Evening all! I’m a bit late in posting today as started a new job on Monday so things have been a bit manic! But I’m here, and first up this evening I have an extract for you, on the blog tour of The Awful Truth About The Herbert Quarry Affair by Marco Ocram. But first, here’s all the info on the book…….
Title: The Awful Truth About The Herbert Quarry Affair
Author: Marco Ocram
Genre: NA/ Adult Literary humour, satire
Series/Standalone: Standalone prequel to the ‘Awful Truth’ series of ground-breaking surreal novels.
Estimated page count: 260
Formats available: Paperback and eBook
Publisher: Tiny Fox Press (15 Jun. 2021)
The Awful Truth About The Herbert Quarry Affair
With a jangle of keys, a door opened. Herbert clanked in, his arms locked to his sides, his ankles shackled, his face a Hannibal Lecter mask. He was overjoyed to see me.
“Marco, I’m jailed day and night with murderous thugs who can’t tell Schiller from Shakespeare. I’m desperate for intellectual stimulus—but you’ll do for now.”
TV personality Marco Ocram is the world’s only self-penned character, writing his life in real time as you read it. Marco’s celebrity mentor, Herbert Quarry, grooms him to be the Jackson Pollock of literature, teaching him to splatter words on a page without thought or revision.
Quarry’s plan backfires when imbecilic Marco begins to type his first thought-free book: it’s a murder mystery—and Herbert’s caught red-handed near the butchered body of his lover.
Now Marco must write himself into a crusade to clear his friend’s name. Typing the first words that come into his head, Marco unleashes a phantasmagorical catalogue of twists in his pursuit of justice, writing the world’s fastest-selling book to reveal the awful truth about the Herbert Quarry affair.
Denis Shaughnessy is the author of the Awful Truth series of surreal comedies which introduce a new way of writing fiction. The supposed author, Marco Ocram, seems to be inventing the stories in real time as he appears as a self-invented character, sharing with the reader many of his immediate thoughts about his writing. Since he’s typing the story as he goes, he has no chance to edit anything or to think ahead, so he makes all sorts of mistakes. In The Awful Truth about the Herbert Quarry Affair, Marco begins the story with news that his mentor, Herbert, has been caught red-handed in what seems to be a brutal murder. This extract, in which Marco chats to his agent Barney, contains some typical Ocramisms…
With the Professor’s astonishing admission ringing in my ears, I returned to the airport to catch the returning shuttle to Clarkesville. I slept throughout the flight, thereby sparing the readers the tedium of the thunderstorms, sick pilots, iced wings, engine fires, UFO encounters, loose tarantulas and countless other instances of melodramatic nonsense I might have written had I stayed awake.
After collecting my handsome leather-bound trunk from the first-class luggage carousel, I was queueing for customs checks when Doris Day began to belt-out the chorus of Que Sera Sera. She was just about to sing it for the fourth time, when the looks from the other passengers told me it was my phone and not theirs playing the cheery tune. I stopped whistling along with it and took the call. It was Barney, the literary agent I shared with Herbert.
“Hey, Kid, your mom says you’re down in Clarkesville, digging around to find the truth about Quarry.”
“Hi, Barney. Yes, I’m there now and I’m determined to expose the truth. I’m writing it all up as I go. The world needs to know what’s been going on down here.”
“That’s brilliant, kiddo. Could be just the breakthrough we need for that first novel we want you to write. Amazing. New York’s on fire to know what’s really happened with Herbert. I can tell you this, Markie baby—if you can winkle out the truth, with all the juicy bits, mind, I’ll get us the biggest book deal ever. The publishers will be gagging for it, Markie, gagging. And listen—I got Adaora Eze lined up to see you.”
“Wow!” Adaora Eze was the society editor at the New York Times.
“Wow indeed, Kiddo. And guess what—she used to date Herbert, so she can’t wait to get the lowdown. When do you think you can get back here?”
“Just a minute.” I had to drop my phone while I unlocked my trunk for the customs officer to rummage through all the spare underwear my mom always makes me pack. “I’m not sure yet, Barney.”
