A new addition to the Readers’ Gallery, offering you a twofer! Thanks a million, Andy. Hope you enjoyed the book. And the view!
For a chance to win one of three free copies of my fourth novel, Manuel Estímulo’s Fascist Book of Everything, just send a pic of yourself with your copy of any of my previous books to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in the Readers’ Gallery. All entrants will win a free eBook edition.
Best Indie Comedy 2018
A huge thank-you to everyone who voted in ReadFree.ly‘s search for the 50 Best Indie Books of 2018. Here’s the site’s own report:
Over the past 6 weeks, 10,000 votes were cast in a world-wide search for the very best indie books. The range was breathtaking – from personal stories of new love, to epic sagas of new worlds. We could have easily compiled a list of 500 titles without a drop in quality.
These, dear friend, are the books you’ve enjoyed reading the most over the past year. They will all receive fabulous Olympic-style medals, with the top place book also receiving a gorgeous jade glass trophy.
I’ve been on tenterhooks over the past week as the site gradually revealed the top 50 books, and it wasn’t until last night that the top ten were finally revealed, including Fowl Play at the outrageously high position of No. 8. Not only that, but it was the highest -ranked book in the Comedy category, making it the Best Indie Comedy of 2018!
It’s always a real boost for indie writers to receive recognition from readers. By and large, we have limited finances to spend on publicity, marketing, distribution, and PR, so it’s usually word-of-mouth and the organic process of building a reading community that sustains us in our endeavours (as well as bloody-mindedness and a maniacal need to dump our brainz on the page). Consequently, readers are something other than a meal-ticket for us—what indie writer makes a living from their work?—they’re partners in a dialogue. Rewards are nice and all, but really they’re just confirmation that that dialogue is taking place. Thank you for listening and speaking. You’re only gorgeous.
As she passed through the main doors of the library, she was greeted by a splendid, blinding glare, a bright summer’s afternoon in June that had put both a frown and a smile on the faces of everyone in Centenary Square. The joy of surviving another working week had combined with an unanticipated warmth to overwhelm the usual melancholia that came with the territory, the territory being Birmingham city centre; while the frowns, caused by a perfectly understandable failure to pack sunglasses, did resemble the more traditional facial expression, they were mere simulacra, disguising a less traditional cheeriness.
Breezing through the square, Ivy resisted the temptation to pop into the Repertory Theatre to see what was on, distracting herself with thoughts of getting home and wondering, with an element of annoyance with herself, exactly why she’d asked Sam to help out with her research. The obvious answer, that he was quite brilliant, didn’t satisfy her. Wasn’t she brilliant enough herself? And it wasn’t like she was helping him out, especially since he had his own research to do for his Ph.D.
Grudgingly, she owned up that she knew the answer. It was because she knew he wouldn’t say no. She and Sam had grown up together. Of course, it was also because he was cheap, although he was cheap because he was a friend. A good friend. A friend who went way back. A friend willing to help another friend in need, regardless of his own commitments. A friend who was already getting on her tits.
She crossed over Paradise Circus towards Colmore Row and turned right, onto Temple Row West, changing to the other side of the road to avoid the Old Joint Stock pub and to cut the corner round the side of the cathedral.
She pressed on with her head lowered because she could still feel the heat of her flushed face, not realizing that had she looked up, she would have seen many other Brummies equally pink; the sun’s unusual heat rendered her embarrassment indistinguishable from their incipient sunburn.
Just past Needless Alley, she reached the doors of the Hartfield Foundation, the HQ of those very astute and discerning folk who had spotted Ivy’s genius, who had hired her to produce a series of position papers on. On? On what, exactly? Even after a couple of months, Ivy still wasn’t entirely sure.
Text from Chapter 1 of Ivy Feckett is Looking for Love: A Birmingham Romance
A Special Bonus: Here, on Temple Row, yards from the headquarters of the Hartfield Foundation, I found Ivy!! What are the chances of that?!!
A thing of beauty is a joy forever. A Jay Spencer Green novel, by contrast, will haunt your dreams like an abusive waiter.
Fowl Play now available in paperback!! Strategically priced on Amazon at a tenner so that you don’t have to pay for post and packaging. Discover for yourself why it’s been favourably compared to The Bible*, James Joyce’s Ulysses**, Slaughterhouse Five***, Pride and Prejudice****, and Orgasms for Beginners*****.
Full frontal. This photo has not been enhanced in any way. The book is genuinely this gorgeous.
Get yours now!
