A question Q&A session with Gerard Gray author of "Dead Broken".
Gerard thanks very much for agreeing to be my guest today. Also let me congratulate you on the amazing success of your debut novel "Dead Broken" currently riding high in the Amazon Horror charts. You must be delighted by your achievement.
Yes, but I just got lucky. I happen to know a lot of very nice people on Facebook and twitter – they helped me loads. It was still nice, though. The book got 10000 downloads over the free promotion, mostly in the UK. In the week that followed I sold close to 700 books, and it is still selling J. If it’s OK, I need to send out a big thank you to every one who posted, tweeted or talked about the book. Oh, and a big thank you to everyone who bought it. I hope it wasn’t too disturbing J
Did you ever envisage the book would be as popular as it is?
No. Getting to number 2 in the horror charts, second only to the great James Herbert, was a fantastic privilege. In saying that it’s just a hobby, and I’d like to keep it that way. I have a couple more books in me, but I like the idea of being able to write them at my own pace. That’s the beauty of going Indie.
What inspired you to write a dark psychological thriller/horror?
I have always loved horror – I get it from my mum. I can remember being very young and asking her what the book sitting beside her bed was. She said the name of the book was Rats by James Herbert. She said it was frightening. My mum loved a good horror story, and it wasn’t long before she had me following suit. At the age of eight she let me watch all the Hammer House of Horror series. At the age of nine our favourite family movie was Halloween! I think I know where I get my love of horror from.
In the book the main character Peter Murphy battles with his father’s bi polar disorder and his mother’s depression. It's also been said in a review that you give a refreshing honest insight into grief. Were these difficult subjects to write about?
Yes. I actually did grow up in a household blighted with mental illness – my dad was a manic-depressive, and my mum suffered from depression on occasion. It was a big part of my early life, which is why I find myself writing about it time and time again. In saying that, I had one seriously happy childhood. Both my parents were fantastic. I miss them loads.
Are you writing a sequel? Are we going to hear more from Gerard Gray?
I am, but it’s a difficult one for me. I don’t think writing about the last days of your mum would be easy for anyone. In saying that, Dead Broken isn’t my first book. I have a book prior to this one already written. I have plans to make it a prequel to Dead Broken, but I need to write the sequel first. Then I’ll go back and re-write the prequel and fit it in. It all goes a bit crazy in the prequel!!
In case the reader is not aware, you and I are cousins. Your sister is the Huffington post Blogger, Katarina Frogpond, who is also hoping to publish her own books in the very near future. When the three of us re-connected recently, were you as surprised as I was at how many of us in the family share a love of words?
Yes, but I suppose I shouldn’t have been. We have a very creative family. I don’t think it ends at the written word, either. I’ve written songs from about the age of 13, and some of our cousins have actually released albums. We even enjoy painting. But you are right – it’s our love of words that has brought us back together. I suppose it’s all in the genes J
Thank you Gerard and thank you for dropping by. X
Below is an excerpt from Dead Broken currently available on Amazon.
Follow Gerard on Twitter @GerardGray101
Below is an excerpt from Dead Broken currently available on Amazon.
Follow Gerard on Twitter @GerardGray101
I could see myself walking into the past, walking up to my parents’ front door. I had just spent seven hours driving up from London. On entering the house I found my dad sitting in his mechanical chair, his tongue a lapping and a lolling, his hand shaking back and forth. We exchanged a couple of welcoming remarks and then I spotted my mum coming out of the kitchen. On seeing her I felt somewhat unsettled, but my subconscious shook it off.
“The gypsy returns,” I said jokingly.
“Come and give me a hug, London boy.”
I gave my mum a warm hug and then followed her into the kitchen.
“I made you a Chilli. Are you hungry? I put fresh chillies in it.”
“Famished,” I replied, going straight for the fridge. Right enough she had bought me some Thai chillies.
“Ahh, chillies…” I said, picking up the packet, stroking it jokingly against my face.
“Pete, it’s very hot. Try it.”
I tasted the chilli and right enough it was hot, but no way was it hot enough. I am addicted to chillies; at least I was before my stomach problems began.
I looked at my mum again. She looked weathered and worn, but quite well.
“Are you OK?”
“Huh…” she huffed, expelling a puff of exasperated air. “Him. I don’t know how much more I can take.”
I turned around to look at my dad. He was sitting in his chair, a fat, failing invalid. I looked at my mum. I wasn’t sure how to take this. Recently she had gone from being the angel of my youth to a constantly moaning hypochondriac. My sister blamed her German friend, Helga, and I tended to agree.
I looked back at my dad. The poor man had just been in care for six weeks while my mum had had her knee operation. My sister had told me that she had been moaning about him incessantly: the horns and halo effect. As far as my mum was concerned this little man definitely had horns. And that was why I took no notice of her. On this occasion, I was wrong.
Why were you wrong?
My eyes widened in the dark. Floating in the middle of the room was a cat as clear as day, its tail a swirling and a twirling high into the air like the smoke from a chimneystack. It was Tiddles, but not the Tiddles of my cinema room. This Tiddles had a head.
“Tiddles, you found your head?”
No thanks to you.
“What do you mean?”
You certainly know how to hide a head don’t you.
