The Wild West Is Coming Back…

Who loves westerns? Everybody? Great. Come and join the Elwood Flynn group. I will be releasing four westerns next year and if you want an early insight into the world of Robin Castle, as he travels a path of vengeance and violence, this is the place to be. Get in early.

I will be releasing a short story soon. A taster of what is to come.

All my stories come with Elwood Flynn’s Solemn Promise – This book will contain scenes of extreme violence and themes of loss and vengeance.

Be warned. Be thrilled.

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Great Writing Advice Great Writers Ignore

Transcript

If you are looking for tips to improve your writing you will find them here. But you will also discover that doing whatever the hell you want can work just as well too.

Gertrude Stein, the famous American novelist, poet, and playwright said –

Punctuation is necessary only for the feeble minded.

Before we venture into the spiralling madness of authors who go against the rules, I just discovered that the word “playwright” is written P L A Y W R I G H T . I assumed it would be spelled P L A Y W R I T E . Like someone who writes plays. Playwrite. This might be because I am a fool. It might also be because the English language is endlessly surprising. Etymologically speaking Playwright is similar to wheelwright. A wheelwright was someone who wrought wheels out of wood and iron. And so a playwright is someone who has wrought words into a dramatic form. Like the words have been hammered and bent into submission.

But this isn’t about playwrights. This is about rules god damn it, so let’s get to it.

There are hundreds of books about the rules of writing correctly. As authors we walk a tightrope of good grammar. At any moment we could fall into a pit of dangling participles, passive sentences, repetition, the much feared adverb that reveals the writers inability to show instead of tell, repetition, a misplaced comma, and god forbid; a rogue semi colon. And worst of all, repetition.

But how important are these rules and how much are they going to actually hinder your success?

Rule one

Only ever use he said or she said, and never follow it up with an adverb.

You don’t even need to use he asked, or she replied. He said is a tag to notify the reader who has spoken. They become invisible to the reader. We scan over them as we read.
Of course you can say, said Graham, or Susan said, but be warned; only do that if you have characters named Graham or Susan. If not, I would recommend using the names of your own characters. The key here is economy of words, and clarity. The reader wants to know who is speaking but nothing more. All the dramatic work should be done in the dialogue or the surrounding prose.

You might have a character at the breakfast table. His wife has prepared breakfast for him. And we get the following piece of dialogue. “I wanted my eggs runny, not raw,” said Graham, angrily.

Instead of using the word angrily, you would write something like, “I wanted my eggs runny, not raw,” said Graham, picking up his plate and throwing it at Susan.

You see, we have a vivid image, instead of “angrily”. There is no doubt that replacing the adverb is better.

Unless of course, you are one of the bestselling authors of all time.

Stephen King said about J. K. Rowling –

Ms Rowling seems to have never met an adverb she didn’t like.

It’s true. Her prose is littered with them.

I’m a sucker for this rule and I try to never use adverbs. But maybe I shouldn’t be afraid of throwing a few in every now and then. It hasn’t exactly hindered the success of Harry Potter.

Exclamation marks!

Avoid them. If you have more than three exclamation marks in your entire novel you have too many. It is lazy. It doing work that should be self-evident in the words being spoken, or the events that are unfolding. If you need to add a nudge at the end of sentence to let the reader know that THIS BIT IS REALLY SURPRISING then something is wrong.

Your words should speak for themselves without the fanfare to highlight how loud someone is shouting or that an explosion is really big. And just on an aesthetic level it makes the page look cluttered and messy.

Having said that, in Joe Hill’s hugely successful book, NOS4A2, there is an exclamation mark every time Charlie Manx, the bad guy in the story, speaks.

You will also find an excessive use of exclamation marks in the books of Tom Wolfe, F Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austin, and of course the biggest offender of all, James Joyce.

Some people think of those authors as being amongst the best literary writers in history. So maybe using more than three in a book won’t be so bad.

Speech Marks

Here’s a curious one; when writing dialogue should you use the double quotation mark or the single one? That has a straightforward answer.

The publishing standard in the UK is to use a single quotation mark. And in the US, they use the double quotation mark.

