Hello there

Jim Minton is a new writer of fiction, based in London but raised in the North East of England. On this website you can read his published works, which are mostly - but not all - darkly funny tales of growing up in Northumberland. You can also find out about Undertone, his new novel and read more about Jim, if you wish. All works are his copyright. So you can't pretend they are yours, even if you want to!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Jim reads story at literary festival. Exciting!

Yesterday I made my literary festival debut at the Tower Hamlets Write Idea Festival. I read a new short story called Egnaro. It was another group session organised by brilliant Red Army Fiction and I was lucky to be reading alongside Alison Eley, Heidi James and some other great writers. It was fun to do, and a few people seemed to like the story. And our crowd was nearly as big as the one for Kate Fox. Though she was very entertaining! Anyway, you can read the story here. Enjoy.

And here is a picture of me reading on this historic occasion. Enjoy #2

Monday, 7 October 2013

Swim Club - a new short story

I was invited to read at Red Army Fiction in Bethnal Green. It was a great night, real eclectic mix of spoken word, confessional, dead pan humour and poetry. I told a new story, Swim Club about a young lad growing up in the North East. It went down well. So well, I hope to be invited back! You can read it if you click the 'published writing' tab above. It's better if you read it out in a geordie accent after a couple of pints of cider, but hope it reads ok.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

half way through Undertone

I have just finished Chapter 10, and I think in the end Undertone is going to be 20 chapters long. So I am now half way. Hooray! I think the action is moving along enough to keep it interesting and the characters developing well. Because it is set over a very condensed period of three weeks, with the action unfolding day by day, I am finding I need to be imaginative to make every day different, while acknowledging that in the world of a fourteen year old school boy many of the 'routines' stay the same. Still, it is feeling good so far.

I've had some nice feedback on the sections I've sent out to people following our New Writing Showcase event at City (see previous posts if you can be bothered), and so am hopeful that I've got something that ultimately people will want to read.

I got a bit stuck the other evening writing what I thought was a brilliant class room scene, but getting so wrapped up into the action and dialogue I forgot what the point of it was in terms of moving the story on. Someone asked me subsequently how I dealt with that issue - of getting stuck. In that case I stopped, watched some crap telly, had a couple of pints, then got up early the next day and went for a run. And after about 10 minutes I'd thought through how I was going to make the chapter work. Only trouble then was I still had to run for another 20 minutes to get back home!

Not sure if that technique will work for everyone but it seemed to do the trick, and I think the chapter works now anyway.

More will come, when I am a bit further on, or have any other positive news. Aiming to finish by end September / early October though. We'll see.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Extract from Undertone - as read out at the City University new writing showcase

Well, we had the end of course reading evening at City University on 4 July. It was a really nice occasion, with all of us reading well, and it felt like our pieces and our delivery did justice to the quality of our writing. Now we've just got to finish our novels!

I read an extract from Undertone. It's quite short, but it is quite a lively section, and hopefully gives a nice flavour of how the book will read. It is from chapter 7. Meacock, Carl's cousin, is beginning to educate Carl about the political realities of 1980s Britain. Enjoy.

