Lost Works II
30 September 2010
Continuing the untold story of the unpublished novels...
Yesterday there was the completely forgotten and dreadful lost manuscript of the Manhattan Project, the not quite so bad but still pretty awful lost manuscript The Tarrantino Version, and concluding with the inexcusably fetid rubbish of lost manuscript The Fool Blue Christmas. Today, the nail-biting narrative of the Lost Novels Of Douglas Lindsay continues with:
21 Years On The Back of Dixie Klondyke's Spanish Guitar
Of all the lost novels, this one is the least lost, as for a long time it featured on the defunct Barney Thomson website and there was a promotional run of fifty copies printed. It was the last book I wrote before being picked up by Piatkus, and it was originally a much darker, more brutal crime novel than those in the Barney series. The serial killer was genuinely nasty, in a Stieg Larsson kind of a way, rather than the slightly goofy serial killers that haunt Barney. Sadly, this original version of the book is lost. When I put the book up on the Barney Thomson website in the beginning, I rewrote it so that it would sit more easily with the Barney style, where serial killers have absurd motives and the overall feeling is one of things being a bit daft, rather than a brutal undercurrent of unpleasant crime.
I gave Piatkus an outline of the original version, but it was a really badly written outline. They didn't get beyond the third chapter of the book, and at the time I thought, well this confirms it's not very good. But really, I think it was because I did this absurdly awful treatment which made the book sound far more confusing than it is. I should just have written a one line treatment along the lines of the most incredible crime thriller of the year and left it at that.
So, although the original is lost, the updated version isn't. I usually tell everyone that it's not very good, but I've been thinking that I might now do something with it - Elvis Shackleton, Long Midnight Publishing's Director of Marketing, is concocting a strategic overview of the way forward - so I should probably stop saying that it's rubbish, and start saying things like, it's the most incredible crime thriller of the year.
The Last Fish Supper
This wasn't the Barney Thomson Holy Grail book to which I ultimately gave this title. It was my attempt at breaking away from Barney, after I'd left him with his brain in a jar at the end of Book 3. It was lad-lit. Five mates in small town Scotland, who have affairs with each others' wives, that kind of thing, and who all end up in the same police cell one evening for a variety of things, such as fighting, drink driving after encountering an alien, and unwitting involvement in a swine orgy. Piatkus didn't want it; I can't remember if, at the time, my agent sent it to anyone else. Obviously I really ought to have written another crime novel at that point, seeing as I was a crime novelist, but I'd had enough of killing people. Obviously that changed...
There's a disk with Last Fish Supper written on it, but I haven't checked to see if the book is all there. It probably wasn't very good. However, I liked the title so much I used it later...
The Long Midnight of Thomas Bethlehem
This was an unfinished novel that is completely lost, much of which was then absorbed by The Final Cut. It was about a marketing executive who turned into a bar of chocolate. Thomas Bethlehem, and the fast-talking wankers of his marketing agency, went on to populate the last novel in the Barney series.
Wrote this very quickly in amongst the later Barney Thomson novels. I still have a copy on an old computer, so it's not really lost at all. It was a decent idea, very poorly executed, if I remember from my last reading. Another lead character from the Barney Thomson mould, of put-upon downbeat and cuckold. After a dispute with his neighbour, he starts to erect large fences around his garden, and then takes some council land at the back, and then when the police turn up to arrest him he declares his house and garden an independent federal republic. (Well, it's not especially federal, but it sounds better than just an independent republic.) It then became something of a political drama, with the government cutting him off, and him being locked in his house and garden with an odd collective. The title comes from the appalling BBC show, Changing Rooms, which dates the book. I might look at it again, but the last time I did it bored even me, so it's unlikely to ever see the light of day.
There are also a mountain of short stories from the early days, most of which must be too spectacularly awful to mention, but they're there somewhere, stuck on a 15th century computer disk, waiting to be dug up by my biographer when I'm dead and famous...