AJ Reid

Notes from the Paradise Peninsula

Tag: noir

Last Day of Free Amazon Giveaway

A Smaller Hell

A Christmas Brit Grit Black Comedy set in the department store of a dying coastal town where nothing is as it first seems.

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Grey Noise

Grey Noise Rock Aug 21 2015 4

Black Comedy following the misadventures of Patrick, a sound engineer who discovers that the only way he can relieve his crippling tinnitus is by taking revenge on obnoxious musicians.

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Grey Noise: Goldtooth

goldtooth aug 21 2015 5

The sequel to Grey Noise, this follows Patrick further into the underworld as he becomes involved with a local crime family.

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Why So Violent?

To ignore or denounce violence as a storyteller seems irresponsible, since conflict is fundamental to the art, as far as I can see.  I wish that I could agree with my staunchly-pacifist friends who look like they want to kick my head in every time we lock horns on the subject, but I know that the most violence they’ve had to contend with is being thrown in a bush at school and therefore, our weltanschauungen are just different.  Some of them even blame me for propagating violence by writing about it, which really shows how little they understand it.


My parents had a nightclub and three off-licences in town.  When I was four, I used to clean the sick out of the toilets and save the empty bottles of Newcastle Brown for jukebox Jimi Hendrix money.  Violence was a part of my life from as far back as I can remember, whether it was my nan throwing boiling chip fat over protection racketeers, the bouncers kung-fu-ing the shit out of some unlucky bloke or my mother being threatened with a syringe full of HIV+ blood, it was always around.  I had death threats sent to my school at the age of six from local gangsters, happy about neither my father’s resistance to their proposed protection schemes, nor the scars from the chip fat.  By sixteen, I was sitting in vans with bouncers, waiting to go into tower blocks to retrieve bin bags of stolen cigarettes; guarding ram-raided premises with a baseball bat all night; confronting would-be armed robbers before they pulled the gun/knife on my family working in the off-licence.  The following day I would have to be back in school in my prefect’s cape, trying not to fall asleep in Latin lessons on Cicero’s speeches to the senate.


When I was 19 and studying English and Philosophy at Liverpool University, I was the victim of a violent crime that would change me forever.  Sleep became a thing of the past: impossible until I reached the point of exhaustion after a few days and pass out, but even then I was tortured by nightmares, mostly regarding the illusions that we not only live by, but survive by in a so-called civilised society.  I suspended studies for a year and in that year, they reintroduced tuition fees, making the option of returning more difficult.  Having worked with OMD and Atomic Kitten in a Liverpool studio for a few years, I pursued a career in the music business and left for Nashville, which was almost as traumatising as the violent crime, but that’s for another blog post, perhaps.


Please bear in mind that none of this even made it into A Smaller Hell: when I returned from Nashville, LA and New York with nothing and started working at the department store in town, the violence became more nebulous than a simple punch in the mouth or knife to the throat.  The whole thing was like some bizarre psychological experiment, shot through with elitism, sexual weirdness and Machiavellian cruelty.  And this is from someone who had been working in the music business for a few years.


It was at this time that information about corrupt corporations and governments began to leak on to the internet in a big way, and I began making comparisons between the store manager and these larger-scale villains.   I also began to delve deeper into the part that narcissism played in all of this, and that helped me to forge the character of Dianne Doyle.  It felt like a process of zooming in and out of various concepts for both comic and disturbing effect, which is reflected in the title somewhat.  It was the absurdity of the manager’s craven need for control within the outdated, grandiose crucible of a traditional department store that really inspired me.  Her psychological violence was always calculated, insidious, subtle and usually, amazingly effective at bending staff members to her will.


I am not championing violence by portraying it in accordance with my experiences: I hate it more than anything.  However, to water down what I have learnt through painful experience would render my writing redundant, not only to me, but to anyone reading it.  I find it difficult to apologise or even sympathise with anyone “offended” by violence in storytelling, because existence itself is a form of violence: as a consequence of sexual congress (itself a violent act), our spirits are plucked from the dark shelves of the netherworld, stuffed into pink bags of flesh, bone and blood and ejected through some poor lady’s bits into a world where the screaming never ends.  Who would choose it?  The rest of the multiverse would have to be hellish in comparison.

Have a nice day.

Check out A Smaller Hell and let me know what you think in the comments.


Who is Dianne Doyle?