*Marginally less nudity (The Watchtower)
**Set in Manchester (Timperley Village Anarchist)
***Many scenes depict a fully operational slaughterhouse (Vonnegut’s book was very disappointing in this respect) (Butchering Today magazine)
****More shower scenes (My uncle Dave)
*****No distracting photographs of pubic hair (Also my uncle Dave)
Just to keep your pecker up, here’s a preview of the cover for my third novel, Fowl Play, winging its way in your direction sometime soon. Yet another fantastic design from the brilliant, beautiful, and beneficent Jon Langford, who never ceases to amaze. Here’s the blurb for those of you who don’t want to squint:
Ladies’ man Josiah Joshua Jordan King is a rising star for the Trafford Titans in the new and wildly popular sport of Chicker. But he’s also a professional hitman and union-buster for the league’s management.
With the European final looming against Barcelona, Jo gets wind of a filthy commie plot to scupper the whole shebang. Can he lead his team to victory while neutralizing the filthy Reds, or will his dreams of international glory be thwarted by a dastardly conspiracy that threatens civilization itself?
A mutant hybrid of Rollerball, The Wicker Man, and Chicken Run, Fowl Play is satirist Jay Spencer Green at his weirdest and most outlandish, a laugh-out-loud dark comedy in which the headless chickens are not confined to the farmyard.
What is actually going on in your toddler’s little head when she shoves peas in her ear, guzzles bathwater, or strips naked in the cinema? We asked our resident child psychology expert, Friedrich Nietzsche, author of Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Idols, and Superkids: Raising Your Child in the Shadow of an Absent God, to give us some insight into your children’s thought processes and to offer some advice on how to respond.
Quirky behaviour: Taking off her clothes anytime, anywhere.
Toddlers love being in their birthday suit, as Hilary McStott knows all too well. “My kids start stripping the minute I’ve finished dressing them,” says the mom from Camberwell. “They’ll actually leave a trail of clothes from their bedroom to the playground. It’s like they’re competing to see who can get naked the fastest!”
Friedrich Nietzsche says: To predict the behavior of ordinary people in advance, you only have to assume that they will always try to escape a disagreeable situation with the smallest possible expenditure of intelligence. Your kids are merely expressing their resistance to the herd mentality that requires that you cloak their natural exuberance in the uniform of conventionality. Leave them alone. It is you who are sick.
Quirky behaviour: Banging her head over and over again on the crib railing before she goes to sleep.
Until toddlers have the words to tell you when they’re tired or anxious, they have to rely on nonverbal ways to comfort themselves, and head-banging is one of them. “My Susie spends most of the night hitting her head against the foot of her bed,” says Carrie Bhent of Norway. “I was extremely worried to begin with, and we tried medication for a while, but this just resulted in her fixing her eye on us both with a look of contempt mixed with mockery.”
Friedrich Nietzsche says: Listen closely to little Susie. Under her breath she is saying “Enough, enough.” She is old before her time and already knows that God is dead. You can let her face this truth alone, you can lie to her that life has meaning, or you can buy my book and teach her to make her own truth and delight in its contingency in the face of snake-oil peddlers and loathsome men of the cloth. Or you can buy her a helmet.
Quirky behaviour: Holding his breath to get what he wants.
It’s always scary to watch your toddler go blue in the face, but it’s also extremely common when kids don’t get what they want. “Colin has developed bulging eyes and rosacea on his cheeks and nose from holding his breath so often,” says Karen De Snatch of her six-year-old. But this hasn’t tempted the single mom from Stafford to let him have his way. “He can hold his breath till the shit runs down his legs as far as I’m concerned,” she says. “He is NOT getting Sky Sports Extra.”
Friedrich Nietzsche says: It isn’t Sky Sports Extra he’s after, woman. He wants you to die, you smotherer of pleasure, you denier of life, you withholder of joy. He tries to faint only to blot out your existence, because he does not have the strength yet to take a knife to your throat in the night.
Quirky behaviour: Drinking bathwater.
You offer your kid water all day long and she often insists she’s not thirsty. So why is H2O suddenly so enticing in the tub? “Janet won’t drink anything until another human being, or sometimes the dog, has bathed in it. And yet if it’s soapy water, she won’t go within a mile of it,” says frankly malodorous father Stuart Penhaligons of Streatham. “I’ve tried playing tea party with her all afternoon, and she’ll say she’s parched yet only pretend to sup her tea. Get her in the bath and she guzzles it down like a cum-hungry porn star.”
Friedrich Nietzsche says: The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. Your daughter has both courage to withstand your crass dramaturgy and the wit to test her own limits and find the world wanting. She will one day be your master.
Quirky behaviour: Shoving every little thing up his nose or into his ear.
Your toddler isn’t just curious about the world around him—his body is exciting new terrain too. “My Billy has discovered he has this body, and it’s all his and it’s fascinating!” says Niamh Jockey of Aberdeen. “He puts beads, peas, rocks, grapes, apples, whatever he can find, up his nose, in his ears, up his arse. My husband wants to put him on TV. I’ve only shown him to the neighbours. We made three grand.”
Friedrich Nietzsche says: Digressions, objections, delight in mockery, carefree mistrust are signs of health; everything unconditional belongs in pathology. That said, your son is laughing at you and you do not realize, idiots that you are. Take a strap to him.
