Category Archives: Killing Daniel Novel

In The Spotlight: A J Ashworth

In the Spotlight returns for a couple of weeks to showcase more new and established talent … and this week I welcome fellow Unthologist and so much more — the talented A J Ashworth. I met her at one of the launch events of Sarah Dobbs’s Killing Daniel novel where A J and I read extracts of our stories from Unthology 3, so if you have a copy — her story was the one about the monolith; very unusual and excellently written. We have stayed in touch and she now works as an editor as well as writer and I think she is one to watch for sure … so big warm welcome please …

<<<Pause of rapturous applause>>>


A J Ashworth


Tell us something about yourself and your writing …

Hi everyone! I published a collection of short stories at the end of 2011 – Somewhere Else, or Even Here. The collection won Salt Publishing’s Scott Prize and was later shortlisted for the Edge Hill Prize. I’ve currently abandoned short stories though and am working on a novel.

Have you always wanted to be a published writer? Tell us something about your path to having your first book/story published.

I’ve wanted to be a published writer for a long time, yes – it’s been a long-held dream of mine. In my twenties/early thirties I was really struggling though. I couldn’t seem to get anything finished so I didn’t feel I was getting anywhere. I therefore decided to take some distance learning writing courses with Lancaster University and these helped me to be a bit more focused and to actually complete some stories. I then went on to do an MA at Sheffield Hallam University and completed the main bulk of my short story collection there. After the MA, I submitted this to Salt for the Scott Prize and was one of three winners.

 Do you have an agent? If not did you try to get one? Any advice about that?

I don’t have an agent at the moment. Most agents are reluctant to take on short story writers – mainly because publishers are hesitant when it comes to buying collections, especially when they’re by debut authors. Independent publishers such as Salt and Comma Press are excellent and you wouldn’t need an agent to have a book published by them.

Do or did you ever belong to a writing group? Crit group? Did you ever have someone professionally critique your work before first submitting? Or do you have friends or anyone else who sees it before you send it off?

On all the courses I’ve taken – distance learning; MA – I have been given feedback on my work, either by other students or tutors. My MA tutor, Felicity Skelton, gave excellent feedback and really helped me to improve my work, and that kind of support is invaluable really. There are other people who give me feedback also and I was previously a member of an online writing group. The key thing is to show your work to people you trust – those who want you to write well – and then take on board those comments you agree with.

Who did you first tell when you heard your first book had been accepted?

I told my partner and my parents. I was pretty excited as you can imagine but I had to restrain myself a bit because I was at work when I found out.

What happened next? Can you tell us something about working with an editor? How important is that to you now – is there a lot of discussion and does the editor make a real difference to your work?

During my MA, Felicity acted as an editor really so she gave good advice when something wasn’t working in a story. Then, when the collection was going to be published I got the first proofs from Jen Hamilton Emery at Salt and she made a few suggestions about words that could be cut, for example. I think it’s important to listen to feedback, whether it’s from a trusted reader or an editor – they’re able to see your work in a way you can’t because you’re so close to it. Good editors make your work better.

 Tell us something about your writing day, routine …

At the moment I’m writing most days because I don’t want to lose touch with the novel, but if I don’t feel like writing one day I don’t. Sometimes I write in the morning, other times the afternoon or evening – so I don’t have a strict routine where I have to be at my desk by a certain time. Some days I’m disciplined, some days I’m the laziest person on the planet.

What or who inspires you most, people, authors, books?

I’ve not read, or seen, all of the work by these people but I love: Woody Allen, Raymond Carver, Tobias Wolff, Lorrie Moore, Amy Hempel… lots of Americans really. Two books I’ve loved in recent times: Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. I get inspired by people who are passionate about what they do – scientists, artists, writers, filmmakers.

Why do you write? (Now that’s the question!) What do you want your stories to do?

If I don’t have a piece of writing on the go I don’t feel right. That doesn’t mean I always want to write – often it’s the last thing I want to do – but there’s something inside me urging me to do it. I think about writing quite a lot. It’s always there whirring away somewhere in my brain. If I’m watching a film, I’m analyzing the story, thinking about how it’s been constructed, the dialogue. If I’m washing up, I’m thinking about stories – not necessarily mine, but other people’s. I’m not sure it ever really switches off. As for what I want my stories to do… I want them to resonate with people, to connect with something in their own lives, I suppose.

