Fletchski has a new site!

Greetings all you wonderful Lobsterites.

I’ve a lovely new blog over at http://fletchski.wordpress.com Why don’t you pop over and have a look at all the stuff I’ve been up to lately?

Cheers.

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The Next Big Thing

Next Big Thing

The following ten questions (and my stab at answering them) form part of The Next Big Thing. If you don’t know what this is, it’s simply an opportunity to tell the world about your current writing project. And when you’ve finished answering the ten questions below you get to tag other people, who do the same.

Its my turn to answer and then tag three other writing friends – so advance apologies to Ryan Davis, Andy Winter and Yasmin Ali.

I was tagged by Richard Lakin. Richard is a tremendous writer with a love of pugilism and rail travel. You can check out Richard’s knock out work Richard Lakin

So, Garrie, what’s your next big thing?

I’m just putting the finishing touches to a short story I’m sending to the BBC’s Writers Room as part of their Opening Lines competition, it has to be in by Friday so I really shouldn’t be doing this now. Prior to that I sent a short story off to Cinnamon Press and another to the Stroke Association for their celebratory publication around the theme of 20 as they’ve been around for, yes, you guessed it, twenty years. I just had two poems published in the Offa’s Press anthology, ‘We’re All In This Together’ and I’ve another in the Earth Love anthology this Spring. Twisted between all this are bursts of keyboard activity as I try to finish my novel.

20121214-161656.jpg

1) What is the working title of your book?

The book has had a number of titles since I started it including, Here Come the Lobsters, (the very title of this blog) Spoon Squad and currently Going Underground. Going Underground was a reference to the classic Jam song but also a reference to a series of tunnels that had a prime position in the narrative. I’ve since filled in the tunnels so the title could change again.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

It came from me head! Like, straight out from between me ears and onto the page. Ugh, that sounds messy which is apt as it came from what can be a messy profession. In the early 90’s I was working in a care home in Northampton, my home town. It was a real eye opener. Not just because of the people that lived there, who were challenging, frightening and wonderful but also because of the people who worked with them. I worked in a number of places during the 90’s in Northampton and Birmingham but it was the thought of setting something in my home town that dealt with these people that live on the edges of society that really excited me.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

I’m not sure. Its dark with light touches of humour and very urban. Literary fiction sounds a bit pompous to me. It’s just a cracking tale of unrequited love, with psychotic Polish gangsters and large doses of piss stained laundry thrown in for good measure. I find genres quite hard to pin down sometimes and not altogether useful. I’ve just finished Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane, which is set in the near future in a fictional west coast Irish city. Now you might class it as science fiction but your average sci-fi enthusiast wouldn’t be best pleased if they took it home (no spaceships or gadgetry,) or you could call it speculative fiction, but it could just as easily be called historical fiction (this makes sense if you’ve read it.) I think I’d best get it finished first before I start worrying about genres.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

There are three main characters: Miles who’s in his early twenties and struggling with being unemployable as a photographer despite four years of studying; Sophia, a gorgeous Polish volunteer trying to lay her grandfather’s ghost to rest and Vince a twisted mass of muscle and hatred trying to kill his past. Miles would be played by Robert Sheehan of Misfits and Red Riding fame as he has emotional depth, gobbyness and isn’t too pretty. I’d have Jelka van Houten play Sophia, she’s possibly not young enough but I thought she was marvellous in Channel 4’s Fresh Meat. You’d need a very physical actor to play Vince, someone with a brutal physique ( or the ability to bulk up ) and commanding voice, with that in mind I’d go for Tom Hardy from this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises, you’d never think he was the same guy who started out in Band of Brothers.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

High Fidelity meets Shallow Grave. No, that’s the elevator pitch. Let’s see. Spencer House is home to the broken souls that slip through the cracks; the troubled, the violent, but they shouldn’t worry you; the people who work there should.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I want to go down the traditional route with this. I want it to be good enough for someone to put their own backing behind it. That said I’ve seen some really good self published books out there so I wouldn’t discount it out of hand.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Too long.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Tough question. When I started writing it I was heavily influenced by David Peace’s Red Riding books but I’ve moved away from that and found a voice of my own. I’d like it to be comparable with a good Kevin Barry short story, but obviously longer, or Irvine Welsh with less drugs and Scottish accents.