I used to work in a department store where there was a manager who ruled with something of a manicured iron fist.  She actually used to get kicks out of reprimanding staff and subverting their relationships, which she would achieve in very subtle ways.  She was a maestro of negativity, conducting us like an orchestra and luring us into making mistakes, just so that she could make a show of whichever poor wretch was on her hitlist that day.

She wasn’t without charm, though, which is why I thought that she would make a great villain.  The longer I worked there, the more rumours I heard and the more I saw with my own eyes, the more intriguing she became.  She used the workplace hierarchy and corporate targets for her own ends, none of which were actually concerned with profit margins.

This, and certain other experiences led me to study psychology in a bid to demystify the motives in any kind of cruelty, whereupon I learnt about psychopathy and its causes/effects.  When writing A Smaller Hell, I took an example of a philanthropist in Joseph Williamson, who built the famous tunnels in Liverpool, and summoned him in the founder of the department store: Commander Clarence Tanner.  The idea was to have Dianne Doyle be a personification of slick and shiny corporate psychopathy in contrast to Tanner’s long-standing philosophy of providing work for the families of the town, giving to charity and generally keeping a fire burning for the community to rally round.

I don’t like the fact that business has become all-consuming and all-important.  It’s made me uncomfortable for a long time and the more I learn about the skulduggery that underpins the corporate world, the more I become convinced that my fears are well-founded.  I find it vulgar – even creepy – when people say “it’s good for the economy” about some morally-dubious initiative that our politicians are undertaking, as if the economy is some kind of god or idol that we should all kneel and worship, even at the expense of our own humanity.

Dianne Doyle is the face that I’ve given to those fears.  She is everything that’s dangerous about money and sex.  She’s also the mischievous authoritarian and cruel hedonist, whose greatest act of manipulation and deception is charted in A Smaller Hell and unfolds to reveal that “the Devil can sometimes do a very gentlemanly thing”, as Robert Louis Stevenson said.



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Goldtooth Free Crime Novelette Giveaway

A sound engineer with a grudge, a gun and a terrifying secret.  Which one of the band is going to get it first in this neo-noir novelette set in Liverpool, home of The Beatles?  Get your copy now FREE.

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Chinatown Sketch

In tribute to one of my favourite films, I thought I’d sketch a scene to try out my new art stuff.  I haven’t drawn or painted anything since my A-levels and even though this is just a quick scrawl, it feels really good to be doing it again.


Smaller Hell Dummy August 16th7

“AJ Reid’s ‘A Smaller Hell’ is a fable of our time.” – ***** KT Acolyte”An electrifying piece of literature.” – ***** Whim”The author takes you on a trip through the underworld and keeps the reader captivated throughout the book and wanting to learn more about the sordid secrets of Ms Doyle.” – ***** Iain Bennett”A highly enjoyable tale with a bit of everything; love, crime, black humour and magic.” – ***** -“A tale of love, hate, fear and deceit that truly captivates your imagination and drags you head first into a world where things are not always as they seem, a plot which has your heart racing as you eagerly turn page after page, unable to put the book down!” – ***** Richard MortimoreDianne Doyle is a forty-something widow who likes to play games. Her fellow pillars of the community would say that she’s just a businesswoman trying to make the best of her inheritance, but those who know her best know that her interest in profit margins ran out a long time ago. Her pampered, flawless appearance belies a dark history of perversion and violence … and the worst is yet to come for Tony Black: Tanner’s Department Store’s newest employee, and Dianne Doyle’s chosen playmate for her most enigmatic and dangerous game yet in this grim, northern dystopia.A Smaller Hell is a darkly-comic tale of collisions between the normal and the perverted; the workaday and the surreal; the logical and the absurd; and of course, good and evil. This neo-noir thriller will keep you guessing as Black negotiates his way through the darkest alleys of this once-splendid shipbuilding town, right up until the shocking climax at the Christmas party.This adventure was inspired by Franz Kafka, three stripes, J.G. Ballard, cheap cider, Dennis Lehane, sovereign rings, Rockports, greasy spoon cafes, street violence, spit and sawdust boxing clubs, working in a fancy department store at Christmas, psychopathy, Irvine Welsh, Iain Banks, true love, nymphomaniacs, consumerism, Martin Amis, Aldous Huxley, corporatocracy, hierarchy, cruelty and the stickiest, smokiest, most dangerous pubs known to mankind.


A Smaller Hell is available FREE from August 13th – August 17th 2015 on Amazon.

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