Unless of course you’re the bestselling author Roddy Doyle, who uses neither. He just starts each piece of dialogue with a dash.

Cormac McCarthy, author of No Country for Old Men, and The Road, didn’t believe in speech marks either, saying –

I believe in periods, in capitals, in the occasional comma, and that’s it.

On the subject of basic punctuation, in the last twenty-four thousand words of James Joyce’s Ulysses there are only two full stops and one comma.

So what’s the point of all this? Well, simply, there is no right or wrong way to write well. You can do whatever the hell you like. The books that break through and become huge bestsellers are littered with broken rules. Nobody in the publishing industry can predict what makes a book become a bestseller. Writers have tried to hone their craft with best practices but, ultimately it’s for nothing.

My advice is that you should learn and understand all these things and then use them at your discretion. Be free to write the way you want to write.

Maybe you don’t need to polish your prose into a smooth perfectly formed generic thriller. Let it be a bit rugged around the edges. Let a bit of your voice come through.
Writing is like music. You can release a highly produced pop song that does well in the charts, and you will do well. For me, those songs are polished so smooth I bounce right off.

Or you can be like Bob Dylan. Sometimes he would screw up a word while singing and just say the word again. He didn’t even go back and rerecord it. It’s right there in the song. He might screw up twenty seconds in and just start eh song again, and it’s right there in the album. It’s those cracks in the perfection that let us in. It’s true for all art, and it’s especially true for writing.

That’s all from me!

To get notifications for new videos from me click subscribe and ring that notification bell. New videos come out every Wednesday.

If you are an author and you have a mailing list why not pop a link to my channel in your next newsletter. And if you do please let me know and I will plug your book in a future episode.

The Manic Race to the Deadline! First draft done!

Last night was a bit mental. I had made a public declaration on here and on the Bestseller Experiment podcast group on Facebook, that I would complete a novella by midnight on the 31st Jan. On the 1st Jan I only had one chapter. Yesterday morning I still had six chapters to write.

I decided to document my race to the end with short videos on TikTok and shared them on Twitter and Instagram. I needed to give myself the added pressure of other people’s expectations.

Midnight came and I still had three chapters to go. I finally finished at 1:44 this morning, feeling frazzled and slightly nuts.

It’s done!!

Much polishing to do now. A cover is in the works which I will reveal soon.

The story is called Gnome. It’s a homage to creature feature movies from the 80s. Critters, Gremlins, The Gate, and Ghoulies. And the basic idea behind the story was inspired by a Brothers Grimm story of the same name.

This was only the first part of my public declaration. The second part is to complete a story called The Projectionist and The Wall People by 30th April. And then to finish a movie screenplay called Price of Life by the last day in June.

It’s going to be a busy year. I can’t wait!

Here’s the last video I posted at 1:44 this morning-

Using TikTok to Build a Readership. #1

TikTok is a social media app that mostly involves lip syncing teenagers and dance routines. It is not a place for literature… Seems like the perfect place to chisel out a niche.

If you are unfamiliar with the format, here are the basics:

There are three ways to post content; a 15 second video, a 60 second video, or a photo montage.

You can easily add special effects and filters. You are limited to 100 characters in your description, which must include your hashtags.

You film your short video, post it, and with any luck you start to amass likes and followers.

I am new to TikTok but I thought it might be interesting to share any insights and tips that I glean along the way.

Here is the first TikTok I made with my manifesto –

https://m.tiktok.com/v/6781552820412763398.html?u_code=d75g03f9lil9kf&preview_pb=0&language=en&timestamp=1579162652

I’m writing a dark fairy tale horror based on the Brothers Grimm story, Gnome. I will be documenting my progress and process regularly.

I will also be posting writing tips (sometimes serious, and sometimes not so serious, as in the TikTok below).

https://vm.tiktok.com/XwphSb/

It is important as authors that we experiment with different ways of reaching and interacting with readers. This TikTok thing might crash and burn, but it might not. Either way I’ll be doing weekly updates with stats right here on my blog. So please follow me if you are curious about how this goes. Maybe you’ll decide to take to TikTok too, in which case you must let me know; we’ll do a duet.

