"Original and compelling, The Pursuit of Ordinary is perfectly paced and beautifully written." Colette McBeth, author of An Act of Silence
Dan lay awake on the sofa, trying to forget his nightmare and listening to the heart beating in his chest, wondering why it felt like someone else’s.
When he woke up the next morning, his friend Stu was standing in front of him nervously.
‘Look, Dan. I’d love to let you stay a bit longer, you know I would, but Karen has some friends coming to stay and we need the sofa back…’
‘Don’t be silly. Of course,’ Dan had replied, glancing at the redundant CD rack against the wall of their flat, filled with CDs that would never again leave the shelf because Stu and Karen used Spotify, like everybody else. Dan could understand people who put their vinyl on display, but CDs? It was like a declaration of blandness, like they wanted to scream to the world that they were only planning on existing until they died, nothing more, nothing less.
‘Can’t you go home to your dad?’ Stu had offered, hopefully. Dan had shaken his head and looked at the floor.
‘Do you have anywhere else to go?’ he probed, desperate to hear an affirmative, something that would make him feel less guilty, like he’d done his Good Samaritan bit and could now be let off the hook.
‘Yeah, don’t worry. I’ll sort something,’ Dan grinned, dead eyes. ‘Everything will be fine.’
Later, as the light faded, Dan found himself wandering the streets, not sure what to do. That’s when the fear set in, a dread and vulnerability like nothing he’d ever felt before. At first he walked, and walked, and walked. The movement helped him to quash the panic, helped him force it down. If he put one foot in front of the other, marching, head down, bag on his back, he could pretend this wasn’t happening, that he had somewhere to go, anywhere to go. As the night drew on, his feet began to hurt. The seafront was too exposed and the drinkers and clubbers seemed scarier than before. It was as if everything and everyone was now a threat. Queen’s Park didn’t feel safe, nowhere felt secure. Finally, at around 3 a.m., he found himself stumbling into St. Ann’s Well Gardens. He remembered playing there as a child and somehow it made him feel safer than anywhere else he’d been. Exhausted by his own anxiety, he curled up by a bush around the back of the park and fell into a deep sleep.
As the days passed, he grew used to being the thing in the corner of people’s eyes, the thing they’d do anything not to acknowledge. He learnt where he could sleep, where he couldn’t, who to avoid, where to get food, how to keep warm. He tried shelters, but they scared him more than the streets, somehow making him feel more exposed and vulnerable. He preferred to keep himself to himself, it seemed safer that way.
Publish date April 2018, available now to pre-order
After witnessing a fatal car accident, a homeless man wanders the streets of Brighton, trying to ignore the new, incessant voice inside his head. But he can’t forget the crash, can’t get the face of the woman cradling her dying husband out of his mind. She stared into his eyes, his soul. He has to find her.
Is Dan ill or has he really been possessed by the spirit of Natalie’s dead husband, Joe? If he hasn’t, why does she let him into her home so easily? Does she have secrets of her own? The Pursuit of Ordinary is a twisting tale of modern life and mental health where nothing is what it seems…
Following the success of debut novel Beat the Rain, Roundfire introduces the second book from bestselling author Nigel Jay Cooper..
Learn more about The Pursuit of Ordinary here.
Other novels by Nigel Jay Cooper
Beat The Rain is Nigel’s debut novel and was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016 for Best Debut Author. It was also the bestselling JHP Fiction title in 2016.
It is available now in paperback and ebook.