Hello, and welcome to my first ever blog tour, celebrating Riptide Publishing’s release of my first ever novel, GLITTERLAND. Yay! Thank you so much to The Fiction Vixen for hosting me. And, to you, dear reader, for stopping by. If you’d like to come with me and keep me company on my virtual wanderings, you can find a full listing of when and where I am here.
There’s also some kind of contest type thing happening. The truth is – and already I reveal the rather limited scope of my imagination – quite a lot of the incidental things in GLITTERLAND have a little bit too much reality to them. In the sense that they’re, cough, in my house. Occasionally about my person. One of the things that absolutely isn’t about my person, and has always been solely decorative, is the peacock feather Venetian mask Ash has in his bedroom. I, too, rather admire the beauty of artificial things.
If you’d like to win this slightly random souvenir, answer the three questions below (answers in the book) and drop me an email. I’ll announce the winner a handful of days after the end of the tour on the 3rd of September.
- What other peacock feather themed item does Ash own?
- What does Darian have tattooed on his hip?
- What is the name of Chloe’s boutique?
Falling in Love in a Few Bright Moments
It was a Friday night, so the whole place was packed. Dancers had over-spilled the dance floor, their pressed-together bodies pulsating into all the empty spaces of the club, and the LEDs on the ceiling streamed overhead like a million multicoloured stars, falling and dying and shattering in fleeting, stained glass fragments on the bodies below.
They were playing the sort of deep, delirious electro-house I hadn’t sought out in years. A thumping heartbeat of sex and sound, the drug to unite all drugs, the music of my mania. Even now, watching the grace of strangers from an endless distance, I felt a faint and faraway echo of something like pleasure, as though some long-lost, once-loved visitor was knocking on a door that no longer opened.
I leaned over the railing, looking for Niall, only to be arrested by a dazzle of silver through the haze of colour-shifting shadows, bright like clean water. It took me a moment to realise it was the light catching on the epaulettes of a man dancing just below me.
–Somewhere near the beginning of GLITTERLAND
As GLITTERLAND opens, the protagonist, Ash, is adrift in stag-night hell. The club he’s at is actually pretty closely modelled on Club Revenge in Brighton where I misspent a fair portion of my youth. Like Ash, I’m kind of on the edge of being too old for clubbing, which I think is less about having accumulated three decades of being alive than having found someone who’ll stay at home with me watching Game of Thrones.
I still go out occasionally and end up slinking home shame-facedly around midnight thinking how nice it’ll be to get into bed, so I can’t really say I miss it. But I do enjoy remembering all those delirious nights, moving against strangers in the shifting dark. To be honest, they’re probably better in retrospect. I suspect most of them ended in fumbling travesties. But the chain of preceding moments, the minutes and hours of them, sweat-slick and endless, were always beautiful.
When you’re dancing, there’s only the purity of now and the transience of human connection made exquisitely physical. The grazing of hips and the smell of a stranger’s hair. It’s the kind of closeness you can only find at the heart of the fleeting. Where the only meaning that really matters is the twist of an upraised wrist or the taste of heat mingled between two not quite touching mouths. There’s a kind of magic there. To me, a kind of romance.
On the other hand, I’m generally accounted pretty unromantic, even by my loved ones – especially by my loved ones – so that might explain it.
But I felt from the onset that this was the right setting for Ash to find Darian. The experience of clubbing if you’re not into it, or are no longer into it, is extraordinarily isolating. It’s just loud and bright and full of strangers. I was trying to use that setting – with its natural intensity – to encapsulate the distance between Ash as he was and Ash as he is as the book opens. Ash very much perceives himself as a man of fragments, for whom all things are fleeting, especially love and pleasure. And hopefully, if I’ve done my job right, that’s reflected in the structure of the novel itself: the chronology is inconsistent and every scene, or string of scenes, is a shard of Ash’s present, reflecting only an uncertain piece of his world. To an extent, I think Ash’s illness has made him a prisoner of the moment.
So when Ash sees Darian across the dance floor, this wriggling glitter pirate from Essex, he’s instantly enraptured. Not in a love-at-first-sighty way – if anything, Ash spends GLITTERLAND denying his feelings for Darian – but in recognition of the fact that Darian inhabits a world full of joy and colour, a world Ash can dimly remember but thought was lost. And, in that instant, in that utterly transitory place, they find the promise of something that could be lasting. Like Ash, Darian is a creature of moments, but unlike Ash he embraces that and makes it bright.
Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car. He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.
Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.
Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.
But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?
You can read an excerpt and, y’know, cough, buy the book, if you want, at Riptide Publishing.