I’ll get into TikTok duets in another post but, should I gain momentum, a duet is a way of giving new TikTokers an introduction to like minded followers. We’ll grow together.

The link below will take you straight to my TikTok profile. Feel free to cringe at my early attempts at content. Eesh. It’s a learning process, right? And don’t forget to press that follow button!

https://m.tiktok.com/v/6781552820412763398.html?u_code=d75g03f9lil9kf&preview_pb=0&language=en&timestamp=1579162652

So, I’ve been on TikTok for three days so far. At the bottom of each TikTok update on this site I’ll publish my stats so you can see my growth and decide if it would be a worthwhile venture for yourself.

I’ll share my failed posts, my successful ones, everything; the good and the bad. Things are going to get experimental and weird. Until next time.

Andy

2A1J Episode 3 – Writing to Jazz

I this episode of the Two Authors One Journal podcast (aka 2A1J) Rachel says something interesting about Charles Dickens’ secret other success, Andrew plays the harmonica (badly), and they discuss the benefits of writing with the music on.

We find out what music Stephen King and Douglas Adams listened to while they wrote and what me and Rachel are listening to while we write our novellas.

On the novella front, meet the protagonist of Call Me Oedipus (the working title for Andrew’s novella), and Rachel reveals the title for her Murder Mystery.

Listeners Questions has a new jingle! But it might change next week… It might change every week.

Find us on Twitter @2A1Jpod for updates, and be the first to hear about new episodes by heading over to 2A1J.wordpress.com and signing up as a member.

 

You can follow Rachel on Instagram and Twitter @RachyPetalFace

 

And Andrew can be stalked @AndyChapWriter on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

2A1J Episode 1 – The Plan

In Episode One of 2A1J Andrew has a rant about novellas and puts forward his case for why they are brilliant and should be read by all. Rachel and Andrew discuss what makes a novella a novella. They outline their plan for the podcast moving forwards and, at the end of the episode, reveal the ideas for the two novellas they will be writing over the next three months.

Find us on Twitter @2A1Jpod for updates, and be the first to hear about new episodes by heading over to 2A1J.wordpress.com and signing up as a member.

You can follow Rachel on Instagram and Twitter @RachyPetalFace

And Andrew can be stalked @AndyChapWriter on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

2A1J episode 1 coming on Twosday…

Two Authors One Journal (2A1J) podcast is nearly here! Tune in on Twosday (haha) 25th June for episode 1.

Me and Rachel Howells have been recording the sounds of a typewriter and layering a guitar over it for our opening jingle and it sounds bloody brilliant.

On Twosday’s episode we’ll be talking about novellas and inviting you to write along with us as we start to come up with ideas for the two novellas we will be writing over the next 3 months.

Two authors, two novellas, three months to write them and three months to edit, create book covers, and build up to an Christmas release in paperback and Kindle.

We can’t wait to start writing our new novellas and bring you into our creative writing process.

Follow me to keep updated. If you want to be the first hear about new episodes you can send me a private message with your email address and we’ll be creating a mailing list where you’ll get a weekly message saying, “It’s here, check it out!”

You can follow Rachel on social media. She is @rachypetalface on Instagram and Twitter.

I am @AndyChapWriter on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

We’ll have a proper sign up page set up soon for the mailing list but for now you can message either of us on any of our social media accounts.

Tripping the Night Fantastic – FREE on Audible

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Want a free audiobook? If you don’t already have audible copy and paste the link below to sign up and get Tripping the Night Fantastic for free. (It’s very easy to do. Simply enter your Amazon login and password and you’re off!)

UK – https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/B07DRPD3T8/?source_code=AUKFrDlWS02231890H6-BK-ACX0-119156&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_119156_rh_uk

US – https://www.audible.com/pd/B07DRPB1MH/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-119156&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_119156_rh_us

Already have Audible? Why not spend your next credit on a book people are finding hard to pin down, and hard to put down.

It is a murder mystery like no other. You will laugh your socks off and finish the book thinking, “What the hell was that?”

It has been getting great reviews and they are all saying the same thing. “That was a wild, bizarre, and hilarious read.”

Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 4

‘Hi Simon!’

Simon admired the view before him with very little surprise. Charlie was steadying himself against the door frame while a very drunk girl was throwing up on the pavement outside.

