SYP Committee Member publishes debut novel
Posted on December 10, 2008 in Uncategorized
SYP Web Content Editor Kevin Mahoney has just had his debut novel published, which Joanne Harris, of Chocolat fame, has described as "a tremendous first novel – wry, funny and clever. I hope it’s the first of many". You can read the synopsis and an extract from A Fame of Two Halves below.
Buy the paperback edition of A Fame of Two Halves from Amazon.co.uk (only £6.99 if you choose the Super Saver Delivery option). Or, you can buy the e-book edition for only £2.99 from Kevin’s literary website, Authortrek.com.
A Fame of Two Halves synopsis
For Elliot Gold, manager of the Duxford Ducks football team, life seems to be going from bad to worse. His job and his marriage both face imminent demise. He pins all his hopes on winning one last match.
But Elliot Gold is not a lucky man…
Drowning his sorrows with his parents in Malta, Elliot is suddenly offered a chance to resurrect his football career with a team he renames ‘The Maltese Falcons’. With the inspirational music of Spandau Ballet racing through his veins, Elliot attempts to reinvent himself. Will he woo the lovely Silvia? Can he save his parents’ marriage as their union also heads for the rocks? Will he ever win again?
An Extract from A Fame of Two Halves
Elliot Gold stared at Doctor Tell’s ceiling. He was used to the sight. He saw the Gucci doctor once a week, and told him all his woes. Elliot had tried to persuade the team to join him in a group session, but neither they nor Doctor Tell had agreed to it. Doctor Tell had a reason why, but just wouldn’t tell. That was probably where it all began to go wrong, Elliot thought. Prior to that had been his revelation to a journalist from The Sun that he had learnt all his training skills from Duxford State Circus when he was a lad. Until that moment, Elliot’s timing, his ability to read the game and life itself had been perfect. Elliot had held the complete respect of the team. No one had ever questioned him before that. Not long after, with his confidence in his own abilities low, Elliot had sunk to introducing the long ball into Duxford’s game.
If truth should be told, as it should be in Doctor Tell’s office, Elliot had only devised the tactic because he had heard that all first team players at Wimbledon regularly saw a psychoanalyst (and what better club to emulate than one which had come from nowhere?). So, Elliot had decided that Duxford United could do with some of the same mind quackery. He would have tried anything to have healed their confidence, and what better way than to confide their woes to a pro?
It never had occurred to him that the real reason why Wimbledon players went to see the men in white coats was that they were all nutters.
Doctor Tell’s ceiling was fascinating. To the casual observer, the black and white blobs on each tile merged into a meaningless jumble, but to Elliot, they signified something far different. One of them had a semicircle of black with a curved swirl of ebony in the middle. It was obvious to anybody but a referee, Elliot reasoned, that this was Graeme Souness. To his left was a lanky and quite unpronounceable piece of soot – Kenny Dalglish. Another had a wispy effect – definitely the late Bob Paisley. And the one with the bold black strokes? Shankly. Frankly, it had to be Shankly.
He should never have listened to that man. What was his name now? That man he had met in the Duck and Cower? Mister Chadwick – that was it. One might well have taken advice from Mister Spud. And fancy ever trying to emulate Wimbledon, Liverpool’s bogey team. No wonder Liverpool’s majestic crowned heads stared balefully down at him from the ceiling.
"How are we today?" the impeccably dressed Doctor Tell asked.
"Oh, fine," Elliot lied.
There was something about this room that reminded Elliot of the confessional: it was the bars on the window. Whenever a priest asked if he had sinned, Elliot had seen fit to invent a whole litany of crimes, falling just short of mass murder and littering. He hadn’t wanted to disappoint the priest, since he could never remember them anyway, they were so numerous. But you just had to say something in that situation. Okay, so lying, and thus committing another sin, was not an ideal solution, but saying you hadn’t sinned at all was positively sinful in Elliot’s eyes, even if you hadn’t. Still, he had only been a practising Catholic till the age of ten, and then he’d only gone to confession with his class. That was when you proved how hard you were by how long you took to do your penance.
"How’s your schizophrenia coming along?" Elliot asked.
"Very droll," the Doctor commented, although it was at least the thousandth occasion with which he had encountered the remark. "You know, Mr Elliot, the one danger of psychoanalysis is that the patient and the therapist will swap places. In your case, however, I believe we are quite safe."
"Well, I certainly keep you in business, Doc. I’m your best customer."
This was a slight fib on Elliot’s part. He was, in fact, Doctor Tell’s worst client. Doctor Tell resisted imparting this news to his client in case it made him depressed. He didn’t want Elliot to get any worse.
It was hardly fair, Elliot reasoned to himself (thus making Doctor Tell redundant). Thank God he hadn’t heeded Chadwick’s other advice though: to hire a ballet dancer. Elliot couldn’t see a weak little lass running through their SAS fitness regime, let alone lead it. But then again, Elliot had come to maturity in the late seventies, when no one had heard of a feminist movement, apart from the defenders at Arsenal.
"I believe we were talking about your recurring dream last time…" the Doctor began when he got tired of watching Elliot’s eyes dart about the ceiling. Doctor Tell’s mother had always told him to be suspicious of men whose eyebrows met, and it was in this way that Elliot became prime suspect on the many occasions when Duxford’s homicide squad had been forced to consult the good doctor.
