Monday, 1 December 2008

Extractor fan?

If so, you can read some extracts from Friday Morning with Sun Saluki in the three posts below.

friday morning with sun saluki

There is a bridge in New Luddle that stretches out over a busy commuter track. Cars and trucks grumble and shit along its uneven surface but the drivers – the Dupontians - don’t ever look up.

They don’t ever see the boy who stands on this bridge every morning looking down.

The boy is called Sun Saluki and he likes to look for slogans. Today he sees three. They are not new to him. Sun Saluki can’t remember the last time he saw a new slogan. Today he sees three:
Dupont 4 ever (thin blue ink staggered along bicep)
Dupont is all I want (white t-shirt, thick red bubble letters)
I’m a Du – who the fuck are you?
(knitted red scarf stretched across rear window)
He steps down from the bridge a little disappointed. The Dupontians don’t seem as interested in slogans these days. He expected a little more on his fifteenth birthday: one-five the only age to be alive.

There are no slogans in New Luddle. Away from the bridge they are uninvented, unheard, unknown. I guess you’d need a reason to have a slogan, a reason to shout out. The New Ludlows never shout, they never have a reason.

Leaving treads in the dust Sun Saluki walks away from the bridge towards home. He sees Ferry Doberman jogging. Every morning he catches a glimpse of Ferry Doberman completing his three laps of the colony. Always bursting into a sprint for the final lap, always collapsing just short of the finish. Ferry wears pale blue shorts with black cotton stripes down each side. Sweat pours down his face and drips from his fingertips. He is a lissom waxwork melting in the sun. His long hooked nose drips like a faulty tap. He is utterly soaked and completely sapped. Gradually he recovers. Gradually he straightens up. Tomorrow he’ll be fine.

Ferry is the talk of the colony right now. Apparently… Ferry’s brother Donny told Bill Spitz that Ferry was thinking about entering a marathon. It would seem that at first Bill Spitz wasn’t too impressed with this slight piece of gossip, but then Donny explained how the marathon wasn’t here in New Luddle, but across the border in Dupont.

Sun Saluki can’t remember the last time a resident left the colony; perhaps when he was a child, he didn’t know. He wouldn’t be surprised if nobody had ever left New Luddle. Why would you? He certainly couldn’t think of any reasons.
Across the street Tala Pekepoo is making her way to Beth Pointer’s café. Sun Saluki waves and speaks.

‘Enjoy your breakfast, Tala.’

Tala waves back but does not speak. Perhaps she didn’t hear. Usually she’d say hello.
Sun carries on home, kicking dust. He leaves diamond shaped treads in the ground. He too begins to sweat in the morning heat.

Today the sun is hot. He remembers one time, up on the bridge, a Dupontian car had a sticker in its rear window that said ‘hot hot hot’ in big red letters. The first ‘h’ and last ‘t’ were shaded by large green parasols and all the o’s were pictured as blazing suns. As Sun feels the heat spread over his body, mummifying him in warmth, he thinks this would probably be a good slogan to stick onto his fifteenth birthday - hot hot hot. With green parasols and blazing suns.

He looks at his watch. It is twenty-five minutes past eight. He needs to be home soon for breakfast if he is to make it in time to meet his friends. He promised Daisy Spaniel and Fleece Dingo he’d see them by the statue of Victor Poodle no later than nine.

He hurries home.

the story of religion and new luddle and how it all came to be how it is today


The first ever Pastoral of New Luddle was a nice man called Father Mastiff. Trouble was, he had very little to work with, no bible, no perfunctory routines, no guidelines, no blueprint. Who knew when to genuflect, when to stand, sit, join in, keep quiet? Certainly not Father Mastiff. When starting off in an invented religion it’s very much a case of ad lib to begin with (the lesson learnt). Fortunately, Father Mastiff was a pretty good ad libber. One of the best in fact. His improvised metaphors and analogies were so convincing that, as with any good religion, they soon, with a bit of time, became truth. They became the belief. The guideline, the blueprint.
And God is watching us. Because he is all around. He is everywhere. And he can see us. All of us. With his eyes. His many eyes because each one of those tomatoes out there, each and every one of those are his eyes. Those are God’s eyes people. He is watching us.’
Father Mastiff, Sermon 5, somewhere near the end.

