The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost – Story Extract

Here is another extract from my dramatic little book that explores relationships, teen angst and mental health. I hope that you find this part somewhat intriguing.

The weather seemed a lot more bleak the next day. I took the dog for a walk after dropping Max off at school. I had called work and taken a day off because I wanted to clear my head and they owed me a few days so it really made no difference anyway. I could not stop thinking about the mysterious death of Alex’s wife or the horrid reality of my own sinking marriage. It was a train wreck. It had been for quite some time. After these recent events it seemed to have come to the point where I had to really think carefully about my future, and how that future could impact on Max. In these situations, the only person I could turn to was my brother, Jamie. He would listen to me rant and not judge me but he would also make me see sense. As I found myself edging towards his street, I suddenly had the urge to direct message the teacher again. I could not help myself. ‘Hi, please keep an eye on Max for me. Thanks. Matt.’ I left it at that but hoped he would at least give me an update on how the boy was doing at school. It was only yesterday that Max was in a fight on stage, and they still had another performance of their play this afternoon. His mum swore on her mother’s life that she would go to this show, but I knew he was not bothered either way as he was used to no shows when it came to her.

 

The wind was howling now and really blowing me about, causing the dog to get excited and my hair to break through the crust of fixing gel and start flailing around wildly. I knew I should have bought a ‘Super-hold’ version of gel rather than the light touch one. Aesthetics went out of the window for a minute as I tried to reclaim my balance. I had lost concentration for a second and walked over a hole in the footpath, stumbling slightly and letting go of the dog lead, momentarily. The stupid dog legged it at his first chance. He was always a runner. I cannot believe I had let go so quickly. Fego was gone in an instance and now I would spend the afternoon trying to hunt him down once more. Could this day get any better? I started to turn back for the car, when a friendly face appeared in a vehicle which had pulled up beside me. It was Nicole, my cousin, and she was eager to tell me that she had just seen what she thought was my dog racing down the high street. I hopped into her Mercedes and we did a three sixty. The dog was my mission but my head was telling me to offload a bit to Nicole while I had the opportunity. The only problem is, she would judge me. She had always seen the good in everyone. She would not make it easy for such a conversation. I decided to rein it in and chat about the suicide. A safer topic, ironically.

 

Nicole had to have the window open as we drove, which to me seemed crazy, as not only did it make it very cold inside that car, but it made it even harder to hold a meaningful conversation over the howling noise of the encroaching wind. Her hair swept back freely as we negotiated several bends in the street and she had always got her radio on in the background. This meant I had to literally yell whatever I was going to say to her out loud.

She looked carefree as she drove.

‘So how did Fego get away from you this time?’ She shouted.

‘I fell over a broken bit of kerb.’

‘I swear he was just round here about five minutes ago.’

‘He will come home eventually. He usually manages to.’

‘You seem like something else is puzzling you,’ she screamed happily.

‘Well yeah, this whole suicide thing. It doesn’t make any sense. It just all of a sudden…’

‘I know what you mean,’ she interrupted mid-sentence, ‘but you know she was never really happy. Their marriage was probably a sham.’

‘What makes you think this?’ Now my curiosity was growing exponentially.

Nicole took a moment to clear her thoughts and compose herself before she replied.

‘Are you kidding? She was a nervous wreck.’

‘How do you know? I mean I never really noticed anything unusual,’ I shouted back doubtfully.

Nicole slammed on the breaks and pulled into a little lay-by. She turned off the engine and wound up the window. I could tell she was more concerned about people hearing this part but I could see no sign of anyone around us. She moved her head closer to me and took a deep breath.

‘You are not exactly the observant type, cous!’ she snapped.

‘What do you mean?’ I replied with a defensive whine.

‘You spend your whole life wrapped up in a bubble. Wrapped up in yourself and your world.’

‘How dare you! I have never done anything to cheese you off. I notice stuff!’

‘But you don’t! You go from place to place. You have earphones in most of the time. You unplug yourself from what is really going on on your own doorstep. I mean I am not trying to upset you but wake up and smell the coffee.’

AD – Thank you for checking it out. There is a link to the book below if you feel like reading more. For an extract of another shorter story, click here.

