Johnson Vs Miles

disappear

Would you give us a little info about yourself?
I’m thirty three years old, I have a wife and daughter and mortgage. I look like Ellen Degeneres and dress like a cross between Niles from Frasier and Johnny Marr. I speak English quite well and I work for the NHS. I have a book out, it is called This Is How You Disappear.
And a bit about your writing process?
My previous novella, 18 Days, was written in five days whilst I was delirious from lack of sleep due to the night-time antics of my new-born daughter. I got an idea in my head and loaded up on coffee and wine and just typed and typed and typed. It was a very dark story and rather draining to write. This one was much easier to write. I took the best part of a year to scribble ten stories and although many of them are still on the bleak side, I actually enjoyed the process. The writing is pretty languid and evocative but with a hard-hitting core. 18 Days was like passing a kidney stone, This Is How You Disappear is like finding a razor blade in a chocolate cake.
Following on from the success of your last book, how has this helped you and has there been any negatives to tackling your new book of short stories?
I wouldn’t say my last book was successful. It got loads of five-star reviews, but I didn’t make any money from it. Having said that, I wasn’t expecting to, and I didn’t really care if I did. I learnt a lot from the first one; for example it is idiotic to attempt to write 30000 words in five days while working a fifty hour week and attending to a six month-old baby. Writing this one, I attempted to work on my weaknesses, such as dialogue, and I definitely created many more characters. The negatives were keeping the stories short, a few of them run to 10000 words or more, which strictly speaking aren’t short stories.
Why short stories and not a novel?
I have neither the discipline nor the level of concentration to write a novel. I have one on the back burner, but I’ll write big chunks of it then leave it for ages and forget my train of narrative thought. I will finish it, but it will be when I’ve got less hair and more spare time. It’s said that Martin Scorsese had been waiting twenty years for the right time to do Gangs Of New York, because it was such a monstrous undertaking. It will be the same with my novel.
Could you tell us a little about your new book?
It is a collection of ten short stories and the afore-mentioned novella. It is my first paperback. It is mostly based on themes of isolation and escapism, and I’ve taken a lot of influence from the writings of Charles Bukowski, John Fante and Cormac McCarthy. The lyrics of Elvis Costello also had a huge influence, as did the life and times of Howard Hughes. I’m immensely proud of it, and the story, Paradise, is the best thing I have ever written. As I say above, I enjoyed writing it, which is really rare for me. My favourite part of the book is called Blue and Yellow Stripes, which is an autobiographical prose about my childhood. All the characters in it are actual people, including my mate’s amazingly cool older brother, my then-best mate’s grandmother who couldn’t speak English, and the whole football team from my primary school.
Getting published – what have you done?
Long story. I was approached by my friend and mentor Darren Sant who’d read one of my stories, which was tentatively-titled A Night Out, which was a sort-of throwaway comedy story I’d written based on real events. He offered to put it out as an e-book through his fledgling publishing company, but suggested I write another short story as a bonus, to make it worth the price. Sadly, Darren’s would-be partner moved abroad so they decided not to continue with their plans. I was gutted at this because I thought the bonus short that I’d written, which I’d titled This Is How You Disappear, was one of my best pieces. I decided to write a collection of short stories with a view to self-publishing it as an e-book. During this time I’d started my own website, and one of the contributors, a magnificent author called Ryan Bracha, got in touch and asked if I’d like to contribute to an anthology he was curating and publishing called Twelve Mad Men, which I did. A while after, I decided to chance my arm and see if he fancied putting my collection out himself, because frankly I didn’t have the first idea how to do it. To my absolute joy, he said he would, and due to the fact he’s an all-round splendid chap, I’m now sitting here with a paperback volume of my own work in my hands.

 

Follow Fiona on Twitter @McDroll. Shes very good.

Follow Fiona on Twitter @McDroll. Shes very good. I know she looks pretty bored with my waffling, but that’s my fault.

