‘Big Noise’ by J.P. Biddlecome – Review

A tale that walks the fine line between survival and madness through solitude…

Young author J.P. Biddlecome tells a story through the eyes of sole character and teen ‘Mark Poe’ in what reads like a diary style account of exploration. It pulls you in quickly and then comes the realisation that he’s lost. ‘Mark’ has been turned around in the Oregon forest and so survival along with trying to keep things together becomes the priority.

The setting is wonderfully described and literally feels as if its closing in. This is written by someone who knows the setting well and so combining that with the urgency to survive comes the real story. From the need to build a fire to quickly diminishing food rations, staying warm and even Coyotes, our narrator faces many different challenges that all centre around survival and in the end he see’s it as a sort of game.

This solitary feeling coupled with a slow burn madness ‘Mark’ experiences makes for a readable and mostly enjoyable read. There are some moments where the narration style comes across as repetitive; ‘I did this’ and ‘I did that’ and similar phrases do appear often and this is something that could have been executed with a little more variety. Being able to show a reader as opposed to telling them is limited in this setting because of the solitary feeling but still it kept my attention throughout and made for an interesting read. For those who enjoy a shorter reads about survival in a wonderfully described setting will find this book well worth a look.

3 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

Weekly Ramble #80

They are going to knock down my old high school. This is a fact that I have recently learned which is both bitter and sweet at the same time for me. This year has presented many opportunities for deep reflection, time on our hands will do that and it’s sometimes important to revisit things with the eyes and mind you’ve grown into.

Many people over the years have relayed or recalled their school days as either mostly positive or straight up terrible while others stand somewhere in between. I’m still processing today that the school I went to and the experiences I had may have been of the worst possible persuasion.

The truth is, that place took years for me to fully recover from. During those years after, I came to realize that there were normal people in this world that you could mostly trust, share real conversations with and generally function as a person alongside. So was it really that bad you ask? And my response would be, yes.

Not only is the concept of high school a mostly regressive thing to me; throw together a bunch of hormonal kids all at different stages of being hormonal, drill into them conflicting information about how important preparing for the future is and then top it off with a pressure to fit in and also succeed.

If you combine that with the environment I had to endure you would most certainly agree and the ecosystem that I weathered and survived was socially hostile, violent and toxic. It was a place that I could never truly fit in or let alone dare to be myself. Today we celebrate being ourselves. Inclusion is celebrated and still a noble cause worth fighting for. Back in that place, you couldn’t wear certain clothes, listen to certain music, think a certain way or even look at someone the wrong way without being punished for it and sometimes that punishment was violent. If you ever thought of stepping outside from the current and flow, you were targeted by a stifling mob culture of kids.

Head down, voice quiet and just bide the time. This was the only method of survival in that place I knew how to adopt and even then you weren’t safe. Perhaps that is why wherever I have gone since, I’ve survived. My invisibility strategy was enough for me to stay mostly unscathed physically and for the most part I went through this journey without being noticed. As for today; I’m not remembered probably by most who I shared those narrow packed corridors with. They were people who I had nothing in common with and many of the less desirable types had socially peaked at 16, I guess I could live without being remembered by the likes of them.

The teachers, who didn’t help but as an adult I know now they couldn’t help. Many of them couldn’t relate and were probably horrified by the fact they were trying to answer their calling in life at such a place. They were trying to function and survive themselves in what was an every person for themselves environment. Over the years I was there (5 – trust me I was counting), the place became more and more unstable over that time. A combination of worse schools closing locally and a change in leadership interrupted the order of things. Now you had younger kids fighting older kids, and sometimes these younger kids would win which just spun the volatile environment around some more. A wider level of ‘Gotham’ style chaos began to ensue. There was no safety. There was fighting everyday. No wonder I took the world of working in my stride, the sensation of it was both refreshing and liberating. The civility of it, a culture shock to begin with.

Anyone going through the struggles of high school, or anyone who has been through it, you are not alone. And it does get better. Leaving it behind is both weirdly sad and happy all at once. Being a writer means I am seasoned at compartmentalizing and putting thoughts away. There is no trauma now, but I can still explore old memories to cope and reflect. There may just be a hint of bitterness because I never went to the prom by choice, or even had many decent memories of that time, let alone any true friends.

I no longer represent the shy, quiet, keeps things to himself kid, that was just a survival mechanism. Over the years I learned to socially come out of that defensive shell because the toxic environment of those narrow corridors has long gone. As that confidence grew and whatever that place did to me faded, I began to do everything in life that I would get punished for in that place. From the music I now listen to and embrace, to even the hairstyle I adopted just two years after that place’s grip on me faded. Some of this stuff I do is to stick my middle finger up to the fact I couldn’t do it back then. Everything I have aspired to be was once just an escape from that place, and now I am who I envisioned to be, well and truly and without the school that I survived.

Now I’ve learned the place is being knocked down I’m able to take a long breath of relief because even though on the 25th of August 2005 I vowed to never return to those corridors in physical form, I will never be able to now, for definite. Since I left, the place took an even bigger downturn before half re-branding. Now that brand looks to fully absolve itself perhaps from such a shadowy past with new modern building beside the proposed playing fields which will serve as simply a grave of the days I struggled alongside so many others.

