Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Kerry Hudson and Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma

So Kerry Hudson’s Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma has arrived at Bedsheets & Biscuit Crumbs, and I have to say that so far it has been inspiring to follow the book on its blog tour, and very interesting to read the discussions it has provoked on the blogs that have welcomed it. I have admired and enjoyed Kerry Hudson’s answers regarding both writing and the book itself, and by how the tour has given readers, as well as writers, insights into a world that is often a faintly glamorous mystery. Regretfully I decided not to interview Kerry for my blog, it wasn’t that I didn’t have any questions to ask, but really I had too many and it would have been a stupendously large post. Instead I thought it best to concentrate on the book itself, mainly because it is a marvellous read.

For starters I will give you a quick bio (because we all like to be nosey) and also a short blurb (because it’s a good’un…)

Kerry Hudson was born in Aberdeen. Growing up in a succession of council estates, B&Bs and caravan parks provided her with a keen eye for idiosyncratic behaviour, material for life, and a love of travel. Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma is her first novel. Kerry now lives, writes and works in London.


When Janie Ryan is born, she's just the latest in a long line of Ryan women, Aberdeen fishwives to the marrow, always ready to fight. Her violet-eyed Grandma had predicted she'd be sly, while blowing Benson and Hedges smoke rings over her Ma's swollen belly. In the hospital, her family approached her suspiciously, so close she could smell whether they'd had booze or food for breakfast. It was mostly booze.
Tony Hogan tells the story of a Scottish childhood of filthy council flats and B&Bs, screeching women, feckless men, fags and booze and drugs, the dole queue and bread and marge sandwiches. It is also the story of an irresistible, irrepressible heroine, a dysfunctional family you can't help but adore, the absurdities of the eighties and the fierce bonds that tie people together no matter what. Told in an arrestingly original -- and cry-out-loud funny -- voice, it launches itself headlong into the middle of one of life's great fights, between the pull of the past and the freedom of the future. And Janie Ryan, born and bred for combat, is ready to win.

I read Tony Hogan in a day, I read it hungrily, and ate up the words like the chips Janie eats on a regular basis. I simply thought it was a great story, from beginning to end. It lures you in with sentences like:

‘When January came with its winter winds biting through to our bones things has changed; I’d started proper school and hadn’t gotten into trouble, except when Mrs. Brown, our teacher, caught Davey humping on top of me and I said we were playing mammies and uncles.’

Who could resist such frank prose? Or the word humping (a word I believe is in desperate need of a resurgence).

Although the book has darkness, it also has a healthy dose of humour too, which brings the characters ever closer into the reader’s psyche, and allows an intimacy to develop, especially between the reader and Janie as we follow her as she grows into an adult, and begins to make decisions of her own. But the strength of the book lies in the drama; the endless moves and terrible relationships, the fights, the make-ups, the love of a mother for her children, or between a daughter and her absent father. It is a great story, very cleverly told, and wonderfully written and I really cannot recommend it enough. So please do purchase the book, you’ll devour it as I did.

It also has a beautiful front cover (as a book geek I was most impressed.) 

Thank you for coming and having a read today, and for something extra special Kerry Hudson has organised a wonderful competition that you can get involved in.

This prize draw is open to anyone who hosts or comments on a Tony Hogan post. There is no purchase necessary. There is no limit to how many times a name can be entered i.e. if you comment on three blogs you have three entries but it's only possible to win one prize per person. The winning names will be drawn at random on Wednesday 1st August and announced on Kerry Hudson’s Tumblr blog and on Twitter.

1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes consist of:

1st prize - A three chapter or synopsis critique plus afternoon tea at Beas of Bloomsbury, London (at a mutually beneficial date and time) with Juliet Pickering from the AP Watt Literary Agency to discuss your critique. Plus a personalised copy of Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before he Stole My Ma.

2nd prize - A literary hamper containing a personalised copy of Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma as well as three of my most recommended writing theory books and Hotel d Chocolate chocolates to enjoy while reading them.

3rd prize - A personalised copy of Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma.


Many thanks to Kerry Hudson for letting me ramble on about her book, and of course for writing it. Don’t forget, the tour continues tomorrow, stopping off at Sarah’s Book Reviews where Kerry will be discussing the inspiration for the book. 