‘Simon… I err…’

‘Brought a date with you?’ Simon offered.

‘Yes! A date!’ said Charlie, and then leaned in in an attempt to seem sober, ‘I hope that’s ok.’

‘She looks like she’s going to die.’

‘She’ll be alright.’

Simon smiled, a small part of him enjoying the mayhem that Charlie brings into his life, ‘At least you’re on time.’

Charlie grinned and entered the house. On passing Simon he leaned in to whisper in Simon’s ear, ‘I think I love her.’

Simon walked down the steps and helped the young girl into the house.

Charlie wandered into the lounge where he was greeted by a very happy Jane.

‘Charlie! So lovely to see you again.’

‘And you!’

They gave each other a peck on the cheek.

Simon entered the room with the massively inebriated girl and sat her on the couch. Jane continued to smile but with that contorted smile you only ever see on aristocratic women veining delight at seeing a photo of one of her slave’s children.

‘Oh. And who’s this lovely young lady?’

Charlie tried to remember her name. The girl put her arm up in a drunken proclamation and stated with confidence.

‘Amelia!’

‘Yes!’ Charlie grinned, ‘Amelia! Amelia Heart! Her and I,’ pointing vaguely where she sat, ‘would like to thank you for the invitation to dine with you.’

‘My pleasure,’ Jane replied, ‘Simon, could I see you in the kitchen.’

‘No,’ said Simon, with an air of “I told you so”, ‘I think we should have a drink.’

 

It wasn’t long before Jane was lubricated enough to begin enjoying herself. The vomiting had sobered Amelia up enough for her to continue drinking and she was currently in the kitchen helping Jane prepare dinner. Jane poured the last few drops of Zinfandel Rosé into her glass and clumsily set the bottle down on the side.

‘So, Amelia, how do you know Charlie?’

Amelia looked at her glass. It was nearly empty.

‘More wine!’ She declared.

Jane opened the fridge and took out a fresh bottle and Amelia struggled to remember the last few hours of her life.

‘Err… he was sat on his own at the pub and I was like “heeey! I’m your biggest fan!”, oh god, I’m so embarrassing, I think he told me to piss off.’

Jane laughed and filled Amelia’s glass.

‘And now I’m at your house getting drunk with strangers!’ Amelia added.

‘Well,’ said Jane, ‘I’m glad you’re here, I haven’t had a good drink in a long time, and you seem like a nice girl.’

‘Thanks,’ Amelia beamed, ‘I like you too.’

They clinked glasses.

‘When you came in I thought, Oh god, Charlie’s picked up some bar skank to ruin the evening.’

‘Oh thanks,’ Amelia said.

‘No, I do like you.’

Jane looked at the pink wine in her glass and felt the warm feeling of alcohol swim around her body, I am drunk, she thought to herself.

A pan on the hob started bubbling over and Amelia went over to turn off the heat. Jane watched her with drunken eyes and felt mesmerized.

 

Outside, Charlie and Simon sat on the patio furniture. A small crate of stubby French beers sat ripped open on the table. Charlie was smoking a cigarette. Simon opened a small tin of Café Crème cigars. He took one out, studied it for a moment, and lit it with a match. They both sat there for a while just staring into the garden. Not because they had nothing to say, just because serene moments like these come too occasionally to ignore. Finally Simon spoke.

‘Apparently Ben Shepherd went on twitter after the interview yesterday and called you a massive cunt.’

This bought a smile to Charlie’s face.

‘And now he’s facing disciplinary action from ITV.’

Charlie laughed.

‘You know,’ Simon continued, ‘I don’t know why you don’t like him, I think he’s alright.’

Charlie ignored him. He sat there in his chair, trying to navigate his way through the complicated maze that is the drunken mind, hoping to find reason to confide in Simon about his daughter. It’s not really something he ever intended to keep from anyone he’s just never been able to talk about it.

‘Dinners ready!’ came an enthusiastic shout from inside, bringing Charlie, quite suddenly, away from his thoughts.

‘Come and get it!’

Simon and Charlie managed themselves out of the patio chairs and stumbled into the house with the exaggerated concentration of alcoholics and sat/fell into their designated seats around the dining room table.

