by Ian D Smith
In August 2008, after the subprime mortgage crisis and before the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in September that year, I noticed that people around me were losing their livelihoods. I had an idea about a novel that posed the question What if people were free to change in the way they wanted, instead of having change imposed on them? A bit like X-Factor with no judges.
In September 2011, I published an early draft on Authonomy, and in February 2012, it reached number 23 in the editor’s desk rankings, with 100 backers. Authonomy had transformed my basic story about four white males in a backstreet pub, into a wider story about Suki, Macy, Damian and Jules, and their attempt to take an old school 1980s disco, with Two Tons o’ Fun, Viola Wills, Brothers Johnson and Locksmith, on the road.
Doyle, Welsh, Munro, Self, Kelman, Carver, Mills, are all writers I admire, but I was seeing a change in tastes, so I had to change too. After six months working on other projects, I came back to Stop the World, and rewrote it yet again. Jules Jewell took shape, a permanently-bewildered but essentially shrewd survivor.
Stop the World, I Want to Get On is a road novel in the Jack Kerouac tradition, about the new, growing, dead beat generation with no internet connection, no social networking potential, no spending power, and no freedom. It’s about the untapped creative potential in people that’s waiting to be released. I want this novel to change the world.
Here’s the invitation to read it http://tiny.cc/358mqw
by Ian D Smith
You know the type,
Brought in to
Shit and fly,
Preaching Adapt or Die.
What he can never see
Is the look in his eyes,
Except, of course, when he looks up,
And sees that look in someone else’s eyes.
First published in Iota
With the recent success of my A34 Poems at Ideas Tap, I thought I’d delve into the past and revisit a poem that Iota published a few years ago before social networking. Well it wasn’t doing anything.
by Ian D Smith
Dear followers, here is the chapter-by-chapter synopsis of my novel Stop the World, I Want to Get On. Authonomy http://tiny.cc/zdojqw
Chapter 1. Stargazers
Hackney, East London, and Jules Jewell, the landlord of the old Marquis of Queensbury boozer, confronts a man called Sweetnam who’s demanding money.
Chapter 2. Camaraderie
Damian Bones demonstrates a new mobile Marquis and his ancient Shake Your Bones mobile disco to neighbours Suki Chen and Macy May, and Jules Jewell, who’s abandoned the Marquis.
Chapter 3. The Long Audition
They’re all forced to squash into Damian’s beat up Mark II Ford Transit when drug baron Roland Bamber appears behind the controls of a bulldozer. The speeding Ford gets them out of there, and they surface in Southampton docks, sealed inside a container that’s loaded onto a ship called the Jolly Condor. Concerned they might suffocate, Jules is distressed that Suki appears to have little thought for human life.
Chapter 4. Sophisticated Punters
Macy finds crates of model Mount Etnas bound for Sicily. They set up Damian’s mobile bar and the Shake Your Bones disco inside the container and impress Captain Stefano Giorgio, who announces that the newly-named Bar at the End of the Universe will be the SS Jolly Condor’s official on-board entertainment. Giorgio allocates the dining room for rehearsals, and takes a hands-on approach. The new ‘act’ starts to take shape, under the instruction of the increasingly unreasonable captain. They repeat their performance night-after-night, until Etna comes into sight.
Chapter 5. Gladiators
Giorgio confirms they won’t be retained for the return journey. Damian has a gig lined up, but when they leave the ship they’re met by armed La Guardia. The container is searched, and the model Etnas are found to contain heroin. In the ensuing mayhem, they escape into Palermo’s maze of back streets where they ask for directions to a gig from a Mafiosi who tells them to drive to Taormina. But there’s no gig in Taormina, and they’re ambushed by Roland Bamber who shoots at them. They escape back to Palermo in the damaged Ford, and after a struggle they choose to break away from Damian’s deals with Bamber forever.
Chapter 6. Strands of Gold
They join a ferry queue bound for Africa, and Jules start to feel he’s attracted to Suki. He meets an African touring impresario, Abraham Diabate who wants them to perform at his father’s hotel bar Der Spiegel. He gives them tickets for the Oceania, a ferry heading for Tunisia.
Chapter 7. Some Kind of Voodoo
On board the Oceania, they spot their relentless pursuer Roland Bamber. Jules barricades the cabin, but the others occupy all the bunks and Suki takes pity on him. On arrival in Tunis, they make a run for the Ford but it won’t start and has to be pushed into Tunis by crew members.
Chapter 8. Bump Start
Stranded in a Tunisian compound, time is running out for them. However, Abraham Diabate is last to leave the Oceania in a 1950s Duple Roadmaster, and he collects them and their gear.
