Sixth review for the Hundred and Fifty-Eighth Book

Katherine has read, I think, everything I have written and is always generous with her time, giving very useful feedback and writing reviews for me on Goodreads, Amazon, etc. I still use her early reviews for ‘Alfi Beasti, don’t eat that!’ and the ‘Going Out in the Midday Sun’ trilogy, and in fact for most of my books as she has a knack of, without waffle, creatively encapsulating the elements of the writing.

 

“If you found a book that contained your entire life from beginning to end, would you read it?”

Such is the dilemma, one of many often posed on the internet, which is faced by the protagonist in ”The Hundred and Fifty – Eighth Book”.
 
Hamish, a Bloomsbury bookseller, stumbles upon the red leather bound volume during a quiet morning at his shop. On opening the first chapter it seems that the narrative bears an uncanny resemblance to recent events in his life.  From this mysterious beginning, the reader is propelled into a fast paced and curious romp through 1980’s London, where it soon becomes clear that there may indeed be more than one version of this book.
 
Hamish’s adventures are deeply rooted in the era and place.  The sights, sounds and smells of 1980’s London are beautifully evoked by an author who clearly knows her patch and the setting is further enhanced by her own atmospheric drawings. Ms Hardy has a strong eye for detail, for the small everyday things that are easily overlooked but are very evocative of a time or place.
 
The characters are so affectionately depicted that one feels they must be at least partly based on real people of Ms Hardy’s acquaintance! I particularly liked Hamish’s mother and Evan, the Yorkshire chapters in which they feature forming a poignant contrast to the rest of the narrative.
 
This is a cleverly woven and most enjoyable tale. “To whoever picks this up” hang on to your hat!  You are in for a colourful and intriguing ride!
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To throw or not to throw . . .

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Files and rough manuscripts of four books: Trilogy – Going Out in the Midday Sun, and Hoxton.

As I was about to consign all rough drafts of my books to the recycling, my son said – ‘but shouldn’t you hang on to all that? The memories, the work’ . . .

I reminded him that I’d already, about two years ago, disposed of about the same again in paper and files, so therefore if I was to regard it as a complete collection of all prep work I’d ever done, it was already pillaged. So . . . to the bin. But wait. Maybe just a bit of it – the actual first ideas; the first mistake-ridden file of 80,000 words; the coffee stained and dust covered tentative trial pages . . .  Oh, OK, maybe just a small shelf’s worth.

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Big yellow file holding the first draft of the first book – where it all started. Yep, I might keep that one . . . 

So, I’ve rescued a couple of items from each book, plus the actual proof copies and the rest will become an ripping up occupation while half watching a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad (for the second time around) this evening.

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Introduction to Kate A. Hardy

Hello.

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A small biography:

At various times Kate has been a bookshop assistant, DJ, estate agent blurb writer, Mars- Bar factory worker, gardener, sous-chef, barmaid, architectural impressions maker, chip shop worker, and photographic stylist. The latter requires a sub category of just about anything imaginable: detective, taxi driver, model maker, inventor, bullshitter, diplomat, location finder, robber, dog trainer and actor.

She now spends as much time as possible writing.

Work to date:

Mister Mint and the Monster – self published in crayon and pencil in a lined exercise book around 1968

Big gap

‘Alfi Beasti, Don’t Eat That!’ written and illustrated by Kate. Published by Puffin books, 2004

Trilogy of novels: Going Out in the Midday Sun, Staying Out of the Midday Sun and The Mad Dog Café. Started in 2010, finished 1015. Now out on Amazon in paperback and as e-readers

The Hundred and Fifty-Eighth book, The Couch, Rose. Short stories taken for publication by ‘Cracked Eye’ 2015

The Hundred and fifty-eighth book made into an audio-story, read by Anton Lesser

Collection of short stories – Dog, and other tales, completed and will be available as a hardback soon.

Current work:

Series of Novels set in 2090, in ‘Londonia’ Might be classed as Dystopia, but I would like to create a new genre – Dyst-hopia: post-apocalyptic but not utterly doom-laden.