This ‘tomatoes being God’s many eyes, always watching them’, at some point stopped being an inspirational and guiding metaphor and became a kind of transcendental truth that Ludlows actually believed. Only after years and years and after the religion was so cemented into the colony’s consciousness that it could never be ousted, did the odd young Ludlow begin to ask questions like, ‘hang on, isn’t that just a metaphor, the tomatoes on the plants aren’t actually God’s eyes are they? I mean not really.’ Some replied, ‘actually yes, they are actually God’s eyes, so you had better watch out young man.’ Others said ‘no, of course they’re not actually God’s eyes, but the process of transubstantiation would make them God’s eyes, so in effect they could be God’s eyes if you think about it.’ While some of the old sages of New Luddle would say, ‘it is not for us to understand, but for him to tell us.’

Once, a youngster asked the naïve question, ‘Why do we boil God’s eyes in water and make cakes out of them, if they are… God’s eyes, rather than tomatoes?’ After the initial laughter had stopped a rather long silence occurred. Father Mastiff stepped forward. He was coming to the end of his tenure and was by now a very old man. He’d been the Pastoral for over fifty years. With a reassuring smile, he explained that the tomtoes do of course stop being God’s eyes when they are picked from the plant: this is his gift to us. Everybody immediately nodded in agreement, breathed a sigh of relief and stared at the boy they felt had been made to look foolish.
And they believed it too. Even Father Mastiff, who had by this late stage in his life completely forgotten that it was only ever a piece of inspired improvisation that put the suggestion into people’s minds in the first place. Genius really. It will survive forever.

And so things carried on. Crosses made from fruit, tomatoes carried by children at offertory and a general consistency of hurried sermons not fought by the congregation who had by now let the personal importance of mere attendance and routine take over from any real desire for religious teaching. So, as you can see, The St Bernard Church for Pantheists became just like any other church. Well, sort of. Until the present incumbent had his little revelation. Yes, Father Lurcher changed everything. What with his gift and all.

lieutenant brett dachshund and bobby hound play cards in the provisional police hut

Victor Poodle built the perfect society. Plentiful resources and equality. He knew there was no real need to infuse a concept like crimininality into a place like New Luddle. But he also knew a little something about human behaviour. He knew human behaviour wasn’t uniform.


So Victor created the provisional police.The provisional police consists of a fully-trained lieutenant and a trainee lieutenant who is prepared for the job upon the retirement or death of the serving lieutenant. It is worth noting that the provisional police have no authority or power. They are inactive. (some Ludlows call them the ‘sleeping police’ although this is unfair as sitting in a hut all day playing cards is enough to make anybody tired.) Technically, there is no police force in New Luddle. However, should a crime be committed the provisional police will be activated and become the official police with the power to arrest and detain and bring persons to justice etcetera. Each lieutenant and trainee has an NLPD badge kept in a drawer in the police hut. They are to be taken out and worn only when the concept of crime introduces itself to New Luddle. Until that day, the only authority in New Luddle is the Mayor.

The present lieutenant is the dashing Brett Dachshund. He’s been the lieutenant for ten years now and feels (despite the purported equality in New Luddle) that if you were to draw up some kind of hierarchy of New Luddle then he would be featuring somewhere near the top of the pyramid. A pretty important guy in other words. Secretly, he can’t wait for the day he becomes officially instated as a bona fide police lieutenant instead of this provisional nonsense. Until that day he keeps himself occupied in his role as mentor and tutor. His trainee is Bobby Hound. A keen sleuth himself, Bobby may not be the brightest star in the sky (more dark matter) but he is always the first to ask a question. He’s the sort of person who likes to know things. Although in fairness (irony) you couldn’t say he knew a whole lot.

