Friday, 19 January 2018

An Unremarkable Body by Elisa Lodato @LodatoElisa @wnbooks @JenKerslake





When Katharine is found dead at the foot of her stairs, it is the mystery of her life that consumes her daughter, Laura.
The medical examiner's report, in which precious parts of Katharine's body are weighed and categorised, motivates Laura to write her own version of events; to bear witness to the unbearable blank space between each itemised entry.
It forces her to confront a new version of the woman she knew only as her mother - a woman silenced by her own mother, and wronged by her husband. A woman who felt shackled by tradition and unable to love freely.
With the heart of a memoir and the pace of a thriller, An Unremarkable Body reveals an overwhelming desire to make sense of an unfulfilled life - and to prove that an unremarkable body does not mean an unremarkable life.


An Unremarkable Body by Elisa Lodato was published  by W&N on 14 December 2017 and is the author's debut novel. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

How is it possible, that just over two weeks into 2018, I have discovered so many wonderful books, and fabulous new authors? An Unremarkable Body is one of those, and I am positive that this one is going to have a place on my top books of the year list at the end of 2018.

Laura's mother Katharine, is dead. Laura discovered her at the foot of the stairs, it was a shock that she is finding very difficult to deal with, and when she receives the medical examiner's report with the most personal of details of her mother's body, she finds herself examining her relationship with her mother.

An Unremarkable Body is cleverly and neatly structured; each chapter begins with a few lines from the medical report, and from these, Laura creates her own history. Whilst the medical examiner considers Katharine's body to be unremarkable, Laura knows that every single mark and scar bears witness to what really was a remarkable life, and without doubt, a remarkable woman. From the small scar on the back of her neck, to the fractured ulna; each and every one allows Laura to remember.

This is a beautifully written novel which has mystery running through it, yet it is so much more than that. It is a poignant, emotionally challenging and at times, quite heartbreaking story of a woman who was held back by life and circumstances, but whose impact is felt by many.

Elisa Lodato's characterisation is quite wonderfully done, both Laura and Katharine are exposed, their inner thoughts and fears laid bare for the reader, their uneasy and difficult relationships are examined and explained, it really is an evocative and very compulsive read.

An Unremarkable Body is warm, compassionate and quite brilliant. I was entranced by both the story and by the alluring writing.  Highly recommended, and I look forward to reading more from this extraordinarily talented author.





Elisa grew up in London and read English at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

After graduating she went to live in Japan where she developed a love of cherry blossom and tempura. On returning to the UK she spent many happy years working for Google before training to become an English teacher. Helping pupils to search for meaning in a text inspired Elisa to take up the pen and write her own. Her first novel, An Unremarkable Body, was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award 2016 and was published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson in 2017.


Elisa lives in Surrey with her husband and two children. 

Follow her on Twitter @LodatoElisa








The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye #BlogTour @SarahMarieGraye @rararesources #TheSecondCup




Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did.
Faye's heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he's taken his own life.
With the fragility of life staring them in the face, Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and Faye her friendship with Ethan. And poor Olivia is questioning everything - including why Jack's death has hit Beth the hardest. Is she about to take her own life too?















The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye was published last year and is perfect for fans of Maggie O'Farrell, Elizabeth Strout, Patrick McGrath and Nathan Filer. I am delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today as part of the Blog Tour organised by Rachel from Rachel's Random Resources. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books.





My Life in Books - Sarah Marie Graye


I wasn’t a fan of reading as a child. I read the Peter and Jane books and thought “What a load of rubbish – my imagination is far better than that.” The only reason I continued reading was because we had lots of books in our house and strict TV rules. (BBC1 only, and the TV went off after John Craven’s Newsround unless it was Monday or Thursday and Blue Peter was on.)


My older sister was a huge fan of Enid Blyton, so her books shaped my childhood. Both my sister and I were bullied at school, but while she saw the Malory Towers series as escapism – daydreaming of going to boarding school and having lots of amazing friends – I found the books upsetting.

My heart ached for all the characters who weren’t in the inner clique; who were mocked and bullied and had no escape from school when the bell rang. When I mentioned this to my mum, she commented that she thought I was wired up differently. I secretly agreed. It came as no surprise to either of us when I was diagnosed with depression at nine years old.




I started to seek out books with lost or fragmented characters as a way to understand what was going on in my own head.


