Nowhere To Go is my first novel. I wrote it in about six months in 1997-98, when I was 26. I’ve edited and revised it somewhat since, but essentially this is the work of the 26-year-old me. At the time I was riding high because my short story, ‘Weekday Service’ had just been published in the reasonably best-selling anthology of “Chemical Generation” fiction, Disco Biscuits. (ed. Sarah Champion, Sceptre 1997). Suddenly, as an unknown and previously unpublished writer, I was a contemporary of Irvine Welsh (who, with the Trainspotting film then in the cinemas, was at the height of his early fame), Alex Garland (who’d just hit paydirt with The Beach), Alan (Morvern Callar) Warner, Nick Blincoe, Jeff Noon, Martin Millar, Steve Aylett, the late Gavin Hills… the trouble was, I had nothing else ready to go, nothing to show to publishers to capitalise on my putative 15 minutes in the spotlight. A bunch of us were interviewed by Dazed and Confused magazine, and I told them I was working on “a novel about dole culture” called The Vinegar Trip. I was, and possibly still am; but that version was never finished, and the lengthy original manuscript was destroyed in a fit of self-loathing many years ago.
Nowhere To Go was the next thing I attempted, and actually finished. It’s not long- at about 40,000 words, it’s more of a novella- which was one of the reasons given for its rejection by publishers at the time. I did have an agent for it for a while, but they were useless. Eventually I consigned the manuscript of this one to the dustbin as well. It’s a bad habit of mine.
But a few years ago, I found the discs with the original text on, long thought lost. I read through it, and though it was undoubtedly flawed, it had its good qualities. Enough, in fact, for me to want to salvage it. So I began the process of editing and, where necessary, rewriting it. It definitely fits in with the late 90s, post-Trainspotting era of druggy, clubby “Brit Lit”, for better or for worse, and is very much the work of the young man who wrote that story in Disco Biscuits. It’s saturated with the drug culture of the time, the rave scene, the shadowy hinterland of drop-outs and petty criminals (some not so petty) that I was drifting through back then, the messy line between nihilism and hedonism, and a heavy shot of mid-twenties existential angst. Here’s the blurb from the back cover:
“NOWHERE TO GO is a tale of working-class bohemia, a road trip from Yorkshire and Brighton to Prague, Poland and beyond- a search for absinthe, adventure and an elusive ideal of freedom on the fringes of the consumer-capitalist rat race. Take a couple of burnt-out ravers, a drug dealer and his damaged girlfriend, a petty criminal breaking parole, an aging biker and a hopeless dole queue dreamer, stick them in the back of a Bedford van heading east across Europe for two weeks, and see what happens. It’s the end of the twentieth century, and the end of the line; there’s nowhere left to go.”
Which maybe says it all and maybe doesn’t; it’s the best I could come up with anyway. My influences show through pretty strongly here; large undigested chunks of Kerouac, smaller pieces of Henry Miller, with Fitzgerald, Hemmingway and, oddly, PG Wodehouse lurking in the background. It’s 108 pages long and I finally published it myself in 2010, using the American self-publishing website Blurb. You can buy it from them by going to the ‘Blurb Bookstore’ link in my blogroll below,although if you’re living in the UK it might be cheaper to order from me- £10.00 including postage. Use the comments form to get in touch- comments aren’t automatically published, so any general enquiries, correspondence or anything marked ‘not for publication’ will be kept private.