Have you built on the dark themes from your last book or have you headed in different directions?
Lots of people told me that 18 Days was incredibly dark. My bezzy-mate at work told me she burst into tears at the end, but she does drink a lot of gin so that could’ve been a factor (love you Mel!) I’ve not read it since I finished it so with hindsight I can’t really say, but when I wrote that book I’d completely zoned out and was following a trail, so I didn’t really pick up on it at the time. The stories on this one are quite dark in places, The Holy Dusk Tricolore is particularly upsetting, but there’s certainly a level of black humour in a few of the stories, which I learnt from writing my contribution to the afore-mentioned Twelve Mad Men. The First Aider is particularly malevolent, and it will raise a grin or two. Ditto Nebraska, East Yorkshire, which is the re-write of A Night Out, as mentioned above.
What improvements do you see in your writing ?
I’ve made a conscious effort to write dialogue, because there was hardly any in 18 Days. I’ve also varied from first person to third person in a few of the stories, and as I’ve said, I’ve tried to inject a bit of humour into it. In many ways, I’ve tried to get away from my own style, if that makes sense.
What’s next?
I’m going to do lots of promo in order to try and sell copies of my book, have a rest for a while, then carry on with my novel. Hopefully it will be finished before Putin blows the world up.

Allen Miles, author

 

This Is How You Disappear is published through Abrachadabra Books and is available on Amazon here: http://www.tinyurl.com/disappear2014

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Miles vs Bracha

Ryan Bracha is a genuine nutcase who writes hyper-modern fiction from his Bond-villain-esque lair in Barnsley. 90% of the country will tell you that his work is purile and revolting and will write strongly worded letters to their local church mouse asking for it to be banned. The other 10% will tell you that he is the best British writer to emerge for years and we should all be reading his magnificent books right now. After he wrote a couple of hilarious articles for this very website, Mr Bracha was kind enough to beta-read some of my deeply miserable stories that will make up my forthcoming book. Possibly sensing that I am almost as deranged as he is, he then invited me to write a few thousand words imagining what it would be like if I flipped my lid and ended up in a loony bin. Fortunately, as I think of that scenario pretty much every minute I spend doing my ludicrous job, I was only too happy to oblige. The resulting book, Twelve Mad Men, has stories by other SOTS alumni such as Darren Sant, Paul D Brazil, and Gareth Spark, along with a whole host of other macabre and malicious minds. The whole thing is held together by a running narrative from Bracha’s own chewed biro. I recently managed to contact him at what he refers to as his “institute” and conducted the following interview.

12 cover

 

So.. Twelve Mad Men. Are these people your friends, acquaintances you made through various acts of vagrancy or simply the twelve lunatics sat in your head working the controls?
They’re me, and eleven other lunatic writers that I managed to coerce through blackmail, bribery, sex, and begging into contributing to an idea I’d had. Some were closer than others, some I’d never interacted with at all, but I’d like to think we’d bonded a little in the process. One of them is pregnant with my child. You’ll have to guess who.

What gave you the idea to inflict something this unpleasant on the book-buying public?
Too much fluff out there. Too many Tesco bookshelf writers with not enough ideas between them. ‘Safe’ pisses me off. I wanted to give some kindred spirits a release for the most horrendous stuff that’s been building up in the writer parts of their brains, but perhaps never wanted to go that risky on their own. It’s strength in numbers. I’m Spartacus, and so are all my mates. So yeah, I wanted to offend as many people as possible with this book, and have some other people to blame. They’re all fucked in the nut. Especially Richard Godwin. He scares me.

I’ve read some of your earlier work and it’s obvious to me that you’re clearly a deeply disturbed individual. How were you able to find people of a similar mindset?

Thank you very much, very kind of you to say. We’re in a very network reliant sector of the industry, to be successful you can’t go it alone, you have to make some friends along the way. So it was easy to find great minds in the network I’ve managed to weasel my way in to, really cool chaps too. I refuse to associate with people who are dicks about it all.

Tell us a bit about yourself Bracha, and please try and limit it to just one of your personalities.

I’m a man. I married a woman. I’ve lived on the planet for close to 35 years and I’ve always played the joker and tried to entertain. My wife told her mate when we’d first met “I think he’s a keeper, but his mind doesn’t work like everybody else’s.” – That sums me up. If you can handle, and get used to the way my mind works then we can probably be friends.

This is quite a ground breaking concept, probably because no one has been warped enough to think of such a thing before. Will there be more chapters in this tawdry little story?
Definitely, I’m already working on two other projects like this one. Twelve Ways to Die, and Twelve Nights at Table Six. The former is set in Hell, the latter at table six. The clue’s in the title. I exposed the writers’ messed up sides with great character pieces, these others are intended to explore how they write good set pieces and how they deal with dialogue. I’m an experimental chap.

