“It is dark, dirty, grim and confusing - in a very good way. It’s also warm, humane, funny and mischievous, and all the pages are in the right order.”
When literary reprobate Foster James wakes up in a strange country house he assumes he's been consigned to rehab (yet again) by his dwindling band of friends, and growing collection of ex-wives. But he realises there's something a bit different about this place after he gets punched in the face by Ernest Hemingway.
So, is Foster dead? After an acrimonious group therapy session with Hunter S Thompson, Colette, William Burroughs, and Coleridge, it seems pretty likely. But he still feels alive, especially when he gets laid by Dorothy Parker.
Then he discovers that the two enigmatic doctors who run the institution are being torn apart by a thwarted love affair. Now he and the other writers must work together to save something that, for once, is bigger than their own gigantic egos.
This is a love story. It's for anyone who loves writing and writers. It's also a story about the strange and terrible love affair between creativity and addiction, told by a charming, selfish bastard who finally confronts his demons in a place that's part Priory, part Purgatory, and where the wildest fiction can tell the soberest truth.
The only thing worse than waking up with the hangover from hell is waking up with a hangover in hell.
Okay, I accept that both those other times, when it was all over, I could see they'd been right. I hated it at the time of course, especially the first one, when the whole concept of an intervention made me physically sick as they cornered me in the kitchen, in my pyjamas, and explained it to me. I was probably going to be sick anyway, given my condition, but ever since then I can't hear that word, intervention, without feeling the bile rising in my throat. I stood there with my back to the sink, gazing at them like some poor, dumb, bewildered badger about to be torn to pieces by a pack of slavering hounds who've somehow learned to speak a special smug, sanctimonious language all about denial and responsibility and co-dependency.
But they were right. It probably really did save my life. Especially the first time, when I woke up in what turned out to be The Priory. The second time was a bit different, as I knew what was happening and where I was being taken (which turned out to be a less expensive facility, because I wasn't selling so well by then, and the TV series hadn't been re-commissioned, and the screenplay had been given to someone else, to be 'improved' in the way that a heretic is improved by being burned at the stake). But that was rehab. This time the bastards have put me in a fucking nut house…
The corridor led to a doorway. The door was open. I walked through into a large room, tastefully decorated, mainly in blue. Some big French windows were letting in a generous helping of daylight and fresh air. All very pleasant. But you could strap me into an orange jump-suit and deprive me of all sensory stimuli, like some trembling peasant suspected by the CIA of harbouring unwholesome thoughts about democracy, and lead me into a room like this and whip the bag off my head, and I'd know exactly where I was. It takes more than a few coats of Dulux Blue Lagoon and some rubber tree plants to disguise an institution. There's something in the DNA of a building like this, whether it's a school, a prison or an old people's home. Bad vibes.
I looked around. I couldn't see any food but I could smell something cooking somewhere. There were three doorways out of the room, including the way I'd come in, and the French windows. A faint scent of something I recognised but couldn't name drifted in from the garden and mingled with the aroma of distant cooking. The food smelled good and I wondered which was the quickest route to its source.
I became aware of someone breathing heavily behind me. I turned to see a burly, grizzled man slumped in an armchair near the door I'd just come through. He was glaring at a woman who was sitting as far away from him as she could get while still remaining inside the room. She was about forty, with big eyes, and she looked tired. She was studiously ignoring him. The grizzled man, who had a scrubby beard and looked as though he might have mislaid a trawler somewhere nearby, turned his gaze slowly away from the woman and looked up at me. I thought for a moment there was something familiar about him, but when he spoke I could hear he was American, and I don't know any Americans who look like him although I know a Scottish barman with similar facial hair and the same mottled, rosy complexion of someone who likes to get drunk quickly and uses spirits to do it.
When someone writes a think-piece asking "Is the Novel Dead?" they often mean "Is MY novel Dead?" It's a reasonable question. The people who write these things are usually literary authors with a new book out, who make some of their living by writing reviews and columns for broadsheet newspapers. So, a dying breed. The broadsheet newspapers, I mean, not the authors. Good luck to them, and long may…
It's hard to know where civilization is headed right now but we'll probably need books when we get there. Books, and candles to read them by. And don't forget matches. Also warm clothes, canned food, water, medicine, livestock, seeds, generators, fuel, weapons, ammunition, and barbed wire.
