The day I left home for university in London, my mother looked at me and, after taking in a tight breath of air, warned me not to let anyone into my rented room, especially male students. It was a baffling rule that didn’t have any foundation in the real world and demonstrated more about her fears of strangers (and men) than anything else. Of course, within the first twenty-four hours of arriving in the busy, bustling halls of residence that became my home for a year, I’d let four people into my room: one female fresher to chat about our shared interest in music and three others (two males and a female) to decide who would be the social rep for the corridor (which, happily, ended up being me). As you’d expect, no one got sexually harassed, as my mother was clearly implying might happen.
I saw that she was only trying to protect me, but her fears were overspills of past concerns, caring at their core, but not practical, realistic or necessary. As a balanced person who’d already built up a strong social network before going to university, I was able to draw on previous experience of meeting different people to see the error of her judgement and make my own decision – in this case, to accept other students into my world as long as I could see that they were honest, friendly and carried with them no ulterior motive.
Within a week, my mother had warned me of two more potential dangers: walking around alone at night on the streets of London in case I was approached by a stranger and talking to people I didn’t know on buses, the mode of transport I regularly used to get from halls to campus or to go on nights out. Clearly her fears hadn’t abated – and I soon discovered she wasn’t entirely wrong to mention them.
Office work sucks. At least it can. Do you ever wonder what it might be like to just not turn up? Yeah, I know the feeling. I can also guess the answer: Who would pay the bills? Who would feed the kids? Who? Who? Who? You want so desperately to break free, to rebel, to do something else, but you have to stick at it. You have to buy things and feed people and pay for holidays and the work’s not that bad after all… is it?
I’m the same as you. I used to work in an office – a grey-walled, flickery-strobe lit, open-plan coffin of an office without real air. I regularly dreamed of sunlight shimmering off blue water, of bare feet running through fields of fresh flowers. (My feet, obviously.) In short, I did all the things most of us do when we need to escape and be free. I daydreamed. You daydream. We all daydream. There’s nothing wrong with it. I just took it one step further. I imagined someone in the office brought a small bottle of poison in with them in their coat pocket.
You see, I had a terrible manager. Not everyone does. Some people like their boss; some tolerate him; some can’t stand the bastard. For me, it was the nasty, twisted, bitter, competitive, downright cruel piece of corporate shit in charge of operations that inspired me to convert the daily grind into a fictional maelstrom – a funny, fuck-up of a story so sick and devious that anyone reading it who also feels they’ve drawn the short straw will undoubtedly feel better about themselves and life in general. Because if you can laugh at Maxwell D. Kalist – the character I put together based on my conniving boss – you will be able to laugh at anything and anyone. No questions asked. And if you can see that your colleagues aren’t as spineless, dull-witted and suck-up as Ridley Obelmäker and Gottfried Baumauer, the fictional co-workers in my story, you’ll go back to work tomorrow or the next day and even the day after that with a spring in your step and a “nothing can shake my foundations” attitude.
That’s why I wrote this book – for YOU.
From the Horse’s Mouth is a rebellious short book that’s punishingly nasty, verging on the grotesque at times, but it’ll make you split your sides laughing and turn your next day at work into a breeze.
Enjoy the free excerpt plus find all your book links here at: Amazon UK, Amazon US and Kobo.
“Books are readable drugs.”
“So you don’t just bang on about feelings?” asked one tongue-in-cheek male reader before downloading and thoroughly enjoying one of my hard-hitting, fiercely uncomplicated short stories about drugs, male violence and life on the streets. I appreciated his honesty. A question is always better than an assumption.
For probably the last five times I told a stranger I write books their first question has been, “Is it romance?” The two muscles I use on either side of my face to create an understanding (and definitely not annoyed in any way whatsoever) half-smile are starting to ache. When I asked, politely and with as few expletives as possible, “Why do you suspect I write romance?” a substantial number replied along the lines of, “Well, you’re a woman.”
