Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Hello, Goodbye and Drinking Stella On Trains

Hellos, Goodbyes, and Drinking Stella on Trains

Day 1:
I expressed a preference: a front facing seat, beside a window, with a table and a socket.
           I did.
           I distinctly remember clicking on these options. Yes, I do. I was sober and awake.  And, yet, here I am about to squeeze into an aisle seat, facing backwards with a pull-down Formica table that could easily be mistaken for a sticky postage stamp. 
I apologetically sit beside a ginger veil of hair which cleverly works as a force field for a sensitive teenager. I know this emotion, this sensitivity. I recognise my teenage self as he frantically finishes a sentence in his red and black brocaded notebook. As I sit I manage to catch part of his story before he slides the words inside his coat. It reads, ‘I said goodbye’.
I ponder this. I ponder the sadness often attached to the final, short yet loaded word; I consider the regularity in which it is used and the differing emotions linked to its delivery. Our lives are, after all, a series of these goodbyes. Each day we bid a farewell to yesterday, to something, maybe to someone, and I wonder if the disposal of the word would make life a kinder place…If, though, we were to say adieu to goodbye, I consider what would become of hello. Would the word be thus redundant? If so, what would then become of reunion and reunite,if we had no need of goodbyes?
           I debate this until it is time to say goodbye to my pale writer, my silent companion. I desperately want to tell him that I’m a closet writer too. But it is a dirty, shameful secret, so I keep it to myself and hurl my bags to the exit and my connecting train. 
With false hope - I am generally an optimist - I rub flesh with scowling commuters and make a bee line for my next reserved seat. I am facing my past once more, but this time, thankfully, beside a window. With yet another miniscule tray reclaimed from a 1970s jumble sale, I manage to balance my laptop and angle my books whilst wedging my bags one on top of the other. I am trying to plan the week ahead, but my contortion skills are not what they used to be. My happiness in sitting alone is short lived. 
           I say goodbye to solitude and hello to Stella Man. 
           I am thankful for his politeness. He apologises for the overwhelming stench of beer. I smile but would prefer he apologise for his cheap after-shave, his lack of teeth and his vinegary foot odour. As my books topple, and I make to rescue them, my hand brushes his leg and I apologise for the second time today. He smiles and I wonder if he would mind me using the gap between his teeth as a wedge for my books. He attempts to draw me into a conversation regarding alcohol and hunger, but  I say I prefer wine. He turns back to his beer. 
          I see a woman leaning on the carriage door. She is reading silently to herself, though she mouths every word. 
          I watch another woman. Her hair pulled back so far that her eyes have become decidedly feline. She thinks she is safe from prying eyes  -  like the nose-pickers who wait at traffic lights, they feel somehow invisible to others and continue as if in the privacy of their own bathrooms. I watch this woman as she uses a pink hand-mirror and traces her fingertips around her face. Gently pulling her skin tight and then releasing it, she is pondering crows-feet. I know this emotion, this fear of time passing. I feel it too. She begins to pluck her eyebrows. Despite the jolts and stumbles of the train she keeps her eyes. I’m sure the lob-sided eyebrows will soon grow back.
          I manage to avoid eye-contact with Stella Man for the rest of the journey but as I make ready for my exit he offers to carry my bags. They are heavy, and heavy bags - along with door holding, giving up a coat and paying for dinner - are exempt from any feministic beliefs I hold. However, I fear the consequence of accepting his offer. I hastily decline, say goodbye, and hide in the putridly sweet toilet until my final connection arrives. Parting is not such sweet sorrow, and I am thankful for the word goodbye; it is soon followed by two welcoming hellos.

Day 2:
I am awake early and head for the cemetery. 
          Although I have said goodbye I seek the repetition. I slip words into the soil: things you always meant to say but somehow you missed the ticking of the clock. For a while I wander amongst the headstones and am momentarily confused. They face away from the church. I look up and see the fields beyond and agree it is a prettier view. I begin to look for an old friend, but he is lost somewhere in an expanding mass of others. I apologise for the intrusion as I trip between the stones. 
         Though eager to be heading home –  I am desperate to say hello to my husband and children - I rush around the village to chat and say several goodbyes’ to other loved ones. As I say goodbye to my Danish mother-in-law I am reminded that Goodbye in Danish is ‘Hej Hej’ (pronounced Hi, Hi) and I leave content with the thought that if we adopt this one phrase as our own we may rarely need to use ‘goodbye’ again. Goodbye could become an exclusive, rarely uttered, word used only to indicate a desired distance; a word reserved for those that drink stella on trains. 

