Lucky Newman is one of the main characters in The Horseman’s Dream. Once a Bootneck, now a PTSD-addled investigative journalist, he has a serious bone to pick with the Establishment. In this article from his his independent newspaper, he takes aim at Alice Grosvenor, a media magnate who now rules what was once the United Kingdom with a chemical cosh, powerful propaganda and a ruthless security force of foreign mercenaries.
Circumstances have forced me into launching this novel before it strays from fiction into reality, which, as beta readers will know, has already happened to some extent (fascist government, technopropaganda, floods, corporatocracy, disease, quarantine, pharmaceutical/spiritual/psychological warfare etc.). Lately, we’re all being pushed further down the rabbit hole with Covid-19, Lockdown, QAnon, Epstein, Virtual Reality, Neuralink and 5G conspiracy theories, so I think it’s not such a bad time to put it out there.
So is it Sci-Fi, Dystopian, War, Adventure, Psychological Horror or what?
It’s all of those things. I always hoped that my big project might serve as a warning about where we’re headed politically, culturally and spiritually. The novel’s message aligns with the great William Blake’s line “A Horse misus’d upon the Road Calls to Heaven for Human blood” from his wonderful poem Auguries of Innocence.
Thank you to:
My parents, who have always supported my writing ambitions, albeit nervously, sometimes! My Art and English teachers from secondary school, Alan Blain and Gary Hopkins, not only for their guidance on critical analysis and craftsmanship, but also for their moral support. Reverend Ridley, my school chaplain who also gave me great inspiration for my writing. My first boxing coach, Brett Jones, who sadly passed away a few years ago. The epitome of a gentle giant, he was a great influence in terms of weighing power and fighting spirit with kindness and responsibility. All the truly investigative, independent journalists and whistleblowers sticking their necks out and fighting for truth. My wonderful beta readers, some of whom have blamed me for recurring nightmares and altered states of consciousness! Sorry about that.
Here are a few words from those beta readers:
“One of the best books I’ve read in ages.”
“I really love the pace of it and it just completely sucked me in. Barely noticed where we were and that last line was so poignant.”
“I found the characters relatable and easily sympathised with. They’re very human and well thought out, also enjoyed some of the world building being left to the imagination. You gave us just the right amount of info without making it too prose heavy.”
“McCole was excellent. I really liked the hints at his past but obviously being a very closed off individual, he never disclosed it himself: it was down to the interpretation of the reader.”
“The story very much became mine.”
“Weirdest book I’ve ever read. Not normal.”
“I’ve not slept for a week.”
Ok, so it’s not for everyone. But if you’re broad of mind and hardy of psychological constitution, please give it a go. If you enjoy symbolism and esotericism, I believe you’ll get an extra kick out of it.
Covid-19 has already wrought widespread panic. Now, we must acclimatise to the idea that we might all be spending lonely periods of time indoors. We want to protect our vulnerable loved ones and, according to experts, social distancing is one of the most effective methods of achieving that.
As a writer, I spend most of my time alone at a desk, working on nightmarish visions of the United Kingdom such as The Horseman’s Dream – a 20-year-long project about flooding, VIP child abuse, quarantine and most importantly, a sinister government using technology and propaganda in psychological/spiritual warfare against its people. So, for someone like me, social distancing is not such a stretch.
With regard to the current crisis, please make good decisions. Don’t take unnecessary risks. From the bottom of my heart, I wish everyone the best of luck, but that’s only half the battle. Be smart. Make your own luck. Let’s be paranoid now and laugh about it later, rather than glib and dead/unable to laugh about anything ever again.
One of my favourite sayings is that poetry will save us all. If you’ll allow me to expand this to Netflix and e-books, I think I might be on to something.
Bunker down. Read. Learn an instrument or a new language. Play music. Don’t panic or you’ll make bad decisions. Supply good information and clear advice to the elderly and vulnerable. Make sure they can contact you in an emergency.
Lastly, don’t, under any circumstances, trust our so-called leaders to keep you or your loved ones safe. Forget The Horseman’s Dream, this is The Objectivist Eugenicist’s Wet Dream, which is why we currently have the hashtag #BorisTheButcher trending on social media.
2020 is off to a flying start with another writing competition win, this time for a 500 word story called “Hashtag Junket”. It takes place on an island to which an actor has been invited to promote their latest film. Or so they think.
Writing Magazine hope to publish the results in an upcoming Competition Special: I will update as I receive news.
