The Social Club – an Orwellian Detective Story in a Post-Apocalyptic London
This is a transcript of an email exchange I’ve just had with somebody who has recently discovered my work. My most recent novel The Social Club. Very pleasing (warts and all). For completeness I’ve included my response to some of the points he raised; all of which are very valid and highlight the perils of being a one-man-band indie author.
I have removed all spoilers or personal information with XXXX and […].
Date: Sat, 28 Jun 2014 12:25:41 +0100
Subject: The Social Club
Hope you are keeping well.
Just a quick note to say I have now started reading your book (a little belated, sorry). I am about a third way through and finding it absolutely gripping.
I’ll give you the full verdict in a few weeks (I am not the fastest of readers) but I am pretty sure it’s going to be worth waiting for!
All the best.
Mr Gravitas ;-)
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2014 11:43:22 +0100
Subject: Re: The Social Club
Hope you had a good time in Malta / Gozo.
Well it’s only 2 weeks since I last wrote and I said I thought it would take a few weeks to complete my reading of The Social Club. Well obviously it didn’t and that, I can assure you, is a really good sign. I rarely ever give up on a book but sometimes they can take ages to finish. So, finishing yours ahead of schedule meant I was speeding up as the story became more and more enthralling.
So what did I think? Let’s get the negatives out of the way to start with and taking the book as a full package.
Firstly, and this might seem trivial but I think it is important, I didn’t like the size of the book (length and width). It seemed larger than a normal paperback and also I didn’t like the colour scheme (red, white and blue) very patriotic but quite stark. [I bet you are thinking at this point – ‘what’s he going on about?’]. These two thing are purely personal taste I know but they definitely put me off starting to read it. The point is, if it was on a book shop shelf I probably wouldn’t even pick it up. Others might feel the same. So ‘the package’ ‘look and feel’ is important from a sales and marketing point of view but perhaps it is less important in the methods you use if I have understood correctly – self publishing and on-line selling. Secondly, I did spot a few typos on the way through – perhaps this is again because of the method used. There were only a few – I didn’t keep a record but one is on page 90 (shows I read it!) ‘always muted and very few people came up this far’.
Now, what really matters is the novel itself. I didn’t know what to expect really other than it was some sort of futuristic post-apocalyptic story. No worries, within pages I was well into it (that was great because I hate books that take numerous chapters before you have some sort of affinity with the lead character). But it wasn’t just the character, it was the way you write. Often short sentences (sometimes, technically not even sentences) but immensely descriptive. You paint pictures with words deftly and with short bold strokes e.g. “No bruises. No visible needle marks. No tattoos. And significantly, no Y-cut incision”.
I particularly liked the words used for certain new technologies/substances. e.g. hydrogel, plascrete. (I immediately got a picture in my mind of what they were and looked like).
Another thing I liked was the way you are conscious of the reader not knowing the characters as well as you do. So many writers will mention a character once and then, chapters on, the character reappears and you struggle to recall what was first told about the character and end up flicking back to try and find the previous reference. You skillfully re-enforce the character in the mind of the reader as to who/what they are. So helpful and not at all condescending.
The pseudo-glossary up front was useful – UTOC, UDP, PO8. Maybe a few other ‘results’ would have helped. I got a bit confused between GRUPP and Group but that was probably be me not reading it properly.
The flow of the novel was really good. Highs and lows in mood. Senses of almost pre-cataclysm normality one minute but the horrors threat of the ‘changed’, ‘trash’ and ‘Infected’ always pressing in.
The main character was a normal good man trying to come to terms with the dreadful situation and make sense out of life and the future. He wasn’t a macho super-hero which was great. (Too many authors seem to think that that type is essential).
Most importantly, you never knew which way it was going to turn out – right up to the end.
So all in all David a bloomin’ good read! I am going to buy one for a mate of mine (he is isn’t having my signed copy). I will also get the earlier stories (I’m sure they are as good) but I have got a few classics to read first (Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath and Lee’s sequel to Cider With Rosie, ‘When I walked Out One Midsummer Morning’.
Subject: RE: The Social Club
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2014 11:24:13 +0000
Thank you so much for your words.
Yeah, you are 100% right about the cover. All my covers are done by me and I think that shows, and probably limits how many people pick up my work and give it a try.
Back in April I commissioned a designer to come up with 12 new covers (8 published books and the 4 I am now working on). I hope to get hold of these by autumn, and then start the process of PR.
I really enjoyed writing Jadon Purgo and [….]. I don’t always know if […] l when I start a book and sometimes a character can force me to change the flow of a story plot just by them evolving within it.
I wonder if you might enjoy Dog Eat Dog. A very big (and brutal) thriller also set in the post-apocalyptic world of Yellow Dawn. Most of my books happen before the apocalypse takes place.
Some blurb about Dog Eat Dog here:
If you do read more, you may enjoy the fact that most of the organisations and corporations, and even some characters crop up again, giving you a consistent world experience.
– oh, and Amsterdam and Malta/Gozo were perfect. Just what I needed. More of that coming next couple months.
Read Spotlight on The Social Club – click