Quirky behaviour: Tossing a present aside and playing with the box instead.
You pick out the perfect gift for your toddler, yet she’s more amused by what you consider trash. “We buy our Celine the best of everything, yet she still insists on running in circles in the back garden giggling and laughing with cheap pink ribbons streaming in the air behind her like some easily pleased retard,” says Dennis Lowceiling of Ballsbridge, Dublin. “She knows the value of nothing. We’re at our wits’ end. Could it be she is adopted?”
Friedrich Nietzsche says: You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star. Insanity in individuals is something rare—but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Celine is not retarded, she just refuses to yield to your shallow Bourgeois priorities. She should pray she is adopted. Pray to an empty sky.
Quirky behaviour: Reading the same books over and over again.
Just as you have a favorite book or song, your child is developing her own preferences, and she’ll become increasingly vocal about her likes and dislikes. But repetition also serves a greater purpose: Security. “Gary reads The Da Vinci Code over and over and over,” says his mom, Julie “Biggie” Smalls of Luton. “It isn’t like he hasn’t figured out what’s going to happen, but his vocabulary has stalled at that of an eight-year-old, and he’s now twenty-three.
Friedrich Nietzsche says: Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. Your son has not just gazed into the abyss, but what he has found there obsesses him, for it is the truth of his own dark soul. You should have bought him Harry Potter and let him die a slow death of conformity.
Quirky behaviour: Only wanting his father.
It’s hard for mom not to take it personally when she feels snubbed by her child. But the truth is he’s not doing it on purpose—in fact, it’s not really about mom. “Bobby can spend weeks at a time without even speaking to me other than to say ‘Where’s my dinner?’” says Leslie Fang of Newtown, Birmingham, “so it’s no wonder our son Kevin treats me the same way. Frankly, I’m thinking of killing all of us with pills.”
Friedrich Nietzsche says: Are you going to woman? Then don’t forget to take a whip. The child will one day kill his father, of course, but that is the way of the world. Delight in the affirmation of power!
From the February 2017 issue of Postmodern Parenting (U.K. edition).
Since its recent appearance on Instagram, my Breakfast at Cannibal Joe’s t-shirt has drawn considerable unsolicited attention (and a few sarcastic comments), with a number of individuals approaching me for details of the vendor. Now, they, and possibly even you, will be happy to learn that I have negotiated a deal with the supplier, Canvas Kings, to provide t-shirts featuring not just the award-winning Jon Langford design of the aforementioned tome (as featured in The Bookseller) but also my second novel, Ivy Feckett is Looking for Love, for the knock-down price of €20, including post and packaging. This would be an ideal purchase for the Jon Langford fan in your life or for anyone who has never even heard of me, which potentially covers entire continents.
Shirts are available in a range of colours and all sizes. Payment can be made via PayPal or credit card. Contact Canvas Kings via their email, email@example.com, via their website, or via their Facebook page, specifying the desired t-shirt size, colour, and book cover.
Anyone willing to send in a photo of themselves wearing either of the above shirts, in public or in the privacy of their own home, will automatically receive a free eBook edition of my next novel, Fowl Play: A Book of Perversions, due out later this year, with yet another fab Langford cover. Do you dare?!
I’m a huge fan of the Big Bang Theory but even after watching every episode I’m fairly sure there’s no loop quantum gravity, supersymmetry, or string theory explanation for why it is that the editing of the penultimate draft of a novel should take longer than the initial writing of it. Time simultaneously contracts and expands, dilates and condenses, the arduousness of the original creation being replaced by a dulling of the senses caused by repetition and familiarity, the spontaneous eruption of a forgotten joke encountered afresh distended into an asymptotic moan of diminishing returns each time it is reread and effort is made to improve on or sharpen it. The self-confidence that overtook any initial hesitation and thereby resulted in the completion of a work to be edited gives way in the review to an orgy of “What the hell was I thinking?” doubt, a form of self-abuse manifested by crossings-out, screeds in the margins, and long, languid waves of ink across full pages where not a word can be salvaged, waves that in brief moments condemn days of agonized wankery.
I get enough of editing in my day job, so this torture I inflict on myself is purely for your benefit, you understand. If you think this next book is shite, you should see what it was like before I edited it. But even now, I’m still laughing at the craziness of it. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that an anonymous reader at Hodder & Stoughton gave my agent feedback on it, saying “This is quite the funniest dystopian comedy I’ve read in a long time.” Well, let’s hope (s)he reads a lot of dystopian comedies, otherwise we’re fucked. Sometime soon, Fowl Play will be edging its way into your eyeline like one of those mythical beasts portending death and destruction but which, when you turn your head, looks like nothing more than a miniature schnauzer. But a miniature schnauzer with one eyebrow raised. He knows what you’ve been up to, and the day when he judges you is nigh.