Writer of Weird Fiction and Masher of Notes for the Broken-Hearted

Tag: Liverpool

Grey Noise Now Available in Paperback

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UK readers buy GREY NOISE HERE

US readers buy GREY NOISE HERE

What is the Grey Noise?

Grey noise is random noise whose frequency spectrum follows a psychoacoustic equal loudness curve. In other examples, we can find pink noise, brown noise and the most familiar one, white noise. For our protagonist, Patrick McDonagh, it’s the bane of his life. He finds himself driven to unspeakable acts in trying to quieten its constant ringing in his head. These acts eventually lead him to become entwined with the criminal underworld where he is offered a chance to turn around his miserable existence.

What Inspired Grey Noise?

Having served time as both performer and sound engineer, I came to understand the dynamic between these two roles as vital, but often fraught with all kinds of tension and misunderstandings. Once, when I was working with a sound engineer on a full album project, we became quite good friends and he admitted to me that he kept a list of musicians he’d like to murder, which I found hilarious. Doubly so upon checking his list and recognising many of the names. He was such a gentle guy with a great sense of humour, but there was a glint in his eye that made me wonder just how well I knew him.

Another engineer from very early in my career also provided inspiration as I worked in the same studio as him for several years. He was so unassuming and quiet that few people ever gave him the credit he deserved for his talent. At soundchecks, it pained me to listen to how other people, musicians and managers mainly, would treat him so rudely and disrespectfully. I often wished that he would slap the granny out of some of them, but he never did. He just always made sure that he did his job as well as he could and I admired him for that strength of character.

Conversely, I’ve encountered the genuinely sociopathic, too. At a gig in Wales a number of years ago, I was robbed of 60% of my hearing in my left ear and blighted with permanent tinnitus by a “sound engineer” who was furious that I’d been asked to perform instead of him. Using a hugely powerful sound system, he “accidentally” produced feedback at maximum volume from a speaker that was maliciously directed at my ear. I couldn’t prove that it wasn’t an accident and he apologised profusely, but that didn’t help to repair the permanent damage already done.

Of course, there are scenes and events inspired by my own musical adventures in Nashville, LA and NYC, too. Having worked with legendary Motown session musicians, Def Jam Records producers, 80s synth-pop platinum-sellers, chart-topping girl bands and Spinal Tap-esque rock bands, I’ve seen and heard quite a bit across the board that made for worthy inspiration.

Gangland

Regarding inspiration for the gangland elements, the less said about that the better, probably. I’ve always been in touch with Merseyside’s “underbelly” ever since my parents received a threat on my life when I was 5 years old. It was over a protection racket being forced on my dad’s nightclub that had already turned violent on the door. Throughout my whole life, these shady characters always seemed to be around. At 18, I experienced something at the hands of organised crime that I’d rather not go into here, but suffice to say it changed my life, leaving me with severe PTSD.

The following year, I was working as a PT instructor at Liverpool University Sports Centre and before long, found myself contracted to a notorious Liverpool security firm for boxing circuits. I became friends with a few of the lads, but it was to be short-lived as the whole episode concluded rather violently. With no desire to be staring down the wrong end of any more firearms in the future, I quietly excused myself from the whole situation. Sadly, it also meant forfeiting my job at the university, too.

Despite trying to put some distance between me and this world, performing in bars and clubs would still later get me sprayed with the blood of a gangland assassination victim, stitches from confrontations with self-proclaimed “gangsters”, teeth knocked out and death threats for refusing to be pushed around. There seemed to be no escape from these people.

The truth is that most “gangsters” are juiced-up, coked-up, cowardly, narcissistic bullies, but often, new “recruits” are just ordinary guys swept up in things over which they have no control. Some genuinely repent and change their lives for the better. Some get shot in gym car parks. Or worse. Some of them are genuinely terrifying psychopaths. In case you’re wondering, the character of Inky Joe is based on a debt collector I knew who used exactly the methods described in the book to extract money from overdue debitors …

Sounds Dark, Violent and Depressing. Remind Me Why I Should Read This Book?

Because we all have our own “underworlds” to navigate at some point: serious illness, bereavement, toxic workplaces, abusive relationships, mental issues, etc. My hope is that Patrick’s story serves as a reminder that beautiful things can flourish in the darkest times and places of our lives and although we might not always get what we want, we can still get what we need.

Admittedly, you’ll need a dark sense of humour and a strong constitution to get the most out of this psychological crime novel, but I think we’re all developing those qualities increasingly to cope with the absurdity and darkness of our ever-changing world, so don’t be afraid: pick up a copy today and immerse yourself in Grey Noise.

Other Works

If you enjoyed Grey Noise, why not check out A Smaller Hell – a gritty novella shot through with the same dark humour, set in a department store at Christmas.

https://www.ajreid.org/buy/a-smaller-hell-novella/
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Who is Dianne Doyle?