Books I Am Loving

People are constantly recommending books to me and I am one of those people who likes to try different books all of the time. This means that I usually end up reading several books at a time. I love doing this because it means I have a choice. At bedtime I may feel like a drama or biography and in the morning a thriller may meet my needs.

As someone who started as a book blogger, I wanted to update my current reading choices as I am totally enjoying the stories and non-fiction books that I am right in the middle of at the moment. It may sound odd that I like to have several books on the go but that is just the way I operate. Here are a couple of my current faves.

Flat Share – Beth O’Leary

A work colleague lent me this book and couldn’t speak highly enough of it. She said it was packed with short chapters and is really engaging. So I gratefully took it home and then completely forgot about it for six months. Finally I got round to starting it just before Christmas and I wish I could read all of Beth’s books at once. Her style is fantastic!

Flipping between chapters by Leon, who works as a medic, and Tiffy, who works in publishing, this entertaining book covers an interesting predicament. Imagine having the option of a cheap flat in London which is fully furnished and provides a perfect living solution after a break up. Leon’s flat has one peculiar twist. There is just one bed. Leon happens to sleep there during the day and Tiffy gets the flat(and bed) to herself at night time. Odd but brilliant!

Three Wishes – Liane Moriarty

I am getting towards the end of this masterpiece. Liane never lets me down with her contemporary dramas. She is a massive inspiration for me as a fledgling author. Following some episodes in the life of three thirty something triplets living in Sydney, this story is amusing and captivating.

The sisters have divorced parents who still play a big role in their lives. We see flashbacks to the time when their parents split, spliced amongst chapters about modern events, including one husband’s affair, another’s attempt to keep a new relationship with a locksmith going and the third’s challenges relating to becoming a step mother.

Liane uses the close third person to follow each woman closely as they go through a personal struggle or quandary. It is not a dark story and Liane regularly makes comical observations about modern life. Her clever way with words and short chapters (my favourite kind of chapters) make for a fun, easy to follow story which will one day be either a movie or TV series. Every single one of her books has been bought by Hollywood.

Thank you for taking the time to read my bookish post. For a more detailed book review check this out. Please also consider following my blog for future similar content. It is always brilliant to read the thoughts of other readers and compare books. I especially enjoy finding out about new authors that are gaining popularity.

Heartstopper – Review

As a lover of the work of Alice Oseman, the time had come for me to try one of her books that began as a WebComic. Part one of ‘Heartstopper’ is a colourful book that explores the beginnings of an LGBTQ relationship which is now going to be played out in a Netflix show.

Having already read her novella, ‘Nick and Charlie’, I was already familiar with these teenage characters and their intriguing dynamic. ‘Heartstopper’ turned out to be a well drawn comic that showed how neurotic Charlie and curious Nick first crossed paths at school. Nick was a protective friend who soon discovered a strange connection with Charlie and Alice wrote a story which explored their journey sensitively.

In a Nutshell

Charlie Spring is a seventeen year old geek (I consider a geek to be a positive term as I am one myself) who is openly gay and has a secret arrangement with a guy called Ben (who is very closeted, apparently). There is no love in this relationship and Charlie is starting to realise how used he has become.

Nick Nelson comes onto his radar as a very ‘straight-acting’ 18 year old who is very much into Rugby and seems to fit into the right kind of crowds. To Charlie’s surprise, Nick is not quite so predictable and actually shows signs of wanting to be close friends with him.

The rest is for you to discover in this brilliant LGBT+ story of attraction, confusion and general awkwardness. It is a sweet romance that is modern and involves really relatable characters.

Thoughts

Having watched an interview with the author, I realised that this book began as instalments of regular tumblr comic strips, with Alice adding up to ten pages every couple of weeks. Set in England, I could relate to the surroundings and situations and was impressed by the smooth flow of the narrative. It was easy to empathise with Charlie and his anxiety about himself. Similarly, Nick came across as very realistic, being a popular guy feeling uncertain about his feelings, yet trying to keep up appearances.

The story was fun, sweet and thought-provoking and shows just how clever Alice is at writing realistic YA content. I will certainly be reading the next few books in the series as I want to know how things played out for the leads. If you like YA books then this one is a very easy read with lots of pictures and a good coverage of LGBTQ issues.

Heartstopper Rating : 5 stars

I hope that you enjoyed my brief Heartstopper review and will consider following my little blog. If you want to read about more YA books that I enjoyed, click here.