“Well don’t make it too long—we’ve got a book to sell.”
We said our goodbyes and killed the call. That was handy. If Barney could use his influence to sell the story, then maybe I could kill two birds with one clichéd stone, clearing Herbert in a book that broke the mold of literature. Speaking of which…
I nodded my thanks to the poor customs officer and found my way out of ‘Arrivals’ deep in thought. I needed to find more about the court case between Herbert and Professor Sushing. Perhaps some detail in the court’s archives would give me a new insight into what to write next. Accordingly, I retrieved my black Range Rover from the VIP parking lot and drove straight to City Hall, leaving a message for Como, en route, asking him to meet me there.
The aforementioned building was the sole example of classical architecture in Clarkesville. Raised on an immense pediment of finest Portland cement, its massive portico was supported on slender columns topped with capitals of every classical order, including Doric, Ionic, Iconic and Ironic. The stone had been carried by specially hired dump-trucks from a quarry blasted into the side of Mount Clarke, almost eight miles away. Radiocarbon dating proved the building to be at least thirty-five years old. The bonds issued by the City Fathers to pay for the work were guaranteed to be redeemable at twice face value by 2146. The City Mothers had embroidered a memorial quilt, made with scraps of the stonemasons’ overalls, which now hung proudly in the council chamber. The City Cousins had donated a tasteless plaque, which was kept in storage and leant against the wall of the building whenever they visited.
My phone buzzed to say Como was running ten minutes late. Not wishing to bore you to death by hanging about waiting for him, I followed the signs to the Court Archives. I pushed through an imposing set of ornate mahogany doors, along a filthy corridor in which the tenants of the public housing projects waited to argue about their rent arrears, up five sets of stairs, through the workshops in which the ceremonial regalia of the council members were maintained, down five flights of stairs, back through the imposing mahogany doors and over to a small hatch near the main entrance, above which was a sign reading ‘Court Archives Department, Knock Here for Enquiries’, and below which was a sign reading ‘Closed Indefinitely Owing to Industrial Action.’
As I had done to Como’s car just seven chapters ago, I smote the hatch with my fist in a hackneyed gesture betokening impatience, anger, frustration and an inability to write anything more original. There was I, on the cusp, perhaps, of some dramatic revelation, and my breakneck narrative pace was being undermined by some petty dispute between the council and its court archivists. I’m not sure undermining is the right metaphor, if I’m honest, but let’s not forget the point of all this—we’re hardly going to break the mold of literature if we keep stopping to think of the right words. Anyway, back to breakneck narrative pace…
I turned to see Como run up the main steps two at a time, the tails of his ultra-cool overcoat flaring behind in the wind of his passage. I switched to slow-motion for our reunion. We floated toward each other across the busy foyer, stride by stride, while emotional background music underlined the significance of the moment. Here we were, the crime fighting duo, reunited in an unbreakable bond of mutual respect and common purpose. My arms opened in greeting as Como spoke…
“What the fuck d’you think you’re doing, Writer? Next time you decide to leave the country, you tell me first. I almost had a warrant out.”
I aborted the man-hug I’d planned.
about the author
Denis Shaughnessy is the author of the Awful Truth series of novels that send-up bestsellers in a unique way. With a working-class background as one of eight kids raised by a widowed mum in Birkenhead, he was guaranteed to go far, as far as Stoke-on-Trent where he completed a PhD in quantum mechanics. He immediately squandered his talent for physics by working in business development for multinational companies, before escaping to run his own consultancy in 2002. With an innate talent for no sports, an unmusical ear and too little hand-eye coordination for visual art, he has always turned to writing for self-expression. Owing to a series of inexplicable failures of editorial judgement, his has yet to be snapped up as writer of humorous pieces by top magazines. Fervently apolitical, he lives on a smallholding in the New Forest with his lovely wife, Leona, where he devotes his time to an exhaustive study of literature, cats, craft beer and old tractors.
follow the tour
Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour, and to the author for sharing an extract with us.
I’ll be back soon!