9) Who or What inspired you to write this book?

When I worked in care I found that despite the residents, or service users as we now call them, unique range of disabilities, syndromes and behaviours that the people who worked with them were often more interesting and harder to understand. One person in particular stayed with me years after I’d left and I wondered what it was that lead him to work with such vulnerable people. So I took him as a starting point and then mutated it into a twisted story of unrequited love and Polish gangsters.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Ah but surely the promise of urine drenched bed sheets is enough? My book will offer an insight into the world of private care. The less than honourable dealings of some of the people that run these homes and the transient characters that work there. Its filled with romance, angst, brutal violence, a quest for the truth and a butt clenching climax. Nuff said.

It’s tag time:

I’m tagging three fellow writers: Ryan Davis, Andy Winter and Yasmin Ali. Three very different writers and very busy people, so I hope they don’t mind. Cheers in advance guys.

The Next Big Thing

Next Big Thing

The following ten questions (and my stab at answering them) form part of The Next Big Thing. If you don’t know what this is, it’s simply an opportunity to tell the world about your current writing project. And when you’ve finished answering the ten questions below you get to tag other people, who do the same.

Its my turn to answer and then tag three other writing friends – so advance apologies to Ryan Davis, Andy Winter and Yasmin Ali.

I was tagged by Richard Lakin. Richard is a tremendous writer with a love of pugilism and rail travel. You can check out Richard’s knock out work Richard Lakin

So, Garrie, what’s your next big thing?

I’m just putting the finishing touches to a short story I’m sending to the BBC’s Writers Room as part of their Opening Lines competition, it has to be in by Friday so I really shouldn’t be doing this now. Prior to that I sent a short story off to Cinnamon Press and another to the Stroke Association for their celebratory publication around the theme of 20 as they’ve been around for, yes, you guessed it, twenty years. I just had two poems published in the Offa’s Press anthology, ‘We’re All In This Together’ and I’ve another in the Earth Love anthology this Spring. Twisted between all this are bursts of keyboard activity as I try to finish my novel.

20121214-161656.jpg

1) What is the working title of your book?

The book has had a number of titles since I started it including, Here Come the Lobsters, (the very title of this blog) Spoon Squad and currently Going Underground. Going Underground was a reference to the classic Jam song but also a reference to a series of tunnels that had a prime position in the narrative. I’ve since filled in the tunnels so the title could change again.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

It came from me head! Like, straight out from between me ears and onto the page. Ugh, that sounds messy which is apt as it came from what can be a messy profession. In the early 90’s I was working in a care home in Northampton, my home town. It was a real eye opener. Not just because of the people that lived there, who were challenging, frightening and wonderful but also because of the people who worked with them. I worked in a number of places during the 90’s in Northampton and Birmingham but it was the thought of setting something in my home town that dealt with these people that live on the edges of society that really excited me.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

I’m not sure. Its dark with light touches of humour and very urban. Literary fiction sounds a bit pompous to me. It’s just a cracking tale of unrequited love, with psychotic Polish gangsters and large doses of piss stained laundry thrown in for good measure. I find genres quite hard to pin down sometimes and not altogether useful. I’ve just finished Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane, which is set in the near future in a fictional west coast Irish city. Now you might class it as science fiction but your average sci-fi enthusiast wouldn’t be best pleased if they took it home (no spaceships or gadgetry,) or you could call it speculative fiction, but it could just as easily be called historical fiction (this makes sense if you’ve read it.) I think I’d best get it finished first before I start worrying about genres.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