Chapter 9. Sole Surviving Heartbeat
Diabate takes them on a journey across Africa to Banjul, and describes his recreational use of Khat, but Jules is convinced they’re being followed. Diabate delivers them to Der Spiegel, a male-only nudist colony. Macy and Suki are whisked away by tribeswomen, but inside Der Spiegel, they meet fellow-travellers Monty Blomqvist and Gripper, the Marquis diaspora, and they fill in for the absent women.
Chapter 10. Impresario of Nature
A serious amount of money persuades Damian to perform their ‘act’ naked to Abraham Diabate, his father, and three hundred naked Germans. But their ‘act’ is disrupted by dart frogs, and Monty, Gripper and Damian go on strike.
Chapter 11. Mojitos All Round
An American, Zendrowski, overhears their complaints and lures them into his stretch Humvee, reuniting them with Suki and Macy, traumatised after a bush fire trapped them in a mud hut, and Suki’s close encounter with a real tiger. They arrive at the American’s bar in Amsterdam, the Sleepeasy, but the manager, Dr Eigen, demands they audition. Zendrowski wants to know where the frogs are.
Chapter 12. Roll-Neck Sweaters
There’s been a misunderstanding about the frog content, and they fail the audition. However, Zendrowski is impressed that they evaded the infamous Bamber who is now on the run across Europe. Zendrowski suggests another bar, the Gridiron, in Baghdad.
Chapter 13. Smile and Look Pretty
Zendrowski takes them through high security into Baghdad’s Entertainment Green Zone. In the atmosphere-free US Army bar, Stefano Giorgio resurfaces demanding more, but they conquer their demons and win over the hostile crowd.
Chapter 14. Curtain Call
Against US Army regulations, Gripper serves alcohol to the troops, and a visiting Geordie soccer pro called Nathan Ryan. But Zendrowski discovers the alcohol, and they’re sacked. Zendrowski rushes them out of Baghdad, and a US Army platoon wrecks the Marquis equipment abandoning them in the desert.
Chapter 15. Bad Timing, Nothing More
They’re rescued by Nathan Ryan who is en-route to training for the forthcoming soccer World Cup. He lends them his bright yellow roadster, a time machine that takes them to the player’s bar, Golden Balls in Spain. He also replaces their equipment.
Chapter 16. Wrong Place, Wrong Time
But they arrive on the night of the live screening of the World Cup Final, England v Germany. Nathan Ryan misses the crucial penalty giving Germany victory, and the clientele take it out on the Marquis II. Jules acquires a grey box, the evening’s takings, from the Golden Balls manager, Mark Grand, who’s under attack. Suki displays her martial arts skills and they escape in the roadster, but with no gear. Damian has unfinished business in the UK. He wants custody of his son. On a traveller’s site in Slough, his ex, Molly Madrigali, tries to sell him the boy. Jules, Monty and Gripper watch the boy dumping pallets into a flooded gravel pit. It makes no sense, and despite possessing the Golden Balls takings, Damian reluctantly refuses Molly’s demands. The police descend on the site, and arrest Molly and Damian’s boy. They also recover model mount Etnas containing heroin from the flooded gravel pit. Incriminated, the Marquis team are forced to flee yet again.
Chapter 17. Going Underground
They return to the old Marquis in Hackney which is still standing. Dr Eigen, the former manager of the Sleepeasy, now owns it, and along with Abraham Diabate, they have plans to create a restaurant. Jules is banished to the basement and discovers Bamber’s old counterfeiting equipment. Damian’s boy drops into the basement to collect something, but Jules catches him and appears to strike a deal. Monty becomes more authoritative, and seems to know everything.
Chapter 18. Old Scores
The new Marquis restaurant opens with Gripper, Suki, Macy and Damian as waiters. A transformed Monty plays classical music on a new grand piano, and with all the food journalists and Michelin inspectors seated, Mark Grand and Nathan Ryan appear. They want their money, but Damian charms them into indulging in the Marquis. But Roland Bamber ambushes the place, raking it with automatic machine gun fire. He points the gun at Damian, but Gripper uses a weapon he liberated in Iraq and tasers him.
by Ian D Smith
Although my novel Stop the World, I Want to Get On is wildly original, it’s not entirely without its influences.
These are its recent competing and comparable books.
Drew Gummerson’s Me and Mickey James (Cape, 2008)
The musical theme, the journey, and the pop group on the road. Characterisation. Being different.
Jon Courtenay Greenwood’s End of the World Blues (Gollancz, 2006)
Escape from the provincial and the mundane, plus the music.
M. John Harrison’s Nova Swing (Gollancz, 2002)
Escape, music, noir, being different.