Jane and Amelia had put on quite an exquisite dinner.  The lights had been dimmed and candles lit. A large roasted bird of some description, probably turkey, steamed tantalizingly in the centre of the table. Various delicate bowls held potatoes and vegetables. There were even two types of gravy. Put simply; all the stops had been pulled out.

‘Dig in,’ said Jane.

After a few moments of drunken slicing, dishing and spooning, plates were full and the cooked bird was now just bones. Jane poured the crisp white wine she had chosen specifically to complement the meal and a warm and friendly evening was about to begin. – That is how Jane’s mind perceived the whole thing anyway.

Charlie and Simon’s thoughts on the matter were slightly different. For instance the first thing both of them thought, thus proving they’re not so different after all, was “wow, that’s a big chicken”. Charlie’s second thought was “I want to undress and fuck Amelia right now on this table”. Simon’s second thought was “Is it me or is there some serious sexual chemistry between Amelia and my wife? Amelia is damn sexy though”.

Amelia did appreciate the food and the wine but her thoughts had been distracted. When Jane stood to fill everyone’s wine glasses Amelia noticed Jane’s legs, her perfect legs and her tight dress moving with her body so perfectly that every small movement became a luring dance of pure erotica. Since then she’s been finding it difficult to keep her eyes, or mind for that matter, on anything else.

‘I saw you on GMTV the other day, how exciting that your book is being made into a film!’ said Jane.

‘I’m only doing it because the director’s daughter invited me to her next slumber party,’ said Charlie.

‘Charlie, there are limits to what is acceptable, even for you. Specifically age limits!’ said Simon.

‘Calm down, she’s 23. And anyway I’m not going ahead with the film.’

Simon put his fork down.

‘What? You have to we’ve already signed the contracts. Even if you say you don’t want to they’ll still make it anyway. They already own the TV and Film rights to the book.’

‘They want Owen Wilson to play the main character!’ said Charlie.

‘I love Owen Wilson, he was so good in Marley and Me,’ said Jane.

‘Which is exactly why he’s wrong for the part, it’s not a book about a coy, soft spoken floppy haired bum! The guy in the book kills one of the Queen’s Corgis with a harp! Can you see Owen Wilson doing that?!’ said Charlie.

Amelia rested her hand on Jane’s leg.

‘I loved Marley and Me,’ she smiled, moving her hand gently.

Jane rested her hand on Amelia’s and looked up at her seductive smile. Images of new and forbidden pleasures filled her thoughts. She looked over at her middle aged husband. Anything sexually risqué with Simon seemed pretty unlikely. Ever again. She had been looking for something exciting to fill the daily boredom of life for some time and today the two and a half bottles of wine she had consumed were pleasantly nudging her in Amelia’s direction.

‘It won’t be Owen Wilson, or, it might not be, the filmmakers have agreed for you to be present at the casting auditions,’ said Simon.

‘Really? How did you swing that? You can’t even swing, a, err, a swing! HA!’ said Charlie.

‘And you call yourself a writer,’ muttered Simon.

‘Can I be in the film?’ asked Amelia.

‘Yes,’ said Charlie, without a thought.

‘Really?!’ she squealed.

Charlie took a silent moment to examine Amelia’s various talents; her mousy features and dark hair, her slightly tan skin, her perfectly crafted more-than-a-good-couple-of-handfuls-size breasts; her slim waist. His trousers began to tighten and he looked back up to her eyes; her big inviting eyes. He hadn’t realized until then how perfect she was.

‘She would have to audition,’ said Simon, knowing Charlie was probably serious.

‘When are the auditions?’ asked Charlie.

‘Tomorrow, didn’t you look at that schedule I gave you? It only had two things on it.’

‘Cool, come to the auditions tomorrow then, I know the perfect part for you!’

‘Eep!’ she squealed.

Jane clasped her hands in excitement for Amelia. Charlie increased the pressure to his stiffening penis; the power to choose the cast for his own film made parts of his brain ping with a new type of sexual ecstasy.

There really was a perfect part for Amelia.