Stranger With My Face by Lois Duncan blew me away. Here was a protagonist who was intelligent, but struggled socially; who was blossoming outside, but unsure of herself inside. As well as the complexity of the main character, the story – which focuses on adopted twins and astral projection – is clever and chilling. Although this is a YA novel, Duncan treats her readers like adults. I’d also recommend Duncan’s Locked In Time – both are engaging enough for adult readers as well as teenagers.


Two books that have stayed with me from this period in my life are The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks and The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan. They were my first experiences of anti-heroes, and of authors writing about depravity and sharing characters who lived completely outside of social norms.

In The Wasp Factory, the main character is a psychopath brought up in a dysfunctional family who completes cruel rituals in order to predict the future. In The Cement Garden, we follow four siblings attempting to cope after encasing their mother’s corpse in cement in the cellar. Both books are brilliant. Neither is for the faint-hearted!





As I got older, I found myself reading more subtle versions of dissociated voices; those who were mentally on the periphery of life in some way. (Although Spider by Patrick McGrath and The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer are two notable exceptions.)





In Andrea Gillies’ The White Lie, the narrator is a bodiless voice, a character who doesn’t know whether or not he is dead. I refuse to write too much about the story here – not only do I not want to risk sharing spoilers, but this is the sort of book where you benefit from knowing as little as possible before you start reading.


After You'd Gone by Maggie O’Farrell is the first book to break my heart; I grieved for weeks. The story is told by Alice, who is in a coma after stepping out into traffic – and it’s not clear whether or not she meant to kill herself. She shares her life up until the point of the accident so you can make up your own mind.


Dorothy Koomson’s Goodnight, Beautiful introduced me to the idea of first-person multi-narration – which is the format I’ve used to write The Second Cup. Although I chose to put a name to each of my chapters, Koomson doesn’t – and I found myself thrown into a world I didn’t fully comprehend.

As I read each chapter, it became clear there were two distinct voices – and both of them were telling the same story from different perspectives. The idea that novels could expose so intimately how the actions of one character would, like a domino affect, influence another, made me realise multi-narration was the right vehicle for my own writing.


I’m also fascinated with the role time can play in novels. I was recently diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and people with the condition experience time differently. Although working against the clock has been a mainstay of thrillers since the genre began, I’m more interested in the mental aspect time can play. In The Second Cup, for example, Faye searches for her first love only to be 12 weeks too late.


Time is key to The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, which is also written in multi-narrative first person. It exposes the recurring loss felt by Clare and Henry, who are sporadically and unpredictably wrenched apart by his medical condition, where his internal clock resets itself and he is pulled through time.





Next on my to-read list are two other books that play with time – How to Stop Time by Matt Haig and The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman. If anyone reading this wants to recommend a time-bending novel (that isn’t sci-fi) please tweet to me @SarahMarieGraye.









Sarah Marie Graye was born in Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1975, to English Catholic parents. One of five daughters, to the outside world Sarah Marie's childhood followed a relatively typical Manchester upbringing... until aged 9, when she was diagnosed with depression.
It's a diagnosis that has stayed with Sarah Marie over three decades, and something she believes has coloured every life decision.
Now in her early 40s, and with an MA Creative Writing from London South Bank University (where she was the vice-chancellor's scholarship holder), Sarah Marie has published her debut novel - about family, friendships and mental health. 

Find out more at www.sarahmariegraye.com

Twitter @SarahMarieGraye





Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Feed by Nick Clark Windo @nickhdclark #NeedTheFeed @headlinepg @Bookywookydooda





Tom and Kate's daughter turns six tomorrow, and they have to tell her about sleep.
If you sleep unwatched, you could be Taken. If you are Taken, then watching won't save you.
Nothing saves you.
Your knowledge. Your memories. Your dreams.
If all you are is on the Feed, what will you become when the Feed goes down?
For Tom and Kate, in the six years since the world collapsed, every day has been a fight for survival. And when their daughter, Bea, goes missing, they will question whether they can even trust each other anymore.
The threat is closer than they realise...








The Feed by Nick Clark Windo is published in the UK by Headline in hardback on 25 January 2018.

As part of the Blog Tour, I am delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today, he's talking about the books that are important to him in My Life In Books.


