My Brand NEW Novel

I am so proud of this, my first full novel.

This week my first ever YA mystery novel comes out and I am so excited. Following on from the short novella, ‘The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost,’ which tested out my writing skills, I am delighted to see this passion project finally come to fruition.

Since writing this book I have established my little blog and so am shamelessly promoting my story here. Why ever not? I hope that you will check out the sample and consider pre-ordering my novel. If it is not your cup of tea, then perhaps I could ask you to drop a cheeky blog comment instead.

Here goes: An Extract From ‘Being Watched’.

“We’re off to Uni mate,” he said, breaking the silent reflection.

“I know. I need to double check the results as I still can’t believe I got an A in English.”

“Wonder how everyone else did.” Max continued.

“We will have to keep our eye on their statuses. I do hope Siobhan got what she had to get in order to make it to UCL.”

“I’ve just seen Martha’s status and she didn’t quite get what she wanted but is happy with her second choice of Uni,” said Max as he scrolled through timelines and checked a multitude of social media sites.

“I have texted Siobhan but she hasn’t got round to replying yet. She might even still be in bed,” I said, knowing that we had both been up later last night and she was well known for liking a good lay in.

Max changed the subject. He had become quite fixated on one of the pictures on the wall. It hung just above the bar area and I had never noticed it before. Perhaps it just hadn’t caught my eye up until now. But it sure as hell had caught Max’s.

“That picture is creepy. I mean it just looks so dark. All the other ones are bright and colourful but that one is murky and weird. What do you think?”

I turned around and tried to focus on it, but it took a while as it seemed misty and sort of out of focus itself. I gasped as I realised that the dark building surrounded by fields and trees had that familiar shape. Those strange pointed bits on the roof meant that I immediately recognised it. I quickly found myself walking over to it for closer examination. It was odd that it seemed to bend and muddle as I approached it. It was definitely a large house in the country, but had I misread it? I took a much closer look at the driveway and was taken aback to see that two people were standing there, with their bikes strewn nearby.

“That picture is of me and Siobhan. It’s that same messed up house. It is an aerial photo of us when we went round to pick up Siob’s scarf. Come and have a look!”

Max sped over and confirmed that it did look like it could be us. We were small in the photo but the bikes looked like ours and I was clearly wearing my blue coat while Siobhan had her red jacket and she was definitely picking up the bright blue scarf at the exact moment that the photo was taken.

I saw the owner, Lilly, coming past and called out to her.

“Hey, how long have you had this picture?” I asked politely.

“Oh. This old thing. Someone donated it recently when they saw that we had a hook with no picture on. It filled a gap, that’s for sure,” she replied with her usual lovely manner.

“Do you know what it is a picture of?” Max asked.

“No idea. Just think it looks interesting and unique.”

“Kind of creepy though, don’t you reckon?” I continued.

“We like quirky. The girl who brought it in was lovely but a little peculiar. I just felt it added to the character of the place. Quite a few people have commented on how mysterious it is.”

I decided I might as well ask more about the girl.

“You didn’t know the girl? Did she have a tattoo on the back of her hand?”

“Not sure really. I just remember she had jet black hair flowing behind her back. I remember wishing my hair looked that good.”

“Thanks anyway,” Max said, tugging at me to stop interrogating the busy lady any longer.

“You’re welcome. And I trust your exams went well, given the feisty meal you just ate.”

“Yes! Brilliant!” I said as I returned to the table and finished off the potatoes, thinking carefully about the significance of what just happened. Max looked at me with frustration.

“What does all this mean? I mean this is getting out of control.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fathers, The Sons and The Anxious Ghost – Book Extract

As I am currently having a little break in Scotland, I decided that today I would share a brief snippet from my first published book. This story of three families was written four years ago and came out in 2019. I am still proud of it because it covers so many different topics in just a hundred and two pages. Hopefully you will find the extract intriguing.

How could I keep everything as normal as possible? How could I hold my head up high? Nothing made any sense to me anymore. I was overwhelmed, bewildered and out of painkillers. My head pounded slowly as it had for the past ten hours. A night spent at my mum’s house was needed but I really ought to go back there, to the home I had shared with Michelle. My heart was sat throbbing gently in the soles of my shoes. My ears quietly rang. My nose ran tirelessly. I felt as though reality had subsided and everything was a mix between chaos and sublime fantasy. My children needed me. No doubt about that. But what could I say? What should I do? Who could I turn to? Why didn’t I see any of this coming? I was not one to cry but tears fell out of my eyes like rain from an overloaded storm cloud suddenly offloading. Like daggers, they seemed to cut across my cheeks and dig into my jaw, carving faint yet permanent etchings across my face and staining me forever like ageing creams dissolving the past and dripping poignantly onto the floor as if flooding and muddying the future and any chance of escape.

