Notes from a London Gentleman – A Short Story

I invite you, Dear Reader, into my home.
It is a dark, simple, three room affair consisting of a washroom, kitchen, and then a living room which also serves as a sleeping area. The walls and windows are tall with little light entering through the curtains from the street outside. There is a table covered with various documents and a pair of leather armchairs, worn with age but quite comfortable. The fire is burning with a comfortable glow and, on the well worn rug in front of the hearth, lies the sprawled corpse of a man named Daniels; a cut runs across his throat to tell of his last experiences. I stare at him as his eyes roll back to a stop within his skull, and I go to the kitchen to make some fresh tea, my previous cup is now cold and
quite unpotable.

Earlier in the evening I had been enjoying the artwork of Delacroix at the city’s national gallery. I find his work to be a little base, almost vulgar in it’s presentation of drama and movement but there are certain elements that catch my eye and were distracting enough to keep me in those rooms for a number of hours. Before I finaly left, I took a few moments to sit and view the centrepiece of the exhibition, “Liberty Leading the People”. It is an obvious and almost jingoistic piece full of flag waving and simplistic revolutionary fervour, but also has some wonderful burning buildings and the corpses are almost
to touch.

As I rose to exit the building, I noticed I had somehow caught the attention of a man who was now (badly I might add) attempting to follow me out of the gallery and, as I turned into Chandos Street, he did likewise. I stopped, turned, and asked if we had somehow previously made acquaintance of one another. In the street light I made out he was a little embarressed, hesitant even. He explained that he had seen me enjoying the pieces and was wondering if there might be an opportunity to discuss the works somewhere
more informal.

I asked him his name, and took the opportunity to invite him back to my rooms where I had some papers on the subject he was more than welcome to browse through and perhaps take a drink while doing so. He agreed, we hailed a taxi, and within a few minutes of him entering my room I had pierced and then cut his throat with a letter opener and was now searching for the Earl Grey. I presumed that Mr Daniels would not be needing
one for himself.

The inhabited streets of London are quite empty between the hours of three and five in the morning and I find this is a very convenient time at which to dispose of guests who have outstayed their welcome. This also fits in quite nicely with the lifestyle in which
I find myself.

My life is as follows: I arise around five o’clock in the early evening and enjoy a light snack, some toast and perhaps a little fruit. Ensuring I am dressed in a manner fit for the evenings endeavours, I make my way into the city at around seven. This is the best time, I find, as the employed masses are invariably moving in the opposite direction of myself, and those living in the centre have not quite ventured to the restaurants in the swarming numbers of the later hours.

The city offers a wealth of entertainment on various levels. The operas might not show as wide a variety as much as one might prefer but the theatres reliably rotate play after play after musical to ensure that a year in London is certainly not a boring one.

Dinner, later on, I prefer to take at a small out of the way place called Malroy’s on Litchfield Street, they keep a late menu. It is near enough to the hustle of the city for later opportunities but off the track enough to keep away the unwanted tourists and ruffians that might otherwise stay my appetite and disturb my meal.

After wandering the streets for a short while to take in the city air, I then consider my short journey home which is best taken past the now closing pubs and bars of the Soho area as one can often find a lone person, somewhat worse for wear, attempting to stagger home alone via the backstreets. Mr Daniels was a deviation from my usual evening’s direction as I prefer to be somewhat opportunistic in my endeavours.

Dear Reader, I must advise: It really does one no good at all to draw attention to oneself with careless fingerprints or mislaid handkerchiefs and the disposal of corpses which one might find thrilling at the onset, I assure you, very quickly become a tiresome bore. It is impractical and ungentlemanly to wander the less walked streets of the city attempting to discover a stretch of unwatched canal or an overgrown parkland where one might then have to drag a wieghty corpse.

It takes time, it increases the opportunity of discovery, and it creases ones clothes terribly. In a brief moment of madness it occurred to me to keep less refined clothes for such a purpose but this soon passed.