Elliot leaned back in the couch.
"Well, now,” Elliot said, even although he wasn’t. Otherwise he could have gone home. "I’m in a garden."
"What kind of garden?"
"I dunno. It’s not a very green garden."
"And why is that?"
"It’s summer. It’s too hot to be green. There’s hardly a blade of grass. The earth is so scorched."
"Is this an English Summer?" Doctor Tell asked incredulously (having been brought up at a time when there was no talk of global warming).
"No, it’s abroad."
"I don’t know," Elliot lied. He could never actually remember his dreams, but he did have some quite vivid memories. One that especially shone in his mind was that of a childhood holiday in Malta. It was the first time that he had ever been abroad. Ah, he could remember it as if it was the day before yesterday, perhaps even last week. The sun had seemed so bright there, and the people so pleasant. It was a million miles away from England on a wet May morning.
Elliot liked to think of his childhood. He had been a happy child. Life had been so uncomplicated then. There were times when he wished he could return to that state, to have no worries in the world… To see the world beneath from a small womblike shell in the sky, just as that bloke did in 2001: A Space Odyssey… Perhaps that would be what old age would be like, having brunch in a Georgian palace with good acoustics.
"It was somewhere in the Mediterranean," Elliot continued. He liked the name – Middle Earth. To him, it seemed solid, firm, and Tolkien.
"What are you doing?"
"I am sitting on the ground. It is warm, reassuring. There is a little brick wall running along the path. At the bottom, in a crack, is an ants nest."
"What are these ants doing?"
"They are scurrying along the ground. They are carrying tiny leaves. I put my finger in their way. The ants just walk around. I squash some."
"You kill the ants?"
"Yes. There are very many of them. They are like the ones in our self catering apartment."
"Is the apartment infested?"
"No, they just marched up and down one bit of wall. They are living in their own world, totally unaffected by my presence. It was a beautiful sight – a moving wall."
"Where are you now?" Doctor Tell prompted after a slight pause.
"I am in the garden again. I squash some ants."
"What kind of ants are these?"
"They are worker ants. As soon as I kill some, bigger ants arrive on the scene."
"What are these new ants like?"
"They have pincers on their head. They attack my finger by pinching it. Little ants hang off my fingers with their pincers."
"Does their bite hurt?"
"No, the pincers are too small."
"What do you do now?" Doctor Tell enquired.
"You kill more of the ants?"
"Soon there are very many bodies on the ground."
"How do you feel?"
"I am enjoying it. Pretending to be a great warrior."
Doctor Tell clicked his fingers. It was his method of signifying some kind of closure. It stemmed from his days as a stage hypnotist, from the time when he had very nearly been disbarred from the Mind Benders Association.
Elliot sat up and teetered on the edge of the couch. He found it very comforting to swing his legs in his posture, but Doctor Tell wasn’t about to give him a big push. He left his real swinging for the weekend.
"So, what was that all about?" Elliot asked brightly.
"You tell me."
"No, you Tell, me Elliot."
"Your humour will be the death of me, Mr Gold," said Doctor Tell as sternly as he could. "Well?"
"I haven’t the foggiest," Elliot said uneasily. He hated psychoanalysing himself; it made a mockery of paying Doctor Tell.
"Is it not possible that you feel yourself surrounded by enemies, and that you wish to strike back in some way?"
"What enemies? I don’t have any enemies," Elliot said worriedly. But hadn’t he seen someone walk past his house with a bazooka the other day?
"Perhaps ‘enemies’ is the wrong word. Your critics, shall we say? Is it not true to say that your have more than your fair share of critics in the professional and amateur press?"
"Amateur press?" asked a mystified Elliot.
Doctor Tell waved a copy of The Sucks in the air.
"Ah, the fanzine," Elliot said as the light slowly dawned. "What does it say?"
"You mean you haven’t read it?"
"I write the weekly programmes. What do I need to read that for? I mean, I pick the teams and all that, so presumably I know what I am doing."
"Well, according to this rag, you don’t."
"What!" cried an outraged Elliot. "Let me see that!"
"Are you sure? Some of it is quite virulent," Doctor Tell warned as the fanzine was snatched from his grasp.
"’Elliot Gold, you should be sold! Always believing you’re indestructible. Well I’ve got news for you, mate’" Elliot read. "They can’t sell me, I’m the manager! And why are all the pages stuck together?"
"Amateur press," Doctor Tell reiterated as he prised the fanzine from Elliot’s grasp. It was his professional opinion that Elliot shouldn’t see all those old photos of his wife. Especially not the nude ones.
"I don’t care what they have to say! I’ll show them!" Elliot said furiously as he stormed out of the room in a way he’d last done when he was twelve. He’d been seeing Doctor Tell for a very long time.
Doctor Tell leant back and formed his hands into a steeple. He was highly skilled at metamorphosis.
"An excellent analysis," he muttered evilly to himself, which only bearded Machiavellian men in good suits can really pull off.
A Fame of Two Halves is a Print on Demand book, generated by Lightning Source. Click here to read Kevin’s recent article about the SYP Study Tour to Lightning Source. The paperback edition of A Fame of Two Halves was published by YouWriteOn.com, in association with Legend Press. Click here to read an article about the founding of Legend Press that Tom Chalmers wrote for the SYP. SYP members can also read Kevin’s account of how the book was published in the next edition of InPrint.