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Truly Blue

 

"TRULY BLUE" was published in March 2009 by Leaf Books. ISBN 978-1-905599-48-6

 

"Truly Blue" is the fictional biography of David Stadman and his band, set in London in the 'sixties; at a time when jazz was being usurped by rhythm and blues and then rock and roll.

As the band, Truly Blue, make it big, the irrepressible David becomes involved in all manner of outrageous rock and roll antics, rubbing shoulders with The Rolling Stones, The Who and other major stars of the day.

But as well as being a gifted musician, David was also born psychologically dysfunctional, in the days before such conditions were widely recognised, let alone had become fashionable. Even his girlfriend describes him as "that wild kid who got chucked out of school with no qualifications except a distinct talent for lying, stealing, fighting and fucking!"

Inspired by the lives of other 'vulnerables' e.g. Brian Jones, Syd Barrett, Keith Moon et al, the story follows the circumstances of David's rise and fall, the exploitation of his excessive nature by the music management of the time, the expectations of the public, the drink, the drugs, the fickle relationships and the loss of grounding that all contributed to the destruction of such individuals. 

It is the emphasis on the exploitation of the 'vulnerables' in the name of entertainment that I believe  sets "Truly Blue" apart from stories such as "Stardust" and other cautionary tales of the effect of fame and fortune upon 'ordinary' people. I would argue that this sad phenomenon is still very much in evidence today, not only in the likes of modern artists such as Pete Doherty, Brittany Spears and Amy Winehouse (who, ironically, was alive at the time this book was written) but also in the form of Big Brother, The X Factor auditions and shows such as Jerry Springer and Jeremy Kyle (note: this show was running at the time that this book was written but has since been taken off air  after a guest committed suicide.)

The theme of "Truly Blue" can be summed up in the bitter conclusion of David's doctor: "Mentally-ill-larious, ha ha ha!"

But in the midst of the madness, there remains the redemption of family, true friends and finally, a very tough love.

"Truly Blue" was a runner-up in both the Cinnamon Press Novel Award 2007 and also the Chapter One Promotions Novel Competition 2008.   

 

 

 

 

 

Entertaining Angels 

 

"ENTERTAINING ANGELS" was published in May 2016 by Cinnamon Press. ISBN 9781910836217

Am I my lover's keeper? 

"He watched her watching him. 
His small, arctic blue eyes narrowed further as he absorbed her beauty, her innocence, her need. 
The tip of his tongue appeared between his thin lips as if he were tasting her on the air. 
His flesh warmed and stirred. 
But his heart remained cold."  

Sebastian King: Creative director of the controversial fine art phtography stuido, Envisage. An intelligent innovative and very successful man. And the unloved child of an unloved mother. 

Angie Taylor: The studio's latest 'find'. A young, beautiful but traumatised girl from an influential family. And infatuated with Sebastian. 

Jack Bailey: Chief photographer. A solid man with a traditional upbringing. And falling in love with Angie. 

And then there's Jack's wife, Helena... 

Set in the glamorous world of professional photography; art, fashion, and fetish, "Entertaining Angels" is a story not so much about those we love but about those who love us. 
Parent and child, husband and wife, family and friends; by choice or by chance, how far are we responsible for our emotional dependants? Especially those who's love is unrequited... 

From London to Aspen, from the Caribbean to the Sibillini mountains. From the dazzle of society 'do's, through the drama of the court room to the despair of the psychiatric ward. This dark tale explores love and lust, obligation and obsession, compassion and cruelty; the consequences of taking responsibility - or not.

"The world is full of people who love people who love people...who don't love them." - Steve Tayor.

Review: "This is an ambitious and well delivered novel with an engaging and dark story to tell and fascinating themes. There are good characters and some fantastic writing, with pacing that reflects the content well and keeps the hook all the way to the end. I really cared about the characters." - Rowan Fortune-Wood

"Entertaining Angels" was a runner up in the Cinnamon Press Novel Award 2009. It was also selected for their 2014 Mentor Programme. Now published by Cinnamon Press (2016).  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The One

In an uncomfortably near future world, humanity is experiencing immuno-meltdown.

 

"Until it had a diagnosis, a name, official medical status, Total Allergy Syndrome (TAS) was assumed to be merely a gradual worsening of the asthma and eczema that had plagued generations. 