Extract from Undertone by Jim Minton

‘You see, sometimes if you want to conquer the enemy, you need to form what they call a political alliance.’
Meacock shut the door to his flat, took another drag of his rollie, and blew a smoke ring, making a face like a goldfish.
‘Think about them blackies in London, Carl, them who were rioting down that Broadwater farm.’
I nudged him. ‘I thought you said we wasn’t to call them blackies, Meacock? They’re black people aren’t they?’
Meacock shuffled his feet, and sniffed. ‘Well, Carl, when I’m talking in erm...political terms, it’s important for me to errr.... to be able to express my thoughts in the ways that I see fit, like.’ He took another drag of the smoke, and nodded again. ‘But for you and ya new mate, I’ll keep to black people.’ And he winked at us.
I grinned, then said ‘What’s them rioters got to do with me fighting Guthrie like?’
Meacock threw his head back and laughed loud. I wasn’t sure it was that funny like. Then he stood up straight. ‘When the riots happened, son, it wasn’t just the black youth. They was out on the streets with students, with punks, skinheads, anarchists, all sorts.’ He leaned down towards us. I could see a geet bit of bogey about to drop from his sneck. ‘All of them had one thing in common, son. They was all against the police.’
He stood back up. ‘That’s called forming a political alliance, Carl.’
He dropped his cigarette end into the weeds by the garden path, then unfolded the paper from under his arm. That was the signal that we were done for the morning.
‘See you tomorrow then, Meacock?’
He grunted, and sat himself down in the sun on the wall to chomp away on the Curly Wurly I’d nicked for him earlier.
I crossed the road to the park. I was sorting through the last of the papers I had to deliver, when suddenly a geet blast of noise from over the fence made us nearly jump out me keks.
‘Roorooroorooroo.’ It was like someone honking on a car horn over and over. A huge dog was charging across the playfield, heading right towards us barking his head off. ‘Roorooroorooroo’
Meacock’s mate Rodge was chasing him, shouting ‘Spike! Spike, man! For fuck’s sake come back here you daft knacker!’
But Spike didn’t want to know. He was coming at us fast. I felt me legs going wobbly, and started legging it back up the road to escape him, me newspaper bag flying behind us.
Meacock was still on the wall reading his paper. I looked back across the street just in time to see Spike hoy himself over the fence, and land in one bound in the road, his gob wide open, massive teeth bared.
I ran, but the dog was catching us up. I could almost feel his breath on the back of me neck. Just as I got to the end of his wall, Meacock looked up. He grinned through his little ginger beard. Then his eyes went wide and his mouth opened, and I felt Spike barge past us, launching himself paws first right onto Meacock. They landed in a heap, Spike’s tail wagging like a windscreen wiper going berserk, as he covered Meacock’s face in slaver with his big fat tongue.
‘Yeugh! Gerrroff us, man!’ shouted Meacock, straining to push the beast off him. But Spike had wrapped his front legs round Meacock, and was digging his furry head into his knackers. They rolled on the ground until Rodge caught up, panting, and helped Meacock heave Spike off him. Meacock got up, looking radgy as owt and booted the dog, hard, his doc marten thudding into Spike’s side. Spike yelped out and Rodge had to pull him away. ‘How man Meacock! Less of that!’
Meacock spat on the ground. ‘Ye’ve tekken your animal fucking liberation too far, Rodge. Someone needs to learn that dog a lesson.’
Rodge crouched down to cuddle Spike, then led him back out onto the pavement.
I looked at Meacock. He was shaking and when he caught me eye he said ‘And ye, ye ARE a fucking magnet for bother, aren’t ye?’
I felt meself go red, and me mouth filling up like I was going to be sick. I zipped up me kagoul tight, and walked away. As I crossed the road, Meacock shouted after us.
‘Son. I never meant nowt bad.’ I turned, and saw him wipe his hands on his jeans.
‘Politics is a tough game, though, eh?’
I nodded, and he went inside, saying ‘I’m off to get this hockle cleaned off of us.’
I walked back on up the road biting me tongue, not sure whether I was about to laugh or cry.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Undertone - reading on 4th July

My year long City University Novel Studio course is nearly done. The grand finale of the course is a reading of extracts of work by each class member to an invited group of publishing industry guests on 4th July. It feels like a nice opportunity, though we'll see what comes of it. Anyway, I've had to crunch down my pitch or 'logline' so it fits the 50 word limit for the programme. Here's how I am selling it:

1985. Geordie paperboy Carl thinks his problems with bullies are over when his charismatic cousin offers help. But when an apparent racist attack turns a playground squabble into something more sinister, Carl is drawn into a dangerous world of political activism which he doesn’t understand and can’t control.

Exciting huh?

The piece I am reading is just under 4 minutes long, and shows Meacock offering some advice to Carl about how to deal with the bullies. It is quite an entertaining extract, I hope.

Will post it after July 4th.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Update on my new novel - a crisp summary of what it is all about....

Ok, here goes. I've been working on this. Before you ask, I've been working on the actual novel too! We are doing a reading at the end of term (July 4th) of extracts from our books, and for the flier need to have a 'Logline' - something punchy which describes what the novel is all about. I think this just about works for now:

Undertone by Jim Minton

When 14 year old paperboy Carl has trouble with playground bullies, he finds unexpected allies in Meacock, a squatter and activist who promises to educate him about the political realities of 1980s Britain, and new class mate Sanusi, whose family have just arrived in the north-east from Nigeria. An apparent racial attack on Sanusi’s home gives Carl and Meacock a cause to fight for, but what are Meacock’s real motives, and is Carl getting himself into something sinister that he can’t control?

What do you think?

Also, I've kind of wobbled about the title (see post from a few months back). I'm veering toward Undertone now.

Let's see. I'll try and finish the thing this summer - I've booked some days off in august so should get a good amount done.

More soon.

A diversion - a blog about a football trip to Berlin

Went to Berlin a couple of weeks ago for a weekend, to see my great mate Wilson, and watch some football. A fantastic weekend - as anyone who has been there will know, Berlin is a great city.

