Brain to Books Blog Tour
Author: Jason Greensides
Books: The Distant Sound of Violence
Jason Greensides has a degree in Video Production and Film Studies and has made several short films, two of which have been broadcast on television – but writing fiction is his real passion.
He’s interested in ‘outsider’ types, those operating on the fringes of society. This inspired him to write his first novel The Distant Sound of Violence. It’s about a group of kids, one in particular, Nathan Dawes, whose philosophical obsessions and criminal connections have all but made him an outcast at school.
Jason is now working on his second novel, another coming-of-age mystery, but on coffee breaks he blogs and tweets about the mysteries of writing and throws in the occasional book review.
Book blurb for The Distant Sound of Violence:
Do we ever escape the decisions we make when we’re fifteen?
Nathan Dawes, the loser from school, an outsider, street philosopher and member of The Grove Runners gang, needs Ryan’s help to get Stephanie to fall for him. When Ryan’s lawnmower is stolen, Nathan sees this as his chance to enlist Ryan in his plan.
Although Ryan knows becoming friends with Nathan could lead to trouble, he reluctantly agrees to help.
Stephanie wants nothing to do with either of them. Besides, she’s more interested in the one guy in the world she really shouldn’t be.
As Nathan continues his pursuit of Stephanie, and Ryan becomes embroiled with The Grove Runners, soon events overtake them all, haunting their lives for years to come.
Part coming-of-age, part mystery story, The Distant Sound of Violence is a heart-breaking tale of bad decisions and love gone wrong. It’s about the choices we make that lead to violence, loss and tragedy.
A Video review by Author D.M Cain for The Distant Sound of Violence
An Amazon Review For The Distant Sound of Violence
A Great, Fast-Paced and Gripping Coming-of-age Tale ★★★★★
Hooking you from the opening pages with its vivid characters and pacey narrative, this is a gripping tale of coming of age in early 90’s West London.
The story centers on fifteen year old orphan Ryan, an average kid trying to keep his head down until exams, while at the same time keeping his girlfriend and the conservative-minded aunt he lives with happy. His life is thrown off kilter, however, when he is hesitantly drawn into a friendship with Nathan Dawes, a fellow pupil whose oddball mentality, criminal connections and philosophical obsessions have made him a social pariah to anyone but the gang of petty crooks he consorts with.
Narrated by Ryan, with the wisdom of hindsight as he looks back on events spiralling beyond his control, it is easy to see how he becomes so easily pulled into Nathan’s circle; he’s a vibrant character with a hapless, lost charm that is as compelling to the reader as it is to Ryan. Nathan is in love with Stephanie, a girl far outside of his league, and he believes Ryan’s help is the only thing that can help him win her over and attain him the life he dreams of. Nathan’s longing is poignantly described and his earnestness and helplessness in this area resolves Ryan to his cause and us along with him.
The spectre of determinism looms over events as the characters navigate the trials of adolescence and Ryan and Nathan find themselves dealing with a heart-wrenching mystery that will haunt them into a no less turbulent adulthood.
A powerful sense of place and a sharp, nostalgic feel for time pervade the novel, and the supporting cast of characters are richly drawn – Stephanie in particular, who might have been a canvas upon which to project Nathan’s desires, is depicted with a depth and feeling that makes her at times the most relatable character. Her growth and the development of her relationship with Nathan provides another, moving aspect to an engaging, exciting and thought provoking read that I’d strongly recommend.
Excerpt from Chapter Two
I was late for school the next day because I couldn’t get out of bed at the thought of seeing Karen. When I did finally arrive for the first lesson of the day – maths – I was greeted by Nathan’s ridiculous grin. I immediately saw what he was smiling at: the seat next to his was the only one free. I scanned the class, searching for another chair, but they were all taken. So, nodding at Peter, who was still angry with me for missing football practice, and ignoring Karen and the raised eyebrows of Mr Harrington, I slumped into the seat next to Nathan’s.
As soon as Mr Harrington’s sweaty back was turned, I pulled out my note pad, ripped out a sheet of paper and scribbled, what happened after i left?
Nathan activated the red nib of his four-coloured pen and wrote back in capitals (he had this really annoying way of writing all his notes to me in capitals): MISSION ABORTED.
karen dumped me last night because she found out i was with you. she hates you, I wrote, tossing the paper back at him.
But as soon as Nathan began reading the note, I regretted what I’d written. I didn’t think he’d care either way, but his shoulders sagged down, he unhooked his left foot from his right knee and placed it back on the floor, began to rub his fat lower lip with his thumb, then gently folded up the note and stared down into his textbook.
This last act must have been particularly painful for him because he hated maths. The shape of the E Mr Harrington awarded him on every piece of homework reminded him of a rake slowly scrapping off precious cells from his brain; and when you turned the E ninety degrees clockwise, he would tell me, manically flapping his arms about, what did you get? M: M for maths. The ‘therefore’ symbol, that small triangle of dots, was like the laser targeting system the Predator used to hone in on his victims before he skinned them and ripped off their skulls. The square root symbol was like the meat hook from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; the pie sign like the wire speculum used to force Alex’s eyes open as they tortured him in A Clockwork Orange. So to bury his head in his textbook must have meant my note had hurt him.
