Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane Arrives In London!

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Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane Arrives In London!

Stewart Home with his new novel Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane in Lincoln’s Inn Fields (the largest public square in London) the day printed copies arrived in the UK from the USA – 30 january 2013. The novel is published on 26 February 2013.

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Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane – Why 2005?

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Some of those who’ve seen the proofs for my new novel Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane (published 26 February 2013) have asked me why I used a 2005 setting for the book. The answer is quite simple, it was contemporary as I wrote, I started the book when I was writer-in-residence at York University in May and June of that year, then completed it over the summer of 2005. Therefore the exhibitions and news events I mention were what was going on around me.

The biggest news event of 2005 in the UK was the 7/7 bombings in London. I was back home from York when these took place and experienced at first hand the chaos the attacks caused around London. The 7 July 2005 London bombings (often referred to as 7/7) were a series of co-ordinated suicide attacks in London which targeted civilians using the public transport system during the morning rush hour.

On the morning of Thursday, 7 July 2005, four Islamist home-grown terrorists detonated four bombs, three in quick succession aboard London Underground trains across the city and, later, a fourth on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. Fifty-two civilians and the four bombers were killed in the attacks, and over 700 more were injured. Homemade organic peroxide–based devices packed into rucksacks caused the explosions. The bombings were followed exactly two weeks later by a further series of attempted attacks.

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The 7/7 bombings were incorporated into the narrative of Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane and sensitivity about the subject in its immediate aftermath was such that when I’d completed the book my treatment of the subject didn’t go down well with UK publishers. They didn’t seem to understand that the narrator is deluded when he wrongly concludes the 7/7 bombings were carried out by pagans and decides to emulate them.  Among my many intentions was a desire to parody the ridiculous 7/7 conspiracy theories that emerged very quickly after the bombings, and to try to get people to see that all terrorists are reactionary scumbags regardless of the ideology they spout (and this applies to Leninist or anarchist terrorists as much as pagans or those who claim they are ‘making the world safe for democracy’).

Since among other things editors were wary of taking on a novel that was narrated by a suicide bomber, Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane didn’t find a publisher in the mid-noughties despite being sent to the usual UK based suspects. My last book Blood Rites of the Bourgeoisie was completed 5 years after Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane and there was no delay in its publication. Blood Rites was also started but not finished when I had a writer-in-residence post, but at Strathclyde University rather than York. Aside from these two anti-novels, none of my other books were written (or rather partly written) as a writer-in-residence.

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Everyday Is Casual Sex Day With Charlie Templeton!

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The narrator of my new novel Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane (published 26 February) doesn’t believe in restricting casual sex to one day a week, he believes we should be polymorphously perverse 24-7 and all year long! Check it out for yourself once the book is published next month!

I’ll Be Doggone! Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane has a fictional double!

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I got an email last night from Nick Royle after I sent him a PDF of Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane. Until then I hadn’t realised he had a new novel out last week. He also kindly attached at scan of the first page. It contained a description of his narrator sitting in an office at a university and had striking similarities to my opening page. We soon discovered that we’d even written these opening passages at roughly the same time. But there the really close similarities between Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane and Royle’s First Novel (actually his seventh) would seem to end. Both are campus novels but whereas Royle’s narrator goes out dogging to research a new book, mine is a psychopathic nutter who needs to excuse for his murderous sexual excesses. Likewise my narrator Charlie Templeton isn’t interested in dogging because he likes the women he fucks to be unconscious…. and the sickness of his sexual kick requires it is indulged in private! That said we both wrote our books when we were teaching creative writing (I was writer-in-residence at York University but set my novel in Newcastle and London rather than where it was typed out), Royle has a faculty post in Manchester and his novel is set there… So I guess we’re both reflecting the perils and tedium of academic life when we kick off….

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Royle’s narrator needs to travel by car to engage in dogging (public sex in lay-bys and car parks), mine often travels on public transport….

Tilting Against The Mainstream

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My new novel Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane (published on 26 February 2013) was in part inspired by certain reviewers suggesting some of my earlier novels might be English equivalents of American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. The books that particularly attracted this comparison were Come Before Christ & Murder Love, 69 Things To Do With A Dead Princess and Down & Out In Shoreditch & Hoxton. The reviewers concerned were trying to place me in a mainstream context and were doing no more (and no less) than what was expected of them as journalists. However, I know I’m a far better writer than Bret Easton Ellis – who I still view as unusual for a successful writer because he can actually write reasonably well – and so I decided to make a burlesque parody of what critics were saying about me.

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What Bret Easton Ellis does in his books is go for a very steady and even tone, so that his prose is never going to take off. This is exactly the opposite of what I aim to do; I like my novels to be conceptually insane and to blast off into the stratosphere. So while elements of Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane are very deliberately every bit as banal as American Psycho at the end it takes you somewhere Ellis wouldn’t because the narrator is dead and describing hell (which is rather like South Kensington in London). And rather than evenness of tone I’ve always aimed for a collage effect with sudden variations, and this element is particularly important in the novels which led to my being erroneously compared to Ellis.

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Ellis cites ultra-boring rock celebrities like Phil Collins as the musical taste of his American Psycho, whereas my narrator Charlie Templeton (a bottom feeding cultural studies academic) prefers his records and his films to be more obscure. Obscurity is something novelists wanting to enter the mainstream try to avoid; they talk about what people already know, and in terms of pop music this means The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, or dinosaur rock acts like Led Zeppelin. Since all this mainstream music is bad (like Phil Collins) I prefer not to invoke it in my novels.

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Likewise when it comes to film novelists with their eye on the mainstream like to cite Hollywood celluloid crapola made by the likes of Steven Spielberg or Francis Ford Coppola. By way of contrast my narrator invokes Eurosleaze by directors such as Jess Franco, Jean Rollin, Lucio Fulci and Ruggero Deodato. So if you can’t think outside the box office bestseller list and want to have all your prejudices confirmed by some complete nerd, go and read a bestselling author or some wannabe member of the so-called literary elite. On the other hand if you’d prefer to get your rocks off on something forward thrusting, exciting  and challenging, you’d be better off with Mandy, Charlie and Mary-Jane!

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And to think I only starting writing novels because these days if you want to read a good book you have to write it first yourself!

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