‘Yes Bobby.’
‘Do you know something?’
‘I know lots of things Bobby, put down a card will you eh?’
‘Well, I heard that in Dupont they have thousands of real police officers walking the streets, solving crime – I mean like real crime, murders and stuff - all day every day.’
‘I’m sure they do Bobby, the place is a mess. What’s your point?’
‘What made you say it? Goodness me Bobby now where did you get that two of hearts from, give them here I’ll deal this time.’
‘Well, wouldn’t you like to do that Boss, you know, solve crimes all day long, wouldn’t that be better than playing gin rummy?’
‘Goodness me Bobby, have I not taught you anything? Better than gin rummy? Crime all day long? Have you suddenly become twisted?’
‘Why do you think there’s no crime in New Luddle, Bobby?’
‘Because Victor Poodle built and nurtured a perfect society, Boss.’
‘Well yes, there is that. But I’d say the chief reason is because of us.’
‘Yes, us Bobby. The (potential) law enforcement agency that governs this colonies moral and ethical requirements. There’s plenty of criminals in New Luddle alright.’
‘There is?’
‘Oh yeah, a cornucopia of crims in this colony.’
‘But Boss?’
‘How come they never commit any crime? I mean there has never been a crime committed here. What kind of criminals are we dealing with Boss?’
‘Well, I’d say the clever kind, Bobby.’
‘Clever? I think maybe they’re just lazy Boss, you know what this sun can do to you.’
‘(tut) They know not to commit any crime here because if they did, boy if they did (almost licks lips) … you know what would happen don’t you?.’
‘They’d be activating us Bobby. They’d be the ones to establish a real genuine N.L.P.D instead of this fiasco of a pretend type thing. We’d be on to them like a flash. And tell me Bobby, what kind of criminal brings about the existence of a police force when he or she (never forget the existence of women, Bobby) currently lives in a police-free criminal paradise?
‘Not sure Boss. A burglar?’
‘No, Bobby! Goodness me, I’m referring to the criminal’s mentality, not their genre.’
‘Oh, in that case a pretty stupid one Boss.’
‘Correct, a pretty stupid one, and as I said before Bobby the countless criminals in New Luddle are all pretty clever because they know… Goodness me Bobby is that another two of hearts? Do you never shuffle these cards properly?’

And so on and so forth. The New Luddle Police Department. The NLPD sit, play cards, discuss the job and wait. Wait for the day they become legitimized, called into action, the day they’ve been training for all their lives. No more imagined simulation. No more daydreams of wrestling weapons to safety or acted-out interrogations. The day everything becomes real. For real. So they sit. And wait. The NLPD sit. And wait. And play cards.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

I can't do everything

The trouble with going it alone in the publishing business is the numerous roles needed to be filled, all fall upon the loner.

The writing bit was good. Writing a book is definitely good. But now I have to promote and market. I need to be a publicist and agent. This is where I struggle. The whole idea of self publishing was that it allowed me to avoid the industry. Allowed me to operate outside the industry. No need to speak or have any contact with publishers, publicists, agents, editors who would turn sun saluki into a product, prepped and ready for market, not recognisable as my original creation. Part of the plan was to write with the freedom and knowledge that nobody would be able to change it. If it was a bit rough round the edges so what? Not everything benefits from being stripped and polished. Herein would be the unique quality, the charm.

But now I have to sell it. I am the one who needs to turn it into a product. I am the one getting their hands dirty prepping it for market. The way I've been speaking about it, I no longer recognise sun saluki as my original creation.

But what can you do? If I do nothing nobody will buy it and I won't achieve my goal of breaking even and preventing it all from being one big vanity project. Also, I still think people will enjoy it. So I will have to continue heading up every department, I'll be a salesman for a while, a marketeer, and that will be fine just as long as I remember the writing is what matters, sun saluki is what matters.