What were once simply allergy symptoms had increased over time, beyond itchy eyes, runny noses, wheezy chests and sore skin. Now emphysema, psoriasis, sepsis, heart failure and anaphylactic shock, were common fatal conditions. Severely compromised immune systems were failing against everyday ailments and an increasingly drug-resistant population was dying from simple bacteria and viruses. Even the common cold. And to one degree or another, everybody was affected.

Except The One; around whom the multi-million dollar Anti Total Allergy Syndrome (ATAS) Corporation had been built."

 

The last known human with an effective immune system is 'living' at the ATAS Corporation in the United States. Sealed in his Plexiglass enclosure since birth, increasingly desperate scientists try to crack his genetic code; searching for something, anything, that could "Save The World!" -- and make its developers a fortune.

But at what cost?

And who decides?

The One is a futuristic fable that combines environmental and social justice themes with an exploration of the rights of the individual against the interests of the 'greater good'. 

 

"Freedom is not free. Someone has to pay the price." -- Ray Baumbach.

 

 

Reviews:

"This is a bold, unusual and absorbing novel with an excellent dystopian premise and a very interesting hook. The writing is fluid and believable and the writer has a winning style with a sympathetic and likable protagonist. There is much to enjoy here."

 

"This story has a very interesting hook is well placed and  well thought through. The novel's dystopian premise is richly described and the earlier chapters keep the reader's interest piqued. The protagonist's personal story, towards the end, is equally absorbing. The title is apt and catchy."

 

"This story is extremely well-written and has few stylistic or contextual problems." 

"The story is memorable and well drawn-out."

"It really is a fascinating story with some beautiful writing and a strong narrative drive. The characters, especially the protagonist, are excellently drawn and very believable within the novel's dystopian world."

-Ink and Insights Competition 2017 

Ready to go 

 

Gifted 
 

Claire Owen; slightly overweight, almost middle-aged, has settled into comfortable widowhood, happy now to look after her son who has followed his father into the Forces and her 'lively' student daughter, Amy. 

After all, family is everything and all she needs.  Until she meets The Gingerbread Man. The mature student with the copper curls and perfect manners re-awakens her interest in her own future - Love? Marriage? A child? 

When Amy offers herself as a surrogate mother, this seems to be the perfect solution. 

Blood may be thicker than water but, when it comes to the issue of parenthood, is it just as easily spilt? 

A family drama centered around the issue of genetic identity in surrogacy. 
Edit in progress

Other Work

SHORT STORIES, ARTICLES AND EDITING

SHORT STORIES -

"Give Blood" (2024) Published in "The Fear Doctor" anthology by Dragon Soul Press.

"Yokai" (2024) Published in "The Fear Doctor" anthology by Dragon Soul Press.

"Hiding in Plain Sight" (2024) Published in "The Fear Doctor" anthology by Dragon Soul Press.

"Poisonous Tongues" (2024) Published in "The Fear Doctor" anthology by Dragon Soul Press.

"Enough to Wake the Dead" (2024) Published in "The Fear Doctor" anthology by Dragon Soul Press.

"The Ride of their Lives" (2024) Published in "The Fear Doctor" anthology by Dragon Soul Press

"A Haunting Style" (2024) Published in "The Fear Doctor" anthology by Dragon Soul Press

"A Cowardly New World" (2024) Winner of the 100 Word Story contest on Scribophile.

"Past Imperfect" (2024) Third in the Time Travel contest, judged by Space and Time magazine.  

"The Night Shift" (2024) Winner of the Psychology contest on Scribophile.

"Christmas Pudding" (2023) Finalist in the Riddlebird Humour Project.

"Bomber's Moon" (2023) Runner up in the Father's Day Horror competition on Scribophile.

"A Change in the Wind" (2023) Runner up in the St Patrick's Day Horror competition on Scribophile.

"Kongamato Rain" (2023) Published in "The Yonder Vol. 4" anthology by War Monkey Publications.

"Unbearable" (2022) Published in the "Home Sweet Horror" anthology by Black Ink Fiction.

"A Dress to Die For" (2022) Published in the "Dismember the Coop" - an anthology of horror stories to support Alice Cooper's charity, Solid Rock Ten Centres (ALICE COOPER!!!)