There are three main characters: Miles who’s in his early twenties and struggling with being unemployable as a photographer despite four years of studying; Sophia, a gorgeous Polish volunteer trying to lay her grandfather’s ghost to rest and Vince a twisted mass of muscle and hatred trying to kill his past. Miles would be played by Robert Sheehan of Misfits and Red Riding fame as he has emotional depth, gobbyness and isn’t too pretty. I’d have Jelka van Houten play Sophia, she’s possibly not young enough but I thought she was marvellous in Channel 4’s Fresh Meat. You’d need a very physical actor to play Vince, someone with a brutal physique ( or the ability to bulk up ) and commanding voice, with that in mind I’d go for Tom Hardy from this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises, you’d never think he was the same guy who started out in Band of Brothers.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

High Fidelity meets Shallow Grave. No, that’s the elevator pitch. Let’s see. Spencer House is home to the broken souls that slip through the cracks; the troubled, the violent, but they shouldn’t worry you; the people who work there should.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I want to go down the traditional route with this. I want it to be good enough for someone to put their own backing behind it. That said I’ve seen some really good self published books out there so I wouldn’t discount it out of hand.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Too long.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Tough question. When I started writing it I was heavily influenced by David Peace’s Red Riding books but I’ve moved away from that and found a voice of my own. I’d like it to be comparable with a good Kevin Barry short story, but obviously longer, or Irvine Welsh with less drugs and Scottish accents.

9) Who or What inspired you to write this book?

When I worked in care I found that despite the residents, or service users as we now call them, unique range of disabilities, syndromes and behaviours that the people who worked with them were often more interesting and harder to understand. One person in particular stayed with me years after I’d left and I wondered what it was that lead him to work with such vulnerable people. So I took him as a starting point and then mutated it into a twisted story of unrequited love and Polish gangsters.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Ah but surely the promise of urine drenched bed sheets is enough? My book will offer an insight into the world of private care. The less than honourable dealings of some of the people that run these homes and the transient characters that work there. Its filled with romance, angst, brutal violence, a quest for the truth and a but clenching climax. Nuff said.

It’s tag time:

I’m tagging three fellow writers: Ryan Davis, Andy Winter and Yasmin Ali. Three very different writers and very busy people, so I hope they don’t mind. Cheers in advance guys.

The Next Big Thing

Next Big Thing

The following ten questions (and my stab at answering them) form part of The Next Big Thing. If you don’t know what this is, it’s simply an opportunity to tell the world about your current writing project. And when you’ve finished answering the ten questions below you get to tag other people, who do the same.

Its my turn to answer and then tag three other writing friends – so advance apologies to Ryan Davis, Andy Winter and Yasmin Ali.

I was tagged by Richard Lakin. Richard is a tremendous writer with a love of pugilism and rail travel. You can check out Richard’s knock out work Richard Lakin

So, Garrie, what’s your next big thing?

I’m just putting the finishing touches to a short story I’m sending to the BBC’s Writers Room as part of their Opening Lines competition, it has to be in by Friday so I really shouldn’t be doing this now. Prior to that I sent a short story off to Cinnamon Press and another to the Stroke Association for their celebratory publication around the theme of 20 as they’ve been around for, yes, you guessed it, twenty years. I just had two poems published in the Offa’s Press anthology, ‘We’re All In This Together’ and I’ve another in the Earth Love anthology this Spring. Twisted between all this are bursts of keyboard activity as I try to finish my novel.

20121214-161656.jpg

1) What is the working title of your book?