So roll up, gather round, there's this book, and I'm telling ya, you NEED to own this book...

Tuesday, 12 August 2008


How's this for an attitude:  If people don't like the book, this is a good thing.  If they hate it, if it annoys them, if it makes them angry, if it makes them scream 'farce', if it makes them pity me and my failed ambition, if it makes them screw up the book and throw it in the bin.  

All good things.

If you want to achieve something new and original and fresh that goes against the grain of popular perception and the literary rule book, all of the above is necessary.  If everybody liked it and thought it was a wonderful read and they'll pass it on to their gran and daughter and three year old nephew, then this would be a concern for both myself and my home made, new wave, changing how books are read and written, credentials.  So the more people hate it, the better.  The more it annoys, the more revolutionary it becomes.  If the whole world hates it, it has to be a future masterpiece, right?

The bad things.

I don't really believe any of that.  Well, not to that extent.  I work in a bookshop and will sell the book in the shop.  A good few colleagues and friends will buy the book.  Family will buy the book.  Now I know out of this small group only a few will really take to the book.  It's not a very takeable book.  It isn't to everyone's taste.  It just isn't.  So I adopt the attitude.  I secretly smile when people say they've started the book but won't comment on if they like it and quickly change the subject.  This is a good thing, remember.  We want resentment.  We want sickening hatred.  I laugh at the thought of people saying how awful and weird it is.  It means I am on course.  I have written something people just aren't ready for yet.  This is my attitude.

Then I heard somebody had started reading it and really liked it.  It was a nice feeling.  I remembered how it was never written as an anti this that or anything.  It was written for pleasure, it was written from the heart.  I remember how it isn't even that strange a book, a little off kilter perhaps but still essentially traditional in most ways, it's a light book, a storybook, it is meant to entertain.   So I'd like to deny all former claims of desiring antipathy, it was an attitude I adopted, it was my attempt to cope.  It was my only way of coping.  But I'm over it now.  It's gone.  I think.  I don't know.  Should the next person tell me they hated the book, with a really vicious hatred, if they're seething with anger, well... I may be smiling once more.  Let the revolution begin.  We all need to cope.


Thursday, 7 August 2008

This is the Beginning

So it has begun. After a few years of planning and fannying my book has been published. By me.

It is self-published, vanity published, print on demand and firm sale. I have no agent, no deal, no publisher, no reviews, no press interest and no firm marketing plans. So far it has cost me £910. My ambition is to one day break even.  

It feels embarrassing and anachronistic to speak of DIY and ethics and punk. It feels uncomfortable to talk about operating outside the industry and silly, to not desire its consent.  

Most people who self-publish do so out of failure to find a publisher. It is often the last resort. There are successful adverts for self-publishing, a list of names. But they are all last-resorters, settlers, convinced one day they'd find the big time, the agent the publisher, the deal they'd been so wrongly denied.  Self-publishing is a way to mentally manoeuvre around rejection.   You can easily convince yourself that as it turned out you didn't need them to be a published author, screw them, all authors get rejected, you're no different to JK Rowling and look at her, they'll be sorry when word gets round and they're fighting over you and you're signing a six-figure deal and they want you back and then finally you will be that proper author sitting at your table for the Booker Prize, standing to collect your cheque, knowing the immediate impact on sales. Another print run will be called for. Just imagine.

So there'll be none of that for me. I will try and arouse some interest in Friday Morning with Sun Saluki, I hope to sell some copies but what pleases me most is that it's not like many other books in that it wasn't written with a reader in mind, there was not a single paragraph written that I 'hoped' people would like. I am sure agents and editors would have a field day with it.  They would tear it apart, tell me to start again. At least I hope all this is true. Because then I would feel like maybe I can start something. Something new and original and perhaps lacking quality or correct structure or perfect sentences and consistent tenses. I hope that my book is something different because I have no one to answer to.  Not yet.