I’ve often read that as authors it’s good to sometimes write outside of our comfort zone. I must admit that I do prefer to base plots around middle-aged protagonists carrying emotional baggage or going through some sort of crisis. I find a mid-life crisis more interesting to write about rather than younger people who are yet to experience life’s ups and downs and tend to be more self-absorbed in their quest for a career and/or partner.
Even before I had begun writing my debut novel in 2013 I had started a short story based on an overweight 18 year old, Alys Linford, who spends most of her life sitting with her equally large mother Jackiey on the sofa watching daytime TV. Alys wants to be slim and have a life outside of their dingy council flat, and after one particular over-indulgent Christmas she gets the motivation to try and shed half her body weight. Jackiey has no such inclination to lose the pounds, and therefore Alys and Jackiey’s contrasting lifestyles start to cause some friction.
The short story was never finished, and it was put on the back burner as I then had the idea for The Porn Detective. Recently after re-writing The Porn Detective I picked up Alys In Hunger-Land again and turned it into a 29,000 word novella. It seemed strange after 4 years of writing novels about over 50’s and then sitting down to finish this one about a person who is so young, but if you’re looking for a light beach read this summer for just $0.99/£0.99, why not give it a go?
At the moment Amazon seem to have published the old book cover which I had originally added back in 2013, but hopefully the new cover will be on view soon.
Here’s a little taster from Chapter 1:
Hi. I’m Alys Linford. The Alys is pronounced the same as Alice, but Mum wanted me to be a bit different from all the other Alices. I certainly am a bit different, because I’m probably somewhat larger than the majority of them. I’m only 5ft 3, and look like a little round ball of fat. Life sucks big time.
I hate weighing myself, but I’m addicted to seeing just exactly how much I do weigh. In the privacy of the bathroom I flick my shoulder-length brown hair behind my ears out of the way and gaze down at the scales (I make sure I’ve ‘been’ to the loo), noticing with some alarm that two more pounds have been gained, tipping me over into 20 stone something instead of 19 stone something. I want to cry.
I trudge back into the front room and flop down dejectedly onto the sofa. Mum looks up from doing The Sun crossword, takes another puff of her fag, and blows out a smoke ring.
I wipe away a tear and look down at my feet.
“I’ve just gone up another two pounds.”
“That’s Christmas for you.” Mum shrugs. “Eat and be happy, that’s what I say. I’m going to throw those bloody scales away.”
Mum had bought a huge turkey for Christmas Day. She hates vegetables and never cooks them, so we had eaten loads of turkey and chips and baked beans for our Christmas dinner. She doesn’t like fruit, fruit cake or Christmas pudding either, and so she had made a big chocolate cake full of fresh cream for afters. There was just Mum and I to eat it all, as Dad had died of a heart attack last year and I don’t have any brothers and sisters. The turkey and chocolate cake lasted us about three days. After that it was back to normal. We often have Chinese takeaways for dinner, or if not Mum will cook something like pizzas, pies or sausages with loads of chips, or big fry-ups with lashings of fried bread. It all tastes lovely. Sometimes I wish it tasted like shit, and then I wouldn’t want to eat it.