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Homosexual Zombies, Spanking Werewolves and the Question of Taboo

Dear reader, 

This month I have questions for you to ponder; questions that arose during a recent meeting. I’d love to hear your views and may sometimes, just occasionally, use controversial examples simply to spark a debate and cause a reaction!! My aim is not offend but get you thinking, so please let me hear your views on the following questions:

1. Are novels written from the point of view (POV) of a protagonist who drastically transgresses social boundaries acceptable, indeed enjoyable?
2. And, is there therefore a story that shouldn’t be told because its transgressions?

The former question arose after one of our members wrote a story in which the central character is a rapist. We were invited to feel sympathy for him as we follow his story, but this issue raised several debates. Clearly the subject alone is an uncomfortable topic and because we are invited to sympathise with this man the issue becomes all the more contentious. Let’s consider this further…

When we read a piece of fiction, in-order to keep us going to the end, we look for a fragment of familiarity, a link between the character’s story and our own predicaments/experiences. A ‘hook’ must be formed if we are to give a dam about the conclusion of the story. Take the rapists tale for example. From his perspective his immoral, sadistic situation is explicable and therefore acceptable because of the treatment he has suffered at the hands of his own parents, but can we commit to caring for him because of this? Who would look for an element of similarity in his position and our own, and why would you want to? If we can’t care can we continue to read a story written from his perspective?

Let us consider another foul character: Grenouille in Perfume. This man, a rank, immoral, repugnant figure born from hate, raised with loathing, possesses a divine skill; he is able to manipulate emotion and turn the hate of others into love through his fine blending of scents. He is a murderer who commits heinous crimes in an attempt to the bottle a heavenly scent. On reading the novel I experienced such negative feelings towards this foul creature that I couldn’t complete the book – Why, I asked a friend, would I want to relate to him in any way? And, if I cannot relate to him, if I don’t care about him one tiny microbe, why would I follow his story?

What IS bizarre about this discussion however, is that I could watch the film, also titled Perfume.


There is of course a great difference between watching a film and reading a book. Our imagination must work for us as we translate/interpret the words on the page into the pictures in our minds and the emotions form within us; a book needs us to care for a central character, to care about the story being given to us; the characters must give us a reason to turn the page.  If we make the decision to continue, and that central character is immoral, we may  begin to feel complicit with the character’s actions. Viewing a film, however, takes our imagination away from us and it becomes a more sociable experience; the film is portrayed through the director’s point of view. It is a shared compliance. Many films raise uncomfortable issues, this is a given, it is the POV conveyed that IS the issue.  I can think of several controversial films that feature immoral, sadistic and evil central protagonists. We can watch the story of these social deviants but we may never choose to read a book in which the main POV is that of the social deviant because we need to care about a protagonist in some way.

Take the following films for example: These are a small sample of films that raise controversial issues and have immoral/sadistic/evil central protagonists. In some cases they are considered unwatchable, but on the whole many find them acceptable food for their eyes:

The Clockwork Orange (Graphic rape and violence – I will never watch this, ever. The poster is enough to make me hide under the duvet) 

The Terrorist (A wonderful Indian film which manipulates emotions from the start and we DO care for the central character despite the controversial subject matter) 

Blow (Romanticised drug dealing)

We need to talk about Kevin (I ‘half-read’ the novel as it was uncomfortable reading. The disconnection that existed between mother and child filled me with fear and upset my maternal feelings)

Badlands, Natural Born Killers (Matricide/Patricide- In my opinion NBK is brutality over substance)

Compliance (Only viewed an hour go – extremely uncomfortable viewing that raises questions regarding authority and obedience – no-body would want to read a book written from the sadistic prank callers POV, trust me!)

