They Are trying to Break Your Heart
Bloomsbury, March 2016
In 1994, Marko Novak's world is torn apart by the death of his best friend. Kemal, a young soldier in the darkest days of the Bosnian war, is killed in the shelling of their home town. But his body is never recovered. After the funeral, Marko flees to England, hoping to put his broken homeland, and the part he played in the loss of his friend, behind him. In 2004, human rights researcher Anya Teal is following a tenuous lead in the hunt for a Bosnian man with blood on his hands. She is also clinging to the fragile hope that she can rebuild a relationship with her first love, William Howell. Inviting Will to holiday in the Thai beach resort of Kao Lak, her motives are not entirely pure. She hopes the holiday will offer them the chance to unpick the mistakes of their past, but Kao Lak may also be home to the man Anya is looking for - a man with a much darker history.
Pub date TBA
Grace Wheeler is a foreign correspondent whose best days appear to be behind her. Her children no longer need her, her editor no longer calls, and the television is full of younger, prettier women who wouldn't know what journalism was if it groped them in an editing suite. Returning to the Caucasus, where she made her name during the Chechen conflict, Grace intends only to wallow in the nostalgia of her old friends, and the arms of her old flame. But then she stumbles across a story so dangerous, it could change the geopolitical map of Europe. But will Europe listen to Grace?
Disinformation leads the reader from the fall of the Soviet Union to Putin's wars in Georgia and Ukraine. When a journalist begins to question not only their subject, but also themselves, where does the truth really lie?
Tindal Street Press 2009
A while back, I wrote a story called Table Rock Lake. It was chosen for a Bridport Prize, but being the numpty I am, I had simultaneously submitted it for the prize and for publication in an anthology by Tindal Street Press. This meant the story was disqualified from Bridport, but eventually published in this beautiful collection from Tindal Street. It's about a gay man whose lover is caught up in the abuse of detainees in an Iraqi jail. Yes, it's a barrel of laughs. But The Independent called it 'moving and surprising', which could describe the last Prawn Jalfrezi I had.
From Table Rock Lake...
Back from second tour you finished building the cabin. Just out of Pittsburgh, you said. So I flew from Arkansas Northwest Regional to the City of Bridges and found you two hundred miles across the map. Hired a teeny new Ford compact with a teeny new engine. Would have hired an Explorer if I knew how far. Hell, would have hired a freaking RV. Just out of Pittsburgh turns into just out of Punxsutawney turns into just
out of Clearfield and the road never stops climbing and when night falls the hills are darker than the sky. Come midnight on Route 80? I’m still passing rigs in a convoy must be sixty strong, a long chain of lights like a landing strip and only the air beating between trailers to keep a man awake. Then the road you off has no electric. Road turns into tyre-tracks of damp autumn leaves. Tyre-tracks turn into creek where I call you from a cell and say, ‘I knew you was country, boy, but this is real country, they still hanging niggers round here?’ And you say, ‘Question is, how far is Abel Jones prepared to go for a short-ass redneck?’
Mechanic's Institute Review, 16
Birkbeck Press, 2015
My story, Intervention, will appear in MIR 16 this November. Over the past fifteen years, MIR has featured work from Hari Kunzru, Alex Preston, Evie Wyld, Toby Litt, Julia Bell, Ali Smith and many more.
Mechanic's Institute Review, 10
Birkbeck Press, 2009
My story, Split , appeared in MIR 6.
Tindal Street Press, 1999
My first published story, A Death in the Family, appeared in this collection of young Midlands writers, by the excellent Tindal Street Press. Thankyou Jackie Gay and Julia Bell for choosing and publishing it!