My Life In Books - Nick Clark Windo

I’ve spent my life reading indiscriminately. Maybe that’s not the right word, because I would never pick just anything up – there had to be something attractive about it – but I’m unsure what that discrimination was ever about. It might have been the author, the cover, the blub that initially attracted me… One thing’s for sure: I’ve always read irrespective of genre.


In terms of books that have had a lasting impact on my life, I think a lot is simply to do with volume. So many books by Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, Elizabeth Strout, Tim Winton, Margaret Atwood…that amount of words is weighty, all those stories have gravity and collectively create a lasting impact without you ever quite realising it. That's partly the beauty of books, isn’t it?


But enough evasion. In terms of trying to pinpoint specific books that have been important to me…here are a clear ten.


Anything by Roald Dahl. By saying that I realise I’ve already blown my ten. But I read them all so many times as a child that they must have melded my brain somehow with all their wonder. If I had to specify two, it’d be Matilda and The Witches. I re-read them a lot. Maybe it’s because those books are about extraordinary things being embedded in normality. In The Witches that had terrifying consequences, and being scared can be a creatively healthy thing as a child. In Matilda, how amazing it was to read about an ordinary child who could do extraordinary things. That gave me hope, I think – again, a pretty healthy thing to have as a child. Also, I had Matilda as a hard-back book and that felt seriously special.



Anthony Horowitz’s Pentagram series left a lasting impression because it was so dark. It felt like really bad things could happen to its young protagonists. Only four books of the five were published, though I understand everything was reworked later in his Power of Five series. Again, there was something powerful about these books as things. The front covers of The Night of the Scorpion and The Silver Citadel especially made these books treasured objects: things to look at and be absorbed by.



Doctor Who. I hold my hands up and confess that I’m entirely dodging being specific about things here. And this is a TV series, of course. Except there were a whole lot of original Doctor Who novels written during the series’ screen hiatus. And they were often brilliant. Like the TV show, it’s imagination unbridled: adventures that can happen anywhere, any-when, and at their heart is heroism: a deep sense of right and wrong (and the grey areas between).



Iain Banks was amazing. With or without the M, he was a supremely effective world creator. Big sweeping situations, built logically and presented vividly, and within them great characters and devious plots. Excession is a stand-out.



Red Earth and Pouring Rain by Vikram Chandra was a book I came across by accident and was completely absorbed by. It’s a master-class in storytelling in a story about storytelling. And then it leaps genre. That knocked open a whole world of possibilities for me. I didn’t know that a writer was allowed to do that: to dip into different cultures, to have his characters span different worlds. I’ve never read it again for fear it won’t live up to my memories of it.



Straw Dogs, by John Gray. These books don’t have to be fiction, do they? Because here I found the stuff of fiction…in a political philosophy book. And not just fiction, but science fiction: how he predicted technology might affect how we live, our societies, the very nature of our humanity. It’s profoundly terrifying…but maybe being scared can be a creatively healthy thing for an adult.




Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, Atonement by Ian McEwan, Engleby by Sebastian Faulks and Canada by Richard Ford. I’ve thrown keeping this to ten books out of the window. Here are four books that, at various different points in my life, knocked me between the eyes. High quality – ‘literary’ – prose with seriously engaging – ‘commercial’ – plots, twists and characters. There’s such a huge challenge in reading great books, and the very exciting sense of being granted permission somehow to have a go too. I don't buy into different genres being on different shelves. Sci-fi, crime, thrillers, fantasy…fiction is fiction.




David Mitchell. I love what he’s doing with his novels individually and collectively. (Surely when his many characters span all of his books I don’t have to specify a single favourite book, do I?) An engaging novel is a work-out for the brain: stretching our thoughts with huge stories and varied characters, expanding the boundaries of our personal knowledge and allowing us to empathise with people in situations out of our experience. For me that’s when books become exciting, emotional and thought provoking: when they inspire my imagination which, in turn, changes me. That's the gravity of books, and how they have an impact – on my life, at least.