We may watch these films willingly, but then we do not follow the actions of the protagonists through their eyes. We do not need to find a logic or a link with their reasoning’s or predicaments.

Perhaps one of the most controversial films I have viewed is The Woodsman; the POV is given through the male lead, a peadophile, recently released from prison. Throughout the film we observe him constantly battling his ‘disease’ in the knowledge that his actions are indisputably vile and ‘wrong’. Yet, amidst the sense of stomach churning repulsion, an element of sympathy develops through the sensitivity in which the film is made and the battle we witness within him. We want him to fight his feelings, we want him to overcome his ‘affliction’, to find redemption and find a new ‘normality’ that we can accept and live with. Clearly, most ‘normal’ people cannot link to peadophilia in any way, but a link exists here over right and wrong and most people can associate to the battle of good over evil. If we were to read a book with this same figure as the central protagonist however, then our imaginations would have to work for us, details omitted from the film may have to be included and we would struggle through the text with hatred and sickness. This is not a POV that anyone would want to relate to, so completing the book may be difficult.

When we read a book we relate to a central character and this carries us through the text and the situations encounter. We all love a good villain, but when that villain transgresses the boundaries of society, whether we feel a tinge of sympathy or not may be something that you would never own to.  If we relate to that character then we are, by proxy, fictionally guilty of the crimes he/she commits. If we continue to the end reading from the POV of a character such as this, we may never stop analysing our own sense of morality! Perhaps this is because that when we read a novel, a little of something remains with us; maybe just for an hour, a day or even for a lifetime. Some characters become our friends that live within us and enrich our lives through that close fictional bond which is formed when we read a great story and meet well rounded, believable characters. 

That, in a rather rambling, venting kind of way, brings us back to the second question I mentioned in the opening above: So, is there therefore a story that shouldn’t be told? 

What do you think?

It is true that there is little considered taboo in the Western literary world; there are many POVs that now make acceptable reading. So, which POVs have yet to be a focus in the literary world? What new territory are we left with that makes acceptable reading?

‘Some’ points of view, such as the ones discussed above will never be, we hope, acceptable to the majority of the world, however, is there any ground yet to be covered that will be acceptable? Are we missing a niche literary market?

Well, at the meeting in which we discussed taboo points of view, we also discussed the reading zeitgeist which seems to exist for ‘mummy/soft-porn’ books (50 Shades etc) and werewolf/vampire/zombie books. The group have thus invented a new genre in which we believe we will make ourselves ‘A-list’ authors rolling in pits of money: the first project the group are collaborating on is titled Homosexual Zombies (my husband’s original idea) this will be published by ‘NibbleMeNow’ books in June 2013; the second novel is titled Spanking Werewolves (John’s idea) and it will be published by ‘HairInMyTeeth’ in August 2013. You can download an excerpt of both for free on Kindle in July. 

Happy Reading!

Oh, and please do buy/download a copy of The Hysteria1 Anthology (it does actually exist! Link here). It contains my short-listed story and raises money for the Hysterectomy Association. 

I’m keen to hear your views, write soon !! xxx

PS: Shame on you that typed 'Spanking' in to your search bar and found yourself reading this blog! 

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


Having a look round the blog, and familarising myself with it befoe I go away. Seems I can access this blog via a Google + app on my ipad, so I hopefully will have two ways of accessing the new blog. It comes up very well on the ipad, full of rich, textual colours.

I see from your blurb on the website, it say's we are open to new members, so will bear this mind if anybody asks me about a good writing group in the area!

Like your draft title for the up and coming blog. Look forward to reading it. If anybody is interested when I get to Oxford, I will suggest it as a good read.

I will click on publish, so hope it does the business.

Friday, 1 March 2013


JUST RELEASED! LOVE LIES BLEEDING EBOOK #8 in my Rafferty & Llewellyn procedural series.


'This cleverly-plotted tale has plenty of humour. It's another page-turner from Geraldine Evans and is crime writing at its best. A must for all lovers of the genre.' Mystery People

'Evans concocts a plausible story with unforeseen plot twists, believable characters, and a satisfying ending. Solid fare for fans of British procedurals.' Emily Melton, Booklist

A most unlikely murderer, was DI Joe Rafferty's immediate thought when the slender and bloodied Felicity Raine stumbled into the police station reception and confessed to killing her husband.

