To say I’m excited is an understatement. Today is the day when Blackstone Towers goes live. I’ve spent the last eight days hopping from one excellent blog to another and I’d like to thank the following people for being so supportive:
www.janineashbless.com Janine Ashbless
There have been other people working behind the scenes too, including my good friend Lisa Bower and my wonderful wife Tracy Lister, my incredible son Darwen Lister, and the wonderful friends and relatives who have been sharing my promo posts and who I have been cheekily calling the Blackstone Towers Tribe.
Thank you all xxx
I’m also indebted to the wonderful poet Abby Mooney, who dreamt I was having a birthday party this year and, in her dream, lots of our fellow poets prepared food but everyone brought soup. This is why we have images of soup peppered throughout this blog post and I suspect there will be mention of soup at tonight’s birthday book launch.
I’m hoping to see everyone mentioned above (and many more) at tonight’s book launch. This hateful illness that is Covid-19 has caused lots of upset and destruction but, to give credit where it’s due, the way we’ve dealt with Covid-19 has normalised Zoom meetings and online book launches.
If you’d like to participate there will be poetry readings, there will be a handful of giveaways, and there will be a chance to hear me reading part of Blackstone Towers. Drop me an email saying you want to be invited and I’ll add you to the list.
And, if you want to get an idea of what the story looks like, here’s a little bit from Chapter Two of Blackstone Towers.
It was midnight and, framed by the cemetery gates, the figure stood tall and sinister. He was silhouetted by the weak light from a gibbous moon that made his muscular build and towering height seem much, much more than imposing. In one hand he held a heavy canvas sports bag. The other clutched a shovel that rested casually over one broad shoulder. If an errant driver or a late-night dog walker had glimpsed him, they would have thought he looked like a man with a strong sense of purpose.
But the roads were as silent as a held breath.
No one, not even the hopelessly lost, drove down this stretch of road so late at night. Even those who were rash enough to walk their dogs at midnight weren’t so foolhardy as to brave the densely shadowed pathway that led past Dark Hills Memorial Gardens.
Of the living, only Alan saw the grave robber march boldly into the cemetery.
Alan’s scowl deepened. He didn’t like grave robbers.
There were many things that he didn’t like. Alan didn’t like BMW drivers. He had yet to see one of the vehicles being driven with a modicum of consideration for other road users. He loathed his line manager in the offices of Raven and Skull: Heather was known to everyone as a bitch queen from hell and she went out of her way to make Alan’s life a misery. He hated cruelty to animals. He despised bullying. And he really didn’t like celery.
But, the things he hated most passionately in the world were grave robbers. Grave robbers were the absolute worst.
This grave robber trudged past the shadowy headstone that concealed Alan. He wore steel toe-capped work boots that munched noisily at the gravel pathway. The man was so close that Alan could hear the tinny sound of Lady Gaga singing Poker Face through unseen earphones. Alan pressed himself deeper into the shadows of his hiding place, not yet wanting to make his presence known. He needed to see where the grave robber was heading and learn whose grave the man intended to plunder. He already had a suspicion which plot would be targeted but he wanted confirmation before he acted.
To his irritation, Alan found himself humming the Lady Gaga song.
He followed by walking over grass-covered graves rather than treading on the gravel pathway. Whilst he didn’t want the grave robber, crunching noisily ahead, to notice him, Alan was not overly worried that his presence would be detected. The grave robber was walking with an arrogance that was clearly fuelled by wilful overconfidence. He was marching down the middle of one of the cemetery’s skeletally thin pathways and strutting with the faux-defiance of a man who did not want to be seen as afraid. It was the shoulders-squared, stick-up-the-arse-straight posturing of a man trying fervently to convince himself there was no real reason to be scared of midnight cemeteries.
Alan figured, if not for the crunch of gravel footsteps and the sound of Lady Gaga singing, he would have been able to hear the thumping of the grave robber’s accelerated heartbeat.
As he walked, Alan thumbed a swift text to Mr Knight, advising him that there was a potential complication. His phone was on silent alert so he had no worries that his sponsor’s response would give the grave robber any indication that he was being followed. Nevertheless, just in case the grave robber’s hearing was so sensitive it would be able to pick up the soft buzz of a Samsung vibrating in the back pocket of his jeans, Alan dropped back a few yards in his pursuit.
Mr Knight’s response was swift and characteristically brief: Complication?
Alan typed and sent his reply. There’s a stranger here. He has a canvas bag and a shovel, and he’s headed to the northern quarter. Alan was going to close the phone’s screen, not wanting the light to alert his presence to the stranger. However, Mr Knight’s response came through immediately.
Is he visiting the Parker plot?
Alan shook his head as he typed the message. I don’t know yet.
He glanced over the bleak skyline of tombstones and saw that the grave robber was heading purposefully in the direction of the Parker plot. A rush of sadness soured his mood as he realized how the evening was going to progress.
If he’s visiting the Parker plot, you know what you’ll have to do.