Happy Tuesday to you!
I'm always delighted to welcome back my good friend, Jeff Gardiner. Jeff's an excellent author of different genres and he's also the most fantastic, perceptive editor that I've worked with, so far. I've read a couple of his novels already and loved them, but I confess that I haven't managed to read his latest one, yet - the one he's here today to give us a taster of. You can be sure, though, that it's already in my kindle queue!
Read on to find out what the novel is about and then savour the excerpt that Jeff's sharing with us today.
(ps- I'm already feeling drawn to Donny...)
Welcome again, Jeff...
Thanks for having me on your blog. I’ve got an extract from my contemporary novel, Treading On Dreams, which is currently available at the special price of 99p/99c. The novel explores a young man’s obsession with his student housemate, Selena. Donny admires her from a distance but she has a love-life of her own and a future set out for her. Unrequited love is something most of us can relate to. I wanted to dig a bit deeper into this familiar and frustrating experience, and wondered if when the person you love says “But I only want us to be friends”, whether that really did mean the end of your dreams. Donny, however, doesn’t give up that easily…
Hope you all enjoy the extract. Please feel free to leave a message, and I’ll endeavour to reply.
Donny is obsessed with his housemate, Selena – but his love is unrequited. He enthusiastically accepts her willing friendship, which only fuels his deepening fantasies.
Jaz is their crazy landlord who likes sleeping with women – lots of them. He takes pleasure in educating the once innocent Donny in the hedonistic pleasures of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. It blows Donny’s mind.
Selena is engaged to Melvin – the perfect man – but is also keen to befriend the ever-demanding Donny ... until she falls pregnant and her wedding looms.
Donny expresses his true feelings at the wedding, causing mayhem and anger. But there remains a chink of hope: perhaps Selena’s marriage to Melvin is not quite as perfect as it seems.
Extract from ‘Treading On Dreams’ by Jeff Gardiner:
The first Freshers’ Week event they attended together turned out to be a seventies disco. Jaz managed to dress exactly like John Travolta in ‘Saturday Night Fever’; Selena and Hazel resembled the two girls in Abba with appropriate coloured wigs, whilst Donny looked like a tourist returning from the Caribbean.
The hall, colourfully decked out with balloons and streamers, lay adjacent to the student bar, jam-packed with teenagers in dayglo costumes, flares or drag.
At the sound of ‘Dancing Queen’ Hazel grabbed Donny.
‘Come and dance,’ she shouted. He agreed, pleased to see Selena join them. Hazel and Selena mimed their parts as if doing the karaoke version, whilst Jaz kept an eye on a couple of ladies sitting down at their table, leaving Donny slightly stranded, bouncing awkwardly in the middle of some lads head-banging and moshing.
The Abba song segued neatly into ‘See My Baby Jive’ by Wizzard but Donny returned to his chair. Jaz already sat there making the two girls laugh and Donny noticed how he touched an arm or a knee as if he’d known them for years. Both girls had long fair hair that changed colours with the flashing lights. One wore a short and tight-fitting white dress with squashed boobs bursting over its neckline. The other girl was more modestly dressed in a black gown revealing less flesh.
Selena returned to the table and sat next to Donny, watching the dancers, sipping their drinks and occasionally tapping the table in time to the music. Donny spotted Hazel at the bar, surrounded by three or four of the head-bangers and her brother noticed she was guzzling bottles of alcopop with a great deal of relish. Her body language appeared confident and liberated.
Selena’s voice interrupted Donny’s observations.
‘I’d better go soon.’ She discarded her wig and finished her drink. ‘Got to get up early tomorrow. I’ll call a cab.’ She found her mobile in her bag and went outside to get a better reception.
Donny nodded and went back to watching the girls who danced with such style. He fantasised about being one of those confident lads currently snogging a pretty girl. Someone brushed past him and he saw the girl in the white dress pulling Jaz behind her to go and dance. She took great delight in rubbing herself against Jaz.
Selena tapped Donny’s left shoulder.
‘I’m off, now. My taxi‘s here.’
Donny panicked. ‘Wait, I’ll come with you.’
The taxi revved impatiently. Donny held the door open for Selena. Happy in her company, they travelled silently. He imagined himself a celebrity riding in his limousine with his beautiful movie star wife. What should he do now? What would Jaz do? What sort of things are you supposed to talk about? No doubt Jaz would think of something witty or profound; he could tell jokes or recount anecdotes, making him immediately popular.
He had to engage Selena in some sort of conversation, so he went for the most obvious subject.
‘All your lessons ready for tomorrow?’
‘I hope so. I’m being observed teaching literacy skills and I’ve got to see my mentor at lunchtime, so I won’t get a proper break.’
‘You could’ve done without tonight, really.’
‘It seemed anti-social not to come. Don’t get me wrong—it was a good laugh, but I get so tired.’ She yawned to prove it. ‘You know, I quite often get back from school at about half four or five and go straight to bed. I’ve been known to sleep right round the clock.’
As their cab pulled outside their house, Donny checked his wallet, and felt foolish.
‘Sorry, but I haven’t any money left.’
‘It’s okay. I’ve got it here.’ She waved a ten-pound note and passed it to the driver.
They let themselves in just after eleven. Selena apologised for being a wimp and went straight to bed, which disappointed him hugely. He wanted to chat some more and at that moment regretted leaving the disco. He sat for a while wondering what he might be missing.
His insomnia was returning. Donny lay there for a long time, tortured by fantasies involving Selena, leaving him frustrated and guilty. He relived the conversation in the cab. What should he have said to impress her? Then the fear came, of being forever unfulfilled, uncertain what the future held for him. Donny found it almost impossible to visualise himself in a relationship.
Links for ‘Treading On Dreams’ (Currently only 99p/99c):
Jeff Gardiner is a UK author of three novels: Treading On Dreams, a tale of obsession and unrequited love (Tirgearr Publishing); Myopia, which explores bullying and prejudice; and Igboland, set in Nigeria during the Biafran War (both published by Crooked Cat Books). His work of non-fiction, The Law of Chaos: the Multiverse of Michael Moorcock, has recently been published by Headpress.
He has also recently signed a three book contract with Accent Press for his ‘Gaia’ YA trilogy, which begins with Pica, a novel of transformation and ancient magic.
His acclaimed collection of short stories, A Glimpse of the Numinous, published by Eibonvale Press, contains horror, slipstream and humour. Many of his short stories have appeared in anthologies, magazines and websites.
For more information, please see his website at www.jeffgardiner.com and his blog: http://jeffgardiner.wordpress.com/“Reading is a form of escapism, and in Gardiner’s fiction, we escape to places we’d never imagine journeying to.” (A.J. Kirby, ‘The New Short Review’
Thank you for coming, today, Jeff. All the best for great sales of Treading on Dreams!