He thought her even more unlikely a murderer when he met her in-laws and caught them out in several deceits. There was something peculiar going on, he was convinced. Because although Felicity wasn't down to receive any financial benefit from her husband's death, others in the Raine family were. Was one of them attempting to set Felicity up to take the rap?

Unfortunately, Rafferty's championing of the lovely Felicity seems to have stirred some jealousy on the home front. Has he blotted his copybook once too often? he wonders, when Abra, his live-in girlfriend, takes herself off to Wales citing the cover-all of 'family problems' as her reason. Perhaps, he thinks, he should look beneath the surface with Abra, as he has been advised to do in his murder investigation.

He can only hope that what he discovers in his personal life isn't as unpleasant as what has been laid bare in his latest case.

FREE NOW! DYING FOR YOU #6 in my Rafferty & Llewellyn series


'Proficient writing, an inventive plot, and Evans' usual well-crafted procedural detail make this sixth entry in the Rafferty series a good choice for readers who can't get enough of British coppers.' Emily Melton, Booklist

'Evans brings wit and insight to this tale of looking for love in all the wrong places.'  Kirkus Reviews

Detective Inspector Joe Rafferty manages to become chief suspect in his own double murder investigation. And all he’d been doing was looking for love…

It had been his sergeant's wedding that had brought home to him that, far from still being the 'Jack the Lad' of old, he was not only lonely, but in danger of turning into a sad old git. So, with his fortieth birthday on the horizon, he decides it's time to take the initiative.

To this end, he signs up with the Made in Heaven dating agency. Wary of his colleagues discovering his shameful secret, he persuades his more up-market cousin to let him borrow his identity. It's just unfortunate that the first two women with whom he strikes up a rapport should wind up murdered and with himself - or rather his alter ego - in the frame for the crimes.

Put in charge of the double murder investigation, Rafferty foresees plenty of difficulties ahead. Not least how he is to conduct the case without the witnesses pointing the finger and saying: 'But that's HIM. That's Nigel Blythe. The MURDERER!'

'It's bad enough being suspected of a double murder, worse still when it's your alter ego being pursued and it's the pits when you are the policeman in charge of supposedly catching yourself. I thoroughly enjoyed Dying For You , the sixth in the series. A lot of humour is injected in Rafferty's narrative. He's got himself in an impossible situation and one wonders what can go wrong next. I savoured this book and I'm keen to read the rest in the series asap.' Eurocrime


Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Military sexting, anus ants and never giving up

Exting iq a military widow surged. Wouldn't you agree? 

Clearly, I'm trying to tell you that predictive texting is a nightmare!  However, I am one of many that consistently make predictive text errors with barely a flinch. I consider myself an almost writer, I should be ashamed, and yet I don't seem to care that my messages are misunderstood and my words are corrupted. 

Am I wrong to text with such laissez faire? 

Should I painfully scrutinise each word and punctuation mark before I press send? My father-in-law would've screamed, 'mais oui!' 
But, what do you think?

I found myself pondering this question after texting my sister in law. 
At first I wrote:
'I need some morality in my life' - I tried again:
'I need some mortality in my life' - though both phrases may be true, this wasn't the massage I intended! Sorry message.

Friends have been crying over my lack of care when texting for years, and have now given up trying to understand them at all. Perhaps, as a writer, I should care about the message conveyed whatever the format? Should I only care if the reader gives a dam?

As the sender, I simply don't give a fan, shiv - I mean dam - about the correct spellings, grammar or punctuation, when texting. (I'm sorry Steve, I can hear you now tutting and laughing!) 
Perhaps if you show me a writing comp for a short story, using your mobile as the platform, I just might...No sorry...I still don't care! But what do you think? 

Some mistakes should be embraced; they could led to wondrous possibilities...Imagine, for example, Roald Dahl using predictive text for his 'Tales of the Unexpected' - you'd get:
'Tales of the dejected, rejected, erected and affected' - actually that sounds quite interesting!!
'Twilight', incidently comes up as 'twirling' or 'toiling'...The Twirling Saga...I can see the movie now!