Toby Litt’s Exhibitionism (Penguin, 2002)
Johnathon Franzen’s The Corrections (Fourth Estate, 2001)
Literary realism, life writing, emotional shifts, financial market mayhem and its social effects.
Dave Eggers’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Picador, 2000)
Freedom from patriarchal, omniscient narratives.
Magnus Mills’s The Restraint of Beasts (HarperCollins, 1998)
Micro-economics. The gang against the odds (cf TV’s Boys From the Black Stuff). Odd humour. Characterisation.
James Kelman’s How Late It Was, How Late (Random House, 1994)
Puritanical constraints on narrative. Odd humour.
Read Stop the World, I Want to Get On http://tiny.cc/zdojqw
by Ian D Smith
Episode 50, the Christmas special on Christmas Day at 8:30 am, revealed an angrier, more impotent Ed, now wearing strawberry cords and protesting hopelessly, like an ex-pat Mail on Sunday reader. The usual targets: BBC Four, seasonal TV, charity Christmas cards, postmen, global warming, Salman Rushdie, the Guardian, abstract art, JK Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy, Oxfam shops, creative writing classes, the Archbishop of Canterbury, anti-smoking campaigners, Christmas Rev, and kebab shops all came in for Ed’s not-quite-Jeremy-Clarkson treatment. Not that anyone would get the irony.
He unsubtly plugged his latest work: Mary Beard’s Roman Christmas Feast, and rather pointlessly, Barbara Windsor’s Christmas Nosh-up 2004, which hasn’t been available since the end of her Eastender’s Jellied Eel Cookbook tie-in. (it’s a joke)
Maybe irony is dead, but his agent’s party seemed like a party he couldn’t afford to miss. He really does need to rediscover that great idea he once lost in the secret pocket of his fleece (The Wrong Fleece, Series Four), or else his writing class will revolt and show him how to do it. After all Fifty Shades of Grey was clearly an amateur effort that came out of the, shall we say, second tier of writers.
Disappointingly, Ed must be losing his literary grip. There was no reference to his near miss this year with Forty Shades of Brown, currently 252043 in the Amazon Rankings (it’s another joke). Maybe he feared offending the undiscerning masses who consumed the real Fifty Shades like free postage stamps, thus driving them back to Alan Titchmarsh on Classic FM.
No, Ed clearly remains the jealously guarded property of curmudgeonly writers like me, fabulously elitist, with many obscure literary references to savour, such as “a cheeky little jobsky”, “agency Christmas party”, and “I’m a Plebebrity”. Brilliant work sneaked in under the 12-year-old producer’s radar.
By Ian D Smith
My novel is back on Authonomy @http://tiny.cc/zdojqw after six months rest and a new title. At its peak in 2012, it reached #26 with 100 backers. So what’s making it so popular?
It’s accessible and entertaining - literary fiction in media res.
It offers escapism, optimism and humour. On the road with the new, dead-beat generation. Wild, crazy, funny, and original.
The ingenious plot. Roland Bamber’s demands for money force four friends to flee London in an old Ford Transit. They surface on a container ship, the Jolly Condor, bound for Sicily. Unfortunately, someone has secretly cut them into a deal with Bamber, and unbeknown to them, they’re carrying heroin.
Sense of drama. Something is always going to happen in Stop the World, I Want to Get On. Jules and Damian set up a mobile disco, and impress the ship’s captain, although he jettisons them in Sicily where they’re met by armed La Guardia who discover the heroin.
Action. They escape and head for a bar where Bamber ambushes them. Surviving the ambush, they secure a gig at a naturist camp, where they meet more London escapees, and a CIA agent, Zendrowski, who’s investigating drug trafficking. He loses patience with the lack of evidence and abandons them … in the desert.
Disparate locations. An England international soccer pro, Nathan Ryan, rescues them and signs them up for his sports bar, Golden Balls, in Spain. Their gear is destroyed when England lose to Germany in the World Cup Final, and they return to London, and their old pub, the Marquis of Queensbury, which is being refurbished as a gastro-pub. They discover the basement is full of Bamber’s counterfeiting equipment. On the Marquis opening night, Bamber looms carrying an automatic rifle.
Metaphor. Suki wants to hug the socio-economic ‘tiger’. But tigers bite back, and escape from Hackney kicks off with the megalomaniacal captain of the Jolly Condor, a ship apparently sailing into oblivion. The antidote to Ayn Rand perhaps?
Humanity. It’s a positive novel about the future, friendship and personal revolutions instigated by ourselves. In a fast-moving style, Stop the World, I Want to Get On captures a struggle to make sense of the world, to survive apathy, to make space to think and seize the potential of the future. Confident, positive, uplifting work. It’s also ambitious and funny.