"Gallows Curve" (2022) Published in "The Haunted Train: Creepy Tales from the Railway" anthology by Rayne Hall (see review below.)

"Bloody Hell!" (2022) Placed in the 31 Spooky Flashes competition on Scribophile.

"Renfield's Reward" (2022) Published in the "And the Dead Shall Sleep No More Vol 2" by Input/Output Enterprises.

"Something to Say" (2022) Winner of the 31 Spooky Flashes competition on Scribophile (with a different prompt and judge every day in October.)

"Yokai" (2002) Placed in the 31 Spooky Flashes competition on Scribophile.

"Hiding in Plain Sight" (2022) Placed in the 31 Spooky Flashes competition on Scribophile. 

"One Night With Venus" (2022) Published in the "Penny Blood - Victorian Horror" anthology by Black Ink Fiction.

"Danse Macabre" (2022) Second place in the "Horror Carnival" competition on Scribophile.

"Something Blue" (2022) Winner of the "Blue" competition on Scribophile.

"Only Women Bleed (2022) Published in the "Vinyl Cuts" anthology by Scary Dairy Press

"Unbearable" (2022) Winner of the Experimental Gothic competition on Scribophile.

"Alexa Knows Best" (2022) Published in the "Ctrl Alt Del" anthology by Black Ink Fiction.

"Deadly Nightshade Hall" (2021) Winner of the Halloween competition on Scribophile. 

"Gallows Corner" (2021) Winner of the "Modern Haunted Places" competition on Scribophile.

"Skin Deep" (2021) Published in the "Blood and Bone" anthology by Ghost Orchid Press.

"Plagued" (2021) Published in the "Pestilence" anthology by Black Ink Fiction.

"Our Faultless Family" (2021) Winner of the "Awkward" competition on Scribophile

"Mentally-illarious Ha Ha Ha!" (2001) Published in the "Rock Band" anthology by Ghost Orchid Press

"Shelter" (2021) - Published in the "Beneath" anthology by Ghost Orchid Press 

"A Whole New World" (2021) - Published in the "Cosmos" anthology by Ghost Orchid Press

"The Dog's Dinner" (2021) - Published in the "666: Dark Drabbles" anthology by Black Hare Press.

"Dear John" (2021) - Winner of the "Valentine's Break Up Letter" competition on Scribophile.

"The Red Carpet" (2021) - Winner of "One Hundred Word Stories" competition by Scribophile

"At Long Last" (2021) - To be published in the "Do Not Read This" anthology by We Disturb

"A Putrid Punishment" (2021) - To be published in the "Do Not Read This" anthology by We Disturb.

"Nobody Cared" (2021) - Published in the "Home" anthology by Ghost Orchid Press.
"Heaven and Hell" (2021) - Second place in the "First Three Sentences" competition at Scribophile 

"No Ordinary Man"(2020) - Published by Sage Cigarettes 31.12.20

"The Water Babies" (2020) - Winner of the "Ghost Stories" competition at Scribophile.

"Come Away"(2020) - Winner of "The First Paragraphs" competition at Scribophile.

"The End of the World" (2020) Returning to competition this year, I am proud to announce that my short story came second in Scribophile's "The End of the World" contest.

"Carlton Towers" (WIP) A collection of short stories that all take place in the same hotel (see below for a taster.)

"Honour Thy Father" (2008) - Runner up in The Pages Anthology ISSN 1756-302x

"42 Hamilton Road" (2008) Featured in Time Out magazine's "Write Up Your Street."

"We Come in Peace" (2008) Winner of the "Alien" competition on Text Lit.

"No Ordinary Man" (2007) - Runner up in the Blaneau Gwent Writing Competition.

ARTICLES -

"Total Production International" (2006) A review of the TPI awards.

MHCGB Magazine (2008) A review of the Miniature Horse Club of Great Britain Championships.

Your Thurrock(2009) Truly Blue promotion video.

Southend Radio (2009) Truly Blue promotion interview.

The Abergavenny Chronicle (2009) Truly Blue review and IMPHS/MHCGB review.

Abbey Vets News (2009) IMHPS/MHCGB review.

EDITING -

"Old School" by Mark Cunningham (2023)  Now available..

"Dancing With The Devil" by Katie Brown (2023) Due to be published in 2024.

*Review of "Gallows Curve" in "The Haunted Railways" anthology.