Perhaps texting correctly IS more important than I allow it to be? Perhaps  I'm just someone who enjoys the mistakes created, and finds them more interesting than the actual content. They are functionary messages, and although not as dull as some Facebook statuses - who gives a c..p if you've just eaten marmite, or you love your dog -  stop the press...that person you met once when you were drunk, in that bar you can't remember, with that guy you'd rather forget, has just been to Sainsburys and it was busy.  See... see how dull it is!
Next time (boring person) please predictive text me your Facebook status, don't alter the predicts and I might find you interesting enough to remember your name.

However, one WARNING: Don't text your husband at work and ask him to bring back  'cous cous' - you'll get 'anus ants' -  I've never tried them, but I'm pretty sure my kids wouldn't like them, covered in ketchup, or not.

So, let me know what you think...does every word count, whatever the format?  

Well, that's enough of that...I have news...drum roll...lights...I am now, officially, a published author...

One of my short stories was 1 of 10 selected for the  Hysteria Writing Competition, and will  be published in an Anthology: sold to raise funds for the Hysterectomy Association. I am over-joyed; the news sent me squealing into the kitchen, and had my friend flapping her arms widely, in the middle of the gym!
The book will be published in the Spring, it's for a good cause, so I'll let you know the exact publishing date and you can get your pennies out!! Do check out the website too (follow the link above). The founder, Linda, also has a great writers' website: author interviews on her Thursday Throng, Friday fiction slots, lots of useful writing info, and writing links too. Do check her out and tell her I sent you!

Having been selected as a winner, I am newly invigorated and a surge of creativity is bulging in my brain! It is so validating to know that someone thinks your words are worth something; this has spurned me on to keep writing, to never give up. The recent booker prize winner, for example, Hilary Mantell, waited years to win a booker prize, then a second quickly followed! I guess you don't ever know just how close you are to something...Remember standing for hours at the penny slot machine, waiting for that 10p-made-in-China-keyring, that you'll throw out next drag yourself away and then some little git comes along, 2p later, they hold your prize!!! 
So, don't give in...reject rejection and carry on doing whatever it is that makes you happy!

If you're looking for inspiration today then take a look at these great pictures .
Beautiful Norfolk in the snow, taken by my beloved: Jens Room. (See his flickr account for more).
The building in the shot below is a creepy, dilapidated mill. If you're in Norfolk and need some inspiration for a ghost/crime story take a look!

Happy writing. Hayley xx

Monday, 31 December 2012

In memoriam to Steven Room, and contentment.

Perhaps you have been jarred by the title of this blog? 
Perhaps these 2 elements sound conflicting and you think me insensitive; this isn't the intention so I hope that the juxtaposition will become apparent as you read on…
It is a sad fact that this year our annual Christmas rituals were replaced by funeral arrangements following the sudden loss of my father-in-law, Steven Room; sympathy cards stood in place of the usual jolly Santa, and celebratory proceedings were replaced by dark emotions: I have thus been avoiding writing at all.
However, when I discussed the dread of writing, and turning this blog into an emotional outpouring, my husband gave me one piece of advice…
”Then don’t,” he said, “Write of contentment instead”.
So, here goes…

I first met Steve over 20 years ago; petrified is the first word that springs to mind when I recall the booming articulations that could have belonged to a radio 4 presenter! His eloquence and breadth of knowledge highlighted my ignorance, and broad Leicester accent, and  sent me heading straight to a thesaurus…did I drop an ‘H’, should I have placed the emphasis on the first vowel of that word, or the second! I was ready to wear the dunce hat for evermore, but I soon discovered that the voice belonged to a gentle, humble man who indeed was incredibly intelligent, but also kind, generous and supportive. This Cambridge graduate was Captain of the Sport’s Team; he majored in Chaucer, spoke fluent French, and eventually went on to become a highly respected high-school teacher. However, he was unwilling to champion his own achievements: his modesty was a great part of his charm. A Facebook tribute page is further testimony to this humble man; his teaching skills and enthusiasm have reached hundreds of students who have recalled experiences in his class; the amount of people he encouraged to achieve is, quite simply, astounding. As you see, Steve had many enviable qualities; for one, he taught Catcher in the Rye for many years and this in itself deserves a medal!! You remember how I despise this book (see previous post!)  He apparently managed to compare the Cratch in the Eye to Dances with Wolves!!! Oh I do wish I’d been in his English class!

