Hello, and welcome to my first ever blog tour, celebrating Riptide Publishing’s release of my first ever novel, GLITTERLAND. Yay! Thank you so much to Kathy for hosting me. And, to you, dear reader, for stopping by. If you’d like to come with me and keep me company on my virtual wanderings, you can find a full listing of when and where I am here.
There’s also some kind of contest type thing happening. The truth is – and already I reveal the rather limited scope of my imagination – quite a lot of the incidental things in GLITTERLAND have a little bit too much reality to them. In the sense that they’re, cough, in my house. Occasionally about my person. One of the things that absolutely isn’t about my person, and has always been solely decorative, is the peacock feather Venetian mask Ash has in his bedroom. I, too, rather admire the beauty of artificial things. If you’d like to win this slightly random souvenir, answer the three questions below (answers in the book) and drop me an email . I’ll announce the winner a handful of days after the end of the tour on the 3rd of September.
1. What other peacock feather themed item does Ash own?
2. What does Darian have tattooed on his hip?
3. What is the name of Chloe’s boutique?
All About Ash
I picked up my graduation photo, the one Darian had thought so unlike me. Looking into the unmoving, unblinking eyes of a boy with everything, and everything to lose, I realised I had become a stranger to myself. I had envied that boy, with all his hopes and dreams, his pride, his self-respect, and his glowing future. I had wanted to be him again and thought myself less than he was. Perhaps I am.
But, though he was admirable and admired, nobody had ever looked at him with wide grey-green-blue eyes and said he was amazin.
I could not be that scarless, fearless boy again. But, for a little while at least, I had been someone I could almost stand. Pieces of a better self, reflected in someone else’s eyes.
–Somewhere near the end of GLITTERLAND
One of the things I always knew about GLITTERLAND was that how readers felt about the book was probably going to map pretty closely to how they felt about Ash.
Ash is a bipolar depressive, a crime writer and an arse. He’s over-educated, over-privileged, pretentious, selfish, arrogant, and cruel. He is, in short, not a nice person. But he’s lost and lonely, and frantically afraid. Of course, that doesn’t give him a free pass to dickhead but then I’m not sure what does.
So, I guess the question we’re left with here is why I went out of my way to write such a deeply unsympathetic protagonist. And I guess the glib answer is that I’m a deeply unsympathetic person. The truth is, I know Ash is nails-on-a-blackboard to some people, but I feel like I understand him.
I’m inclined to conceal my vulnerabilities and my fears; sometimes I convince myself I’d rather be disliked than pitied. Sometimes I turn from love, when I should embrace it, and the nakedness of being truly known by another human terrifies me, though at the same time I desperately crave that closeness. I’m not always the person I want to be, but somehow – miraculously – I’m loved anyway. And that’s what poor, shattered, difficult Ash represents to me: this idea that is love is not something you earn, or something you deserve, it’s a gift someone chooses to give you, because they do see you, and they do know you, and their kindness is deeper than yours could ever be.
Part of the reason GLITTERLAND is written in such unrelenting first person narration is that I hoped perhaps readers would come to understand Ash too and to see past his own self-loathing to the man Darian falls in love with.
Obviously, another major feature of Ash’s character is his illness and this intersects with his personality in some quite difficult ways. I very much didn’t want to suggest that Ash was a horrible person because he was a bipolar depressive but, at the same time, it was important his depression be an integral part of who he was, even if he wouldn’t want it to be. I think often with big, important or traumatic things, there’s a real bind because you don’t want your identity to be dominated by something that happened to you but, at the same time, you can’t ignore it. Many years ago at Edinburgh I saw a charming comedian called David Morgan who opened his set with the line “I don’t want being gay to define me but, since coming out was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and is probably the hardest thing I will ever do, it kind of does.” And I think that sums up for me the problematic nature of people’s reactions to powerful events in their lives.
I think, in a way, Ash feels that being a dick is one the few choices he can still legitimately make in his life. And I tried to show, through his interactions with other people who are either unsupportive and dismissive or over supportive and smothering, why Ash might choose to be the person he is.
I don’t want to make too many generalisations but I think there’s often this notion that people with mental illness have a kind of obligation to handle their condition with grace and poise. Or conversely, to suggest that being mentally ill excuses and justifies all transgressions. And what I felt was very important with Ash was to allow him to have enough agency that he could make bad choices and be held accountable for them. Just like any other person.
Of course, the downside of this is that Ash is quite a difficult character to read and write. But, whether you like him or not, I find something very human about him. And, ultimately, to me, it’s very important that Ash’s story isn’t really about overcoming depression. It’s simply about falling in love, and learning to accept that someone could love you for who you are. Even if that’s a bit of a dick.
Title: Glitterland by Alexis Hall
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Romance
Length: Word Count: 62,0800/248 pages
The universe is a glitterball I hold in the palm of my hand.
Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.
Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.
But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?
You can read an excerpt and, y’know, cough, buy the book, if you want, at Riptide Publishing.
Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car. He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.
Follow the rest of the tour HERE.