First Book, Hoxton has been completed and is currently being considered by an agency. Second book, Smithi has been finished to editing stage. Another two books are at planning stage.

Sketch from Hoxton

Hoxton cover copy

A couple of comments from readers of Hoxton.

How lovely – how clever! From the quirky title onwards the reader is in for an edgy, spookily realistic adventure set in a dystopian London of the future.
Despite there being many versions of possible future worlds, your vision ranks as one of the best I have come across. It really holds together well, in all its gruesomeness.
You write extremely competently and nothing disrupted the pace and my enjoyable read. You have a solid style, an imaginative turn of phrase and a quietly irreverent sense of humour.
The imagery you conjure is brilliant – rather Joanne Harris in places – and we all admire her writing, I think – and then again a little Cloud Atlas in the use of the altered language in David Mitchell’s dystopian world. But in and of itself, it is very individual, very Kate Hardy!
 
 
Liked this very much indeed. It’s very hard to put a new slant on dystopia and at the same time not stretching credibility too much. Excellent work.
I like the originality, the new vocabulary, the general thrust of the plot, the realism, the stuff about IKEA and Thirty Shades.
This is really something else. No surprise to see that you’re a published author. If your agent doesn’t get you a TV or film deal for this . . . get a new agent!

Mad Dog café

Finally after months of editing and faffing I again pressed the Lulu – ‘go ahead’ button and the third in my trilogy was formed and pressed into book shape. Behold, said Lulu, now you can really get down to some serious faffing . . . four edit copies later I couldn’t stand it anymore and signaled ‘that’ll do’ to myself and anyone listening in the house — dogs, I expect. So it arrived, copy five and despite spotting a missing ‘to’ somewhere, so far it seems . . . alright. Well, people have read it and said it’s more than alright, so calmness pervades until the next editing task: Hoxton.IMG_3990 

Mad Dog Café is out on Amazon along with the other two books. No 1 available on kindle and other readers, 2 and 3 to follow shortly.

An extract from The Mad Dog Café. 

Jasper wandered back outside and looked at the swaying palm trees.

    He must have appeared close to breaking point as someone standing next to him chose to ask him as much.

    “Hey, dude . . . where you goin’? You don’t look like you know.”

    Jasper turned to see a young dreadlocked man, gazing at him with large brown eyes, almost black; the dilated pupils telling of a happy drug- induced state.

    “I’ve really no idea,” replied Jasper, truthfully.

    “D’you want to share a ride to a cheap place to crash?”

    Christ, no, but . . . “Yes, sure . . . but will there be a room?” Jasper waved a hand at the hapless crowds.

    “Yeah . . . no problem — he’s always got rooms.”

 Heaving an ex-army knapsack onto his back, the guy swayed off to the taxi rank.

    The third taxi reluctantly stopped in front of them. The owner pinged the boot lid and gestured for them to put their luggage in it, staying firmly put in his seat.

    “Watch the upholstery,” he growled, as they got in the car.

    “Relax, I’m house-trained, man,” grinned Jasper’s new friend, “Silver Palace Motel, downtown.” The taxi driver nodded knowingly and they sped away.

    In a perfect world, Jasper would have been brought a ladder and some paint. He would have rested the ladder against the Motel’s sign, climbed up and re-written it for them: ‘Fetid Hole Motel’, or something similar, but then in a perfect world he would be at home in bed with Darren.

    Sighing, he contributed to the taxi fare and contemplated the exterior of the building under the dim light of the one street lamp.

    It was possibly the most vile place he had ever stayed in, or was about to stay in. Sandwiched between a fruit wholesalers and a place strewn with parts of trucks, the building seemed to be in a state of collapse at one end.

    The dreadlocked-guy smiled manically: “Hey, it’s real cheap.”

    Jasper followed him into the dark reception area and they waited. After a couple of minutes a wheezing hulk of a man appeared from a back room and nodded:  “Williams, right? And you — you sharing? Don’t care, don’t mind fags.”

    “Well, I was hoping you might have a spare room?” Jasper asked, suddenly feeling terribly English, square and law-abiding.

    The guy looked at a dog-eared book: “I got one, in the condemned end, but it’s OK, we got scaffold poles up — it’s not going nowhere.”