Although I wasn’t fortunate enough to have been taught by Steve, when I decided to become a teacher and study through the OU, Steve was there buoying me on, championing my efforts to anyone who would listen, spell checking my assignments, correcting my grammar, reading my stories and encouraging me to write more! (At this point only my tutor and I were privy to my stories, so when this legend of a man said he actually liked my stories…well, you can imagine…)
He did, however, constantly correct my punctuation and try to reign in my over-use of adjectives!! And he didn’t just correct essays …oh no… texting too!! I have never known a person text so syntactically correct!! This was just one of his many endearing qualities!

Steve was a greatly loved husband, father, Grandfather, teacher and friend. He will be sadly missed; too short a life, but I’m sure he would agree that he has had some glorious moments of contentment.

Amongst other things, I know that contentment for Steve was literature, and the teaching of;  music; admiring his garden in both France and England, after a hard days toil and labour; sitting in the sun with a beer and a fag; watching a myriad of foreign language films with Lone (intellectual not the other!); Scandinavian crime thrillers; cakes and sweet things; Rugby (the sport!); visiting family and friends in Denmark and France; laughing with his family and friends; being with his family (most of the time!).
Many simple pleasures, but I’m sure you’ll agree, contentment lives in the small things.

And contentment for me, well, I have just returned from a windswept stroll on Cromer beach with my long suffering other, and our dog; the children are happily playing with their Christmas presents; I’ve just finished the 6th Jo Nesbo (Harry Hole) book, this morning; I’m currently sitting here writing this, whilst eating chocolate as the sun sets over the garden; and I’m looking forward to the writing group which re-opens for business on Thursday (we are working on our first group anthology!); there’s a bottle of whiskey in the cupboard, a bottle of sparkly on ice and an ever expanding range of literature to digest!

What does contentment mean for you? Let me know!

I couldn’t, of course, mention Mr Room without his wife, Lone; being a Dane she is an advocate of all things Scandinavian, and by marital decree I am bound to champion the nation! This however isn’t difficult, especially if you enjoy Scandinavian crime writing! As I mentioned earlier, I have just finished the 6th Harry Hole novel and although I’m hooked on Nesbo, I recommend you explore the wider brilliance of this popular genre:
I began by reading one of the Wallander novels by Henning Mankell- an easier, gentler read than Nesbo and larsson, the action is more rural in feel than globe trotting-the essence is far more Morse than Bond! The books are a great read, but do also try to watch the addictive, original, Swedish series on DVD-go for the original rather than the painfully, brooding kenneth Branagh remakes-he’s a poor substitute for the huge charisma that is Fredrik Gunnarsson!
After Mankell, I then moved on Steig Larsson with the awesome Millennium Trilogy-I actually couldn’t put these down (clichéd but true) and read them over a few days on the beach-developing a nice book-shaped tan line across my chest! The series was absolutely awesome, a whirlwind trip (action relying heavily on the use of technology and dodgy associates!), the action is at times brutal and gruesome (at times hard to stomach), the believable characters, thrilling plot twists and of-course an amazing female lead-Lisbeth Salander-ensure that many Scandinavian thriller writers will be compared to him for years to come. Read the books first, then watch the ORIGINAL films- Daniel Craig does have great biceps, but once again something is lost in the translation and too much detail is cut by the necessity of editing for a movie length film.
After reading Larsson, and aware that these books were his last, I found Nesbo: The sticker on the front of his books calls him THE NEXT STEIG LARSSON-Yes, his books are a gripping read, but Nesbo cannot compete with Larsson’s intricacies of characterization and plot. However, saying this, I’d still thoroughly recommend reading the Jo Nesbo books , his interweaving of plot threads is extremely clever, yet wholly conceivable. Once you’ve read one you do have the basic formula, but there are some great plot twists and the lead character Harry Hole is indeed a loveable rogue!
On initial reading I thought that these books were written by a woman- an opinion I’m told is shared-the men I spoke to found the Nesbo books a little pretentious and felt that he was trying to hard to be lyrical; women I have spoken to however love the books, or is that, they love Harry Hole!!
Although you can just pick up any one of Nesbo’s books and go with them (it’s not complicated to grasp the character and his life/lack of social skills; many themes are recurrent: his colleagues tend to murdered and he’s a battling alcoholic with an attitude, oh and there’s a relationship that he keeps screwing up) it is best to read them in order-I didn’t, and it meant a few spoilers for me!