Nick Clark Windo - January 2018




Please look out for the other stops on the Blog Tour which will feature more guest posts and reviews:








Nick Clark Windo studied English Literature at Cambridge and acting at RADA, and he now works as a film producer and screenwriter. Inspired by his realisation that people are becoming increasingly disconnected from one another, and questions about identity and memory, The Feed is his debut novel. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

Follow him on Twitter @nickhdclark 








Wednesday, 17 January 2018

What She Left by Rosie Fiore @rosiefiore #BlogTour @rararesources #WhatSheLeft @AllenAndUnwinUK






Helen Cooper has a charmed life. She's beautiful, accomplished, organised - the star parent at the school. Until she disappears.
But Helen wasn't abducted or murdered. She's chosen to walk away, abandoning her family, husband Sam, and her home.
Where has Helen gone, and why? What has driven her from her seemingly perfect life? What is she looking for? Sam is tormented by these questions, and gradually begins to lose his grip on work and his family life.
He sees Helen everywhere in the faces of strangers. He's losing control.
But then one day, it really is Helen's face he sees...













What She Left by Rosie Fiore was published in paperback by Allen & Unwin UK on 17 August 2017, my thanks to Rachel Gilby from Rachel's Random Resources who arranged my copy for review and who invited me to take part on this Blog Tour.


What She Left is the first of Rosie Fiore's books that I've read, although I do have a copy of her April 2017 release, After Isabella on my to-be-read shelf and I'm determined to get to it soon.
I have been completely and utterly absorbed in What She Left, it's been a real roller-coaster of a read; one of those books that when you put it down you continue to think about the story, eager to get back to it and constantly intrigued by both the plot and the excellently created characters.



Helen Cooper has it all. She's organised and efficient, her husband Sam is lusted after by all of the other school-gate mothers. Her two girls are perfectly turned out, talented and pretty. Her house is spotless, her handbag is tidy and her whole life is planned down to the exact second. Husband Sam is a high-earner, he spends time away from the home on business, safe in the knowledge that he will return to freshly ironed clothes and wholesome meals, and happy that what happens when away on business, stays away on business.



When Helen fails to collect the girls from school, it's a major event. This never happens. When Helen fails to return home that night, or the next day, or the following day, everyone knows that something terrible has happened. When the police inform Sam that Helen has been found, safe and well, he is over the moon. When he learns that she doesn't intend to come home, he is devastated and confused.

Gradually, over the next few months, Sam begins to realise that Helen really wasn't who, or what she claimed to be. He realises that he never knew his wife. It gradually dawns on him that his life has been a lie, just as Helen's has.


Rosie Fiore is a clever writer. The book is structured incredibly well, told in four parts and narrated in different voices; Sam, Helen and Miranda, their daughter. Not only does this allow the reader to learn more about the relationships within this unusual family, it also gives a good glimpse into each character ... and their reliability.


Whilst What She Left does contain mystery and some tension, it's not a crime story. It certainly looks at certain crimes and the consequences of these on both the victim and their family and friends. There's a complexity to this story that adds such a lot to the overall story, and one of the best parts of the novel, for me, was this author's ability to create a character in Sam who is so believable, but actually really not very nice at all.


I'd certainly recommend What She Left, it's pacy and well written with some intricate plot turns and fabulous character creation. I'll look forward to reading more from this author.



















Rosie Fiore was born and grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. She studied drama at the University of the Witwatersrand and has worked as a writer for theatre, television, magazines, advertising, comedy and the corporate market. Her first two novels, This Year's Black and Lame Angel were published by Struik in South Africa. This Year's Black was longlisted for the South African Sunday Times Literary Award and has subsequently been re-released as an e-book. Babies in Waiting, Wonder Women and Holly at Christmas were published by Quercus. She is the author of After Isabella, also published by Allen & Unwin.

Rosie’s next book, The After Wife (written as Cass Hunter), will be published by Trapeze in 2018, and in translation is seven countries around the world.

Rosie lives in London with her husband and two sons. 

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/rosiefiorewriter/ 
Twitter - https://twitter.com/rosiefiore














Tuesday, 16 January 2018

How To Fall In Love With A Man Who Lives In A Bush by Emmy Abrahamson @BoroughPress #HowToFallInLove




A fresh, hilarious and compulsively readable love story with the most wonderful kernel of truth to it. An uplifting and clever read for fans of Graeme Simsion and Marian Keyes.
Julia is looking for Mr Right, but Ben is more Mr Right-Now-He-Could-Do-With-a-Bath..
You may think you know what kind of novel this is, but you’d be wrong.
Yes, Julia is a single-girl cliché, living alone with her cat in Vienna and working in a language school. And yes, a series of disastrous dates has left her despairing of ever finding The One – until Ben sits next to her on a bench. He’s tall, dark, handsome…
…and also incredibly hairy, barefoot, a bit ripe-smelling and of no fixed abode.
You guessed it – they fall in love, as couples in novels do. But can Julia overlook the differences between them, abandon logic and choose with her heart?
Funny, filthy (literally) and fizzing with life – and based on a true story! – this is the perfect antidote to all those books promising you that Prince Charming lives in a castle.



