Paradox Blurb



I’ve written a book, but what’s it about?

The short version… Paradox is a re-imagination of A Christmas Carol with a bit of Stephen King thrown in.

As for the extended version... well that’s a different tale to tell and one that reveals an inner conflict.

When it comes to the promotional material for Paradox, I have a struggle. One side of me knows that a carefully worded blurb will capture some of the searchable keywords and phrases that potential buyers type into their favourite shopping site. My other side then calls out the illusion and spin for such exaggerated hype. Do I really need to use so many superlatives in my blurb then draw upon comparisons to famous authors?

Frustratingly, the answer is both yes and no.

I find it all too easy to make this book into something it’s not because Paradox represents more than just a few years work. Part of my identity is wrapped up in its creation. I want people to read the book. Enjoy it. Talk about it. Make me feel that the years have been worth it. Because of that, any hack to get it into the sightline of people seems reasonable. And that’s where I could lose the very thing I’m holding onto with every ounce of my being.

Honesty.

Vulnerability.

Reality.

Below, is the blurb going up on my website, book sites and various databases. It’s evident that I’m drawing upon a few tricks of the trade, but I’ve also attempted to hold onto the reasons for writing this book. Have I succeeded in finding that balance? We’ll see.

 
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A love-stained memory haunts Samuel Abrahams. Locked away, with chains of shame. All it takes is a postcard to turn his world inside out. And a message from someone he's worked hard to forget.

"The Twins are here. The Twins are real. The Twins are right in front of you."

Paradox is an inspiring re-imagination of A Christmas Carol. This page-turning adventure travels between present day and Victorian Britain, as a mysterious shadow flings Abrahams into an unknown but strangely familiar world. The place he calls home, London, has transformed itself into the living stories from Charles Dickens. But nothing is what it seems in this richly layered thriller.

Dan Brown introduced the world to Da Vinci's hidden code. In Paradox, the intriguing web of Dickens is revealed. Behind every tale from the Victorian author is a clue as to why Abrahams has the feeling of Déjà vu. He doesn't know who to trust as he weaves through the provocative back-story of Oliver Twist. A familiar character from Hard Times has a disturbing look in their eyes, and a card dealing Fun Fair owner from The Chimes carries an unspoken fear. As Abrahams pieces the clues together, he uncovers a twisted game that is as old as time itself.

And a message.

From Dickens.

"The Twins are here. The Twins are real. The Twins are right in front of you."

Paradox is more than just a Fantasy Thriller. It's a Social Thriller.

This compelling tale shows the Dickensian landscape of poverty and social injustice is still in existence today. Education, Welfare, Housing and Healthcare are just some of the themes connecting the Victorian world to the present day. But leave all assumptions aside. The message from Dickens carries a surprising twist for the world today.

Perfect for fans of James Patterson, Stephen King and Neil Gaiman - Paradox brings similar pace, imagination and brilliant characterisation to the page.

(Released: December 2018)

Andy Smithyman
A Confession

 

I've written a book. 100,000 words, give or take a few paragraphs. It comes out at the end of 2018 in Hardback, Paperback and Digital form. Although the book has taken 3 years to write, it's a product of a 30-year journey. 

This is a different kind of book for me. I've ventured from the comfortable world of non-fiction into the unnerving landscape of fiction. It's been an exhilarating and challenging ride, testing my imagination to the limit and then beyond. 

Writing is a vulnerable process. My words sound like a work of art when I'm the only one to hear them. But the real test is when that manuscript is laid down for others to read. No hype. No excuses. No biased lens. A small group of people have seen the text, their input crafting something more beautiful than my own hands could ever do. And in a few months, another layer of my heart is displayed. General release. 

Vulnerability is crucial for me. I'm a better person when I drop all the facade that modern-life and my head encourages me to hold onto. The temptation is to hype this release, make it into something that it's not. But I don't want to do that. Yes, I'm going to have fun with the promotion, but I'm also going to be faithful to how this book came about. 

Over the next few months, I'm going to lay out the journey of this book as it goes into print. There will be a few surprises, tales and unanswered questions. Along the way, I'll open up about the design process and what you will get if you decide to buy the book. And maybe, there will be a few lines about my hopes, fears and insecurity. 

This book has introduced me to The Twins. I don't know where they are going to take me or what I'm going to see. But I do know this simple truth. 

The Twins are here. The Twins are real. The Twins are right in front of you and me.

Andy Smithymannew book
Age Old Trick

 

'Comrades!' he cried. 'You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink the milk and eat those apples.'
George Orwell: Animal Farm

 

The trick never grows old. 

 

...out from the door of the farmhouse came a long file of pigs, all walking on their hind legs...out came Napoleon himself, majestically upright, casting haughty glances from side to side, and with his dogs gambolling round him.  He carried a whip in his trotter. 