What do you think to the rumours that a group of militant Daily Mail readers are attempting re-animate the corpse of Mary Whitehouse in a bid to have this shocking book banned?
They can have a go, I harvested the thing for organs years ago. They could probably make a nice kayak out of her.

Do you feel guilty about providing a platform for such evidently damaged and dangerous people to vent their spleens, or you get some of perverse, voyeuristic thrill out of it?
The latter. I want them to have fun going nuts, and I want front row seats to it. You should see Mark Wilson’s story. The man is damaged.

And how would you respond to the allegations that you’re merely using these writers to establish a pedestal to foist your own horrifying literary manifesto on an unsuspecting public?
I’d kind of agree, but only in the same sense of a fat middle aged Spanish woman taking my virginity in Ibiza. It’s a grotesque scene these boys are a part of, but they love it. The manifesto is a superb way of challenging yourself. It holds you over the deep end and gives your forehead a little kiss before dropping you into the water to fend for yourself.

And presumably the profits of this book will go on building some sort of underground bunker for yourself?

Nope. Charity. Every penny will go to a healthy rotation of good causes, the first of which is Teenage Cancer Trust.

Ah, a redemptive statement right at the end. Where can we find this book, Mr Bracha?
Amazon for now, but in talks with local vendors about stocking the paperbacks.

Thank you. And incidentally, good luck making the bail payment.
Cheers. I’ve got an indiegogo campaign to raise the money. One of the perks is that for a fiver, I don’t murder your family.

bracha 12 int

Ryan Bracha is the bestselling author of Strangers Are Just Friends You Haven’t Killed Yet and Paul Carter is a Dead Man, he’s also got every intention of being the saviour of British literature, but will happily accept the ‘Most likely to fail at being the saviour of British literature’ award at school. He just wants to entertain you and his wife. His wife refuses to read his work on the basis that it freaks her out, so it’s your responsibility now.

Twelve Mad Men is a comedic psycho-horror and literary portmanteau written by twelve unbelievably talented writers, and devised and narrated by one ludicrously ambitious turd.

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Twelve-Mad-Men-Ryan-Bracha-ebook/dp/B00LV0VLQA/ref=pd_sim_b_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=0T81TSYPAAFSE8WTXD46

US: http://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Mad-Men-Ryan-Bracha-ebook/dp/B00LV0VLQA/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

In Defence Of… Never Learning To Drive by Ryan Bracha

“There’s a Cockney midget down the front of my bus…”
‘Sorry, you didn’t get the job. We really needed somebody with a driver’s license,’ says the voice on the end of the phone as you slump onto the sofa.You let the phone go and rue another chance to better yourself. Then it passes. Ah well, you think to yourself, I would have been a crap taxi driver anyway.
Driving. Overrated. One of the most expensive things you’ll ever do. You’re putting yourself at the mercy of a thousand different idiots on the road every single day, including you. You’re getting slated by eco-turds for your carbon footprint, except you. Yeah you, eco-turd with your electric car. And don’t even get me started on the M62. Is it worth it? My answer is a resounding no. The benefits of not driving tend to outweigh those of being the proud owner of a pap pap, by about 38 to 1. That’s a real stat too. Seriously, please, give me a bus pass and some quality trainers every day of the week.
‘But Ryan, it’s the freedom to just pick up and go wherever, whenever,’ you’ll say, and I’ll retort ‘hold your horses there Shakira, what do you think your legs are for?!’
‘Public transport puts you at the mercy of unreliable time tables and you have to sit with all the nutters,’ you’ll counter, and sit back satisfied. You’ve just played your trump card. I’ll smile and say, ‘but that’s the beauty of it.’

Public transport is a mine of potential for adventure. For witnessing the real life carnage that is your town. Wherever you live. The cream of society gather together to travel in unison along pre-planned routes. Sometimes there’s a diversion along the way that half of the passengers aren’t aware of, and there’s unrest. A brave soul will venture to the plastic partition and quietly question the driver. What’s happening? Are you still going up Golden Smithies Lane? Can I just get off here? They’ll return to their seat, unsatisfied. Strangers will watch it play out and begin to crane their necks, eager to hear the news. He’s not stopping, everybody’s got 5 more minutes on their journey. Oh dear. Chaos. Ten people pull their phones out and ring work. They’re gonna be late. This is just the beginning of the fun.