So, as the books aren’t numbered, here’s the order (a couple of texts aren’t yet readily available):

The Bat (only available in hardback/as an eBook at the minute so I haven’t read it!)
The Cockroaches (can’t even find this on Amazon!)
The Redbreast (success seems to have started here)
The Devil’s Star
The Redeemer
The Snowman (This is where they get quite gruesome!)
The Leopard

Give them a go and let me know what you think.

After I’ve given the first draft of my friend’s sci-fi novel a read (thanks, John), I’ll try another Scandi-Crime writer, as recommended by Lone…I’ll let you know what I think to both!!
If you have any recommendations please let me know by either leaving a comment where it says ‘comments’ or email me on:

Happy reading, and have a happy and contented start to 2013.

Hayley xx

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Slaughter of the Innocent

There are many forms of escapism-for me, they are: reading, writing and single malts! Indeed, escapism is a necessity of modern living for many of us and its forms may be many...However, watching the Dexter series and The Walking Dead are worryingly two  other forms I indulge in and thus I'm concerned that these choices somehow relate to a hidden personal philosophy of mine; If you don't know, I guess that the basic premise of these series boils down to this...It's ok to kill another thing if A: You are about to be eaten by someone who resembles a Jeremy Kyle contestant with the brain capacity of pond slime, or B: If an evil person continually harms the innocent without consequence then an alternative form of justice must come into force. 

Yes, so far, I'm leaning towards an agreed philosophy, though, who, and how, should justice and evil be defined? (Comments below please)

So, let us say that a wide consensus is agreed, we are clear on the term EVIL and this is the premise by which I choose to live my life, then how far, in-fact, would I go?

Well, let's test this premise using the first pond-slimed weasel that pops into my head- Ah yes...Michael Gove-yet to appear on Jeremy Kyle but mixing with pond-life nonetheless. Together with his posse of public school boy buddies they have decided that year 6 children (that's 11 year olds) should sit a grammar test which includes: identifying a passive, impassive voice within a text, and identifying main and subordinate clauses within sentences. 

Can we agree that this is evil ?

Will we see children turning away from literature, or will we see them queuing into the early hours for the next Harry Potteresque book whilst discussing the texts inadequate use of the impassive, and the lack of subordinates! I for one never read or write with these elements in the forefront of my mind (Could this be why I'm not a successful author on The Booker Prize list?!). Surely we should be nurturing the joy in the written word before teaching them to tear each sentence apart and analyse all its parts.

So, what do you think? 

Gove's posse, furthermore, have also suggested that all primary school children should learn, not just 1 foreign language (most schools I know of already teach 2) but also latin and greek- I say Mr Gove, 'Repere retro sub rupe a qua vos concepti sunt' or 'σέρνεται πίσω κάτω από τον βράχο από τον οποίο σχεδιάστηκαν' (Google told me that this means 'crawl back under the rock -guess it should say 'public school'-below which you were conceived'). 

So, as you can see, Gove indeed comes under the category of  'a bad man' doing harm to innocents, but the question now remains of how to deal with him? A punishment equivalent to the crime...hmm...If anyone has any suggestions please let me know below!

Anyway, I promised not to vent my spleen and I have broken that promise, so back to the celebration of the group's achievements! Below you will see that I have pasted Bob's amazing story which came second in the Norwich Theatre's ghost story competition. Well done again, Bob.
(Please comment at the end of the post-it isn't obvious where the link is but, if you move the mouse over it, it should highlight the link). 
Bob also wrote a brilliantly intelligent and witty review of  Alan Ayckbourn's 'Haunting Julia'. Hopefully Bob will post this up very soon!

