and poverty also historically produce musicians, writers and artists who are hungry for change and have a message to force into the public consciousness.. Times are very tough at present.

Revolution is on its way, praise the Lord.

Good times are a comin’.

My debut novel, “Bobby’s Boy” is available now on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335467068&sr=1-1

 

 

Are Indie-Authors the Whores of Social Media?

Are Indie-Authors the Whores of Social Media?

I’m beginning to think we are you know.

Since the very day I stepped into the world of self-publishing/e-publishing/Indie-publishing, whatever, and published my short-story collection “Paddy’s Daddy”, followed by my full length novel “Bobby’s Boy”, I’ve had my metaphorical arse in the air on twitter (along with every other indie-author) in an effort to attract readers. Mostly I attract other authors, trying to attract readers.

Tweet, retweet, reply; lather, rinse repeat; has become the currency of the indie author. We (the authors) have become the modern day equivalent of the ancient tradition where the poor soul would sit outside the temple reciting “Alms for the blind?” Either that or we’re the tweet equivalent of fluorescent-wearing chuggers on the high street, chasing some poor bastard down the road for a couple of quid royalty, only when we catch them, they’re one of us, and so we gather number. The twitter-sphere is saturated with link-posting authors, in the desperate and futile act of pimping their books, ultimately to each other.

I'll retweet your brains out if you retweet me first

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Indie publishing should have empowered us, instead we chase readers and each other in circles. We sit with a wee sign up saying “buy a book from X, his writing’s great, just ask him, he’s over there. Oh, and he’ll tell you the same about my book, so come back here when you’ve seen him. What’s that? You’re a writer? well, c’mere and I’ll retweet you then, but back of the queue first.

I’m not against a bit of mutual promotion, but it’s so constant, so ubiquitous, so time-consuming and soul destroying and so unimaginative.

Link after link, after link. “My book’s free, mine’s only 99 cents, mines is a series, etc”. It’s become such a clichéd strategy, but it seems that we are all stuck in the cycle because the pioneers of self-publishing, or dickhead profiteers like John Locke, say it’s how it’s done. Guys like Steven Lewis (@Rule17) are a rare and welcome exception, offering much in the way of valid, constructive and useful advice on self-publishing.

I say no.

I say rediscover the creative spark that so easily comes when you write and apply it to your promo on twitter or any other social media. No more links (save for the one in your profile. That’s plenty). Instead, let’s have honest to goodness thoughts about life, books, movies, music, the news, whatever floats your boat. People know you’re an author, its’ right there in your profile, if they like you they’ll go check out your website anyway.

Engage with your “followers”. Retweet away ‘til your hearts’ content, but pass on fun things people say or do. Post ridiculous pics of yourself, have a conversation, by Christ have some fun! Stop self-promoting under the umbrella of promoting others. We’re not buying each others’ books, but we’re tweeting and retweeting the same tired links around each other. Put those creative thoughts out there in conversation. Engage your followers and they just might become readers.

I’m in the process of launching my third book. This last year I’ve done Speeches at a variety of venues on a range of topics including writing. I’ve been on blog tours, promo interviews, been in several newspapers several times. I’ve handed out flyers and dozens of other strategies. None of this makes much difference.

Here’s what I’ve found makes a significant and recurring difference in sales:
Keep writing quality stories, get them edited well and get a professional cover. Give your reader value.

Target the right categories and readers. Do your research on keywords and phrases and place your book in the right shop window.

Don’t rely on social media. Less than 0.01% of this you pester will actually click on your link to your book. Only a small fraction of those will actually buy.

Look at the long game. Your book, if it’s well written, will be there forever, build momentum based on real readers feedback and reviews an your developing skill as a writer. Don’t expect continued and sustained sales from the tweet retweet jerk-circle. It’s a self-limiting and ultimately self-sabotaging type of promotion.

Please fellow writers; let’s stop being the biggest spam source in the whole twitter-sphere. Rely on your blogs, websites and most of all, novels to do the selling and just enjoy the social media for what it was intended. Being sociable.

Or maybe I’m missing something and the “feeling like a social media hoor” phase I’m going through will pass.

Either way please do buy my book……*cough* here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1334424320&sr=1-1

How I Self-Published: Part 1

How I Self-Published: Part 1 or: Gavin Bain made me do it!

Self- Publishing or Traditional? 

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a series of articles detailing the process I’ve gone through, and am still learning my way through, on the route to becoming a self-published, eBook author and promoting my books. It’s been a steep learning curve and I’ve made some rookie mistakes along the way (which I’m hoping to save you the time of having to correct) but also the most fun I’ve had working…ever.

All comments and shared experiences more than welcome. Anyway, here’s Part 1:

Gavin Bain made me do it!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. During the process of writing my debut novel, “Bobby’s Boy” I went back and forward in my decision as to whether engage in the process of wooing an agent/publisher. When I started writing, I firmly stood in the self-publish camp. As I progressed in the book, I researched the industry more and more. Royalties, advances, agents, services performed by the publishing house and or the agent, big or small publisher? There was and is a lot to learn. I did weeks of research, seeking out those agents and publishers (mostly Indie) whom I thought would like me and my book, and whom I thought I’d like to work with, and could subsequently stomach whoring myself around. 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 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. 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 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 just don’t understand this mentallity 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 payers opinion). It also seems like a goood way of allowing the author the privelage and means to write full-time. For me, its a scary prospect. An advance simply means that you’re in debt to the issuer unti 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.

