Categories
Books Bullying

From Distort to Despair

Sometimes, there’s just too much technology to learn when all I really want to do is to write and edit.

This month, I’ve been taking part in one of those Instagram challenges. Here it is:

Today’s word (yesterday’s actually), DISTORT, led me to insert an extract from my book, Cultivating a Fuji, or at least to try. I struggled to insert the extract in a post, so I decided to put the extract in a comment, but that didn’t work either.

I think it’s an important extract that shows a lot about people and life. So I’m putting it here instead. What does it make you think of? Does it remind you of any episodes in your past?

July 1968

Trevor’s dad looked up from reading Trevor’s end-of-fourth form report, a sour grimace distorting his countenance. He particularly disliked the comment from the maths teacher: “What has Trevor been doing for the last four years? Certainly not studying maths. His mark in the last exam is atrocious.”

“A son of mine should be able to do better than that,” Dad told Trevor.

By this time, Trevor had picked up a thing or two from all those around him. He might not have bothered with studying, but he’d filled his brain with tips for navigating his way through life. Searching for one that would help him now, he soon came across it. Point the finger back at them. Yes, that would work. “Were you good at maths, then?” he asked.

“No, but I knew how to just squeeze past the red line by the skin of my teeth.”

Hmm. Next tip. Get sympathy. “But I don’t understand half the stuff we’re learning. I need help. Can’t you get me a private teacher?”

“Private teachers cost a lot of money, son. Look, this is what you need to do. Find some kid who’s good at maths and offer him something he needs in return for helping you.”

“What if I don’t have what he needs, or I don’t want to give it to him?”

“I didn’t say you have to give it to him. Listen to me. I said offer it. When you don’t need him any more, you find a way of getting out of your part of the bargain.”

Seven-year-old Trevor would have found it hard to accept such advice, but at fifteen he had a completely different sense of fairness. The new sense told him it was fair to look after number one first. In fact, he generally took it even further and looked after number one exclusively.

Trevor soon had a victim in mind, one who fitted the bill perfectly. He was good at maths; he needed something; Trevor could promise it; Trevor could easily renege on his promise. As soon as the new term started, Trevor went in search of his prey.

As usual, he stood alone in a corner of the playground, feet together, back straight, and head down. As if he’d been given a punishment. In that position, it was easy to, well, corner him and announce a proposition. Trevor went over to him and laid a hand on his shoulder.

“Martin, I’ve been thinking. We could be friends. Would you like that?”

Martin blinked and nodded.

“You could come round to my place sometime, and I could go to yours.”

Martin’s eyes opened wider. His mouth, too.

Trevor could hardly believe how easy this was. “We’ll have to arrange it. In the meantime, I’m having a bit of trouble with differentiation. I missed some lessons, or I didn’t pay attention. You know what it’s like. Can you explain it to me?”

“Yes.”

Poor Martin. But also, poor Trevor. Because it takes many years for Trevor to realise that looking solely after number one isn’t a good policy for life.

Cultivating a Fuji is available from Amazon.

Categories
Books Social anxiety

Breaking Up

I’m taking a break, but Martin isn’t. You can still read about him in Cultivating a Fuji.

Just before I go, here’s the interesting result of the poll I’ve been running on Twitter this past week.

Poll Result

Look at that middle number: 0%.

In other words, of those who answered the poll, not one will have any difficulty imagining what he’s like. Either you’ll see yourself in him or he’ll remind you of someone you’ve met.

Think about it. If you’re one of the 18% and see yourself in Martin, you can compare your experience with his. If you’re one of the 82%, this is your chance to look inside his head and maybe gain an understanding of what’s behind the behaviour that you’ve witnessed.

Cultivating a Fuji - Front Cover

Have a great summer!

Categories
Books

Cover Reveal

 

Curtains

With everything that’s been going on… promoting the free day for Social Anxiety Revealed and lots more – bookwise and lifewise… I somehow omitted, on this blog, to announce the fabulous cover for my new novel, Cultivating a Fuji, to be released on 15th May.

Crooked Cat have created a masterpiece with this cover.

So, without further ado…

except for a crescendoing drum roll…

and a blast from the trumpet…

I present the amazing cover of Cultivating a Fuji.

Cultivating a Fuji - Front Cover

Categories
Books

What on Earth is UPLIT?

The Marriage of Uplit and Cultivating a Fuji
The Marriage of Uplit and Cultivating a Fuji

What is UPLIT and why might it interest me?

If you look up uplit in a dictionary, you’re likely to find that either it doesn’t exist or it’s the past of the verb uplight: to illuminate from below. But google it and you’ll find uplit or up lit is a genre people are starting to talk about. And to read.

Possibly, there is a connection between those two meanings of uplit. It’s about lighting the world from below, from the ordinary people, rather than having to endure spotlights from above.

An uplit novel is one of kindness, compassion and empathy. But it doesn’t sugar-coat the world; it’s “about facing devastation, cruelty, hardship and loneliness and then saying: ‘But there is still this,’” says author Rachel Joyce. Uplit novels are books that embrace difference, idiosyncrasy and those who are either marginalised or overlooked by society.

Uplit is about broken people who become fixed. Three examples are:

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Uplit gives us readers control. It makes us realise that we can change the world – not the politicians, the dictators or the superstars, but people like you and me. We can make the world a better place, each in our own small way, and the more of us who do it, the greater effect it will have.

Uplit helps us to develop empathy for marginalised groups: immigrants, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities or mental health problems. Sadly and weirdly, another group often labelled as marginalised is women. How can a group that consists of slightly more than half the population be marginalised? Yet, it is.

My new novel, Cultivating a Fuji, to be published by Crooked Cat Books in May, focuses on a marginalised character who doesn’t have a voice, at least not a spoken one. He is not able to explain how or why or who he is. And most people naturally fail to understand and simply label him as weird. Fortunately, a few of those he meets attempt to delve deeper, to reach inside his fortified exterior, and they are the characters who give the novel its uplit flavour. He is the only person who can turn his life around, but he needs those kind, understanding characters.

An Island in Switzerland

“No man is an island entire of itself.” ~John Donne

If the novel helps to create more empathy in our fragmented world, I will be delighted. But most of all, Cultivating a Fuji is a good story, even though I have to say it myself, for now.