Happy reading!!


Margot sent me to cover the funeral. It seemed a bit pointless to me – what was going to happen at his funeral, after all, that could add anything to his life story? But a job’s a job, so I looked out a suitably sombre dress and put on black tights, even though the temperature outside was somewhere in the high twenties. I was a little early, which would give me time to observe the mourners as they arrived. 

An usher intercepted me in the foyer of the crematorium. He had a clipboard and a reverential smile. Was I family? I told him I wasn’t. I was handed an order of service and accompanied to a seat. Even though it was early, the chapel was already half full, which meant that it was also half empty, so why did the usher almost sit me on the knee of the single occupant of one of the rear rows? I made a show of settling myself. Should I pretend to pray? I decided not to be hypocritical, modestly tugged my dress towards my knees, and tried to look reflective. Mourners kept arriving, but no-one else was directed to our row. Was it reserved for unwanted guests? I sneaked a look at the man next to me. He was of middle years, dark-suited, with a startlingly colourful tie. He must have noticed my scrutiny, because he turned and flashed me what could only be described as a cheeky grin. I looked away, but the contact had been made.
“Good turn out.” he said, in a husky whisper, still grinning.
“Yes,” I whispered back, not grinning. He looked away, his eyes roving the room as though trying to see someone in particular. Perhaps he was. In my head, I began to cast my piece for tomorrow, rehearsing an opening sentence: “A large lottery win did not bring good luck to local man, Simon Farnsfield. Less than six months from cashing in his winning ticket for twenty-five million pounds, Simon’s life was tragically ended by a freak accident…” Was falling drunk into the swimming pool of his new mansion a freak accident? Perhaps tragic accident would be better?
“Friend of the family?” came the husky voice beside me, cutting short my deliberations.
“Something like that,” I mumbled.
“Only I don’t recognise you.”  Why was I embarrassed to admit to being a reporter? I decided to shift the focus from myself. If he wanted to chat, I might pick up some inside information.
“Did you know him well?” I ventured.
“Pretty well.”
“An old friend?”
“Old as they come.” His tone, even though muted, was jaunty. I noticed he was still grinning, not quite your traditional mourner.
“Were you at school together?”
“Indeed we were.” This was a stroke of luck. My fingers itched to get out my voice-recorder.
“Had you kept in touch?” (This as close as I dared get to “Did you look him up again when you heard of his lottery win?”) He crossed the first fingers of his right hand in a gesture appropriately reminiscent of the National Lottery logo itself.
“We were like that.”
“His death must have come as a terrible shock?”
“It certainly did. What a prat!”
“I’m sorry?”
“Could have seen it coming. Should have seen it coming.” I almost put my hand up to my nose to stop it twitching: it was detecting the first raw, tantalising scent of a story.
“How do you mean?” I prompted. “He should have seen what coming?”
“Murder, of course.”  
This was a wind-up, wasn’t it? He knew I was a reporter. He was feeding me a line. All the same…
“You’re saying he was murdered? It wasn’t an accident?”
“Accident my arse!” A woman two rows in front heard the inappropriate word and stiffened. Arse? At a funeral? Well, really! She looked over her black-clad shoulder and frowned in our direction, positively crackling with disapproval.
“Who murdered him? How do you know?” I hissed. I had to find out more, even at the risk of further expletives. I was sensing career advancement.
“Hannah, of course. The cheating bitch!” Several people looked round this time. 
“Hannah? His wife?” The grin had gone, I noticed. At that moment, precisely on cue, the grieving widow entered, head bowed, faltering steps aided by an older man: grief personified.
“She pushed him into the pool?”
“And the rest. Hard to fight back when you’re sozzled.”
Now the coffin began its slow progress from the rear doors. Everyone fell silent. I dared one last whisper: “How could you possibly know? Weren’t they alone in the place the night it happened?”
“Oh yes,” he said, “It was just the two of us.” And along with my story, he vanished.

Bob Bishop 
October 2012