How To Fall in Love With a Man Who Lives in a Bush by Emmy Abrahamson is published by Borough Press on 25th January in paperback, and is translated by Nichola Smalley. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I had no idea what to expect from this book. I hadn't heard anything about it before it arrived through my letterbox, but the blurb is enticing and I was in the mood for some smiles so welcomed the chance to read this.

What an utter and complete delight it is. The writing is sharp and funny and completely up to date, it's the sort of book that gives that feel-good glow every time you pick it up.

Julia is Swedish, living in Vienna and teaching English as a foreign language in a business school. She's not particularly happy in her job, but continues to pick up extra shifts and teach the pupils that every other teacher tries to avoid. Whilst Julia is an incredibly funny, quirky character, she has an underlying vulnerability and sadness that this clever author incorporates so well amongst the humour.

Julia's last relationship broke down badly and she's pretty socially isolated. She adores filling in surveys on the street, or popping for a hearing test .... because it's free and it gives her the chance to talk to people. Whilst she despairs at most of her students and has little in common with her colleagues, they make up a big part of her life. Under the bravado and quips, Julia is lonely.

One day, Julia meets Ben. Ben is like no other man she's ever known. He has no home, he lives in a bush, he's dirty with a long matted beard, but she likes him. There's a spark between them and it's not long before they are meeting regularly, and then they become a couple.

What follows is the story of Julia and Ben, and their relationship with each other, and with the rest of the world. It's not an easy relationship, it has many downs, but oh so many wonderful ups. It's a heartfelt, emotional and often hilarious story of a very unlikely romance.

Knowing that the author has based this novel on her own story; and that her husband was living in a bush when they met, only makes it more poignant. They say that the truth is stranger than fiction and this author taken her truth and created a wonderful story.

How To Fall in Love With A Man Who Lives in a Bush is blissfully funny and very smart. I really enjoyed this and would recommend it highly.






Emmy Abrahamson was born in 1976. 

She has written four YA books and was nominated for the August Prize in 2012 for The Only Way is Up. When she met her husband he was actually living in a bush. He was barefoot and dirty, but he was also the funniest, happiest and charming person she'd ever met.


How To Fall In Love With A Man Who Lives in a Bush is a fictionalised version of their story, and Emmy's first novel for adults.
#HowToFallInLove








Monday, 15 January 2018

Turning For Home by Barney Norris @barnontherun #BlogTour @TransworldBooks @DoubledayUK



'Isn’t the life of any person made up out of the telling of two tales, after all? People live in the space between the realities of their lives and the hopes they have for them. The whole world makes more sense if you remember that everyone has two lives, their real lives and their dreams, both stories only a tape’s breadth apart from each other, impossibly divided, indivisibly close.'


Every year, Robert's family come together at a rambling old house to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, distant cousins - it has been a milestone in their lives for decades. But this year Robert doesn't want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met - and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Neither of them is sure they can face the party. But for both Robert and Kate, it may become the most important gathering of all.

As lyrical and true to life as Norris's critically acclaimed debut Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain, which won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and Debut of the Year at the British Book Awards, this is a compelling, emotional story of family, human frailty, and the marks that love leaves on us.


  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (11 Jan. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857523740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857523747




I'm thrilled to host the Blog Tour for Turning For Home by Barney Norris on Random Things today. Turning For Home was published by Doubleday / Transworld in hardback on 11 January 2018 and is the author's second novel.



I published my review of Turning For Home here on Random Things earlier in the month. I loved this book, I am positive that it's going to be in my top books of 2018, and yes, it's only January!

You can read the full review by clicking on the link above, but here is a snippet:

"Barney Norris weaves a special kind of magic with his words. Not one single phrase or sentence is superfluous, each one is expertly placed. 
Turning For Home explores how families lose their connections, and the long and often difficult process of bring them back together. This author is incredibly talented and his story is an extraordinary portrait of a family, it is complex, yet compelling and is breathtakingly accomplished."


