THIS IS THE DAY (2007, Allison & Busby)
Published by A&B in trade paperback in Summer 2007 - and at 132,000 words, it's my longest book yet by quite some distance. Our first attempt at a launch party was washed out by the floods - but thankfully a successfully rescheduled event went ahead on 25th July 2007.
'Chronicled in a fine, acerbic and humorous style; poignant and telling.'
Sue Baker, Publishing News
'A darkly comic tale of a modern marriage.' Sheffield Telegraph
'This well-crafted novel from Daniel Blythe is a real page-turner... Blythe's meticulous attention to detail makes this book all the more gripping, and his metamorphosis of Ella's character throughout the book is nothing short of genius. If you are a thirtysomething and bored with what life is dealing you, this could be the book to make you think again.' South Wales Argus
LOSING FAITH (1999, Penguin/Hamish Hamilton)
Published in trade paperback by Hamish Hamilton in 1999, this was always intended to find its natural home in the smaller B-format paperback - but it never did. Don't ask me why. The sales strategy - obviously so cunning that it had been studying under a fox who was Professor of Cunning at Oxford University - appeared to be to get as few copies as possible into as few bookshops as they could get away with. To this day, I am in awe of this remarkable piece of marketing genius.
Losing Faith occupies some of the same thematic and stylistic territory as The Cut, but is very different in many ways. Past and present mingle in the story of anti-heroine Faith's apparent suicide, and the attempts by the man who once loved her to find out the truth about her death. Along the way, he finds out more about himself and his circle of friends than he could have wanted to know… A story of sex, lies, videotape, violence, deceit, weddings, funerals, Euro 96 and, er, herbal tea. And all persons in the book, living and dead, are fictitious and in no way resemble my friends.
Oh, and no - we never find out his name.
A few snippets from the ladies and gentlemen of the press:
'True to form, Blythe’s second novel is concerned with apostasy. Faith is both a mesmeric individual, glamorous, predatory and self-destructive, who can trace her literary antecedents through Sally Bowles to Becky Sharp, and the personification of the student life, irresponsible yet committed, promiscuous yet romantic, which her friends have had to leave behind... This is not the Oxford of bright young things punting down the Cherwell, but of Goths and crusties and nerds discussing Star Trek in college bars... Powerfully done, and Blythe's prose is pithy and urgent.'
Michael Arditti, The Times
Blythe is grateful. However, Blythe would like to add that Blythe spent very little time at college discussing Star Trek with nerds, and even less with Goths and crusties. Blythe wonders if the point has been missed. Blythe would also like to wonder why on earth reviewers continue to address people as if they were at school. Why not go the whole hog and call me Blythe Minor? Arditti (see, I can do it too) also calls my narrator 'wishy-washy' and says he has 'no will of his own' - which is sort of the whole point. Moving on:
'An intense thriller which unravels the mysterious circumstances of Faith’s death, while in the foreground her disparate group of friends wrestle with life, love and the pursuit of a laugh. Blythe's second novel is as addictive as its predecessor The Cut.'
'Thrilling… he has a prose style with a palpable fizz to it.'
The Herald (Glasgow)
'A terrific read - Blythe captivates the reader from start to finish.'
'An engaging and knowing novel which plots the course of a generation that is almost certain it went wrong somewhere.'
What is a 'palpable fizz' ? These days, it makes me think of the Tweenies. I'd love to know who wrote that review. Not that I'm not grateful, you understand. Pitifully, abjectly grateful for any review that doesn't take 200 words to describe the book as a pile of horse dung. Talking of which:
'This dirge-like novel isn't nearly as much fun as the author must have had sitting in a clump with other black-clad doom-lovers discussing existential despair. Basically, Faith was a girl beloved of the narrator who lived fast and died young while everyone else grew up to get haircuts and jobs. About as morbid and mysterious as a rusting Anderson shelter.'
Somebody called TJ, Big Issue
Black-clad doom-lovers? Shurely shome mishtake. A rusting Anderson shelter would be quite mysterious, actually. Careful with your similes there, TJ (and own up, you'd just been listening to 'Common People', hadn't you?)...
The Guardian's Loafer column amusingly suspected that there was some sort of conspiracy theory at Penguin to cover up my previous forays into Doctor Who fiction. They also called me 'cheerfully-named'. I like that.
The official Amazon review by Claire Allfree is positive, and refreshingly seems to 'get' the book. Even more refreshingly, she actually seems to have read it all the way through before pronouncing judgement. That’s always nice. And rare.
Oh, and the Leeds Guide said it was 'cracking'. (Thanks, Wallace.) You can see the full interview and feature by clicking on the panel to the right.
THE CUT (1998, Penguin)
On 19th December 1996, my agent sold my first 'proper' novel to Penguin Books. Does this mean my others were improper? Anyway, a lifetime's ambition had now been fulfilled! Set in an English seaside resort, the novel is the story of a young woman's alienation manifesting itself in crime and violence. It was published to what they usually call 'critical acclaim' - which means that most of the reviews said nice things about it, such as:
'Tense, street-smart novel with a mean streak… A sharp, observant, energetic writer with a nimble sense of language, a gift for pacey teenage backchat and an irreverent sense of humour… The Cut has a macabre Gothic edge... a joy to read.'
Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Times
Is 'pacey teenage backchat' what they use on Dawson’s Creek? (Joke which some people will get.) And as RC-J thinks I'm nimble and energetic, that proves she has never seen me before my first morning cup of coffee.
'Blythe succeeds in conveying the neuroses and manipulative qualities of a dysfunctional, intelligent adolescent... Definitely an author to be watched.'
'A thriller with depth and edge… infectious page-turner, written with remarkable style and efficacy.'
Maxim - Book of the Month
(My weapon is remarkable style... my TWO weapons are remarkable style, ruthless efficacy and fanatical devotion to... I'll come in again.)
It sold quite well and went to a reprint within a few months. And no, I haven't missed out any of the bits that say 'dull characters and a plodding plot, but...' or 'he can't write for toffee, although...'
I do also like the idea of my being 'street-smart' , which should amuse anybody who knows me.