Yep, another novel…
But, before then, let’s update the rejections! Spandex Dreams was rejected because (and I quote) “we feel it would be too difficulty and would ruin the integrity of the story to eliminate the Australianisms throughout.” And Voyage Home was short-listed but failed to make the final 5 in a YA novel competition.
Rejection Total: 171+2 = 173
So, let’s get to the new novel.
Singer, Not The Song started life as a short story. A humourous tale crapping all over modern music, with a hint of sci-fi about the ending. Well, I set down to write it. 33 days later, 67500 words on, and it was finished. Originally it was 70k words, but the whole last chapter felt like a tacked on, feel-good after-thought, and that wasn’t what the story needed. It needed to end ambiguously. But it’s still essentially a comedy, no-one dies, music is still slammed, I make fun of TV shows and the main bad-guy character might or might not be a British TV media gut who appears all over the place. Give it 4 years and every joke in it will be dated, so I’d better get off my arse and send it out soon!
Basically a show much like any other TV talent show throws up a winner, the second placed person somehow sells a lot of records, their fans riot, the bad-guy media guy takes over, Australian beer is used to destroy everything, and the world collapses at the end. That’s it! How’s that for a synopsis that gives away absolutely nothing.
The Old Dragon And Duck Hotel was an authentic Victorian pub built in 1996 by an Australian with too much money and not enough sense. In what British people considered genuine Victoriana (which was to originally include children cleaning the chimneys until the chimney cleaners’ union had complained about it) strode Marcus Kennedy as though he owned the place. But the few glances cast in his direction by the other patrons told him that he might actually have walked into one of the few places in London where he wasn’t even known.
That was not a comfortable feeling, and he hated being on the back foot from the word go when negotiating with some-one, even the father of some-one whose contract he already owned.
In a booth by one of the stained glass windows he saw the man, staring at the pint in front of him with calm detachment. And for once his smartphone was not in his hands. Marcus slid in opposite him without so much as a by your leave. “What the fuck’s wrong with your daughter?” he growled angrily. He was beyond caring. He needed to get this album out and strike while the iron was hot and any delay was, quite literally, going to be money.
He smiled at the mogul. “Drink?” he asked calmly.
Marcus could barely control himself. This jerk was playing with him! Well, he would feel the full wrath of Marcus Kennedy if he continued this sort of stupid arrogance. Who did this guy think he was? No, really, who was this guy?
Marcus calmed himself. “Look, maybe we’ve got off to a bad start.” He offered his hand. “I am Marcus Kennedy.”
“I am Andrew Sumner,” the man replied, taking the hand firmly and shaking it with more power than Marcus had been ready for. “Pleased to meet you.”
Marcus knew he was on the back foot again. He had spent fourteen weeks with this man’s daughter and he had only just found out the guy’s name. This man was good, very good. Maybe there could be a place for him somewhere in the organisation after all. “Look, we need to talk about your daughter,” Marcus said, getting down to business straight away, trying to gain any ascendency over his opponent.
“Let me guess, she won’t do anything. Right?” His smile was sympathetic and charming and Marcus fell onto the back foot yet again.
“I need you to come in and talk to her,” Marcus said.
“What makes you think that’d do any good?” he asked.
Because I’ve seen families like yours, where the kid is so focused on having a career that they have no relationship outside of their parents. It’s dangerous for the child, and the bond needs to be broken if they are to grow and progress. Do you see the problem we have and that your daughter will continue to have if things continue down this path?” He even used his sincere face to make sure that what he was saying was getting through to the man.
But the response he received was not anything he was expecting. “And in normal children, I am sure you are one hundred per cent correct,” Andrew replied quietly. “But, you see, Jacintah is not a normal little girl. In fact, I would go so far as to say that neither you nor anyone else has met her likes before.” He leant forward. “And the singing she did for you on that show was not what she is capable of. That girl who got second place, she sang so much better than my Jacintah ever could. But not now. Now my Jacintah can sing her under the table. Her voice will soar with the eagles. You will have the finest voice to come out of a kid in years, and this time it won’t be destroyed when she reaches eighteen, and she won’t go off the rails. You’re going to have a kid the other kids are going to watch and love, and who parents are going to like being a role model for their little girls. She is going to be loved across generations, and her talent is going to show through as well. She is going to make you – and me, of course – a lot of money, Mr Kennedy. But I need to be involved.”
Marcus smiled like a crocodile. He had this man right where he wanted him now. He was just another greedy parent. He was good at hiding it, at shielding it from people, and at justifying himself, but that was all it came down to – he was living vicariously through his daughter. He had probably even already had himself made her manager, so he could sponge off her even more.
“Do you know how many times I’ve heard that?” Marcus asked coldly. “I have never seen a kid not go off the rails when they get money and the opportunity. You can’t be there for her twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, Mr Sumner.”
“No, I can’t,” he agreed, “but look in the studio to see what happens when I’m not around. She needs me to be there with her. You need me to be there with her. Without me, she’s nothing.”
“Mr Sumner, she is your daughter, not an object.” Marcus decided the high moral ground was his last line of attack.
But the response he received was not what he has been expecting. “I certainly hope that’s what the world thinks, Mr Kennedy, I really do.” He laughed a little and downed the rest of his pint. “Now, shall we get back to the studio so you can finish this first album so you can get it out in time for the repeats of the grand finale show next weekend?” He stood and offered Marcus the lead out of the pub.
Hope you enjoyed it!