Thursday, 1 December 2011

My Favourite Moment - Three Things About Me

For the Christmas build-up we MNWers have decided to post some of our favourite moments from our own books on the blog.

This is in the hope of persuading you to consider buying these books as excellent pressies, but also just because it feels good to look back and remember what you liked about your own work; it's easy to get wrapped up in negativity about previously published novels, but the truth is - these novels are good. They're great, in fact. They have something special, something that makes them unique and interesting and, well, publishable.

I'm going to start the ball rolling by returning to my first full-length novel, Three Things About Me. It dealt with seven people, each with a secret, trying to make a new life in the strange seaside town of Allcombe. The novel shared three months of their lives, from each character in turn, as they fell in love, fell to pieces, or fell off the side of the cliff.

Three Things About Me
breaks a lot of rules. It doesn't have one main character, and all the characters are, in some ways, grotesques. And yet I felt it really worked, and drew together, and culminated in some joyous moments of revelation and retribution. It also allowed me a freedom to explore reality and fantasy at the same time - superheroes mingle with business executives, bullied teenagers deal with cultists. Looking back at it now, I'm very proud of it.

So here's the first moment where, in the writing, the book absolutely grabbed me and I knew I had to finish writing it. In chapter five, Alma (once a Hollywood superstar but now an overweight alcoholic trying to learn to be an administrator) is walking along Allcombe pier when she sees a little old lady standing in the top window of an old people's home. The old lady is holding up a sign of one word - HELP.

Alma enters the home and creeps up the stairs. Here's what she finds:

There was no light-shade to cover the naked bulb that hung from the high, artexed ceiling. A single bed with a bed rail had been pushed into the corner behind the door, and next to it stood a small chest of drawers in a plain style with an oval mirror fixed above it, a fine layer of dust sprinkled evenly over it. Cheap perfume and face lotion in dated bottles sat upon it, along with a plastic navy blue brush that was caked with grey hairs in a thick, tangled pelt. A brown armchair with a worn-through seat was pushed up against the window and a crumpled ball of white paper lay on the floor next to it.

The only colour in the room was supplied by a crocheted blanket that lay over the lower half of the single bed. It was huge and ugly, made of a thousand different colours from blood red to privet hedge green, whatever wool the maker could get their hands on she presumed, and it must have taken years to complete.

‘I saw your sign,’ Alma said, just to have something to say. ‘Are you okay?’ She turned back to the door and looked at the old woman who was listening at it. She was tiny, with a slight hump and long blue fingernails that looked greasy, along with her squashed up skin. Her grey straw hair was cut short and was thinning on the crown.

‘They’re killing us,’ the old woman said.

"Three Things About Me is available in Hardback and for the Kindle.


Tim Stretton said...

"Three Things About Me" is a brilliant novel. Funny, dark and surreal at the same time.

Everyone who missed it when it came out should get it now!

Len Tyler said...

I loved Three Things about Me when I first read it. This extract reminded me how good it is. Highly recommended.

Frances Garrood said...

Lovely tantalising extract, Aliya!

Ann Weisgarber said...

You have to love a character who was a Hollywood superstar but is now an overweight alcoholic trying to be an administrator. I know I did.

It's great to see Three Things About Me back on the bookshelf.

Aliya Whiteley said...

Thanks all! Looking forward to seeing your own moments on the blog...

Eliza Graham said...

That last sentence is just wonderful. You can't help but want to read on, can you?

Deborah Swift said...

That's such a brilliant line, "They're killing us," the old woman said.

Really nice to have an insight into the book. And yes, you should be proud of it.