For over a century, women have fought hard to be published, often resorting to using male pseudonyms, like the rebellious political essayist and women’s rights advocate, George Sand. When a young Charlotte Brontë sent her first poetry anthology to poet laureate, Robert Southey, his response went down in bookish history: “Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life.” To their credit, Charlotte and her talented family proved their doubters very wrong. When JK Rolling unmasked her male identity, ‘Robert Galbraith’, to the editor of her crime novel The Cuckoo’s Calling, he replied, with honest surprise, “I never would have thought a woman wrote that.”
Of course, much has changed and many women are published purely for their talents as exceptional writers, their great ideas for books and their determination to succeed in the profession they care most about, but there are still a few sexual skeletons in the literary closet and I personally believe the imbalance is down to either sexism in the readership or harsh marketing stereotypes. Continue reading
Lonely Simon Webber lives with his retired parents in Edgewood, Kentucky. He is addicted to real-time pornography. To sate secret fetishes he waits until he’s alone in the house, then logs onto Sex Media, a successful business devoted to satisfying the sexual needs of a range of clients worldwide using high speed, online technology. Simon excitedly selects GIRL with LONG LOOSE HAIR and he soon sees it flowing.
On the other side of the world, teenage orphan, Opal Sang, arrives on the doorstep of an abandoned tower block in Sangbashi, a concrete wilderness once dubbed ‘The Dubai of Northern China’. She is given her first assignment: to dance, near-naked and nervous, for the benefit of a stranger in America watching on his bedroom webcam. Opal thinks she made the right decision coming to this place, but after a few minutes in the STRAWBERRY ROOM with new client Simon Webber, something begins to frighten her.
That night, Opal meets another female worker by the name of Xian, an ex-student who learned to suppress her rebellious streak to avoid the violent temper of notorious Sex Media manager, Ramirez. Xian is resilient and experienced, yet when she finds Opal’s body – alive but drugged – she decides the time has come to do more than survive. As the two friends enact their ambitious plan, they dream only of justice and freedom, but in truth, their precious futures hang from a fast-unravelling thread.
Sex Media is Carla’s darkest, most powerful piece of fiction so far, an emotionally-charged yet life-affirming portrayal of the global sex trade at its rawest and most diverse.
Discover Sex Media’s secrets for yourself by reading the free excerpt at: Amazon UK, Amazon US and Kobo.
“Most people assume I write at night because of the kind of books I write, but I can shut out the light with my mind.”
Everyone has a nightmare once in a while, that terrifying moment when you wake in fear, palms sweating, heart racing, wondering where you are. Some scientists believe bad dreams are a natural coping strategy for life’s stresses and strains and might even help us deal with our problems. But what’s worse than waking up from a bad dream? Surely, not waking up at all? Or is it being alive, but not being able to tell anyone? I can guess what you’re about to say: you don’t want to think about death or anything close. Neither do I, but there is an intriguing state in between that few people have properly explored. Most of us know it as a coma, a persistent unconsciousness, but it’s far from death. According to some it’s a tantalising glimpse of the afterlife, if you’re lucky enough to wake up and remember it, that is. Scary as long-lasting unconsciousness may seem to us, there is something fascinating and mysterious about the way some people have simply opened their eyes and woken up again after months or even years of inhabiting a place we know nothing about. Some survivors report feeling, thinking and knowing exactly what’s going on during their time of quiet, but realising that deep down, even if they tried to, they’d be unable to make contact with the real world.
I’d like you to try a thought experiment with me – one I’ve tried a few times on my own. Just so you know, it’s not dangerous, but it might raise a few challenges, a few surprises. Imagine, just for a moment, that you fall into a state of long-lasting semi-consciousness – that you can hear everything going on around you, but simply can’t interact with your loved ones. Imagine you hear a friend’s voice, but you can’t respond. Imagine you hear your own baby cry, but you can’t console her. Now imagine your family begin to make decisions about your future without your permission – and their version of the future isn’t what you want at all.
This is Where You Join Me will take you into a world you don’t recognise at first, but it’s a world that’s hidden deep inside us all. Whether we open the door and look inside, however, is another matter entirely.
Explore the book. Try a free excerpt at: Goodreads, Amazon UK, Amazon US or Kobo or click the cover of the book (left) to own your own copy on your tablet or phone. Continue reading