I winced. Tiddles’ voice was wrong. Why was Tiddles’ voice so wrong? And then it dawned on me. The apparition floating in the dark was that of a cat, but the voice was still my dad’s. I felt sick and disorientated. I placed my head on the bed, closed my eyes and attempted to escape back into my waking dream.
I returned to my parents’ living room, my dad lying half asleep in his chair. It was like lucid dreaming. I found myself wondering which one was the real world: the one with the floating cat, or the one with my dad slumbering in his mechanised chair.
I sat myself down on the sofa with an enormous plate of chilli and a bottle of Leffe. I had asked my mum to tape me the UEFA cup match, and by some fluke of the world she had managed it. My mum was over seventy – technical she was not. I switched on the video. Mum had just gone to bed. My dad was sitting beside me, half asleep.
I opened my eyes to find the ethereal Tiddles still floating in the dark.
“Do you want to know the score?” my dad mumbled from his armchair. He had been away at dialysis earlier that evening. It always left him drained.
“No. Definitely not. Don’t tell me.”
“All I’ll say is…”
“No! Don’t tell me.”
My dad said nothing for a couple of seconds and then continued.
“I’ll just say…”
“That Celtic had a better game in the second half.”
“OK, don’t tell me anything else.” No way did I want to know the result. If I knew the result I wouldn’t want to watch the match.
“And I’ll just say…”
“That Larsson got man of the match.”
The actual implications of this conversation went far beyond the result of a football match. In the back of my mind something was niggling, but I thought nothing else of it. He finally mumbled something incoherent and proceeded to fall asleep in his chair. He was exhausted.
Larsson did get man of the match, but it wasn’t the greatest of games. Celtic drew 1-1 at home. As I left the room to go to bed I looked back at my dad, sleeping in his chair. He looked all but finished. Again I had that niggling feeling, but I brushed it aside. I was tired. It was 1:30 in the morning; time for bed.
No sleep for the wicked, aye?
I threw an angry stare at the floating cat, but the feline didn’t flinch an inch. My glower burned and effervesced like a flare before darkening once more. The cat was right: the wicked had no right to rest. I think I had only been asleep for a couple of hours when it started.
“Mary! Mary! It’s 5.30, Mary. You need to get up.”
“Huh?” I mumbled, stirring from my slumber.
“Pete, I’m out of the bathroom, now. You can get in, if you like.”
What the fuck? Was it actually five in the morning? I leaned over and looked at my phone. Right enough it was just after five.
“Mary! I’m hungry.”
I tried my best to ignore my dad’s voice. It was 5.00 in the morning, so by my estimations that meant I’d only had about four hours’ sleep. I turned over in exasperation.
“Do you want some breakfast as well, Pete?”
“No I do not,” I vociferously whispered. “It’s five in the morning. I work hard all week. Let me sleep.”
My dad didn’t seem to care how early it was. All he cared about was the fact that he was wide-awake, so everybody else should be up as well.
My dad babbled on incessantly for the next hour. Every minute, like clockwork, he would say something else, his voice flowing into my room like the frothy waves on a beach. Not quite the tranquil swill of the Bahamas, more the freezing cold wash of a Scottish shoreline.
I eventually managed to fall asleep, but only for about an hour. I opened my eyes to be greeted by my dad’s manic rant once more. God only knew what time it was now, but by the way my dad was talking it sounded like he had convinced my mum to get out of bed.
“Mary, I want my breakfast in my special bowl,” he said rudely. “And I think I’ll have some toast. Are you making toast for Pete? If you are, then I want you to make me one more slice of toast than you make for him.”
What? Did I hear him correctly? Oh bugger. I had forgotten about this.
I slowly dragged myself out of bed. My dad’s dressing gown was lying in the corner, so I put it on. I staggered into the living room to find him beached in his chair as per usual.
“Morning,” I said. “You were up early. What the hell was all that about this morning?”
My dad looked up at me with a sneer. “It’s my house. I make the rules in this house.”
“It’s not your house,” I replied. “It’s yours and mum’s.”
“If I put it to a court of law, they would rule in my favour. Your mother would get nothing.”
“What’re you talking about?” I shook my head in a bid to dissipate the growing anger. I quickly released the pressure by remembering that he was obviously going ill again. No point listening to a word he said.
I walked through to the kitchen.
“He’s going ill again, isn’t he?”
“Do you see what I have to put up with? He’s an ungrateful, rude little devil.”
“Mary. Bring me my tablets.”
“Please!” I shouted back at him.
My mum picked up his tablets from the bench and winced. “He’s ugly. I can’t bear to look at him.” She then disappeared into the living room. I followed her in and watched her place the tablets down onto the little table in front of my dad.
“Thank you,” I said, aiming the reproach at my dad for not acknowledging my mum’s kind gesture. He ignored me, his hand shaking back and forth.
“I need a cup of milk to take my tablets with.”
“Please!” I said again.
“I need a cup of milk to take my tablets with, please, thank you, please, thank you.” My dad said this with a cheeky grin on his face. I reluctantly smiled back at him; it was actually quite funny. My mum’s bitter mask remained stuck fast to her face, though. She didn’t find him funny in the slightest.
I opened my eyes and rolled over in the dark turning my back on the floating cat. I didn’t want to think about this anymore. This was not the way I wanted to remember my dad.