The book has had a number of titles since I started it including, Here Come the Lobsters, (the very title of this blog) Spoon Squad and currently Going Underground. Going Underground was a reference to the classic Jam song but also a reference to a series of tunnels that had a prime position in the narrative. I’ve since filled in the tunnels so the title could change again.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

It came from me head! Like, straight out from between me ears and onto the page. Ugh, that sounds messy which is apt as it came from what can be a messy profession. In the early 90’s I was working in a care home in Northampton, my home town. It was a real eye opener. Not just because of the people that lived there, who were challenging, frightening and wonderful but also because of the people who worked with them. I worked in a number of places during the 90’s in Northampton and Birmingham but it was the thought of setting something in my home town that dealt with these people that live on the edges of society that really excited me.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

I’m not sure. Its dark with light touches of humour and very urban. Literary fiction sounds a bit pompous to me. It’s just a cracking tale of unrequited love, with psychotic Polish gangsters and large doses of piss stained laundry thrown in for good measure. I find genres quite hard to pin down sometimes and not altogether useful. I’ve just finished Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane, which is set in the near future in a fictional west coast Irish city. Now you might class it as science fiction but your average sci-fi enthusiast wouldn’t be best pleased if they took it home (no spaceships or gadgetry,) or you could call it speculative fiction, but it could just as easily be called historical fiction (this makes sense if you’ve read it.) I think I’d best get it finished first before I start worrying about genres.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

There are three main characters: Miles who’s in his early twenties and struggling with being unemployable as a photographer despite four years of studying; Sophia, a gorgeous Polish volunteer trying to lay her grandfather’s ghost to rest and Vince a twisted mass of muscle and hatred trying to kill his past. Miles would be played by Robert Sheehan of Misfits and Red Ridingfame as he has emotional depth, gobbyness and isn’t too pretty. I’d have Jelka van Houten play Sophia, she’s possible not young enough but I thought she was marvellous in Channel 4’s Fresh Meat. You’d need a very physical actor to play Vince, someone with a brutal physique ( or the ability to bulk up ) and commanding voice, with that in mind I’d go for Tom Hardy from this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises, you’d never think he was the same guy who started out in Band of Brothers.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

High Fidelity meets Shallow Grave. No, that’s the elevator pitch. Let’s see. Spencer House is home to the broken souls that slip through the cracks; the troubled, the violent, but they shouldn’t worry you; the people who work there should.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I want to go down the traditional route with this. I want it to be good enough for someone to put their own backing behind it. That said I’ve seen some really good self published books out there so I wouldn’t discount it out of hand.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Too long.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Tough question. When I started writing it I was heavily influenced by David Peace’s Red Riding books but I’ve moved away from that and found a voice of my own. I’d like it to be comparable with a good Kevin Barry short story, but obviously longer, or Irvine Welsh with less drugs and Scottish accents.

9) Who or What inspired you to write this book?

When I worked in care I found that despite the residents, or service users as we now call them, unique range of disabilities, syndromes and behaviours that the people who worked with them were often more interesting and harder to understand. One person in particular stayed with me years after I’d left and I wondered what it was that lead him to work with such vulnerable people. So I took him as a starting point and then mutated it into a twisted story of unrequited love and Polish gangsters.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Ah but surely the promise of urine drenched bed sheets is enough? My book will offer an insight into the world of private care. The less than honourable dealings of some of the people that run these homes and the transient characters that work there. Its filled with romance, angst, brutal violence, a quest for the truth and a but clenching climax. Nuff said.

It’s tag time:

I’m tagging three fellow writers: Ryan Davis, Andy Winter and Yasmin Ali. Three very different writers and very busy people, so I hope they don’t mind. Cheers in advance guys.

Review: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ve read all of his other novels and really enjoyed them but this one didn’t do it for me. Mitchell can write, there’s no denying that and he has a confidence in his storytelling that leaves many other writers flagging far behind but for me this was one intricate description of a quirky Japanese character too far.

I couldn’t relate to any of the characters and found it hard to keep going until finally I called it a day about mid way through the book. I know you’re clever Dave, just tell the bloody story! I felt, at times, that I was suffocating in the past, viewing everything in high res 3D smello vision, choking on the detail. Overwritten. A brutal edit might have got something decent from it but this just smacked of over indulgence to me.

View all my reviews

Review: Among Thieves

Among Thieves
Among Thieves by Mez Packer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this.