The real fun starts with the characters. Take my bus to work for example. In a village called Brampton there gets on a bearded fella with cheap stretchy denim jeans and no belt. Into these jeans he tucks a John Cena or The Undertaker WWE t-shirt. He wears a tight sweaty cap, and a leather bum bag. An actual leather bum bag. He wears this to work. He’s about 40. I’m not judging him, far from it, but on those days when life’s getting me down I can look at that guy and think, ‘at least I’m not you.’

There’s this big fella who makes a habit of taking seats next to people, unfolding his Metro newspaper (that’s a whole other benefit to public transport, that paper. Quality publication) as wide as he can and then edging his massive arse further back into whoever he’s chosen to sit beside. Crushing them against the window. Blocking half of their view with the paper. Once, that happened to me. I never let it happen again. He got some well aimed elbows to the ribs for the whole trip. Don’t suffer fools gladly me, cocker.

There’s the two nerds at the back. Playing a loud game of one upmanship over how many maxed out characters they’ve levelled up on World of Warcraft. There’s the woman who demanded a window seat from a stranger, and got it. The unlucky in love southerner (‘She ended it because I wouldn’t sleep with her on the first date.’) who eyeballs every pretty young thing that clambers aboard. You don’t have to read his biography to know he falls in love twenty times a day. There’s the guy who sat next to me checking semi-naked men out on a local dating website at 7:15am. My personal favourite of the profiles he looked at was ‘Mr Well Hung’ from Doncaster. He looked like the kind of guy you could take home to your mum. These are just the people whose stories I’m reasonably well versed with because they choose to tell the whole bus on a daily basis, not even a slither of self awareness between the bunch of them.

I’m no different. I’m the kind of bloke you hate. I turn my music up full blast because I want you to know how cool my taste in audio pleasures is. I want you to recognise an obscure track and give me a nod of approval. I’m the one who drums onto his knees with his fingers because I want you to see that I’m rythmically blessed. That reminds me, I once saw a fella actually air guitaring to himself at the back of the bus. None of that subtle finger movement. We’re talking full blown thrashing. Why would you not want to witness that?

These are just small examples from a single bus that runs a single route in a single town at a specific time. Imagine the delights that are happening at the same time on a thousand other buses. The laughing maniac punching himself in the face in Chesterfield. The Barbie doll girl with the caked-in-makeup face using her own knockers as a chin rest in Halifax. The identical middle aged twins with the piggy laughs and matching jumpers in Grimsby. These are the people you miss out on when you’re trundling along in your self imposed solitary confinement, driving to wherever. These are the individually wrapped, funsize bites of entertainment that you’re denying yourself.

You, Mr or Mrs Car-Driver, your television is the road. In your soap opera the red lights do battle with your patience. You try to figure out what the hell that tenuous personalised license plate in front of you could mean. Radio One is the soundtrack. Your thoughts are the narrator. And you’re spending almost £1.50 a litre for the privilege. And you look at me with some sort of pity when I inform you that I never bothered learning to drive, like I’m a Children in Need video appeal for those less privileged than yourself. I wouldn’t worry yourself there, kiddo. I’m good where I am. This shoe-less urchin would rather mingle with the others. Get down and dirty in the place where the magic happens. So no, don’t pity me and my lack of driving skill. I’m over the chuffing moon with my lot. How many of the drivers among you will ever in your lifetime, have the opprtunity to say “there’s a Cockney midget down at the front of my bus,”? In Barnsley? It happened to me once, I thought all of my Christmasses had come at once. I didn’t shut up about it for days. That’s the kind of stuff that dreams are made of.

These are my inspiration in my writing life. These are my muses. These are the people that fascinate me. I’m not interested really in the mafia don, or the career criminal when I tell my stories. I enjoy reading about them, for sure, but when I write I want to tell the stories of the man you pass in the street without so much as a blink in his direction. I want to make his reality so bizarre that you can’t help but laugh. These characters on my bus make me proud. They’re the under educated. They’re the underdog. They swear and drink and smoke. They lack as much self awareness as well as they do personal hygiene. But by Lucifer’s beard they’re entertaining, and they’re what make climbing aboard the peasant wagon the pleasure that it is.

About me:

Ryan BrachaRyan Bracha is the Barnsley-based best selling author of Strangers are Just Friends you Haven’t Killed Yet, and Tomorrow’s Chip Paper. His latest work, Bogies, and other tales of love, lust, drugs and grandad porn, is released on Sunday 1st December, and is a collection of stories about mad, bad, and downright bizarre characters in the North of England. He has a wife, two cats, and no driving license.