    “Great,” said Jasper with mild sarcasm, “I’ll take it.”

    “Meet you for a beer in the courtyard, ten minutes?” called Jasper’s friend as he disappeared down an unlit corridor.

     Jasper headed off in the direction indicated and thought about the word courtyard: a small marble square, the peaceful sound of water from a fountain, doves, climbing plants? Probably not.

    The word sleazy suddenly had a whole new list of meanings attached to it as Jasper opened the door to his room. A million cigarettes must have been sucked into lungs; a thousand desperate fucks against the worn headboard, extra-marital, illicit, illegal and far, far worse. He put his case down and sat on the bed, which sagged alarmingly. Yes a beer was imperative — many and sod the consequences. 

    The courtyard might have once been quite attractive in the early 70s; now it was a dusty concrete space filled with scabby tables and chairs. The pool was empty with a sign chain-linked across the metal handrail of the steps: closed for refurbishment. A few semi-dead plants pleaded for water.

    Jasper sat down and waited for his companion.

    He arrived, now dressed in shorts and a T-shirt with the letters: Don’t piss with me. Death is only a bullet away, emblazoned in friendly orange letters on the front.

    “Nice T-shirt,” remarked Jasper.

    “Yeah — the Grimmer Reapers, saw them in concert here last year. They’re supposed to be on again at the festival, but dunno, with all the power cuts . . . might be axed.”

    Jasper nodded and thought of sitting with Peter at a nice, calm piano concert in Perpignan. God he was so homesick.

    The sweating owner appeared: “Beer?” and disappeared again at the nod of the dreadlocked head.

    “Bird,” said Jasper’s friend and held out a hand.

    “Sorry?”

    “My name.”

    “Oh . . . I see. Jasper, hi. And thanks for helping me.”

    “No problem, man. Room alright?”

    “Yeah . . . fantastic. Great view.”

    “You like fruit, then?”

     What the fuck? “Er . . . ” It crossed Jasper’s mind that Bird had a sense of humour. “Oh, yeah, ha-ha, and dismembered trucks.”

    “Cheap though, uh?”

    “Yes, very.”

    The beers arrived.

    Jasper up-ended the bottle and two thirds went: “Ahh.”

    Bird was busy rolling an impossibly large joint. He finished it triumphantly with a twist of the white, fragile paper; applied a lighter to the end and drew hard, eyes closed, brow furrowed.

    “That’s real great.” He passed it to Jasper, his voice gruff with the smoke. “Here . . . the best, grown by my little brother in New Mexico.”

    It was a long time since Jasper had smoked anything, but as his brain was crying out for temporary oblivion, this appeared to be the perfect answer. He sucked in the pungent smoke and spluttered — vile, but then again, maybe not. A couple of drags later and the rest of the beer gone, his knees felt soft, all tense muscles relaxed and mind empty except for the image of a huge gull grinning. White teeth: teeth? “Ha-ha-ha.”

    “What’s funny, man?” smiled Bird, sleepily.

    “Grinning bird, teeth . . . shit . . . was is that stuff?”

    “Told you — it’s the best.”

 

 

Staying out of the midday sun

Finally. I pressed the ‘yes please send the book out for general release’. This takes you out from under the wing of Lulu self pub into Amazon and the like. No more revisions: if you do it’s complicated, possibly costs and you lose any reviews that you get on Amazon.

With ‘self pub’ I think there has to be a point of NO MORE FAFFING. I’m sure there will still be the odd typo, and I really hope, no more than that. It’s been edited and proof read by several people, and by myself countless times. At the last check I still found some good ones: He should should . . . etc. But In order to get on with the next book and project I felt a natural point had been reached.

IF it ever got picked up by a publishing house, no doubt there would be more than just a few typos to sort . . . but for the non-pub author struggling along,

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it is rewarding to have an actual real paper and glue book in your hands rather than a ever-changing dog-eared manuscript/computer folder.

So, button pressed. On to book three of this trilogy: The Mad Dog Café — written and in need of urgent pruning/editing/proof reading etc etc etc..