In a possibly vain attempt to have my novels published by a small independent publisher, rather than be purely self-published I found my self-having to write synopsis’s of my two published novels and the forthcoming third novel ‘A Spider In The Eye…’ Actually, I probably didn’t strictly speaking write synopsis’s but it was close enough for the purpose and was actually fun to try and do. After all, I wrote about 200000 words between these two novels, condensing that down to something simple and to the point was strangely challenging.
Anyway having done so I thought I would throw them up here, because, well why not.
Cider Lane: Of Silences and Stars
The novel centres around two protagonists, Susanna and Colin who each for reasons of there own past find themselves on the fringes. Sue, a sixteen-year-old school girl, has had some serious issues in her young life that have left her isolated and emotionally withdrawn, but these come to a head when she is involved in a horrific car crash of which she is the only survivor. the trauma of this event causes her to fall back into withdrawal from the world. Into a metaphysical dark cave of her own creation. Hiding in this cave from the horror of the crash and the implications of it she wanders away before help arrives, becoming lost within the darkness of her withdrawal she stumbles along until she finds herself at an abandoned cottage in an old orchard, in the middle of nowhere, and it is here, by necessity as much as anything else she slowly starts to emerge from her withdrawl. But the implications of the crash and her own isolationist personality keep her form wanting to leave the cottage and return to the ‘real world'( for want of a better word.)
Colin, is in his early thirties, a man who has also withdrawn from the world, though the circumstances are different. highly intelligent, a gifted childhood and going to university at fifteen left him struggling to make relationships and understand people as a whole. Despite this, he managed to become a lecturer at an age where most of his students were only just younger than him. yet this too led to disconnection, until he found it in a relationship with one of his students, all be it a girl only a couple of years younger than himself, inhume he saw much of himself in his student years of isolation and depression, ultimately this relationship was doomed and also this lead to his disgrace, and been sacked from his job. He moved to Manchester to a new post and studied addiction and addicts, but a traumatic discovery left him moving from studying drug culture to addiction himself. By the time the novel opens he has fought and won his battle with addiction but is now homeless and travels the country scratching a living as can be found for those of no fix abode. Which brings him after a while to the cottage in the orchard, an old ‘stay’ of his he has been using for several years. and Into contact with Sue. Recognising her as one of the lost, he seeks to help her reconnect with the world and help keep her safe.
Together, through several mis-starts and mistakes, they form a bond and sue slowly begins to reconnect with the world. But that reconnection is fragile, and built on feels she develops for Colin, feelings he is only too aware are miss places and that he can not share. he knows his attempts to reach her may be flawed and the bridges he builds with her may be set on sand. but he tries, all the same, to do what he considers to be the best thing for her. While finding that in doing so he can lay to rest some of his own demons…
meanwhile, off page save for a few chapters, a search is going on for Sue, the lost survivor of the car crash, but one of the police officers in charge has his own issues in his past which will ultimately loom large in the end of the novel.
(I never claimed it was a cheerful tale 😊) though it does have a thread of humour running through it alongside some fairly serious concepts and ideas.
Passing place: Location Relative
The novel centres around Richard, a professional musician whom wife committed suicide after a long battle with depression two years before we meet him. His response to this tragic event, and his way of dealing with his grief, was to go on a quest to find the answer to that most impossible of questions, why?,. He sold everything he owned, bought a car and set off across America, before selling the car and started riding the greyhound busses instead once the money started running out. Always moving, never finding an answer because there was no answer to find, driven by his grief and a sense of anger with the universe. When we meet him he is at the end of this journey, broke, with just the clothes he is wearing, stood at a bus station in a mid-west town he doesn’t even know the name of, at midnight in a thunderstorm, at which point a cat, of all things, draws his attention to a card the bus station window. ‘Piano player wanted, Esquiths Piano bar and grill, Location relative…’ Intrigued despite himself, he sets off into the night for the centre of this nameless town to find the bar. As much as anything, because its something to do, and because he had the strangest feeling the cat drew his attention to the card by talking to him. He doesn’t rule out hysteria at this point… The bar proves impossible to find until he suddenly does, in a place he was sure he found nothing moments before, again he is not ruling out a lapse in his sanity at this point… Despite this, he enters the place anyway.
So Richard finds himself playing piano in this odd little bar that is not always so little, The doorman tells him a tale which is ridiculous on one level, tragic on another, and impossible in its entirety, yet has echoes of his own. This is but the first of tales he hears in the bar, from other staff members, and its patrons. A gunslinger tells him a tale of an old west that never was, and a death that stalked in from the high plains. An Inuit tells him the saga of the Ice queen, the longest of nights and diamonds shed like tears. The grey man who cleans the floors tells him of the grey world from which he comes, while the chef in the kitchen makes him sandwichs before he orders them by bending the laws of causality. Other tales are told and each seems to hold a meaning if only Richard could grasp what the meanings were. The green haired girl behind the bar shows him the Forrest in the cellar and he walks through Paris on a hot summers night fifty years before he was born. For as Sonny the doorman explains, the bar is a passing place, that sits between worlds, and its doors can open out in to anywhere, and anywhen… But never to the one place and time Richard would most wish to be, a bathroom in the lower east side two years and a few hours ago where he could finally get an answer to that impossible question, or prevent it ever needing to be asked in the first place…
meanwhile, something lurks in the darkest corners of the bar, something threatening, something sinister, and something red… and the cat’s still talking to him…
In essence its a story about stories made up of stories being told in a bar after hours somewhere between late and early. It’s also a story of seeking salvation and solace in strange places. It’s also a damn good way to write a book of short stories and sandwich them around a greater novel but hey I have never claimed otherwise…
A spider in the eye.
This is my current project, which has a working second draft. It’s a steampunk setting, first-person tale with an unreliable narrator who is a self-confessed liar, braggart and thief. Hannibal Smyth ( harry smith). I wrote the first draft for fun in between other stuff so it was mildly silly, it still is but its a lot neater and actually coherent now as a narrative. While ist steampunk, it is set in the modern day, sort of. Time got a little twisted by a gentleman by the name of Wells who discovered time travel and the horrors of the 20th century and decided he had to do something. What he did was prevent the death of good old Queen Vic , in the mistaken belief that the British Empire could hold the world together if old iron knickers were around to hold the empire itself together. Progress, sort of stagnated at this point the went off wildly in another direction. I have drawn on as much early sci-fi as possible with this. (yes Wells has the initials HG… sue me) including using ‘She’ and the well of life, so that several major historical figures, like old iron knickers, are still about. the wars of the twentieth century were avoided but colonialism never ended as a result. It also means that several modern day figures are in the book, in guises that are somewhat unfamiliar. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are rival mad scientists one of with is obsessed with optics… eye this eye that etc… Vladimir Putin is a jumped up airship pilot turned captain with ideas above his station and several large chips on his shoulder and utterly disrespected by everyone… and other fun stuff.
meanwhile, old Harry is on death row waiting for the noose when he is made an offer he can’t refuse by ‘M’ an agent of the mysterious ministry. All he has to do is track down some deviant who is raising an insurrection in India who it seems is determined to bring the empire down. As events continue to drag old harry through the mud, knock him out, capture him, torture him, tie him to bedposts and have at him with knives, he often wonders if the noose was preferable after all…
The first two are of course available if you find your interest peeked, the third is still a work in progess..