‘Camille Tearheart,’ said Charlie, ‘she’s the Queen’s personal secretary. She’s also a double agent, a closet serial killer, and a sexual blackmailer.’

It’s a combination that doesn’t arise too often in fictional writing but the character, Camille Tearheart, has often been described as the most alluring character in the history of literature.

Simon’s mind wandered back to those most vivid and controversial passages of Charlie’s last novel. Most men keep that book close to a box of tissues and a self help book. It’s truly thrilling stuff.

Simon forced his mind back to the dinner table. The conversation had moved on now and it seemed like more time had passed than he’d realized. That’s the problem with Charlie’s writing; it really takes you somewhere your mind shouldn’t be allowed to go. It traps you, new taboos are formed and exploited, layout and plot beckon to the will of the characters darkest fantasies, his books take over you and force you to enjoy the most horrific of things with a feeling of joy and unnerving sexual pleasure. It is a confusing and wonderful experience. So when you remember a particular scene, like Simon just did, time slips away and doors to parts of the mind (that would disgrace even the darkest mind of any animated Disney teapot) open up and suck you in.

Simon finished off a glass of wine and ate a piece of potato soaked in gravy.

‘Why don’t you two ever go out together? It would do Simon the world of good to get out of the house occasionally,’ Jane was saying.

Amelia’s body had become a magnet to Jane’s body and mind and forces beyond her control were trying to get Charlie and Simon out of the house.

Simon frowned, ‘I like it here. I don’t need to go out and get drunk all the time.’

‘Why don’t you boys go and have a good lad’s night out this evening,’ said Jane, ‘You both deserve it.’

Simon took this with a pinch of salt.

‘You want me to go out with Charlie?’ he said.

He narrowed his eyes at her suspiciously.

‘Yes. Don’t worry, I trust you,’ said Jane.

‘You see what I said about her acting strange,’ he whispered to Charlie.

‘Strange is good. Come on, the Black Keys are playing a small gig at the Basement tonight. I can get us in.’

‘What about you two?’ asked Simon.

‘I think I’m in the mood for a more girly night tonight. It’s been nice having a girl around the house. I don’t think I’ve met a girl I can let my hair down with since my college days.’

‘I don’t know. Charlie what do you think?’

Charlie was already putting his jacket on, ‘About what?’

‘Going out.’

‘Yes. Let’s go.’

Charlie downed his wine and stood up. Simon noted Charlie’s eagerness and wondered why Jane seemed so suddenly happy about him going out with Charlie; the worst influence on the planet.

‘Ok. I guess. Where are we going? The cellar?’

‘The Basement.’

Charlie smiled at the girls and left the house.

‘Ok. I guess we’ll see you later,’ said Simon.

Simon gave Jane a quick peck on the cheek and then went out after Charlie.

‘Have fun!’ shouted Jane from the house.

Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 1

A monster, of indescribable horror – ravaged by booze and lack of sleep – sat at his laptop. Charlie Deavon; an unholy disgrace, stained shirt, stained boxer shorts, wild hair, harassed unshaved face, a dying cigarette hanging from his mouth, and on his desk beside his laptop, the potion that keeps his appearance so ruggedly shambolic; a half dry bottle of scotch.

The room was dark and his tired nicotine-aged face was lit up from the light of the monitor. He took a final drag from his cigarette and dropped it in a half empty glass of whisky where it turned grey and died with its two dead cigarette companions.

The cursor blinked. Only six words were on the screen:

Amelia Heart, is going to die.

 More words try to find their way to Charlie’s fingers but fail miraculously. Not because he has writer’s block, he is just a lazy drunk with no appreciation for deadlines; a common ailment for many writers.

He turned his head and stared impassively at his bed in the other room. He looked back at the monitor for a moment, made a sound like ‘mph’ and then closed the lid. He managed to slump from his study to his bedroom and land on his bed with less effort than is possible to describe.

His bed was a stained mattress on a carpet-less floor. The wallpaper was old and nicotine stained. The ceiling lights didn’t have light shades and the curtain was an old damp towel slowly getting heavier with mould.

The digital clock on the floor blinked slowly. He turned his head and looked at it, unsure if his eyes were tired, hung-over, still drunk or simply still closed. He could just about make out the time; 6:30am. He stared at the ceiling.