I had put a few clothes in a bag last night and got out of there as the police had urged me to. They wanted to examine the house and take finger prints and find out exactly what she did. I had accidentally taken her jumper with me. As I picked it out of the bag I thought about the last time I had seen her in it. Just the other evening. She had been cooking salmon and I recalled her taking it off because she said it stank of fish. I sniffed it now and it was clean and fragrant. It reminded me of spring and the strolls we took through the hills. My heart sank back down into those soles and I gathered myself together. My kids were stood either side of me as they saw me caress her jumper. They leant into my shoulders and we stood in silence, looking out of the window, reflecting quietly.

I gathered up their stuff and we got in the car quickly. My mum asked if I would be alright on the road driving in this state. I tried to make her believe that I was capable and I started to drive off, without looking over my shoulder. I needed to face up to this. As I drove quite slowly through the mainly car-less roads, the usual warmth associated with going home did not reassemble and I was left feeling confused, uncomfortable and out of place. I noticed a glazed look in Alfie’s eyes and the sparkle of partly evaporated tears chalked into his face. I could not determine the way Tess felt exactly as she looked quite serious yet I sometimes thought I could see the beginnings of a smile, especially as we passed some of our favourite haunts, like the park, the duck pond and the place where she went to dancing lessons.

I prayed to a god that I had never really believed in that she might get through this in one piece and have nothing but fond memories of her wonderful mother. Little did I know this day was going to resonate with her more strongly than anyone else. Alfie was the one with mixed emotions, so I largely anticipated him suffering greatly.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this small extract and hope that for some of you it grabbed your interest enough to maybe check out the book. For a recent book review that I did, have a look at my article about Exciting Times.

Short Dates – My Book Extract

Today I wanted to give some new life to my original short stories from 2018. My very first story was about a guy stuck in a snow drift who came across a potential romance. From there I went on to build a book of short stories of varying length. This is an extract from my shortest story, about parenting.

Revisiting

My head still ached from two nights ago but I was happy to get up and spend the day with her. Sizzling bacon greeted me when I got downstairs and mum seemed attentive as she poured me a coffee and suggested I take a few paracetamol.

‘How does it feel to be an adult?’ she asked.

‘Same really,’ I replied honestly.

‘Two day hangover, haha. Well today we can just relax and see some wild animals up close.’

‘Yeh, I haven’t been to the zoo since I was little.’

‘I remember taking you when you were six.’

 

On the road, mum played my favourite music and I was able to chill out and let the world pass me by. The sun was striking through the wispy clouds in shards and mum seemed happy driving but slightly quieter than usual. It took me back to all those occasions when, as a child, she had ferried me around to cubs, from football matches and between friends’ houses. She had always been there for me and never let me down. We always had a day close to my birthday when it was just me and her, mother and son time. She had kindly funded a private party for me and 30 friends on Thursday to celebrate my 18th and now was my turn to hang out with her. We had always been close and I knew that soon I would be off to uni and leaving her on her own. She would be alright but I reckoned it would be hard at first for both of us.

 

We queued for tickets and were soon inside, wondering past monkeys, watching a tiger stride around its glass framed grassland and trying to spot chameleons which were camouflaged magnificently in a tiny jungle. After a while mum wanted us to get our lunch and we opened our picnic not far from the giraffe compound. From where we sat, we could see a tall, majestic giraffe looming over the other animals, munching on leaves which it had grabbed from overhanging trees.

 

‘It is great being here again, mum.’

‘ I love this giraffe,’ she said.

‘Apparently he was an orphan when they got him,’ I told her.

‘Well he has been well looked after by the zoo.’

‘Yes, he has been here since I was born, according to the sign.’

‘Hehe, that is why I chose here. He is as old as you…well…maybe just a little older,’ she said.

 

A group of tourists filtered past and we fell silent for a moment or two, munching on egg sandwiches and sipping Ribena. The whole thing was beginning to feel like a school trip now.

 

Suddenly the bench seemed remote. A drop in the crowd led to a more stilted conversation. Mum got a sudden burst of confidence. She lifted her head and looked into my eyes. I had never seen this side of mum since grandad died. Her hand seemed shaky as it lay on her lunch box. She gathered her words into some very composed sentences which would eventually change my entire outlook on life.

 

I gulped as she began slowly.

‘You know you mean the world to me, Matthew.’

Her using my full name indicated the level of importance that this conversation must bring.

‘Of course, mum. What has happened. Is it Nan?’ I felt like I knew that it wasn’t but needed to at least check.

‘Nan is fine. It is about me… and you’ her words lingered and her face flushed.

‘What is it? Are you unwell?’

‘That giraffe was brought here because it had no family. It has grown up into a formidable beast. Everyone comes to see it. It is incredibly popular.’

At this point, my mind still did not join the dots.

‘Eighteen years ago you came to me. The best thing that had ever happened to me. A single woman wanting desperately to bring a child into the world. Then there came you.’

She was being all dramatic now.

‘But I could never have children of my own. My uterus didn’t grow properly. You came to me as a gift.’

My head was whirling round. Had I been a miracle?

‘I love you very much indeed. Your real mother was dying when she gave birth to you. I had the honour of bringing you up for her.’

My heart stopped.

I was adopted.

AD – Thank you for reading my extract and please check out my book on Amazon. It is available at no extra cost using Kindle Unlimited or for 77p.