Thanks to all the staff at Writing Magazine and my readers for their support.
Pleased to announce that “Chop Chop” has won 1st place in Writing Magazine‘s Single Character short story competition.
Writing Magazine described the story as “chilling” and will publish it in the March issue.
The idea came from a 5 a.m. walk in the snow, at which time the local butcher was the only other person awake. As I watched him work, I considered that routine and loneliness could make for an explosive reaction if left long enough in the dark. Could butchers grow to hate meat and how might that manifest in psychosis?
I’m happiest with my work when I’m still sorry/glad for the characters long after I’ve finished typing and this was certainly true for the butcher. His story is about the cages that people build for themselves and how our culture happily provides the materials.
Although it’s a bit dark, it has a positive message through catharsis … I hope. Huge thanks to all at Writing Magazine for my first writing competition win of the new decade.
Hope you all enjoy the story and Happy New Year!
Short Story/Poetry/Artwork/Music Links
Check out some of AJ’s other stories here. Poetry here. Doodles, preamp circuits and blues jams here.
What happens when a disturbed sound engineer snaps?
Patrick McDonagh is a Liverpool sound tech who truly understands the old saying that “silence is golden”. Highly-skilled behind a mixing desk, but undervalued due to his lack of charisma and social graces, he remains forever on the fringes of the music industry, picking up whatever crumbs he can to look after his mother in their terraced house by the docks. What most people don’t know about Patrick is that alongside the guitars, drums, bass and vocals, there has always been the mysterious grey noise and fortunately for everyone in his little black book, he’s always been able to ignore it … Until now.
As he decides whether to exact his well-deserved vengeance upon the lead singer of Summer Seems So Far, the grey noise builds to a crescendo, inciting deadly violence and macabre scenes at their wildest gig yet. Find out whether Patrick survives his jaunt through the Glasgow underworld to fulfil his dark agenda in this rock and roll horror story, written by the author of A Smaller Hell.
It’s taken me years of drafts, scraps and rewrites to get to this point. Since I was (and still am) no scientist, I read psychology books and articles daily during those years for the sole purpose of writing The Horseman’s Dream. I studied other fields of science, met with psychologists, military veterans and brushed up on my theology, or divinity, as we used to call it when I were a lad. I’ve even visited abandoned Victorian lunatic asylums in the dead of night on the Welsh moors and consulted with staff at the notorious Ashworth Hospital. Over the years, researching this book has led me to a cup of coffee with the local vicar; chicken, greens and cornbread with a preacher from Mississippi; beer with a Zionist and lasagne with an evangelist from Birkenhead, amongst others. It’s been an obsession by most psychological standards. I remember how it started: sitting in a garage, waiting for my car to be MOT’d and the only reading material provided was Heat magazine and the Holy Bible. The juxtaposition of the two texts right there on the coffee table set a few wheels in motion concerning doctrine, escapism, existence and control. I scribbled as much down as I could while I was waiting, paid my bill, then drove home to resume scribbling. The idea was so absurdly complicated that it’s taken me this long to unravel it into a story, rather than a rant.
Writing Third Person Multiple POV makes it obvious why many successful actors also write: it’s an extension of what they have already practised and honed for years. Imagining how a completely different personality would respond in any given situation whilst retaining authenticity is a dark art indeed, but what fun. Apart from the needs of the story, the Third Person Multiple ties in with the psychological/sociological subject matter of the book: the broadcasting of the contents of peoples’ minds for entertainment and propaganda purposes. Alternate reality entertainment, if you like. At least, that’s the kind of pretentious tagline that Grosvenor Media favour when advertising Totem.
The TV was an amazing invention, as was the internet. You may have noticed my use of past tense there. I used it because they have been hijacked, restricted, censored and controlled to suit the demands of very wealthy corporations and individuals even now in 2015. It begs the question of who provides our reality and just how far our illusions go. What would you do if faced with the truth behind the veil? Would you beg for the illusion to resume or would you revel in your freedom from it?
"Memorial" is a utopian short story set in a world where death no longer exists. It charts a family's trip to the "memorial" site, where they can experience death through the consciousness of a famous poet of their choosing. #ComingSoon #RareExoticBreeds #ShortStoryCollection
Disgraceful move by Naftali Bennett to commence his term with violence and not negotiation. Thousands of people have been left devastated, living among rubble following the recent spate of violence on Gaza. The bombing must immediately cease.