How much marketing have you had to do, even with a big publisher? How comfortable are you with self-promotion?

If you’re published by a small independent you have to promote yourself as much as you can. I don’t like self-promotion – a lot of people probably feel the same – but if you don’t do it then hardly anyone will know about your work. They may still not even know about it even if you do the self-promotion, but you have to try. I haven’t done much really, apart from doing the occasional blog interview, a few readings, etc.

Tell us about the latest published book…

Somewhere Else, or Even Here is a collection of 14 short stories exploring themes such as loss, love, loneliness and hope: a girl meets with danger on the beach when she is lured away by a strange boy; a bereaved wife enlists the help of a mysterious woman to perform rituals that will bring her dead husband back to life; a boy’s anger at his absent father leads him towards an act of destruction in the basement of his school. The book is available from:


Amazon (paperback and Kindle versions)

And I also have some paperback versions available via my blog

What next? Tell us about work in progress and aspirations.  Where do you see yourself in ten years time?

I’m currently writing a novel and also editing Red Room, a collection of new short stories inspired by the Brontës to raise funds for The Brontë Birthplace Trust – this will be published by Unthank Books later this year and will feature stories from David Constantine, Alison Moore, David Rose, Bill Broady, Vanessa Gebbie and many more. I hope I’ll still be writing in ten years’ time but I don’t know what else I might be doing.

Any advice for writers who are trying to get their work published?

Keep going. Perseverance is really important.

Can we publish an extract of your work?

A J Ashworth Sample (click link to read first story and beginning of next — pdf kindly provided by author and not to be reproduced without permission © A J Ashworth, Salt Publishing, 2012

Thanks you so much for being a guest and telling us about your writing. I am trying to get more writers for this spot so if you or someone you know wants to be here — please do let me know. Next week I welcome the talented writer Sophie Jackson to the spotlight …

Have a great day everyone. The sunshine is glorious and I almost wish I was out in it — although I am enjoying editing my novel. Work hard, play hard at the weekend …


1 Comment

Filed under a book deal, A J Ashworth, Acceptance, being a successful writer, Blogging, Book Covers, Book Launch, Editing, In the Spotlight, Indentity, Killing Daniel, Killing Daniel Novel, Kindle, Learning to be a writer, Literary Fiction, Living the dream, Novel writing, Passion for writing, Publishing, Reading, Unthank Books, Unthology 3, Winning, Writing

All fun … Book Launch and more

All the fun of Christmas 🙂

Book launches and everything …

Well I am back from my trip to the Manchester launch of Killing Daniel, by Sarah Dobbs. And what a great literary evening was had by all! The night was hosted by the publisher and agent Robin Jones from Unthank Books and kicked off with readings from Unthology 3 by yours truly reading an extract of The Theory Of Circles. Probably just as well I went first, before too much of the falling down water was consumed by the audience (or me!) … since my story is told using Tweets, Blog posts and Facebook statuses, with a connecting narrative but never the less it’s a lot of dates and times and like reading a Blog the beginning of the story is at the end … hmm … the art of reading backwards! It comes with a warning … pay attention here comes the science bit (some geometry thrown in as well!) But I think it went well.

Then we were then treated to another extract from the book by the talented Andrea, A J Ashworth and her story  The Monolith which is a great story about a monolith appearing in someone’s garden. Truly original, and so worth reading, it will hook you! What happens when the cat goes inside it … ? Love this story.

After a short break the lovely Sarah Dobbs launched her wonderful cross-cultural literary thriller. And what a treat this novel is. I am about to start reading it and will post a review in the new year, but any last-minute stocking thrillers for the literary types, order Killing Daniel from Unthank Books to get it in time for Christmas. Email:

Of course you can also get Unthology 3 from them as well. Why not buy both?!!!

I’ll add a photo from the event but also check out more on the Facebook page: LINK

A nice week for me as I prepare for Christmas and wind down work-wise (for a change) … I will be talking about my editing for Cafelit this week as I select stories for the Best of 2012 …

Have a great day all … and don’t forget, if you want to give something unusual to writer friends, why not send them a critique voucher, see Thursday’s post and email me!