I was honoured to be invited to the official launch of Turning For Home, held last week at The Bridge Theatre on the South Bank in London. It was such a pleasure to meet the author for the first time and to be part of the celebrations. Turning For Home has had some amazing reviews during this Blog Tour. Barney Norris is incredibly talented and deserves every part of his success.








Barney Norris was born in Chichester in 1987 and grew up in Sussex, London and
Salisbury. 


A graduate of the universities of Oxford and Royal Holloway, his plays are AT FIRST SIGHT (presented on tour and at Latitude Festival, 2011) and MISSING (Tristan Bates Theatre 2012), and his poetry, stories and other writings have been published in various little magazines. 

He is the co-artistic director of the theatre company Up In Arms (www.upinarms.org.uk), works as Max Stafford-Clark's assistant at Out of Joint, and has previously worked and trained under Bernard O'Donoghue, Andrew Motion, Jo Shapcott, Thelma Holt, Peter Gill and David Hare, and at Salisbury Playhouse, Oxford Playhouse, the Royal Court and the Bush.


Follow him on Twitter @barnontherun 







 

City Without Stars by Tim Baker @TimBakerWrites #BlogTour @FaberBooks @laurennicoll_ #CityWithoutStars





The only thing more dangerous than the cartels is the truth...
In Ciudad Real, Mexico, a deadly war between rival cartels is erupting, and hundreds of female sweat-shop workers are being murdered. As his police superiors start shutting down his investigation, Fuentes suspects most of his colleagues are on the payroll of narco kingpin, El Santo.
Meanwhile, despairing union activist, Pilar, decides to take social justice into her own hands. But if she wants to stop the killings, she's going to have to ignore all her instincts and accept the help of Fuentes. When the name of Mexico's saintly orphan rescuer, Padre Márcio, keeps resurfacing, Pilar and Fuentes begin to realise how deep the cover-up goes.









  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (18 Jan. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057133833X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571338337




Welcome to the Blog Tour for City Without Stars by Tim Baker, published in paperback by Faber & Faber on 18 January 2017.

I'm delighted to share an extract from the book, here on Random Things today:


Isabel
It arrives with the storm, approaching floodlights bruising the desert night. Yellow dogs raise their heads, their eyes glittering then going black with the passing lights. The Lincoln Navigator blasts across the wasteland, impaled plastic rustling from its passage, frantic to escape the snare of barbed wire.
The shriek of braking tires sends the dogs scattering into shadows. Trash circles in anxious eddies then disappears with the headlamps. The animals quiver in the sudden silence, paw-ing the ground, greedy and afraid.
Two men get out, silhouetted against desert hills that tremble with the nervous kick of lightning. They open the cargo hatch and heave something into the darkness. There is the crash of cans spilling.
Doors slam shut and the car pulls away.
The dogs nose the storm- crumpled air then cautiously re-emerge, padding silently towards the whisper of settling dust.


Pilar
Sunlight forces its way through the grime of the windows, dis-turbing a man in his sleep. His arm scouts for a companion, but finds only an empty pillow which he gathers close to his face.
A shower runs in the adjoining bathroom, steam escaping through the open door, examining the detritus of the night be-fore: an empty bottle of tequila, a crowded ashtray; the silver foil of a torn condom pouch.
Hotel rooms.
Contained universes.
Hidden histories for everyone except the people caught within them. The man on the bed is the past. The woman in the shower is the future.
Pilar soaps her black pubic hair, the hot water running out. She turns it off to build up the pressure of the cold jet, tensing her muscles under its challenge; feeling alive again.
Another morning.
Another chance to make things right.







Tim Baker - photo by Colin Englert
Born in Sydney, Tim Baker lived in Rome and Madrid before moving to Paris, where he wrote about jazz.

He has worked on film projects in India, China, Mexico, Brazil and Australia, and currently lives in the South of France with his wife, their son, and two rescue animals, a god and a cat.


His debut novel, Fever City, was published in 2016 and went on to be shortlisted for the CWA's John Creasey New Blood Dagger award and nominated for the Private Eye Writers of America's 2017 Shamus Award.



Follow him on Twitter @TimBakerWrites