3 hours later the alarm went off. Not a nice tune or the radio, just a beeping drone. A few dramatic moments later and the towel landed heavily on the lawn outside followed by a shower of glass. Inside the towel the alarm clock beeped lamely on. A neighbour shouted the word ‘cunt’ in Charlie’s direction. Charlie stood naked in the smashed window. He showed his neighbour his middle finger and then headed into the kitchen.

The kitchen occupies the same space as his lounge. The fridge consists of one rasher of bacon, three cans of beer, four empty cans of beer and a courgette. In the cupboard are one can of beans, a full packet of pasta, a packet of custard creams (half empty), some tea bags, a jar of coffee, and a pile of newspapers. In the toaster is a failed experiment; it turns out that it is not quicker to cook an omelette in a toaster. In-fact it takes longer and is far more dangerous.

After several minutes of staring at the courgette, and wondering where it came from, he slammed the fridge door and stared blankly over at the laptop for a minute. He opened the cupboard again, stared for a while, and then came to a decision and grabbed the closest things to his hand. Tea with a spoon of coffee and a packet of biscuits would be today’s breakfast.  He sat on his couch and wondered once again why he doesn’t own a TV. He leaned back to reach for the half-full bottle of scotch on his desk, nearly knocking it over, and poured some into his coffee/tea. He made a sound ‘urghmph’ and had a sip of his brew.

A phone started ringing. A slight dread fell over Charlie’s brain. This ringing sound meant he would have to impart some brain activity, some physical movement, and finally speech. Three things he had absolutely no interest in doing. He looked left and then right and then down. He dug it from under him and looked at it. He answered it and put it to his ear.

‘Charlie?’

‘Eurh.’

‘Charlie! It’s Simon, what are you doing today?’

‘Mmpth.’

Charlie stared at his tea/coffee/scotch and wondered if he’d rather talk to that instead.

‘When can I come over and see a few pages?’ said Simon.

‘No.’

‘Ok. I’m coming over. I’ll bring Starbucks and some food.’

‘Fuck off Simon.’

Click.

 

 

Ring Ring.

‘Charlie, I’m in Subway, what sandwich do you want?’

‘Don’t come to my house.’

‘I’m having a Foot-long Meatball Sub, I’ll choose something for you shall I?’

‘I’m not letting you in when you get here.’

‘I need to see you.’

‘Fine. I’m coming to your office. If I get there before you I’m going to dismantle your desk.’

‘Charl…’

Click.

 

 

Simon put his phone back in his pocket, gave the girl behind the counter £10, and grabbed the sandwiches. He checked his genuine Rolex watch and ran outside and across the road to his car.

 

 

Charlie left his apartment and stumbled haphazardly into the bright offensive sunlight outside. He shielded his eyes from the day’s carelessly cheery mood and got in to his car.

Charlie’s car is a 1993 V12 Jaguar XJ-S. Its dark blue paint is faded from years in the sun, the passenger door is a faded race-car green colour from where it was replaced but never re-painted, the rear bumper is held on by wire ties, the air conditioning doesn’t work and only the driver side window goes down without requiring a mechanic to get it back up again. But the CD player works and the engine starts with the kind of rumbling purr that makes your heart fill your lungs.

Charlie sat in the driver’s seat. This is one of the only times during Charlie’s normally miserable day when his smile is actually genuine. Even the dry heavy feeling of a hangover takes a back seat while pure juvenile pleasure takes over for a while. This is Charlie’s perfect car.  The engine misfired causing the exhaust to vomit black smoke and the car turned a corner and drove off towards Simon’s office.

 

 

Simon parked in the underground car park of his office. He slammed the door of his brand new white Audi A4 and made for the fifth floor as fast as he could. His secretary was sitting at her desk looking slightly violated. Simon sent a questioning glance her way which was returned with a worried look towards his office door, which was slightly ajar. Simon relaxed and prepared for the worst.

He edged the door open and looked inside. Everything seemed in order. He looked to his right. Charlie was sitting on one of the comfortable chairs against the wall in his office with a smile on his face. Simon looked suspiciously at him and sat down behind his desk.