Sarah Dobbs, Manchester

Sarah Dobbs, Manchester

Sarah Dobbs, Debz Hobbs-Wyatt and A J Ashworth

Sarah Dobbs, Debz Hobbs-Wyatt and A J Ashworth

1 Comment

Filed under A J Ashworth, being a successful writer, Killing Daniel, Killing Daniel Novel, Learning to be a writer, Literary Fiction, Living the dream, Psychological Thriller, Publishing, Sarah Dobbs, Short Stories, Social networking, Unthank Books, Unthology 3, Voice, Writing

The writer creeps out of her burrow … I am giving a reading tomorrow in Manchester

Head pokes out from under writer’s duvet … sniff sniff … is there anybody there?

So much of writing, as you will all know, is spent alone in front of a computer, with perhaps the cats that like to spread themselves across the keys, and the dog that nudges you with her wet nose when you’ve been so engrossed in another world you lose all track of time. I have often found a little feline face peering at me over the edge of my laptop and another to my side and a doggy at my knee and then eyes glance to the right hand corner of the screen to find it’s … oops it was dinner time like two hours ago.

There’s this thing called the Writers’ Licence that allows you to legitimately spend time in someone else’s head and in a place of your own creation … but if you spend too much time there … beware! We are a weird breed.

Some of us write because we like the solitude, we don’t want to be front of house … so … when those successes come (as you know they will) you are expected to stand in front of the people you wrote for (right?) and give a reading. Now some of you hate this. I have to say I am more used to it now, but we all get nervous … but since these are your words, enjoy showing them off as they’re intended to be read.

And why am I tittering on about this? Well … let me tell you … I would hardly call myself a mouse, although one for the limelight … maybe not. However, being the rather loud and mad person I am I can handle the spotlight …. kind of. And anyone in or near Manchester I will be there tomorrow evening celebrating the launch of Sarah Dobbs’s novel Killing Daniel … she had the guest post a few weeks ago. If you missed it, read it again here:  GUEST POST

The first part of the evening will be myself and A J Ashworth, fellow Unthologist reading from our stories (Sarah also has a story in this book) and the second half will be focussed on Sarah. The publisher Unthank Books will also be there 🙂

So here’s the details: The Kings Arms, 11 Bloom Street, Salford M3 6AN, 7.30 pm.

Details also on the FB page here: FACEBOOK

Books will be available and we will be signing. Gill from Bridge House will also be there and we’ll have a few other books I have stories in, for selling and signing too!

I would love it if anyone local can come and do come and say hi!

And for those that haven’t seen Unthology 3 (as if, not that I’ve talked about it or anything … much) follow the link to buy from Amazon!

Happy Writing all!

Unthology 3 Cover

Buy me!

1 Comment

Filed under being a successful writer, Bridge House Publishing, freelancing, Killing Daniel, Killing Daniel Novel, Literary Fiction, Living the dream, Novel writing, Passion for writing, Publishing, Reading, Sarah Dobbs, Short Stories, Social networking, Unthank Books, Unthology 3

How to tell the story … being experimental

I will be brief this morning but I thought I would continue the theme of ‘story’ because then most common thing I seem to write when I critique, is ‘Is this the best way to tell this story?’

There are many ways to tell a story as you know, so it’s down to how to do it most effectively.

I also am one who likes experimental fiction, and with social media having such an intrusion into our lives this is another way of thinking about story telling.  Remember when a lot of stories we read had letters in them? And this is again another way to tell a story. It as given me an idea for a competition actually, but more on that another time.

When I wrote the story I have in Unthology 3 (oh no here she goes again!) I used Blog posts, Twitter and Facebook Statuses as a way of telling the story. What you have to be careful of is having too big a chunk of it told this way or the danger is it can get wearing, so you do need the connecting narrative to unify it. What was also complicated about this story as well was trying to tell in a backward sense the way you would look at Blogs and Facebook and Twitter with the most recent posts at the top and scrolling down.

I have since taken a real interest in these other experimental ways of telling a story and would be interested to know what other people have done. This idea I am expanding a little in a new short story although there will be more narrative in it, but I do want to use journal extracts and texts in it as well.