Agents: Whilst there are of course many good quality agebnts, who work hard for their clients, lets 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 (brrr) or prestige of publishing house over creative control or effective care from the publisher. Your agency is a business, the more money(debt) they get for you, the more money they themselves make, and that is their primary objective.

I also dislike that most publishers now only take submissions from those who have an agent. It’s like a whole level of the indusrty exists as a vetting and an introductory service. Crazy

Secondly, they will take around 15% of your money, which is already a very small percentage (somewhere between 7 -15%) 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 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.

For me it was a no-brainer, but still, a small part of me, the one that’s low on self-esteem and thinks everything I write is shite, told me that I needed the recognition from an agent or publisher that my book was “good”.  I ignored that needy little shite-version of me, and ploughed on, buoyed by the research I’d done into the standard of eBooks out there. As far as I could see, my 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).

I had a chat with a friend of mine, Gavin Bain. Gavin is one of those rare people (author, musician, rapper, and singer) who have had extensive experience of not only the music business, but the book business (the music biz with posh accents according to Gav) also. After advice from Gav, stories of mis-handling, missed opportunities and loss of creative control from Gav and several other writers, I decided that my initial, gut, reaction to self-publish was the correct one.

As the lovely Edith Piaf says: “je ne regrette rien” (so far)

Coming In Part 2: The publishing process.

You can find my debut novel “Bobby’s Boy” at the links below. Please come join me on twitter @markwilsonbooks

UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334080079&sr=1-1

US:

http://www.amazon.com/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334080132&sr=1-1

Look up Gav’s band at: www.hopelessheroic.com

John Locke=Simon Cowell

I spent an hour this morning reading John Locke’s “How I did” book. An hour was pretty much all it took to complete the book. Three minutes was all it took for me to decide that this guy nicely represents everything that’s wrong about the publishing industry (and to this man, industry is the keyword) in one self-satisfied, smug and number-crunching little package.

For those that don’t know of Mr L, he sold one million ebooks in five months. Ask him, he’ll tell you. He responds to any and every email dontcha know? He also loves and values each one of them. He should, he spent hundred of hours seeking them out and convincing them to buy his books with some excellent marketing and promo sneakery.

Whilst there are some good tips inside the books pages (many of which you’ll be able to find online for yourself), Mr L spends most of his time telling us about formulas, and strategies for writing. He (like the seasoned gambler) has, he believes, developed his “sure system” for successfully selling thousands of books. Mr L spends hours constructing the perfect blog, containing all the right emotions, themes and keywords to bring you to his book. Very clever (and effective too it seems) but whatever happened to writing because you just had to? Writing because there was something inside that needed to come out?

Not Mr L’s style. Rather, he targets people, deciding what type of beings they are, what they like, eat, dress in, watch at the cinema, and writes specifically for the most common denominator. He seeks out or manufactures the common ground between he and them, between his novels and them. He “gives people what they want” constructing scenes and character traits from a checklist of likes and attributes of what he believes people need or want in a book.

Mr L does not write from the heart. He has no great story to share or demons to exorcise with his work. He doesn’ t even really seem to seek to entertain people, just keep them coming back for what he’s calculated that they want from a book. Safe, predictable and familiar characters, written for a bottom line rather than for his audience’s pleasure. To be fair, it seems to work for him, if you measure success the way that Mr L seems to. In Numbers. In Sales. In volume of books, rather than quality.

Like the man himself Mr Simon Cowell, Mr L pores over data, figures, reviews, feedback and focus groups, assessing, will this strike the right note? Will my targets buy into this? Is it close enough to my “formula” so as to not alienate my core readers? Mr L refers to his books as employees, little soldiers lined up working day and night for him. Simon Cowell, with his endless stream of fame-hungry media-fodder would be proud and envious.

It’s sad to see, especially now at what may just be the beginning of a new era for Indie-Authors, a man like Mr Locke reducing the potential for good, passionate writers to make their mark by pishing in the literary waters with this data-driven soulless approach to writing. The man is a shrewd and calculating businessman first, a profiteer second, and a mildly entertaining writer (who seems to hate writing) third.

The mainstream music we listen to is written, manufactured and promoted by businessmen who care nothing for the art or the artists that they use up so readily and cast aside; onto the next. Music that the masses consume, written to a “formula” and a budget, with little or no input from anyone who cares what it sounds like, conveys or evokes in the listener. They shit it out and laugh as we scoff it down and fill their coffers, marvelling at their own skill in deducing exactly what we want.

Authors have a chance, right now, to break the traditional stranglehold and power that the big publishers and literary agents have over our original ideas, creativeness and yes, earnings. We have the opportunity to produce our very finest work and present it the way that we believe it should be, not diluted down and gelded by a committee of suits, who “know” what the public want.

In my view, books should never be written in this kind of formulaic and targeted way, but delivered from the authors’ imagination and heart onto the page. Polished and packaged up and yes marketed and promoted, but never designed to appeal to this demographic or that emotion. It is a business, writing and selling books, but its a privilege as well.

I hope that John Locke’s breed don’t do to the book industry what the suits in power in the music industry have done. Time will tell.