Here are some links if you would like to know more about Kerry Hudson and Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma:

AP Watt Literary Agency: www.apwatt.co.uk

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

National Flash Fiction Day

A very happy Flash Fiction Day to you all! To celebrate the world of tiny tales I would like to share a recent piece of fiction that I wrote last week, I am unsure whether it can be officially named a flash piece as it has a short story feel to it, but I did want to share it anyway in the hope that you enjoy it. I also wanted to dedicate it to a dear friend of mine, Aaron Simon, who I wish would get his fine self over to England and set up that Deli already..
Also, I would like to promote some exciting things going on around National Flash Fiction day, namely that of the Flash Flood Journal, which is posting fabulous flashes all day today. Go to: http://flashfloodjournal.blogspot.co.uk/
Only one more bit of promotion I promise.. I would like to ask you all to either purchase or download (available for free on the 16th May 2012) the National Flash Fiction Day anthology- available from the National Flash Fiction Day Website, http://nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/ The anthology, entitled Jawbreakers, includes some of my favourite writers, including Ali Smith and Tania Hershman, and a story from myself (so thrilled to be included!) and contains some wonderful stories. 
Here's to fiction, large and small..


On the day that Carole left Daniel, Carole received a letter. Daniel believed this letter to be the catalyst for their separation. When Daniel asked Carole about the letter, Carole cried and refused to answer. Daniel noted that Carole’s tears were slow to form and rolled sluggishly down her face, this he took for a sign of guilt.
Carole left the house with only one suitcase in her left hand and the letter, crumpled and now damp, in her right. Daniel believed the letter to be from an ex-boyfriend. When Daniel and Carole first met, she had told him of her first love, a man that made triple layered sandwiches in a deli in Chicago. This man also played the trumpet, albeit badly Carole had told him. Daniel never did tell Carole that jazz was forever being mistaken for bad music.

Carole told Daniel that the first thing she had fallen in love with was this man’s hands. This man’s hands were covered in tiny scratches from the knives at work, tiny lines of life, and this man knew the story for every one of them. Carole liked the story of the scratch just in the crease of skin by this man’s thumb the best. This scratch the man had made while crafting a sandwich for a writer, and not just any writer, but a writer who this man loved.  This man twice inspected the lettuce for green bugs and dirt, thinking that no one likes the crunch of the unexpected, not even a writer.  This man used the freshest slices he could find and layered thick pickle until the far corners were covered and the bread was sticky. This man then layered the salad and the meat, ripping and pulling at the pieces wanting to create a sandwich whose insides looked like a river: flowing, heavy and alive.

It was the cheese that had broken this man. This man had forgotten the cheese. This man couldn’t believe he had forgotten something so fundamental.  This man had to hold back the tears as he grated the cheese. This man’s palm grazed the dark steel of the grater. Tiny spots of blood left smears of brown on the counter. This man added the cheese to the sandwich. This man thought the cheese made the river look dry and dead. This man picked at the scratch left in the crease of his hand.

This man set the sandwich down. The writer ate. The writer left. The writer tipped $20.00 and left a cigarette for the man who made the best sandwich he had ever eaten.

Daniel knows that it is the memory of this story among others that will have persuaded Carole to leave him.  Daniel never had stories to tell Carole. Apart from the one he told when he met her- he had, in fact, never once been to Chicago.

Monday, 9 April 2012

First Post

First posts always groan under the pressure to seem witty, wise and wonderfully articulate all at once so for this one I will keep it short. I will be mostly writing about books. There will be some talk of writing, although I will not be writing about writing often, for fear that I will never actually write. I will occasionally be posting pictures of stationery. I definitely will be posting pictures of book covers. I definitely won't be posting pictures of distressed, angst ridden song lyrics, cakes (yes even the cupcake kind) or of motivational style quotes.

Often it will be my own writing, however I would like to have some others throw caution to the wind and muse on interesting books/articles/essays/and anything text related.

Currently I am reading Amy Sackville's The Still Point. Amy Sackville is now a creative writing lecturer teaching at my old university so I, being nosey as hell, and of course envious that she gets to drink coffee in the staffroom, and note what lecturer drinks an inordinate amount, or only eats tofu, have been rather keen to read her d├ębut.

Her book so far is beautiful. It follows a woman who is attempting to put together a family archive, to protect her family's stories for the future while making sense of her present. It sounds a little twee from my description, but because the main protagonist is related to an Arctic explorer, named Edward Mackley, the book intertwines adventure, myth, and the merits of learning from the past remarkably well, and with no cupcakes or unexplained weeping. The plot moves slowly, but it doesn't feel like a frustrated book, merely one that is taking it's time to unravel the story, to mix and separate dreams, science and that white, empty landscape where we can so easily lose ourselves to romance and myth. Will give it my full review once I am finished. How I wish we always had an extra three days off a week..