I've posted a couple of photos here, but also recorded my observations on the football at Wilson's excellent I'm an FC Union Berlin Man blog.


Saturday, 23 March 2013

settling for Half

I have come up with a title for my new book, finally. I have decided on Half. It is enigmatic enough I think, but also important to the story.

Set in Northumberland in 1985, Half is a story about grooming and radicalisation, and how manipulative adults use children to fight their battles for them. Carl Robinson, an immature 14 year old paperboy is manipulated by his charismatic cousin into framing an innocent family for a violent hate crime, only realising too late that he has been duped. The story is told entirely from the point of view of Carl, who does not understand his cousin’s criminal motives, and believes himself caught up in a political struggle in a small community struggling to deal with social change, and the impact of faraway events.

The writing is going OK - not as quickly as I would like, but the end product is much stronger than previous stuff I've written. I have two strong chapters so far, and Carl's voice and the detail of his world both feel authentic. Hopefully I can find some time over Easter to get further on. My plan for the story and characters is very clear so I feel confident I can keep it readable and interesting. We'll see.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

top 10 albums of 2012

Ok, here are the best albums of 2012 as selected by me. They aren't really in order as it is all a bit subjective. But I will count them down anyway:

10. Half man half biscuit: 90 bisodol, crimond
Not all the songs work, but there are some great melodies, and as you might expect, some brilliant lyrics covering everything from a lack of pavement etiquette to pop stars appearing on Soccer AM. Many highlights, with my two favourite tracks being Left lyrics in the practice room (..."hey Chris, from future doom, you left your lyrics in the practice room..."), and the marvellous "Descending the stiplestones" about village life in Shropshire.

9. The pre-new: music for people who hate themselves
Saw this lot a couple of years ago at 1-2-3-4 Shoreditch and was impressed with their brutal, cartoonish energy (especially as they look older than me). Their album cover features the old British Rail logo, and the songs are a mix of post punk, pub rock and electronica. Sarah Cracknell (St Etienne) makes an appearance too. The album is powerful and challenging.

8. David Thomas Broughton: Outbreeding
If you don't like his voice - a kind of operatic yorkshire warble - you will hate this. Which would be a shame as the inventiveness of the instrumentation, the mix of folk and rock melodies and the bitterness of the songwriting, especially in Onward we trudge and Joke make this a really stunning album.

7. Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell: Kite
This couple are just brilliant. Folk and people's music as it was inteneded. Light and uptempo, but with enough poignancy in Lucy's voice and Jonny's guitar playing to make you melt into it. Not a stand out song to rival Hares on a mountain, on their original North Farm Sessions EP, but some lovely, lovely tracks.

6. Woods: bend beyond
I think they played at a festival I was at, but I missed them, writing them off as another American hipster band. More fool me. The album is beautifully put together, and a lovely mix of americana, folk, and harder rock sounds. It's not just another wannabe Fleet Foxes, though. It is inventive and you get more from it every listen.

5. Bad Weather California: Sunkissed
What an album. This was definitely my sound of the summer. Laid back groovy sunshine music, sixties and seventies, with a crazy Daniel Johnson-ish delivery. Stand in My Sunshine and When You Smile are two of the most listenable, hummable and danceable tracks of the year.

4. Thee oh Sees: carrion crawler
I know I am very late to all this surf punk west coast stuff, but it doesn't mean I can't love it just as much as anyone else. This is more a long EP than an album, but its energy and craziness are just brilliant. Play it loud and jump about.

3. This is the Kit: wriggle out the restless
Another astonishing album, folk meshed with Neil Young, meeting Portishead and Tricky. Kate Stables is so inventive, both as a lyricist and crafter of songs. They just appear slowly and grow into great tidal waves of sound. Beautiful. This album also has remixes by John Parrish, Rachael Dadd and others. A real gem.

2. Beth Jeans Houghton: Yours truly, cellophane nose
She is an absolute genius. Operatic voice, orchestral arrangements, but with a lightness of touch and gentleness of humour that just makes you smile when you hear her. Her band are real talents, combining strings and brass with guitar, bass and drum, but she is very definitely the power. A fantastic album.

1. Allo Darlin: Europe
It is hard to describe how much fun this album is, but at the same time how moving each of the songs are. Every one is a singalong tune, with simple melody and catchy chorus. But all of them are written from the heart, and Elizabeth Morris's charming australian voice can make you fill up as she tells you she loves you.

Honourable mentions also to Ty Seagall (Twins); Allah Las; Spoek Mathambo; Moon Duo (who played a great set at No Direction Home); and King Tuff.