THE WRITER’S LIFE | BOOK PREVIEW
The Perpetuity of Memory, out next week in paperback (£7.99 / €8.99 / $9.99)
It’s taken three years to go from homeless alcoholic to this. Although I have books on sale already, The Perpetuity of Memory has been the labour of love. It’s a collection of some of the many short stories I’ve written over my period of recovery. Even though I say so myself, it’s a good book. As well as the raw writing, I’ve spent some time on curating the collection, so that it works as a whole volume. It’s 25 stories but it’s one book.
The book goes on general sale next week, so in advance I’d like to share some of the cover and internal notes, as a pre-sale marketing exercise but also to share on this blog what the book is all about and what it means to me. Three years ago, I was a tramp. I became a published writer some time ago but this is the book I’d like to be judged on.
From the back cover:
The Perpetuity of Memory is a collection of short stories, some written in libraries, cafes, bars and on park benches, and anywhere warm, dry and light by day. Others were written at night, by street light or candlelight.
In 2013, an addiction to alcohol saw the author lose his family, home and business. With nothing else to do without going insane on the streets, he begged money to buy exercise books and stole some bookies’ pens.
These are the stories written during a period on the road; in squats, doctors’ surgeries, court waiting rooms and hospital beds. Some were written in relatively safe surroundings and others, while in a state of vulnerable and anxious terror. Sometimes, there was plenty of time to write. Often a flash fiction story was all that time permitted.
Ranging from humorous science fiction to psychological horror, these short stories are a glimpse of what goes on in the mind of an alcoholic with depression, out on the streets.
A further introduction:
In December 2013, I found myself homeless after pissing my life away. Aged 43, alcohol had lost me my marriage to the wife of my two children, my business and my home. I was on the streets. With nothing except the clothes I was wearing and a couple of carrier bags containing my belongings, I was lost.
With nothing else to do, I begged money to buy some exercise books and stole some bookies’ pens. I found places which were warm and dry during the day and started writing. At first, I was just scribbling down what was on my mind, trying to make sense of things. When it didn’t make sense at the time, I decided to put my notes into a blog, in the hope that they might make sense later. I still write that blog and all of the old entries from stolen moments at a borrowed PC are retained. They are as indelible as the memories of life on the road.
The period of sleeping rough was mercifully brief but I spent three years in squats, sofa surfing and living illegally above a pub, before I finally got my own place. It was during that transitory period that I started to write short stories and this book collects 25 of them together.
It is said that there’s a part of the writer in every story, whether it be a character trait in a fictional person or a memory from the fringes of life experience. For the writer, it can be an escape.
The stories collected in this book range from humorous science fiction to psychological horror. I’ve continued to write many more but this anthology is from those first three years.
“Stories only happen to those who are able to tell them.” Paul Auster.
About the author
Steve Laker was born in 1970 and grew up in Kent, before marrying in 2003 and moving to London with his wife. He has two children from the marriage and remains on good terms with his family.
After a 25-year career in print and publishing up to company director level, he ran a successful business with his wife. That life ended in 2012 when he became ill through alcohol addiction, resulting in divorce and the loss of his business and home. Subsequently, he was diagnosed with chronic depression, PTSD and anxiety. He remains alcohol dependent.
Following a three year period of recovery, he started publishing short stories in web zines and print magazines. In 2014, he won a national award for his “Changing lives” short story, A Girl, Frank Burnside and Haile Selassie.
He now lives alone in West Malling, back to being a Man of Kent. He continues to write short stories and novels, both under his own name and as a freelance ghostwriter.
There’ll be more stories but for now, this is the first volume of collected shorts.