I have tripped people at the tops of stairs, flipped some into walls by way of a walking stick to a drunken foot, and kicked some into the path of oncoming traffic while standing, myself, between parked vehicles. The newspapers have yet to inform me of these “hideously unfortunate accidents” being investigated by the authorities as anything exactly that, and some cases are not reported upon at all.

After concluding my evening’s activities, I return to my rooms to read for a short while before turning myself in for a well deserved rest.

My life is calm, I have no companions of which to speak and a career of any description has long not been required. Dear Reader, I am currently quite satisfied.

London truly does bring wonderful opportunities for the modern Gentleman.


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Apologies for the long gap

Scan 28
All I can say is… Norman is coming!

Watch this space…

Regarding Jim.

This morning I awoke to the news that the crime author, James Thompson, had passed away over the weekend.

I had heard of Jim through my writing group here in Helsinki. He had moved here years ago from the US and carved out a successful career writing dark, gritty novels based around the career of an Inspector Vaara. Vaara starts out his career as a potentially good policeman based in the north of the country, eventually moving to Helsinki and finding his life changing over the course of the following novels.

Jim had kindly offered to give a talk to the group about his work and the potential problems involved in getting books published, sticking to story structure and so on. I had been unable to attend the meeting so contacted him directly about possibly discussing my own work which he agreed to and gave me invaluable advise about reaching a wider audience, the voices used in my own work, and how to build a persona as an author i.e. finding a way of expressing yourself through your words and sticking with that where possible.

I met up with Jim on a few more occasions, he always made time where he could, before he eventually moved away last year to Lahti. Unfortunately contact with him was limited during this time and it was with the typical irony that, just as I was kicking myself around to emailing him to see how things were going, I heard of his untimely death.

My own life has experienced a number of let downs and losses in the past few years, and this should be the wake up call I need to value the time I still have to create and to reach out to people as a writer. To hear that someone like Jim, who had his fans and followers, has passed on makes me (in one way) glad that he had managed to achieve a good level of public fame through his work but as always there’s the feeling that each writer always has so much more to say. It’s a rare well that runs completely dry.

If you believe in such things, Jim has gone on to meet with other folk and to have his own adventures there. In the meanwhile the clock ticks and each second that goes by should be a reminder that things need to be done, while they can. Creating is it’s own reward, and to deny yourself of that, only ends up with one victim.

Bless you, Jim, and thanks for all you gave.


Mind melt

Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to lose my job. I experienced many thoughts and emotions as  reult of this but one of the outstanding ones was “woo-hoo, I can now concentrate on my writing”. This was, predictably, not to be.

Although I managed to get some short stories written and a number of novels started, I didn’t actually complete very much. I can put this down to two core reasons: one would be that I had no real concept of time and therefore had no deadline by which to complete my work, nothing was pressing and so I had no driver.

Secondly, of the short stories I did complete and went on to submit to websites, I had perhaps not the reaction I’d wanted (although I’m not sure exactly what I did actually expect).

There’s the over-optimistic vision of having agents bang down your day on finding your work online, which is not going to happen… there is hope that you will write something submit it, and wake up the next day in a life of brian style scenario where people shout your name and beg you for further words of wisdom. This is equally deluded but still it would be quite nice to find happening. Finally, there’s the long slow potboiler in which you become some sort of Sugarman character where you are actually unaware of your growing popularity and then people hunt you down for a documentary that tries to find out who this dark, shadowy, revolutionary figure is.

None of these things happened. I did, however, foolishly pay an amount of money to a (apparently established and respected) website to get my work published, only for it to be rejected. I should have paid attention to my own advice of never paying reviewers, agents, publishers and so on. Additionally, where I was published, the reviews only seemed to be provided by other authors and therefore seemed to smile through their words with knives behind their backs. A horrid experience.

My Twitter followers have remained quite static in number, and the only extra followers seem to be other authors intent on advertising their latest efforts to me: another author! The point being what exactly? Surely they should be hunting down bookclubs and reading groups? Coca Cola, to my knowledge, don’t go to Pepsico every week and try to get vending machines installed, the same logic can be applied here. Very, very bizarre thinking.