It rattles along at a fair old pace hooking you into the lives of the three main characters who are Jez, a white working class Coventry lad at odds with his upbringing, Pads, a privileged middle-class university drop out who struggles with his attraction to his fellow drop out Andy and Mehmet an Albanian emigree who tells the story of his life to an unknown listener with sadness and honour. The tale is set in 1984 and mainly takes place in Coventry, southern Spain and India. The attention to detail is good, without being stifling, but I did find it odd that there was no mention of the miners strike what with Cov being caught in the crossfire between the Arley and Keresley pits during the industrial action and Andy being such an advocate of ‘class war.’ I also wasn’t sure about the use of the phrase ‘chill out’ for that time period, I don’t remember hearing it but then I was only 14/15 at the time. These minor quibbles aside I found the book totally engaging and bought into the whole premise of two middle class blokes running a small drugs gang in Skaville UK, however improbable that may be.

I thought it was very brave of Packer to sidestep dealing with Andy head on, who for me is probably the focal point for the whole tale, and to only allow us to see him through the eyes of Jez and Pads, brave and inspired. This approach works really well and gives Andy real validity something which may have been lost if we heard things from his point of view. Packer has chosen three males as her main characters and she draws out very believable protagonists, these are people you know, or have known, I was impressed with how well she captured male view points especially on women, honour, family etc. without sounding tired or second hand. I don’t want to spoil the book by talking about the plot, so I won’t, all I will say is that it snakes and winds around to a very satisfying conclusion without feeling overly contrived. Some of the description in the book is just gorgeous and I wish I’d made notes as I was reading it do that I could share them with you.

Friends recommended this to me ages ago and I only wish I’d read it sooner as its one of those wonderful books that stay with you long after you’ve finished it, one of those rare books where you dread getting near to the end because you know you’ll have to leave those characters behind but that you push on with regardless because you have to find out what happens.

If you’re thinking about reading this stop thinking about it and start reading it, great stuff.

View all my reviews

Free Writing Workshops in Birmingham

I’ve just booked myself a place on a series of free writing workshops based at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham. The workshops are to be run by Andrew Killeen a local author who writes historical fiction. Andrew has just had his second book published and you can find more information about that and him here.

I have it on good authority, from Karen, Andrew’s wife, that there are still a number of places left. This is an ideal opportunity to hone your writing skills with the help of a published author, to read your work, or have your work read, at the Birmingham Book Festival and to possibly have you work published in  a book linked to the project. I for one think those are three excellent reasons for signing up, oh, and its free! so there’s four.

The Barber Institute situated in the grounds of Birmingham University.

I attended a writing course at the Barber a few years ago when Jack Kerouac’s original manuscript for ‘On the Road’ was on display. It’s a wonderful venue, Birmingham’s finest Art Deco building that the Observer described as “one of the finest small art galleries in Europe.” I’m not going to argue with that. Here’s the info I received with my booking confirmation.

Calling All Writers!

Andrew Killeen. Writer in residence at the Barber Institute.


Would you like your story to be read at the Birmingham Book Festival? Or even published?

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts invites aspiring writers to join a series of free writing workshops exploring the theme of ‘The City in Art’. These 3 workshops will be led by novelist Andrew Killeen; this year’s Barber writer-in-residence.

Participants will write and develop stories inspired by the fascinating exhibition Cityscapes: Panoramic Views on European Coins and Medals as well as other city-themed works in the collection. A selection of stories will then be read out at a live event during the Birmingham Book Festival, on Thursday 11 October, at the Barber, and may be published in a book produced as part of the project.

Workshop dates (all workshops 1pm to 4pm):

Sunday 12 August Exploring exhibitions/collections and developing ideas

Sunday 2 September Sharing and discussing drafts

Sunday 16 September Reading and celebrating finished stories

Participants must commit to attending all three workshops.

For further information and to reserve your place, please contact the Learning and Access Team on: Tel. 0121 414 2261 / 7335 or Email education@barber.org.uk