I thought I would (as previously suggested) include the start of my story here … The Theory of Circles


The Theory Of Circles


It’s what you’ve written in your Blog, dated Wednesday 7th April 5.03 p.m.  The very last words. It’s all that’s left, as if you never existed.

Not really.

Marmalade pissed up the front door of number 6.

A message Tweeted at 4.47 p.m. on the same day. It’s ridiculously sublime and yet typical of you. Laced with humour, even to your last Tweet.


At the very edge of the day someone you’ve never met stares at the pages of the Blog he knows intimately, and waits, the thin white edges of a polo mint dissolving on his tongue. He reloads the page, cusses a dodgy Wi-Fi connection and waits. He waits again until he realises you might just have meant it. You might just be officially unplugged.


Facebook status: Undecided. That’s what you wrote twelve hours before you did it. Before that there was a brief mention that Marmalade had stalked a sock that was in Winifred’s garden. In his escapades you said he’d tipped over one of Winfred’s ornamental Buddhas which you noted must have been (your spelling) ahelluva lot lighter than it looked. You’ve ended with: Why do Buddhas look like that Fred Elliot character who used to be in Corrie? I say do why do Buddhas look like that Fred Elliot character?  Or perhaps, you added, it should be other way round.

No clues, then an hour later just the word undecided. Was that it?

And someone called Tracy J had responded with LOL. But it was too late by then — you’d already unplugged. LOL, POV, IMAO… RIP.


Everything seems so random — but it’s not.

Your words. You used to call yourself the Great Chaos Theorist. I remember the post: Does a polo mint obey the law of entropy when it dissolves. Experiment 1.

You never did say, or tell us if there was an Experiment 2 or 3.


Sunday April 4th 10.18 a.m: Tweet: It just goes to show love can blossom anywhere.

Sunday April 4th, 10.17 a.m: Tweet: It’s official! Mohammad has moved in with Winifred. His moving in present to her: 14 pairs of size 10 slippers.


Blog posted Monday, April 1st 4.13 p.m. Big Boobz kissed The Nerd on Winifred’s drive. They came home late from school again – boots and coats caked in mud.


Blog posted Monday April 1st 9.12 a.m:  Last night Mohammad went into Winifred’s with a big bunch of purple tulips. He didn’t come out for three hours, and when he did his shirt was untucked. By the way this isn’t an April Fool.


That was six days before ‘The Great Unplugging.’

That’s what they’re calling it – but they’re still waiting for you, hoping you’ll find a way back, tell them all the random going-ons on The Crescent. Send them more links to random eBooks like Social Networking for Dodos that you said you bought at the same time as: The Art of Reading Backwards. But deep down, in that gut place, they all know you’ve gone. At first they convinced themselves you’d just changed identity, like a snake shedding its skin.  They’re saying they’d find you, they’d know you anywhere.

But they don’t even know your real name …

©Debz Hobbs-Wyatt Unthank Books Unthology 3, published November 2012

Just a teaser, you will have to buy the book to read the rest.

I will be reading a longer extract of the story at the Manchester launch of Sarah’s Dobbs’s  Killing Daniel in Manchester on December 13th for anyone that wants to come along — details on her Facebook Page here: LAUNCH

That’s it!

Leave a comment

Filed under being a successful writer, Blogging, Book Launch, Killing Daniel, Killing Daniel Novel, Learning to be a writer, Literary Fiction, Living the dream, Publishing, Reading, Sarah Dobbs, Short Stories, Social networking, Unthank Books, Unthology 3, Voice

Being Unlit

Well here I am the other side of a fab weekend, catching up with old friends in Liverpool and Norwich and making new ones in Norwich for sure.

The Unlit Festival is a celebration of the written word and is run by Unthank Books, where ‘un’ is the operative word … new unknown writers, unconventional, unusual … but not unwelcoming and while the name says unlit, I don’t think they’re in the dark or unliterary! I know I have been ‘banging on’ about them for these past weeks as we prepared for the release of Unthology 3, but it’s worth talking about.

What I love about this publisher is the recognition of some great talent, and the appreciation that sometimes there are other ways. By this I mean a lot of wonderful writing is not picked up by the mainstream or by agents, where the decision is very much a commercial one, and sometimes things are published where let’s say it’s not always focussed on literary merit. There are grey areas, catch my drift.

