My body aches. Yesterday I was a surf bunny. Today I feel like a sandblasted rodent casserole. Of course, I am home in France. Already a few glasses of smooth Bordeaux wine have loosened my tensions and this wicked world seems a long way away. The sun drenched brochure busting beaches of the Ile d’ Oleron are too close to ignore. Yesterday I set out with my body board and came back with a boarded up body. Something has happened in the last 25 years – but at least a lot more of me floats nicely.
This preamble on my luxurious hedonism brings me to the real subject of this blog. We all have dreams of the good life one day. Wealth, worldly success and status could be ours one day. For many folk of my latter end boomer generation, there were levers there to be pulled. Most of my contemporaries obtained jobs and careers with quite modest educational qualifications. Company pensions were generous and you could expect to bring up kids in a decent dwelling. Things are far tougher now – just reflect for a minute on the long term impact of 50% youth unemployment in Greece and Spain. My own life has been fairly much working class – but there was work and an income to be gained.
One of the paradoxical comedy clichés of our time is the aspirational no-hoper. The hapless home mechanics and D.I.Y. enthusiasts provide a wealth of sit-com fodder. The little guy who dreams of getting to be Mr BIG, the ugly guy who tries to date Miss World are far more than comic stereotypes. There are thousands and thousands of them. I think I might be one in my own little way. A while ago I was waiting for a party at a horse race meeting and I was chatting to a few other drivers about the lives they had led. A chatty Londoner explained to me that although he was a humble figure, he had once been wealthy and that it was only a matter of time until he was up there again. He told me a bizarre love story. I don’t think he guessed that I would write it down as “The Chosen”.
I love short stories. As a kid I used to listen to them on the radio. Typically a story would last for 15 minutes. To me, this is how the narrative must have been before literacy. Folk would tell a story of a real event or a handed down traditional tale. The listeners would stretch their imaginations to visualise the characters. My idea of a magic mammoth may not be yours! (As a child I hated picture books that stole my own images). I have always written short stories and I believe in them as a pure form of the tale. The possibility of adding audio now gives authors the chance to go back to the true roots of fiction – the out loud story. The novel is a new experiment by comparison. The continuing success of “Sub Prime” with audio has encouraged me to add a free audio track to “The Chosen”. So great is my belief in the audio story that I release stories as “singles” in the way that the old 45 records were sold. If you look at the way that music is purchased on iTunes it is clear that punters are keen to pay a few pence for just a single track from an album rather than buy the whole deal. Stephen Woodfin’s blog provides an interesting discussion on this topic.
“The Chosen” is narrated by my best mate, the poet Oscar Sparrow. (He is used to reading in front of people and not getting paid). The story was written specifically for audio with the emphasis on dialogue between two characters. In order to differentiate between them I gave them very different accents. Since I do not like strong accents in written text, I have used plain English for the characters. The audio is accented and essentially is a different form of the story. If you get it, please let me know how it works for you.
Links for The Chosen:
Emma thinx: Length matters, keep it in your shorts.