Dianne Doyle is the antagonist of my novella A Smaller Hell: based on a department store manager I worked with.  She used to get kicks out of reprimanding staff and subverting our relationships.  A maestro of negativity, she’d often lure us into making mistakes, just so that she could degrade us.

The longer I worked there, the more intriguing she became.  She used the workplace hierarchy for her own ends, few of which were concerned with profit margins.

This, and certain other experiences led me to study psychology in a bid to demystify cruelty.  When writing A Smaller Hell, I took an example of a philanthropist in Joseph Williamson and summoned him in the founder of the department store: Commander Clarence Tanner.  The idea was to have Dianne Doyle be a personification of corporate psychopathy in contrast to Tanner’s long-standing philanthropist.

I find it creepy when people say something morally dubious is “good for the economy”, as if it were an idol we should worship. Tanner was the antithesis of that and the waning of his philosophy in the world scares me.

Dianne Doyle is the face that I’ve given to those fears: a mischievous authoritarian, whose greatest act of deception unfolds to reveal that:

“The Devil can sometimes do a very gentlemanly thing.” – Robert Louis StevensonFacebooktwitterredditpinterest

My New Novelette “Grey Noise” is FREE Today on Amazon

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 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 Glaswegian underworld to fulfil his dark agenda in this rock and roll crime novelette, written by the author of A Smaller Hell.

Reviews:

 

5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional. 21 May 2015

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent short story, delves in to the sometimes murky dangerous world of Rock music, drugs and unpredictable self important so called rock stars clutching at their miserable ego boosted existence, AJ writes with believability, a very enjoyable story, hope there’s much more to come.

 

4.0 out of 5 stars A quick read 1 Jun. 2015
By jane
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Short and sweet but kept my attention till the end wish it had been a little longer. Great character and event description and darkly funny at times.

 

Get your copy FREE today:

US readers: CLICK HERE

UK readers: CLICK HERE

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Grey Noise: Rock and Roll can be Murder

Now available on Amazon:

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.

Only $0.99.

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The Bridge

I sit in a restaurant, thinking about The Bridge. The fading autumn sunlight lends the Albert Dock an air of melancholy, deepening the pits and furrows in the brickwork.  Tourists still point and shop and take photographs.  Smart office workers negotiate the cobbled walkways with a practised hustle, while art students drift in and out of the gallery like smoke through an open window.

The waitress brings me pizza and a grapefruit juice.  It reminds me of Rome.  Everything was so different there – so foreign and ancient – and yet I was the same.  I’m suddenly aware that my destination is still 250 miles away across the moors.  Still time for The Bridge.  Still time to make it across at dusk.

I pay the bill and make for the car park, stretching my legs a little before strapping myself in to this crucifix disguised as a car seat.  No matter how I adjust the thing, long journeys always result in some degree of nerve damage to my lower back.  I pop two paracetamol and get in, kidding myself that this time it will be fine.  The pain is a fair trade for the reward. I’m a young man in the throes of true love. I’d walk there if I had to.

Sunglasses on, water, money, petrol, debit card, but most importantly, money for The Bridge toll and the Blade Runner soundtrack.  The Scouse gulls cry their farewell in the crisp air as I depart.

It’s ritualistic, but when much feeling is attached to an occasion, is it not customary for all of us to drape things on it, dress it up, throw flowers and confetti at it and such?

Location: Humber Bridge

Time: Dusk

Music: Blade Runner Blues by Vangelis

There were myriad combinations of music and weather before I stumbled upon this one.  It makes you feel as if you’re suspended with the stars, as if anything is possible in the presence of some vague, but powerful beauty.

The bridge itself is an incredible feat of engineering, an accomplishment of man, but there is something else that creates the rush of blood to head.  Being on the road in a tin can on wheels – like everybody else in the chain of brakelights – trusting them not to make too serious an error which might result in an horrific death, is wonderfully absurd, and makes you feel as if you’re part of some illuminated cosmic caravan crawling along under the red sky.

It’s a defiant ritual for the benefit of our maker – the one who so cruelly had us born astride of the grave, as Samuel Beckett wrote.  We will work together to foil the unreasonable curtailing of our lives.  We’ll travel across colossal man-made structures and listen to transcendent music.  We’ll eat pizza and drink grapefruit juice.  We’ll comfort one another and we shall share our dreams in the hope of building them together.  We’ll drive from one side of the country to the other for love, and we shall transcend our pain through the union of our bodies.  Nothing will die, even when it dissolves into the tarmac, because the caravan will go on.  Why is immortality so important to us anyway, when we have these attainable glories?

‘Do you want this change or not?’

I take the coins and drive forward into the illuminated geometry of The Bridge like an argonaut between the Symplegades, into a sunset laden with wonder and possibility.

Why not try some Interactive Fiction?

Or perhaps a poem or short story?Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

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