I was made to feel very welcome at the York Tavern in Norwich where I met the publishers Robin Jones (former agent and soon to be a guest Blogger on this site as I thought people might find that interesting) and Ashley Stokes. I also met fellow unthologists:  Sharon Zink, Sarah Dobbs, Sandra Jensen, C D Rose and Charles Wilkinson.

While I didn’t do a reading, and nor did Charles (we decided to come along when it was all  organised) we did feel part of something very special. The readings were fabulous. And there was no doubt that this book is of exceptional standard. After the readings and a short break we launched Sarah’s novel Killing Daniel 🙂 This is literary thriller I can’t wait to read and of course I now have my signed copy. I will review it here at some point too.

It was an evening of laughter, discussion and all things writing and full of optimism for where Unthank Books is heading and I hope to stay connected to them and be published by them again.

Bridge House, like Unthank, are a very small press. I think something special happens when writers get together to create something like this. When you get the big publisher and yes I guess it’s what we ultimately seek, sometimes you will lose that intimacy and that sense of belonging. I felt part of a new family and that’s exactly how I hope the Bridge House authors also feel … and on that note I have news of our new releases this week!

So I want to say a big thank you to Unthank Books for letting us celebrate our success and for making us feel part of something new and exciting.

I raise my glass to the future and ask you all to join me … even if is breakfast time, I will  lift my mug of coffee then … here’s to writers and success, however you choose to measure it.

It’s great being a writer … init?!!

Left to right: Robin Jones (Publisher/Editor) Tommy Collin (Book designer), Sarah Dobbs (Author), Ashley Stokes (Editor/Author)

Leave a comment

Filed under being a successful writer, Book Launch, Bridge House Publishing, Killing Daniel Novel, Literary Fiction, Living the dream, Publishing, Sarah Dobbs, Short Stories, Unlit Festival, Unthank Books, Unthology 3

Guest Post by the talented writer Sarah Dobbs

Guest Post

Well folks as promised I have a special post for you from a writer who celebrates the launch of her debut novel  Killing Daniel (out yesterday with a whizz and a bang and lots of sparks!) from the fabulous Unthank Books. Sarah is a fellow Unthologist in Unthology 3 who I will finally get to meet at the combined launch of Unthology 3 and Killing Daniel in Norwich this weekend …  I am delighted to welcome her to the Blog … hands together big round of applause please …

Sarah Dobbs …

So tell me about yourself …

Hello all, I’m a novelist and short story writer. I currently tutor Creative Writing at Edge Hill University and The Open University,

Have you always wanted to be a published writer? Tell us something about your path to having your first novel published. Have you had other things published first?