There was a deadly silence. Amazed, terrified, huddling together, the animals watched the long line of pigs march slowly round the yard. It was as though the world had turned upside-down. Then there came a moment when the first shock had worn off and when, in spite of everything - in spite of their terror of the dogs, and of the habit, developed through long years, of never complaining, never criticising, no matter what happened - they might have uttered some word of protest. But just at that moment, as though at a signal, all the sheep burst out into a tremendous bleating of - 'Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better!'

It went on for five minutes without stopping. And by the time the sheep had quieted down, the chance to utter any protest had passed, for the pigs had marched back into the farmhouse.

George Orwell: Animal Farm

 

I do not want to be a sheep. Neither do I want my chance of protest to pass me by. 

Andy Smithyman
Humanity’s loss
When humanity loses a language, we also lose the potential for greater diversity in art, music, literature, and oral traditions.
 
Between 1950 and 2010, 230 languages went extinct, according to the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. Today, a third of the world’s languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers left. Every two weeks a language dies with its last speaker, 50 to 90 percent of them are predicted to disappear by the next century.

 

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/04/saving-dying-disappearing-languages-wikitongues-culture/

 

Andy Smithyman
That’s the question
…The first question that the priest asked; the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question. “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” 
 
That’s the question before you tonight. Not “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job?” Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?” The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?”
 
The question is, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?”
 
That’s the question.

(Martin Luther King, Jr: I’ve Been To the Mountaintop)

 

King's Mountaintop speech at The Mason Temple was delivered on the 3rd April, 1968. The following day, King was assassinated.

I have always been inspired by this speech (full text), especially how he begins. King recounts how someone once asked him 'which age would you like to live in?' He then lyrically goes on a timeline, focusing on the dramatic and extravagant peaks of world history. Red Sea. Greeks. Romans. And on. His answer finally settles on Memphis. Here. And now. 

At first he acknowledges 'that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars... something is happening in our world.'

The next part never fails to wind me.

 

And another reason that I'm happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history.
 

Owning our time.

Owning our responsibility.

It's a speech of a lifetime. 

Andy Smithymanquotes
Happening on my watch
“Two years ago a woman from Dewsbury called Claire Skipper, suffering from toothache, went into her garden shed, clamped the offending tooth in a pair of pliers, and pulled. Her tooth broke. There had been no vacancies at her local NHS practice and she couldn’t afford private care or the journey to the nearest emergency clinic in Bradford.
A week later, in ‘indescribable’ pain, she went to the Real Tooth Project, a ‘pay as you feel’ dental clinic that had been set up in Dewsbury with the support of DentAid, an international NGO. DentAid’s UK operations began in 2015, providing a charitable alternative to what Stephen Armstrong calls ‘DIY Dentistry’.
In a chapter that’s almost impossible to read without flinching, Armstrong’s book ‘The New Poverty’ tells story after story of individuals forced by the scarcity of public services and the cost of private treatment into self-dentistry, sometimes aided by cheap off-the-shelf ‘kits’ for basic treatments up to and including replacing lost fillings.
Armstrong first came across the phenomenon in Paisley, where one woman, concerned about being fined for a missed dentist’s appointment and apprehensive about future treatment costs, ‘resorted to popping her own mouth abscess with a fork’.
...Poverty is not only thriving, but also taking increasingly sinister forms.” 

(London Review of Books: 22 February 2018) 

 

I would go one stage further. The ideology behind the Victorian Poor Law is still alive and feeding off the heart of society. It’s hard for me to get my head around how a way of thinking that Dickens so passionately wrote against is blatantly parading itself down the streets. 

The Poor Law had its roots in how people defined ‘moral’ work. The ability to purchase property, goods and security were all signs of a moral and worthy lifestyle. Work hard, and you will be rewarded. Slack off, accept the curse. This shift of thinking impacted the poor. The inability to provide for oneself was a sign of weak morals and questionable lifestyles. That way of thinking condoned the shift in how care services for ‘all’ morphed into services for those deemed ‘worthy enough.’

Today, we have different terms to describe ‘moral work’. But the way of thinking remains. Us. Them. Deserving. Undeserving. Poverty is thriving and taking increasingly sinister forms. 

And it’s happening on my watch.

Andy Smithymandickens
A choice
Did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?
 

(Wish you were here: David Gilmour / Roger Waters)

Andy Smithyman
Be kind, forgive, meet new people and make time matter
Be kind to yourself in the year ahead. 
 
Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It's too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.
 
Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.
 
Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them. 
 
Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.

From the journal of Neil Gaiman

 

A 2015 New Year's wish from Neil Gaiman that is just as relevant for us all today.

Andy Smithyman