(Although, I still wonder whether he was less concerned with his role in my break-up with Karen and more the fact of being hated by a girl, any girl, feeding into his insecurities about never having had a girlfriend and his hopeless relationship with the opposite sex in general.)
Shifting my gaze towards the back of Karen’s head, my thoughts pulled back to last night’s devastating phone call, I ripped out a fresh piece of paper from my note pad, began to write a letter asking her for a second chance, then changed my mind and screwed it up.
But the sound of the paper being crumpled cut through the silence of the class, drawing all heads in our direction and all eyes onto Nathan, the pupil everyone thought most likely to have caused the noise.
Mr Harrington strolled over to our table, inserted his hand into Nathan’s closed fist and extracted our note. He uncurled it and read it, his eyes flitting over our written crap. With a disappointed sigh, he finally placed the note back into Nathan’s hand, pointed at the two of us then over to the door.
Nathan closed his eyes and slowly shook his head, not in anger or outrage at some injustice he’d just suffered, but rather at the inevitability of the situation, as if the concept of determinism had finally been proven right.
I sank back into my seat, cringing at the disappointed looks I was getting from Karen and Peter.
‘Can’t we just discuss this?’ Nathan said.
I stood up.
‘Sure,’ Mr Harrington said, ‘come back here at three forty-five and we can discuss it in depth. But for now, could you and Ryan please leave the room.’
Nathan flushed, and for an instant he looked distraught. For the first time ever he actually seemed gutted about getting detention. ‘Can’t we do this another day? I was going to get Ryan’s lawnmower back.’
Mr Harrington seemed confused by his remark, as if it were inconceivable that Nathan might have something to do after school that he actually cared about. ‘Well, you should have thought about that before you started sending notes. Now, go report to Mr Whitehead.’ His expression turned sour, daring Nathan to say another word.
For a moment it looked like Nathan was about to speak again. Instead, he stuffed his books into his rucksack and stood up. My legs buckled as we trudged through the desks towards the door, and I was way too embarrassed to look in either Peter or Karen’s direction.
Closing the door behind us, Nathan said, ‘I’m sorry about you and Karen, but she probably wasn’t right for you anyway.’
‘What would you know?’ I said a little too loudly, my voice echoing down the deserted corridor.
‘Probably not much. But before we go to Whitehead’s office, let me show you something.’
‘It won’t take long – we’re just going to the science department.’
‘Fuck off,’ I replied, quickening my pace. ‘I’m not getting chucked out of school for your bullshit. Fuck that.’ The thought of my aunt squinting at an expulsion letter made me feel sick.
Nathan caught up and walked along with me. His eyes now had a pathetic, pleading look in them, and he was breathless, his hands all jittery. ‘Just let me show you this one thing,’ he went on. ‘Tonight I’ll get your lawnmower back and you won’t have to hang around with me again.’ His eyes widened in hope.
This made me pause; it certainly didn’t sound like he was asking me to join him in the toilets for a crafty fag. Then I remembered where we were going – Whitehead’s office – and that I didn’t really want to go there either. Hearing the fight gone out of my voice, all I could think to say was, ‘That’s what you said yesterday.’
‘Yeah, I know, but this is important, if not the most important thing.’
‘OK, but I swear it had better be worth it.’
He didn’t give me the grin I had expected him to, instead, without another word, he took hold of my arm and marched us to the Science labs.
Standing to one side of the classroom door so that we couldn’t be seen, we peeked through the window at the class full of kids, stood over experiments involving petri dishes, Bunsen burners, glass tubes, and pipettes.
‘What I am supposed to be looking for?’ I said.
‘Over by the window near the cupboard, you see…?’
I pushed my face up against the glass and scanned the area he’d referred to.
‘Standing next to Taylor,’ he continued, trying to catch a peek over my shoulder. ‘You see her?’
‘Yes,’ I sighed, ‘I see her.’
Stephanie Redding was a high-achieving student who’d joined our school at the end of last term. She hadn’t made much of an impression on the boys, as she wasn’t one of the prettiest girls in our year. She was almost too thin for her height, with a chin a little too elongated, so at first glance I couldn’t understand why she got Nathan so excited. But as I continued to look, Nathan’s cinnamon breath hot in my ear, I could see that she had a head of rich dark brown hair, which, in the light from the window, gave it a radiant, velvety sheen, luscious hazel eyes, a pretty nose and clear white skin. But the thing that struck me most was that when she laughed you could see her front teeth were slightly angled inward, an unusual trait which made her look (and I know this makes no sense) exotic, European-looking. French. I finally turned away from the door, moved out of sight and leaned against the wall.
Nathan didn’t have a chance.
‘That,’ he said, moving into the position I had just vacated, straightening the thin end of his tie dramatically, ‘is the girl I’m going to marry.’
Where to buy The Distant Sound of Violence
Greensides’ Website and Social Media Links
(The Distant Sound of Violence on sale $99 from Wed 19th – Sun 23rd August)