I will continue working on books soon, and I can’t pretend I haven’t learned anything these past months, but my intention was to write something more optimistic and forward thinking rather than the cynical tomes that are currently sitting in my head waiting to see daylight, or moonlight.

The Dead Famous pt 2 seems more likely than ever, but I had hoped to tell my cat story first. Oh, well, c’est la guerre.

Making the book into a short film

I had an idea, after making a book trailer, that I should develop the trailer into a short film in order to promote the book story a bit more but also just to have a good time spent with friends while making it.

Having no idea whatsoever how to make a short film, I started out by watching a few on youtube to see how the story structure differed from full length films, how they looked (of course that varied from picture to picture) and then what sort of reaction tehy’d had from the comments posted by viewers.

I then went about writing the screenplay, albeit an adapted one to suit the length of the film which I judged to be around ten minutes long, once compelted, so as to ensure I put over the bulk of the idea behind the story without revealing everything but also without boring the viewers to death.

I already had a camera but it wasn’t good enough for what I wanted to achieve. It was a canon 450d which has no filming capability unless attached to a computer with specific software. This proved a bit of a pain when filiming my original book trailer so bought a 650d to replace it and also invested in a basic LED light, a tripod, and two lenses to improve the look of the film.

The thing is, when you’re learning as you go along, you’re going to make mistakes and just do what you can to make thing look as fluid and clean as possible in look. This included props and locations.

The book itself is based in a newspaper office so I was lucky enough to get permission to film at an accountancy firm in Helsinki (where I live). To make it look as much like a newspaper office as possible, I made some mock up papers and printed them out (I used this site, it’s really easy to use:
I also made some fake memo’s to leave around the desks and planned to film as late in teh day as possible so it looked like it was early in the morning.
Another scene was to be filmed on the metro so I obtained filming permission from the city for this, I also got permission to film in a bar for a party scene and planned to mock up my own apartment as a mortuary for another.

All in all it’s been hard work and taken time but I hope the end product will be worth it. At the beginning of September I’m going to the US on holiday and will take loads of hard copies of my book and also plan to take a number of USB sticks holding a copy of the short film, the book trailer, a txt and doc copy of my book, plus a small promotional cv of who I am and what I’m hoping for.

I have absoltuely no idea if any of this will pay off, but if you don’t try, you don’t and will never know if you could have done.
I’ve kept my budget incredibly low, if anyone needs advice on how I did this, feel free to ask 🙂

Here goes nothing, yikes!

Book Trailer fun

Most of my posts, if not all of them, have been about my ill-conceived and badly carried out plans on how to produce a book and then go about marketing it; this post will be no exception.

I previously posted a link to the book trailer I made to promote my book, The Dead Famous. It wasn’t made too seriously (as I think was obvious from the clip) but it was fun to make and taught me, if nothing else, at least how to use iMovie for mac. It also taught me a couple of other things:

1) Cemetery workers are really suspicious of people walking around with cameras.
2) Cemetery workers are realy suspicious of people walking around with spades.
3) Cemetery workers are really suspicious of people walking around with balaclavas.

It took about two days to film, edit, and finalise the video before finally uploading it to youtube. The problem is that, once uploaded, it’s very difficult to get viewings without paid promotion. Nevertheless, I quickly gained a large number of views within the first few days and I also submitted it to the International Movie Trailers Festival (which has a “book trailers” section) which also seems to have generated a good deal of the attention I needed for it.

Lastly, I ensured that everywhere either my book or my author profile was featured throughout the internet, a link to or embedded version of the video was featured (for example Amazon allow authors to create their own pages with accompanying media)

It’s hard work, and I have complete respect for anyone that has not only made a trailer but also made a success of it. I can’t say that my sales have risen significantly, but it’s been a fun learning curve as has this whole writing experience so far 🙂

Enjoy! :

Book Trailer – The Dead Famous

Following on from my previous blog post, here is the fruit of my personal labour. I hope it provides at least a little amusement 🙂

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