 The path to publication doesn’t have an end point, I don’t think. There’s always something else you want to do or another point you want to reach. That could sound frustrating but it’s a good point, I think. Otherwise, you’ll just lose your drive and peter out. I’ve had a curious path, so far. I’m interested in many styles, genres and forms of writing. I think that keeps it fresh. I started off wanted to write science fiction and had some shorts published in SF zines. Then fantasy (had a novel serialised on Deep Magic). Then writing ‘romantic’ fiction (*cue blushes*). My first story of that vein got published by the Black Lace collection for £250 quid. That was a nice indication that I could do something at least… I had a couple of novellas published. I saw it as training – a great way to understand how to write at length, to explore plot and structure, the effect of secondary characters. All of that important stuff. In, what was for me, an easier form. I could figure things out easier than I could in SF, because that needed so much more time. Great training ground.
And then I did an MA at Lancaster and everything changed. So they’re to blame. It was a natural progression really. There was always such a lot I wanted to say and I started to develop the tools in which to say it. Plus it was a great group of people and we had some encouraging tutors which kick-started quite a different phase of writing into action.
Do you have an agent?
I do. I’m with the Susan Yearwood Literary Agency. She’s currently working with her foreign rights agent to sell the book overseas. Everything is crossed!
How did you come to be involved and send your novel to Unthank Books? And how did you find out they wanted to publish it?
I came across a call for submissions for Unthology #1 on NAWE (still lament the daft cutting of ACE funding there) for Unthank. I read their mission statement and thought: I fit here. I sent an extract of a novel I was working on and they accepted it. The novel’s road to publication took such a long time. It was necessarily a long process because it was written as part of a PhD but regardless, I think they should take this amount of time. You can see the difference in work that is rushed to deadlines (in my opinion). The novel was at turns, too literary or too commercial for various publishers on its first run. I wasn’t losing faith in it, but I was running out of confidence. Or maybe, wanted someone whose opinion   trusted to take a look. So I sent it to Unthank. A few months later, I had lots of missed London calls. I never answer the phone if it’s not someone I know – I always think it’s a fine. Some library book that’s got lost with the odd socks from years ago. (Writers are always broke aren’t they?) Anyway, I ignored it. Next week I was teaching a tutorial for the OU and got the same call. I listened to the voicemail and it was Robin from Unthank with some news. I remember walking out of that tutorial carrying my general downtrodden Killing-Daniel-won’t-ever-be-out-in-the-world kind of frustration. Walking back inside was a different story. Could it be about the book? I was either too busy to call back, or too cacking myself (they probably didn’t like it, they were going to let me down nicely) and then in the end, I got a DM on Twitter of all places. We want to publish your book.
When you found out, who was the first person you told?
I think I told myself over and over. In case it wasn’t real. Then my partner. I remember he wrote a congratulations message in massive type on his computer, took a picture and texted it to me. Technology is brill.
What happened next? What was the editing process like and how long did it take?
Unlike other novels, a PhD novel has gone through reams of edits already. So there was a gritty edit with Ashley Stokes where we met up to discuss some of the issues they’d noticed. That felt good. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’ve spent lots of time feeling useless as a writer, or like what I want to say can’t be said. Or convincing people they should read your stuff. But this conversation was really rewarding because they understood what I was trying to do. Then there a few rounds of proofing and the cover to work on.
So now the exciting part … tell us about the novel …
The basics of the novel is that it’s about a boy who dies, Daniel, who loved a girl (Fleur) who was involved with the wrong man. Daniel died too soon and Fleur spent the rest of her life regretting not being with him. The novel is also about female friendship, empowerment and identity. The power of the past. I did know a boy who died and the effect of that was huge. There was always a part of me that wanted to talk about that so in retrospect, that was the genesis for the novel’s opening. I think people seek happiness in misguided places, (pointless relationships being a major one) so the rest of the novel comes from trying to find an alternative to that. In Killing Daniel, the answer lies with the bond between Fleur and Chinatsu, Fleur’s childhood friend.
The book is available from Amazon here:  LINK  
Also on Kindle: LINK
And iBook – LINK
What next? Tell us about work in progress and aspirations.  Where do you see yourself in 10 years time.
I’ve just been asked by a very clever friend to work on a treatment for a screenplay – a thriller. I’d like to do that alongside the novel I’m working on at the moment. There are always a few competing stories that I work on at the same time until something really bites me. In ten years, I just still want to tell the truth and be trying to say something worthwhile.
Any advice for writers who are trying to get their work published?
There has to be belief – in what you’ve written. And a stoic belief in your ability to get that out there, because many people will seem to be working against that very intention! But that’s just economics. But yes, write something you need to write. Don’t predict a market, unless you want to be that sort of writer. That’s okay too. And then keep knocking on the door until someone answers. If you want to be a novelist, competitions and short stories help (because novels take so flipping long). They can start creating you a reputation or getting your name known. Write in different formats – try radio/stage. These create other avenues of opportunities and heighten your prose.
Tell us something random about you for the pure hell of it
I’m happiest in my slouchy pants, eating Nestle Crunch and watching any and all box-sets back to back (it’s research, right?!).
I used to want to be a nun.
My grandfather is Chinese.
(that’s kind of a three-fer – it’s launch day! I’m happy!)
Finally: can we post an extract of your novel? 
Absolutely – this is an extract from Chapter 19. Chinatsu is meeting with a Chinese Madam and about to embark on a risky course of action to escape her husband.
Extract of Killing Daniel

Chinatsu waits for Madam Li at the same restaurant where they first exchanged Yen.

