Physics for Poets

I was inspired in part by Arthur Nersesian’s The Fuck Up which catalogue’s in gritty and loving detail the urban chaos of New York in early 80’s.  I loved the way NYC received as much lavish attention as any of the other characters of the book.  I started Physics because I wanted to capture a sense of Durban on the cusp of the nineties, a cultural snapshot of the moment.  I’m not saying that’s what I’ve actually done! But it’s what I set out to do.

Physics is my first novel.  I had a short story published before called Table 18, about an upmarket restaurant manager’s wrangle with a celeb.  I had written scenes for Physics through the years, all very badly.  One night, armed with a South Australian Shiraz and a book of post-its, I plotted out a possible story on the wall. Over 8 months I wrote pretty close to the scenes I had plotted out that first night, until I had 50k words.   And then I edited and edited some more.  And when I was done with that I had someone who knew what the hell they were doing edit the first three chapters.  I submitted those 3 chapters to six South African publishers.  Penguin SA came back about 6 months later and asked to see the rest of the novel.  I still remember the beer and pub where I saw the email come through on my phone.  What a great beer.  So I spent a crazy week fixing the bejesus out of it with my editor and gave him an insulting amount of money in return.  I sent it off.

And every day for the next 6 months I woke up expecting to get the email.  The email that said Yes!  We love your manuscript.  Some days I knew it was going to be a no and others I let myself hope.

When they finally said thanks, but no thanks I took it my stride, going on a three bender, smashing up a 7-11, a children’s shoe shop and a drive through bottlo.  After the trial I decided to publish anyway and here we are.  All up, it’s been 2.5 years since I wrote the first line.  I hope you like it.


I wrote a book

and it got released yesterday.

It is set over 6 months in Durban, South Africa at the end of 1989, during the slow crumble of Apartheid.

Charl and girlfriend spend the remainder of their disintegrating relationship, drinking, smoking and groping their way through their long summer holidays.  Pensive, rash and ultimately lazy, Charl feels like he has little going for him. When Belinda finally tires of his self-absorbed melancholy and dumps him, it looks like he might just be right.
From a school suspension for carving a giant Anarchy sign outside the assembly hall, staggering through a disaster-inducing relationship with the girl of his dreams and dropping Acid in a club filled with lava, to selling APLA T-shirts and meeting Nelson Mandela after toilet sex, Charl’s meandering path cut through the new South Africa seems to have little in common with making choices.

Here’s the Amazon link:

You can also get it from Createspace which actually gets me a better commission but I’m not sure what the postage scenario is.  If you use Createspace let me know if you have any issues.

Thanks for reading!

The good news for me is that now that I have released the book it means I can move onto the next book which I’m pretty excited about. It’s holding title is ABOUT:BLANK, but we’ll see.

It’s a dirty story of a dirty man and his clinging wife

So starts the lyrics for Paperback Writer.

Now that the chapters and synopses and author biometrics and bull (who can really write well about themselves – aren’t CV’s the worst kind of work?) has been submitted to 6 or so publishers we play the waiting game.  Well a waiting game for the remaining.  Macmillan got back to me in an unheard of 10 days.  And just to be clear they got back to me to say thanks but no thanks.  And you’re never really happy.  If it takes 5 months for them to read the 5000 words of Physics for Poets I sent, just for them to tell you they didn’t like it, it might seem cruel. You’re left thinking, why don’t they read the crap first and get back to you sooner?  I don’t mind hanging on half a year if, when you finally do make contact it’s with embarrassingly gushy noises.    But when they take less than 2 weeks, it’s like a slap in the face.  Or maybe a half-a-night stand.  Of course I know this is  how it works, it just seems weird when your’e in the middle of it.

So I have all this leisure time to ruminate on how underdone the submission letters were.   And read endless blogs on writing that are less than useless.  Useless might be something like: “write every day, even if it’s for five minutes.”  Or maybe “make your characters something resembling human and give them a problem they can believably solve.”  Whatever you do, don’t create a character that looks and sounds like a sentient posturing  AI set to solve a thousand year mystery in one night in 4 continents, only to find out Jesus of Nazareth married a prostitute.  That wouldn’t work. No, worse than useless is something like this: “Read. Read. Read. Especially in the genre you hope to write in.”  Just knowing that the person that dropped this bomb is published is less than inspiring.  What’s the collective adverb for disheartening?

On a brighter note I have the first 17 chapters (don’t worry they’re blog sized, not chapter sized) on WordPress and quite happy with the results.