Being brutal to be kind: becoming a word slasher

The Pursuit of Ordinary a finalist in The People’s Book Prize
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Being brutal to be kind: becoming a word slasher

A young man writes a book at night on a typewriter
‘I am certain this was the right decision for me creatively but time will tell whether it was a massive mistake in terms of my career as an author.’

14 August 2020

Being brutal to be kind: becoming a word slasher

Turns out I haven’t written a blog article since January 2019. I’m sure you’ve been weeping uncontrollably waiting for this update, so weep no more.

Some of you may remember I finished my third Novel – provisionally called Other People’s Lies – earlier this year. Roundfire Books (who published my first two novels) offered me a contract but I made the (probably insane) decision to decline the offer.

Bottom line, the novel in the form it was in wasn’t sitting right with me. There were two intertwined story threads and I felt each was constraining the other, rather than supporting the other. Overall, I felt there was too much going on in one novel. Once I had the idea of splitting the novel in two so that each half could breathe, I had no other choice but to do it.

I am certain this was the right decision for me creatively but time will tell whether it was a massive mistake in terms of my career as an author. No regrets, though, you’ve got to follow your instincts, I think. 

Since then, I’ve turned one half of the novel into a short story. I went all ‘brutal psycho word slasher’ on it and distilled it down to its essence. I’m really very happy with it in this form. It features a side character from both of my first novels and I now plan to write a series of other short stories giving insight into the little side characters and incidentals from Beat The Rain and The Pursuit of Ordinary, with the aim of creating a collection of short stories – this story is the first of those.

As for the other ‘half’ of the book – the space created by removing the other storyline has allowed me to completely reinvent this novel. I’m about two chapters from having a full first draft of this novel and I’m really, really excited about it.

There’s a lot of work to do yet, but here’s a tiny excerpt from Chapter 1:

At school later that week, Gavin tried to hide as he changed for Games, pulling his shirt off quickly and trying to get his PE top on before any of his classmates noticed the burnt skin falling from his torso or the yellow-red blisters on his chest.

‘What’s that?’ Jamie said, spotting the damage and grabbing at Gavin’s t-shirt.

‘Fuck off.’ Gavin squirmed self-consciously. ‘It’s just sunburn.’

‘Sunburn? Looks like someone threw chip pan oil over you,’ Jamie said, trying to pull the t-shirt out of Gavin’s hands again to get a better look.

‘I said fuck off,’ Gavin shouted, grabbing his trainers from the wooden bench by their clothes peg and moving away, sitting down next to another boy at the end of the changing rooms.

‘Ignore him,’ a voice to Gavin’s left said softly. Gavin glanced over to see he’d sat down next to the new boy, Steve. As his gaze settled on the boy’s gentle smile, a calmness washed over him.

‘I’m Gavin,’ he said quietly, pulling his PE top on fully and leaning down to sort his trainers out.

‘I know who you are,’ the new boy said, standing up and touching him lightly on the shoulder as he walked away.

Outside of this novel and the short story collection, I’ve got a YA trilogy planned. Too many ideas, not enough time, but I’m writing a lot again after a period of writing absolutely nothing for the first part of lockdown. I still can’t find my reading mojo, but that’s another story.

I’m sorry I don’t have any more exciting news, but it’s been a weird old year, right?

Anyway, that’s my update for now. Hope you’re all keeping well in your respective worlds, despite the ever-increasing madness of 2020. x

Beat The Rain

Goodreads Choice Awards nominee, Best Debut Author, Bestselling JHP Fiction title 2016

Can Louise move on from the loss of her lover Tom? Can she and Tom's twin brother Adam really find a way to love one another? Or are they trapped on a path of self-destruction, moving towards a tragedy neither can avoid?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones | W H Smith

The Pursuit of Ordinary

Finalist, The People's Book Prize for Fiction, Longlisted The Guardian's Not The Booker Prize, 2018.

After witnessing a fatal car accident, a homeless man wanders the streets of Brighton, trying to ignore the new, incessant voice inside his head. Is Dan ill or has he really been possessed? Finding the dead man's wife is the only way he'll know for sure.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones | W H Smith


  1. Anne Foster says:

    Some of us have been weeping waiting for your next book! Please let us know when the stories/book will be available!
    Your fan, Anne

  2. Aw Anne, I thought you might have forgotten about me 😘

    My next novel would have been coming out around now I guess but I went a bit crazy and decided I needed to rewrite it all 🤣


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