Madam Li enters the restaurant in a flurry, scowling. Her shawl whips behind her in black tails. She almost trips up the greeter. At the table, Madam Li flaps out a napkin and rests it on her knees below the cloth. She beckons a waiter and orders kake udon. It arrives almost instantly, as if they’d anticipated her arrival.

Chinatsu tries to slow her racing heartbeat. She doesn’t know why Madam Li wants to see her. She can only presume she has done something wrong, and is in trouble.

            Madam Li points her chopsticks at Chinatsu. ‘This dish, stolen from China,’ she says. She points at Chinatsu’s untouched bowl with her chopsticks, pincering her own wheat-based noodles between wood fingers. They wriggle like flat, white worms. Her eyes do not leave Chinatsu’s as the chopsticks enter her mouth, tongue curling them in. Munch munch munch. Another stab towards Chinatsu with her chopsticks. Greasy lips say, ‘You no eat. Again. Hm?’

            ‘I’m not pregnant. Is that why you wanted to see me?’

            ‘You need variety. No fuck one man and it happen. Why I exist? If one no work, we will try you with another. You no can have sentiment. Is business, yes? Emotion is dangerous, trouble, break agreement and marriage. Dishonour, you understand? Dishonour come back on me too.’ She shrugs, tucks more bean sprouts through her lips. ‘You think I donno? I know. You like the beautiful Chinese. It’s no surprise.’

            ‘That couldn’t be further –’

            Madam Li chews. ‘Ya, bullshit. Next time I give you new man. Yes?’

‘What do I care? As long as the outcome is the same – yes.’

            Her eyes narrow. ‘Hush it. I no care what you are doing after. Is better I donno. So. Listen. Each time someone new. You no afford. . . ‘ She fingers the grease on her lips like she’s putting on lip salve and wipes her finger on the table cloth before gripping the chopsticks again. ‘Nostalgia. Is business. Like I say. Yes? Otherwise, many unhappy husband. I no business. Yes?’


            ‘If no.’ She shrugs and pushes her chair back. She burps, quietly, into a fist she is holding like a microphone and stands. ‘You can?’

            Chinatsu nods. ‘Yes, of course.’

            The Chinese Madam sweeps out of the restaurant. Her heels are low, but they sound like hammers as she exits. They get louder, if anything, the further away she gets.

Chinatsu pincers bean sprouts and crunches them between her teeth. Madam Li doesn’t know about Tao, that they have seen each other without going through Madam Li. That really, Chinatsu calls him Tao, and he makes up for the guilt rotting her insides with his interest. She is an addict for his attention. She lives off the fumes of it, appetite erased, enjoying how he is redrawing her into something beautiful. Her lips feel fuller, her nipples, everything does. She thinks about positions. And all the while, underneath it all, her feelings for Yugi crawl and lurk. He deserves this, doesn’t he? For his lying, for his ignorance. For all his women, and what he might have done. Not just adultery. But he has hurt one of them. She is almost sure. Wasn’t she?

She would actually prefer that he hit her. Does Yugi do that with his women? To be beaten in a fit of passion would be something, rather than all these years of whistling obscurity, not being considered, noticed or alive. And it would make her sing with vitality – I am meant to be, because he notices me.

Yugi deserves this, for all he hasn’t done.

And if he deduces her secret, connects the flush in her face and the hum in her throat, her boundless energy, then she will confront him with his.

Who does the jewellery belong to, Yugi? Why do you have the article about that dead prostitute?

And then we will see.

©Sarah Dobbs, extract from the novel Killing Daniel published by Unthank Books 2012. Reproduced only with permission of the author 

I just want to say a huge thank you to Sarah for her honesty and taking the time on a busy launch day to share her road to success, the first of many I’m sure. Her wonderful story, Hachiko  is also published in Unthology 3 and is also nominated for the US Pushcart Prize.

I can’t wait to get my copy of Killing Daniel on Friday and have it signed! One for the Christmas list folks along with Unthology 3 of course!

Thanks Sarah. Guys please feel free to comment.

Have a great writing day everyone! 🙂


Filed under being a successful writer, Blogging, ebooks, Killing Daniel Novel, Kindle, Literary Fiction, Living the dream, MA Creative Writing, Novel writing, Passion for writing, Publishing, Reading, Sarah Dobbs, Unthank Books, Unthology 3, Writing