 “Gallows Curve” definitely wins my top spot for this entire collection. It’s emotionally grounded, and so, so sad. The premise alone is enough to have you sit in horror for a little bit, and the story simply drags that out and makes you care. Which, of course, makes it worse. The author gave us all that and also created a memorable environment!"

Review by author, Anna Faundez.  January 2023

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Taster

This is a short story from the collection, "Carlton Court." The stories, of different genres, are all connected by the fact that they take place in the same hotel. "The Klepto" is a humorous offering: 

Everybody did it, she reasoned – just not as ‘thoroughly’ as she did.

The picking were perhaps a little slimmer than in some hotels but she intended to take the lot.

Mini bottles of cosmetics; shampoo, body wash and moisturiser. That’s what they were there for – nobody would want the previous occupant’s half-used products, would they?

She didn’t ever use a shower cap but if it was there, well, why not?

Similarly with the towelling slippers. Brand new in a sealed packet. Again, nobody would want to wear what some verruca-ridden stranger had left behind.

The hotel management may not apply quite the same policy to their dressing gowns but the more fastidious customer may object to wearing a second-hand robe, however well it may have been washed. In taking the gown with her, surely she was protecting the hotel management from just such a complaint.

And if you were going to take the towelling slippers and the towelling dressing gown, what was the difference between those and the towels themselves?

She removed them from their rails, folded them neatly and added them to her large suitcase.

She decided that the bedding had perhaps seen better days. In that case, the hotel wouldn’t want to use it for much longer anyway  so she would save them the trouble of throwing it out. Such a wasteful practice.

And why just take the pillowcases when you could take the pillow too.

Similarly for the duvet. Oh, and the counterpane.

She was glad she had come prepared with so many large suitcases.

She eyed the soft pile; wouldn’t that make great padding for a few fragile items – like the glasses and teacups (in addition to the tiny packages of tea, coffee, milk and sugar. Like the bathroom cosmetics, they were meant to be used up.

Ditto for the entire contents of the minibar.

This suitcase was nearly full now. Just room enough to add the hangers from the wardrobe (well, half-hangers, designed to prevent amateurs from taking them but she could improvise) and the cushion from the chair.

Whilst sitting on the bulging case, wrestling the lid shut, her eye fell upon the little kettle, now sitting all on its own. Sure, it was wired into the wall but if she switched off the wall socket, she could cut it free and add a plug later. Same for the hairdryer. And the bedside lamps. And the telephone.

She didn’t care much for the generic still life prints hung on the walls but she could always sell them at a boot fair for a couple of quid each. They would need to be packaged protectively – the curtains did just the job. One for the pictures and the other for the little flat screen T.V. (plus the remote, of course.)

Still room for a few last things – the waste paper bin, the bathroom bin, the extra pillow and blanket and finally, the light bulb.

She couldn’t prise the mirror off the wall (although she tried) but she wasn’t sure she had room for it anyway.

As she lugged the weighty suitcase towards the door, she noticed the notepad and pen sitting on the side table. She could have fit them in her rucksack but she had a better idea. She scrawled a single word onto the paper and left it on the table for a very surprised maid to find the following morning.

Imagine discovering a totally stripped room, the only thing left being a note that simply read, “Cheers!”

She closed the door behind her and lugged her heavy booty along the sleeping corridor. She needed to be quiet but she couldn’t help a quiet chuckle as she imagined what would happen next.

Of course, the hotel took credit card details, especially in event of such an occurrence but she doubted that they had ever seen such an audacious example as hers before.

So let them; it was all in the name of that stuck-up sister of hers, Little-Miss-Look-at-How-Well-I’ve Done-For-Myself-And-You-Haven’t. She had paid for the whole trip, less out of generosity and more just for an opportunity to gloat; showing off her perfect bank balance that accompanied her perfect car and her even more perfect husband. Her entirely perfect life.

All about to come crashing down around her perfectly smug face.

He was waiting in the empty lobby. He laughed at her huge suitcases then carried them out into the car park. Fortunately, there was plenty of room for them in the back of the brand new, top of the range Bentley.

They settled themselves into the soft leather, heated front seats then lent in to a passionate kiss. They parted and stared at each other as if overwhelmed by the magnitude of what they were doing.

She smiled at her brother-in-law and he winked back as they drove off together into the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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