Charlie had his right foot resting on his left knee in the most nonchalant way imaginable. His boot-cut jeans were torn around the heel of his scuffed brown shoes. Three buttons remained un-fastened on his shirt, the sleeves were half rolled up in a way that suggests the wearer couldn’t care less if they were up or down and, although his shirt isn’t tucked in, you could just make out a brown leather belt being held tight by a pretty average and uneventful belt buckle. Simon looked suspiciously around the room. Charlie spoke.

‘I pissed in your plant.’

Simon looked over at the plant and then back at Charlie.

‘I got you a turkey Sub,’ he said, handing it to him.

‘What do you have in yours?’

‘Meatball.’

‘Give me yours.’

‘No.’

Charlie stared at him.

Simon gave in.

‘We can split it,’ said Simon.

Simon gave Charlie half of his Sub and took half of Charlie’s. Simon took a bite out of his and decided now was the best time to talk.

‘Mm, So, mmph, how many err, pages have you done?’

‘You’re the reason I hate people,’ said Charlie.

Simon swallowed.

‘I don’t mind if you haven’t written very much, I just need to see what you have written.’

‘If you carry on being nice to me I swear to god I’m going to kill you.’

‘Charlie, I’ve arranged an interview with GMTV for next week, they want to talk about the film deal and re-release of your first book and they’re really eager to hear what your plans are for your next book. And there will be some fans there so take a pen so you can sign things.’

‘I’m serious. I will throw you through the fucking window. I know there’s a bastard in there somewhere!’

‘Come on, Charlie, stop being a twat.’

‘Oh! Simon! That’s more like it! Come on, touch me.’

Charlie lifted his shirt and twiddled his nipple with a finger.

‘No. Are you finished?’

Charlie folded his arms.

‘I haven’t written anything,’ he said.

‘I know.’

‘How?’

‘You’re always like this when you can’t write.’

‘I can write. It’s just the lack of plot that’s the problem. And the lack of characters. Just the lack of book in general is the problem. What’s the rush anyway?’

‘If you’re off the shelf for too long people will forget about you.’

‘Good.’

Charlie opened a bottle of scotch from Simon’s alcohol cabinet and poured two glasses.

‘Are you finished for the day?’ he asked.

‘No, Charlie, it’s 10am.’

‘We’re going to the pub for a business meeting about drunks,’ Charlie smiled ridiculously at his own infantile sense of humour.

‘Charlie.’

‘Stop being a fucking cunt and drink with me! I’m shit bored and hanging out with you here is making me more bored so if we have to spend time together you have to be pissed! That’s the rule from now on. Ok?’

‘No.’

Charlie put a glass of scotch down in front of Simon and downed his own.

‘Charlie, I have a lot of work to do.’

Charlie put on his best Simon impression, which sounds more like Bugsy Malone than Simon, and shouted.

‘Receptionist, hold my calls! I’m going to be away from my office for the rest of the day!’

Charlie, feeling pretty proud of himself, looked smugly at Simon. Simon looked wilfully back.

Amanda poked her head into the office.

‘Do you want me to hold your calls?’

Simon threw what was left of his sandwich in the bin and brushed bits of sandwich off his shirt.

‘Yes, hold my calls, thank you.’

‘HA!’ exclaimed Charlie, feeling victorious.

Amanda left the office without looking at Charlie.

Simon picked up a schedule from his desk and walked over to Charlie.

‘I’m giving you a schedule, there are only two things on it, GMTV and casting auditions for the film, I need you to remember them.’

‘You’re not coming to the pub are you?’

‘I’ll pick you up on Tuesday morning at 6am for GMTV, please try to be awake.’

‘I make no promises.’

 

Charlie left the office and wandered around the building for a couple of hours trying to find something interesting to do or disrupt but no one took much notice of him. A receptionist gave him a funny look when the elevator opened to reveal Charlie’s rear mooning at her. A security guard told him he wasn’t allowed to beg on the premises, and an old writer friend stopped him to congratulate him on the success of his last novel to which Charlie replied, ‘Go fuck your book’. Finally he went home to immerse himself in his favourite, if only, past time; drinking.