After reading this, you’ll see Open Evening – my debut novel in a whole new light because that story highlights the social struggle of high school; something that came from my own personal journey. I fused that element of what I knew and fashioned it into a story for some and a statement for others. Maybe I knew all along while I walked through that place, one day I was going to get these fuckers back, and the book did. Like always for me, the writing says everything I never could.

It became both therapy and reflection for me as a writing experience with an element of realism among the actual monsters that jumped out from beyond the unknown. The school burned down in that story, and now in reality it’s going to fall for real.

Good riddance.

Weekly Ramble #68

Many of us crave structure to be productive. We are worker bees after all and to be busy is to live and then this whole lock down thing happened…

I find solace in the two shifts I have to work every week. Even though the 5/6 days off is nice, work has always given everything else in my life a structure. While I left my home over the weekend for the first time in nearly a week I sighed in relief to just be out driving – where I get many of my writing ideas.

With the world seemingly closed, the roads are deserted apart from the army of truckers who are hauling everything to keep this world turning, shout out to them. Even with them on the roads, it’s quiet. Spring is in full force here in the UK and green has exploded everywhere. A part of me wants to see trees take back their rightful place along with many of the critters who are crossing streets more than people.

Quarantine and self isolation is hard and it’s weighing big on us all. I must stress to you all even while it is distracting, you have to stay busy. Immerse your mind in something, my Mrs is taken up crochet while on furlough. Learn a new craft, try something new or I dare say it, read a book. My sales have near enough tripled over these past few weeks. We’re all indoors, hopefully away from harm and so use this time.

Self care is a big deal right now. Stay away from the constant droning of news which is just churning out numbers right now. Put the news away for a while and realize apart from staying in there isn’t much else you can do in this fight, but staying distant is enough for now. We’ll get through it. The storm will pass and the story will continue. Anything and everything is what it will take, do that.

Hope you are all staying safe. Have you tried anything new?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #65

It gives me a sense of hope that even in these times people are buying my books. Not that the sales or royalties matter, let alone do they even contribute to my salary but the thought that someone has been interested enough in the blurb or cover art to give an essence of my soul and imagination a try. 

Hope can give a person enough to know that maybe they are on the right path no matter how uncertain all of our near futures are, some things will shine through this dark time, like sunshine on a rainy day, feeling that heat just feels better when it’s been cold for so long. People who continue to blog and read this blogging effort I must thank you from the bottom of my heart. We must keep the spirit of what we were alive enough so we don’t lose what we stood for. 

I’m trying, like always to create stuff that will at least take one person away for a while and most of my reduced audience seem to appreciate that while those who appear not to be tuning in are distracted elsewhere – this is a difficult time I know and I hope all of you are holding up.

I’ve started a diary that I hope will capture everything that’s going on right now, from my personal life all the way to current events. This is a fascinating historical time and without a diary to convey the essence of in the moment emotion, I couldn’t possibly relay this in years to come. It’s also a way of coping and a self care practice of reflection. Like stories, once I had laid them to rest on paper they no longer need to reside in my head. This coping strategy is working at the moment.

My plan like I said before is to have a business as usual front to all of this. There is no reason not to carry on especially with all the closures and postponements going on around the world, the Hall of Information hopes to carry on throughout.

Good vibes and health to you all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Order of the Following Series by Lee Hall

They live on the fringes of society chasing and fighting the horror of what lurks just beneath the surface…

Their symbol opposes evil.

There are five corners to a pentagram.

Five corners.

Five stories.

This Pentalogy is governed and connected by those who look to expel evil from this world.

They are The Order of the Following.

These stories stand on their own but they are also linked….

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1. OPEN EVENING

Embrace the unexpected….

A story of survival of what lurks underneath the fringes of small town America. The sole follower arrives and leads an unlikely group…

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‘Twister pointed to a small pentagram tattoo on her inner arm. Over the top was a more prominent tattoo of a crucifix. He then revealed the exact same mark on his arm…’

2. DARKE BLOOD

You’ve never known true darkness…

Vampires and the occult world; two pillars which are linked to the story of Open Evening while also cutting its own path through the lightless void…

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‘Our following could benefit with more like you two. I shall give you a day to think about the choices you make. If no, then the sun’s power awaits you.’

– a man named ‘Hudson’ (Mayor of Darke Heath township) 

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3. CEMETERY HOUSE

Survival was just the beginning…

The lone Follower Twister is no longer a solo Warrior. His newly assembled group look to find answers about the evil that lurks below. Their story becomes aligned with the occult. They learn of Twister’s origins and the ‘book’…

‘Dreads gently took out a large leather-bound book from the felt bag. That was the first time I saw the symbol. You know, the pentagram with a crucifix over it…’

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“If I can see you. They can see you…”

4. DARKE AWAKENING

Embrace the true darkness…

Everything you thought about these stories is going to change. There has been an awakening in Darke Heath and so the fourth corner appears….

The characters of these stories will collide in an epic cross over full of revelations, action and the occult. 

Creatures, witches and vampires will collide!

It’s time to embrace the true darkness! 

COMING SEPTEMBER 2020

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