I'm talking about actual, printed books. For all I know, e-books may still exist after Armageddon, dwelling…
My story, The Spots, is one of SIX SCARY STORIES SELECTED AND INTRODUCED BY STEPHEN KING that's NOW OUT as an e-book from Hodder in the UK, soon available in print from the US publishers. You can buy it here for £1.99:
Very shortly I'l be posting a short extract from the story in the…
Back in February I wrote a post about Coleridge, who appears in my novel, and described how he and Wordsworth were once mistaken for French spies. I also mentioned a radio play I wrote about this, starring Bill Nighy, Graeme Garden and Martin Clunes. Well, NOW and for the next 11 days it's being repeated on BBC Radio 4 Extra. What a nice coincidence!
One reason for calling my novel Dead Writers in Rehab was to deflect questions from people asking what my book is about. I thought that putting the answer in the title might save time. However, some people still ask what it's about. When they do, I enquire if they're familiar with the film, Snakes on a Plane. They always say they are. "Okay," I say, "do you know what that film is about?" "Ah," they…
Congratulations, we're publishing a book! And it's all because of you.
My novel, Dead Writers in Rehab, is now fully funded. I'm so happy the book is going to come out, and I'm truly grateful to every one of you for helping to fund it, and for your support and encouragement. It means a huge amount to me.
And guess what? I don't want you stop.
People can still pledge, and get…
Having dinner with a writer and not paying for it is unheard of. But this offer is probably as close as you'll ever get. All you have to do is upgrade your existing pledge, even if it's only to the next level.
I thought all five places for a special Dinner With The Author were booked, but owing to my incompetence there is one seat left at the table. The other four have been snapped up at £100 a…
This is Sid, alias Sailor Boy. He's a ventriloquist doll. A doll, not a dummy: Sid, like all vent dolls, doesn't like being called a dummy. Please don't annoy him. I want him to be on his best behaviour when he comes to the launch party for my novel, Dead Writers in Rehab. If you'd like to come to the party, and meet Sid, there are places left. Pledge, and you'll get two tickets, plus a signed…
The following vital advice about trying not to drop dead at your desk as a result of your unhealthy lifestyle is from an unpublished self-help book by The Writertype:
"HOW TO DO WRITING - The only writing advice you'll never not need."
In many ways a writer is like an athlete. Except that a writer sits around all day and doesn't get much exercise. And athletes tend to be better…
This a one-off chance to attend a very popular Comedy Writing workshop that I stopped running over a year ago, to focus on more specialised workshops. But this is the Daddy: a total workout of comedy writing essentials, all in one day.
Have you pledged for my book? If not, this is another reason to do so. (If you've already pledged, thank you, and did you know you can raise the level…
Here is ANOTHER extract from the as-yet unpublished book by The Writertype:
"How To Do Writing - the only writing advice you'll never not need"
This extract is a useful guide to getting started at doing writing. It covers WHAT YOU WILL NEED.
1. Somewhere to write.
Try to find a large, quiet space with natural light and a nice view. If you do, sell it immediately. Forget…
The following is an extract from an as-yet-unpublished book by The Wrtitertype, entitled:
HOW TO DO WRITING - the only writing advice you'll never not need.
Once you have an idea you may not be able to get rid of it. You can't simply take an unwanted idea into the forest, tie it to a tree and go home, like you would with a dog. Or shave it, like a beard. Or a dog…
WAS COLERIDGE A SPY?
You probably know Coleridge had an opium habit. There's a very revealing note he wrote to his apothecary – effectively his dealer – that illustrates this. We're offering a limited number of facsimiles of this rare document as one of the rewards you can receive for supporting Dead Writers in Rehab, in which the extraordinary poet appears as a character.
But did you know that…
Come in, come in, don't mind the dog, that's just his way of showing he likes you. Oh, he seems to have got overexcited, sorry about that, I'll get a cloth. Or would you like to take those trousers off and I'll sponge them down? All right, please yourself. Right, gather round the fire, pull up a comfortable view on your device. Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has pledged for…
These people are helping to fund Dead Writers in Rehab.